12/27/19 baby teether

Ferill said she hopes one day her teether will be given to families in the DSI's new parent package.

A new teether designed specifically for children with Down syndrome might help strengthen the jaws of those children who find it difficult to eat and speak, according to a Purdue press release.

The teether toy, shaped like a teddy bear with padded ears that light up and play music when chewed, was developed by Purdue alumna Hannah Ferill. She graduated from the College of Liberal Arts with a degree in industrial design.

Ferill called the teether "Jon," after her older brother who had Down's syndrome and died months after his birth.

“My mom expressed to me that she could not find any products that were designed for my brother,” Ferrill said in the release. “After researching, I found that there were still few products out there and I knew I wanted to do something to change that.”

The alumna created the teether for her senior thesis project during her time at Purdue. Working alongside a program coordinator for Down Syndrome Indiana, Stephanie Garner, Ferill interviewed parents of children with Down syndrome. She found that many parents wanted a simple project they could use with their children at home outside of therapy sessions.

Ferill said in the release that she hopes the DSI new parent package given to families might one day include her teether. The design includes a blue-and-yellow color scheme, representing the Down syndrome awareness colors.

“I would love for this teether to make it into the hands of new parents and babies when they are born,” Ferrill said. “I hope this teether can be a beautiful way to help them celebrate their precious new life.”

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