Ellen: When my son was teething, all he wanted to do was grab the dirtiest most BPA-laden objects and pop them straight in his mouth. I did everything I could to make his environment free from germs and chemicals but it's nearly impossible and, honestly, exhausting. At a restaurant one night, my son wouldn't stop chewing on a gross table edge when he was sitting in his highchair. Turns out, toddlers in highchairs sit at the perfect height to gnaw on the edge of the table (bonus points if you can lick the bottom). I searched the internet for a reusable placemat that would cover the edge of the table – there were plenty of options but I couldn't find one that was quite right. So I decided to make my own.
Ellen: There are a million baby brands that promise the same things (safe, clean, blah blah blah). At Nibble Safe, we have taken the more difficult and costly approach to ensure higher quality and safety at every step along the way. Here's what we can promise that other brands can't:
Check out a selection of Nibble Safe products on Leleki.
Ellen: Silicone is a polymer made from refining silica, which is a major part of sand, with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. it is molded under high pressure and heat. Plastic suffers from leaching, whereas silicone is far more chemically stable. In addition to this, silicone is: durable yet soft on children's mouths, withstands high and low temperatures, doesn't stain readily, and is naturally hypoallergenic. Rubber has some of the same properties as silicone, but is not as durable, has latex (which can cause allergic reactions), and breaks down in UV light.
Ellen: It is frustrating how confusing this can be! Especially because many of the claims made can be independent of one another, and others claims are pointless.
Ellen: All products for children in the US are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC bans the use of lead and Phthalates, and has some other requirements. The FDA regulates things that comes into contact with food. The FDA has specific formulation and lab test requirements. These tests measure degradation of silicone when placed in high temperature baths of various liquids. All these tests are expensive, and need to be done on each color. Unfortunately, CPSC requirements, and especially the 'food-grade' label seem to be thrown around casually. For example, in 2019 several baby products that were labeled as safe were found to have banned substances - clearly manufacturers weren't being honest about testing [1, 2].
Ellen: There's no doubt we could manufacture outside the US to save cost and increase our margin, but that's not our goal. Simply put, our number one priority is keeping kids safe and by manufacturing locally we can ensure the quality of our product. The US also has strong regulations for workers and the environment that align with our values. Our carbon footprint is also smaller since our products don't have to take a long journey via ships or airplanes. Lastly, the electricity consumed while making our product comes from a cleaner source in the US than abroad.
Ellen: We've done this at multiple levels in our supply chain. Our manufacturer adheres to formal quality guidelines, and then we personally inspect each placemat. For each purity claim we make (e.g. BPA-free), we send the placemats to an independent lab located in the US for confirmation.
Ellen: Sustainability is one of the key pillars of our company. We've setup our supply chain for sustainability as referenced above and ship our products in plastic-free packaging. We also offer complimentary recycling of our placemat, where a customer can send it back to us and we will recycle the silicone in a specialized facility. Lastly, we are currently working on becoming carbon neutral - we will offset all of the carbon emissions from the entire life cycle of our products.
Ellen: The placemat was born out of a personal need. In the beginning, I was naive about the wide spectrum of quality and purity of baby products. Now I see a need to manufacture more everyday baby products, but with safer, higher quality silicone. We are currently in the development phase of our next product.