In the 1950s, Germany had its hands full with the so-called “economic miracle”. In this decade, the sleeves of the new Federal Republic had to be rolled up – there was a lot to do and technical achievements were not very widespread yet. But it was also when the first relaxing holidays abroad were taken, romantic films were watched at the movies and hips were swung to rock ‘n’ roll.
Six decades in which a lot has happened – as in real life too. The history of NUK is long and exciting: it ranges from the idea of inventing a natural teat suited to the jaw, to specialising in all the different aspects of babies’ and children’s lives.
Find out how NUK, together with medicine, science and society, in Germany alone, has worked on helping over 50 million children and their parents for 60 years. Every year and every generation has left its mark on NUK’s knowledge and has helped us gain a wealth of unique experience. Here you can get a glimpse of the brand biography – have fun!
With the baby boom of the 1950s, the need for better baby products also grew. Breastfeeding was seen as unfashionable; children were brought up with a bottle. Many children sucked their thumbs or were given rolled-up cloths to find makeshift satisfaction for their sucking reflex. The consequences were often dramatic: crooked teeth, tooth decay and speech disorders. Already at the end of the 1940s, the dental experts, Prof. Dr. Dr.Wilhelm Balters and Dr. med. dent. Adolf Müller, discovered that babies who had been breastfed developed significantly fewer crooked teeth, and so they researched sucking, drinking and breastfeeding further. As a result, they invented the first asymmetric teat shape, which was modelled on the physiology of a mother’s breast during breastfeeding. “Natural and suited to the jaw” was the name given to this shape, which is still used in the production of NUK Teats and Soothers even today.
At first, consumers stood helplessly in front of the asymmetric NUK Teats, because, quite simply, there was no information on the new product for them. NUK reacted to this and visited clinics and midwives to explain the medical concept and the benefits of the teat. At the same time, general interest in dental health was increasing and so it did not take long before NUK Soothers and Teats were being seen in an ever increasing number of happy babies’ mouths. Nearly everyone has seen baby photos of their own parents or relations with the plain, white NUK Soothers in their little mouths. By the end of the 50s, the NUK Brand was becoming a household name.
In the 1960s, a special kind of magic was in the air. Beatles, miniskirts, the moon landing, emancipation – life became colourful, fun-loving, different. Modern technology was responsible for a lot of the changes in this decade and achieved significant breakthroughs which are still relevant to this day – audible, visible, tangible.
Progress also changed parenting, child care and family planning. After being approved for use in the USA in 1960, the “pill” was available in Germany a year later: an innovation that not only affected family planning, but also changed the role of women significantly. Society changed: women could now plan pregnancies. Many concentrated on their education and career first of all and decided to have a baby later - having a baby was increasingly becoming a conscious decision. And with that, the requirements and demands made on all the different types of care for babies and children changed.
The disposable nappy was invented and the latest pram became an object of prestige. Medicine continued to develop too: 1967 saw the first ultrasound scanner. And even in terms of baby food there were developments: wholesome baby food could now be produced from powdered milk.
Essentially, it was a practical invention for mothers, but it did present NUK with new challenges: it was difficult to fill the milk powder into the narrow-necked bottles that had been used up till then. NUK reacted promptly and brought a bottle with a wider opening onto the market. Shortly afterwards, the screw cap followed, which finally meant that baby formula could be shaken and transported without leaking, making it a great deal easier for new mothers. The company kept its finger on the pulse of time and, by using liquid latex, was able to put the NUK Teats with their correct shape for the jaw into quicker production and, with that, respond to constantly increasing demand.
The 1970s were a remarkable decade. It was not only flower-power, bell-bottom trousers, disco sounds and a growing variety of lifestyles that made sure of that, but also social movements, which were springing up everywhere. The stories that wove themselves through this decade can be traced back, for the most part, to this change in social consciousness: people were more aware of themselves and their environment and reflected on natural development.
This also held true for the image of infants. Babies were now increasingly seen as independent personalities, who communicate with their environment right from the beginning and have feelings and memories. With that, the babies’ emotions shifted into the focus of attention of parents, medical practitioners and society. Women no longer gave birth at home but in clinics, where the services for pregnant women, children and parents were improving considerably. NUK visited doctors, nurses and midwives in hospitals to speak with them and give advice – and to be inspired. With success: in 1971, NUK introduced the first disposable teat for bottles worldwide. Teats and screw-rings were preassembled and – particularly important in clinics – pre-disinfected and individually, hygienically packed. Other medical specialist products, such as teats for special needs, came from working closely together with clinic personnel.
In the middle of the 1970s, the so-called “Rooming in” became popular in German hospitals: mothers were now allowed to keep their babies in their own rooms –newborns were no longer looked after only in neonatal wards. NUK, too, wanted to offer babies and parents optimal care and expanded their advisory service in clinics even further.
The “return to nature” also led to a renaissance in breastfeeding at home. To add support to this type of natural and “close contact” feeding of babies, NUK now started to provide other breastfeeding products, such as nipple shields for protecting tender nipples. But NUK’s greatest innovation in this decade had to do with air: thanks to the invention of a teat with a vent in 1979, a vacuum no longer occurred inside the bottle while drinking. This meant babies swallowed less air and had less tummy pains.
And because successful trends catch on easily around the world, there were NUK Products in over 48 countries by the end of the 1970s.
The 1980s not only saw the career of Madonna really take off, it also saw the first home computer, bright colour combinations, new television channels, shoulder pads and the fall of the Berlin Wall. A real mixed bag: the 1980s were characterised by numerous changes, many of which took place all at the same time. So it was no wonder that the world looked very different after these ten years – politically, aesthetically, and for babies too.
At the time it was a real miracle: on April 16 1982, four years after the birth of the world´s first “test tube” baby in the UK, Germany´s first “test tube” baby was born in Erlangen – thanks to IVF (in vitro fertilisation). People, who had previously been unable to have children, could now. And while birth rates were rising for the first time since the 1960s, the state was ensuring that becoming a parent was being made easier. With extended maternity leave, new mothers could return to their previous jobs after a year.
There were also great innovations for babies: even more than in the decades before, the aim was now to simplify the daily routines of babies and mothers. The first baby monitors came onto the market and, together with better child car seats, children’s safety improved as a whole.
Using the slogan, “Some Motherly Love”, NUK, too, worked even harder for babies and parents: as the pioneer of natural baby products, NUK vested its expertise in other areas of life. Breastfeeding was recommended then as it still is today, with breast pads and electric milk pumps making natural feeding easier for both mothers and babies. NUK also developed other products that were urgently needed: baby tooth brushes, teething rings to ease teething pains and special potties. After being developed with experts, the steriliser was introduced in 1985 for practical steam disinfection. NUK entered into a brand new product sector: “Silicon Valley” in the USA was booming and the new super material, silicone, found its way to NUK. It started a soother revolution: now there were silicone soothers, an alternative to latex soothers.
Not only was fashion gaudy, cars vividly- coloured and accessories trendy and bright, even NUK dipped its products in new colours. Thanks to new printing technologies, many products could now be manufactured with colourful designs. NUK was – once again – at the forefront of current trends.
In the 1990s progress moved even faster: The World Wide Web – or Internet – electronic “techno” music und mobile telephones were invented. Higher, further, faster could be the three words that best describe this decade.
At the same time, scientists were concentrating even more on babies and children. Long-term studies and new research findings showed that babies react to their environment at a very early age and that this interaction also has an effect on their development. It was the starting signal for countless ante and postnatal support programmes. Classical music was said to increase foetal well-being and intelligence, while toys were said to advance early learning. But mothers were not left out: in Germany, the right to a place in a kindergarten was established by law and, thanks to electronic media, the traditional workplace became more flexible. Increasingly more mothers were able to combine work and family life better.
The latest anthropological (study of humankind) findings revealed that for both teats and soothers it is important not only for their shape to suit the jaw, but that they are also of the optimal size. NUK reacted immediately, with the world´s first “growing” size concept for teats and soothers that corresponds to the most important stages of development: infants between 0-6 months, babies over 6 months and children over 18 months.
NUK had even more good ideas in the 1990s: in 1998, the leak-proof drinking cup came onto the market to help children learn to drink on their own at an early age.
New quality control processes, technologies and innovations meant further developments were also made on existing NUK products.
According completely with the slogan, “Understanding Life”, NUK won a place in children´s hearts for the first time in the 1990s: popular and likeable characters, such as JANOSCH or Snoopy, decorated bottles, soothers and other NUK Products. In 1998, NUK was finally available online, offering parents both information and practical tips right around the clock.
NUK took its claim/slogan “Understanding Life” even more literally and, once again, became a pioneer. In the course of the first decade of 2000, numerous products were developed that helped to make the lives of children and their parents healthier and better organised. Clever ideas were just as important as medical findings for this.
2003 saw the combined bottle and teat system, “NUK FIRST CHOICE”, come into the world. In 2006, the NUK Oral Care programme began for healthy and hygienic oral development. In 2007, the NUK Genius Soother arrived on the baby shelves; its optimised teat shape combined all the scientific findings that NUK had collected up till then. In 2010, NUK entered completely new territory: the NUK Baby Bottle Cleanser to make baby bottles, teats and soothers simply cleaner. So, at the end of the first decade there were lots of new products that perfectly suited dynamic and flexible lifestyles with children in the new millennium.
The 2010s began exactly like the last six decades: with new children. The demands made on natural products that are suitable for babies are constantly changing – every generation has different needs.
In 2011, NUK brought a programme on to the market which once again makes life easier for young families: the new NUK Easy Learning 1-2-3 leak-proof cups. They help the little ones to learn to drink on their own – sip by sip and child’s play really. In 2012, NUK introduces yet another innovation and even a world first, the NUK Thermo Light: a baby food heater, that warms baby food both gently and hygienically, using light technology but without any water.
The same year, the NUK First Choice+ appeared: the new generation of teats for relaxed feeding as at a mother’s breast. Contributions to the development of this product were made not only by medical professionals and midwives, but also by mothers - the best people to know what the ideal baby bottle has to be like.
With great products for learning to eat, a brand new soother and new household and care products, NUK has once again come up with lots of ideas for simplifying the lives of children and parents. This decade has only just begun – and, at NUK, we are looking forward to seeing what great ideas the future will bring!