Interview: High-Tech Nurseries

Recently, I was contacted by a reporter to see if I would be willing to be interviewed for a piece on high-tech nurseries since my background is in technology. With the reporter’s deadline looming in a couple of days, I asked her to send me the questions and that I’d turn it around as fast as I could.

Despite my children’s best efforts of distracting, bickering, rummaging (where they don’t belong) and flitting about, I managed to answer the questions very quickly and send them back. This kind of interference is no different than any normal day, which is why it takes me so long to do anything, like write and proofread my posts 😉

I thought you may like to see the interview:

Q: We tend to think of nurseries as soft, warm spaces. When we think of technology, we think of cold, sort of masculine rooms. Is it possible to meld the two?

A: It is very possible…and preferred! Technology affords parents solutions that weren’t available and thanks to team management and collaboration has been made a lot easier – or affordable – before, but a baby needs a warm, soft place, just as parents need every device in their arsenal to ensure their baby is safe and happy. Products have become smarter, smaller and more discrete over the years, making it possible to have a nursery that looks very enchanting, i.e. one would have to really look for the modern conveniences.

Q: There are all sorts of new baby products on the market that utilize technology, from a crib-mounted device that simulates the noise and vibration of a car to sooth colicky babies, to an indoor  infant seat that mimics the motion of a mother rocking an infant to sleep to a battery-powered stroller that opens and folds with the touch of a button (it also has a place to plug in your MP3 player). Are you seeing more technology used in nurseries? If so, why do you think these devices are becoming more popular?

A: With smart phones working parents are always working and staying at home with children is (in my opinion) the most difficult job (emotionally, physically, mentally). My first baby had reflux and, prior to her diagnosis, cried unless I was holding her. It was grueling, especially while recovering from a c-section, but an indoor infant seat that vibrated saved me. Prior to the advent of these products, my mother used to drive me in a car and I’ve heard of mothers (unwisely) putting an infant seat on washing machines or dryers to emulate the soothing motion. If a product gives a parent any advantage, absolutely take it!

Although WI-FI is rolling out quickly, most – if not all – new construction houses are wired with ethernet, which allows parents to easily install an Internet/IP video camera in a nursery and network it. My house was built prior to this being the norm but, because of my tech background, I had cat 5/ethernet run through our entire house during construction and I have ip cameras around my house. That being said, I opted not to install cameras in the nurseries because I wanted to rest when my babies rested and I thought I would probably stare at them obsessively!

Q: There are two competing trends, here. There is another movement to simplify baby toys, getting away from the electronic stuff and back to basics like low-tech wooden blocks. Which movement is winning and what are the pros and cons of each?

A: The “back to basics” trend is in response to the gluttony of tech products. Like with any trend, companies want to ride it and have released so many products that are inane, non-essential – it’s insulting in this economy. The appeal to many parents also is the nostalgia and a yearning for a time, when life was simple, not so hurried, competitive (keeping up with neighbors). It’s a backlash.

Without a doubt, some of these products make our life as parents easier, however, it is a valid concern that babies will not use their own spacial and cognitive reasoning when lights and sounds are entertaining them as they would with some colorful blocks. These low tech – or classic – toys also encourage a baby’s creativity and imagination. The good high tech toys and products are developed with input from educators and doctors to aid in a baby’s mental development and are not merely electronic babysitters. I think (as with anything) parents need to find what balance works for them.

Technology WILL progress, but I also think it’s important not to get wrapped up in every new gadget that is put out on the market. Put that money in a college fund for your baby instead.

Q: If there’s anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t asked you, please feel free to offer your thoughts.

A: Books (and not a Kindle!) are THE most overlooked and underrated addition to a nursery. Allowing for sing-songy, colorful books that a baby can enjoy with you are such an important part of a baby’s development and offer a moment of snuggle time.

Although it’s choppy, I was trying to get her info as quickly as possible. I’ll do a separate post about my take on the piece and what was pulled from the interview 🙂

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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