Baby tech is now big business – but don't be fooled into thinking you actually need it
Baby tech is a booming business.
Robot bottle makers, nappies that beep when they need to be changed and 'smart socks' that track your baby’s sleep quality, sleep activity, respiration, body position and skin temperature – because apparently keeping a baby alive and well now requires a house full of tech.
There is no denying that businesses are now cashing in big-time on that new-parent anxiety and exhaustion we all go through when we first enter parenthood.
And instead of taking the stress out of parenthood, which they are all claiming to be doing, I have a sneaking feeling they are simply adding to it.
I mean – think about it – how the heck did parents parent before electric bottle warmers? Strollers that fold up into backpacks? Camera-monitors? Bouncers that sing lullabies? And now also smart sensors that strap onto your baby’s foot to track his heart rate and oxygen levels during sleep.
No really – these all exist now.
And having been a parent for a while now, I find myself constantly rolling my eyes at all the crazy gadgets companies and all these so-called "experts" are now telling us we need to feed, transport and keep our babies alive past their first birthday.
Take the SNOO, for instance, the 'smart sleeper' which retails for $1,295 and 'uses real-time feedback from your baby to self-adjust.' Is baby wiggling or crying?
The SNOO responds with gradually louder white noise and gentle rocking. And according to their website, a lot of parents report that "the SNOO has saved them sleep and sanity in the first six weeks."
And, in fact, the company is even reporting that the SNOO reduces SIDS risk as well as helps alleviate postpartum depression (whoa, that's one heck of a claim), and it even 'helps babies sleep over 9 hours by the time they hit 2-3 months.'
Sounds like the Holy Grail? Like you want to drop $1,295 on having a machine (which is what it essentially is) rock your baby to sleep?
Wow. How did people get their babies to sleep back in the day? I don't know about you, but I like to think that it's pretty darn important for bonding that babies are held by humans, no? And so let's not forget – YOU are all that your baby needs, not super-expensive tech stuff.
Because the thing is – babies actually don't require much stuff at all. No, really – it's true.
Despite what the magazines and "experts" and lady in the baby shop keep telling you would be 'handy' or even 'essential.'
Like all those crazy fancy video monitors. Because believe it or not, there used to be a time when the shrill cry of a newborn would woke mums (and dads!) up in the middle of the night. And sure look – no one is saying that you shouldn’t know what baby is up to – and those old school monitors that let you hear if your baby is crying upstairs if you are watching TV downstairs with the sound on are indeed handy. But at the same time, you don’t want to create your own sleepless nights by glueing your bleary eyes to the video screen. No, really. You don't need to watch your baby sleeping. Because trust me – you will hear him when he wakes up.
And apps and timers to alert you when you need to change your baby's nappy? Really? How about the good, aul' squeeze or sniff test? They will get the job done.
We live in a world where there are baby wearables that can track everything from an infant’s breathing, movement, and sleep position to the temperature, humidity, and noise and light levels of the baby’s environment. These wearables connect with apps that gather and organize data, sending notifications and alerts to parents, offering overtired mums and dads the promise of more sleep and greater peace of mind.
But the problem is that so much of this tech is sold to parents based on fear. Or by promising them more sleep or less stress or more control. But the thing is – becoming a new parent is overwhelming. It's this huge adjustment to all of us. And it is meant to be.
And as new parents, we are all nervous, overly anxious, sleep-deprived and scared of doing something wrong.
But little by little, we all learn the ropes. And eventually, a little more rhythm and normality will return again. And in the meantime, know this: Your baby doesn't need much more than clothes, food and a safe place to sleep. And you. That's it.
All these apps and fancy gadgets and futuristic tech? Sure it's interesting and fun to play around with and if you find things that genuinely make your life easier (hello wearable breast pump!) by all means, invest if you can stretch your budget. But don't be tricked into thinking it is a necessity. Or that you are not doing a good enough job as a parent unless you have all the latest baby tech.
My advice? Trust your instincts, ignore the ruthless marketing, grab a large cup of coffee and just figure our whatever works best for you and your baby.
Babies don't need all the tech. Neither do you.