“Parents and cultures may differ, but every small baby has the same need for closeness to its parents. Which is why I’m so delighted when I see babies all over the world being carried in BabyBjörn Baby Carriers. And I’m particularly glad to see that so many fathers are carrying their little ones these days.”
Björn Jakobson, founder of BabyBjörn AB.
It all started with a bouncer
Babysitting can have unexpected consequences for a young student. In Björn Jakobson’s case, it led to his life’s work – the BabyBjörn AB company. It was during a trip to the USA in the early 1960s that Björn came across a “babysitter” seat and took it back to Sweden for his nephew, Nisse, for whom he often babysat. The bouncer was an instant hit with Nisse – so much so, that he actually used it up to the age of 1.
Bouncer seats were unknown in Sweden at the time, so Björn started a company with his sister-in-law (and Nisse’s Mum), Elsa, to manufacture a Swedish equivalent. In the town of Gnosjö, Björn found a supplier who could produce the frame, while the cushion was sewn together using bought-in cloth remnants. Production began, but sales were dismal. No one wanted to buy the bouncer until Björn and Elsa had another bright idea – to ask doctors to examine the babysitter and say what they thought of it. They thought it was very good indeed, which resulted in a number of articles in the Swedish daily papers, and at last, demand began to pick up.
The bouncer proved to be a success, both in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, and over time, it also became a best-seller in the USA.
Close to the heart – the first baby carrier
The next big step in the company’s history came in the early 1970s. New research from the Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, in the USA, showed that early bonding and close contact with their parents was incredibly important for the subsequent development of newborn babies. These findings were quickly taken on board by paediatricians worldwide, and at the Karolinska hospital in Stockholm, Dr John Lind soon began telling new parents about the importance of physical contact in creating emotional closeness between parents and children.
Björn Jakobson, who by this point, had three small children of his own, was inspired by the paediatricians’ desire to see babies carried close to their parents’ bodies. He developed a baby carrier that allowed parents to achieve the vital close physical contact with their young child, while simultaneously keeping their hands free. The baby carrier, which was called “Close to the Heart”, was tested with great success at home by the Jakobson family on their fourth child.
Tens of millions of babies have been carried close to their parents during the first important months of their lives since then. And over the course of the years, we have worked continuously to develop and improve our baby carriers, working at all times in close cooperation with medical experts and parents of young children. This cooperation has resulted both in the unique design that makes our current models so comfortable and easy to use, and in their classically simple styling.
“For us, good design will always be about form and function in equal parts. Our designs should reflect the Swedish tradition of innovation and quality. And we must be able to combine the classical with the fashionable, because our products must appeal to both parents and children over time. In 1996, for example, we launched baby carriers made from a black material, because we believed this would be big. And because the demand for black baby carriers is still high, it’s an excellent example of our long-term approach.”
Lillemor Jakobson, Designer in Chief at BabyBjörn
“When we started designing our baby carriers, almost forty years ago now, all baby products were produced in garish colours, with duck and clown motifs. But right from the start, we took parents’ clothes and tastes into consideration. Nowadays, that sort of approach is something that seems to be taken for granted, but in those days, it was a minor revolution,” remembers Björn’s wife, Lillemor, who studied textile design at the Stockholm University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, and who still works as the Designer in Chief at BabyBjörn.
“As long as research continues to show just how important the initial close contact with parents is for babies, we will continue to work untiringly on developing new and even better baby carriers. It’s our passion,” says Björn, now, with Lillemor, a proud grandparent of eight grandchildren.