Becoming a parent is something very few people are truly prepared to handle. The shock of being responsible for the well-being of your screaming bundle of joy around the clock can be overwhelming. It’s common to feel you’re drowning in a sea of bottles and diapers, and it’s hard to shake that worry that you’re not doing things right. As they grow up, you’ll find yourself substituting one set of worries for another.
The tech industry has been quick to offer monitoring solutions to soothe paranoid parents. Some of these devices are of questionable value compared to good old-fashioned instinct, and they can be eye-wateringly expensive. But, there are also some excellent gadgets to help you keep tabs on your kids, and potentially even boost their development.
MonBaby – Wearable Baby Monitor
The first few weeks with your newborn are often the toughest. The slightest sound of discomfort from your baby can result in you lying awake for hours next to the crib listening for their breathing. We saw a pretty comprehensive monitoring solution called MonBaby at CES 2015. It’s a smart button that you can attach to your baby’s onesie and it sends a real-time update of their breathing pattern, movement, and sleeping position to your iPhone or Android phone.
You can also set up alarms in the app, so you’ll know when your baby wakes up, stops breathing, rolls onto his or her stomach, is removed from the crib, or fall. Their sleeping patterns are plotted on a chart in the app, so you can also identify common periods of restlessness and waking.
MonBaby uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone. It takes a standard coin cell battery that will last two months. At $170 MonBaby is not a cheap device, but the peace of mind it delivers will be priceless for some parents.
Sproutling offers a very similar monitoring device that’s designed to strap around your baby’s ankle.
SleepIQ – Kids Bed
As your kids get older and graduate to a bed you have a whole new set of potential nighttime mishaps to worry about. The SleepIQ Kids bed is designed to monitor their sleeping patterns and offer up various safety-minded solutions. It measures their breathing, movement, and heart rate to give you a chart of their sleeping patterns. It also alerts you when they’re awake and when they jump out of bed.
The bed can be raised at the pillow end, which is great for kids with colds, and for reading. There’s also a night light that you can turn off remotely once they’ve nodded off, and there’s a soft under bed light that comes on automatically if they get up for a toilet visit in the night. Maker’s Sleep Number have even built a fun monster detector into the app, and a star reward system for sleeping through soundly.
It’s a nice combination of handy features, but it will cost you $1,000. You can find out more at Sleep Number’s website.
If that’s too much to spend, then you might consider Sevenhugs, a sleep-monitoring solution at $170 that will work with your existing beds.
Netatmo Welcome – Security Camera
Would you like to get an automatic notification on your smartphone when your child comes home? The Netatmo Welcome camera is designed to do exactly that. It has facial recognition so it can identify different family members and warn when strangers enter your home. You can use the app to check who is in, review past events, and access a live stream.
It’s useful for making sure the kids got home safely from school. It also works in the dark thanks to infrared LED, which is perfect for catching your teen sneaking in late. You can extend your overview with waterproof Netatmo tags to alert you when specific doors or windows are opened.
We’re still awaiting pricing and release information on the Netatmo Welcome.
Hexoskin Junior – Tracking Shirt
If you have a budding athlete in the family then you’ll see the value in a wearable that tracks their performance. Hexoskin Junior shirts are packed with sensors which relay data via a small Bluetooth device to an Android or iOS app. The complete read-out is comprehensive, covering heart rate, steps and cadence, calories burned, heart rate recovery and variability, breathing rate, pace and distance, and more.
The idea is that this data can be used to tailor training, identify problems, and prevent injuries. It will also show fitness levels changing over time. The Hexoskin Starter Kit is $380 and that gets you two shirts, the Bluetooth device, and the charging cable. The Android and iOS apps are free and there’s also desktop software for Windows and Mac.
Vigilant Lilypad – Pool Monitor
If your kids are always in the pool, you might be glad of a gadget that lets you know the water temperature and provides feedback on UV rays to give you sunscreen recommendations. The Lilypad goes even further because you can use the Fitzpatrick Scale to get personalized sunscreen recommendations for each family member based on their skin type.
This gadget isn’t just for the kids, we all know how damaging the sun’s rays can be, but it could provide you with valuable ammunition in the inevitable sunscreen argument. You can order the Lilypad right now for $100. We liked this one so much it made our Top Tech of CES 2015 awards.
Next page: 5 more upcoming gadgets for tech-savvy parents