Welcome to the second of our ‘Behind-the-Scenes' series, where we discuss all-things baby and toddler with an expert in their respective field.
In our previous blog, Production Coordinator Mai showed us how baby mattresses are made in Melbourne, and today we are proud to introduce Bryce, who takes us through the journey of researching, designing and ultimately bringing popular Babyrest products to life.
Join us as we pull back the curtain on how some of the most beloved Babyrest products such as the DuoCore Cot Mattress are designed right here in Melbourne, and get a behind-the-scenes peek into how our New Product Development team operates!
Tell us a bit about your role and what you enjoy most about New Product Development.
Being involved in a family business means my role is a varied role, covering several different areas of the business. My role in New Product Development is the most exciting as it allows me to make a difference to the lives of new parents and their babies. I am particularly passionate about the sleeping environment of new babies and how this impacts their quality of sleep, and in turn the quality of sleep of new parents. My role in New Product Development allows me to make a meaningful difference by bringing products to the market that aren’t just built to a price but provide something to consumers that other products don’t.
Babyrest as a brand began back in the 1970s when your grandmother designed an innovative toddler pillow that paediatricians recommended. How does it feel to now be adding to that legacy and being involved in the design process for new products yourself?
The passion for quality products has come through the generations and it is a great feeling to add to the Babyrest legacy and help take the brand to a new level. The early products that have stood the test of time have provided us with a great basis to now be releasing a greatly expanded range of products. It is inspiring to be part of a family business that allows us to bring meaningful products to new parents and continue to expand our range and make a difference.
Safe sleep is one of any parent’s biggest concerns when it comes to their little one. How does this influence or factor into the Babyrest design process?
Safe sleep is the first factor we consider when designing new products. I am mainly involved in the development of new cot mattresses and considering how much of their time babies spend sleeping, I believe the cot mattress is the most important purchase that parents will make for their baby. So, when we’re designing a new cot mattress, considering safety first involves the following factors:
Firmness: Ensuring the mattress meets the minimum firmness standard (AS/NZS 8811.1:2013) for both safety and spinal support.
Ventilation: This helps keep materials fresh and hygienic and ensures a regulated sleeping temperature - something babies are not able to do by themselves yet.
Comfort: This may seem unrelated to safety, however, I believe that if the cot mattress isn’t comfortable, the most likely outcome is the baby will end up sleeping in the parent’s bed, which is not safe at all.
- Materials used: Ensuring materials used are hygienic and free of any nasties. This includes sourcing certified so that we can guarantee their safety. For example, using foam and fabric that is Oeko Tex Standard 100 certified free of harmful substances. We also use natural fibers where possible and consider allergy properties of the materials, ensuring we use hypoallergenic components.
In addition to safe sleep, what are the most important considerations when you are designing a new nursery product?
Quality: Ensuring we use materials and construction that will last. That’s why we can offer 5-year warranty on our cot mattresses.
Functionality: Understanding how hectic the first few months of parenting helps design features that make a difference, such as removable and washable cot mattress covers. Other details like reinforced sides on the cot mattress to reduce the risk of limb entrapment are also added.
Price: We understand that the parenting journey can come with added financial pressure and we want to make sure our great cot mattresses are accessible to all. So, when we develop cot mattresses, we ensure that we have a range to suit different budgets. We ensure that all our cot mattresses come with essential features such as ventilation and we do not compromise on quality (meaning we can offer 5-year warranty on all our mattresses).
We scale back some of the features to gives consumers options to suit their budget (for example, the ComfiCore Cot Mattress does not have reinforced sides and a baby side/ toddler side, however it is ventilated and meets the firmness standard).
- Sustainability of materials used: Ensuring components are sustainably sourced, and using organic materials where it doesn’t compromise the outcome.
Above: Water permeability assessment on a new type of fabric the team is testing out
What are Babyrest’s design strengths in comparison to other products available on the market?
When considering this question in relation to cot mattresses, I think it’s to do with the factors we have discussed in the above two questions. We don’t just take a generic product that is already available and put our brand on it. And we don’t just design products to meet a price. We consider the factors of the product that actually make a difference and improve quality of sleep. Then we design the product to meet these factors.
Once we’ve done that, we can consider the commercials and tweak the product to ensure that we can achieve a price point that is accepted by the market and doesn’t present a barrier to parents who really want the best for their baby.
Walk us through the typical design process of bring a new product to life.
Using a cot mattress as an example, it begins with an idea – usually from one of our team as they’re out and about in the market and interacting with parents. I then draw up some rough concepts of what this might look like and do a competitive analysis to ensure they are different to what’s already available. At this stage we may have three or four concept options.
The next step is to start discussions with component suppliers. The two main components are the foam core and the fabric cover. Working together with the component suppliers and our production team, we come up with some concepts and pricing. By this stage, we have usually narrowed it to two concept options. We then source small batches of the components and manufacture some initial prototypes. With these we do various forms of testing at our own facility – such as firmness, airflow, water resistance, washability, durability etc.
At this point, we have enough information to ascertain the price points and we take it to the market for feedback, both from our retail partners and consumers. Based on this feedback and our internal testing, we finalise one concept and tweak the product to achieve the fundamental features at a reasonable price point. We then put it out to our internal team to come up with a product name.
From here, it’s developing the packaging and labelling and sourcing the raw materials. We make final prototypes and one is sent to the test house for certification on the firmness standard (AS/NZS 8811.1:2013). We source any additional capital equipment required to manufacture the product. Finally, it’s working with our Production team to schedule in the initial production, and working with the Sales and Marketing team to launch the product and take pre-orders.
Above: Bryce hands his designs over to the Production team who bring them to life. Read Mai’s story here.
Which Babyrest products have been designed in Melbourne?
All Babyrest products are designed in Melbourne. A lot of our cot mattresses, pillows and soft furnishings are also made here in Melbourne, while we manufacture other products, such as furniture, in our partner facilities overseas.
What do you think are the benefits of choosing Australian designed and made nursery products for parents?
We are designing products for the specific market we sell to, so we have a stronger understanding of what is important to our customers and are dedicated to meeting their specific needs. There are obvious factors, such as climate, which we can ensure our products are designed to accommodate.
Even things as simple as the size of the cot mattress – we ensure our cot mattresses suit all the common cot sizes available in Australia. Cot mattresses from overseas companies may only suit certain cots or the cots of the same brand. Babyrest cot mattresses are the best cot mattresses available in Australia and making them available in nine different sizes means all new parents can take advantage of these great products.
Learn more about the (many) benefits of choosing Australian-made →
How does being a parent yourself impact the way you design nursery products for safe sleep?
I’m a parent of two young children, and this helps me a lot in my role. It’s not just a commercial outcome I’m working on; it’s a product that I would be confident to use for my own children. Understanding the experience that expecting and new parents go through helps in developing products that make a difference because I understand which factors are important.
Many parents would know of someone who has sadly been impacted by SIDS, and therefore we are very anxious to provide the safest possible sleep environment for our babies. There are so many things to think about as a new parent – couple this with a lack of sleep and it can sometimes be overwhelming. As a parent, it is very reassuring to know that the surface and environment that your new baby is sleeping in is safe and comfortable.
Finally, which product have you been most proud of seeing come to life?
The Babyrest DuoCore Bamboo Cot Mattress. This is product is unique to the Australian market and it really challenged the status quo when it was released. Prior to the launch of the DuoCore, most parents purchased innerspring cot mattresses.
When developing the mattress, I believed that there were some old misconceptions about foam cot mattresses, but that a foam cot mattress is a better solution if it’s designed correctly and uses the right materials. Since releasing the DuoCore Cot Mattress, we have successfully released additional models of foam cot mattresses. It is pleasing to consider how many babies and their parents have had better quality sleep as a result of developing this cot mattress and making it available in all common sizes.
Watch how the Babyrest DuoCore mattress is made right here in Melbourne:
Shop the Babyrest ‘made in Melbourne’ range:
- Junior Pillows
- DuoCore mattress
- ComfiCore mattress
- Travel mattresses
- Standard and premium change mats
Anstel has a team of passionate expert representatives. Get in touch with us today with any questions about nursery sleep essentials.
Your mattress questions answered:
- Behind-the-Scenes series: How we make baby mattresses in Melbourne
- Should I buy a foam cot mattress? Dispelling common misconceptions
- Cot mattresses: foam vs innerspring
- Are expensive baby and toddler mattresses worth it?
- Why you can trust the ‘Australian Made’ logo
- Why choose Australian made?
- What makes bamboo bedding so great for babies?
- “A must have!” Why parents love Babyrest wool underlays
- How safe is your nursery? Your 10-step safety checklist
- Discover the 2023 Babyrest Nursery Furniture Collection
- Signs it's time to replace your toddler’s pillow
- Why rattan is an eco-conscious nursery choice