Do Baby Monitors Screen for Safety or Damage your Bond?
Selling a product that positions itself as a baby-saving device is easy. What parent wouldn’t sign up for that? But before you jump on the extreme monitoring bandwagon, consider this:
In the recent New York Times article, The Overmonitored Nursery, Sophie Brickman documents her trial run with some of the most cutting-edge baby monitoring gadgets out there. Her super-savvy, in-the-know tech entrepreneur of a husband starts them off with the Owlet Smart Sock, what she aptly describes as a neon Grecian sandal come health monitor that tracks your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels. Next comes the Nest camera that lets you keep an eye on baby even when you’re away.
The list of monitors out there goes on: The POMO baby tracker, billed as your “baby’s godmother”, monitors all your baby’s movements as well as temperatures inside and outside your little one so that, according to its website, “you will always know if the blanket slips off”. Overkill much? But if that’s not adequate temperature monitoring for you, the TempTraq patch will take your baby’s temperature every four seconds and alert your phone with any changes.
A far cry from the nanny cams that were meant to keep an eye out for any suspicious or abusive behavior on the part of caregivers, new-fangled baby monitors now track virtually every bodily function and environmental factor imaginable. Just reading through the list of features and functionality is enough to make your stress level rise and instill major fears over the potentially imminent death of your child. You don’t want to be a bad or neglectful parent, do you?
But with each activity you’re tracking, you have exponentially more anxiety and yet another screen to check. Not exactly what I would consider peace of mind.
Curious about the benefits of this level of micro-monitoring, Brickman reached out to a couple of experts including her pediatrician (who finds regular monitoring of vital signs beyond extreme) and the American Association of Pediatrics, who doesn’t “recommend products that are specifically sold to reduce the risk of SIDS because we think it’s false advertising.”
So why is that practically every mom out there is glued to a screen, actively monitoring their babes?
Sure as first time parents, we’re suckers for every contraption out there from Diaper Genies to shopping cart covers. Useless as they may be, they’re just money down the drain and not much more than that.
The biggest issue, though, with these baby monitoring gadgets goes well beyond the money burned or even the unnecessary level of “noise” they create according to Brickman. Rather it’s the fact that we would actually bother to listen to that noise over listening to our babies. Not only is that level of monitoring extreme and frankly maddening…. (Come on, do you really need to know if the baby’s blanket slipped off in the middle of the night?!?!)…but it’s also disruptive to the parent-child bond.
Hours spent scrolling through live-stream footage of your baby gives the illusion of spending time with her. Just think… How often has seeing a friend’s photos on Facebook satisfied that feeling of catching up with them? You have the sense of being with your baby, while your baby misses out on everything from your heartbeat to your smell. The human connection is lost.
Don’t get me wrong, we all have places to go and things to do and we can’t be with our babies 100% of the time. I am not advocating for you to super glue yourself to your baby. I’m advocating for you to let it go.
The more we grow to rely on these gadgets, the more we’re effectively handed over the role of reading and understanding a baby’s signs to an instrument. You are actually putting a screen between you and your baby. And in that process, you’re enslaving yourself to the minutiae of details the more addictive the monitoring gets. On top of that, you’re setting a tone for your family dynamic… One where you don’t 1) trust yourself to get to know your child and 2) trust that your child will be just fine without your watchful eye.
So are baby monitors evil? No, absolutely not. But if you are going to use them, don’t get sucked in. Your baby will survive if his blanket slips off. He’ll be ok if you don’t get the second-by-second read of his temperature or oxygen levels, sleep patterns, or the number of swallows. Your baby will be ok. And you will learn how to his signs almost as quickly as that monitor’s instruction manual.
What are your thoughts on the newest in baby monitors? Absolute must-haves or total overkill?