What is your name and job title?
Lynda Harding, Managing Director
Can you tell us a little about the product you have entered into the awards?
Ewan the Dream Sheep is a simple yet effective tool for settling restless babies into a peaceful slumber. Cute and cuddly ewan attaches securely to the cot bars (as well as a pram or car seat handle) and plays real heartbeat and womb sound combinations that mimic the noises babies hear inside the womb. These comforting sounds have been proven to be effective for settling even the most restless newborns, as they make the difficult transition from womb to world. ewan also has a choice of 3 further sound combinations- similar to white noise - which are suitable for older babies– making him a great investment for any family.
What makes it innovative?
Ewan the Dream Sheep was created from real experience and solves a common parenting problem. It was a nightly struggle to get my sixth child Bradley to sleep. I tried everything, yet oddly enough I discovered that one of the most reliable ways was to dim the lights, switch on the vacuum cleaner and rock him while he was in his cot ... he would be asleep within minutes! Now that’s all well and good, but who wants to start vacuuming at 2am? So I scoured shops and the internet for any products that would replicate these conditions and quickly realised that there was nothing suitable out there. I was determined to invent product that would not only help soothe restless babies and toddlers, but also promote the formation of a healthy sleep pattern, so everyone could benefit from a good night’s rest. I researched the problem as deeply as possible, canvassing valuable input from sleep experts, university departments and medical professionals. I also consulted with the baby care industry and product design teams and, of course, surveyed many parents with young babies. When I finally launched ewan, I was confident I had a product like no other and he would become an essential for all parents.
Why do you think it stands out among the plethora of parenting products available?
There are a lot of clever parenting products out there, however probably only very few that truly make a difference to parents lives! In the early days, parents will soon realise how much their sleep patterns change. ewan the dream sheep has been proven to help promote healthy sleep patterns, making this transition a lot easier and will ensure the whole family gets the sleep they need.
Where did you source design inspiration?
Ewan was inspired by the overwhelming need for a baby sleep aid that combined not only functionality with practicality, but also had an appealing and endearing design. Choosing the form of a ‘sheep’ linked with the obvious sleep connotations of ‘counting sheep’, but whether to make him cute and cuddly or a plastic hard cased sheep was a huge decision. The decision was made to ‘plump’ for the cuddly sheep as it was considered incredibly important for ewan to appeal ‘emotionally’ to a baby and also to have the added bonus of an interactive function after the baby was aged over 1 year (as the baby can activate ewan themselves). A hard plastic cased sheep suspended out of reach of the baby simply could not offer this same emotional attachment to a child. The purple coloured face with white moon shaped eyes was inspired by the fact that babies respond to highly contrasting colours at a young age and the fact that purple is non gender made ewan an easy gift option for purchase before the child was born. The sound choices were inspired by the low base frequency noise range that the baby can hear in the womb - 250Hz. All of the 4 sounds are recorded at this frequency level and are combined with a recording of a mother’s resting heartbeat. This has been clinically proven to be reassuring to young children, helping to settle and induce sleep. A large selection of sounds were trialled on babies to further inspire product design and the vacuum cleaner, rain, womb sounds and harp music were all selected as a result of this - ewan’s sounds really were inspired by the fact that they were the most effective at lulling babies into a long and peaceful sleep! Finally, the soothing pink glow emitted from ewan’s tummy was inspired by the fact that research has shown that babies are comforted by certain aspects of the womb, so the pink ambient glow was a natural choice.
What do you think are the hallmarks of outstanding parenting product design?
Functionality, practicality, endearing, appealing, robust, safe, effective and affordable.
Why did you enter this product into the Junior Design Awards?
Over the years, Ewan has won many fantastic accolades, including Gift of the Year and Gold in the recent Mother & Baby Awards, but he is yet to be recognised for his design. The Junior Design Awards reflect a trusted and respected benchmark recognised by parents across the UK and we are so proud Ewan has been highly commended.
What is the parenting product you wish you had designed?