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Single-serve for infants

May 31, 2011


I have years of experience with various single-serve coffee systems, including Nespresso, and so by now I’m aware of their benefits and limitations. Can any of them ever beat freshly ground, freshly roasted beans in terms of cup quality? No. Is the coffee they’re capable of making nevertheless underestimated by coffee snobs everywhere? Yes, particularly with respect to pods. There’s also convenience to consider and a host of other factors, all of which could be and have been discussed elsewhere. I only mention this as context for my sudden realization that even for a fan of single-serve, broadly construed, (as I consider myself to be) there are lines that should not be crossed. And now I’ve found one such line: BabyNes, Nestle’s new capsule system for baby formula.



This is not a joke, I swear! Here’s the press release and here’s the requisite critique (which may or may not be fair, though it seems comprehensive at the very least).



There are 6 BabyNes capsules corresponding roughly to babies' developmental stages (see image below). If you want to check Nestle's site, it's only available in French and German right now. A notice will pop up periodically asking you to read some disclaimer info. Just select the first (topmost) of the two options, indicating that you read the notice, and then click the rightmost "continue" button. Remember that Google Translate is your friend.



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What did I learn from perusing the BabyNes site?



1)  At no point does formula come in contact with the machine. That’s good, I suppose. Instead, water is injected directly into the capsules, where the powdered formula dissolves, and then the milk is sprayed under 6-bar pressure (!) into whatever bottle/cup you’re using.



2) The formula is made in Switzerland. Full of clean mountain air and sparkling, spring-fed goodness, no doubt.



3) The capsules themselves are made of some material that’s BPA-free and can be incinerated (but not recycled). They also contain filters designed to keep any harmful bacteria in your water out of the bottle. This is great except for the fact that the only people who will be able to afford BabyNes probably already have clean, well-filtered water.



4) As you might expect given what I said about pressure, BabyNes can occasionally give the milk a little froth. Baby cappuccino, anyone? There’s even a post about it in the FAQ. Nestle says the froth won’t give your baby gas.



Honestly, I find this all ridiculous and borderline revolting, but maybe someone, somewhere, feels differently?



Interestingly, Nestle’s site makes it clear that their intention is not for BabyNes to replace breastfeeding. However, they explicitly claim that their capsule line was designed to emulate the way in which the composition of a mother’s milk changes in response to a baby’s nutritional requirements throughout development. Of course, this can only be done by Nestle in a general way since not all babies’ needs are the same. But whatever. I don’t have a problem with formula. In fact, after 6 weeks or so we used it ourselves with our firstborn. I just don’t like the effort here to mass-market a baby-feeding machine that, in my view, is completely unnecessary. Why lock yourself into a closed system requiring you to buy a special machine and overpriced formula capsules when you could do just as well with a Brita filter for water, a stove top or microwave, and bulk quantities of powdered formula/milk?






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