Bathing a baby is really a quality moment between parent and child. It takes preparation and caution, but afterwards, there is one-to-one interaction, and it should not be underestimated in the daily ritual. As we are all spending more time at home, we are seeing an increase in sales of bath and toilet training articles. This is why this product group definitely deserves more attention on shop shelves!
Alternatives for the traditional babybath
Apart from the traditional long bath with an insert or reducer on a stand, there are several other products on the market for bathing a child. Think of bathing the baby in the bathtub, in the shower or in the sink. There have also been adjustments in the use of materials and design. Yet this product group is not overflowing with innovations. This is not so strange because it mainly concerns functional and hygienic products. Irene Mols, Sales Manager Benelux of BabyBjörn, says: ‘Our products have a minimalist design and are timeless, maybe that’s why so little changes. The products function as they should, and they fit into any interior, so why change form and function? We only adjust the colours regularly to keep in line with the colours of modern bathrooms.’
Attention to ergonomics of babybath products
Bath products are about direct contact with the skin, so materials, design and user-friendliness are important. The baths and bath buckets have been given rounder shapes, and some parts have been replaced by softer silicone parts. The colour palette has become softer. Therefore, this product group does not need to be hidden away in the shop but definitely deserves an attractive place.
Sustainability in the bathroom
The discussion on the sustainability of products for the baby’s room is relatively new; is plastic still allowed? Irene Mols says: ‘We follow this discussion but have to conclude that hygiene in bathroom products is so important that plastic lends itself very well as a material for this. Plastic is washable and has a long life. It is not a disposable product. We also use materials that have been checked and approved according to strict European standards.’ Other brands are cautiously taking their first steps in sustainability and water-saving solutions. Like the Softtub bath (nominated for the Baby Innovation Award), which saves 75 per cent more water than other baby baths. The bath is small and foldable and can be completely recycled.
Where to look when buying bath products
‘Parents pay attention to good and solid quality, that products are easy to clean, and that body parts are not pinched off. They also look at the life cycle of a product. You don’t want to buy a new step stool or potty for every child, but it must remain hygienic, without unsightly yellow edges,’ says Irene Mols.
Now that we are home more, is there an increase in sales of bath products and toilet training articles?
Sietze Klaver from shop Babyplanet confirms this trend and talks about an increase in sales of bath and personal care products of about 10 per cent. Irene Mols adds: ‘People are more at home and there is more time and attention for toilet training. For example, we noticed a sharp increase in pot sales during the first lockdown. Many people wait with toilet training until the holidays because then they have time to pay attention to it. Because of the lockdown, they suddenly had unsolicited time for their child. Many parents have seized the opportunity to teach their little ones how to use the potty!’ Jippie’s Europe also recorded a sales increase. ‘We have definitely seen an increase in the sale of pee-pots. People are at home a lot and start potty training sooner. Through our social media, we have been giving people tips on how best to go about toilet training.’
The ratio of physical to online purchases
Caroline Dommerholt of Diaper Champ/Garland Company reports: ‘Unfortunately, we don’t notice that toiletries sales have increased. Our diaper pails are not impulse buys. We do see that due to the lockdown, products are purchased via other online channels. Pot sales continue. Sales overall are not less for us, but we hear from shops that they do have a drop in sales of products. So you can draw the conclusion that consumers bought their products through other channels.’ ‘When shops are closed, like during the corona periods, online is, of course, a godsend,’ says Irene Mols from BabyBjorn. However, smaller products, such as bathroom products, are generally more likely to be ‘taken’ on a shopping spree in a physical shop if larger items are to be purchased anyway.’
Do the baby bath and potty stay on the shopping list?
Irene Mols on that: The potties are definitely still a must on the to-do list. And as long as parents don’t want loud croaking or talking potties, they’ll come to BabyBjörn for timeless, properly functioning potties, steps and toilet seats.’ Valérie Hendrickx from Babymatters reports: ‘In our opinion, a bath is very important to have in the house from birth. With our AquaScale bathtub, young parents also have a scale at home with which they can monitor their baby’s weight from birth.’
Despite all the information available and good education, recent research shows that parents in The Netherlands do not always follow the advice on safe sleeping. How come? According to professionals, there are also worrying developments about the use of sleep products. A baby sleeps most of the day. A comfortable and safe place to sleep is, therefore, essential.
Guidelines for safe sleeping
For a safe sleeping environment, ‘Kraamzorg en Jeugdverpleegkundigen’ (Maternity Care and Paediatric Nurses) use the ‘VeiligheidNL’ guidelines. Together with the midwives, these professionals come into direct contact with parents who have just had a baby. Among other things, parents are given a leaflet with sleep advice and can find advice and information videos online. It is essential that professionals’ knowledge about sleeping safely is up to date so that they can answer parents’ questions. To this end, VeiligheidNL has developed an accredited e-learning module.
Prevention methods for baby safe sleeping
Even though many parents are afraid of cot death or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), they do not always follow the safe sleeping advice. In short, the advice is to let the child sleep on its back, in its empty bed and in a sleeping bag. Why do parents not always follow this advice? VeiligheidNL conducted research into this. Research shows that there are two different types of psychological resistance. Sometimes parents resist the message (scepticism), and sometimes there is resistance to change (inertia).
Parental behaviour change
Professionals in the form of maternity care, baby consultants and Youth Health Care (JGZ) play a significant role in changing parents’ behaviour. Mieke Cotterink of VeiligheidNL said: ‘Before you can break through inertia, it is important first to remove any scepticism. Only when parents are willing to exhibit the desired behaviour can they actually do it.’ According to Cotterink, this can be done by discussing behaviour, honestly stating all the pros and cons and looking for a safe solution together. For example, think of taking the baby into the parental bed if it does not stop crying. In this case, a cosleeper bed is a good alternative.
Resistance to change
And as for resistance to change, ensure no change is needed. Cotterink on this: ‘If you formulate in concrete terms what the right behaviour should be and how it should be carried out, parents do not have to think about it themselves. This prevents parents from misinterpreting your advice or not following it because they don’t know how.’
What are the advices for safe sleeping?
Put your baby on its back to sleep When a baby lies on its stomach, there is a risk that it can become short of breath because its mouth and nose are pressed against the mattress. There is also a chance that a baby in the prone position will repeatedly breathe in the air they breathe out; this is called rebreathing. As a result, your baby is not breathing enough oxygen. A baby on the stomach can easily move around and accidentally lie on pillow-like materials. A side position is not recommended because a baby can roll over on its stomach.
Use safe bedding for your baby It is not recommended to use a duvet, pillow or head protection. Large cuddly toys do not belong in baby beds either. A baby can lie against it and get into breathing difficulties. Safe bedding is also essential. A duvet is not recommended until a child is two years old.
Use a baby sleeping bag A baby sleeping bag is the safest option as soon as the baby starts to move; that is when it rolls around in bed.
Making up baby’s cot in a short and tight way For a safe sleeping environment, making up the cot in a short and tight way is important in the first period. The child’s feet almost touch the footboard. The bedding extends to the shoulders so the head lies free. First, a flannel is placed around the mattress, then a bottom sheet. Parents do not need to use a tarpaulin or waterproof flannel. If they wish to do so, the child’s head must never rest on it. Everything must be nice and taut for safe sleeping. Then the bed is further made up with a top sheet and a blanket of cotton, wool or synthetic material. A blanket may also be tucked into a duvet cover, but everything must be tucked in at the sides. Bedding that is too large should not be double-folded but folded under the mattress.
Prevent heat congestion Parents should ensure good ventilation in the bedroom, and a baby should not get too hot through too many layers of sheets and blankets (TOG values). Heat congestion means a baby cannot give off its heat, a risk-increasing factor for cot death. With heat congestion, the blood vessels in the baby’s skin open wide to cool off. This means the blood pressure drops, and the heart has to pump too hard. A baby regulates its warmth through its head, which is why a cap is no longer needed after the first few days. The baby’s temperature should be checked via the neck, not the head. The ideal temperature for the baby’s room is between 16 and 18 degrees.
Do not sleep with your baby Sleeping together with the baby in the parents’ bed is not recommended. This is not without risk: a child can end up under the duvet or between the mattresses, fall out of bed or lie against the pillows with the risk of gasping for breath. There is also a chance that a parent may roll over on the baby, especially if they are tired, smoke or are taking medication. A cosleeper is a good alternative.
Research shows: sleeping together is not essential for bonding
There is a lot of discussion about whether sleeping with your baby in the same bed is sensible or not. Studies show that sleeping together has no positive or negative effects on bonding. In other words, it does not matter whether parents sleep in the same bed with their baby or not. For this study, led by Dr Ayten Bilgin of the University of Kent, 178 mothers and their babies were followed at measurement points of 3, 6 and 18 months of age. Source: Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics
No smoking Smoking has been shown to increase risk. The advice is not to smoke before, during and after childbirth. Parents should also try to prevent their babies from breathing in other people’s smoke
Breastfeeding It is possible that breastfeeding reduces the risk of cot death. There is evidence that breastfeeding has a protective effect and that a baby is more alert. It has not been proven that bottle-feeding increases the risk.
Use a pacifier A dummy protects against cot death, so parents may give their baby a dummy if breastfeeding goes smoothly. Babies who are given a dummy sleep more peacefully and are less likely to turn over on their stomachs.
Ensure rest and regularity If a child gets out of its rhythm due to long car journeys, for example, or a restless home situation, there is a chance that children will fall into a profound sleep. So ensuring regularity in the periods when the baby is awake and asleep is essential.
Concerns about sleep products and the internet Innovative products regularly appear on the market. However, Cotterink is sometimes concerned that parents are not always adequately informed about this. New parents buy products and are later told by maternity care staff that they should not be used in certain situations. The industry and especially newcomers, must know what the safety requirements are. At the same time, healthcare professionals must be aware of new items.’ Another concern is the supply of sleep products that comes into our living rooms through foreign Internet providers. ‘An approval in a certain country does not say it meets our European safety requirements.’
How to deal with the baby nests hype Sweet, soft and hype: baby nests! A baby nest is a kind of mattress or basket with a thin base and raised edges in which the baby can be placed for a short while to rest or play. The raised edges or bumpers are usually made of a cushion-like material, which is precisely where the problem lies. Because children can lie face down against the edges, often filled with thick, synthetic materials. The cords used to tighten a baby’s nest at the bottom can also be a problem if they are too long or cannot be tucked away in a compartment or behind a piece of fabric. More and more often, baby nests are being used as a proper place to sleep, whether in the stroller, playpen or parental bed, and experts are not happy about this, to say the least. Unfortunately, no standards have been developed (yet) for these products.
If parents do purchase a baby nest, the following advice applies:
Always place the baby’s nest on a flat surface.
Place the baby on his back with his feet near the opening.
Always supervise the baby.
Only put the baby in there to play or as a short resting place; if the baby wants to sleep, put it in the cot.
Never use a baby nest as a sleeping place, and definitely do not put your baby in it when it has to sleep at night.
Do not use a baby nest once your child can roll over.
A baby nest is not a means of transportation, so take the baby out when you move the baby nest.
Sources: www.veiligheid.nl/veiligslapen. ‘Veilig slapen voorlichting aan ouders, een gedragswetenschappelijke benadering’ [Safe Sleep Education for Parents, a Behavioural Approach]. Authors: M. Cotterink, researcher, SafetyNL; Dr. L.A. Venhoeven, behavioural psychologist, D&B Behaviour BabyWereld BabyWiki
Parents are becoming increasingly mobile, and so the demand for strollers is growing worldwide. But because young parents with children like to travel light and without hassle, their wishes regarding the transport of children have changed. In this article, we take a closer look at the international market and latest trends. We also consulted our own stroller market about popular models, what has changed in terms of buying behaviour and ordering procedure since the pandemic, current supply and the second-hand market.
International research figures stroller market
Let’s start with some international research figures. Grand View Research, an American research company, analyzed the global buggy market in 2019. The global turnover in this baby product category amounts to USD 2 billion. Key points in the stroller market are improved technology and the ability to deliver customized solutions to consumers. Leaving the effects of COVID-19 aside for a moment (ed.), millennials travel a lot and also with their children, but they like to do this as easily as possible. This means that there is more demand for compact, flexible stroller models.
A growing demand for strollers
Asian countries such as India, China and Bangladesh are experiencing increasing birth rates and thus a growing demand for strollers. In countries where people live in small flats or living quarters, such as Japan and India, there is a lot of interest in travel systems. Internationally, more and more women have a job. They need to be able to transport children more easily from home to day care and back again. In their search for suitable means of transport, strollers also come into play. And then there are the families who, for environmental reasons, prefer to leave the car at home and look for alternatives such as a stroller.
Lightweight strollers, sales through specialized shops
This international survey also shows that 35 percent of sales can be attributed to lightweight strollers. Most likely, these are buggy-like models. Another striking conclusion of this US study is that 55.4 per cent of sales are made through specialist retailers (2018 figures). Internationally, there appears to be a need for a ‘one-top-shop experience’. This is easier for parents and takes less time. The global market is dominated by North America with a share of 35.7 per cent of the total revenue. In this continent, there is a growing number of single parents and, as a result, increasing pressure to combine work and family life in a good way. According to the researchers, it is precisely strollers that help to make the process of transporting a baby a little easier.
From medium-sized family businesses to international brands
In the Netherlands, the market was dominated for many years by a number of reputable family businesses. For example Van Delft, Koelstra, Riemersma, Van Werven and Mutsy. Unfortunately, there are only a few of them left. Mutsy recently filed for bankruptcy. An incredible amount has changed in the stroller market. Production moved to China and a lot of knowledge and technology was transferred with it. The Netherlands is too small a market, so companies soon started to cross borders. Whereas foreign brands were previously unable to compete with Western European brands, nowadays foreign brands look just as trendy and are just as safe as our Dutch strollers. Besides the introduction of a number of new Dutch brands, more and more foreign brands are setting foot on Dutch soil. As a result, the number of stroller brands has increased enormously and so has the competition. Without large investors, a small family business cannot survive, even if its stroller models are iconic, progressive, fashionable and equipped with the latest technology.
The pandemic and its impact on shop sales
The corona crisis forced many shops to close down. So how do you reach the consumer? Smart manufacturers provided comprehensive information on their own websites, offered clear product videos and live chats. Instead of an offline demonstration in-store, consumers oriented themselves directly to brands online and strollers were sold more online. Now that the shops are open again, we have to ask ourselves whether this changing orientation and buying behaviour has not changed permanently. Online orientation may be possible with existing models that are not too complicated, but what about new strollers? Young parents will want to experience the strollers and buggies for themselves. The experience and perception of shopping can hardly be reflected online.
What will the future bring? These are the trends in the stroller market
First trend: Compact strollers and travel systems
The responses we received from the market show that compact and flexible strollers are the future. Instead of one stroller with separate accessories, parents are open to travel systems, combi strollers or 3-in-1 strollers. This way, parents buy a frame with a carrycot, a stroller insert and a car seat in one. If it can be expanded with the arrival of a second child, that would be a definite plus. This trend will blur the dividing line between stroller and buggy. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does affect the room to move of babies that are still growing. Ergonomist Brecht Daams wrote an appropriate column about this.
Second trend: Technical tour de force
The stroller market is always watching developments in the bicycle industry. When the e-bike made its appearance, stroller manufacturers explored the possibilities of how to incorporate this technology into strollers. Introduced in 2020, the Cybex e-Priam is the first electronic stroller with a rechargeable battery that provides a little support when going up or downhill, or when pushing is just hard. Sensors in the push bar detect that you are pushing a stroller and switch on the support. It’s not a cheap stroller because of the technology and quite heavy because of the battery, but definitely revolutionary and it steals the show in the shop! Whether other brands will follow remains to be seen. Because a stroller doesn’t need to go fast and we don’t have many hills here…
Third trend: Multifunctionality
Another trend we see is that strollers are becoming more multifunctional. Thule Chariot, Thule Urban Glide and Cybex Zeno are great examples. Strollers that allow you to take your child out in any season of the year and that are geared towards actively taking your children outside. Think of jogging, running, cycling and even cross-country skiing. With the Zeno, Cybex adds something extra: a pull with which you can pull the pushchair behind you without hands when you run. The adjustable floor ensures correct distribution of the child’s weight when choosing a transport method.
Fourth trend: Sustainability
Instead of buying and owning products, the sharing economy is emerging. Look at the emerging leasing schemes for strollers and nursery furniture in our market! It has been a while since the revolutionary Green Tom, made of recyclable materials and local production, made its appearance. By now, most stroller brands have some sustainability in their genes, such as incorporating recyclable materials like PET bottles in their upholstery. Consideration is being given to the reuse of parts and the use of screws instead of rivets for easy replacement.
GOTS certified stroller
The only GOTS certified stroller we know is Naturkind from Austria. They make ecological, sustainable strollers that are handmade in their own workshop. Naturkind only uses healthy, natural materials such as organic cotton, organic sheep’s wool, wood, cork and coconut fibres. Another green stroller that was introduced this year and won the Green Award of the Baby Innovation Award election, is the Belly Button by Hartan. All materials of this stroller are 100% recyclable. The outer fabric and accessories are made of 100% PET yarn and the inner fabrics of 100% organic cotton. Strollers are only made to order (no stock, the raw materials come from Europe) and the organisation is very transparent about the ‘green’ working methods in the factory.
We also asked different brands several questions about the stroller market. The answers were published in the September issue 2021 of BabyWereld.