Swedish Baby-Wearing Pioneer BabyBjörnMay 16, 2017
The primal instinct to hold a baby close, to protect and keep them safe and warm runs deep in the veins of parents. It’s an innate feeling that has led to years of babywearing – only the vehicle for carrying a baby has changed over time.
Whether you’ve had children of your own or not, you’re likely familiar with baby carriers and you’ve likely heard of BabyBjörn. This Swedish company, while best known for its carriers, got its start more than 50 years ago with a baby bouncer. Today, its product line not only encompasses hands-free solutions for busy parents – and a supportive environment for 30 million babies – but it also carries utilitarian products like high chairs, potties and changing tables.
The Birth of BabyBjörn
Before BabyBjörn made one of its many famous Hollywood appearances in “The Hangover,” its story humbly began in Stockholm.
Björn and Lillemor Jakobson had the novel idea to make parents’ lives a little easier by creating a baby bouncer. The couple had a background in design and art direction, and their ingenuity and creativity helped launch their first product and BabyBjörn as we know it.
“Our goal, right from the start, has been to make everyday life easier for families with young children,” said Angelica Stebrant, head of global brand and communications at BabyBjörn. “We have also been firmly convinced, right from Day 1 that you shouldn’t have to buy loads of products when your children are small – just a few that really work.”
As the Jakobson family grew, so did their product line, their children often serving as the muses to develop new offerings that other parents could utilize. The Jakobsons also bounced ideas off of pediatricians and ultimately decided to create a product that would allow parents to hold their children close to them – while being granted the use of their hands. Hjärtenära, or close to the heart, was their first carrier launched in 1973.
“Why is babywearing such a brilliant idea? Newborn babies love to be close to their parents,” Stebrant said. “The baby feels safe and loved in their parents’ arms, and a crying baby is often comforted as soon as mom or dad picks them up. It’s also wonderful for the parent to enjoy closeness with their baby.”
In the 70s and 80s, BabyBjörn began exporting products across Europe, but it wasn’t until the 90s when the company decided to send their products across the Atlantic into the U.S. marketplace. It was about that time when the baby carriers started receiving a lot of attention – it doesn’t hurt when celebrities like Madonna carry their babies around in your product.
While the company started to see international success, its family-centric, Swedish values have been a mainstay in their products.
“Our Scandinavian roots are a constant theme of everything we do,” Stebrant said. “For us, good design is always a combination of practical functionality and attractive appearance. Our fundamental commitment to safety is a consequence of the society in which we, ourselves, grew up.”
That good design also helped the brand stand a part in a crowded baby space. Taking a peek at the company’s history, you may notice something that you don’t often see with other parenting products: dads. From the company’s early days, Lillemor made a conscious effort to create a textile design and color palette that would be suitable for both mothers and fathers.
“It’s important to BabyBjörn that babies get as much closeness as possible,” Stebrant said. This is why our baby carriers have always been designed to fit both moms and dads.”
BabyBjörn’s latest campaign, #dadstories, has taken over its homepage as it launches its new collection geared towards modern-day dads.
BabyBjörn’s diverse product line has more in common with each other than just being baby products. The company puts an emphasis on ergonomics, quality and sustainability to ensure the best product, not just for parents, but for the health and safety of the babies.
Since its inception, BabyBjörn has worked with community partners to ensure its products meet its high standards. It currently works with a midwife and a pediatrician to get expert opinions on its products.
“Our product developers collaborate closely with pediatricians and medical experts throughout the whole development process, both when developing a new product and when refining an existing one,” Stebrant said. “This enables us to always have expert approval for the various safety aspects of a product. Examples include making sure that the design is right for children’s anatomy and development. Including the spine and the hips, that newborns have sufficient head support or that our user instructions are interpreted as intended.”
Beyond the Baby Wearing
Parents are important to BabyBjörn – at all points in parenthood, not just once a baby is born.
BabyBjörnTo meet its parent audience wherever they are in their parenthood journey, BabyBjörn launched an online magazine, “This is Life,” to talk about baby development, family activities, baby sleep, baby food and pregnancy.
“We launched a new website and our online magazine a year ago giving parents who are expecting a baby or have young children more content about the topics they are searching for,” Stebrant said. “The idea is for them to be able to find tips, ideas and stories that inspire them, and offer good advice to make everyday life easier.”
Now sold in over 50 countries, BabyBjörn continues to run its operations out of Solna, with some divisions running out of Småland. The founders, Björn and Lillemor Jakobson, continue to serve the business: Björn as chair of the board and Lillemor as creative director. These two 80-somethings aren’t slowing down.
“Björn and I are still active and skate, sail and walk a lot, which means we get out a lot,” Lillemor Jakobson said. “We also have a great interest in art and culture.”