These days, everything is a getting a “smart,” techie makeover and baby products are no exception. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a company called Hatch Baby is launching a smart changing pad that NBC News calls a “FitBit for your baby.”
The changing pad is a $300 wireless device that features a waterproof plastic and LCD screen underneath a washable cover. It connects to an app on your phone and records information about your baby’s weight, sleep patterns, and even the number of diapers you use each day. Hatch Baby’s co-founder and CEO, Ann Crady-Weiss, says they know parents are anxious and “your baby can’t tell you what’s going on, so this is something that can.”
A smart changing pad is just the latest in a long line of costly devices intended for new parents. This week, Kodak launches their first HD baby monitor that includes a 180-degree nursery view, night vision, and a detachable USB video camera, along with the ability to monitor your baby’s sleep patterns and feed all of the information directly to your phone.
You can also buy wearable “smart” thermometers to monitor your baby’s temperature around the clock, services that monitor your entire family’s nutrition intake, and “soothing mobiles” that adjust music and mood lighting to your baby’s sleep cycle. There’s even a company that makes smart bottle holders that offer feedback on how to hold the bottle and feature an “audible lump alert” to let you know the nipple is clogged — because apparently we can no longer make basic observations without help from electronic devices.
The aim of technology should be to make life easier, or — at the very least — to fill a need. But lately it seems technology is less about improving life and more about parting nervous new parents with their money. According to MarketWatch, the baby product industry netted an astounding $23 million in 2013 and profits only continue to rise. Some of those profits were from essential products like diapers and car seats, but the rest? As MarketWatch put it, it’s “stuff your newborn doesn’t need.”
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old lady, you can figure out your baby’s pooping habits without a smart changing table. You can check for formula lumps in your own bottles. And, while it sounds cool, you really don’t need a 180-degree night vision view of your nursery — especially when the kid is probably crying in bed right next to you.
If having smart baby products is kind of your thing, that’s cool. You do you. But parents shouldn’t feel pressured into buying the latest gadget. A crib that speaks French and tweets about your baby’s poop is still just a crib, and at the end of the day, it’s not going to improve your parenting abilities. New mom and dad jitters are normal, and they’ll be there whether you buy the $300 pee pad or not.