Gerber Baby and Santa Kisses Mom

1931 Gerber BabyWe noticed a blog post today discussing the famous 1931 Gerber baby, an image which represented the company for more than 50 years and one that is familiar to many of us. The post, by Amber James, gave the baby’s name – Ann Turner Cook – a closely held secret for more than fifty years.

The reason for the secrecy – Gerber did not want “publicity, because if the baby was identified as a girl, the little boys would feel like they didn’t have representation,” Cook told Oprah: Where are They Now?

According to the Gerber site, the company held a contest in 1928 to find a face to represent a baby food advertising campaign. The artist Dorothy Hope Smith entered the charcoal sketch of the baby and it became so popular that ever since then Gerber has added it to all its packaging and advertising. The identity of the child, however, remained secret until 1978.

Perry Barlow - 1939 New Yorker coverAnd, proving that reader comments sometimes provide wonderful information, a Christopher Decatur, wrote in that Dorothy Hope Smith’s husband, Perry Barlow, was the New Yorker cartoonist who drew the image of a father dressed as Santa Claus kissing his wife while holding his son. More than a decade later, Saks Fifth Avenue used the cover for their annual Christmas card and commissioned a song to promote it. That song was “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus.”

OK. Now, we’re definitely in a nostalgic mood.

Free Pregnancy Tickers

We saw these marvelous pregnancy tickers on a mommy blog and thought they were so cute we tracked down the source to

They’re not only free, the site also provides multiple images and can be configured to be both narrow and wide. We’ve reproduced a few below, but visit the site and customize your own. They’re fun and really are cute.Sample Pregancy Ticker OneNarrow Pregnancy TickerPregnancy Ticker Sample Images

Safety – Not Efficacy – Issue for Homeopathic Remedies

Image provided by FDA
Image provided by FDA

Hyland’s is back in the news. The homeopathic company, you may remember, recalled its teething product – a tablet for babies to reduce the discomfort of teething — in 2010 after consumers reported health problems in children consistent with belladonna toxicity. And, you might recognize belladonna by its other name, deadly nightshade, a plant whose berries and leaves are so toxic it has been used as a poison throughout history.

Back in 2010, parents said their children experienced seizures and other symptoms consistent with belladonna poisoning after taking Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets. These symptoms included seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, and agitation.

The Food and Drug Administration recalled the product in October 2010 citing “reports of serious adverse events in children.”

Belladonna - Image from Kohler's Medicinal Plants - 1887Upon investigation, the agency found real reason for alarm. Its laboratory analysis identified “inconsistent amounts of belladonna” in the tablets. The agency also claimed some tablets contained up to 16x the amount of belladonna that was safe for children.

In its public statement, the agency said “The tablets are manufactured to contain a small amount of belladonna, a substance that can cause serious harm at larger doses. For such a product, it is important that the amount of belladonna be carefully controlled. FDA laboratory analysis has found that Hyland’s Teething Tablets contain inconsistent amounts of belladonna.”

The FDA also said it received reports of children ingesting more that the recommended number of tablets because the containers did not have child resistant caps.

It’s rather unbelievable to us that a company which manufactured tablets for children with “inconsistent” or unsafe amounts of belladonna could stay in business. Nevertheless, after nine months off the market, in July, 2011, Hyland’s announced the return of its Teething Tablets saying “We identified manufacturing processes of Teething Tablets that could be improved to ensure uniformity in dosage. We also used this opportunity to refine the production, packaging and testing protocols on this product.” The company also said, “We have kept all of the same ingredients that have made Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets effective and safe…”

Now, a Texas woman is claiming that her infant suffered belladonna-type symptoms after ingesting a Highland’s Baby Teething Tablet to soothe teething discomfort. In September 2015, the woman took her eight-month-old infant to the hospital after the child experienced seizures. She claims she would not have administered the tablet had there been appropriate labeling. By this, we assume she means a belladonna warning.

Responding to the incident Hyland’s said in a September 2, 2015 press release: “There is NO scientific link between homeopathically-prepared belladonna, or Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets, and seizures.”

The company also says “…a 10-pound child would have to accidentally ingest, all at the same time, more than a dozen bottles of 135 Baby Teething Tablets before experiencing even dry mouth from the product.”

Let’s leave aside the question of management competence that permitted “inconsistent” and unsafe amounts of belladonna to be manufactured in a product for infants and children. Let’s also refrain from making a judgement on the claims by the Texas woman. Let’s stipulate that Hyland’s made a good faith effort to correct deficiencies in its product. And, let’s also stipulate that the company will probably respond appropriately if there is a labeling issue.

Our issue is that although some parents firmly — even fervently — believe in the efficacy of homeopathic drops and tablets, like Hyland’s Teething Tablets for babies, homeopathic medicines aren’t tested or evaluated by the FDA.

The FDA: Safety and Efficacy

Many parents swear by the results they’ve obtained from homeopathic medicines such as Hyland’s Teething Tablets and we don’t for a minute doubt them. But it’s important to understand that most scientists consider homeopathy as a pre-scientific philosophy that has essentially zero scientific plausibility.

But that not really the issue. Parents should be free to administer homeopathic medicines to their children…provided the medicine is safe. The problem is that the FDA doesn’t regulate them at all …hence problems like the Hyland’s Teething Tablet recall.

We’re not particularly interested here in reviewing FDA standards for regulating drugs in any detail. It’s not necessary. Those standards include safety – written into the Act authorizing the agency in 1938 – and efficacy – amendments written into the original act in 1968 demanding manufacturers demonstrate their medicines aren’t just safe, they’re also effective.

Homeopathic remedies present a special case. The scientific community dismisses homeopathy as little more than quackery. Clinical studies proving the efficacy of various remedies are non-existent. So, under existing regulatory standards, how should the FDA treat homeopathic remedies?

The agency is currently reviewing its regulatory framework for homeopathic medicines with a view toward bringing them under some type of regulatory umbrella and we think it could easily adopt a standard that focused on safety – the original mission of the agency – while allowing parents to administer homeopathic remedies to their children if they wish.

The objective is to keep children safe. Period.

E-Toy Study Shows Language & Math Growth Opportunities

Brookings LogoWe all know from our own experience and from decades of research that infants and toddlers benefit from the amount of language they hear and from the conversations they have with parents.

That’s not new. What is new is the finding from a new Brookings “E-Toy” study  that parental involvement when playing with traditional toys actually enriches the child’s understanding of spatial concepts and math.
Specifically, the study found that:

  • The amount of language a parent uses when an infant or child is playing with a digital or electronic toy or a traditional toy is about the same.
  • However, when parents and children play with blocks and shape sorters parental attention is more acute or intense thus providing children with an opportunity for learning a rich vocabulary. In other words, parents pay closer attention and use more descriptive language when playing with traditional toys.
  • Those terms include words such as circles, squares, trapezoids, etc.
  • Most important, building this vocabulary of spatial and geometric terms contributes not only to language growth but to an earlier understanding of mathematics.

Here is a link to the study.

Teething Can Begin Early

Teething in BabiesAn informal survey in Glow, a woman’s forum, tracks what medical experts say about teething. That is, babies often start teething earlier than you might think.
The forum asked “Anyone’s baby start teething at 7 months?” More than 46 percent of respondents said that their baby started teething earlier while only 26 percent of respondents said their babies started teething at the seven month mark.

This finding is on track with what experts say about when teething begins. WEBMD, for example, says teething usually begins around six months, but it can start at any time between three and 12 months of age. WEBMD says that baby will have all of his or her primary teeth at three years of age.

What we commonly refer to as teething actually begins BEFORE a tooth comes through the gums, usually about three to five days before a tooth appears. Symptoms include soreness and swelling in gums and babies may bite on their fingers, toys and other objects to relieve the pressure. Babies may drool, causing a rash on the chin, face and chest and they may refuse to eat or drink because their mouths hurt.

There are a number of products that can help relieve the pressure in baby’s mouth, including our soft and chewy teething necklace. But, it’s worth noting here that the Food and Drug Administration FDA warns against using teething gel on baby’s gums to reduce pain. The FDA says the gel can make a baby’s throat numb which can cause difficulty in swallowing. The agency also cautions that the medicine in the gel may also harm the baby.

Bamboo in the News

BambooWe at Unicorn Station monitor the web for interesting news and developments related to our products and products we may develop in the future. Just this morning, we noted two companies promoting clothing products made from bamboo fabric. This in itself may not be notable because large numbers of businesses are taking note of bamboo’s special properties. What struck us, though, is the enormous difference in geography, size and audiences for these products, a really splendid illustration of how bamboo fabrics can be used in diverse ways.


Les Lunes LogoThe first is Les Lunes, a San Francisco and Paris-based luxury fashion house. Les Lunes describes itself as “known for their unique attitude of bringing comfortable sophistication to the business world,” and says it’s the first fashion house to create all its products from bamboo. The press release announcing the new lines touts the benefits of bamboo this way: “There is a new fabric hitting the well-dressed streets of Paris and San Francisco…Why bamboo? First and foremost, you have to experience it to truly appreciate the comfort bamboo jersey and woven bamboo have to offer. Slip into the buttery feel of any of the Les Lunes’ garments, and you will be an instant convert.”

Dubai. Pop-up MarketThe second company couldn’t be more different. A couple of Dubai-based entrepreneurs first presented their black and white bamboo T-shirts at the Dubai pop-up market and have since placed the line in a few specialty stores. The T-shirt fabric is softer than cotton; it wicks sweat away from the body and gently follows the wearer’s form without clinging. Although these young entrepreneurs – who haven’t yet quit their day jobs – are targeting a younger, more casual market, they are focusing on bamboo’s sustainability and environmental benefits. “Sustainable products are not just a fad,” says one of them in an interview. “There is a growing consciousness of all that, and I don’t think it will die.”

The story notes that “responsible consumption” represents a growing market trend and says that ethical products grew about nine percent annually in the U.S. over the previous three years.

Our interest, of course, is in the baby market where we believe bamboo can provide important benefits for infants and toddlers. But what’s clear from these two stories is the increasing interest in bamboo fabrics across many markets from luxury to the street corner and from Paris salons to public markets in the Middle East.