This article appears in April Family magazine.
One of the newest tech trends is “digital parenting,” with health trackers and smart sensors that monitor babies’ health and well-being. Today’s parents can choose from hundreds of high-tech gadgets like a pacifier that takes baby’s temperature, biometric-tracking onesies and wristbands that monitor tiny heart rates.
Many of theses devices can be compared to Fitbits and other wearable health trackers, said Dr. Richard Honaker, chief medical officer of YourDoctors.Online.
For parents, monitoring an infant’s health and safety is an important concern, and that’s how these devices are being marketed. Parents should take advertising claims with some skeptisism, though, Honaker said: “They have not had much in the way of studies to show that they help or hurt.”
Additionally, connected health monitors have been deemed unsafe according to a review done by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“These devices are marketed aggressively to parents of healthy babies, promising peace of mind about their child’s cardiorespiratory health. But there is no evidence that these consumer infant physiological monitors are life-saving or even accurate, and these products may cause unnecessary fear, uncertainty and self-doubt in parents,” said pediatrician and safety expert Dr. Christopher Bonafide of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Safety concerns aside, the trend of digital parenting is on the rise.
These products’ “main use will be for babies with problems such as reflux disease, congenital heart disease and lung disease. They can also give a parent a lot of peace of mind and should not cause any problems,” Honaker said.
Parents should use common sense when buying and using these products, Honaker said.
“Parents should avoid overusing them because constant surveillance can get sort of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). It is best for parents to discuss this with their baby’s doctor regarding which device, what parameters to monitor and how often,” Honaker said.
Here are some of the most popular:
Owlet Smart Sock 2
The Owlet Smart Sock 2 silently tracks an infant’s heart rate and oxygen while they sleep and notifies parents if something is wrong.
A wearable sleep and activity tracker, Mimo monitors breathing, body position, skin temperature as well as wake and sleep in real time.
A tiny wearable, Neebo keeps tracks vital signs and any sounds a baby makes, flags abnormalities and notifies parents through an app. Neebo tracks heart rate, oxygen levels and body temperature.
The Bluetooth-enabled thermometer/pacifier easily take baby’s temperature and communicates with your smartphone so you don’t have to wake a sleeping baby.