Alissa Derouchie uses a plain stuffed doll to get expectant parents and baby-shower-goers to understand the difference between the more than 20 different baby carriers at Sprout Soup.

Alissa Derouchie uses a plain stuffed doll to get expectant parents and baby-shower-goers to understand the difference between the more than 20 different baby carriers at Sprout Soup.

It all depends on things like how the baby likes to be carried, whether one shoulder or two is better for Mom or Dad, and how much in and out of the car will be going on.

Then there are colors: pastel florals, pop-art patterns and striking black and white.

"I went through so many of them with my son, trying to find what was comfortable, what worked well for us, and kind of became an expert in them," said Alissa Derouchie, who opened the Clintonville store with her husband, Noah, in October.

Baby carriers are their specialty, but Sprout Soup's selection of stainless-steel-lined sippy cups, wooden feeding sets and PVC-free waterproof bibs have also grown in popularity. "New parents are looking for something that doesn't have those chemicals in it," Alissa said.

Sprout Soup's inventory is Earth- and baby-friendly, with many items that aren't otherwise available in Columbus.

The couple started an online store four years ago, when Alissa had her first child and was scouring stores for the best carriers. The site expanded to offer many of the items now at the Clintonville shop, which the Derouchies opened after winning a business grant in January.

Bright, patterned baby leggings are popular in the apparel category, which includes options for newborns to two-year-olds. There are thick, knit wool bottoms perfect as a waterproof cover for the cloth diapers also sold at the store.

For Mom are pick-me-ups like eye-brightening cream and oil that increases elasticity and reduces stretch marks, plus tank tops, wide-brimmed baby hats and trendy covers designed for nursing.

In the front corner are step-back-in-time toys like wooden trains, tea sets made from recycled plastic milk jugs, a scooter-style balance bike and shape games made from bamboo.

"People like that - not having to ... get plastic," said Noah, adding that most of the toys are made in the U.S. and Europe.

The back half of the big space is set up for playtime while parents shop, plus almost-daily activities like craft times and parent conversations. The events calendar is still evolving, Alissa said, but the room fills Sprout Soup with the squeaky chatter of little voices and gives the community an activities center.