Inviting Inclusivity into the Babywearing World

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Recently Close Enough to Kiss were invited to Stockholm the home of the carrier family BabyBjorn. In the UK babywearing community there are still pockets of wearers who have a less than favourable view on BabyBjorn and their carriers. I myself was very interested in challenging this cultural view and to see if it was founded or not?
It’s worth also disclosing that BabyBjorn, whilst paying for me to travel and stay in Stockholm, have not paid for me to write this blog. It’s entirely my own thoughts and feeling on the weekend and the information I obtained whilst there.

Close Enough to Kiss like to remain a stance of empowerment, impartiality and to bring controversial subjects to the forefront, whilst remaining factual and non-biased.
The trip was planned by the Bjorn team and included a list of 25 babywearing professionals across 12 countries, including BCIA, Babywearing Canada, Tragaschule Hamburg and Dresden amongst others.

The History of BabyBjorn

BabyBjorn were started in 1961 in Stockholm, Sweden. It was inspired by a product that Bjorn and Lillemor Jakobson had brought back from the USA. As nothing similar was available at that time in Europe, Bjorn did some research asking doctors to look at the item (a baby bouncer) and give their opinion, he manufactured a Swedish version that was extremely popular.
Their carriers were introduced in the 1970’s, Bjorn and Lillemor became familiar with ground-breaking research that showed the importance of close contact with infants and it became inspiration for their first carrier – HJÄRTENÄRA which means: close to the heart, it became available in 1973. Bjorn described wearing his fourth child born in 1974 as ‘walking on clouds’. (During our trip to Sweden Bjorn spoke candidly about his experience of wearing his child, his attachment and happy memories where apparent and hugely heartwarming). Lillemor, who studied Design at Stockholm University, took the role of creative designer and still uses her experience and flare when designing new products.

As the design of the carrier began to evolve in the 1980’s, Lillemor started to introduce various different textiles during the design process, and the carrier became an equal balance of form and function.

In the 1990’s still going strong, BabyBjorn were pioneers in a trend for black and white carriers and have carried on setting a trend in colours for carriers. It is around this time you can see evidence of some real marketing genius and design that we still see in BabyBjorn carriers today.

From 2000 onwards BabyBjorn have continued to evolve their carrier, introducing a wider based carrier aimed at older infants as the trend for carrying beyond the first few months increased. BabyBjorn introduced a new carrier called ‘We’ then ‘One’ being launched. Although it still has the same function and look of earlier carriers there is a move towards a wider based carrier, incorporating both infant and older child wearing functionality.

The testing behind all carriers.

Testing is hugely important for BabyBjorn, and they are the one of very few companies that have the Oekotex Standard 100 Class 1, which regulates products intended for babies and children up to the age of three years. A huge commitment to maintaining the health of carried infants. They also conform to both UK and US carrier criterion: EN13209-2:2005, ASTM F2236 and CPSIA 2008.

My Thoughts

I personally am no stranger to babywearing having started my own journey in 1998 using a Wilkinet. And later in early 2000 with the Original. I have seen the movement gain strength over the past 18 years.
Something that was quite pivotal to me was the explanation that the BabyBjorn carrier was a tool to use for bonding, rather than a tool for transportation as it is today. It was aimed at the first 6 months of an infant’s life, which goes a way to understanding the narrow seat of the Original BabyBjorn carrier. During my time with the Bjorn team they remained open to conversations on all aspects of their carrier, from ergonomics to their reasons between choices in form and function. What struck me was the bottom line was they wanted more babies to be carried and to bond with their parents, whether that means using a wrap, ring sling, their carrier or another brand. It was what I found so refreshing. It personified the brand, no longer where they men in suits, but they became a family trying to extend the same feelings they had whilst wearing, to other families.
The willingness to learn from others, to collaborate and achieve better reach to more parents is why most people get into babywearing education…we want to show as many people as we can what we have felt. The closeness. The love. The bonding. This is BabyBjorn’s wish too.
I can feel the industry changing, becoming a collaborative arena, where rivals work together for the greater good. Where empowerment and sharing of ideas are the order of the day. In an industry still in its relative infancy, I feel BabyBjorn are playing a leading role in empowering everyone to be the best they can be.

To read another perspective on this please visit: Close and Calm’s Blog

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