Local designers help put a little panache in your parenting.
Meet another design-savvy, local new mom looking for ways to banish the cutesy baby gear of generations past. Architect Kim Barnsley has reinvented the baby sling—once a bastion of ducky and teddy motifs that mothers (not to mention fathers) were forced to fit into, and onto, their attire. Her new (hug) line, launched with partner B-Cozy Blankets, is a comfortable, pouch-style twist on the classic, made from soft, Canadian-made fleece bearing simple, colourful graphics like abstracted monkey and owl heads. They can be worn in the newborn cradle position, as well as at the hip or on the front. Available in adult-friendly background hues like grey, green, black, and brown, they retail for about $69.95, via www.bcozyblankets.com.
DIAPERS IN DISGUISE
Who says toting a diaper bag means ditching your own chic oversize leather designer purse? Urban moms Jennifer Bogart and Melissa Krezanski's Goober Baby line features a discreet, stylish change purse that slips easily inside your more adult tote—or looks good as a cool clutch all on its own. Just big enough to hold wipes and a couple of Huggies, the minibags boast plush lining and fabrics in cool vintage-tinged florals and paisleys, in hip colour combos like pink and chocolate, and turquoise and lime green (about $22). Check out the coordinating change mats, too (about $30). Find the line at stores like Chick Pea Children's Boutique (613 Front Street) and Beansprouts (4305 Main Street), as well as via sites like www.stylekid.ca and www.tinytoes.ca.
MIX AND MATCH
Now the chicest tykes can colour-coordinate everything from bibs to bedding. Forget Winnie-the-Pooh or pink-bunny motifs; Vancouver's Babylicious has come out with several collections of mod, matching prints that centre on bold stripes, checks, and geometrics. Groovy Pink polka dots put together a range of fuchsia and rose hues with lime green, while Groovy Blue is a more masculine mix of sage, celery, French blue, and black. There are also Islands (aqua blues, lime green, and black), Posie (pink and orange, with retro flower graphics), and Happy (cheery greens, yellows, blues, and oranges), with about 20 items per look. Choices span a unique sleeping vest (to be worn over sleepers), curtain valances, and hooded towels. Prices run about $20 to $30 for blankets, but splurge on a gift pack (around $50) for sets of bibs, sleep cozies, blankies, towels, and/or booties. Babylicious is sold at several stores including Chapters Indigo (various locations), Beansprouts (4305 Main Street), Crocodile (2156 West 4th Avenue), Hip Baby (2110 West 4th Avenue), and Nestings for Kids (2835 West 4th Avenue).
A growing number of baby and toddler Ts sport cheeky phrases these days, but what sets apart one new local line's messages is the way they smartly send up parents' daily—and nightly—trials and tribulations. Launched by Anne Jackson and Neena Rahemtulla, Babytease T-shirts come emblazoned with sayings like I Don't Smell Anything, Give Peas a Chance, I Walk When You're Not Looking, and Sleep Is for the Weak. Computer-geek parents will appreciate the iPood onesies, while the truly shuteye-deprived just might see the humour in a tiny hat that reads Insomniac. The looks come in cool cotton or cotton-spandex pastels and brights with clean, contemporary graphics. Prices range from $10 for a hat or bib to $18 for a T and $20 for a onesie or comfy sweatpants, via www.babytease.ca or at the line's kiosk in Oakridge Centre.
It took the sticky experience of being a mother of two to come up with a bib that lasts throughout a baby and toddler's messy stage—and manages to look funky, too. Mission mom Nicole Garza hand-makes her Mally Bibs out of washable leather and emblazons them with bright cutout icons like stylized frogs, carrots, butterflies, ladybugs, monkeys, and rockets. They're reversible, with a pocket on one side. A clever magnet clasp lets you adjust the size to fit from about a six-month-old to a three-year-old, as well as to stick it to the fridge or other metallic surface when it's not in use. By avoiding cloth, Garza also prevents the perma-stains of Pablum and spaghetti sauce—a fact that seems to appeal to a lot of parents out there: with more than 200 retailers across the continent having signed on since the launch two years ago, her Mally Bibs seem poised to become the next Robeez. Buy the bibs at stores like Baby's World (1946 West 4th Avenue), Boomers and Echoes (1985 Lonsdale Avenue), and Oh Brothers (2356 West 41st Avenue), or on-line at www.mallybibs.com for about $33.
Think of it as a blanket a baby can wear: Kí¶hlr Baby's soft, breathable fleece Sleep Sacks come with little overall-style straps and are loose and sealed along the bottom. Inspired by designs that have been used in Europe for years but are only now starting to catch on here—largely thanks to this Vancouver company—they avoid the use of blankets that can gather up near a baby's face, and they're believed to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome. Colours range from blush and tea rose to slate and sage. Check out the new Tag Bag with tiny silk tags the baby can fondle on the way to sleep. Prices range from about $40 to $50 at stores like Room for Two (1409 Commercial Drive) and Little Blessings (3010 Cambie Street), as well as via www.kohlrbaby.com.