It’s one of those messy truths about parenthood: What happens in a diaper doesn’t always stay in a diaper.
The “diaper blowout” — in which baby poop exits the body with such force that it expels itself onto the child’s back and clothing — is a problem that most parents prefer to forget.
Not so for Megan and Steve DeFrancesco of Franklin Park, who believe they’ve invented a solution in the form of a product they call “Baby Backups.” The couple started selling them earlier this year on websites like Amazon and Zulily, and the product was recently mentioned in Real Simple magazine as one of the “Top 8 Problem-Solving Products for Parents.”
Baby Backups are a “diaper extender pad” that presses into the back of a diaper, stopping poop from exiting the diaper, sold in boxes of 25 for $9.95.
The DeFrancescos’ story actually started long ago, with the case of Mrs. DeFrancesco’s younger brother, who created family lore with a particularly bad blowout during his christening ceremony. With that frame of reference — and with her son, Coby, producing messy diapers “always at the most horrible times,” Mrs. DeFrancesco was nervous when the time came for his baptism.
She crafted a homemade solution, cutting up maxi pads and sticking them to the back of his diaper. Thankfully, he didn’t test the system — staying spotless during his baptism — but she thought she might be onto something.
Her daughter, Siena, born less than 16 months after Cody and with an even messier propensity toward blowouts, gave the mom the perfect opportunity to refine her testing. “She would go through so many outfits a day,” she said. “I was so sick of the laundry.”
Mrs. DeFrancesco, 34, continued her cutting and pasting, giving Siena “backup” during important events. And during her baptism, the pads passed the test. “She pooped twice in church and it stopped it,” she said. “It would have been a horrible disaster.”
Convinced of the merits — and marketability — of Mrs. DeFrancesco’s home-crafted solution, her husband, Steve, spent six months in between jobs working full time to turn the idea into a reality. A Penn State University-trained electrical engineer with previous work experience in IT, Mr. DeFrancesco, 40, started working with a patent attorney and making inquiries with manufacturers.
Unable to find a U.S. factory to make the product, he located a manufacturer in China. Just over a year after they started working on the business, they started selling the product in February.
They are currently selling about 50 boxes a month, said Mr. DeFrancesco, and believe that while most of their customers are buying them just to use for special occasions, or shower gifts, some are using them every day.
He’s heard feedback from customers who say they “would spend anything not to have to clean that up again.”
And he and his wife will soon have the opportunity to use the product again themselves: although Coby is now 3½ and Siena is 2, they are expecting another baby in October.
As for the business, Mr. DeFrancesco laughs about the reaction that the couple sometimes get, but he does believe that they’re filling a need.
“If they don’t have kids, they look at you a little strangely,” he said. “If they do have kids, they’ll get it immediately.”