One of my husband’s earliest memories of fatherhood was being up at 4 a.m. trying to soothe a screaming infant while also somehow mixing a bottle with baby formula, then waiting for it to warm up in a bottle-heating machine. This is a common story for new parents. Just when your baby is her hangriest, she has to wait—and wait and wait—for the very thing that will calm her down.
A new product is designed to make it easier to feed fussy babies. Called Baby Barista, it’s a formula-making machine, bottle warmer, and subscription service in one.
According to RKS, the California-based industrial design consultancy that has spent the past couple of months rethinking the formula-feeding experience, many parents reported struggling with nailing the ratio of formula to water, then getting the liquid to the right temperature. “Fathers, in particular, didn’t feel confident about getting it right,” says Ravi Sawhney, founder and CEO of RKS.
The Baby Barista takes a page from a Nespresso machine. It’s a sleek, white device with minimalist, clean lines and rose gold accents that’s designed to sit on your countertop and look right at home next to other chic kitchen appliances. Press the round button at the top and within 15 seconds, you get a bottle filled with the right amount of formula, at the ideal temperature, and the perfect proportions. Thanks to a connected app, you can even start the bottle from another room, track feedings, and share the data with your pediatrician. Parents will need to fill the water reservoir and plug in a pouch of liquid formula (also sold by Baby Barista) every 24 hours. The device is expected to hit the market in about a year and cost between $200 and $300.
RKS designed the device for Cara Armstrong, who was trained as a registered nurse and is the CEO of Baby Barista. As a parent, Armstrong had experienced many of the same hassles making formula for her daughter that my husband did. As a nurse who had worked in neonatal ICUs, she also knew that babies could suffer if their formula wasn’t made correctly. “Some babies had scalded throats,” says Mike Elam, RKS’s design director of product development, who spearheaded the design of the Baby Barista. “Others were malnourished, because they weren’t getting all the nutrients they needed from the formula.”
There are other baby formula machines on the market, but Armstrong believed it was possible to improve on their design. For instance, most of them use powdered formula, which absorbs moisture, especially if it is sitting in a machine for a while, resulting in clumping that can change the proportions of formula to water. Others did not achieve a precise temperature. And then there was the aesthetic components: Many were just not very attractive. “We wanted to create a product that wouldn’t take up too much counter space and that would look good in a modern home,” Elam says.
Armstrong knew she wanted to launch her own direct-to-consumer brand that provides an all-in-one solution for formula feeding. So she worked with RKS to create the device itself, and plans to sell packets of liquid formula on a subscription plan. That way, parents don’t need to keep remembering to buy it. She has developed the formula with an external company, and created pouches that are FDA-approved. Parents can use any bottle they choose with the machine. While there are other brands on the market that tackle some part of this process, the Baby Barista stands out for incorporating the machine, the smartphone control, and the subscription model into a single, streamlined system.
Though the system is designed to make parents’ lives easier, it’s also meant to help new moms and dads build confidence. “Our research revealed that parents are worried about whether they’re doing a good job caring for their babies,” Elam says. “This takes away one source of worry.”
Now, if someone could take care of the 20,452,124 remaining worries we have as parents, we’ll be in good shape.