Griö bottle system revolutionizes feeding for parents and babies.
By Brena Ullrich, Photos courtesy of Griö
Navigating the challenges of motherhood through a life filled with other responsibilities is often neglected in the realm of baby products. Dara Chike-Obi and Lydia Contreras knew they needed to address this when founding Griö, “a baby bottle system that promotes early developmental milestones while deepening emotional bonding.”
Entering motherhood only three weeks apart, Chike-Obi and Contreras were inspired by how their very different journeys into parenting contained so many of the same elements. Chike-Obi explained that both of them came to realize the “arduous and all-consuming nature” of becoming a mother while also maintaining lives of their own. Chike-Obi, a full-time attorney and new MBA student at the time, and Contreras, an engineering professor at the University of Texas, were both shocked at the responsibilities and sacrifices that came with this new role.
New parents spend anywhere from five to nine hours a day feeding a baby, making up the bulk of the baby and parent’s waking hours. Time spent outside of feeding is used to nurture the baby to aid in development. Not to mention cooking, cleaning and resting. Add in other responsibilities that are often forgotten in this conversation, and time is spread even thinner.
First, the Bottle
Starting with the bottle was essential for Griö because feeding is the “first and greatest journey in the parenting experience,” says Chike-Obi. For her and many others, “the bottle was in [her]hand more than [her]phone.” Griö strove to bring a product into the home that acted as a true problem-solver and helper for new parents. “The products that presented to me as a mom did not feel like they considered my lifestyle. I wanted a tool or a device that would help me be a better parent, not just junk,” says Chike-Obi.
Both of the founders’ cultural backgrounds celebrate the birth of a new baby by activating the community around the parents. It is custom for friends and family to offer their help, an element Griö wanted to reflect in their vision. Griö’s name stems from “griot,” a term used for storytellers and oral historians in West African culture. With Chike-Obi coming from a Nigerian background and Contreras coming from Dominican culture, Contreras reveals the name “really embodied how Dara and I felt about a brand and product that would rely on the community knowledge, community support and emotional presence it takes to really raise a kid.”
More Bonding Time
According to Contreras, Griö sought out a way to maximize the time spent feeding a baby that would make the process “as special, nurturing and as mutually beneficial as possible” while also relieving the guilt many new parents face with their time. Parents know that feeding time is so much more than just delivering milk; that is where Griö’s innovation comes in.
The system includes all the state-of-the-art elements expected of a bottle, with an elevated twist. The bottles are all BPA-free and environmentally friendly, with ergonomics that make for easy handling during and between feedings.
The nipples use anti-colic air valves and mimic the breast to reduce nipple confusion so that moms can switch between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. The bottle also introduces a simple visual stimulus that allows parents to tell stories during feeding to promote cognitive and language development. The shape of the bottle allows babies to easily reach and grab, nurturing early motor skills and preparing the baby for feeding in later stages.
Griö & Furthering Research
Though there has been a major surge in research surrounding the psychological and intellectual development of newborns, there has not been a lot of change in the products. The research process during Griö’s creation relied on NICU therapies, occupational therapists and early developmental specialists to bring these benefits into the world of baby products.
“We’re very excited and fortunate to find ourselves in Austin, where people are so excited to try new products and are so aware that the world is changing, that the concept of the family is changing,” says Contreras. “We’ve learned it’s not easy, being two women of color starting a business, and it also takes the right market.”
Fortunately, Griö’s collaboration with the Texas Innovation Center has allowed them to access the help of experts in education, science, engineering and product innovation. Griö was developed in direct partnership with the University of Texas’ Cockrell School of Engineering, where Contreras works as a professor.
Griö understands that it takes a village to raise a child, and that village may not always be around. By creating a product that acts as a true supporter, Griö’s founders have figured out a way to enhance a baby’s experience in feeding and give time back to the parent. “We are more than just parents,” says Contreras. “We are people with jobs, hobbies, ideas, businesses and things to give the rest of the world.”