Every now and then I read another news message talking about an out-of-control stroller. These are strollers that weren’t tied down properly and accidentally rolled off a steep hill into a lake or onto the railway. This is every mother’s nightmare, but it is still happens from time to time. There are moments where you don’t constantly want to think about the brake, whilst keeping your hands free. Meeting someone you know on the street, your phone rings or you want to grab a few things out of your bag. This is why the new Navigator by Phil & Teds with auto-stop feature is a great and inventive idea. Besides the common brakes, a thin braking bar is implemented in the pushing handle, the braking bar is released and the stroller will stop moving. If you want to move again, simply push the braking bar into the pushing handle and the brake is released. It is possible to lock the braking bar in place if you wish not to use it. I think the Navigator is an all-round stroller, its lean frame, small turning circle and 26 driving options makes this a very user friendly stroller.
The Dutch label EasyWalker introduces the EasyWalker MINI stroller. It’s has become a beautiful collaboration between EasyWalker and MINI, the car brand. It should be obvious: this stroller is designed for parents who are looking for a compact and tough looking stroller. As far as the coating of the stroller goes, parents can choose from MINI’s famous stripes chilli red, stripes laser blue, stripes black, union jack or completely black jack. A unique feature is the ability to adjust the stroller to their liking, with a choice of five designs, black or silver frame, black or white wheels and various accessories such as footmuff, blanket, umbrella and nursery. The leather handle bar provides the finishing touch to the baby’s first car. In terms of driveability and ease of use, this stroller is an all-rounder, it steers smoothly when driving on both rough and smooth terrain and it can be used from birth because of the reversible and foldable carrycot. This will save you a lot of time! Also, the stroller fits in the smallest car trunk when fully folded.
Selling a stroller is one thing, but it is all about sending a message. That is something Joolz accomplishes. ‘Buying a stroller is just a single moment, however we are trying to add more to this, think of positivity, health, a meaningful message,’ says managing director Stan Vermeulen during the press convention in the Joolz Day Studio in the Westergasfabriek Amsterdam. There are plenty of examples: the packaging of Joolz strollers is truly unique, you can use it for making either a chair, birdhouse or a mobile for baby’s room. The Joolz team drives in electric cars and they lunch organically from nearby farmers. One tree is planted for each registered baby at Joolz. ‘We are not the greenest, but certainly try to do our part’ said Stan.
There was stroller news: founder Emile Kuenen presented the new Joolz Day Studio Noir and Gris, influenced by French haute couture and a unique tailor-made program. In this program, parents are able to create a tailor-made stroller with a choice of frame colors, fabrics, handles, safety bars, labels and zippers. The Configurator program on the site is exceptionally clever: this custom-made stroller can be shared with others.
The day ended with a fitness workshop given by personal trainer Radmilo Soda for famous Dutch singer Do and other pregnant women. This workshop and several other courses are available on their website, since Joolz likes to contribute to a healthy pregnancy. It is clear, the label Joolz does not only sell strollers, but also a positive and honest story!
The Dutch family business Mutsy caused quite a stir with the introduction of a completely new frame in the 90’s. An engineering marvel. Up to this day, this so-called Z-shaped frame still is the starting point for all of Mutsy strollers. Parents can choose from five different modular stroller systems so that all parents can choose one that suits them the best. They recently introduced the Mutsy IGo and compact Exo. The IGo model offers an ultra-light carrycot for on the road and a royal comfort model. The stroller seat is made out of a soft three-dimensional shaped cushion and can be clicked on the frame in two different ways. The back of the seat and leg rest are both fully adjustable and the protective hood can be enlarged, very useful for the lying position. The stroller can even be folded compactly, weighing only 8.4 kg and can be easily stored and worn with a convenient carrying handle. You can choose between air or lightweight foam tires, a black or silver frame and combine it with 12 different kinds of coating. The leather-look handle and the bumper bar really complete the picture. The smaller and more compact Exo combi stroller has a lightweight travel cot which only weighs 3.4 kg, has various accessories and looks very stylish. The adjustable backrest ensures optimum comfort for the baby as it sleeps. Again you can choose between: large lightweight foam tires and small buggy wheels. Both choices guarantee a smooth ride. Besides the carrycot and the hooded seat, the Safe2go, the Traveller and the Maxi-Cosi carseat, fit on the neatly designed frame. Both are beautiful Dutch designs and are selected from the 655 submission for the Dutch Design Award with a reason. Fingers crossed that they will win in October!
I was at a seminar by trend watcher Li Edelkoort and she noted that she sees more and more fathers who carry their babies! This fits entirely in the image of solidarity. Because for those who did not know: the time of the individual has passed. Children nowadays are mothered and fathered, men will even become more attractive. This confirms what I see for some time in our market. We get more and more material supplied showing cheerful looking fathers with a child in baby carrier. Nowadays, fathers are not ashamed to go out with their baby and if they go out, they rather use their baby carrier than a stroller, it looks a bit more cool. A father with a baby carrier shows that he cares about his children and he can count on a lot of attention from women! You probably know the images or of male pop stars and movie stars casually walking on the street or in the garden with their baby in a baby carrier. Even our own king William Alexander was not afraid to get his pictures taken with one of his princesses in a baby carrier. I’ve never seen a member of another royal family do this!
From tough back carriers to soft carrying slings
I think BabyBjörn was one of the first brands that put fathers with a baby in a baby carrier in a sensitive spot. You know how it goes, an attractive, tough father in a beautiful Swedish landscape with lots of green and a lake in the background. The pictures seemed to say, go out with your baby, into the open air! Soon, other brands followed with pictures of carrying dads like ERGObaby, Elite Cruiser and Stokke. Perhaps these brands take these photos with dads from a commercial point of view. To tempt mothers to buy one for themselves or for their partners? Over the years, the pictures of fathers with tough baby carriers changed to soft images, there are now even pictures of fathers with babies in slings, such as those of Babylonia. Nobody would have dared to think that 15 years ago!
The fathers point of view
What reasons do the fathers themselves provide? We previously posted a request on our Facebook BabyStuf.nl. Now, our website is mostly being visited by expectant and new mothers, but all our fans bothered to question their partner to submit, thanks for that! Below is a sampling of the responses: “We have a baby carrier for bicycle trips because our youngest daughter, three months old, can otherwise not come with us.” Another male user said: “It’s purely practical, in a busy city it is easier to walk around with a baby carrier than with a stroller! “Another man said that he prefers it to a stroller because the baby is on eye level, so he doesn’t have to look down all the time with his baby. Another man says, “I loved to wear my son in the baby carrier. It feels very safe, snug and warm, and especially in the busy cities or during a short walk with our dog it is very practical. And besides this, it also looks cool! ” And some very social responses: some fathers noted that they also use a baby carrier to help their partner out. However, they also feel that some of the straps are not made for the manly torso’s!
Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk has been doing 25 years of scientific research and studies about the innate ability of babies to communicate with parents from the very beginning. A science that designers of baby products should know before they develop baby products, says Zeedyk. Zeedyk is fascinated by the emotional development of a child’s very first years and how this affects the long term. It is about the emotional security, confidence and trust in others and relationships. To directly link this to prams and buggy’s: ‘Neuroscience of strollers and buggy’s, how buggy’s shape brains and how this leads to the science of designing for baby’s’, said Zeedyk. Us humans are evolutionary products and we descended from the apes, she says. When wearing a baby as a parent your hands are tied, causing designers and manufacturers to come up with ways to carry and transporting your baby whilst keeping your hands free. Think of the slings, cradle boards thought of by the Indians and later baby carriers, strollers and buggies were introduced. These are all solutions for evolutionary problems.
Infants are naturally social beings, she says, and therefore are capable to communicate from the moment that they are born. A newborn baby succeeds 10 minutes after being born in impersonating a father or mother’s facial impression. Babies also have the ability to imitate hand movements. Babies feel comfortable when they are being communicated with. Oxytocin is produced, a hormone which stimulates confidence and trust. They communicate by eye contact, touching and voice. If there is too little communication with the baby, an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone, is shown. Carrying a baby is more than just moving from A to B! The brain of a baby grows at an explosive rate between zero and three years, but later decreases to a slower rate. In these first years, brain connections are made on an extremely high rate. This first phase is crucial for a child’s development and we need designers of prams, strollers and carriers to keep this in mind, states Zeedyk. Studies show that you cannot start early enough with communicating back and forth. In a particular study, a women daily reads the book ‘Cat in the Hat ” out loud. After birth, the baby recognized the sound and rhythm of the storytelling, measurable by the babies sucking speed on an electric nipple. Other studies show images in which the mother frequently talks to her baby and her baby reacts and communicates back, until the mother stops talking and denies any form of communication. The baby is trying to communicate with its mother, but when that fails, it turns its head away in disappointment. According to Zeedyk, you are able to see after only 16 months that a lack of communication leads to language delay. At the age of three you can even see whether the child will become aggressive or not. This lecture was an eye opener for me! And it’s good to know that eye contact and communication with your baby, especially in the initial phase of his or her life, whether you wear your baby in a baby carrier or transport him or her in a stroller, buggy or car seat, is very important!
This blog has previously been published in our tradejournal BabyWereld and on the consumersite BabyStuf.nl but as it is of great importance, I republish this on my babytrendwatcherblog.
The demo at the international Kind + Jugend beurs was impressive, a stroller that can fold and unfold itself by pressing a button! It seems like every mother’s dream, because every parent has had some trouble with folding the stroller, sometimes even with a baby on the other arm. The American label 4Moms brings us the solution: the Origami. The Origami will come to the Netherlands with an impressive amount of high tech extra functions, including a built-in charger for your cell-phone, safe front and street lights, a thermometer and even an odometer! With the Origami, you will know how fast you walk, the distance walked and what the outside temperature is. The battery, hidden between the rear wheels, charges by walking the stroller. Two cupholders are found on the holding rail of the stroller, two more next to the child’s seat and there are plenty of other places for additional storage potential.
And how does it look? In my opinion, American strollers don’t always win the beauty award. A little too much plastic, often in terrible pastel colours and built for a small trip to the mall and not for long hikes. However, with the Origami, the designers sure did their best. At first sight, the black and spiderlike frame looks big, but the bright inserts combine perfectly with the black seating and the hood. A travel cradle is optionally available. It can be used on smooth and/or rough surfaces, but in my perspective it looks like it is built for city terrain.
Until now, thumbs up, but there are some disadvantages that come with it as well. The stroller isn’t exactly a ‘lightweight’ with its 15 kg. Despite the fact that the stroller folds on its own, you still have to carry it in or out of the car! The shopping basket on the bottom is very small and I don’t find much use to it. Finally, the stroller is very pricy, for this high tech stroller you would have to pay 995 euro.
Have a look at their video:
A few days ago, I got a phone call. Since I am the chief editor of trade journal BabyWereld and consumer trendwatch site www.babystuf.nl they wanted to hand over their new book to me. The book was written by Mieneke van Noort, owner of the only stroller museum in The Netherlands. She was for the last 30 years, and still is, collecting an impressive amount of retro strollers that are perceivable at her personal house and museum in Nieuwolda, Groningen. This outstanding book ‘De geschiedenis van de kinderwagen’ with a lot of Dutch designs has people with an interest in strollers as a target audience. A must have for designers and producers if you ask me. This stroller of Van Werven really is an example of how strollers used to look, back in the sixties. What a lovely retro feeling! You can order this unique edition on www.inboekvorm.nl
It is known that manufacturers like to work with designers. Think of Maclaren Philippe Starck, Bugaboo Bas Koster, Missoni and Viktor & Rolf, Quinny with Henrik Vibskov. This ensures attention in the media and is a positive aspect for the branding of a manufacturer and designer. I have just returned from a trip to London and was able to witness the launch of a completely new cooperation between Cybex and great fashion designer Jeremy Scott. I travelled in the company of fashion editors to Shoreditch; a tiny artistic place in London with a booming nightlife. Scott likes to design outfits for popstars like Lady Gaga and Robbie Williams with courage and a bit of humor. He was the one who designed the Adidas sneaker-line with ‘wings’ on them. Scott loves challenges and the moment CEO Martin Pos from Cybex arrived there was no doubt. ‘I love the idea of doing something completely unexpected, like designing a baby stroller. Plus I have so many friends who are young mothers and knowing how they struggle to find something that they feel is cool. It felt like a natural fit to me to design something that I could give as a gift to my friends.’
For the Cybex Callisto 3-in-1 stroller, buggy with feet pouch and diaper-bag, Onyx buggy, Aton 3 carseat and carrybag Go Baby Carrier, Scott has designed using the theme ‘Food Fight’, since giving food to children often ends up in a fight, he said. And so, these babyhardwares are designed with patterns of cartoony pizza-slices, French fries, popcorn, hotdogs, hamburgers and bottles of lemonade. The presentation took place in the Shoreditch Studios, which for the occasion was transformed into the colorful world of Scott. During the informal and animated after-party we were allowed to ask questions and take pictures without any problems. I admit, I have to get used to these types of prints, but the longer I look at it, the more fun it becomes. In my opinion, Scott should have taken his designs to the next level, something like a unique diaper bag or sun-cap. If there is anything else to learn from this presentation is it that we shouldn’t take life too seriously, you should enjoy it and there is nothing wrong with going crazy and letting loose once in a while!
That’s the result when you have not visited the post office for some days due to the activities concerning the Negenmaandenbeurs (‘Nine Months Fair’). In our mailbox was a press release about the new all-terrain stroller Bugaboo Buffalo. An all-terrain stroller by Bugaboo? Fancy name! We would like to know everything about it. I cannot really see the all-terrain aspect of it by throwing a quick glance on it, but we have to take a closer look. It has a high and spacious seat for children up to 23 kilograms and a retractable suncover for more protection against harsh weather conditions. I guess it has tougher wheels, but I am not completely sure. The Buffalo has plenty of space for storing things; the luggage net can hold up to 10 kilograms and other groceries can be suspended from the hooks on the pushbar. Many strollers can tip over due to the weight on the pushbar (such as groceries), whereas the Buffalo seems to be the first stroller that comes with a safety certificate for more than 6 kilograms suspended from the pushbar. That is a smart move by Bugaboo, but I then would like to know what the maximum weight is and how to control this as a mother doing groceries? Furthermore, the stroller looks robust and cool, although it shows many similarities with the Cameleon. This though ‘brother’ is available with a black or sand-coloured frame and with off-white, red, pink, petrol, blue, royal blue or black upholstery. I would also like to show you the various possibilities the Buffalo offers you. It will be available from the middle of March.