challenge design observations technology

Engineered for Babies

Recently, I have had occasion to take care of a young child. Having raised three children, you’d think this would be easy for me. For the most part it is. I can weather the constant shifting of emotions and change in activities by using the art of distraction like a pro. I can swiftly change a diaper or an outfit as though I’m wrangling an eel (which I kind of am!).

But, navigating baby gear is a whole other level of challenge that often leaves me stumped.

Y’all, I feel like I need to have an engineering degree to figure out how today’s baby gear works.

One case in point is sippy cups.

Disassembled sippy or straw cup for toddlers. September 2022.
Disassembled sippy or straw cup for toddlers. September 2022.

When our children were growing up, a sippy cup was a cup with a lid with a sippy spout. Put the beverage in, screw the lid on, and the child was in business.

Today’s sippy or, rather, straw cups have several pieces to assemble before they are ready for holding liquid. The above-pictured cup is rather simple in that there are only four pieces to the cup: the cup, the lid (which actually has two pieces, the handles and the top), the sipper straw, and the tube that feeds the liquid into the straw. Another brand of sippy cup has an extra couple of pieces that fit into the straw and tube.

Try getting all of this together while a child is screaming for milk.

I have experienced this level of complex engineering with today’s strollers and baby monitors, as well.

I’m sure there are other baby items that require an engineering degree to use, though I’m very happy that diapers have been slimmed down and maintain the easy Velcro closures that were around when my kids were little. Although, we also used cloth diapers with [gasp] safety pins and plastic pants at that time, too, and today’s cloth diapers are a marvel of fashion and easy-to-use engineering. I suspect today’s parents would have found using safety pins in the diapering of a baby to be as challenging as I have found the newfangled sippy cups to be.

2 thoughts on “Engineered for Babies”

  1. Honestly, Liz, I thought I had gotten very old and out of touch when I tried to put together the sippy cups for the first time. 😀

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