After noticing an issue with the way her newborn was feeding, Priska Diaz, founder and CEO of Bittylab, created a line of baby bottles and lids that are now being tested to become certified medical devices.
Diaz’s line of products include the Bare Air-Free bottles that expel air from the bottle, so the baby only consumes the milk, juice, or water. By doing this, babies are less prone to swallowing air, which can make the babies gassy and uncomfortable.
“Designing [the bottle] was a big challenge,” Diaz said.
The air-plug moves up the inside of the bottle when the baby generates a sucking motion, and similarly to a syringe, the air is expelled.
“By the time I was done, it was so unique I got a utility patent of [the air-plug], which applies to all industries,” she said.
Diaz said she wanted to make sure that with this new bottle, the opening would still resemble a nipple, so babies could drink from them without losing interest in breastfeeding.
She first thought of the concept after she began having trouble with her first child, Carlton, who she had to breastfeed.
Diaz spoke with her son’s pediatrician a week after his birth, where she was informed he was malnourished because she wasn’t producing enough milk during breastfeeding.
Diaz switched to bottle-feeding her son, but Carlton soon lost interested in latching during breastfeeding.
Realizing this, she created two types of lids for the bottle: the Perfe-latch nipple, which resembles a mother’s nipple, and the Easy-latch nipple for babies who are already bottle-fed.
Jennifer Frenette, a Bittylab customer, was first introduced to the bottle after having trouble with her daughter latching.
Frenette said, “I had already tried so many other bottles, and I thought ‘well, what’s one more?’”
Since trying the bottle, she said she hasn’t had any issues wither her daughter feeding.
“If there’s a child that has any difficulty latching on to bottles, definitely give [the Perfe-latch] a try,” Frenette said. “It’s worth every penny I spent on that bottle.”
Diaz said she would later learn that the design of her bottle was also helping solve another issue for parents, which was that their babies were suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD, which can cause vomiting, weight loss, and makes them refuse to eat.
The lower esophageal sphincter isn’t fully formed in babies, which allows food to travel back up their esophagus after it’s been in their stomach, especially when they are placed horizontally to drink from bottles without the air-plug.
According to Entnet.org, a site run by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, an organization of ear, nose, throat, head and neck specialists, “more than 50 percent of children 3 months or younger have at least one episode of regurgitation a day. This rate peaks at 67 percent at 4 months old.”
Diaz said that after her product launched, she began receiving feedback from parents who noticed a decrease in GERD in their babies, because the bottles allow babies to sit upright while feeding.
With this information, Diaz performed a pilot clinical study on the effects of the bottles.
She said that in October 2016, “we found that 75 percent of babies with acid reflux no longer had enough of the symptoms to meet the criteria for GERD after feeding with our system.”
Diaz said the findings were significant.
She’s since began working with medical professionals to see how to develop her products to help premature babies, and how to adapt her products for a hospital setting.
She explained that as for the future of her company, a lot of what she’ll be doing seems to be tied to the medical community.
“I’m very excited about that,” she said.
For more information on Bittylab products, visit bittylab.com.