In 1999, Michal Chesal’s life was led down an unexpected path; her new baby boy, Coby, was born with Down syndrome.
Coby was an adorably happy and healthy baby, and while their day-to-day was filled with all the joys of new parenthood, Michal knew that they would inevitably face struggles as he grew. Every milestone would take Coby a little bit of extra effort, and Michal wanted to ensure that he was provided with the best options for physical, emotional and cognitive development.
One of the most important tools for early emotional development is touch. Holding your baby, sometimes skin-to-skin has been proven to promote both mental and physical development. Studies show that babies who are held cry less, have improved visual and auditory alertness, more readily bond with their parents, and more.
Wanting to carry Coby as much as possible, Michal’s research led her to the concept of babywearing – a practice that had been around for thousands of years, yet was only now resurfacing in the western world. Wearing a baby in a carrier is not only practical but also provides the benefits of touch.
Before giving birth, Michal had been gifted a buckle carrier from a friend – one of the few brands on the market in 1999 – but before using it, she consulted with Coby’s physical therapist. To her dismay, his therapist advised against using the carrier. Coby, along with most Downs individuals, was born with hypotonia (low muscle tone), and while the brand offered many great positions, it would not properly support his hips during newborn development. Having hypotonia meant that it would take Coby longer to gain muscle strength as compared to a typical child, and a carrier which held his legs too far apart while he was a newborn would adversely affect his development.
Though disappointed, Michal was determined to find a brand that would properly hold Coby; however, her search proved to be a much more difficult task than anticipated. Every style that she found either offered only feet-out or feet-in and was cumbersome to put on, requiring layers of fabric or excessive adjustments.
She soon had a new mission: design the perfect baby sling wrap carrier. Pulling aspects from the various carriers, wrap and slings that she had found, Michal combined and modified features to develop her own carrier. The resulting product had a unique double-loop design that easily slipped on like a t-shirt, quite unlike any other carrier in the U.S. It allowed her to wear Coby with feet in until his muscles were more developed, at which point she could wear him with feet out and hips supported. When he gained head and neck strength, she could wear him facing forward or on her hip. Michal’s baby sling wrap carrier allowed her to bond with Coby while promoting healthy development.
Over the next five years Michal gave birth to two beautiful daughters, and she likewise wore each in her carrier.
In 2003, the Wernick family gave birth to their third child as well. Their son, Eitan Lev, was born with a rare heart defect known as Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR), and at only four weeks old, Eitan underwent a successful open-heart surgery. After his surgery, Eitan was fragile and sensitive to pain. Having heard about the benefits of babywearing, the Wernicks began researching slings and carriers, but they too found themselves dissatisfied with the options available. They discussed this dilemma with their friend, Michal Chesal, who eagerly lent them her homemade carrier.
After a few months of use, the Wernicks quickly realized the uniqueness of this carrier. Convinced by the constant questions and interest they received, the two families decided to join forces. Together they made further improvements to the carrier’s design, quality and functionality, and officially launched the finalzied Baby K’tan Baby Carrier in 2007.
Today, Baby K’tan, LLC is a leading brand in the baby sling wrap carrier industry. Known as “the wrap without the wrapping,” its innovative patented design paved the way for the Chesal and Wernick families to grow the company from a small family startup to a now thriving brand with over 17 international distributors spanning nearly 100 countries. They have expanded their product line to include additional carrier styles as well as diaper bags and swaddle blankets. Throughout it all, Baby K’tan focuses on their commitment to providing families with functional and innovative products, designed to help promote the natural bond between parent and baby.