With a baby boom predicted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rachel and Brad Cohen emerged from Sydney’s lockdown last year with a different kind of newborn.
It birthed a new business for them called High Chair Catchy.
Mr Cohen had no idea how messy mealtimes were until he started working from home and witnessed their 18-month-old daughter, Maya, happily tossing her food off the side of her high chair.
Mrs Cohen, a 29-year-old first time mum, describes Maya as “a disaster food thrower”, but said her husband missed out on seeing the carnage as he would be at work.
“I always telling him how I have to clean up an insane amount of food and I’m constantly on my hands and knees to clean up,” she told news.com.au.
“You also try and make your baby’s meals healthy and nutritious and slave away in the kitchen and then next thing it’s thrown on floor and it all goes to waste.”
Mrs Cohen describes her husband as “DIY daddy” and said he made a lot of hacks that would never turn into a business.
But when he disappeared into the garage this time to save his wife from the stress of meal times, little did the family know a brand new business was also in the making.
He came up with the idea for waterproof shelf-type system, nicknamed the Catchy, that could be threaded around the legs of the high chair and catch any food that was dropped by Maya.
It can also be used a foot rest and protects floors and carpets, said Mrs Cohen.
“You can scoop out any of food you want to put it back in the same meal or use it for another meal later,” explained Mrs Cohen.
“Then you wipe her face, hands, the high tray and the Catchy and you’re done. I used to have a messy mat and I got even more frustrated as it was another thing to clean and shake outside or in the sink. With the Catchy, you wipe it and it stays in place for next meal. It’s durable, you will reuse it for as long as you need to use it for your child and you can also use it for the next kid.”
When friends started requesting the device and suggested they start selling them Mr Cohen was back in the garage, working through four prototypes, before settling on the final design. It’s made from material that is BPA-free, non-toxic, recyclable and is FDA approved food safe.
“Then he decided I’m done and going back to my day job and I was left with all these Catchys in them garage and I had taken on trying to sell them, but I had no background in marketing and sales,” Mrs Cohen said. “It genuinely has changed my life and made meal times much more enjoyable and I’m passionate about sharing this hack.”
Having only launched in November last year, the business has already sold more than 100 Catchys, which retail for $49.
It is compatible with the Ikea high chair, Target Snacka and Kmart Prandium High Low chair, which are the three most popular high chairs across Australia, said Mrs Cohen.
The couple are investigating designs to fit other high chairs, with the Stokke Trip Trapp a popular request.
Best of all Mrs Cohen, who is clinical psychologist, said she doesn’t have to avoid messy foods so Maya can feast on foods like pasta covered in sauce and watermelon.
“I know psychologically the more you fuss while your child eats, whether it’s wiping face or drawing attention to them throwing food, the more you increase that behaviour and they can develop a negative association with food,” she said.
“A beautiful by-product is I now have such a carefree relationship while she eats … and I can let her play and have that sensory experience with food without stressing about the mess and clean up afterwards.”