Stage 3: Proof of Concept
Specifically, the Nutrifier addresses a problem faced by many mothers around the world: the inability to healthily breastfeed their infants. Whether they suffer from a low breast milk supply, the side effects of medication, or HIV/other STIs (that they assume is transmissible to the infant), these mothers do not breastfeed their babies, and accordingly, these infants lose out on precious micronutrients. The Nutrifier aims to bridge this nutrient gap with an affordable and easy-to-use device.
For the setup, the internal delivery mechanism of the Nutrifier warrants the placement of individual liquid micronutrient packets (developed by Nutrivide) in the void space of the Nutrifier’s rear. Specifically, each nutrient packet contains a combination of vitamins A (400 µg Retinol Active Equivalent), B12 (0.4 μg), D (5 μg), K (2 μg), iron (0.27 mg), zinc (2 mg), and arrowroot in a safe dose. This fluid mixture is enclosed by a thin, non-toxic bioplastic film and is placed into this recessed chamber on the back of the Nutrifier.
The nutrient delivery feature of the Nutrifier begins to operate as soon as the user screws the twist-lock cap to orient it with three equidistant interstices along the rear of the device. When covered with this cap, the twisting motion simultaneously locks the nutrient chamber and prods the plastic straw to pierce the packet, allowing the infant to safely ingest the nutrients with no air bubbles on account of the ergonomic shape and size of the straw. Integrally, this lock is child-proof, preventing the nutrient capsule from being dislodged by the infant while the pacifier is in use.
Conveniently, then, the role of the administrant is to simply place a packet into the Nutrifier and allow the baby to suck on it. This approach to reduce child malnutrition is comparable to the iodization of table salt, which seamlessly combined a common household staple with a micronutrient to combat iodine deficiencies, dominating the salt market.
The products that currently combat nutritional deficiencies in infants include liquid supplements like NovaFerrum. However, because these supplements must be measured for each individual dosage and may be difficult to directly administer to an infant using a dropper (and must thus be administered in meals which can cause taste aversions), they lack in their ability to address these deficiencies conveniently. Additionally, variations of basic medicine-dispensing pacifiers do exist (e.g. Safety 1st® Pacifier Medicine Dispenser), in which parents can place medications necessary for their infants within the chamber of the pacifier, allowing infants to suck on the pacifier and quickly consume the medication. However, these designs fall short since they (1) necessitate precision from the parent in measuring every dose to then place in the chamber and (2) are only useful for liquid medicine in very small quantities. The Nutrifier’s use of pre-measured gel packets conveniently dispenses nutrients in their necessary dosages, while still allowing for delivery via the infant’s natural sucking reflex
Other novel elements of the Nutrifier are its locking mechanism and delivery mechanism, essential for safety and ease-of-use in areas where education may be less accessible.