A good night’s sleep is top of the wish list for most new parents, and Hanna Sissala was not an exception when her first child was born four years ago. During the countless hours spent rocking her baby to sleep, Sissala started to wonder if there were any products that could help.
“Our baby cried a lot and everybody was stressed so I started to research products that could help rock the baby and allow the whole family to sleep better,” Sissala recalls. “I found different baby rockers, but they were meant for living rooms and are not good for babies to sleep in.”
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Sissala decided to solve the problem herself and soon the concept for a mattress that is safe, comfortable and gently rocks a baby to sleep was born. She found a three-member team to develop the product, named the company ‘Familings*’ and finally launched the baby mattress in early September. Early results are promising.
“I have used the mattress with my second child. Before the mattress he slept only 10 minute naps, but afterwards he started to sleep for 45 minutes,” Sissala says. “I have experienced first-hand how much easier everyday life is when a baby gets enough sleep.”
So how does the mattress work? A motor in the mattress gently tightens and loosens the top fabric creating a slow up and down rocking movement. This means the whole mattress does not need to move so there is no risk, for example, of a baby getting their fingers trapped.
“We went through all the EU guidance on electrical and children’s products and furniture to consider all possible risks,” explains Sissala. “It was not easy to find a very safe way to create the rocking movement, but we did it.”
In addition, the mattress fits any standard size crib and its breathable mesh fabric allows air to pass through, even if a baby turns to sleep on their tummy.
“You can see a mother has been involved in the design,” Sissala laughs. “There have not been any compromises.”
And praise for Familings is growing. The mattress was chosen as the best kids furniture at the ‘Kind + Jugend’ trade fair in Germany immediately after launch and it has attracted over 100 000 euros in funding from Finnish angel investors and the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes**.
Solving a global problem
Currently the mattress is only sold online, but Familings is in discussions with a number of potential retailers in Finland. After Familings has ensured production works seamlessly with larger volumes, it will look at expanding to other European markets starting with Sweden.
But word has already started to spread.
“We get international enquiries every day and we have already been contacted about licensing deals in Australia, South Korea and the US,” Sissala says. “Almost 50 per cent of babies have trouble sleeping, no matter the country, so this is truly a global problem.”
Familings is a rare startup today in that it has a physical product instead of a digital one. While the road from an idea to the market is never easy, Sissala recommends everyone gives entrepreneurship a try if they truly believe in an idea.
“Do not give up if one door, two doors or even ten doors close. When you find one investor who believes in the product, it will give you a major boost going forward,” Sissala summarises.
Or, in the case of Familings, a major boost moving gently from side-to-side.
*Known as LullaMe since 2017
**Part of Business Finland since 2018