Movement - bellows

The movement aspect of this ergonomic sensory environment for a newborn is a contentious subject,  having spoken to a midwife Christine as you can read about in one of the earlier blogs she was concerned with the feature being able to be left on when there was no adult present,  equally when talking to the new mums Kate and Jackie,  they were concerned that this feature would allow babies to fall back into a deep sleep something which is responsible for some examples of cot death.

That being said, the movement feature is one of the key elements when it comes to newborn sleeping patterns and mother’s frustration. Having an option where you can rock your baby to sleep on your chest and then lay them down onto a surface that is still rocking will aid in the transition from sleeping with mum to sleeping alone. Which, when all is said and done is the main aim of this product.

Below are the sketches and design exploration I have undergone surrounding movement:

So how to introduce movements in a way that fits will all the requirements above? I felt it was necessary to consult with a few experts.

I arranged to meet with a friend of mine who is the race engineer at Bentley motorsport, William Hunt, he was very interested in the bellows and had multiple ideas for how I could implement this movement. Will felt the bellows could provide more than just the rocking motion, which would help the infant to sleep. Will suggested the constant movement and change in pressure would also help with blood flow for the infant.

Much like the products that are available for anyone who is bedridden and at risk of developing bed or pressure sores. “The bed contains a mixture of air and fluid. Researchers found that pressure sores became smaller after 2 weeks using this type of bed.”  (Research, 2016)
The Apollo 5 Premium Airflow Mattress is a great example of the current technology available. Using a durable and robust pump the Air Flow Mattress manually adjusts to the user's body shape, featuring 18 individual cells that provide an extremely dynamic alternating therapy action.

Alternating Pressure Pad installation

Will compared this to the system within Bentley seats, the massage unit is made up of multiple airbags that are placed around the seats inflating and deflating to give a massage on the back.  Details of the system can be seen below, created by a company called ‘kongsbeegautomotive’ who are the world leaders in providing automotive massage technology. “The system is based on a series of small air bladders that alternately inflate and deflate to provide a massage sensation” this system is fully programmable with both speed and intensity.

I also spoke to a safety engineer call Pete ***, as we discussed the bellows in further detail, his initial observations were that by keeping the noise and the mechanicals away from the baby in a separate unit created a well thought out safety feature, yet due to this feature, a remote pumping unit was the only option. Having this pump remote yet in close proximity to the baby could also promote sleep through the rhythmical sound of the pump.

The other thing to factor in Pete said, is that pumps get hot – moving parts generate heat, and temperature is an area I am keen to stay well clear of.

While having the pump within the mattress may give the additional option for vibrations and result in a more streamlined design, it can be concluded that any option of overheating and moving electrical units should be kept away from the baby where it is possible. So a remote unit is the direction I will take.

Getting into the practicalities of the bellow design, Pete observed within my design (seen above) that the forces needed to inflate this bellow, would create a significant gushing/rushing sound as it escaped from the valve on the other side,  this may play to my advantage as mentioned above if you had a rhythmical breathing sound, however, Pete felt this sounds maybe too loud and potentially scary for an infant. Pete, therefore, suggested a two-pronged system. A pump that can work in two directions, with a pump going in, then reverse to pump the air out with each pump working at opposite times.

The movement feature for this design concept has been present from the very start, For me it is one of the most instinctive and intuitive things you can do to help a baby sleep - rock them.

This project intends to replicate the feeling of the womb,  helping babies with the transition from womb to cotby having sensory elements that replicates the environment of the womb,  that are transitional,  this product in terms to relieve some of the sensory stress associated with that shock change to both mother and babies environments. “Newborns are like sailors that come to dry land after nine months at sea, says Dr. Karp. The stillness of lying in a soft, motionless crib can drive them crazy. Rhythmic, vigorous motion has an almost hypnotic effect.” (Bevinetto, 2015)                       

The first example of a rocking cradle was in 1683, as you can see in the image below."For centuries, babies in Western Europe and North America were put into small baskets or boxes raised slightly off the floor, on rockers." (Rocking cradles – wood or wicker, 2012) “The cradle has a long history and the earliest and most common type of cradle is the rocker, derived undoubtedly from a half log, hollowed out to provide a secure resting place for the infant." (Blackburn, 2005) Across the history of baby care there seems to have always been an element of movement. The use of a natural, rocking motion instigated by an "older sibling or a busy adult with a spare foot while her hands are busy with other tasks." (Rocking cradles – wood or wicker, 2012) is commonplace through out history and still remains true to this date.

Current products on the market allow for a range of manual or electronic options to provide movement for your infant. The motions range from swinging to bouncing, and even (as seen with the mamroo) a combination of movements. During my time with Kate and Jackie we discussed this option for movement, talking about how, when you rock a child to sleep it is not a single direction movement, its more multi-directional, you are either rocking and bouncing or bouncing and twisting. (Woods, K, 2016)

Initially my design concept was concerned with the use of an airbag that would inflate and deflate in a rhythmical Motion replicating the mothers lungs and heartbeat. As you can see in initial sketches below this is integral element to the design, with the power and motor external to the baby’s mattress. This is a key consideration for me and I quickly identified that parents would not want any mechanical electronic components near a sleeping newborn baby. My design therefore Incorporated the power lead to be short with a long air compression tube to the mattress, in principle should the worst happen all the baby will receive is alternating gushes of air.

While considering how I would prototype this element of design I arranged to meet with two engineers, one a race engineer for Bentley motor sport, the other a safety engineer for Urenco, to hear more about their advice refer to the earlyier 'text/blog'., he was very interested in the bellows and had multiple ideas for how I could implement this movement. Will felt the bellows could provide more than just the rocking motion, which would help the infant to sleep. Will suggested the constant movement and change in pressure would also help with blood flow for the infant. Despite being unable to find any evidence for this, it is commonly held that similar products that are available for anyone who is bed ridden and at risk of developing bed or pressure sores can be invaluable. The bed contains a mixture of air and fluid. Researchers found that pressure sores became smaller after 2 weeks using this type of bed.”  (Research, 2016)

Throughout this research it was slowly becoming apparent that to create a prototype system of gentle and controlled movement through the use of bellows was far from realistic. It was at this point that I returned to my initial research and explored other alternatives to movement. Returning to more traditional, manual forms of movement.

While developing these designs, I was constantly considering and debating the pros and cos of each route. Either the route of mechanical, electric movements that can be switched on and left on, giving rise to unattended movement of the newborn. Or do I go down the route of manual movements that requires that parents be present to give and maintain the movement?

When talking to Christine the midwife she was mostly concerned about having any unattended movements for newborn’s, when considering bad parents. “it would be an easy option for parent and is not promoting the mother baby relationship you would hope to encourage.” (Woods, C, 2016)

In the same vein when discussing the same feature with Kate and Jacqui the two attachment parents, they asked “why would I put my baby on a mattress to rock them, when I could pick them up and rocks them myself?”  This product is not aimed at attachment parents we concluded.

Would a rocking feature that requires you to be beside the baby inhibit or put off mums? Is the idea of having to rock your child and then gently be carried into another room a problem? As previously discussed it would appear the use of a natural, rocking motion is commonplace through out history and still remains true to this date, being at one with your Childs responding their mood and sleep patterns, and is being close to your baby.

As you can see from the prototyping images below the next stage of my prototyping developments explores the use of a round bowl like shape used as a rocker underneath the mattress.  The main issues I encountered here what in response to the centre of gravity.  Having explored the use of multiple rounds which inhibited the direction of movement to a single left to right rock I concluded this product direction would require a round who’s diameter was the length of the mattress, taking away from the pram like archetypal form I intended.

The next stage in my prototyping development explore the use of springs,  initially hard to get my hands on I eventually acquired some mattress springs having sweet talk the local skip men,  from here I experimented with different placements out quantity of springs across the baseboard.  As you can see from the video below I came across the same problems regarding centre of gravity.  As I placed extra springs around the baseboard I was able to overcome the problem of the baby falling out however this then limited the multidirectional rocking motion.


Research, C. (2016) Dealing with pressure sores (sore skin). Available at: (Accessed: 25 August 2016)

Amby (2016) Help your baby sleep with the Amby baby hammock. Available at: (Accessed: 7 September 2016).

Bevinetto, G.B. (2015) 5 ways to recreate the womb. Available at: (Accessed: 21 July 2016).

Blackburn, G. (2005) A short history of beds, cradles, and cribs. Available at: (Accessed: 7 September 2016).

Rocking cradles – wood or wicker (2012) Available at: (Accessed: 7 September 2016).