Mums-to-be are being handed a ‘pawfect’ memento of their unborn child’s heartbeat, inside a teddy bear, thanks to an award-winning North Wales toy company.
Mochdre-based Be My Bear, which has supplied Harrods, Selfrdges, Butlins, X-Factor, The Apprentice and Hollyoaks, has found a growing interest from parents for its new product.
The sound of a baby’s heartbeat in the womb, taken during routine ultrasound scans, is captured on a chip inside the bear.
The recording is played by pressing a heart button on the teddy bear, which the parents-to-be take home to treasure and also share with family and friends.
Once the baby is born, the cuddly toy’s heartbeat recording can also be used to help soothe the infant to sleep.
The heartbeat bears are also helping grieving parents whose babies tragically do not survive birth.
New mum and maternity blogger Flo Berry found the bear a perfect way to share the sound of her daughter’s heartbeat with her husband, who was unable to join her for the scan.
The 31-year-old primary school teacher from Northampton said: “I had heard about the Heartbeat bears and thought they would be perfect, as my husband Neil was away training to be a stonemason at Moulton College in Northamptonshire – he’s just swapped careers from being a physiotherapist’s assistant.
“I bought the bear and the recording chip and took it into my NHS scan: my midwife was very supportive of the idea. When she used the fetal doppler machine to listen to my baby’s heartbeat, I recorded the sound – the recorder was very easy to use.
“I then put the chip into the bear and made a little video for my husband, which I sent to him on email to listen to – he was so happy to hear it.
“I’ve also put the video on my Instagram account a.berry.mummy.life and everybody just loved the idea, and it’s been shared across social media. The page is all about life as a new mum so there are a lot of other new parents who are following my posts.”
Baby Lottie Rose Berry arrived on June 21 – two weeks early – but fortunately dad Neil was at home to be there for the birth.
Flo added: “Lottie weighed 6lb and 4oz, and is now doing very well, despite being early. However, my husband is still away for part of the week, as he’s been working on Worcester Cathedral since Lottie was two weeks olf, so I use the heartbeat to help settle her.
“She obviously recognises the sound of the heartbeat as she moves her head to listen and it does help soothe her – as a new mum who’s coping alone that is a real help. I am recommending it to all the mums-to-be that I meet.”
Be My Bear’s business endeavours are being supported by Colwyn Business Improvement District (BID), which is aiming to revitalise the area.
Anna Openshaw, project manager of Colwyn BID, said: “Be My Bear is a terrific company that has thrived and flourished during its 16-year history and it continues to innovative.
“Such a well-respected business provides a welcome boost to the region and we are confident that Be My Bear will continue to go from strength to strength.”
Be My Bear company founders Jane Weaver, a former teacher, and ex-journalist Pippa Thomas believe the baby heartbeat concept, which is already being snapped up by private scanning clinics around the UK, will take the company to a new stage in its growth.
The lifelong friends began the company working from Jane’s kitchen table 16 years ago and now operate from their 4,000 sq ft warehouse in Mochdre Business Park in Conwy County, selling no-sew takeaway teddy bear kits to make at home or to be stuffed in store. They also supply an extensive range of outfits and accessories.
They currently have a seven-strong team running an online shop and supplying more than 250 UK wholesale customers, from events companies and high street retailers to play centres and holiday parks such as Butlins.
The company has picked up a host of honours, including the industry Oscars – the Giftware Association’s Gift of the Year awards – as well as the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries Good Toy Awards.
Be My Bear director Pippa said: “We are really excited about our heartbeat bears and are getting some terrific feedback from the scanning clinics across the UK that are purchasing our products.There is a huge market out there, as yet untapped.
“The baby’s heartbeat is captured on our 20 second recordable voice chip during the ultrasound scan and placed inside a bear or animal to be kept as a treasured memento, before and after baby’s arrival.
“Mums-to-be can now have a permanent recording of their baby’s heartbeat as well as the image in the womb to treasure and share.
“Our heartbeat bears are among an exciting new range of products that we are launching this year to complement our no-sew, make-your-own-teds. They have a wide-ranging appeal from the very young to the young at heart across a variety of different applications, from individual gifts to bear-making parties.
“Our fun, no-sew kits set us apart by the fact that each child can quite literally make a bear anywhere, giving parents the option to host amazing bear making parties themselves at home or at party venue.
“The quality of our products is monitored with an independent company at manufacturing and pre-shipment stages as well as in-house production checks. Nothing enters our warehouse unless it adheres to the highest safety tests within Europe and the UK, and we visit our factories in China to ensure both quality of products and employees’ working and welfare conditions.”
The heartbeat bears are proving a hit in the West Midlands where they sold via BabyFace 4D Ultrasound Service in Bromsgrove. David Agnew, who runs the company with his partner Jill Agnew, a midwife, said: “Our customers absolutely love the heartbeat bears as they really complement the scans perfectly.
“I’ve seen many dads-to-be get incredibly emotional when they press the heart button on the bear and hear their baby’s heartbeat. They provide something tangible for parents-to-be to take away and they also make great gifts.
“On a more poignant note, we have parents who know their babies will not go full term due to complications and the heartbeat bears provide something particularly special for them.
“Pippa and Jane are terrific to work with as they are very efficient and nothing is ever too much trouble.”
Colwyn BID, a non-for-profit social enterprise, is aiming to revitalise the business communities across the towns of Old Colwyn, Mochdre, Rhos and Colwyn Bay, by attracting more visitors, investment and shoppers to the area.