New Tech for Parental Peace of Mind and Fun Learning
Connectivity and time savers are great for everyone, but they can be supercritical when you’re a parent. Making every minute count doesn’t always have to be life or death, but carving minutes out of your day for yourself does matter for peace of mind. Personal time can take the form of moments where your kid is busy learning or playing, when you have the time to listen to music, or do some yoga while she is securely napping. With these in mind, we’ve put together some devices designed for infants, little kids, and the grown ups living with them.
Indoor plants are great for all sorts of reasons: they look great and smell nice too, and you benefit from a living thing even if you have a no-pets lease. They’ve been shown to reduce stress, encourage energy flow, and remove toxins from the air while increasing oxygen levels in your home. That sounds great, but if you have a black thumb then you’ve probably gone through the heartache of perpetual plant-killer guilt. Some plant kits can help with that, and make them much more kid-friendly too. A self-watering pot like Grobal’s takes much of the guesswork out of the process. Not only can your family reap all the benefits from flowers or herbs growing nearby, they can learn about plant biology, and the responsibility of taking care of something that’s alive. It’s also much less work than a puppy!
Whether houseplants are your thing or not, more likely than not you enjoy music or podcasts while spending time at home. But if you have little ones around, you may not want to shut out ambient noise in case someone wakes up from a nap or slips and falls. The neck speaker is a great in-between when earbuds are too anti-social while you also don’t want your tunes on your full-sized home system. SoundWear Companion by Bose is a high-end version of this category that has a nice, neutral design as well.
For a device that straddles the toy and decor categories, Hyko is a polar bear-shaped lamp that teaches your kid about energy usage. The Dutch company has created a companion app for phone or tablet that has interactive stories explaining climate change, and encourages kids to turn the lights off to save power. The light source/night light uses LEDs, and it pairs with your phone via Bluetooth, so you can adjust the color, brightness, and timer. If your kid wakes up in the middle of the night, he can shake it and it turns on to function as a flashlight. The bear also can be used to help with sleep habits - you schedule bedtimes and wake-up times, and Hyko turns red for sleep, off for the night, and blue for the morning.
Speaking of sleeping schedules, if your infant is napping you may often be tempted to check on them, but don’t want to wake her up. The CloudTot from Swedish company DockATot monitors your baby’s sleep with a smart lounger complete with sensors and a speaker to improve sleep quality while ensuring safety. The app tracks movement, and alerts you when she’s breathing too fast or when there’s no motion for more than 12 seconds. The dock has pegs that gently nudge when there’s no movement from breathing, and has a conductive fabric that sends a message to you if there’s a diaper leak.
The monitor lets you know when your child is restless, and you can play soothing sounds through the built-in speaker direct from the app. You don’t even have to enter the room. You can also play music, a useful feature for when you’re spending time together. DockATot will release the CloudTot upgrade soon, a sensor pad and monitor pod kit that works with the lounger, which is currently available.
Though we’ve survived flu season, there’s many reasons to keep track of an infant’s temperature. Since the usual way to get a temperature is rather disruptive and invasive, why not redesign a familiar product that comforts your little one instead? The Pacifier Thermometer from Summer Infant has a digital readout on the front, and reads in either Fahrenheit or Celsius. It also glows when it detects a fever temperature, and lights up, so parents can view it at nighttime.
There’s many ways that tech can help parents: safety and location apps, educational and personalized games, and even smarter monitoring devices like cameras. While some of the above items are really just for kids, we included some devices that will be great for non-parents too. We’re certainly thinking how cute that polar bear lamp would be on our own nightstand!