An idea nearly 100 years in the making.
For 20 years Lance Metz was so busy running a fast-moving company employing nearly 2000 people you’d think sleep would be the last thing on his mind.
Think again - because sleep was constantly in his thoughts: “Sleep is literally in my blood,” he says.
Metz is in the business of making mattresses, a craft begun by his great-grandfather in South Africa almost 100 years ago, and continued by his grandfather and father before him.
Now he is continuing the family tradition in Auckland - but with a twist. Since emigrating to New Zealand in 2021 with his wife Gabi and two young sons, Metz has seen a gap in the market in much the same way his great-grandfather saw one in 1924.
The fourth generation mattress-maker has launched a unique two-in-one mattress designed especially for children under the brand name TeddyBed. Designed to accommodate the needs of growing bodies, it has double-sided sleep surfaces (one side firm, the other a bit softer) along with a removable and washable cover designed to protect against bed-wetting episodes.
The mattress, available in Teddy Junior and Teddy Junior Lux options (a Teddy pillow is soon to be launched) comes after Metz spent 20 years helping run the family business in South Africa alongside his father. “I was totally engrossed in what I was doing. We had a family joke: ‘we don’t sleep ourselves because we’re too busy helping others sleep’.”
In 2015 the business was sold and while Metz stayed on as chief operating officer for six years he was facing burn-out. “We had 1800 employees, 12 factories and I was travelling three to four days every week. I was away so much my youngest son called me a cellphone ‘dada’, it was heartbreaking.”
So, deciding he needed a change - and eyeing New Zealand as an ideal place to bring up their children - Metz resigned and the family moved to Aotearoa.
The idea for TeddyBed came after friends who had kids of a similar age to the Metz boys, began asking for help with mattresses.
“When we had our boys (now aged eight and four), we took for granted getting them beds because we manufactured them ourselves,” Metz says. “But when our friends would call us is where the idea came from. I also wanted to do my own thing.”
Able to draw on his own and his family’s long experience in the trade, the networks he had built up and the experience in bringing up young children, Metz and Gabi set about designing Teddy Junior.
The result, says Metz, is “an affordable mattress which not only helps children of all ages have as comfortable a sleep as possible, it is sustainable and has been REACH approved (a European regulation aiming to protect human health and the environment from the use of chemicals).”
Metz says most mattresses are designed with adults in mind and while there is nothing wrong in using them for children, those made specifically for kids are typically a better fit for youngsters.
Research by the US-based Sleep Foundation supports this view. In a study updated this year, the foundation says children rely on quality sleep to fuel their growth and learning - and need more sleep than adults.
Since sleep plays such a big role in a child’s development, the foundation says it’s important to optimise their sleep conditions including selecting a mattress that can help them sleep comfortably throughout the night. It concluded that the best mattress for a child was one that cushioned the body while still offering plenty of firm support.
An American Academy of Pediatrics report in 2011 found that softer mattresses could restrict the breathing of younger children due to the “sunkenness” of the mattress, causing them to wake more frequently in the night. It said a firmer mattress did not sink to the same degree and allowed for a more undisturbed sleep.
Metz says by simply flipping it over, Teddy Junior offers both a firm and medium-firm option.
“A firm mattress is recommended for younger children because they are still developing their bones and muscles,” he says. “A medium-firm mattress is better for older children because it provides the necessary support while also allowing for a comfortable level of softness.
“What makes the Teddy Junior so unique is it’s able to change comfort as a child’s need changes and because its designed to accommodate up to 120kgs, most adults can also sleep on it,” he says.
Metz says there is no set age to move a child from cot to a mattress but it is usually a good idea to wait until they are at least two years old.
The Australian Parenting website, raisingchildren.net.au, an organisation supported by the Australian Government Department of Social Services, says most children move from cot to bed when they’re between two and three years old.
Manufactured in China and using materials sourced from Belgium and Germany, the Teddy Junior was launched in June and the Teddy Junior Lux earlier this year. Orders can be made online (although they will soon be available in selected stores) and delivery is free.
# Metz says it always a good idea to consult with a pediatrician for specific recommendations for your child.
For more information go to: teddybed.co.nz
Watch the bed testing process here: