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Parents get creative to make experience easier

March 18, 2005|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

Every so often I'll be standing with other moms of school-age children when a mom with a newborn happens into the group.

After the oohing and ahhing has diminished, the conversation usually turns to what the seasoned moms didn't have while caring for their babies.

"Wow, they never had those when my kids were little. What a neat idea!"

For instance, I would have liked one of those car seats with a twisted handle to make carrying easier. One of those blankets made to fit the seat would have been super, too. At times, just getting in and out of the car was an adventure - especially when we had a two-door. My kids were born just a few years before products like these became popular.

Sometimes products are created by parents who are looking for a solution to the minor challenges that occur while caring for their little ones.

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Such was the case for Sharon Mullen, who invented the Original Car Seat Cozy, the aforementioned blanket that attaches to car seats, joggers and child bike seats.

Her son only would go to sleep when he was in motion, so she spent a lot of time picking up blankets fallen from strollers or tucking in coverings that had shifted in the car. She thought that surely someone would have created an attachable blanket, so she went shopping. She came up empty-handed.

With a background in technical theater and years of sewing experience - "I knew my way around fabric pretty well," she quips - she decided to create her own product.

She sold it online and then began to add to her Web site other products created by parents. She says that an increasing number of parents are becoming business owners by inventing products that provide solutions for other parents.

It's not easy to introduce a new product, Mullen says. There's an incredible amount of research that needs to be done. Then there's the long patent application process and the marketing needs.

"It takes an awful lot to get the world to know about products," she says. "There's a lot of sacrifice, a lot of risk-taking."

For the inventors who succeed, the work is worth it, she says. "It can be a lot of fun and rewarding."

Most of us don't realize our need for a new product until we see how well it works for someone else. Each time I reached in the back seat for my son's car seat, I didn't visualize a car seat with a twisted handle because I hadn't thought of a way to change the car seat's design. I only knew when I saw the updated design that it was a good idea.

Mullen says there are several items that are popular with new moms:

· PreggiePops - Morning sickness lollipops in various flavors, including ginger and lemon. (Gee, that beats keeping a cracker on the nightstand and popping ginger pills on the way to work.)

· Baby Burrito - a swaddling wrap that doesn't come unswaddled. (Oh, but new moms won't have the joy of practicing that up-over-over-tuck blanket wrapping motion we learned in the hospital. I think I only did it 100 times a day when my healthy kickers were newborns.)

· Auto mobile - a detachable mobile for the ceiling of your car. (I just told my kids to look out the window at the pretty trees.)

· LilyPadz - nonabsorbent nursing pads that adhere and conform to you, not your clothing. (Anything in this product line would be an improvement to what was available 10 years ago. Anything.)




For more information, go to Mullen's Web site, inventiveparent.com.




Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com.

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