• April 14, 2024

New Teether Designed to Help Babies with Down Syndrome

When you’re learning about babies with Down syndrome, a few common characteristics come to mind: a flatter face, adorable slanted eyes, and low muscle tone in the face. Almost 95% of those born with Down syndrome have Trisomy 21 but what Down syndrome looks like is similar from person to person. One recent graduate hopes to change that.

Hannah Ferrill, a recent alumna from Purdue University in Indiana, has developed a new type of baby teether designed to strengthen the jaw and tongue muscles in babies with Down syndrome. Named after her late brother Jon, who also had Down syndrome, the design features a teddy bear with two large ears on which a baby can suck and gnaw. The action is encouraged thanks to sounds and lights that are emitted when the baby uses the device correctly. Ferrill notes that babies with Down syndrome love the sensory components of lights and sounds. By continuously using the product, the jaws and tongues of babies with Down syndrome are strengthened in ways that were not possible before.

“My mom expressed to me that she could not find any products that were designed for my brother,” Ferrill explained. “After researching, I found that there were still few products out there and I knew I wanted to do something to change that.”

For Ferrill’s senior thesis in industrial design at Purdue, she wanted to learn about Down syndrome. She interviewed parents of children with Down syndrome with help from her program coordinator. Ferrill found that many of those raising a child with Down syndrome wished that they had take-home therapy options to continue encouraging development outside of the doctor’s office. It was from these interviews that Ferrill’s teether was born.

Many people with Down syndrome struggle to communicate, in part, because of the protruding tongue and weakened jaw muscles associated with the illness. It’s thought that through repeated use during infancy, the teether can encourage the growth of these muscles and help those with Down syndrome communicate more easily when they’re older.

In the meantime, Ferrill is pursuing a patent and manufacturer for her invention, including its hallmark yellow and blue colors associated with Down syndrome awareness.

“I would love for this teether to make it into the hands of new parents and babies when they are born,” notes Ferrill. “I hope this teether can be a beautiful way to help them celebrate their precious new life.”

The advent of products like these are all the more reason to begin celebrating Down syndrome. Want to learn about Down syndrome? Contact Jack’s Basket today for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *