Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Are we stalking our children?

I was by a peaceful lagoon somewhere, having a glass of something multicolored and delicious with an umbrella in it. There was soft music playing and someone was approaching me to ask if I was ready for my massage, which I could have by the lagoon in a private cabana if I so desired.

Then I woke up to the crying of my infant son, who was wailing loud enough to hit the red lights on the baby monitor.

And that was fine. That's what we got the baby monitor for in the first place: I am a light sleeper by nature, but "regular person tired" and "new mommy tired" are completely different levels of exhaustion. (The mommy version lasts longer, too.)

I loved my son's baby monitor - it had audio and sound and measured the room temperature. I loved being able to spy on him when he was asleep without actually having to tip-toe into his room (of course, I did that, too). 

But the baby monitor is where I would draw the line.

Lots of companies are now offering wearable devices, so that parents can monitor heart rate, breathing patterns, body temperature, baby position and other ambient conditions of the room. They can be worn as a boot, anklet or onesie, and there is even a smart diaper that can scan dirty diapers for signs of infection. Read more in-depth info about these devices and how they work here.

To the diaper, I say: We parents spend enough time with our children's bodily functions. I have witnessed everything from green poop (thanks, grape juice!) to blue poop (thanks, food dye!). Please don't encourage us to analyze these things further.

To the other devices, I say: I get it. Parents who need extra reassurance may find these items comforting. Parents who have children who fight routines may want the data to look for patterns. But, for me, this all seems a few steps too far. For one thing, all the data is tracked and analyzed by a smartphone, meaning that these companies are compiling a massive data set of infant health records (to what end?)

And, finally, even with the advanced monitoring tech, parents are still going to worry. That's what we do. It comes with the title.

What baby tech would you consider using for your little one?


  1. Just the baby monitor for me was enough. If you're with your baby, why would you need all of those things you are already monitoring? And really, nothing replaces mother's intuition.

    1. Hi, Kelly! I mostly agree with you, but then again, I was fortunate enough to have a baby who didn't suffer from any medical issues. I wonder if parents of babies who need extra monitoring rely on any of these devices.

  2. I have to admit, I had the baby monitor with the motion sensor and it was really nice to know without having to get close enough to feel or hear him breathing when it was so dark I couldn't see. I ways afraid I'd wake him up. With the monitor I was confident he was ok and it helped me get the sleep I really needed then. I think without it I'd have been in his room every 2-hours even after he stopped nursing at night!

    1. I am curious - when did you feel comfortable enough to stop using the monitor (or do you still use it)?