”Parents and cultures may be different, but little babies all have the same need for closeness to their parents. That’s why it’s a wonderful feeling for me to see babies all over the world these days being carried in BabyBjörn baby carriers. And seeing more fathers than ever before carrying their babies makes me particularly happy.”
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 became the impetus for his life’s work, the company BabyBjörn AB. During a trip to the USA in the beginning of the 1960s, a bouncer caught Björn’s eye and he brought it back for his nephew, Nils, who he often babysat. Nils immediately liked the bouncer. So much so, that he actually used it until he was a year old.
Since bouncers could not be purchased in Sweden at the time, Björn started a company with his sister-in-law Elsa (Nils's mom) to manufacture a Swedish equivalent. In Gnosjö, he found a supplier who could make the frame, while the seat was made from store-bought scraps of fabric. Production began, but sales were pitiful. Reviews were very positive, however, which resulted in several articles in Swedish dailies. Finally, demand picked up.
The bouncer became a hit in Sweden, as well as in the rest of Europe. In time, it also became a bestseller in the USA.
Close to the heart – the first baby carrier
The next big step in the company’s history came at the beginning of the 1970s. New research from Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, showed that early attachment and closeness to their parents plays a vital role for the continued development of newborns. Pediatricians all over the world quickly adopted this idea. At Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Dr. John Lind was one of the first to inform new parents how important physical contact is for creating an emotional bond between babies and their parents.
Björn Jakobson, who now had three small children of his own, was inspired by pediatricians’ hopes that parents would carry their children close to their bodies. He developed a baby carrier that made it possible for parents to have this important physical contact with their babies and their hands free at the same time. The baby carrier, which was called "Hjärtenära", was tested with great success on the Jakobson family’s fourth child.
Since then, tens of millions of babies have been carried close to their parents during the first important months of their lives. And over the years we have never stopped working to improve our baby carriers, always in close collaboration with medical experts and the parents of small children. This has resulted in the unique design that makes today’s models so comfortable and easy to use, with clean, classic lines.
”For us, good design will always be a matter of equal parts function and appeal. Our designs reflect the Swedish tradition of innovation and quality. And we have to be able to combine the classic with the trendy, since our products have to appeal to both parents and children over time. In 1996, for example, we launched baby carriers in black, which we thought would be a big hit. Since demand for black baby carriers is still high, this is a good example of our long-term thinking.”
Lillemor Jakobson, Head Designer at BabyBjörn AB
“When we started designing our baby carriers 40 years ago, all our baby products had loud colors with duck and clown patterns, though we had already started thinking about parents’ clothing and tastes. Today, thinking this way seems obvious, but back then it was a minor revolution,” says Björn’s wife Lillemor, who completed the textile program at Sweden’s University College of Arts Crafts and Design, and who is still active as Head Designer at BabyBjörn.
To sum up, Björn, who together with Lillemor now has eight grandchildren, says:
”As long as all research continues to show how vital initial close physical contact with parents is for the little one, we will unfailingly keep working on developing new and better baby carriers. This is what makes us tick.”