How to wear a baby sling with Baby K’tan
The amazing story of how one struggling mom solved a problem for her disabled child – and launched a revolution at the same time
When Michal Chesal gave birth to her first child in 1999, she thought she was ready for anything. And then Michal’s son, Coby, was born with Down Syndrome. Chesal wanted to wear little Coby as close to her as possible, but her doctor told her that the carrier she had wouldn’t be suitable for Coby’s muscle development and mobility. It was a small setback by comparison to the big picture of raising a child with Down’s, but it was one Michal thought she might be able to tackle – and solve.
So Michal made her own carrier, a sort of double-sling/swaddle hybrid that was big enough to completely support Coby, and used it for him when he was little. Though she had a background in marketing, Michal didn’t think of putting the carrier on the market until her longtime friends, Isaac and Aviva Wernick, borrowed her handmade carrier for their own infant son after his open-heart surgery. When they raved about the sling and encouraged her to take it to market, Michal took the plunge along with the Wernicks.
In the nine years since Baby K’tan was launched, the business has gone from strength to strength. Now a mother of three, Michal’s business turns over in excess of $1 million annually. She sells to celebrities, but the biggest marker of success, says Michal, is the stories she hears from ordinary moms using her products. There was the mom who approached her at a roadshow, saying she’d used the sling with her son, who suffered from brittle bone disease, and the hundreds of emails she receives every year from moms of Down syndrome children. In a testament to her ongoing support of the causes that led her to launch the company in the first place, Michal donates a percentage of the profits from Baby K’tan to the American Heart Association and the National Down Syndrome Society.
But of course, the benefits of babywearing, using a product like Baby K’tan, aren’t limited to children with special needs, like Coby. Alyson Daley, a spokesperson for the company, says that wearing your baby from newborn to toddlerhood allows parents to be hands-free, keep their baby close and surprisingly, has many health benefits. She tells me about how wearing a Baby K’tan can encourage “kangaroo care” – the practice of holding or wearing a newborn skin-to-skin, as a kangaroo would with its joey, and waxes lyrical about its many benefits. This skin-to-skin contact not only helps regulate baby’s body temperature, it also helps with brain development, enhances the chance of breastfeeding success, can reduce crying, help with parent-child bonding and can even improve oxygen saturation levels in little ones.
As for Coby, he’s now 16 and interested in working at Baby K’tan someday. If that isn’t a success story, we’re not sure what is.
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