Carry on and on and on
This post started out as a review of the new M1 baby carrier from Lascal, the company that brought us the Buggy Board and Kiddy Board, in partnership with Regal Lager, the venerable US distributor of, among others, Lascal and Phil and Teds, and who also distrubuted Baby Björn for 14 years until that relationship came to an end in 2005.
Did you follow all that? No?
It’s all a bit complicated, so I thought some background information might be in order. I started doing some research and have, naturally, gone a little overboard. What follows is a hastily compiled and surely incomplete history of the soft baby carrier over the past 30 years or so. If you think it’s interesting, great. Otherwise, skip ahead to the next post, where I actually talk about the M1 carrier.
The Baby Björn is, right now, easily the paradigm for the baby carrier in urban parenting circles. But this wasn’t always the case. The Snugli was the first soft baby carrier to become a household name in the United States, and it dominated unchallenged for more than three decades. The Snugli was invented in the 1960’s by Ann Moore, a mom who had been a Peace Corps nurse in West Africa.
Initially, the Snugli was embraced by the hippie crowd, but slowly became more mainstream, propelled by a front page article in the Wall Street Journal in 1982. Both my mother and my mother-in-law recall wearing me and my husband in Snugli carriers when we were born. In the late 1970’s. Ahem.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, Björn and Lillemor Jakobson were designing their own baby carrier, originally called “Hjärtenära” or “close to the heart.” Their first carrier launched in 1973, and they refined the design over the next 15 years until 1987 when they hit upon the silhouette that would become the Baby Björn. In 1991, Bengt Lager and his wife formed Regal Lager and became the official US distributor of the Baby Björn.
The Baby Björn of today comes in several colors, but none as popular as the iconic black. And it was black that catapulted this carrier to widespread success in the late 90’s, because it was the first carrier that a dad could wear without feeling foolish.
Fast forward to 2005, when Baby Björn decided to terminate their distribution agreement with Regal Lager in favor of establishing their own distribution in the United States.
It was no doubt a devastating blow for Regal Lager, who had built and grown their business around the success of the Baby Björn. But, to make a long story short, they bounced back nicely. Their next move was to sign on with Phil and Teds, and that’s turned out rather well for them.
All this sets the stage for the M1 Carrier. 14 years of experience handling Baby Bjorn translated to 14 years of hearing extensive feedback from parents and retailers. They knew every flaw, every complaint by heart, and they poured every last drop of knowledge into Lascal. The result is the M1, an outstanding carrier that surely has the folks at Baby Björn watching carefully.