Infant mortality counts among the most heartbreaking — and preventable — problems vexing the developing world. Research has shown that improving parents’ education in the nuts and bolts of child rearing can be a powerful antidote. But how to do it efficiently and effectively? As Fast Company reported in its June issue, one ad agency’s solution is to turn swaddling blankets — the one thing almost all infants have, no matter how poor — into an infographic on childcare.
Designed at the New York office of London-based BMB, the Information Blanket is a sort of Dr. Spock book in condensed, illustrated form. It’s got health instructions, ranging from basic directives (“Breast-feed 8-12 times a day”) to friendly reminders (“Don’t forget to schedule your doctor appointment”) to advice on how to spot a sick child (“Warning signs: unconsciousness, convulsions, fever…”) spread in the mothers’ native language on double-knit, North Carolina cotton and accompanied by simple graphic icons for women who can’t read.
In an email, BMB’s Stephanie Friess tells Co.Design how her agency came up with the idea:
As we began to concept ideas that addressed the problem of infant mortality, we tried to distill what being a baby is like, and what are the most basic things that you need to survive. Food and protection from the elements were at the top of our list. It then occurred to us that most babies, regardless of socio-economic status, race or ethnicity, have a blanket of some sort. As several of us are parents here at BMB, we thought back to when we were becoming parents of a newborn and how unprepared we felt. That was the light bulb moment – sometimes even the most educated and prepared parent can forget or not know some very basic information. We knew we needed to create a powerfully simple, utilitarian idea that could benefit both parents and newborns. Thus, the Information Blanket was born.
BMB is now dropping off the first batch of Information Blankets in Uganda, where the infant-mortality rate counts among the highest in the world, with 77 out of every 1,000 babies born dying before their first birthday. BMB plans to turn the Information Blanket into a full-blown brand and wants to distribute blankets in other needy parts of the world. With its gender-neutral sage color and what Friess calls “universally identifiable graphics,” the blanket is designed to appeal to parents everywhere, whether in Uganda or Afghanistan; all you have to do is change the language. BMB is also selling English-language blankets (in blue or pink) for $60 online to raise money for its work in Uganda.
Read Fast Company’s full article here.