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BabyBjorn make iconic baby carriers. They told us about the benefits to dad and baby of strapping on your children
Take a walk down any chi-chi high street of a weekend and you’ll spot lots of dads walking around with children strapped to their fronts.
The BabyBjorn carrier is an essential piece of parenting kit these days.
But it’s not uncontroversial. Earlier this year media big mouth Piers Morgan mocked James Bond himself, actor Daniel Craig, for wearing one. Not for the first time Morgan was on the wrong side of the argument. Many men were happy to speak up and challenge Morgan’s claim that it’s ‘unmanly’ to carry a child. There is also evidence that there are health benefits for parent and child too.
Frederic Guillaume of BabyBjorn told us something about the company and that controversy.
Can you tell us a bit about the history of the company?
BabyBjörn is a Swedish family-owned business started in 1961 by Björn and his sister-in-law Elsa Jakobson. Our head office is located in Stockholm, which is the base for more than 40 employees, including our product development, sales and design teams. Our Distribution and Logistics Centre is in Lanna, Småland, and 67 people work there.
1961 was the year we sold our very first bouncer. Björn Jakobson understood how it would make life easier for families with young children and he was right – it’s been one of our best-loved products ever since. BabyBjörn was born!
Björn and Lillemor, a textile designer and art director, got married and had four children, each one of whom was the inspiration behind a new product to solve an everyday dilemma. Our product range soon expanded to include a travel cot, a high chair and a changing table.
Björn always worked closely with pediatricians and in the 1970s they encouraged him to develop a baby carrier. New findings shed light on how important plenty of closeness is for a tiny baby. 1973 was the year Hjärtenära (“Close to heart”) gave parents in Europe the means to carry their babies safely on their chest.
During the 1980s, there was more and more talk about the important role dads play in the lives of their tiny babies. So dads were featured in BabyBjörn’s ads for the first time – something that wasn’t entirely uncontroversial in Sweden. But dads were here to stay and the importance of the closeness of both parents to their baby has always been one of BabyBjörn’s key concepts.
Lillemor Jakobson said, “My inspiration comes from children and making life easier for families with young children. It’s also amazing to see how we’ve helped to change attitudes to the role dads play.”
Why do dads seem to like carrying babies in carriers so much?
It’s nice to be close to the baby. But baby carrying is not only practical. It helps dads to feel a physical bond with their baby, like the mums do when they breastfeed for example. It’s handy, you get your hands-free as well as keeping the baby close. (At least in Sweden, where a lot of dads are on paternity leave it has become a usual and practical thing).
We have found that babywearing comes naturally to dads, just like it does for mums (in general, in younger generations it is not such a big deal, the dads are involved in the care of the baby from day one, together with the mum, and very much part of the family life, it’s natural, at least in Sweden.)
How important is it that men carry babies in carriers?
Babywearing has many benefits for both parents, not just dads. The baby feels safe and loved in their parents’ arms and the closeness strengthens the important parent-child bond. A crying baby is often comforted as soon as dad or mum picks them up, and carrying a colicky baby in a baby carrier may help to ease their symptoms. This closeness means that dad, or mum, can communicate naturally with their baby, whilst their baby is soothed by their smell and sound of their heartbeat. It’s impossible to spoil a newborn baby with too much closeness!
Earlier this year there was a bit of controversy when TV presenter Piers Morgan mocked James Bond actor Daniel Craig for carrying his baby in a carrier Any views on that?
The amazing thing about the Daniel Craig controversy was the automatic response we received from Dads, who use our baby carriers. Posts on social media from stereotypical celebrity ‘tough guys’ like Ross Kemp wearing the baby carrier with their babies coming to the defence of our brand was amazing to see. It was all quite tongue in cheek. But it exposed the outdated views of Piers Morgan, and others that may have shared them.
As soon as dads start babywearing, they see how being an involved dad is as macho as you can be. As Björn said, when you wear your baby, ’it’s like floating on a cloud’.
BabyBjörn make neutral baby carriers which are as comfortable and supportive as possible, for both baby and wearer.
In general in what ways are carriers good for babies?
Bonding with your new baby is not just about feeling good, there are well-established long-term benefits of having your baby close. Physical closeness creates an emotional bond that is crucial for your baby’s development even helping your baby trust people in later life and be more self-assured.