December 1, 2007
A Fine Bottle
Whipsaw’s new design is a more natural way for babies to nurse.
When the Adiri company wanted to redesign their baby bottle, it called Dan Harden of Whipsaw, who, as the father of two young boys, saw “a desirable set of problems” with bottles on the market and got to work. The design was tested extensively: “We drank beer out of many prototypes late at night, and eventually we gave it to babies—the bottle, that is, not the beer,” Harden jokes. “Mother Nature told us what a baby bottle should look like. It’s an honest design.”
The next best thing
With its large dome, molded in a single soft flexible piece, the bottle looks—and feels—like, well, a breast. “A human breast is functional for breast-feeding and beautiful at the same time,” Harden says. “Women who can’t breast-feed, or want to combine breast-feeding with bottle-feeding, want the next best thing.” The soft plastic transfers the heat of the milk inside so the bottle stays at body temperature: a comforting signal for a nursing baby.
Durable, functional, leak-resistant
A process called overmolding allowed Whipsaw to combine two materials with different properties since a bottle always has two users: baby and parent. “The design innovation is in the integration of soft and rigid plastic properties into one uniform part that offers a soft end for baby and a bottle that’s easy to hold and fill for the parent,” Harden says. The “parent end” solves another age-old design problem for baby bottles: it’s leak-free. “Our tests show that it doesn’t leak at all,” Harden reports.
“One of the toughest challenges of the project was to find just the right material,” Harden says. Most baby bottles are made from polycarbonate, a common plastic for household products; recent research, however, has shown that when heated it releases bisphenol A—a compound that could be linked to developmental problems. Polypropylene was the solution for the “breast end” of the bottle: soft, durable, resistant to heat yet thermally conductive, and chemically safe.
Babies tend to suck in air when drinking from a bottle, causing colic and gas for them—and sleepless nights for parents. Harden solved this problem with a special petal-shaped vent made of silicone. Its large holes also help the vent to get clean in the dishwasher, Harden says. “And the daisy shape makes it look friendly.”
Find out more facts about this story on the Reference Page: December 2007