Two years ago the founders of Pittsburgh, PA-based Sienabena LLC, Steve and Megan DeFrancesco, came up with the idea for BabyBackups, a nonwoven absorbent diaper extender pad that adheres to the back of baby diapers.
“It was actually my wife’s idea,” Mr. DeFrancesco says. “We had issues with two of our kids with the diapers not holding everything in. She’s a stay at home mom and I was working full time, and I’d hear about these stories, but I never got to experience them.”
But with their second child, daughter Siena, DeFrancesco was working from home part-time and he finally saw the diaper blowouts first-hand. “I thought, ‘Well, this is awful,’ so I told my wife, ‘Why don’t you find something to solve this? Try different diapers...somewhere someone’s got to have something that would fix this problem.’”
After being unable to find a solution, Mrs. DeFrancesco came up with a makeshift application that seemed to work—a modified feminine pad. With their daughter’s baptism coming up—white gown and all—the DeFrancescos put the experiment to work. “We went through the whole ceremony and the dress stayed white, and afterwards we looked in there and there was a lot in the diaper, so it worked. After that, the light bulb kind of went off in my head,” Mr. DeFrancesco says.
After searching and finding through blogs and mom forums on the internet that other parents were having the same problem, Mr. DeFrancesco did a lot of patent searching. He says nothing similar to their product idea was applied for and there was nothing like it on the market, so that is when they decided to move forward with a design, apply for patents and have the pad manufactured.
After experimenting with several designs on their own kids, as well as young children of family and friends, they found a shape that fit really well—a cloud shape—and DeFrancesco says that it seemed comfortable for the children and it worked really well. “The center is a wood pulp with SAP (superabsorbent polymers), and it is much thicker in the very center of the pad than it is out towards the edges. So it fits the contour of the baby’s back. Not only is it absorbent, but it acts as a wedge to fill that gap the diapers don’t fill,” he explains.
On the back of the pad is an adhesive peel strip that sticks inside the diaper. On the front of the pad that goes against the baby’s back, there’s a blue indicator line to let parents know where the pad should sit in the diaper.
After numerous rounds of testing the product, the DeFrancescos determined that one size worked best. “That was one of the things we kicked around for a while, having two different sizes. During our testing we had tried two different sizes and it seemed like it didn’t really make a difference, so that’s why we ended up going with one size. We say it’s really meant for diapers sizes 0-4. We’ve had people tell us that they’ve used them on larger diapers—diapers 5 and even 6.”
People have even used them on cloth diapers, he adds, which they never thought would happen, and some users have said they have used the pads in the front of the diaper to catch urine leaks, and they work well there too.
As of right now, DeFrancesco says there’s nothing similar to BabyBackups on the market, but that its only real competitor is a company that has made a cloth wrap that goes around the outside of the diaper and the outside of the baby’s back. It lets the feces out of the diaper and traps it higher on the baby’s back. He thinks this is a very messy solution.
“Our thought the whole time for this was that BabyBackups is kind of like a stock gap measure,” he says. “We really think that diaper companies should just change their design because it seems like it would be pretty easy to do and incorporate our type of contour into the top of the diaper, and then it would be set, you would just have one product to deal with.”
BabyBackups is currently available in quantities of 25 per box on the company’s website at www.babybackups.com, Amazon.com and one local store in Pittsburgh, and they have also partnered with the e-commerce website Zulily on certain diaper promotions. This year, DeFrancesco points out that they’re making a big push towards getting the product into retail stores, and the company will be attending this year’s ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas next month to continue spreading the word of its innovative product.
Something else sure to give BabyBackups more exposure is that it was recently named a finalist by INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, for the Visionary Award that will be presented at this year’s Hygienix conference. BabyBackups will compete against the Always Discreet adult incontinence product from Procter & Gamble and a leak-proof pouch for men by McAirlaid’s.
“We are extremely excited and honored to be a finalist for the INDA Visionary Award,” DeFrancesco says. “We developed BabyBackups to help other parents avoid messy situations, and never envisioned it being nominated for such an award. To be recognized by INDA, and grouped with brands such as Always, makes us feel like we've already won.”