Brushing Aside the Facts

Keegan Summers

Do you wish there was a cure for teething? Do you wish you could have an infant toy that doesn’t cause your child to choke? Are you sick of your toddler not being able to brush his own teeth? Well let me tell you, Amazon claims to have the right product for you!

The product that Amazon is selling is named Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether. One of the claims made about the product is that it develops good oral hygiene early to prevent cavities later, it helps to soothe sore teething gums with durable massaging bristles, and it has handles that are easy for baby to hold, while preventing choking. Sounds like a great product for infant development right?

Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether, Yellow

Why am I interested about this add and why would I spend my time researching about it? This add called my attention because I felt like the product seemed pretty unique, and quite frankly it sounds a little silly to me. The toy has been made for infants between ages three to twelve months old. The idea for the toy is that it help the infant be able to develop the habit to brush their teeth and keep up their hygiene at a young age. It is also made to help teething babies deal with the pain associated with teething. It also uses a great marketing tool by saying it is a safe toy and actually prevents choking.  My first thought was how in the world this could actually help a child develop a habit of brushing his or her teeth at such a young age. My other concern that I had was how does this actually help with teething?
M Wake distributed a survey to parents of 92 infants (that had a mean age of 9.9 months) which had them complete questionnaires regarding what teething causes. The results showed that most of the parents that took the questionnaire (about 70 to 80 percent) thought that teething causes fever, pain, irritability, sleep disturbance, mouthing/biting, drooling, and also red cheeks. About 30-55 percent of the survey participants believed that teething caused rash, ear pulling, feeding problems, runny nose, loose stools and certain types of infections.  Some (about 15 percent) believed that teething was a contributor to causing smelly urine and constipation. Only one person in the survey believed that teething caused no problems. The research concluded that teething is a phenomenon that is very ill defined but that in reality ,most symptoms of teething are minor and more related to discomfort rather than actually causing certain illnesses.

Okay now that we know this interesting study about teething babies how is this related to a banana toothbrush product? The research that was conducted and the results give us a pretty good idea about what are some common misconceptions of teething. What it sounds like is that teething is often the scapegoat for why bad things happen to our infants. This product uses this to its advantage by playing on consumers emotions to buy the product. Its claim is simple, it helps to soothe sore teething gums, but by saying that it tries to persuade parents to think that this will help solve many of the issues that are associated with teething. Very smart marketing, but this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true.

The other question about the product is if it really is possible to help an infant get into the habit of brushing their teeth. Bornstein explains some concepts related to this in his work Development in Infancy. One of these topics is Piaget’s theory involving adaptation.  Adaptation is developed in infancy and one part of adaptation is a process called assimilation. Assimilation is when information is processed according to a specific scheme, it is then assigned to a specific sense(taste, touch, vision, and so forth). To help us with this concept Bornstein gives us this example:

a newborn infant who mouths a finger and starts sucking it is said to have assimilated the finger to the sucking scheme. For the moment, the finger has a single meaning or function—it is suckable.

Newborns find that the fingers usefulness is to be sucked on. Obviously as time goes on the child learns new uses for his/her fingers, and will eventually forget that he used to use his fingers primarily for sucking on. Will something similar not happen with the banana toothbrush trainer? Just because they might frequently put it in their mouth does that mean they are developing better hygiene?

We also know that during infancy habituation comes into play. That is, the baby will respond slower (not show as much interest) to a stimulus that is constantly available to him. This just tells me that the infant may show more interest in the banana toothbrush product at first, but after various times playing with or chewing on the toy, the infant will soon lose interest and find something else to play with or stick in his mouth.

This product has received 5,215 customer reviews and comes out with a 4 and a half star rating. Lots of people have bought this product to help their child in one way or another. It’s a very cute product, not very expensive, but seems to brush aside certain aspects of infant development that contradict its claims.

On a side note, after reading through some customer reviews, I found many customers were dissatisfied that the Baby Banana Toothbrush bristles actually could be bitten off and was found to be a choking hazard. That seems a little impossible though, after all the product did advertise that it was a product designed to help with preventing choking.

Sources:

Wake, M., Hesketh, K., & Allen, M. (2002, June 19). Parent beliefs about infant teething. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1046/j.1440-1754.1999.355395.x

Bornstein, M. H., Arterberry, M. E., & Lamb, M. E. (2014). Development in Infancy(5th ed.). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Banana-Training-Toothbrush-Teether/dp/B002QYW8LW/ref=sr_1_9_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1487283259&sr=8-9&keywords=baby%2Blearning&th=1

 

 

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