We all know that breastmilk is pretty awesome for newborns and infants. But what about the ones who are unable to reap its benefits?
For babies, breastmilk is powerful. Not only does it give them a lot of valuable nutrients but it also provides antibodies that can prevent against life-threatening illnesses.
Breastfeeding advocate Jamie Grumet agrees.
“When you provide children with sanitary, nutritious foods and hydration, you are removing many health concerns that kill young children,” Grumet told Upworthy. “Breastfeeding provides that.”
But around the world, less than 40% of babies under six months old are breastfed exclusively. In poorer regions, a big reason why is premature birth or babies born with a cleft lip. In both instances, it can be difficult for those newborns and infants to suck properly.
To compensate, parents in impoverished countries will use whatever they can find to get milk to their babies, such as cups, spoons, their hands, or whatever will hold liquid. That solution, though, doesn’t always work due to spills or babies choking while attempting to swallow.
Dr. Michael Cunningham in Seattle felt there was a big opportunity to make a difference.
“We were devastated to learn that newborns with clefts were starving to death because they were unable to properly feed,” said Cunningham. “We just knew that there had to be a simple intervention that could be life-changing for this population which led to our quest to develop the perfect feeding tool.”
Enter the Nifty cup. Not only does it live up to its name, but it’s just the answer many parents are looking for.
The concept is pretty simple.
Mothers can express breastmilk directly into the Nifty cup and then place it into the baby’s mouth for feeding. The best part is that the milk will not flow wildly once it’s tipped over. Instead the cup’s spout will hold the milk allowing babies to have control over the pace of feeding.
For babies who are unable to breastfeed or use bottles, this could mean the difference between life and death.
The Nifty cup was created by Cunningham and others at a nonprofit called PATH, and they want to get the cups to as many high-risk babies as possible.
The people at PATH know there is huge, life-saving potential with the cup, and they are currently working to get them in hospitals throughout Africa at the extremely reasonable price of $1 each.
The big goal is to have the Nifty cups available all over the world for people who need them. With that in mind, the good people at PATH are researching the best way to mass produce the cups while keeping the consumer costs low and the quality high.
In the meantime, it’s beautiful to see how a $1 piece of plastic has the potential to save thousands of lives.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Laerdal Global Health.