New Wearable Baby Monitor: Peace of Mind or a Play on Our Insecurities About Our Child’s Health?
Of course we all worry to some degree or another about the health and well-being of our children, and perhaps no more so than during their early weeks and months of life. I’d hazard a guess that the majority of parents have checked to ensure their sleeping newborn was breathing, at least once. We’ve all placed our hand on their little tummy’s just to feel it rise and fall, or felt for air leaving their nostrils, haven’t we? But as our confidence in our own parenting abilities increases, and our tiny baby becomes more robust day-by-day, we learn to trust in that ‘Mother’s instinct’ many of us profess to develop and we allow ourselves to feel a little less anxious about something bad happening. At least, that has been my own personal experience, but of course, even a Mother’s instinct didn’t stop me from turning up the baby monitor full volume! As parent’s we often think that you can never be too careful
The new wearable baby monitor by Manly-based company TechBeach about to go on sale in Australia certainly seems to reinforce this philosophy. The sensor filled baby onesie apparently tracks everything from your babies temperature, heart rate and how many times they move in their sleep, and then sends it to your smart phone. In this new age of tracking ourselves (I confess, I have owned both a Fitbit and a Vivofit to chart my own exercise and daily activity levels), what’s the harm in more pie-charts, and graphs to obsess over. I mean monitor.
Although the wearable onesie is the first of it’s kind in Australia, there have recently been two comparable products released in the US. The Owlet is a smart sock used to measure a baby’s vital signs and the Sproutling is a wearable band that is worn around your baby’s ankle. Both of which, are marketed at parents anxieties, and promise to record and relay information about your child’s health as they sleep to you, in real time.
However Doctor’s warn that these products, which incidentally aren’t cheap (the onesie is set to sell at a little over $500), may not be the high-tech solution to our worries that we think it will be.
Dr Justin Coulson, parenting expert and father of six expressed his thoughts about the new yet-to-be-released product saying “We all want our babies to be healthy and happy, but those kinds of devices are likely to do little for our personal wellbeing, with all the stress and panic they cause.” (Source News.com.au)
In fact, David King, clinical lecturer in paediatrics at the University of Sheffiled UK expressed his concern in the journal of BMJ late last year, that these smart baby monitors and wearable devices will provide parents with a false sense of security to parents who use them to keep their baby safe.
“Home monitoring may be justified in some situations, such as for preterm infants or infants who need oxygen” writes King, “But in these cases parents should be trained in observation techniques, operation of the monitor, and infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation…
Medical professionals and consumers need to be aware that such devices have no proven use in safe-gurading infants or detecting health problems, and they certainly have no role in preventing SIDS.’
Co-founder of the wearable onesie, Darren Younger is also quoted in the News.com.au article as saying that “It’s more of an ease of use thing rather than a life-saving apparatus: it’s more a comfort factor knowing your child is OK.”
Parents are warned to note that the smart device is a baby monitor – not an FDA- approved medical device.