Monday, October 1st, 2007
LilyBugs: Bottle and Sippy Cup Assistive Device
Here is another experiment. Rather than praising or panning the following product, I’ll hear from you first. What do you think of thisâ€¦?
LilyBugs are decorated fabric wraps for baby bottles and sippy cups. Each one features a friendly embroidered face on its base, and two large handle-like ear flaps.
The Big Idea is that a toddler who cannot yet hold a normal bottle can grab the LilyBug ears and hoist the bottle to his mouth.
Twenty-two versions and counting, newer LilyBugs feature noisy crinkle material in the ears, designs on the back of the wrap such as fabric tails or squishy squeaker bulbs, and holes in the ear flaps for easier grasping. They retail for $10 to $12, “fit most” bottles and are machine washable.
This linked video from the ABC Kids Expo succinctly explains the product.
Also on the company’s website is a press section that includes photos from a gift suite at the Emmy Awards where inventors give impoverished Hollywood stars bag loads of free baby gifts with the hope that the stars will say something nice or pose with their product. A photo of Seth Green, best known for his role in the Austin Powers films, sucking on a LilyBug “MonsterBug” is not to be missed. He alone walks away with his dignity.
Dammit! I couldn’t get though this without taking a dig at celebrities. OK, but we can’t knock baby companies who perform industry standard product marketing. It’s a super inexpensive way to garner some endorsements that those other parents simply eat up.
So, you’re still impartial, right? LilyBugsâ€¦ whatcha think?
Update: Here’s my promised take:
I am disappointed with LilyBugs on a broad level that pertains to virtually every company that makes cups, plates and utensils for kids. Meal time is not play time, nor is it a time for textbook learning. We don’t need kid-friendly colors or cartoon characters covering everything. We don’t need a hollow attempt at education by plastering the alphabet or the numbers 1 through 10 on plates and cups. (And oh my, why is it always uppercase letters? Schools teach lowercase first!) Kids don’t need to be subjected to visual overload at every turn.
Now, specifically in regard to LilyBugs, I want my kid learning to grab a cup from the start, instead of learning twice â€“ first with ears, and later without ears. On the plus side, I love that the animals chosen for LilyBugs are not licensed characters.
I’d like to see LilyBugs radically redesigned:
- Lose the ears and other exterior protrusions.
- Add a bottom to the bottle wrap.
- Make the wrap out of thin insulating material.
- Let me toss ice cubes in my daughter’s Kleen Kanteen (or sippy cup or whatever) and pull on a LilyBug insulating wrap that keeps my daughter’s hands from getting cold.
I bought an anonymously mass-produced neoprene bottle wrap at Target in a $1 bin that has been fantastic for our Kleen Kanteen, but it’s no longer sold. (The Kanteen has no insulation. Ice water makes the bottle icy to the touch.) Make some hip insulating bottle wraps and I’ll be interested.
Update October 12, 2007:
The inventor/owner of LilyBugs, Crystal Kane, took exception to my from-afar assessment of her product. My opinion remains unchanged, but in the interest of fairness, here is a sort of rebuttal from her regarding my commentary and some comments that users have posted below.
LilyBugs offer many types of designs and some are specifically designed to help babies (introduced around 5 1/2 – 7 months of age) learn to lift and hold their own bottle. LilyBugs offers babies a soft, comforting “handle” for them to reach toward. It gives young babies a goal to attain by reaching for the soft ears, or wings and then allowing them to easily lift the bottle and in turn drink or feed from it. LilyBugs are great for glass bottles, which can be hard, condensate and heavy for a child to hold. The LilyBugs helps distribute the weight better by offering “handles” on either sides of the bottle for the baby to grasp.
Some LilyBugs are designed for toddlers, who are already holding their own cups (like the puppy which has floppier ears and squeekers) but they also make a great transitioning tool when children are moving from bottles to sippy cups, or from nursing to bottles or cups. The fun, animated faces are interactive and stimulating for growing minds and make a great encouragement tool for children to try a bottle or sippy cup, and gives a nice alternative to the hard, plastic bottle or sippy cup. LilyBugs are especially helpful for children with special needs or disabilities, such as children who are blind, have Down Syndrome or Autism. The LilyBugs give a soft, comforting alternative for a child to grasp and rub the ears while eating or drinking.
Since LilyBugs fit almost every bottle and sippy cup on the market (we have tried every type in the U.S.) they are wonderful for toddlers, too! I have seen kids at T-Ball practice who use them on their water bottles or sports drinks to separate between drinks, and keep children from getting sick or spreading germs.
Overall, LilyBugs are designed to encourage children to hold their own bottles and sippy cups. We do not in any way, discourage moms and dad’s from feeding their babies, but rather know that their are times, like driving in the car or riding in the stroller, where it is a wonderful accessory to have when you can’t stop to feed you child. They are also fantastic for day-care centers and parents with multiple children, because they help separate between the kids. Children really associate and respond to the faces, colors and textures, rather than hard plastic and when offered a choice, chooses a LilyBug. Each design is hand done by myself and my creative director who work on them, to make sure they are vibrant, silly, interactive, playful and fun, to encourage and stimulate children to want to hold their own bottles and cups and enjoy drinking and eating while rubbing the soft ears or wings.
We have pictures of celebrities on our site, because I have done many celebrity endorsed charities for children, because a lot of the celebrities are clients. LilyBugs is always interested in doing charity work, because they are such a wonderful and unique gift for a child who is in the hospital, under priveledged or just in need of a smile! I hope this better demonstrates while LilyBugs are special and why I started this company for my daughter, Lily to help teach her to hold her own bottle! Thank you.