Gunapod-perfect sleeping companion for any baby or toddler

Many mothers face a big dilemma about what to use in order to keep their babies and toddlers warm at night, once you stop swaddling them. Some choose to use blankets-not ideal until the baby is at least a year old and some, like many of my girlfriends, choose to use sleeping bags. They keep the child snug and warm and you don’t have to worry about their safety, the question is, why aren’t sleeping bags more practical? Yes, you have thicker ones for cold months and lighter ones for when it’s warmer, but try changing your baby’s nappy in the middle of the night, while he or she is in the sleeping bag-a nightmare for those of us who are sleep deprived and don’t want to rouse the baby more than we absolutely have to.

Last year a very cute item caught my eye, while I was browsing the Net for that exact solution, called….Gunapod! DeveloppedDSC04767 by three American mothers, it’s a perfect item for both mother and child. Joy Chopak, one of the mum’s who started Gunamuna, was kind enough to agree to post the pink one to me in London last October and both my daughter and I fell in love with it from the first night she slept in it. It’s soft, it’s cosy, it zips and unzips in many directions, so you can easily control the ‘warmth’ factor and my daughter loves hugging it even when she isn’t wearing it. There are handy poppers at the shoulder level, there are side-zippers and the one in the middle, making it a perfect baby sleeping bag/blanket, which keeps the mother serene too!

Gunapod comes in three colours-cocoon, chocolate and tickled pink and three sizes-(small, 0-9 months, medium, 9-18 months and large, 18-24 months ) and costs £20. Luckily for those of us who live in the UK, Tesco has just started stocking them up exclusively online ( Gunapod has already been endorsed by many celebrity mothers in the US, if that swings your vote, so check out Gunapod’s Facebook page for updates ), but if you still need convincing, read my Q & A with Joy below………  

Q & A with Joy Chopak, the head Gunamom

GAP: Why did you choose Tesco, not Sainsbury’s or any other UK large retailer?

JC: Truthfully, they chose us. I received an email from Tesco that they were interested in purchasing the Gunapod and would I come visit them in the UK.

GAP: Will they be your exclusive UK stockist or do you have any other shops that are keen to stock Gunapod?

JC: At the moment we are just discussing orders with Tesco. One of our challenges is that almost nobody in the UK has heard of us. We just launched in February 2011. Although I will say that we were featured in DailyCandy Kids  and received a lot of orders on our website from all over the world, including the UK. 

GAP: How did the idea of Gunapod come about? What makes it different from let’s say a Grobag, that isIMG_0596 quite popular in the UK?

JC: Basically, my history is that I was a childrenswear buyer and many of my friends were complaining that they did not like the sleep sacks currently offered and their babies didn’t want to wear them. After many focus groups and gathering information on the likes, dislikes, wants of mothers and babies, we came up with the ultimate baby wearable blanket.
The Gunapod is VERY different from Grobag. Firstly, the Grobag does not function. It just opens and closes. Plus, we think that all of that decoration and heavy stiff fabric is not comfortable. And, the Gunapod is much better priced. At Gunamuna, we say that we want our babies to sleep safely, but we also want them to be comfortable and we want a blanket that is functional. With the Gunapod you can easily change a baby’s diaper without undressing the baby. Think middle of the night diaper changes, cold weather. Or think out and about in the stroller or car. And we took a long time to develop the most soft, cozy, yummy fabric. We think that’s important. Mother’s and babies should not have to compromise with the current choices. Or pay a lot of money for the perfect wearable blanket.
One key difference in Gunamuna is that we are not a company looking for another product. We came to be in existence because we are trying to solve a specific problem/need not being met. We are not about creating as many products as we can just to make money. We are about being the best wearable blanket. Period.
GAP: How long did it take you to develop this product?

JC: One and a half years

GAP: Do you plan to have them in more colours?

JC: Yes.
GAP: Was it difficult to get Gunapod off the ground?
JC: No, actually. We only launched last year but already have received a lot of press in the U.S.

GAP: How did you come up with a name Gunapod & Gunamuna?
JC: A friend of mine, the mother of a four year old and twins, was the original person who asked me to produce a better wearable blanket. Her sons all hated the current choices and so did she. Her twins’ nicknames are Guna and Muna. Totally made up . When I was forming the company, I googled the word ‘gunamuna’ to just see if it had a meaning and it did! ‘Gunamuna’ means ‘an innocent one’ in the Sanscrit language. And to take that one step further, we are producing the Gunapod in Sri Lanka where the native language is Sanscrit.
Gunapod is just a derivative of Gunamuna. A pod is a sack, its very comforting, it holds things safely. Think of a pea pod. So gunapod seemed very natural. We are Gunamoms.
GAP: How big is your team? How long you and your founding partners have known each other? Is it a female only team? What are your professional backgrounds?
JC: We are a company of moms about moms. The three key people in the company are myself, our creative director and our product development person. All moms with lots of experience changing diapers and caring for babies.

GAP: Do you think that women are more forward thinking and creative when it comes to children’s products?

JC: Yes. Because of our experience. I think only a person who takes care for babies, who is responsible for their well-being, can really understand a mom’s and baby’s needs/wants.

GAP: Why did you use polyester and not cotton for example, as the material for the Gunapod? 

JC: We actually intentionally used polyester for our first run. The first reason is the cost. I want every mother to be able to afford the best for her baby. Cotton and bamboo fabrics are a bit more costly. And secondly, polyester feels very different. It’s a very warm cozy fabric that doesn’t itch and there are no allergies to polyester. All babies love it and want to cuddle with it which is important to us. That said, I’m thrilled that we are soon able to provide a choice.


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