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Parents take notice: connected baby kit takes guesswork out of raising little ones

Growing array of smart gadgets gives first-time parents a helping hand

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 9:30am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 8:16pm

The business of parenting can be stressful. With so much love, yet so much responsibility exquisitely tied up in one tiny bundle of joy, the worry about getting it right is constant, especially for first-time parents.

Others are quick to offer advice, but often their views are conflicting. So it’s reassuring to know that connected baby kit, grounded in medical research, can take much of the guesswork out of raising an infant.

Possibly the biggest issue concerning new parents is getting baby into a sleep routine. Some cry when put in their own cot; others are wakeful throughout the night.

As noted by the judges in the 2018 Baby Tech Awards, parents have few options when it comes to solving sleep-related issues. “They can read a book written years ago that supplies general information about sleep issues; they can check in on forums that may not be moderated or regulated to ensure healthy advice; or they can engage a sleep coach, which for many parents is beyond their financial means,” they point out.

Hong Kong mothers increasingly bring in the professionals when it comes to childcare

Nod, an artificially intelligent (AI) sleep coach and finalist in the awards, provides clinically-validated sleep training techniques tailored to the activity, routines, and habits of each baby. The product is co-developed by Johnson & Johnson and Rest Devices,inventor of the smart onesie that monitors and documents a baby’s breathing, body position, skin temperature and sleep in real-time.

Advice is based on information inputted the Nod app: baby’s nap and bedtime schedules, sleeping and feeding activity. Parents then receive real-time, personalised recommendations on how to help baby fall asleep independently, sleep longer each night, and how to wean the baby from needing outside elements – such as a dummy, a swaddle and music – to achieve healthy sleep.

The app, which the company says is backed by paediatric sleep specialists, gives parents AI-driven advice about what to do each day and night, how to do it, and when to start and stop the tasks.

The South Korea-based makers of BETO, another new IoT baby sleep coach which works in a similar fashion, liken their product’s usefulness to that of a personal trainer. When teaching babies to sleep through the night on their own, “it becomes a lot easier if parents have someone design a program for you to follow and encourage you along the way,” they say.

Hand in hand with sleep issues come concerns around feeding: is baby getting enough nutrition for them to thrive? Is that the reason they won’t sleep?

The smart bottle feeding system BlueSmart mia tracks and analyses a baby’s intake and consumption patterns via a Wi-fi connected silicone sleeve. Placed on the bottle, the sleeve has indicators that guide feeding, showing alerts if the milk is too hot or cold, angle alerts for optimal feeding, and even gives expiration warnings if the breast milk or formula has been left out for too long. A companion app analyses the data that can be shared with carers looking after baby, or emailed to their paediatrician.

For the many mothers who want to keep breastfeeding after returning to work, the Sonata smart breast pump makes it easy and convenient.

Research has shown that many mums don’t breastfeed as long as they originally intended to, and most worry about their supply. Establishing a strong breast milk supply early may help give them the confidence to continue.

Sonata offers hospital-level performance in a pump that is quiet and discreet – so mums can keep pumping even while on a conference call. It also connects with a breastfeeding support app, MyMedela, giving mothers unlimited access to clinical advice. The user receives encouragement based on their goals, as well as real-time notifications sent to her smartphone when the pump needs charging.

In times when baby is sick, the TempTraq wearable helps ease that concern. This Bluetooth temperature monitor continuously senses, records and transmits body temperature for up to 48 hours to a mobile device via its app. Parents don’t need to disturb baby to get an accurate reading, and may remotely monitor real-time temperature data through a secure TempTraq Connect service.

When you’re out and about, a smartphone-synced car seat the Cybex Sirona M is the proverbial eyes in the back of a parent’s head.

Baby is secured by a SensorSafe 2.0 chest clip which sends alerts when unsafe situations arise, such as if the child has managed to unbuckle themselves while moving, or has inadvertently been left in a parked vehicle. The companion app also monitors the car’s back seat temperature, which is an extra safety measure in a hot climate.