IKEA is the one Swedish brand everyone knows, and while they do sell toys and kids stuff, there are a few other brands out there that really exemplify the experience of being a Swedish kid.
Like most things Swedish, they are usually pretty well made, and always rather expensive. You will also find them in about 80%-90% of Swedish homes. OK, maybe I am exaggerating a little, but not by much.
My two favorites are:
Founded in Osby, a tiny town just south of where Ikea was founded, Brio is known for making classic Swedish children’s toys, mostly out of wood. There are the infamous Brio trains, similar to the wooden Thomas the train tracks, that pretty much every family has either a stash of in their basement or has sold and gotten rich off. These things are gold – and while they cost a small fortune, the old ones have been known to survive 20-30 years in regular families (ie families that don’t save the packaging and have multiple children play with the toys).
You may recognize, but probably not, that Brio also designed our SUV stroller that I am still gushing over after all these years. They also do strollers (Scandinavian giants only) and I believe car seats.
If you are ever in Sweden you can even go to the Brio museum, where, coincidently, Santa Claus also lives in the basement.
Polern och Pyret
It took me until last year to figure out that the words Polern och Pyret actually meant something, The buddy and and the little guy. PoP is pretty much a staple in middle-class Sweden.
They sell organic and regular cotton products, but really specialize in outdoor gear that will set you back a couple hundred dollars.
The best thing about PoP, (although I admit I don’t shop there often, too expensive, and when I do I order from the US website sales – or rather, grandma and grandpa do), is that the clothes grow with the child. A lot of the clothing has small design touches which mean they can last for ages. Take one organic cotton PJ Little Swede got when he turned one. It had thick cuffs on the arms and ankles that you could roll up or down. The cuffs, when rolled down, easily add at least 4 inches to each arm/leg if you want to. Almost 2 years later and Little Swede still fishes it out of the drawer, it is still in one piece, and it still fits. Almost makes justifying the purchase of 50 dollar pajamas for a 1 year old.