Since my daughter was born over a decade ago, the amount of apps that have been designed to support new parents has grown almost as quickly as she has. At first, being a parent can feel isolating; you’re thrown into a new world that you’ve not experienced before and it’s easy to feel apprehensive. I wish I’d had the support from technology that parents have these days, because now there are apps and products that allow you to connect with people and break down those barriers.
When I first became a dad, I found great comfort in having a baby-monitor nearby, particularly throughout my daughter’s first year of life. The reassurance that you get from something as simple as a flash from red to green is amazing, but there’s so much more on offer now. Whilst nothing is going to stop that instinct to pop your head in your child’s room five times a night as a new parent, new technologies that can monitor your baby’s heartbeat, or provide a live stream into their room, gives you a second level of security that can help you resist those urges.
I wish that smart baby monitors (that can connect with your smartphone or iPad) had been around in my time. Companies and their tech based products are able to help us become more connected parents, and make parenting easier by enabling us to monitor our children’s wellbeing better. Technology is already becoming an enabler, and it isn’t hard to imagine a world where all of our baby’s digital products connect up with each other.
As well as product to product, tech also has the power to join us parents up in a physical sense, mostly through apps. One of the most simple and effective apps I’ve come across through fellow parents is Peanut, which uses a Tinder style approach to allow new mums to connect with each other, chat and even meet up. At a time when socialising can fall off the agenda, apps have the power to bring people together who are going through the same kind of experience in a way that was never previously possible.
The danger however, of all this technology, is that by becoming connected parents we are also putting ourselves out there for an information overload at a time when headspace is needed. The more resources there are talking about optimum feeding times, body temperatures and sleeping patterns, the bigger the risk of self-doubt. The concern with this is that you become trained to trust your smartphone rather than your gut – it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the voices telling us how to be a parent. Whilst tech opens up a world of opportunity and support, it’s important that we don’t get so caught up in it that we stop seeing ourselves as humans that have managed to raise children for thousands of years before the invention of the baby monitor.
As both our own lives and those of our children become more intertwined with technology, it’s important that we embrace the possibilities that it opens up to us. If done correctly, apps and services are able to help parents seek out like-minded people with shared experiences, or connect devices in such a way that makes us feel as though our baby is safer and our life is made easier. It’s important to remember that we are raising children and not robots, and that doing it our own way is what makes our children who they are. I’m all for baby tech if it’s going to stop parents feeling isolated and start empowering them. Let’s hope further advances help to reassure parents and make life that little bit easier.
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