Former Toy Designer Dan Judkins Is Tackling Tech for the “Fourth Trimester” of Pregnancy

These technology companies have developed new gadgetry for the body and the mind—from eating well with ease to learning to meditate from an adorable turtle.

For parents who breastfeed, a new addition to the family often comes with a clunky gadget for whenever the baby isn’t available to nurse: a breast pump‚ traditionally a leaky‚ loud device that keeps its user tethered to an outlet and hidden behind closed doors. That changed in 2017‚ when Willow and design partner Ideo launched a wearable breast pump, one of the first of its kind. (Other manufacturers soon followed suit.)

Unlike older pumps‚ which rely on tubes and plastic bottles‚ Willow’s rounded devices sit discreetly inside a bra‚ track pumping progress‚ and relay that data to a companion app. It presents more as a brush with Apple than a trip to a 1970s-era hospital.

But unlike a smartphone or a laptop‚ nursing technology can work only if it suits all chests‚ and bodies come in many sizes and belong to people with unique preferences. So in 2020, Willow lured its current chief product officer‚ Dan Judkins‚ away from Hasbro‚ where he’d developed connected games and toys.

"They’ve disrupted a category‚ and that’s motivating‚" says Judkins of his new employer. His job is to make good on that disruption by building out an ecosystem of products that take full advantage of Willow’s marquee technology. (Designing a pumping system as a non-breastfeeder "felt weird for half a day‚" Judkins admits‚ but adds that "as a designer‚ you don’t design for yourself‚ you design for other people.")

So far‚ Judkins is finding that the company’s high-tech pumping system needs some low-tech infrastructure to increase performance‚ which‚ at Willow‚ gets measured as milk output. As of now that includes silicone inserts to accommodate different nipple sizes and an adjustable‚ wireless bra with mesh panels to hold the pumps.

These novel touch points promise to make the newly digitized pumping process more efficient‚ accessible‚ and dignified. Willow’s sizing inserts‚ for instance‚ can be used with non-Willow breast pumps—an acknowledgment of how expensive it is to acquire new baby gear. "We just try to make things as easy as possible‚" Judkins says.

Health-Focused Products

Willow Breast Pump

Now on its third design iteration‚ the Willow wearable breast pump is a mobile solution for what used to be a cumbersome‚ inconvenient process. The cordless pump fits inside a bra and relays milk output data to an app.

Children can name colors years before they grasp hours and minutes, so set the Mella with your desired wake time and teach early risers to wait until the clock glows green before they get out of bed. 

During the early days when you’re not sure if your baby is eating enough‚ this smart scale—which doubles as a diaper-changing pad and syncs with an app—can help you track weight changes between doctor’s visits. 

Get little ones started on mindfulness early with Zenimal. Part Headspace‚ part toy‚ this silicone turtle’s shell doubles as a remote-control panel for nine guided meditations and three sleep tracks. 

Starting kids on solid foods can be challenging. The Babycook aims to make it easier by turning raw ingredients into cooked and pureed food in 15 minutes. 

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