Treating Your Healthy Baby Like She’s in Intensive Care

Hey Readers – Here’s a piece I wrote for the Wall Street Journal a little while back that I can now legally reprint here!

Bringing Up Baby and Fretting About Vital Signs

New gadgets, like diapers that monitor kidney function, are turning baby nurseries into ICUs.

By LENORE SKENAZY

Almost anything you can put on a baby is cute. A hat. Sunglasses. A bib (especially the one that says, “Some moron put my cape on backwards!”). But now comes the Owlet Baby Monitor—a little electronic device strapped to a sock at bedtime.

It measures your baby’s heart rate, blood oxygen levels, skin temperature, sleep quality and sleeping position. Then it streams all this information to your smart phone.Phew! At last you know your baby’s blood oxygen level! Except . . . I don’t even know my own blood oxygen level. Do you know yours? It’s just not something most of us have ever even thought about, because it seems to take care of itself.

So who needs this kind of data about their babies? According to Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, no one. He can’t see any medical or safety reason to get one of these devices. What’s worse, he says, “This is an invitation to craziness. It will make you neurotic and anxious. I don’t see how any new parent with that gadget won’t be driven insane.”

But crazy as it may be, this thing is on the market, and it’s just one beeping bit of a whole culture dedicated to treating normal, healthy kids as if they need constant medical attention.

This explains the “Smart Diaper” already in prototype. Developed by New York-based Pixie Scientific, the diaper has a QR code on the front. When a baby pees, the code turns different colors depending on the chemical content of the, um, liquid. The parent then takes a photo of the diaper with a smart phone, which analyzes the code’s colors to determine if the baby has an infection, or possibly diabetes, or maybe even a kidney malfunction.

God forbid you just use an old-fashioned, dumb diaper and figure that if the kid looks OK, his kidneys probably are too. Big baby data is undermining the belief that any kid is equipped to make it from today till tomorrow without intense technological scrutiny.

This trend began with audio baby monitors, and I bought right into the culture, setting one up next to our son’s crib even though we were living in a one-bedroom apartment. Ack! It was impossible not to hear him crying, even without the monitor. But somehow I thought also hearing a second, staticky version was vitally important.

Then came video monitors, then infra-red video monitors, then pivoting infra-red monitors that sweep the room all night, which always struck me as something Osama bin Laden might have wanted to invest in. But a normal parent of a healthy child? Only if they’re in the witness-protection program.

Anyway, those room monitors seem almost quaint now that we’ve got these wearable ones—with more variations than you can shake a rattle at.

For instance, there’s the SafeToSleep Breathing Monitor, a sheet with sensors built in to monitor every single breath of your baby and alert your smart phone if these stop (which can happen if the kid rolls off the mat). Which sounds exactly like the iBabyGuard, which sounds quite similar to the AngelCare AC1100—all of them are promising parents peace of mind.

But really, this kind of device delivers just the opposite. “While it’s supposed to reassure you, what it is going to do is create more worry,” says David M. Reiss, a San Diego, Calif., psychiatrist who just finished a stint training Harvard medical students. “You’re basically setting up a type of ICU vigilance which isn’t indicated.”

Not to mention all those new arguments: “Honey—it’s your turn to read the smart phone.”

But it is the Owlet baby monitor that seems to have reached the apex of apoplexy. “Although you can see your child’s tummy moving, you have no idea how much oxygen she is really getting!” warns the Owlet website—as if somehow that whole breathing-equals-living thing just can’t be taken for granted.

And, eventually, it may not be. When and if these geegaws become as common as Mozart mobiles, it could be only a matter of time before they are required by law at day care centers, and then schools and then—who knows?—maybe even college.

After all, don’t you want to know your child’s heart rate and sleep positions when he’s in bed far away from you?

 

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131 Responses to Treating Your Healthy Baby Like She’s in Intensive Care

  1. Bronte January 24, 2014 at 2:37 am #

    I have a toddler. No one in our coffee group could get our kids socks to stay on reliably. I don’t see why this would either.

  2. Earth.W January 24, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    I know some parents who would most likely use this device. Probably a big hit with parents who have Munchhausen’s.

  3. MichaelF January 24, 2014 at 3:27 am #

    For those who need another point of worry, there will always be someone willing to exploit it and since the media and cultural norms seem to indicate that children are fragile this is just another piece of virtual bubblewrap to wrap them in.

  4. BK January 24, 2014 at 4:38 am #

    If you get a second monitor, it could help you monitor the accuracy of the first one….

  5. Lola January 24, 2014 at 5:33 am #

    So it just warns you? Not the ambulance service? No automatic CPR or something? Duh, my kids already have an inalambric alarm app installed, only I call it wailing (should patent it and call it iWailing?). Cheap, too. And never runs out of batteries…

  6. QuicoT January 24, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    “This is an invitation to craziness” is a lovely turn of phrase. I think you should retire your old tagline and change it for: “How to decline then invitation to craziness one day at a time.”

  7. QuicoT January 24, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    Lola, if you figure out how to disable it – or, better, how to turn the volume setting down a couple notches – THEN you can make a fortune!

  8. E Simms January 24, 2014 at 7:45 am #

    By Bronte Fri Jan 24th 2014 at 2:37 am
    I have a toddler. No one in our coffee group could get our kids socks to stay on reliably. I don’t see why this would either.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Isn’t sock removal the first skill a baby learns on its own?

    The only semi-valid use I can see would be if parents previously had a child die of SIDS. I would understand their apprehension in that situation. But, if a baby had a diagnosed condition that needed monitoring, who in their right minds would use an over the counter product like this?

  9. Abby January 24, 2014 at 7:54 am #

    I remember when we were researching infant monitors (we just wanted one that was good quality, not more invasive), we found that the ones with heart rate and breathing monitors always got terrible reviews. Parents said that they were constantly alerting them and freaking them out, when everything was fine. I understand the paranoia when you have a newborn… we all check on our week (or month) old babies to make sure they are still breathing. That’s just instinct. But I never did understand a breathing monitor, and personally don’t know of anyone who uses one. I was very sleep deprived when mine was a newborn, and paradoxically had trouble falling and staying asleep with everything that was going on. I really could not have used any device that only serves as one more thing to worry about and check on. If you follow Back to Sleep guidelines and if your family doesn’t smoke during pregnancy and beyond, the chances are very slim. My pediatrician told me he’s never known personally a child who died of SIDS, but when it does happen, there is usually some obvious and preventable culprit.

    I couldn’t believe the industry when I was registering/shopping for my little one. I’m still in shock at these “safe sleep” products, as well as those little tubs with a digital thermometer. I got a little rubber ducky at my baby shower that says “hot” on the bottom when the water is, well, hot. But I found that it was ultra-sensitive and turned “hot” when the water was a hair over lukewarm, and the baby screamed in the tub until I tossed that silly thing and turned the temperature up to what I thought was warm but not too hot. He was, after all, in my 98 degree (or more?) tummy for 9 months, so why does he need his bathwater to be 80 degrees? And who wants to take a lukewarm bath?

    I will say this though: I love my video monitor that we ended up getting. We did need a monitor of some sort since we do not live in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment. The sound-only ones didn’t get great reviews, and we find the video camera useful. Our little one sometimes fusses in his sleep for several minutes at a time, but it’s hard to tell without looking at him. We don’t want to walk across the middle of the house at 2am just to peek at him (so much easeier to glance at the monitor without getting out of bed), and doing so will only wake him up entirely. It also has a two-way talk function, which I thought was useless until he started fighting me at naps. I sometimes find that he will relax and fall asleep if I sing to him, but not if I’m in the room (if he sees me he knows he can get me to pick him up), so I sing through the two-way thingy. It actually works. In short it’s helped us a lot, and a lot of cool products on the market have been helpful to many parents.

    But, monitoring the baby’s blood oxygen level and kidney function? Putting a “do not touch” sign on the baby’s stroller like they are some kind of a specimen? You’d have to be certifiable.

  10. SOA January 24, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    Probably not needed for average kids and average parents. Just follow the SIDS guidelines and your child should be fine. If the kid has breathing problems or other problems the hospital will send you home with equipment anyway to monitor that stuff. I had a friend who had a machine sent home to basically do that stuff for their baby because she was having some issues and insurance pays for it this way, not you.

  11. Trish January 24, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    Let us ponder this statement for a moment…

    “The parent then takes a photo of the diaper with a smart phone, …”

    I’m imagining the shaming photos that will be available to parents of teenagers going on their first date. “And this is a digital archive of every diaper Johnny used in the first year of life…”

  12. SOA January 24, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    Also that angel care monitor got recalled because it was actually killed a kid that got caught in the cord or something like that. So instead of protecting the baby it actually killed one.

    I tried to talk my friend out of buying that angel care monitor a few years ago when she had her baby. I was like I have heard it does not work well and you will end up not using it. Sure enough she did not listen to me and bought it and then of course did not end up using it. So that was $100 down the old toilet. Told you so.

  13. BL January 24, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    The lack of such implements 200 years ago must be why all those people are now dead.

  14. Warren January 24, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Dogs are a better value. Ours slept when the baby slept, and on the bed beside the crib. Woke when the baby woke, and alerted us to just about every sniffle, cough or hiccup. Always wondered how long the baby had actually been awake, when I would go in and find the baby with a handful of dog ear, or tongue, and a soaking wet dog slober face.
    The real benefit is that the dog becomes a playmate, a guardian, and a living breathing learn to walk instument.

    Dog plus common sense makes for alot of peace of mind.

  15. Neva January 24, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Were these products developed for preemies or medically needy babies and then the developers just wanted to make more money? I think they could be helpful for sick or at risk babies (for instance video monitors for children with epilepsy can be very helpful). The problem is that we are treating healthy children like sick children which isn’t fair. Healthy children grow up little hypochondriacs, and sick children may not get the immediate attention they need because medical professionals are having to waste their time on perfectly healthy children.

  16. Uly January 24, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Yeah, except all those devices, especially the diapers, are intended for people whose babies are alread in the ICU, or who have just been realized from it and need extra attention. The diapers in particular are intended to be less intrusive and invasive than other methods of measuring kidney function.

  17. SKL January 24, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    This is completely off topic again, but I had to share a news story I saw this morning. Well, maybe you all saw it already, because apparently t is national headline news! Parents with an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old left a note telling the kids to take care of themselves until 10am so their parents could sleep in. “This is only a one-time thing, we wouldn’t do it all the time.” Seriously? School-aged kids are asked to get their own breakfast quietly ONE TIME, and it makes national headline news?!?!

  18. delurking January 24, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    I think you are completely misguided here, just as in your original post criticizing the smart diaper. Medical knowledge is remarkably crude and incomplete because of the difficulty of doing controlled studies. Cheap devices that continuously (or at least often) collect quantitative data about many people would be a huge boon to medical science, and likely would prevent a huge number of expensive and unnecessary tests. Even before it reaches a stage where data are available for researchers, just having a baseline for a variety of health-related parameters would be a tremendous boon to individual people. My guess is most of the people reading this have health insurance, and don’t realize how much their routine health care is actually costing. Devices that dramatically reduce the cost of collecting health-related data reduce health-care costs and improve health.

    What basis does a comment like this have in reality: “Big baby data is undermining the belief that any kid is equipped to make it from today till tomorrow without intense technological scrutiny”? No, it isn’t. What is happening is that the cost of detecting rare disorders is dropping, so fewer children are suffering from them.

    I suspect that this ridiculous fear of cheap beneficial technology is age-related. Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, who got his MD in 1975, doesn’t see how any new parent with this gadget wouldn’t be driven insane? Really? What a ridiculous generalization. I would love to have time series data on heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygenation, a variety of blood protein levels, and IQ for my entire family.

    The idea that rational adults can’t handle such knowledge without becoming neurotic is what is ridiculous. The desire for such knowledge most certainly is not.

  19. Erica January 24, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    This explains the “Smart Diaper” already in prototype. Developed by New York-based Pixie Scientific, the diaper has a QR code on the front. When a baby pees, the code turns different colors depending on the chemical content of the, um, liquid. The parent then takes a photo of the diaper with a smart phone, which analyzes the code’s colors to determine if the baby has an infection, or possibly diabetes, or maybe even a kidney malfunction.

    I think these are kind of cool, in a limited sense – like if you had some reason to suspect a kidney infection, your doctor gives you a few of these and poof! No need to attempt to get a urine sample from a newborn. But as a matter of course??

    I couldn’t believe the industry when I was registering/shopping for my little one. I’m still in shock at these “safe sleep” products, as well as those little tubs with a digital thermometer. I got a little rubber ducky at my baby shower that says “hot” on the bottom when the water is, well, hot. But I found that it was ultra-sensitive and turned “hot” when the water was a hair over lukewarm, and the baby screamed in the tub until I tossed that silly thing and turned the temperature up to what I thought was warm but not too hot. He was, after all, in my 98 degree (or more?) tummy for 9 months, so why does he need his bathwater to be 80 degrees? And who wants to take a lukewarm bath?

    I remember having the same problem and the same resolution (actually we kept the duckie as a bath toy, just ignored the “hot” warning.) I basically figure a baby has the same skin as the rest of us, and if it won’t burn me, it won’t burn her!

  20. lollipoplover January 24, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    About blood oxygen levels:
    Years ago when my daughter was 18 months old, she got a mild cold that turned into a cough that sounded like a chain-smoking seal and kept our whole family up all night (and made our dogs bark). I was pregnant with my 3rd baby and utterly exhausted. I got her in for a sick visit (and thankfully left my 3 yo with a neighbor) and the nurse took her vitals (she was pleasant and happy) and measured her blood oxygen with a devise that attached to her finger- and it read dangerously low(in the 80’s). The nurse showed the pediatrician who told her to call an ambulance.

    My daughter was smiling and happy for the ride- how cool she was in an ambulance with a siren! I was an absolute wreck but also questioning this technology that read her as so sick when she seemed perfectly fine to me. I was just thinking she needed a magic cough syrup but now was being rushed to the hospital…something wasn’t quite right.

    The paramedics took her vitals the ambulance and all were good. When they did her stats in the ER, her blood oxygen was in the high 90’s and fine. They diagnosed croup, a basic viral cough and said fresh air and steam showers would help. They called the pediatrician to recommend getting their pulse oxgyen monitor fixed or recalibrated. So a basic croup diagnosis (which it should have been) combined with a faulty reading makes for wasted medical expenses. But she still talks about that ride in the ambulance….

    The whole “monitor your baby from your smartphone” forgets that the best *smartphone* for new parents is their brain. Nothing can replace common sense.
    And scanning diapers with your phone? Did you wash your hands or is that fecal matter all over your screen? What about e. coli?
    Put the phone down.

  21. Warren January 24, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    @delurking

    Again, like with the diapers you are misguided.
    These devices are used by parents that have no confidence in their own ability to raise a child. They live in fear of everything. Thus when baby’s monitor shows anything other than 100% normal, they will rush into their doctor. Now increasing the strain on the system.

    That is fact. It is the only obvious outcome.

  22. delurking January 24, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Warren,

    You have evidence that devices that reduce the cost of medical tests by a factor of 1000 or more increase total medical expenditures? You claim it is a fact?

    It is mighty presumptuous of you to tar all parents who would use such devices as having no confidence and living in fear.

  23. pentamom January 24, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    “The idea that rational adults can’t handle such knowledge without becoming neurotic is what is ridiculous. ”

    Sure, but is every adult (or even the overwhelming majority) you know rational, non-neurotic, non-obsessive, and perfectly well educated about symptoms and risk?

    If all the world were perfectly rational, this would not be a problem. Welcome to a place called Earth.

  24. Donna January 24, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    “The idea that rational adults can’t handle such knowledge without becoming neurotic is what is ridiculous. ”

    Yes, but rational adults won’t buy this device, only people who are already neurotic so their chance of becoming neurotic with any knowledge whatsoever is pretty much 100%.

  25. delurking January 24, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    Pentamom,

    Yes, the overwhelming majority of adults I know are rational, non-neurotic, etc. They are obviously not perfectly well-educated because nobody is, but that isn’t really necessary, is it?

    Donna,
    What makes you think that? It is rational to want time-series data on the parameters I listed. Whether or not it is worth the price to any individual depends on that individual’s financial situation. I know a bunch of adults walking around with electronic devices that monitor their heart rate, amount of time sitting, number of steps taken, etc; and feed it to their smartphone. They are not neurotic, they just like having the information.

  26. Michael January 24, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    “The lack of such implements 200 years ago must be why all those people are now dead.”

    Brilliant! I may use that one some day.

  27. Warren January 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    @delurking

    What did you not understand?
    Those that feel they need or want this type of monitoring have no confidence in their ability to guage the health of their child. All this tech will do is have parents running to their health care provider, or calling them with every little blip on the screen.
    Information like this will only feed the fear they already live in. Therefore straining the system further.
    Human behaviour is predictable, and fact. You may think that these paranoid parents will act responsible, but the fact they are already insecure with their own abilities tells us they won’t. Insecure people do not act responsibly.
    The use of this tech, is a “better safe than sorry” mentality. They do not stop thinking that way, just because they have this tech. They will extend that thinking to spending countless hours and dollars in the doctor’s office.

  28. Warren January 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    Oh and those adults that continually monitor their own vitals, their sitting tme, and such.
    Unless they have a medical condition, or are training for a marathon………then they need help or a life.

    There is truth that you can have too much information.

  29. delurking January 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    Warren,
    Your premise (this one: “Those that feel they need or want this type of monitoring have no confidence in their ability to guage the health of their child.”) is completely unsupported. There is no reason to believe that. Do you have any evidence of it?

  30. delurking January 24, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Oh and those adults that continually monitor their own vitals, their sitting tme, and such.
    Unless they have a medical condition, or are training for a marathon………then they need help or a life.

    How about if they are training for a half-marathon, is that a good enough reason? How about a mountain bike race? What if their blood pressure is just at the high edge of normal, and maybe a few percent increase in daily activity would move it closer to the middle?

    What do you do for fun? Is it objectively better than monitoring your health?

    You seem to like insulting people who make lifestyle choices slightly different from yours.

  31. Warren January 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    Why yes I do have evidence of that.
    Simple human behaviour. A person that is confident in their own ability to guage the health of their child, does not need a monitor and an app to constantly tell them.
    I knew and still know when mine are not well. Even as infants I knew. I did not need to monitor their vitals or have the data fed to me.

    As for the marathon, it was an example.
    If you consider monitoring your vitals and health fun, then you need serious help.
    What do I do for fun.
    1.Dogs
    2. Horses
    3. Family
    4. Sports, play and watch
    5. Few beers with the boys.
    6. Anything other than having my phone or laptop telling me how I feel or how healthy I am.
    Why #6, because I do not intend to live forever, nor do I want to live forever. Hell I don’t want to live too long either. You want real freerange, I firmly believe that when the day comes I do not contribute or am no longer leading a quality life……..then put me down.

  32. Donna January 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    “It is rational to want time-series data on the parameters I listed.”

    No, really it’s not unless you are training for some major athletic endeavor. I can certainly see why someone training to climb Mt. Everest might want the information you listed, but the average person just doesn’t need that level health data on a regular basis. And, while the desire to collect it from yourself can fall into the category of weird hobbies, the desire to collect it from your INFANT is totally neurotic.

    It is like the at-home fetal heart monitors that you can buy/rent during pregnancy. I’ve known several people who had them. Every single one of them were totally neurotic. I didn’t know a single rational pregnant person who had one.

  33. delurking January 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Donna,
    No, really, it is rational to want time series data on yourself or your child because having it can prevent a wide variety of bad things, ranging from minor and common to major and uncommon, from happening. Plus, if such technologies become widespread, the societal gain from increased medical knowledge will be tremendous.

    There is a related technology that has been around for centuries, perhaps an analogy will help:
    How often do you weigh yourself? Do you consider those that step on a scale once a day to be neurotic? How about once a week? Is it possible that it makes sense for some people to weight themselves daily for health reasons, while not making sense for others?

  34. Emily January 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    @Delurking and Warren–I think there’s a difference between an adult choosing to wear a heart rate monitor, pedometer, BodyBugg, or something similar, and a parent tracking their child’s health vitals with Smart Diapers and an Owlet Monitor. In the first case, the person is choosing to track themselves; usually for some fitness-related reason (like trying to lose weight, or train for an athletic event, or just get more exercise in general), but a parent “treating their healthy child like they’re in Intensive Care” is forcing that choice upon the child. The child may not remember it at that age, but it can set the stage for more neurotic behaviours later in life–like not allowing school-aged kids to play outside unsupervised, or walk to school, or attend sleepovers, tracking their every move over the Internet while they’re at summer camp (if they’re even allowed to go in the first place), scrutinizing first dates within an inch of their lives, and so on, and so forth. All of those behaviours will seem more “normal” to the parents with the Owlet Monitor, because it’s what they’ve always done–they’re not neurotic; they’re “involved parents,” and in their minds, the people without the Owlet Monitors (literal or otherwise) are doing it wrong.

    My point is, giving a child independence starts early, and happens gradually–and one of the ways that it begins to happen is by putting a baby in his or her own bedroom to sleep without being observed every moment. Smart Diapers and Owlet Monitors come with an inherent expectation that parents are to track their child’s every heartbeat, and that runs directly counter to the idea of raising a child to eventually become independent. That child may grow up to become a triathlete, and independently decide to invest in a BodyBugg, but that will be his or her choice. On the flip side, kids who are micromanaged every moment from birth until legal adulthood, will likely rebel. I’ve seen that happen SO many times in university, and it was almost always with the spoiled/overprotected/helicoptered kids, whose lives became one big party the moment their parents stopped hovering. The ones who knew what freedom and autonomy felt like, didn’t go completely nuts when they had a little more at university, because they hadn’t been completely suffocated for the eighteen or nineteen years prior to their enrollment.

  35. Lola January 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    @delurking:
    Maybe I’m mistaken, but I understand practically all of our vitals aren’t supposed to be static. There’s always a considerably wide range of “healthiness”, then there’s the healthy-but-unusual people who don’t meet those expectations, and then you’ve got others that plainly point to some ailment or another.
    Just for a moment, imagine a new mum trying to get some precious sleep, then alerted by this gadget because her baby has just woken up and began to happily kick the air. The baby’s heart rate has shot up for no bad reason.
    We just wonder, who in their right mind would want to be woken, fearing unnecessarily for their child’s survival, a couple (more) times every night?

  36. Donna January 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Delurking,

    My doctor stopped asking about my infant health and development by about age 5. Even applying for private insurance (which required everything short of a colonoscopy) did not inquire into my 8 year old’s infant health beyond major illnesses. Didn’t even seek information from her infant pediatrician.

    I can’t imagine any time in my life where I think my medical care would have been aided by my doctor knowing my oxygen level when I was an infant. I can’t imagine any scenario whatsoever where that will be important in the future. The fact is that it is extremely unlikely that your infant, toddler or child is ever going to be seriously ill. Once you get to an age where illness becomes more common, too much life has occurred, along with its related environmental and life style choices, to make infantile data meaningful. I suppose if you had some rational reason to believe that your child is susceptible to some horrible childhood illness, then this gadget may make sense, but otherwise, collecting this data is not rational.

    As for scales, I believe that it is often helpful for people who are actively working to lose or gain weight to weigh themselves regularly. I think it is somewhat neurotic for everyone else.

  37. derpdedoo January 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Both my children ended up in the NICU after being born, both for different reasons. The oxygen monitors were horrible. They would fall off or misread or whatever. One of the first things a nurse said to me is the baby isn’t in danger if the level remained above 80%.

    However, the monitors had an alarm set to go off whenever the amount fell below 98%.

    It would cause my wife to go into a panic every time “IS HE BREATHING?!!!!”. I would always point to the kid lying there, chest rising and falling as expected. With our second kid she was still just on edge about the alarms.

    Afterwards she would have nightmares and wake up in a cold sweat because she thought she heard the alarm.

    I can’t see anyone voluntarily subjecting themselves to this sort of nonsense in the comfort of their own home. Maybe not so comfortable any longer.

  38. delurking January 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Emily, speculative fears of future psychological impact are a pretty weak reason to eschew cost reductions of 1000X in medical data gathering.

    Lola, yes, things vary over time, which is why time-series data is valuable.
    Why do you this device or others like it will ring alarm bells for perfectly normal occurrences? If it does, then its designers did a bad job.

    Donna, like I said, the cost of detecting ever-more-unlikely health problems is falling due to new technologies. Why shouldn’t we use them? You say:
    “I suppose if you had some rational reason to believe that your child is susceptible to some horrible childhood illness, then this gadget may make sense, but otherwise, collecting this data is not rational.”
    The infant mortality rate in the US is about 0.5%. That is 1 in 200. How common does something have to be before you think it becomes rational for someone to buy a cheap device?

    And, as for scales, do you not think they are helpful in maintaining a given weight, too? It is neurotic to use them for that?

  39. Buffy January 24, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    “It is rational to want time-series data on the parameters I listed.”

    I must be the least rational person on the planet then. And sorry, but I do question the rationality of photographing and analyzing the contents of every diaper filled by a HEALTHY child.

  40. John January 24, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    This all sounds like a scam to me. Let’s face it, children are an emotional issue for us adults, especially Americans. I believe it’s a God-given evolutionary instinct (I have no problem linking God with evolution) that was programmed into all humans and animals since the beginning of time. As a result, all living creatures have a strong desire to protect their young, and this includes us humans too. Unfortunately, people exploit that instinct as a way of siphoning money off of others. But there are times when us humans need to allow our judgement and reasoning abilities to over ride that instinct primarily because this is nothing short of a money making scheme!

  41. Backroads January 24, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    delurking,

    If you’re suggesting stuff like this becomes the new infant thermometer or what not and is used as such, yeah, I can see where you are coming from. If the data gathered from such devices is observed but generally kept at a reasonable distance until really needed, sure, I might accept it as just part of our world.

    I still think it’s largely unnecessary.

    And, by the way, most medical professionals recommend avoid regular weighing unless there’s a reason to.

  42. delurking January 24, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Hi Backroads,
    I think you put this very well:

    If the data gathered from such devices is observed but generally kept at a reasonable distance until really needed, sure, I might accept it as just part of our world.

    I expect the data would be used that way, as it currently is for scales and thermometers. It is irrational to be calm when you have no data, but get worried just because you have data. Most people are rational.

    As to scales – reasons like needed to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain current weight?

    John, if it is a scam, they will go bankrupt. If you think it is a scam, wait until some consumer reviews are in and then make a decision.

  43. Backroads January 24, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    delurking, most medical professionals recommend against a daily weight check as occasional weight checks over longer periods of time provide more accurate data.

  44. SOA January 24, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    Abby: I had the my tiny hands signs on my kids car seats when they were little. I am not certifiable. They were preemies and we were warned by pediatricians to be very careful with people exposing them to illness for the early stages of their lives. I know several people who use them in similar situations like that first flu season when your baby is too young to get the vaccine. I actually give them away as baby gifts. It would not be necessary if people had enough sense to not run up and touch and grab at random babies, but unfortunately people don’t. Not all newborns are healthy. A minor cold can kill a preemie but you still have to leave the house so a sign might help.

  45. Donna January 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    delurking,

    In my opinion, the need to collect regular medical data just to ensure to yourself that you are maintaining health is neurotic. Odds are that if you feel great, you probably are healthy. This doesn’t mean that I think that people shouldn’t get regular annual or bi-annual check-ups; just that day-to-day or week-to-week or even month-to-month collecting of this data just to confirm that you are actually as healthy as you were yesterday is completely unnecessary and neurotic.

    And, yes, something as simple as hopping on a scale daily to confirm that you are still a good weight when your pants should tell you that shows a certain level of neurosis about your weight, if not your health (weight is very separated from health in our culture so this may not be indicative of a health neurosis at all). It is certainly not to the level of hooking monitors to your sleeping infant, but it is a neurosis.

    And, you say that people won’t overreact, but why exactly are you collecting this data? So you know the second that something is out of whack and you can run to the doctor! How exactly is that decreasing medical costs?

  46. Warren January 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    @delurking
    Your points make you sound neurotic.
    I haven’t stepped on a scale in 20 yrs. If you cannot tell that you’ve lost or gained weight, by how you feel or how your everyday clothes fit, then you again need help. Do not forget that healthy humans do not need to worry about minor weight changes.
    You are talking about how the data collected will help soceity. Are you suggesting that this medical data be gathered by those other than your own doctor? If so, ain’t gonna happen.

    Where are you getting your infant mortality rates from, please provide you source.

    If I went to my doctor and told him I was going to monitor myself or my baby in this manner he would give me an immediate referal for a psyche evaluation.

    Unless their is history, or enviromental reasons for concern, or in the case of adults physical training, the only use for this tech is to feed fear and insecurity.

    Delurking, monitor yourself, get your vaccinations and do whatever. But you will never sell this snake oil to confident people with common sense.

  47. Emily January 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    One small thing, Delurking–I never said that Smart Diapers and Owlet Monitors should be taken off the market entirely; I just think they should be reserved for hospitals, or critically ill children. They might be useful as a home diagnostic tool if a child starts exhibiting strange symptoms that aren’t obviously normal childhood illnesses (colds, flu, stomach upset, fever, etc.), but no, I don’t think people should be strapping sensors onto their HEALTHY children, so they can worry about them getting sick every time the numbers aren’t perfect.

  48. Kelly D. January 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    My twins were in the NICU for months. Even as parents who DID watch their babies stop breathing and watched ICU monitor numbers dwindle down to terrifying levels, the nurses told us they did not recommend any monitors beyond an audio one if your house is big enough to warrant it. Being in the actual ICU with your baby is traumatic enough. No need to continue the trauma at home, where there aren’t professionals to help you process what you’re seeing. The biggest lesson a NICU parent learns is to trust their baby. The best nurses told us to turn away from the monitor while holding the babies, so we had to look at the baby first if we thought something was wrong. We’ve made it all the way through the SIDS stage and lots of colds/infections/RSV and they’re still breathing and I’m sure their oxygen levels are just fine. I’m perfectly happy not knowing.

  49. Kay January 24, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    The headline on this one is great!

    SKL, I can’t believe “parents sleep in” made the news, especially for an 8 and 10 year old! It makes me wonder how it became known to the news media.

    Our trick on weekends to get a little extra sleep was to put our toddler in the pack and play in our bedroom with some toys. I bet that would make the news today.

  50. Donna January 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    “It is irrational to be calm when you have no data, but get worried just because you have data.”

    I have plenty of data that I am healthy. I know that my weight is the same as it was yesterday and the week before and the month before because my pants fit exactly the same. I know that my oxygen level is fine because I am breathing comfortably and I am not light-headed and weak. I know that my temperature is normal for me (I run low) because I can feel my own skin, and I don’t have the chills or feel tired and achy. I know that my blood pressure is fine because it was fine when I last went to the doctor and blood pressure doesn’t jump to dangerous levels in short periods of time.

    I don’t need my exact numbers to tell me that I don’t need to worry about my health today. I don’t need to know where in the range of normal I fall each day to know that I am normal. Basically, I know that I am healthy because I feel great. If I stop feeling great, then I will monitor.

    The problem about the worry is not in having data. Sure, if my weight, temperature, oxygen levels and blood pressure stayed exactly the same every single day, I would not worry even if I had the data. However, the human body doesn’t work that way. There are regular fluctuations, most of which are completely inconsequential, and you would never know about them unless you are monitoring daily. It is in those perfectly normal fluctuations that the worry begins to set in.

  51. Mark Roulo January 24, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    “Where are you getting your infant mortality rates from, please provide you source.”

    Wikipedia says 5.2 deaths per 1,000 live births for the US.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

  52. Warren January 24, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    No data?
    My body constantly feeds me data, all day long. That is what a body does.
    My normal data feed is like this,
    Morning……knees ache, right shoulder throbs, out of sorts and lethargic. Cures……..coffee for lethargic and out of sorts. Resignation for knees and shoulders because I cannot go and undo previous injuries.

    My body does a great job of telling me exactly what kind of shape it is in. Sometimes it is too accurate at reminding me I am not 20 yrs old anymore.

    What do you think parent are going to do with this data they collect, when they see ups and downs. Do you think they will refer to the user’s guide, or will they run to the doctor?
    They will run to the doctor, and for the most part nothing.

  53. Warren January 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    And before you jump on the infant mortality rate, you have to know the criteria.
    1. Are premmies in that data, if so the rate is skewed by those born with medical issues to begin with.
    2. The actual definition of a live birth for that country.

    Still tells me if you give birth to a healthy baby. Go on enjoy life, and don’t worry. And don’t be paranoid.

  54. anonymous this time January 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    Here is what I see in the promo video for this Owlet monitoring device:

    A young mother with a robust, strapping infant, relating how terrifying it was for her to bring a healthy baby home from the hospital.

    A young father with a robust, pink-cheeked baby, relating how this child had a routine respiratory infection that she recovered from without incident, and this, he says, is why he wants this monitor to be made available to parents: because that was soooo scary for him.

    And here is what I imagine is actually missing from these parents’ lives: a blood oxygen monitor? No. Data about their child’s quality of sleep and sleep position? No and no.

    It’s community, brother.

    Plain and simple. We are so isolated as people, because of our wealth. We live by ourselves, we move away from our parents and siblings. We are all alone in this world. THAT is terrifying.

    Then when we bring a baby home from the hospital, we are alone with a BABY. A baby who could die! The media has told us all about the 10,000,000 ways our baby could suddenly expire, and we just can’t handle the uncertainty and responsibility. We are so, so, SO terrified. And alone. Did I mention alone?

    You know how we human beings handled the vulnerability of babies for millennia? We lived in tribes, among those who had been there and done that. They were there to help us care for our babies, to soothe our fears, and everything that happened was shared, to a large extent. The terror of “getting it wrong” or “letting the baby die” was not part of that experience at all, because the raising of the child was a community responsibility.

    The entire construct of our affluent, North American way of life is at odds with what actually helps us, and our offspring, thrive. COMMUNITY. Not high-tech monitors, not gee-gaws that claim to assuage our terrors. We need each other, not molecular readings.

    I weep for this generation.

  55. anonymous this time January 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    Oh, and the “1 in 200 babies dies” thing: my guess is that the vast, vast majority of those babies who die never come home from the hospital in the first place. If you’re alive within 24 hours of your birth, your chances of survival increase astronomically.

  56. anonymous this time January 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Sorry, I meant to say, “If you are still alive 24 hours after your birth, your rate of survival goes up astronomically.”

  57. Carly January 24, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Like others have said, the oxygen monitors can be unreliable.

    You don’t need an oxygen monitor to know if your baby is in distress though. You can look at your baby’s skin color, how hard he is breathing, severity of cough etc. If your baby seems happy, active and eating well, then you can rest assured his oxygen levels are just fine.

  58. Donna January 24, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    delurking,

    We were talking about the usefulness of collecting medical data from a seemingly healthy baby. Overall infant mortality rate is a completely irrelevant statistic for that analysis. Infant mortality includes babies who were born alive but never left the hospital, were born premature or with a diagnosed congenital medical condition and those who died in accidents. None of those deaths contribute anything to an analysis of the usefulness of your time-series data. What we really need to know is the number of children who are believed to be perfectly healthy when they leave the hospital but then die. Only for them is time-series data viable.

  59. delurking January 24, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Donna,

    And, you say that people won’t overreact, but why exactly are you collecting this data? So you know the second that something is out of whack and you can run to the doctor! How exactly is that decreasing medical costs?

    No, the point of collecting the data is so, for example, when your doctor says “your resting heart rate is too high” when he measures it for a total of 6 seconds once per year, you can look at your time-series data and say, “no, that is a fluke, let me email you the data”.
    Another example is when your doctor calls and says “your child’s urine screen turned up an anomalous result, your child may be developing diabetes, bring her in right now for a blood test”, you can look back over the time series and say, “no, I have a weekly urine screen here and your measurement is a fluke”.

    Furthermore:

    This doesn’t mean that I think that people shouldn’t get regular annual or bi-annual check-ups; just that day-to-day or week-to-week or even month-to-month collecting of this data just to confirm that you are actually as healthy as you were yesterday is completely unnecessary and neurotic.

    People from earlier generations might think annual or bi-annual doctor visits are pretty neurotic, hence my supposition that this reaction to this new technology is age-related.

  60. Donna January 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    “People from earlier generations might think annual or bi-annual doctor visits are pretty neurotic, hence my supposition that this reaction to this new technology is age-related.”

    No, it really isn’t. Personally, I don’t think that healthy adults or children NEED annual or bi-annual doctor visits. It is, however, highly recommended that you get such exams and I don’t consider people who are simply following the recommendations of their doctors neurotic. The recommendation itself may be neurotic, but I think that it is mostly based on money, money, money.

    There is not a doctor, other medical professional or “expert” on the planet that recommends healthy people collect their own oxygen levels, blood pressure, temperature, heart rate data on a regular basis. If you are doing this it is your own craziness. That is neurotic.

  61. Havva January 24, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    @delerking,

    NO your doctor does not want you to say “no, that is a fluke, let me email you the data”.

    He wants you to say… “that’s a fluke, it is usually about xx”

    My dad is a doctor and long before and high tec stuff there were people who believed “time series data” was more important than giving him basic information.

    When I announced I wanted to be an engineer… he rolled his eyes and said:
    “Just don’t turn into one of those engineers who try to show me binders full of data! That stuff is perfectly useless. No doctor needs a count of how many times you normally cough vs. how many time you coughed per day in the last week. If you have developed a cough that is getting worse, just say so!”
    When I got worried about rapid weight loss in college my parents told me to quit looking at the scale and look in the mirror.

  62. delurking January 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Havva,
    My doctor was perfectly happy to look at my time-series blood pressure data, measured daily, when blood pressure became a concern. Medicine has changed in the last few decades, with evidence-based medicine becoming the prevalent approach in most training programs. Maybe you shouldn’t generalize to all doctors from the statements of one doctor.

  63. delurking January 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Donna,

    There is not a doctor, other medical professional or “expert” on the planet that recommends healthy people collect their own oxygen levels, blood pressure, temperature, heart rate data on a regular basis. If you are doing this it is your own craziness. That is neurotic.

    Doctors do not recommend these things because these things are not currently easy enough to do. If they become trivially easy for people to do, there is no reason not to. You yourself wrote:

    I have plenty of data that I am healthy. I know that my weight is the same as it was yesterday and the week before and the month before because my pants fit exactly the same. I know that my oxygen level is fine because I am breathing comfortably and I am not light-headed and weak. I know that my temperature is normal for me (I run low) because I can feel my own skin, and I don’t have the chills or feel tired and achy.

    so obviously you see value in that data. Why does adding a few more data points collected automatically and stored on a memory chip somewhere cross the line into crazy and neurotic?

  64. Warren January 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Delurking, you are a piece of work.

    Of course your doctor wanted the data, because your blood pressure was a concern. Not before it was a concern.

    And any parent that would say no we won’t follow your advice and get a blood test done, because our phone app says we don’t need to, is a MORON.

    You obviously have health issues, since blood pressure was already admitted to. Thus confirming your paranoia.

    Did you ever stop to think that being neurotic could be the reason for the stress causing the blood pressure issue.

  65. lollipoplover January 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    “The entire construct of our affluent, North American way of life is at odds with what actually helps us, and our offspring, thrive. COMMUNITY. Not high-tech monitors, not gee-gaws that claim to assuage our terrors. We need each other, not molecular readings.”

    Amen to that.
    What’s missing from the Owlet ad with the nervous mom is a reassuring grandma in the background or trusted neighbor saying “You’re doing a great job, she’s thriving” vs. the validation of a reading. The picture of the scrawny baby leg with the monitor on it (does anyone else get the sense that baby is under house arrest??) looks like a preemie who may need some monitoring. But the ad with the chubby, healthy baby and mom make it seem like this product is for everyone. Not so.

  66. Havva January 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    @derpdedoo
    Wow… I can’t see why the NICU didn’t adjust that alarm setting. They certainly can be adjusted.

    My daughter was sent to the NICU for turning gray. She indeed had persistently low blood O2 saturation. The doctors suspected inhaled meconium, but nothing showed up on x-ray. As I recall, some 24hrs later when they first let me see her, her saturation was in the 80’s, even with them delivering pure oxygen to her. I was supper happy when she finally reached 90% saturation. It took a few days. I was allotted 45 minutes with her every 3 hours, never missed an appointment. The only time I saw her alarm go off, was when the sensor fell off her foot.

    Honestly I wanted to take the O2 monitor home. She was terrible about sleeping on her back. She still is a really light sleeper. And the nurses said the 02 monitor was the only reason they let her sleep on her tummy in the NICU. Add to that that she nearly did die on me at home. One night she just made a gurgling/sucking fluid sound/choking sound. I prodded and poked her, no response. When I picked her up she felt like a rag doll. I held her upside down over a sink and attempted the baby Heimlich maneuver (took 5 back blows) before she coughed out the fluid and finally screamed her head off.

    If the Owelt monitor had existed then, I might have purchased it. I considered the angle care monitor, but I had a friend with one, who was getting tired of being woke up by the baby rolling off the mat. Eventually I had to just back up, and accept that we are all mortal, even babies. And worrying wouldn’t do anything but make me loose more of the little sleep I was getting. Still… I do fantasize about the perfect monitor that would eliminate the risk of SIDS for an infant sleeping on its belly (without loads of false alarms).

  67. Emily January 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    @Warren–I agree with you, but you can’t get someone to stop being neurotic just by telling them to stop being neurotic.

  68. Donna January 24, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    “Doctors do not recommend these things because these things are not currently easy enough to do.”

    Some of them are very readily available. Most of us probably have a scale and thermometer in our homes already. My grandfather had a blood pressure machine at home 10 years ago so they can’t difficult to obtain or operate. Blood sugar testers are very readily available and have been around for decades. You may need diabetes to get your insurance to pay for one but you certainly don’t need diabetes to purchase one with your own cash. Fetal heart monitors are available for the pregnant set.

    And, despite the fact that these things have been around for decades, doctors still do not recommend that we all obtain them and test ourselves regularly. The hold out by doctors is not that this information is not available; it is that it is unnecessary for healthy individuals.

    “so obviously you see value in that data. Why does adding a few more data points collected automatically”

    There is a HUGE difference between being aware of your body and how it usually feels and actively collecting medical data. See normal people are not consciously thinking about their medical status regularly. We know how we feel when we feel good and notice when something is amiss, but we are not “collecting data” in any form every day.

    A healthy person thinking about his health every day is neurotic. If you are sitting in bed every morning actively running down a mental checklist of how you are feeling, you are as neurotic as someone who uses this machine.

  69. Papilio January 24, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Sorry Delurking, but you sound like a hypochondriac.

    “How often do you weigh yourself?”

    Practically never, since I don’t own a scale. i have no idea what exactly I weigh right now, but my clothes still fit me so it can’t be much different from usual.

    “Do you consider those that step on a scale once a day to be neurotic?”

    Yep. The normal fluctuations make it harder to see an actual trend, too, so what’s the point.

    “How about once a week?”

    For those who are actually working on their weight that sounds fine.

    “Is it possible that it makes sense for some people to weight themselves daily for health reasons, while not making sense for others?”

    You mean like it makes sense to monitor every thingy in premature/ill babies, while that doesn’t make sense for healthy babies?

    “People from earlier generations might think annual or bi-annual doctor visits are pretty neurotic, hence my supposition that this reaction to this new technology is age-related.”

    I STILL think bi-annual check-ups by a doctor are pretty neurotic. Just go to your doctor when you stop feeling great and have good reasons to think it’s something other than a simple flu or something else you can treat yourself for or simply sit out.
    But maybe it makes more sense for a less healthy population.
    Still, don’t you just get a lot of false-positives?

  70. Sarah January 24, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

    I agree with you that the medical-ish devices intended for use with regular babies are silly and pointless (other than as yet another way to separate new parents from their money – at that, they’re genius). However, many of your other statements are just ridiculous. Particularly this one:

    “God forbid you just use an old-fashioned, dumb diaper and figure that if the kid looks OK, his kidneys probably are too.”

    In fact, kidney disease cannot be detected in most people by visual inspection. Yes, chances are overwhelmingly good that any given infant’s kidneys are “probably good.” But the assumption that if a kid looks ok, then everything inside them is working OK is just plain wrong, nonsensical, and dangerous.

    In fact, my youngest child was born with end stage renal disease – kidney failure. His kidneys were functioning at a level so low that it was considered to be incompatible with life. Outwardly, he looked fine, and in fact he was not diagnosed with renal failure until he was 6 days old because he was peeing, eating, crying, sleeping, waking, and pooping just like any regular kid would. A few more days and it might have been too late to save him.

    It might be a good idea to learn about the topics you plan to write about before you actually publish a blog post about them – just a suggestion.

  71. lollipoplover January 24, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Donna, neurotic is a vague term. Fear of death and obsessively checking vitals and looking up symptoms is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

  72. Reziac January 24, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    That’s all dandy if your family has a history or risk for SIDS. Probably a good idea, in that case.

    Otherwise, it’s just batshit paranoid. As someone says about Münchausen’s syndrome….

  73. Jenna K. January 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    I have six kids. I used a baby monitor with the first until it died when he was about nine months old. Never bought another one and didn’t need to. All of my kids have been just fine. So glad I’m done having babies now.

  74. mobk January 25, 2014 at 12:55 am #

    delurking says
    “the point of collecting the data is so, for example, when your doctor says “your resting heart rate is too high” when he measures it for a total of 6 seconds once per year, you can look at your time-series data and say, “no, that is a fluke, let me email you the data”.”

    If you can count and you own a timekeeping device you can measure your resting heart rate the handful of times it takes to establish a baseline withou purchasing any additional junk.

  75. baby-paramedic January 25, 2014 at 1:09 am #

    Well, I know all my stats for the major vital signs. I can list off my averages for most things. And for people I live with.
    Only because it is easier to practice on yourself or willing victims before going and dealing with an actual sick person out in the public.

  76. SKL January 25, 2014 at 1:41 am #

    Well, this conversation went differently from what I expected. LOL.

    I’m getting to that age where things ain’t working like they used to. The Old Gray Mare and all that. I still don’t have any intention of checking my vitals any time soon. Nor my kids’. That does seem weird to me, unless a person is on some sort of rigorous self-improvement program or having a health scare. But, whatever floats your boat.

    I’m glad if they are improving technology for those whose health is fragile. But for everyone else, all I can say is, it’s best to focus on the positive. If your numbers are awesome and it gives you a high to look at them, go for it. If they make you worry, it’s probably better to focus on something more positive.

    This reminds me of money. I try not to think too much about my finances, because it always puts me in a foul mood. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in the red or way in the black, it’s stressful. So I get the bills paid as quick as I can and don’t look at them again for another month. ;) I also avoid the scale for similar reasons, even though I’m not fat.

  77. bmommyx2 January 25, 2014 at 3:36 am #

    At $250 someone is going to get rich. I have a very small house & I rarely used the baby monitor I though I had to have. I barely used it with my first & never with my second. I think I loaned it to my sis when she was in town because she liked to close the door when her kids were sleeping, I prefer to hear them. I remember when I was pregnant a friend told me I had to get the Angel Monitor, Oh puleez. Maybe if your child had some sort of health issue & it was recommended by the doctor otherwise another stupid baby gimmick. Also it looks horribly uncomfortable & I can’t imagine most babies would want to wear it.

  78. bmommyx2 January 25, 2014 at 3:58 am #

    I think the larger problem is the fact the the fear of SIDS is pounded into every new parent. I’m not sure how much of a real concern SIDS is for healthy babies. A lot of times they call an infant death SIDS when there is a known cause.

  79. Warren January 25, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    Sarah,
    So how was your baby’s problem diagnosed? How did you find out?

  80. JJ January 25, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    I’ll say this for baby monitors. Without them we’d have missed out on a whole slew of sitcom episodes from the 80’s, based on “misunderstandings” helped along by the I-didn’t-know-the-baby-monitor-was- turned-on narrative device

  81. vas January 25, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Some may not like it but I think in the future every human will be equipped with some sort of health monitor, automatically reporting to the health service if your heart has stopped or sugar level drops etc.

  82. Warren January 25, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    @vas
    Good luck with that.

  83. shannon January 25, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    I get what you’re saying in this article, but I think that you are off-base about the O2 monitors. SIDS is a valid concern for all moms because it can happen to any baby for no reason at all. I didn’t use a baby monitor or baby gates on the stairs. I pay street people to watch my sleeping kid in her carseat while I pop into the store. I am not a freaky person, very “free-range”.

    I would definitely spend money on an O2 monitor because I have caught my child not breathing while she slept. After that incident, I had a hard time sleeping soundly in fear of it happening again. A little monitor sock would’ve been nice.

  84. SKL January 25, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    So one branch of science works to protect the human race from anything that might momentarily threaten it, while another branch of science convinces us that we’re irreversibly destroying our habitat.

    Hmm.

  85. JP January 25, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Hmmmm.
    Fun and profit all over again.
    Seems de ‘lurker’ has got a big blush on for techno-justification….but no matter.
    Always some new and improved toy to remind us how dumb we supposedly are. Strange…how the more educated we get, the dumber we become? Wonder how that works?
    About at the speed of the closest propaganda machine, I’d say. Add in good old advertising, a pinch of wash and spin and presto! We become about as paranoid, mysterious and superstitious as yon ancestors who believed in a flat planet.
    And doesn’t monitoring a baby diaper sort of deliciously fit in with monitoring everything else? Start them young…and they won’t fuss over a lifetime’s worth of bubble wrap. Social engineering to the max.

  86. Andy January 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    If it were just the paranoid,easily influenced,and just plain crazy, it would be okay. The problem is that these things become the norm. And then required.In the 90’s, brain imaging gave us new information about how the brain works.

    However,there wasn’t enough info to make a proper conclusion about what doctors were seeing. So new drugs were invented and then marketed to parents and educators as a way to treat unruly students. “But there’s nothing wrong with my kids,their just active and bored.” Parents would say. “Okay,” Says the manufacturers,” We’ll just give a name to active,bored kids and make it sound like a problem. ADD,ADHD,ADHDWXY,what ever.” Then push it on the uninformed,and easily influenced.
    If a parent doesn’t want to use the meds,their unfit parents and CPS needs to get involved.
    Same thing now.Too much information and not enough context. If enough people don’t question whether they really need these monitoring devices, they will become more and more common and then required.

  87. SKL January 25, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    Don’t get me started on ADHD. Every time a 6yo / 7yo’s mind wanders away from a half-hour lecture about grammar, that does not mean she has a mental condition. Maybe grammar is freakin’ boring sometimes.

  88. anonymous this time January 25, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    “SIDS is a valid concern for all moms because it can happen to any baby for no reason at all.”

    Precisely why I decided it was NOT a valid concern. Because there is no way to predict it, or, based on many studies of back-sleeping vs stomach sleeping, prevent it.

    So whatEVer. Babies die, people die, sometimes there is death. In 100 years, our attitude toward death is incredibly dysfunctional and unreasonable. No child can die before their parents, EVER. It is just WRONG. And if it happens, we need 10,000 new ways to “prevent” it from happening ever again, because oh my God, think of the chiiilllldreeenn.

    There are too damned many of us. And we have no tolerance for death by any cause. This spells trouble.

  89. SOA January 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    My mom has a blood pressure cuff she has to use at home twice a day and if she is feeling bad. She has high blood pressure so they want her checking it daily to make sure it is in a healthy range. She has had a couple almost strokes. She usually can know when it is spiking my how she feels and she will use the cuff to confirm. Then she has to go lie down for awhile then check again. If it does not go down she has to go to the hospital. It usually spikes when she is stressed or not getting enough sleep or overworking herself.

    The point was they only told her to do this after she almost had a stroke. Now she was lucky that she did not have the stroke and died. Could have happened. They caught it though in time and now she has to monitor it.

  90. SOA January 25, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I am going to have to disagree with some of you about the idea that babies and children can/should sometimes die before their parents. Yes, it is always going to be a thing that happens. But honestly no one should have to go through that. I would be happy to live in a world where that never happens. I actually pray for it.

    But it can’t come as the cost of our children getting to be children. It can’t come at the cost of them being allowed to play and be outside and explore and have friends, etc.

    So if we could eliminate all risk without losing our freedom, then I would be all for it. The problem is I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon.

    But in an ideal world, yes, no parent should have a child die before they do.

  91. Papilio January 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    @SOA: For now it is a fact that some babies are born with huge health problems, so some babies will die.
    So when you say no baby should die, do you mean those kids should be kept alive at all costs, or do you mean we should find a way to prevent huge health problems in newborns in the first place? Or yet something else?

  92. SOA January 25, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

    That it would be nice if we advance enough that kids don’t die from medical problems or even accidents. If medical field can advance enough that we cure a lot of this stuff. Find a cure for SIDS. Find a cure for prematurity. Find a cure for asthma. Find a cure for food allergies. Find a cure for cancer. Find a cure for AIDS.

    I am happy to die when it is my time. When I have lived my life and had my chance. But I can honestly never accept my children passing on before me. That I would never accept. It is not the natural order of things.

  93. anonymous this time January 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Somewhere along the way I think we came to not just fear death, but completely disassociate ourselves from it. I’m not saying I would celebrate my children’s death, but I would certainly celebrate their lives, whatever the duration. And I would have to, for the sake of making friends with reality, accept the fact of the duration, whatever it was.

    It comes as a sort of insult to all those whose lives haven’t been as long as they “should” have been to say that it’s against the natural order of things to have some people live longer than others. It simply is what it is. It’s a truth for all organisms that are alive. Some live longer than others due to all kinds of circumstances in either their creation or their environment.

    A product like the Owlet monitor is, in a way, an iconic example of just how maniacally fearful we have become, how the idea that a baby may not live (no matter how healthy the baby currently is, or their excellent prognosis if ill) becomes the primary focus of attention and effort. It’s… well, it’s not living.

  94. Cindy January 26, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    I work in Hospice. It is a hard road for families, some, when they see me pull all my gadgets out of bag ask about where they can get oxygen monitoring devices and such. I have to back them away from technology. Time is so short for them that I am constantly telling them to not worry about numbers but to enjoy their loved one. Numbers are good but only tell a small fraction of the story and people are so much more than numbers.

  95. Warren January 26, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    In contrast, I do not hope and pray that they find a cure for everything. That would leave the only ways to die to accidents and being intentionally killed. So then we basically take nature out of the equation of population control. Then what, do we limit the number of children per couple? Do we automatically execute people at a certain age to keep the population from exploding? Or do we just keep going until their is no food and water left?

    We are already living to long. Our bodies were not meant to last that long. Unless of course lying in a bed, with no quality of life is what you want.

  96. Papilio January 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    @Warren: No, you just educate the women. The higher the average education of women in a population, the fewer children they have (give or take).

    @SOA: I can understand the desire to cure the kids who were born healthy and then got ill and died. But curing every single rare congenital illness is still very far away. Until then, I do believe for some of those babies death is actually more merciful than a lifetime with A LOT of (and/or severe) medical problems.

  97. Warren January 26, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    @Pap
    On my second marriage, and can tell you that educating women is far more difficult than curing cancer. LOL, just kidding.

    It has been proven time after time that when natural selection, from predators, disease and such are eliminated, that populations outgrow their enviroment. Which can cause terrible damage to the eco system. There is only so much food and water to go around, contrary to what you may think when you walk thru the local grocery store.

  98. Papilio January 26, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    @Anonymous this time: That reminds me of the time I read some American say that the Dutch had ‘a culture of death’, because of euthanasia and abortion until well into the 2nd trimester, and euthanasia on newborns being legal (now don’t think doctors are having a blast killing (reasonably) healthy people left and right…).
    I’d say that is a result of the willingness of a majority of people here to actually think about it, and accept that sometimes (an early/earlier) death is the better, more merciful, outcome.

  99. Papilio January 26, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    @Warren (I won’t shorten that to ‘War’… ;-) ): You are right, that is what happens with every population that happily goes and reproduces. But if you take a look at birth rates and the age of women during their first pregnancy in developed countries around the world, you see birth rates are (a lot) lower than in the third world, and women’s ages during 1st pregnancy are (a lot) higher. Women with an education and a career deliberately choose to have fewer kids at a higher age; say two kids when she’s in her late twenties or her thirties, rather than 10 kids, starting when she’s a teen or in her early twenties.

  100. anonymous this time January 26, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    Those of us in “advanced societies” that boast higher education levels for women and lower birth rates also “boast” the highest per capita use of resources on the planet. So every child born into our “educated” societies consumes many times the resources of those born in “less developed” places. Saving our lives here in the West, with better and “better” technology, leads us to a huge imbalance in resource use. It’s not just that we have too many people on the planet, it’s that we have too many resource-gobbling people on the planet: people who eat lots of meat, consume lots of goods, and burn lots of fuel.

    The less of us the better.

  101. Becky January 26, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    I have a toddler. Before she was born we decided to get one of those monitors that senses movement and, more importantly, when movement stops. A lot of people see this as over-protective helicopter parenting. I say no. This way I only get notified if there’s actually something wrong (or, more likely, the sensitivity of the sensor pad has been set too low…the only reason the damn thing went off in the 12 months we used it). I did not obsess specifically because I had this item. My daughter learned to sleep by herself (on a different floor from us) and everyone was happy and safe. In my opinion, it’s a much more “free range” option than video monitors or other similar things out there. Can you go to far with child monitoring, yes. But think about how the parents use it. If anything, this monitor allowed us to monitor our sleeping baby in manner which didn’t require us to constantly be awake and checking her infra-red video feed. It was the “lazy” way of dealing with SIDs fear. She’s 14 months now and we removed the sensor pad from beneath her crib months ago. We still use an audio monitor, but just so we can tell if she needs anything (remember, different floors!).

    I do think these products are going a bit far, but in some ways, they allow parents more freedom than traditional methods.

  102. Warren January 26, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    @Becky,
    So you used that monitor instead of a video feed, or other more paranoid forms of monitoring?

    Three kids, and never had a baby monitor, video feed, movement monitor and never had a sleepless night worried about my healthy baby sleeping. How did they ever survive?!

  103. SKL January 27, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    I had a monitor (sound only) for my kids. It was too static-y so I couldn’t sleep with it on. So I turned it off, because I needed my sleep.

    Funny thing happened. Even though my kids slept on a different floor in the opposite corner of the house (with both their door and my door shut), and even though no monitor was used, I still sensed when my kids really needed me. I knew biological moms have this instinct, but being an adoptive mom, I was pretty impressed. And that same instinct could filter out the unimportant stuff so I could sleep the rest of the time. Cool beans.

    Like many other parenting innovations, monitors don’t protect or prolong the lives of healthy children; rather, they screw up parents’ sleep patterns etc. Phooey.

  104. hineata January 27, 2014 at 1:14 am #

    I found the best ‘child’ monitor, past the first baby, who slept in our room anyway – small house – was the big brother himself. And, once she was old enough to crawl, baby three :-).

    With the three kids in the room next to us, El Sicko had two excellent ‘monitors’ to come and get us if she was choking/throwing up, on the off-chance we hadn’t heard her ourselves already. And even when El Sicko was fine, big bro would check on the whereabouts of the babies on waking….a case of having to, as they had a habit of crawling out of bed in their sleep and he was liable to break his leg tripping on them if he didn’t monitor their whereabouts :-) .

    So, while a big house must be cool, there are advantages to small ones too. If nothing else, no need for electronic monitoring… :-)

  105. SOA January 27, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    Keeping old people alive forever is something I am not a fan of either. I want to die about 75 or heck even 70. I know my body will be crap by then because at 33 I already am having issues. That is no where near the same as keeping babies healthy and alive. Old people should die. They are old. They lived their life. Babies have not.

    I am going to have to disagree with hineata about siblings being a good baby monitor. You should not leave siblings alone with young babies depending on age. Young kids have been known to accidentally or intentionally even kill or hurt their younger siblings. So while it may work for some siblings to be left alone with their baby sibling-it is not a universal thing people should do or rely on.

    My uncle almost bashed his baby brother’s head in intentionally with a hammer and would have done it if my Grandmother had not walked in the second she did. I don’t think my Uncle made a good baby monitor. You just have to use your judgment but a parent is probably going to have rose colored glasses on when it comes to what they think their precious child is capable of doing to a younger sibling. My GM did not think he would do something like that yet he did. It was premeditated. Went and sought out the hammer and then went to do it when she was not in the room.

    Some baby monitors can be good and allow more free range. My BFF used her baby monitor so she could go outside while the baby napped and even mow the lawn. She would just stop every 5 minutes and make sure the baby was not crying and then go back to mowing. She also would come over and talk to me or talk to me outside. If she did not have a monitor she would have had to stay in the house.

  106. Donna January 27, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    @SOA – Some people get long lives and some people get short lives. It is, always has been and always will be the natural order of life. It may not be fair, but life is not fair.

    This belief that a child’s death is an unmitigated tragedy from which you never recover is a very late-20th century mentality and I think it is unhealthy. Of course, you can survive the death of a child. People have been doing it since the dawn of time and they didn’t love their children less. Two of my grandparents four children predeceased them – one as an infant and one as an adult – and they almost lost a 3rd when my father contracted polio and spent 2 years in an iron lung as a toddler. These things shaped them but didn’t destroy them. They were very happy, social people who enjoyed life despite having lost a child. I know that they still thought of their baby as my grandmother told me late in her life that she wished that she was not so terrified of flying as she would love to go to California to visit her son’s grave before she died (a grave she hadn’t seen in many years since they moved shortly after he died), but at the same time, they were happy. The loss of their children was a part of their lives but never the focus of their lives.

  107. Warren January 27, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Just out of curiousity, to those saying that monitors allow you to be more free range. Stop mowing the lawn every five mins to listen to the monitor? Why, so you can go running in the second you hear something?

    Or no monitor, put the baby to bed, go mow the lawn, and come back in to either a sleeping or awake baby? And do not tell me it takes a long time to mow a large lawn. I have about two acres that gets mowed.

    All these monitors are just a way of shifting parental responsibility, so that people can live their overly full lives.

  108. lollipoplover January 27, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    “You should not leave siblings alone with young babies depending on age. Young kids have been known to accidentally or intentionally even kill or hurt their younger siblings.”

    This is just the most insane thing I’ve heard yet from Dolly. The majority of siblings LOVE and adore their younger family members but you think we should treat all of them like little Damians??! Sorry, my oldest is the responsible, caring young man he is today BECAUSE he was given responsibility at young ages for his siblings and pets. But Dolly says treat him like a potential murderer…

    My MIL told me when I was pregnant with my first that we needed to get rid of our two large dogs. She read somewhere that dogs can eat babies because they get jealous and eat the new baby. I asked her where she read this and she said “The Inquirer”. Philadephia Inquirer? No, National Enquirer. That explained a lot of her advise. We didn’t get rid of the dogs and they were loving watch dogs to our kids, loyal and protective, the best monitor ever.

  109. Donna January 27, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    “You should not leave siblings alone with young babies depending on age. Young kids have been known to accidentally or intentionally even kill or hurt their younger siblings.”

    Well some fathers have been known to accidentally or intentionally kill their children so we can’t leave children alone with their fathers. Some mothers have been known to accidentally or intentionally kill their children so we can’t leave children alone with their mothers. In fact, all children should be taken away at birth and raised in pods where they have no contact with any other human being since some child somewhere in the world has been hurt by a person of every possible relationship to that child. Grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, total strangers, none are safe.

  110. Becky January 27, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    now. i can certainly understand how this would be a great thing if your baby had a medical condition or something. but a healthy baby? no.

    the ONLY time i was ever worried about my baby while sleeping was when he slept thru the night at 6 weeks. i was told it would take months. i awoke at 6am to no crying baby. i rushed into his room to find him sleeping peacefully. i went back to bed (laughing at all the people that told me sleep was a thing of the past) and got another hour of sleep. never worried about it again. and i have 2 additional kids, all of whom started sleeping thru the nite in the early weeks of life. and in all that time, i never wondered what their blood oxygen level was. or their heart rate. :/

  111. hineata January 27, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    @SOA – mmm, suppose I could have been looking at my kids through rose-coloured glasses, but I think not. The boy was amazing with both babies. I expected some jealousy but never got a thing. The only time I ever had a problem was when he decided to ‘burp’ Midge, and I just had to show him how to do it gently :-).

    It does come down to personalities, and possibly culture – the older friends and cousins around him talked a lot about looking after little brothers and sisters, and looked after him well too – but probably more personality. Just got lucky, I think. And while they fight a lot now (just love the teenage years, LOl!) for all the years they shared a room they didn’t argue much.

  112. hineata January 27, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    @Warren – you mow two acres? I take my hat off to you! I hope you have a ride-on or a tractor…..otherwise that would be the best exercise around, using a normal lawnmower.

    Of course, if you get a goat or a couple of sheep, you could save yourself both the petrol (and time) and the cost (which you didn’t bother with anyway) of an electronic monitor. And have a few tasty meals at the end of the exercise. In the case of the goat, sooner rather than later :-) .

  113. Warren January 27, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    Riding, push and weedeater are all used to get the job done. Keep all the blades sharpened, and good quality line in the weedeater and it doesn’t take long at all.

    Do the push and weedeater first, then the riding. Have it timed on the riding to a two beer job on Sunday mornings.

  114. SKL January 28, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    I just noticed this is a smartphone app.

    What about all those unnecessary electronic signals going through fragile babies’ bodies and brains? Haven’t they proven that too much exposure to electronics causes brain tumors?

    Call me weird, but I don’t like it. When it comes to stuff nature didn’t intend, less is more.

    If you have a sick child, then you take these risks because they are outweighed by bigger known risks. I don’t see a justification for doing that with a well child.

  115. Kim Banks January 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    I’m sorry. This made me laugh out loud! Oh my gosh, just because we have the technology that is capable of monitoring a baby’s blood oxygen level, we have to ask ourselves, “what purpose does this serve and is it worth my time, attention and focus?”

    I’m 32 weeks pregnant with identical twins and have to go each week for ultrasound monitoring so they can make sure the blood flow, growth, heart rate, etc. are right on track. I know that there are more complications with an identical twin pregnancy and really appreciate the technology we have today. I’m sure there are people who didn’t have access to this who had an unfortunate outcome with a twin pregnancy BUT I still feel like I’m being poked and prodded like a science experiment and the technology we have today helps create mini crises because they see something minor that would never have been detected in a pregnancy 10 years ago. Needless to say, my pregnancy has been full of stress and not one of wonder or excitement. I think the same could go for all these techie gadgets that just provide way too much information for the human brain can handle.

    LOVE your blog. Kim

  116. Jenny January 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    The Owlet Monitor – NOT a crazy product for some! -If you have never laid in bed at night afraid to go to sleep because your baby with an airway defect may stop breathing during the night – then you have no idea of the need for this product. Not knowing why blood oxygen levels are important doesn’t mean they are not. It just means you do not have a very sick infant who needs them monitored 24/7. If you do a little more research, then you will see that the company is currently working with the government regulators before an alarm device can be approved. They have released the product for sale early so it is available, but the alarm feature has yet to be made legal. Of course this is obviously not meant for healthy children, but if some neurotic parent wants to buy it, then by all means, help bring down the price for the families whose medically fragile child’s life could be saved by it.

  117. anonymous this time January 28, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    Jenny said, “Of course this is obviously not meant for healthy children, but if some neurotic parent wants to buy it, then by all means, help bring down the price for the families whose medically fragile child’s life could be saved by it.”

    Did you watch the video? I didn’t see one single mention of using this product for children who have actual chronic health issues. All I saw were parents with healthy babies (well, one had a cold, I guess, at one point), fretting about how this new gadget would save them SO MUCH STRESS AND WORRY.

    I actually think it is counter to the health of children and families to hawk (owl?) a product like this to the “worried well.” Subsidize its manufacture some other way. And honestly, I doubt that anyone with a congenital airway defect would be advised to use this particular device. I’m guessing it’s not quite as accurate as would be desirable in that case, but who knows.

    I still stand by my assertion that encouraging people to strap things like this onto healthy babies is calling them farther and farther away from the kind of wisdom and acceptance required to live a full, healthy, joyful life.

  118. Kay January 28, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    Regarding monitors- I think we should keep in mind that back in older times, some homes had nurseries connected to a master bedroom, so babies were close, or perhaps kept in the same room. Monitors today eliminate the need to have the baby’s room close enough to hear them when they need attention while parents are sleeping.

  119. Donna January 29, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    “Monitors today eliminate the need to have the baby’s room close enough to hear them when they need attention while parents are sleeping.”

    Which raises the question as to why western society (and it is strictly western society) finds it so necessary to keep babies so far away. I’m not talking about co-sleeping. Why do we need houses that are so big that we can’t hear a baby wailing from one end to the other and, if we must have houses so big, why is the baby at the farthest point from the parents rather close by? It just seems like such a foreign concept to me and I am not even remotely an attachment parenting parent.

  120. SKL January 29, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Donna, sometimes the farthest room away happens to be the most logical place to put the baby. That’s all.

    Sometimes it’s the only bedroom on the 1st floor and they want the baby on the 1st floor for some reason – or near the bathroom or whatever.

    In my case, the house was bought and the bedrooms allocated many years before my kids were born. There was a small room with a closet on the 1st floor, which we had used as an office room in the past, but was mostly in disuse. The three upstairs bedrooms were occupied by adults, none of whom desired to move downstairs into a tiny room with a wee little closet. So the kids got that room. While they had a nanny, it was nice because she could do all their stuff downstairs without disturbing my work upstairs. As previously mentioned, despite the distance and the fact that doors were always closed, my mom sense woke me up when there was a need. As proven by the fact that my kids remain alive and well. ;)

    One of my kids used to wake up grieving every few days, and she got the attention she needed.

    But I think it’s quite common in the USA for parents to keep newborn babies nearby. It’s also recommended nowadays by the experts (not co-sleeping, but having the crib/bassinet/cosleeper thingy in your bedroom for a while). I don’t think we have a thing in our culture against being within earshot of our kids.

  121. Jenna Wood January 29, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    It’s seems pretty obvious that the baby hates the “sock.” The whole time it’s on, the child is trying to kick it off.

  122. Donna January 29, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    Actually, SKL, the predominant arrangement in the world is to co sleep. Putting a child in a separate room to sleep is unheard of in most, if not all, cultures outside the western cultures.

    Kay’s comment certainly indicated a level of desirability in not having children close by. It wasn’t phrased as though monitors help families like yours who through circumstance must keep their children out of earshot, but as if this is the goal. And that absolutely IS the way most modern houses are designed. The master bedroom is separate from the other bedrooms – different floor, opposite sides of the main living area. I haven’t been in many houses built pos-1980 where it is possible to both keep infants in a separate room and close by, although plenty have been small enough to still hear an infant in rhe most distant room.

  123. Jenna Wood January 29, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    So I know the doctor in this clip personally. He’s a renown neonatologist who, of course, works with newborns in the NICU with major medical problems. His quote is TOTALLY taken out of context. He recommends the owlet as an alternative to equipment sent home from the NICU, not as a good idea for all children.

    They have this video on the website where he explains.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H87rRf9P6OI

  124. SKL January 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Donna, I’m quite aware of traditional cultures etc., and also of today’s US culture. Most parents I know have kept their newborns close, usually in the same room, though they are usually afraid to actually co-sleep. Most eventually move them to a room that is nearby. I don’t know anyone who intentionally arranged things so they could not hear their child cry.

    The comment about monitors making this possible was one comment (which I don’t agree with). I don’t think that’s why people have monitors. I think it’s because for whatever reason, it’s impractical to have the child in the same room all night, and the parents have been convinced that if they can’t hear every sigh and grunt, the child will die before sunrise.

    People use baby monitors for years and years. Way past any realistic risk of SIDS, way past the time they wean from the breast. They are afraid the kid will climb out, get scared, puke, drink toilet water, whatever. I know someone who had a baby monitor for her 10yo son (not a special-needs child).

  125. SKL January 29, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    And I don’t recall any house that doesn’t have at least one kid bedroom near the master bedroom. I’ve been in rich and poor houses and everything in between. What I have seen is that the master bedroom isn’t always used for the parents. Like when I was a kid, my parents slept in an attic room once the kids’ room got too crowded. They tried the older boys up there, but it didn’t work out for reasons I won’t get into. But new babies who came after that stayed with my parents until they were past the fragile wee baby stage.

  126. Donna January 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    SKL – I guess houses are being built very differently where you live than in Georgia and So. Cal. Almost every recently built (post 80s or 90s) house I’ve been in has had either the master bedroom on one floor and all other bedrooms on another floor or the master bedroom on one side of the house, other bedrooms on the other side of the house with the kitchen, living, dining and whatever rooms in between. In fact, it is apparently a huge selling point, since “separate master bedroom” is always emphasized in for-sale ads around here if it exists. Again, I am talking strictly about newer houses. My 1950s house has all the bedrooms right together and that is typical of the time.

    And, while it happens for various reasons, someone other than the parents sleeping in the master bedroom is certainly the exception rather than the rule.

  127. SKL January 29, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Well, even if there is a “separate master bedroom,” that doesn’t mean they don’t keep the newborns with them for a while. There is no need for an older baby / tot / kid to sleep very close to the parent. Most traditional cultures do this because most of their houses don’t have enough room to spread out much. So it is their tradition, and it feels weird to them to change it, but that doesn’t mean it’s better / worse. Just different.

  128. SOA January 31, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    It took my friend about an hour to mow the lawn with a push mower. Her child normally would sleep that whole hour but if she was not checking in every so often (not really five minutes but just every once in awhile) there is chance the child could be crying in a crib for an hour. That is a long time to ignore a child. 15 mins is fine. An hour a little much.

    Of course, most siblings will never intentionally or unintentionally harm a sibling. I just said use your judgment. Don’t automatically assume all kids are capable of being left alone with younger vulnerable baby siblings because they are not. My uncle certainly was not. I will admit my GM has always favored him and the signs were probably there and she ignored them.

    So maybe I should say “Don’t leave your child who has been acting jealous and upset lately over the new baby alone with your baby”. This is not just some urban legend. This really happened in our family and it gets brought up all the time.

  129. Warren January 31, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    @SOA
    Just imagine how much faster she would get the lawn done, if she wasn’t stopping all the time to check on the kid.

  130. Emily January 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    @Warren–I agree. Stopping every five minutes to check on a sleeping baby while mowing the lawn would take forever.

  131. Warren January 31, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    Emily, I bet just getting it done without stopping would have cut the time in half. Then we are only talking about 30mins.