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Buy One Give One Blankets

The New York office of design firm Beattie McGuinness Bungay has designed and is now selling an infant blanket meant to help new parents in the developing world to understand things like vaccinations, average infant growth, breast-feeding, illness-warning signs and the like, and they’re taking a BOGO approach to marketing the blankets.

‘The Information Blanket’ is made of double-knit cotton…loomed in North Carolina and screen printed and lock-stitched in New York City… and features bold info-graphics screen-printed in water-based dyes. You can see the blanket at the left from this article in the June issue of Fast Company magazine.

The BOGO (Buy One, Give One) price is $40 and the donation-only price is $25. Plainly BMB wants you to buy two.

The first batch of Information Blankets are headed for Uganda, where, the website says, the infant mortality rate is 76.9 deaths per 100,000 births. The comparable rate in the United States is 6.3. In Japan it’s almost half again lower at 3.2 deaths per 100,000.

The Information Blanket reminds me nothing so much as the ‘stations of the cross’ in Medieval European cathedrals. When the cathedrals were originally built, few of the parishioners could read, so the stations of the cross told the passion narrative with images only.

In the traditional sense of illiteracy that’s unfair to Ugandans, who have a reported adult literacy rate of 75 percent. But the illiteracy that the Information Blanket addresses is the illiteracy of new parents. As any parent can tell you, no baby comes with an instruction manual. More to the point, the first child also doesn’t come with any parental experience with newborns either. Every little sniffle that you know is normal after you’ve had three children can seem like a crisis when it’s your first.

The Information Blanket isn’t a new baby manual. It’s more like one of those laminated quick reference guides they sell at bookstores that lays out the basics of calculus or how to conjugate verbs in Latin or easy Wordpress shortcuts.

The Information Blanket is a cottony-soft cheat sheet for new parents in the developing world.

I like it.

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