Who Made That Baby Bjorn?
By SADIE STEIN
Bjorn Jakobson — himself a father of young children — went into the baby-equipment business after returning to Stockholm from a 1961 trip to America with a “baby sitter” bouncer chair. At first, the fledgling entrepreneur was unable to persuade any Stockholm department store to take a chance on the contraption. After finally selling two to one department store, he was reduced to sending in his mother to buy them (the store then ordered more). It was only then that Jakobson thought to appeal to pediatricians — and struck upon the formula that would guarantee his success: clean-lined design, with a progressive medical seal of approval. Ultimately the chair would become a hit worldwide and a standard item on baby registries. But it was the Hjartenara (Close to the Heart) baby carrier, introduced in 1973 and later known as the Baby Bjorn, that made him a household name.
The Baby Bjorn drew on the work of physicians at Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, who, beginning in 1970, published a series of studies about the importance of close parental contact in early childhood development. Jakobson resolved to create a baby carrier that would maximize the baby-parent bond. Working with pediatricians, he perfected the shape, while his wife, Lillemor, a textile designer, handled the aesthetics, creating a minimalist look at odds with the era’s pastel-hued baby paraphernalia. The couple tested the prototype on their baby. The combination of a nurturing, earthy image and medical testimonials made the Bjorn a sensation.
Baby Bjorn found its American home when Bengt Lager and Luanne Whiting-Lager, who had two children while living in Sweden, decided to bring Scandinavian baby gear to the United States. Their Georgia-based company, Regal Lager, was Baby Bjorn’s U.S. distributor until 2005 and is widely considered responsible for its boom in the ’90s.To date, Jakobson’s company has sold more than 25 million baby carriers worldwide and spawned a whole industry of slings and carriers designed to enable what is now known at attachment parenting. Still, parents of today may or may not agree with Jakobson’s ’70s-ish sentiment that “carrying your newborn on your chest is like floating on a cloud.”
Read the rest of the article online here: Who Made That Baby Bjorn? - NYTimes.com
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