Babywearing is great, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges in varying degrees, particularly in cold weather: making sure the baby stays warm and cozy, making sure you stay warm and cozy, and, you know, looking relatively pulled together. A local mom and business woman is bringing the secret weapon of Eastern European mothers (and mothers-to-be) to NYC and beyond: a functional and stylish three-in-one maternity, babywearing and “civilian” coat that’s ethically manufactured and free of materials derived from animals. Carry on!

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photo: Tasku Babi

Back in the U.S.S.R.
A native of Ukraine, Sunnyside mom Kat Dunams was back home visiting one winter when she first spied the type of coat she now is bringing stateside. Even in the harsh eastern European winter, mothers kept both themselves and their kids warm in a convertible, fashionable parka made for babywearing, pregnancy and the years beyond.

When she returned home to the land of less elegant cold weather babywearing solutions (and eventually became pregnant with her second child) Dunams decided to take action and import the coats herself. After meeting with vendors, suppliers and manufacturers from Moscow to St. Petersberg and beyond, as well as considering dozens of colors and designs, Tasku Babi was born. (“Tasku” means “pocket” in both Estonian and Finnish.)

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photo: Tasku Babi

How Does it Work?
All Tasku Babi babywearing garments come with two middle panels that zip in and out — one to be used during pregnancy, the other, which contains an additional microfiber insulator for extra warmth, for babywearing. (Without the panels, the products function and look like normal winter coats.) Tasku Babi sells a variety of styles — some coats come with hoods or faux fur trim, and a lightweight fleece option for layering or warmer weather, and a raincoat are also available.

The coats achieve that mix of insulation and a streamlined silhouette (i.e. you won’t look like the Michelin Man) thanks to a filling made from thin microfiber sheets similar to Thinsulate, which function like down feathers. Features to keep baby comfortable and secure include hoods, elastic bands for custom fit, and zippered openings for when baby wants his or her arms free on warmer days. (Note: you still need to wear a carrier with these coats; any type works.)

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photo: Tasku Babi

How is Tasku Babi Different?
While Tasku Babi coats aren’t the first or only cold weather babywearing coats on the market, they do offer some unique features. Perhaps most significantly, is the product’s use of two panels for “conversion” instead of one, which ultimately makes for a better fit in each incarnation/stage. No animal products are used to make the coats, so no fur, feathers, leather — they’re completely vegan (aside from one coat that incorporates some merino wool.) On the cosmetic side, the coats come in a wide range of colors beyond black and grey, such a olive, “sugar plum” and “raspberry swirl.” And while not cheap (around $300), they’re less expensive than other similar coats.

Plus: they’ve even got a coat just for dads, with more dude-friendly styling.

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photo: Tasku Babi

Take it to the Next Level with Tasku Babi
So, you’re a hardcore baby-wearer? Kick it up a notch with the Whole Mama or the Whole Papa coat, the babywearing coat made a reality by a Kickstarter campaign! (Dunams crowd-sourced the R&D for it, and now it’s a reality.)

This double duty coat enables both mom or dad to carry kids in the front, back, or both! (We’re looking at you, multiples parents…)

Perhaps the Best News: Dunams will come to you!
Tasku Babi products are available at the shop online, as well as at a few brick-and-mortar stores (Baby Mama in Bay Ridge and Baby New Paltz upstate). But Dunams is happy to provide individual consultations at home or office, during which potential customers can see how the pieces look and work first hand.

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Online: taskubabi.com

How do you keep warm while babywearing in the winter? Tell us in the comments below!

—Mimi O’Connor