Technology for the nursery
Even if you’re not a huge fan of gadgets, most parents end up using some kind of technology in the nursery. What are some of the latest gadgets available?
I don’t know how our mothers and grandmothers did it: survive without all the gadgets we now have at our disposal. Having a baby is hard enough – add to it nappies you had to wash in the tub and wringer, plus the absence of sound monitors, and it’s a miracle the human race survived long enough to invent electric rockers.
For the purposes of this article, I tried to prioritise the list of technology gadgets. I failed. Is an infrared forehead thermometer more important than a movement sensor? A breast pump more useful than a car simulator? It’s a very personal choice. So, here are some of the most popular technology gadgets, in no particular order of importance …
Like an old-fashioned two-way radio, these gadgets consist of a transmitter (which you place in the nursery) and a receiver (which you carry with you). They allow the caregivers to maintain a connection to the baby, no matter where in the house they are. Some of the baby monitors are sound only (either one-way which allows you to hear what’s going on in the nursery, or two-way which lets you talk to the baby at the press of a button). Other baby monitors let you know the temperature in the baby’s room, play lullabies and even transmit a video image of your baby!
This piece of technology is for your peace of mind because it monitors the baby’s movements. The motion sensor pads go under the cot’s mattress or get clipped onto the baby’s nappy. Either way, they feel the baby’s movements and sound the alarm if they can’t detect motion. Often, the alarm itself is enough to stir the baby out of deep sleep, but the alarm will send you straight to the nursery anyway to check that everything is all right. Some motion sensors combine the sound and/or video capability into one gadget. If you’re planning to use more than one type of monitor, buying the combination version is a good idea.
Car simulators that sway the car seat, train simulators that vibrate the cot, electric rocker devices, electricity-driven swings, cuddly sheep that play whooshing womb noises – they are all there to help babies settle down to sleep. Unless you’re exceedingly lucky and your baby’s a fantastic sleeper, chances are you will end up buying more one than such gadget.
Breast pumps can be manual or electric. The manual ones are often lauded as more natural and therefore better for the milk flow in the long run, because they mimic the baby’s natural suction rhythm. However, the electric ones are usually faster and more efficient. The type you buy will probably depend on your particular circumstances: if you need to pump only occasionally, a manual or a batteryoperated portable pump is probably exactly what you’re looking for because it’s cheaper. Mums that have to express at least once a day are often better off with an electric pump. Mums who have trouble expressing or breastfeeding could try hospital-grade electric pumps that connect to both breasts simultaneously.
Finding the right thermometer for your baby may present a challenge. Oral thermometers are not suitable at all for children under 2 years old. Rectal thermometers may injure or hurt the baby if used incorrectly. Even ear thermometers are not recommended for children under 6 months because the ear may be too small to accommodate them. So what’s left? A classic armpit thermometer or a non-contact infrared thermometer. Non-contact infrared thermometers typically work by measuring infrared energy radiated from the forehead. They act as receivers of heat and do not send out any waves or heat at any time. Starship hospital nurses use these for a quick temperature reading during triage.
By Eve Douglas
what parents say
- “Unless your baby is a mover at night, don’t get a motion sensor – it’ll keep going off for no reason and give you a scare.”
- “A good-quality motion sensor can be adjusted so it detects the baby’s breathing without false alarms.”
- “Remember, what works for one baby will often not work for another. My daughter loved falling asleep to the motion simulator that gently vibrated the wooden slats on her cot while emitting car engine noises. Her younger brother screamed blue murder when we tried it on him.”
watch your baby from work
Apple has combined iPads and Smartphones to allow you to watch your baby from work, or even another country. A hit with grandparents.
- White noise baby – has a number of soothing sounds played on repeat to relax your baby and lull them to sleep. Provides sounds such as taking a car ride, classical music, conch shell, and even a Doppler ultrasound of the womb.
- Total Baby – lets parents log each feed, diaper change, bath time and nap. In total, parents can keep track of 14 separate functions.
- CareZone Mobile – displays colours and shapes designed to stimulate the minds of babies and children. The app has black-and-white patterns for newborns, too.
- Healthline Symptom Checker – this New Zealand app lets you enter your symptoms on a body map or search by name from a list. Based on the type and severity of the suspected illness, the courses of action suggested vary from calling an ambulance, seeing the doctor within 24 hours, or advising on how to manage the condition at home.