When I first heard about Ellie, I rolled my eyes and immediately placed it into the growing list of unnecessary products marketed to new parents. Found on 'Indiegogo,' the Ellie is the "first ever digital UV sterilizing pod."
The startup campaign has raised $118,061 to date (their original goal was $40K) with five days left in the fundraising effort. Suffice it to say; the Ellie is in a market ripe for the picking. New parents win the "quickest credit card swipe" contest when buying products for their little one.
It is not what the Ellie does that is bothersome. Do you need to wash and sterilize baby bottles? Yes - of course, you do. Drinking milk from unwashed containers would make anyone sick. And, babies are more susceptible to infection so, their bottles need a bit more care.
Does everything that they place in their mouths need to undergo UV irradiation? Absolutely not.
Both the Ellie website and its sponsored blog posts focus on the importance of keeping every single object that goes into your newborn's mouth sterile - a message that is not only over the top and inaccurate, it is also unhealthy.
Our society has become too clean as a whole, buying triclosan-containing soaps (which, thankfully, were recently banned by the FDA), Purell at every turn, and antimicrobial sheets, towels, mattresses, socks, etc. The well-accepted 'Hygiene Hypothesis' states that a lack of exposure to microorganisms early on in life may result in an underdeveloped immune system that can lead to more allergy related issues later on.
The other message in the marketing of the Ellie that is concerning, and preys on the fears of new parents, is that harmful bacteria are lurking everywhere, just waiting to hurt your baby!
The website states:
"Its digital UV light kills germs in a matter of seconds, eradicating E. coli, Salmonella, Staph, and Listeria, plus antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as MRSA. It’s the most powerful, portable solution for sterilizing bottles, pacifiers and anything babies put in their mouths."
On the website, they list items (1) that can be placed in the Ellie, none of which need sterilization. Yes, your cell phone has bacteria on it. No, you do not need to sterilize it. Bacteria are everywhere, and most of them are harmless or even beneficial to us. Implying that we need to start sterilizing everyday objects is downright ridiculous.
There is one saving grace of the Ellie that will keep this article from becoming an all out rant. It is, at times very difficult (and always very annoying) to sterilize bottles. Adding that chore to everything else that comes along with a baby is a royal pain. And, don't even get me started on the plastic parts that come with a breastfeeding pump that needs to be washed and sterilized! Streamlining this process to be faster and easier may be worth the cost.
Also, there are times when it is virtually impossible to sterilize baby bottles. For example, when staying in a hotel. Because Ellie has a week-long battery life, it could be a life saver for people who travel a lot with little ones. It can also be used for storage of the clean bottles when traveling.
The last note on Ellie is that it claims that it can also purify water so that you can make formula on the go.
Ok - forget it. How do I order one of these things..?
(1) List of items that can (but shouldn't) be sterilized using the Ellie (from their website.)
- Remote controls
- Mobile phones
- Combs & brushes
- Keys & key fobs
- Small toys
- Kitchen utensils
- Contact lenses
- Mouth guards
- Face masks/CPAP masks