Top Tech Products for New and Future Parents
10 High-Tech Pregnancy and Parenting Products That Moms Love
The way parents raise kids has seriously changed from a hundred years ago — and you can chalk a lot of parenting advances up to modern technology. From conception to grade school, tech gadgets and apps can help track everything from breathing to pooping, protect children online and in real life, and — let’s be honest — give you a little peace and quiet when you just can’t take another round of "I Spy." We asked 10 moms to share the tech that saved their lives, or at least their sanity.
1. Owlet Smart Sock. The Owlet is tiny sensor that wraps around your baby’s foot, kind of like a velcro-ed sock. Put it on before putting baby down to sleep and it will track breathing, heart rate, movements and more — perfect for parents who want to keep an extra eye on their little one, like Brian and Aubrey Willis of Orem, Utah.
"Being able to wake up in the night and check the app to make sure our son still has a heartbeat and oxygen is awesome so we don’t have to go in his room and check on him as often,” Brian says. “It’s amazing and so convenient to be able to watch him and see if he fell asleep without going in and risk him seeing us. It also helps us keep track of when he actually fell asleep and how long he slept or if he woke up in the middle of the night and why." ($299.99, OwletCare)
2. The What To Expect Pregnancy & Baby Tracker. "The first thing I do every day is check the What To Expect app," says Hailey Jensen. The New York City mom is in her second trimester with her first baby and says the app makes it all feel so much more real and exciting. She loves that it has a countdown to her delivery date but that it also keeps tracking her baby’s progress after he’s born, making the transition from pregnant lady to mommy seamless. In addition, the app will give you articles and updates about your baby’s development (both before and after birth), answer questions about symptoms, and connect you with a community of moms in your stage. (Free on iOS and Android).
3. Circle With Disney. Technology is a two-edged sword: It’s everywhere, meaning it’s necessary for children to learn how to use it, but it’s also everywhere, as shown by the hours kids spend on it a day. No one wants their kid to be a tablet zombie but they still need to learn to use tech responsibly. Enter Circle With Disney, a parental control app that helps families manage time online and filter the Internet so it’s safe for even very young kids, like the Giese children.
4. VersaMe Starling. The VersaMe Starling is a wearable device to help you monitor and encourage your baby’s language development. Simply clip the small, plastic star on to your infant’s clothing and it will start counting how many words your baby hears every day. The company was started by Stanford researchers looking for a way to reach children in the critical window of language development, helping to ensure they weren’t delayed. And, they say, it doesn’t matter what you say to your baby just as long as you say it (over and over and over).
"Tracking words babies hear is so important," says Michelle Hill, of Denver, Colorado. "That number is actually one of the biggest indicators of ‘success’ in child development and I love that it is backed by tons of scientific research." ($149.99, VersaMe)
5. ABCmouse. There are many sites with educational games for toddlers and preschoolers (perhaps too many), and it can be tough for a parent to know which ones really teach skills. Which is why Quish Turner, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was so excited to discover ABCmouse. It provides research-backed games and lessons, starting kids at just two years old learning math, reading and other skills. And with a companion app, it can be used on any device, including mom’s phone.
"ABCmouse is the best," Quish says. "It keeps her entertained and she is really learning things." (Free trial then $9.95/month, ABCmouse)
6. Google Home. "I wasn’t sure I wanted a digital assistant but a mom friend was raving about how much her Google Home helped her so I decided to try it. I set it up and was instantly hooked," says Jessica Anderson, of Houston, Texas. She uses the system to play music for her kids, set timers for activities and sharing, make shopping lists, order baby necessities, set reminders for things like library time and manage her busy schedule.
She also put a Home mini in each of her children’s rooms, using it to play white noise at nap time and announce when dinner is ready. She uses the Family Link app to make sure the kids don’t access anything inappropriate and to manage their use. "The kids are so entertained by it, they love asking Google random questions and it even let them 'call' Santa at Christmastime," she says. ($129, Google)
7. Baby Feed Timer. For someone so tiny, babies sure do a lot of things — and many a new mom has become completely overwhelmed trying to keep track of nap schedules, breastfeeding times, poopy diapers, tummy time and more. You could write it all down in elaborate charts. Or you could simplify your life and use The Baby Feed Timer app, like Meghan Johnson of Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a busy working mom who’s still breastfeeding, this app has become a lifesaver, she says.
"We switched to this app from paper documenting of feedings, diaper changes, etc. and it’s so great," she says. "It syncs on multiple devices so it doesn’t matter if it’s me, my husband or a sitter taking care of my son, everyone can see and document what happens throughout the day. I never have to wonder what’s going on with him." (Free on iOS and Android)
8. GizmoPal 2 Watch. For many parents cell phones are an integral part of keeping kids safe and sound (and entertained). But what about little ones who are too young to have a phone but old enough to have a little independence? A smartwatch specifically made for young children was the solution for Emily Garrison, of Denver, Colorado. She uses Verizon’s GizmoPal 2 watch for her two youngest children.
The watch allows her to call them (or them to call her) directly from the watch. But it only allows calls to and from preapproved numbers so no strangers allowed. Her other favorite feature is the GPS tracking. Bonus: It comes with no games to tempt kids into more screen time.
“I love that they can have it on their wrist so they can’t lose it and if they do I can use the GPS feature to find it again. I love that I can look on the GPS map and find them. I love that they can only call the people we program in it and that's the only people that can call them. And I love that they have that security of being able to call me if they felt they were in a bad situation, but too young enough to have a phone,” she says. “The watch has given our kids more confidence and it’s helped me relax.” ($79.99, Verizon)
9. Nanit Smart Baby Monitor. Baby monitors are now considered an essential tool for new parents and they’ve come a long way from the static-filled radio monitors of a generation go. Take, for example, the Nanit, sometimes called “the Tesla” of baby monitors.
"It’s a smart monitor that uses artificial intelligence to log events from my daughter’s crib," says Lynda Strand, of Sacramento, California. "It’s been really helpful with telling me how often she wakes up during the night, when she gets picked up, how long her naps are, and how well she’s sleeping. I love that it alerts me on my phone if there is a sound or movement and I can control the camera zoom, night light, and sounds from my phone." ($299, Nanit).
10. Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker. For something that’s supposed to be so "natural," getting pregnant can sometimes be a lot of work. When are you ovulating? When are the best days to have sex? When can you take a pregnancy test? What is even happening down there?! Take the guesswork out of fertility planning with the Flo app. The app tracks not just your menstrual cycle but allows you to record all kinds of symptoms and helps predict ovulation.
"For me, it is all about knowledge. My cycle has always been somewhat of a mystery and not knowing made trying to get pregnant so much more of a rollercoaster," says Jen L., of Washington D.C. "For the past year I have tracked not just my cycle but also my moods, pain, hunger, body temperature, vaginal discharge and more. The app tells me when I’m ovulating so my husband and I can time sex. Honestly, this knowledge helps me plan my whole life. I work two jobs and it's really lowered my anxiety and stress levels."