Can I get a little blanket help here? Anyone?

New App Alerts You If Your Baby’s Blanket Has Slipped Off

This fantastic piece in the New York Times, The Overmonitored Nursery, is by new mom Sophie  Brickman. She chronicles what life is like FOR THE MOM with all the new gadgets to monitor your baby every. single. second.

After bringing healthy baby Ella home from the hospital, Brickman and her techie husband slipped the Owlet Smart Sock on the infant’s foot. This gizmo measures, among other things, the baby’s blood oxygen level.

Cut to: an hour later. A piercingly shrill electronic version of “Hush Little Baby” blares through our room as a blue neon light strobes frantically. I leap out of bed in a panic. I check on Ella. She is in a deep sleep, breathing fine. Dave and I finally locate the source of the sound and light show — the “base station” that communicates with the sock. Turns out it had lost connection to our shoddy Wi-Fi and was just letting us know, in its earsplitting, alarming way.

That incident probably took years off my life. After another wee-hours-of-the-morning baby rave, I unplugged the thing and shoved it in the closet.

Nonetheless, Sophie agrees to set up a Nest camera that alerts parents whenever there is “activity” in the nursery:

After weeks of being notified at work when Ella was crying or moving around (read: being a baby) and hours sunk addictively scrolling in fast-forward to see her move around in her sleep, it dawned on me that all this technology, which purportedly calms agitated parents, actually agitates them more.

That’s something that Susan Lynn, author of The Case for Make Believe, explained to me long ago: Most gadgets promising to give parents “peace of mind” actually do the opposite. That’s because the premise behind the monitors is: Your kid is in SUCH CONSTANT DANGER that if you are NOT watching/worrying all the time, you will rue the day.

So, is all this info just noise? I called my pediatrician, Dr. Michael Yaker…a faculty member of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“In general, do the vital signs of healthy babies need to be monitored regularly? Absolutely not,” he told me. “If it makes a parent more comfortable with a situation, fine, but I wouldn’t make any actionable medical decisions based on it.” And in the cases of unhealthy babies? Preemies who are leaving the neonatal intensive care unit, perhaps?

“If your baby needs to be on a monitor regularly tracking vital signs, your baby is likely not ready to be discharged from the hospital,” he said.

Okay, but can’t the monitors prevent sudden infant death? No. Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, an author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ most recent SIDS policy paper,  told Sophie, “We don’t recommend products that are specifically sold to reduce the risk of SIDS because we think it’s false advertising.”

False or not, the products are popular, creating a generation of parents who have been told they must hover (electronically) or else. That’s why we can’t blame “helicopter parents” for helicoptering. They are being force fed fear.

They’re also being told that, far from being resilient, their children need their safety and comfort instantly attended to. And so, Sophie writes:

The POMO baby tracker ($119) not only notifies you when your child has moved outside of a “safe 15 meter distance,” but also monitors your baby’s temperature, so that, according to its website, “you will always know if the blanket slips off.”

We thought tech was going to liberate us. But for parents…maybe not.  – L.

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Can I get a little blanket help here? Anyone?

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26 Responses to New App Alerts You If Your Baby’s Blanket Has Slipped Off

  1. MonicaP September 28, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    When my first daughter was born, my husband’s panic was SIDS. So we got one of those mattress-pad alarms that alerted you if your kid stopped moving for a certain amount of time. It was madness. The damn thing was going off while we were watching her move around. I tossed it. I didn’t even feel right trying to re-sell that thing. Despite not having a mattress alarm, she is now a healthy 4-year-old.

  2. pentamom September 28, 2017 at 11:11 am #

    But nobody can get rich off selling parents ears that alert them when their baby is too cold because she wakes up and cries. So we NEED this stuff!

  3. Beth September 28, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    Ok….I had babies years ago before it was discovered that bumpers around the crib were the kiss of death (both my children lived), so I’m not totally up to date. But I thought now parents aren’t supposed to even have their kid covered by a blanket, or have blankets in the crib at all?

    If that’s true, why would you need to know if it slipped off?

  4. SKL September 28, 2017 at 11:42 am #

    Wait, I thought babies weren’t allowed to have blankies anymore?

  5. SKL September 28, 2017 at 11:47 am #

    Someone bought me a baby monitor, and I tried to use it. I got rid of it on day 2 because the static was keeping me awake. My kids’ room was far from mine and both our doors were closed. Still, I happened to hear the few times they really needed me. (Which is odd, considering I am an adoptive mom – instinct still did its job.)

    Which gets to the meat of the issue – a rested parent is better than a parent who isn’t allowed to sleep.

  6. John B. September 28, 2017 at 11:47 am #

    @MonicaP:

    I don’t have any kids myself BUT I certainly don’t blame you or your husband. If I had kids, I would have been terrified of SIDS when they were babies!

  7. Meg September 28, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    “But I thought now parents aren’t supposed to even have their kid covered by a blanket, or have blankets in the crib at all?”

    Exactly. No blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumpers, or anything in the crib anymore.

    But something no one questions: Why does it matter if the blanket slips off? Most people keep their houses at temperatures well in a safe range of 65-72 degrees. No danger of hypothermia in the average house.

    If the baby is still sleeping comfortably, blanket or not, it’s not a problem. If the baby is uncomfortable, they will let you know.

  8. Theresa Hall September 28, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    Maybe if your baby has health issues that in the future doctors will be treating but the kid is too young right now it might be a good thing. If the sick kid got worse before doctor could try to make them better it would be something to aware of.
    But for a normally healthy kid this is Overkill.

  9. AC September 28, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

    When mine were little I was definitely alerted when the blanket slipped off. It’s an ages-old technology called “yelling.”

  10. Dean September 28, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    How DID the human race exist this long without electronics?

  11. bluebird of bitterness September 28, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

    All four of my kids somehow survived infancy sleeping with blankets and bumper pads and piles of stuffed animals. My eldest slept on her back when doctors were warning mothers against letting babies sleep on their backs, and my youngest slept on her stomach when doctors were warning mothers that babies will die unless they sleep on their backs. Oh, and the crib had a drop side on it — another clear and present danger to infant survival. In spite of it, all four grew up to be reasonably healthy, reasonably normal adults, so it’s hard for me to take all this paranoid stuff seriously. If my kids could survive infancy having a horrible mother like me, odds are yours can survive too, without your needing to resort to constant technological monitoring.

  12. Stay outraged September 28, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    This is an abuse of technology! What next? a “loaded diaper app”? No thanks.. my nose works perfectly fine.

  13. Backroads September 28, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

    Thank-you, posts, for the great sense of logic mixed with sarcasm. I love it!

    We once set up a baby monitor for First Born. Then we realized that, when she was actually sleeping in her room and not ours (and, hell, I’ll say it, she didn’t even get her own room apart from ours until she was over a year), we could hear her if she cried… because our room is directly beneath hers. Same goes for Second Born. Our home and room arrangement plus not going out of our way to bed our daughters in obviously dangerous beds makes technology largely frivilous.

  14. Backroads September 28, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    “”This is an abuse of technology! What next? a “loaded diaper app”? No thanks.. my nose works perfectly fine.””

    I don’t know… I can’t count the times when I swore that diaper looked like it was soggying itself right off of a baby bum or smelled like disaster and… nothing.

  15. lollipoplover September 28, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    I’ve raised 3 babies and think the biggest danger to them is the lack of sleep of their parents.

    A crying baby will wake you better than any alarm. I was given several monitors as baby shower gifts that we never used. A nursery next to our bedroom did the trick. I honestly don’t care if the blanket is off the baby.

  16. Heather September 28, 2017 at 7:48 pm #

    When I lived in Manhattan with an infant, several of my friends had baby monitors. Which baffled me, because all of our apartments were about 600 square feet! There was no way you could NOT hear your baby crying.

  17. Suzanne Lucas September 29, 2017 at 2:40 am #

    Heather, when my sister and her husband lived in Manhattan they used a baby monitor so that they could go out for the evening and leave their toddler alone, asleep.

    See, their next-door neighbors also had a toddler with a baby monitor. So, they would swap date nights. You’d put your own toddler to bed and take the baby monitor and a key over to the neighbors. Free babysitting!

    As you said, Manhattan apartments are so small that being next door you’re no further away than being in the same house in the suburbs.

    Brilliant, I thought.

  18. Dienne September 29, 2017 at 7:58 am #

    My kids came installed with an app that let me know when their blanket slipped off, or when pretty much anything else happened.

  19. AmyP September 29, 2017 at 9:30 am #

    All that noise from those devices. I couldn’t deal with it. With my first and being a young mother I was so paranoid. I didn’t have any of that stuff (too poor I guess, cause some of it I may have tried otherwise), but I did have a baby monitor. Lasted 3 days if that. It’s bad enough for your emotional state waking up every so often to feed a screaming baby, I didn’t need to have my sleep interrupted every time he snored or snorted too!

  20. AmyP September 29, 2017 at 9:32 am #

    Also why my kids were never in the room with me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for me we all felt better with our own quiet sleeping space.

  21. AmyO September 29, 2017 at 11:22 am #

    My cousin has one of those video monitors. Her daughter is now three and still uses it. She said the other day that she’s addicted to watching it. She stays up late (she has a full time job too) just watching her daughter sleep. I’m wondering at what point she’s going to finally turn it off. Maybe when her daughter is… 6? 8? 18?

  22. David N. Brown September 29, 2017 at 8:39 pm #

    This dovetails with a lot that’s already out there on “technolation”, certainly a potent force to combine w/ old fashioned parental anxiety. Personally, I think the tech has merit for keeping track of kids learning to crawl or walk, but just overkill for infants w/o any further medical problems.

  23. Sandi October 2, 2017 at 12:31 am #

    My babies came with a built-in alarm system for when they are cold or uncomfortable and it didn’t require wi-fi or electricity. (crying)

  24. Victoria October 2, 2017 at 3:53 am #

    I’m having my first baby in a month and a half, and I can tell you there’s ENORMOUS pressure on millennial parents to buy all the things under the sun: from the aforementioned Owlet monitor to special rockers that put baby to sleep to even bottle warmers (because lord forbid that baby drinks room-temperature milk!)

    Of course I’m pretty skeptical about most of the things people say we “need” to be good parents, so I asked my 70s and 80s kid mom for advice. Her response? “Parents nowadays are so dumb. Need a sun shade? USE A BLANKET. Wipes are cold? Suck it up, they need to learn to deal with discomfort. Baby is crying? Pay attention to your kid. You don’t need that crap, don’t buy it and don’t listen to those articles online.”

    As a result my husband and I haven’t spent nearly as much on our nursery as many of our friends have. Of course we live in Europe, where I have yet to see an Owlet monitor in stores and parents put their kids to sleep by laying a muslin burp cloth over their eyes to block the light. This paranoia only serves to line the pockets of the baby gear industry and makes parents even MORE paranoid.

  25. Myriam October 3, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    You have to be careful with the “my kids survived with bumpers, blankets, etc. so yours will be fine”. There is significant research behind most government/public health recommendations, like the back to sleep campaign… Yes, most kids survived, but they were able to reduce the occurrence of preventable deaths. I’m not talking about marketing though… You have to see where the warning comes from, and what is the relative/absolute risk, and make your decisions from there. I’m of the “good enough parent” mindset, and I don’t believe in the “zero risk” idea. But, if “not buying and putting bumpers” in the crib is recommended, why would I go out of my way to buy and install them. Blankets/lovies smaller than 12×12 made out of breathable material are ok, just not large and heavier blankets.

  26. derfel cadarn October 7, 2017 at 7:08 pm #

    One wonders how humans ever survived to this point ?