‘The little ones’ baby bath is the design outcome of a practice-led research project.
The project explored improving the emotional and functional bathing experience at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Auckland City Hospital.
Observing a newborn in this highly medicalised environment causes substantial emotional shock and distress, especially for first-time parents. A key insight identified was the significance of the bathing process in a baby’s recovery and development. In the NICU, bathing is one of the first ‘normal’ experiences that parents and their baby experience together. As the premature baby matures into the later stages of the third trimester, staff promote independence in caregiving to build a bond between the parents and their baby in preparation of leaving the hospital.
The NICU staff also identified a need for the new bathing solution that addressed functional problems, water contamination, incorrect height, and a complicated and hazardous emptying and filling process, which required significant physical effort.
The little one’s baby bath introduces an elegant, simple and emotional aesthetic, as a counter to the highly clinical aesthetic of the NICU environment. The form challenges the aesthetic for clinical products, recognises the emotional needs of parents, and provides a simple, intuitive user experience. Usability from both the user and clinical perspectives is enhanced through the product’s features. The insulated dual skin of the bath means less water is required. It is filled using an extendable hose and easily moved on rotating castor rollers. Water spillage and contamination hazards are minimized as drips are contained by the internal spillage cavity. A one handed ergonomic emptying action is achieved using a formed hinge to assist the tipping motion and helps prevent accidents while emptying.
The Little One’s baby bath was a gold finalist at 2016 Best Design Awards.