Five from Finland
Products for babies
The baby care market in Finland is brimming with new ideas and products.Julia Helminen
Finland is home to many companies and brands seeking to make new parents’ life easier, more comfortable and fun with their innovative baby products.
For decades, expectant mothers in Finland have received a free “baby box” from the state, containing necessities ranging from clothes to toys and care products. Giving all children an equal start in life, the maternity package is among the key factors why Finland has managed to achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world.
Apart from this important social innovation, Finns have come up with many exciting products and solutions for babies and their parents. For example, Lola&Lykke has developed an award-winning smart breast pump among other useful essentials, Beibamboo’s Nina Ignatius has designed a unique line of hospital-suited clothing for premature babies, and LullaMe has introduced the world’s first baby mattress with a built-in automatic mechanism that gently rocks the baby to sleep.
Below are five more Finnish companies and brands focused on baby-friendly products.
Drawing inspiration from Finland’s baby box, this leading kids activewear brand with over 75 years of experience has launched Reima Baby Box, a starter pack for expectant parents and parents with a newborn baby. The collection of 17 gender-neutral baby essentials, including onesies, bodysuits, bottoms and socks, makes for a stylish baby wardrobe or a perfect baby shower gift.
The textiles are designed to meet the strictest standards on baby clothes and produced using organic cotton and recycled materials, with most of the items adorned with lovely Moomin-themed prints.
“We want to spread the idea of a Nordic childhood to the rest of the world,” explained Asta Vainiomäki, business manager at Reima. “We believe that to grow up into an independent, creative and active adult, a child needs to be able to move freely and examine one’s surroundings.”
“It is the job of parents to enable this safe exploration by offering support and convenient and wholesome clothing,” she added.
Currently available in six European countries – Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Poland and Sweden – as well as in Canada, Japan and the US, Reima Baby Box has received a warm international response. Earlier this year, Reima also launched a summer version of the kit containing nine premium clothing items for warmer weather.
Babywearing has been practised for centuries by mothers around the world, offering many benefits of the much-needed skin-to-skin contact. Niina Hallikainen got interested in using a baby sling after giving birth to her first child as she found it a great way to keep the baby close and have her hands free for other tasks.
“It was, for example, easier to move around with a trolley while shopping,” Hallikainen explained. “There are differences in baby carriers, and it was fun to try different options.”
Her personal experiences as a new mother eventually led Hallikainen to the idea of establishing a company specialising in producing ring slings, woven wraps and other carriers, suitable for babies and toddlers.
Available through European retailers and an online shop with worldwide delivery, all the products are designed and hand-made in Finland. The company pays special attention to the choice of fabrics, prioritising pure natural materials and co-operation with small local businesses.
“Carrying the baby with you is a natural way to care for your little one,” the company reminds.
While being a parent is extremely rewarding, it’s also hard work. The family-owned company was founded in 2015 out of a desire to help new parents in their everyday routines.
It all started with one game-changing invention by Sanna-Mari Halonen – a duvet set for newborn and young babies which has a sleeping bag-like shape and snap fasteners on both sides. Thanks to its clever design, the duvet helps to improve the quality of infant sleep, as well as makes breastfeeding and moving a sleeping baby hassle-free.
Gradually, the product range has expanded to include other baby necessities, such as stroller curtains, bibs and nap blankets. Designed in Finland, all the products have a distinctive Nordic touch with neutral colours, functionality and minimalist beauty.
There is a commitment that the company takes particularly seriously.
“For us as parents, and also as a company, the safety of children comes first,” Baby Wallaby emphasizes. “That is why all our textiles are free from harmful substances. In addition, we test our products with third and independent parties.”
Did you know that most babies will go through up to 8 000 disposable diapers before they are potty trained? Johanna Putkonen started thinking about the environmental burden associated with the use of disposable diapers in 2004 and got enthusiastic about an idea to establish a Finnish cloth diaper brand.
From day one, Myllymuksut has set itself the ambitious goal of making cloth diapers mainstream. Indeed, the popularity of reusable diapers has increased dramatically in recent years with more and more parents opting to use cloth diapers whether for ecological, economic or other reasons.
“The competition has of course increased over the years, but so has the demand,” noted Putkonen. “Our way of distinguishing ourselves is in local production and materials.”
In addition to cloth diapers, Myllymuksut also produces clothing, accessories, various fabrics and zero-waste products for kids and women, such as menstrual underwear. Around 70 per cent of Myllimuksut products are exported, mainly to Northern and Central Europe.
“In Europe, Finnish work is valued, and the quality of the products is trusted,” Putkonen summarised.
Leena Junnila became a mother when she was a university student majoring in graphic design. Having noticed how captivating a simple smiley face picture that she got from a local maternity clinic was to her newborn son, Onni, Junnila decided to research more on infant vision and cognitive development. The topic appeared so fascinating that Junnila created her first series of stimulation cards for babies as a part of her final thesis.
“Infant visual stimulation pictures are usually simple geometrical black and white shapes,” Junnila noted. “I wanted to go little further and design pictures that would be nice looking and kittenish.”
Supporting the development of eyesight and visual object recognition skills in babies, the illustrations by Junnila can now be found not only on cards, but also on a wide range of other products, including posters, stickers, books, crib mobiles, fabrics and toys.
Moreover, the lovely and eye-catching characters are available also in an interactive digital form. Together with Helsinki-based Pinxto Creative, Junnila has launched two mobile applications, Happy Animals and Happy Shapes, designed to promote the development of eyesight and fine motor skills in babies and toddlers.