That incident probably took years off my life. After another wee-hours-of-the-morning baby rave, I unplugged the thing and shoved it in the closet.
Because I’m married to someone in the industry, gadgets often make an appearance in our house in the spirit of research. Not long ago, Dave came home with a Nest camera, technically a security camera that has been widely co-opted by parents who appreciate that it live-streams crisp HD video to their phones, alerts their phones whenever there is “activity in the nursery” and, for $10 a month, stores 10 days of video footage in the cloud.
After weeks of being notified at work when Ella was crying or moving around (read: being a baby) and hours sunk addictively scrolling in fast-forward to see her move around in her sleep, it dawned on me that all this technology, which purportedly calms agitated parents, actually agitates them more. This goes for the more cutting-edge gadgets that monitor vital signs, but is equally apparent in straight up video monitors, some of which will now sync up with Amazon’s new video-enabled Echo Show.
“No parent is going to say ‘No’ to a product that positions itself as standing between your child and death,” Alexis Dubief, the author of Precious Little Sleep, a blog that deals with all things baby sleep-related that had kept me entertained and informed during Ella’s newborn phase, told me one morning when I reached her by phone. “You’re eating beans and rice for a month and you can’t afford heat, but that’s fine.” Ms. Dubief’s main concerns with these gadgets? Whether or not the information they transmit is a) accurate or b) actionable. “I want to know, can I apply this information in some meaningful way, or is it just noise?” she said.
Monitoring is a major category in baby tech. The POMO baby tracker ($119) not only notifies you when your child has moved outside of a “safe 15 meter distance,” but also monitors your baby’s temperature, so that, according to its website, “you will always know if the blanket slips off” — a piece of information you’d also know, presumably, by seeing the blanket not on your child. If temperature monitoring happens to be your jam, there’s a whole spate of new products to choose from. Take the FeverFrida ($69.99), part of an ever-growing line of Frida products that includes a NoseFrida (which allows devoted parents to suck snot out of tiny nostrils) and Windi the Gas Passer (I’ll let you…