CLIFTON PARK — A store that specializes in providing locally made baby products, as well as "attachment parenting," has surpassed retail status and is quickly becoming a hub for mothers to become educated and find resources about natural parenting.
After returning to the Capital Region from her close-knit neighborhood in New York City, Amber Chaves, owner of The Bundle Store and mother of two young children, found herself scouring the web for hours to find activities that would be conducive to her parenting needs and desires.
Chaves, a certified educator in baby-carrying, is originally from Colonie. When she moved back from New York, she felt this area was lacking something she had in the city: support of like-minded parents who were wearing their babies and taking the attachment-parenting approach.
Deciding to take matters into her own hands, Chaves first opened her store in 2013 in Ballston Spa. Then, seeing a need for expansion, she moved the store to its current location on Route 9 in Clifton Park in 2015.
“Because of the geographical location of this area, where we have Saratoga up here, and Schenectady over here, we just didn’t have a hub where all of the people could get connected in one place,” Chaves said. “And so that was really my goal.”
Chaves sells toys, clothes, cloth diapers, and other baby necessities. New mothers, she said, often spend hours online reading about what product is best, and her store exists to provide items that have already been vetted so customers don’t have to spend a lot time reading product reviews or labels and possibly getting overwhelmed.
Many of the brands offered in the Bundle Store are local products or made in New York. Many also are organic, and the businesses supplying products are often women-run. All of the brands, she said, focus on providing higher-quality child care products.
“We do really try to source out those brands that are committed to why they exist in the first place,” Chaves said.
She added that her store hopefully takes some of the anxiety away from shopping for baby supplies. Many first-time parents, she explained, are afraid to go into baby stores because of experienced parents who might judge them.
“People feel intimidated coming into a baby store, and that’s not the way it should be at all,” she said.
The store also functions as a space for mothers to educate themselves. Chaves teaches classes about natural parenting as well as online classes. The Bundle Store also offers an online registry.
Natural parenting, Chaves said, is not as different a philosophy as some people would think.
“It’s just kind of going back to the basics,” she said, explaining that back when humans were migrating across the planet, they carried their babies in slings, and breastfed, simply because that was the only option.
“There is a whole facet of things to educate yourself on when you’re preparing for a baby, and we do try to encourage people to just educate themselves. Whatever decision you make for your family is a decision that’s right for you.”
And while she does teach classes on baby-carrying and other attachment parenting techniques, Chaves emphasized that natural parenting ultimately just means doing whatever feels right to each mother.
More importantly, she said, are her efforts to make sure that mothers have the confidence and resources to raise their children. Those efforts range widely, from classes focused on baby-wearing, to simply answering questions or pointing people to another organization that might be able to help as well. What she isn’t here to do, she said, is force people into her preferred way of raising children.
“We’re not really here to tell people what to do. We’re just here to support them,” she said. “We’re connecting them in real time with their local resources. With things they might not even know exists.”
Chaves sees the resources provided locally for parenting education improving. More and more people are learning about things they should be doing with babies before they give birth, she said. This month, Chaves and a group of other professionals will relaunch Pregnancy Project online, which is a conglomerate of birthing experts who support pregnant women and their families.
“The reality is that there are resources, and there are people women can access locally before they even have the baby,” Chaves said. “But there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”