As with any major life change, having a new baby presents challenges on all levels, the digital aspect of our lifestyles notwithstanding. First, we have spatial constraints – where to fit the baby and as a result, where to fit everything else. Then we have safety concerns that range from monitoring to childproofing. And of course we have archival issues such as recording our most precious memories in perpetuity. Finally, we have productivity issues like how to juggle all the aspects of our increasingly complex lives. Lucky for us, there are a variety of resources available that can help ease the transition.
New Baby Help in the Early Days
When a new baby comes home from the hospital, especially with the first baby, immediately the parents are fraught with concerns for their little one’s safety and survival. Technology can ease this transition and offer plenty of new baby help. Two-way walkie-talkies and cell phone text messaging can be invaluable in communicating when whoever’s caring for the baby (usually mom) needs something. Text messaging by cell is especially useful when the baby’s asleep since it can be done without sound.
Making space for a new baby can cause all kinds of dilemmas. In the short term, the baby can stay with mom and dad in their bed or a nearby bassinet, but soon enough, s/he will need his/her own space and whether that space is shared with a sibling or inheriting what was once an office, the space must be adapted.
Audio and/or video wireless monitoring system delivers new baby help and peace of mind. Some include multiple handheld receivers to place around your home so you don’t have to carry equipment with you everywhere. That is more common with audio only monitors. Video monitors, more expensive by nature, tend to come with less handheld receivers but good ones provide the option to turn off the video, saving power, and using audio at all times whether they are plugged in or operating on battery mode. The technology available now for video monitors is impressive; including small cameras that work in color when there’s light in the room and utilize infrared for black and white images while the room is dark. And for those concerned about SIDS, motion-sensing monitors that slide under the baby’s mattress can work wonders on easing your mind. They set off a quiet alarm if the baby stops moving or breathing, causing him to subtly shift and thus reducing the SIDS risk.
Making any workspace safe and friendly for a baby can also be challenging and the best way is to simplify things. One easy fix is to shift to a laptop and doing away with large desks. Laptops can be invaluable when children get older – you can use them in any room while watching your infant-toddler play. Before you know it, your “baby” will be one year old and walking, so don’t forget to consider childproofing from the start. Insert electrical outlet protectors as a first step – before s/he starts crawling. Then consolidating cords and cables into cord collecting protective devices will insure additional safety.
One great idea for new parents to bring their extended families into the experience of sharing memories with the new baby is via webcam. Several types can be found for the PC and the best for the Mac is the iSight. Just plug them in and load up video chat software, stick baby on your lap and make sure that Grandma and Grandpa are ready on the other end. Then they can watch your baby grow-up in real time, not just through videos and photos.
For photos and videos, Macs and Mac software like iPhoto, iMovie and QuickTime provide excellent tools, as does Adobe PhotoShop. It probably goes without saying that digital cameras and digital video recorders are a must for modern parenting technology. Home videos can now be sent via email or even via cell phone text messaging if they are small enough in size. There’s no limit to how many experiences you can save for posterity if you just have the data storage space for them.
While not necessarily recommended for the bedroom, electronic toys abound that are both educational and a lot of fun for infants and toddlers. Digital books, musical toys like keys and pretend cell phones, small tables and saucers with various interesting buttons and gizmos for inserting children to play as they get older, and electric swings (often also with music) all provide hours of gently stimulating entertainment. And if you want to remove the electronic edge, nearly all of these toys have on/off switches, batteries that can be removed, or electronic speaker modules that can be discarded.
A lot of backlash exists about children spending too much time in front of the TV as there’s ample evidence it over-stimulates the baby brain and provides too much “noise” for children. However, a Baby Einstein video or DVD played on occasion has been known to save new parents’ sanity, providing 20-30 minutes of time where they can rest or clean up. The key is to keep the child’s immediate environment low on stimuli.
Helping Hands for New Baby Help
In the not so distant past, neighbors and friends would come over and bring food to new parents, provide babysitting assistance and much needed advice in person. While that still happens in some places, much of parenting help is moving online. Parents’ clubs (no longer just for moms) have web sites and email lists full of useful tips. Just search “Parents club” and/or “moms club” along with your town or city name. Parenting hubs like Babycenter.com and online magazine sites like Parents.com also prove very useful to new moms and dads.
For more specific parenting resources surrounding technology, tools and tips, new sites are cropping up all the time. Parenthacks.com includes ‘hacks’ for technical tools but also hacks for the simple or silly things like how to put tights on a toddler. For those searching for a baby name, babynames.alphamom.com has a database of over 25,000. Babynames.com and babynamesworld.com also have large databases.
Lastly, blogs are an incredible resource to parents. ‘Mommy blogging’ has become a huge phenomenon online with parents around the world blogging about their experiences and sharing ideas with each other. Techmamas.com is one blog that contains technology tips for parents. Mommybloggers.com is a great place to start overall.
Looking Toward the Future
While parenting is never easy, advances in electronics technology and the Internet have provided numerous new ways to educate, entertain, and keep our children safe. Not every tool or tip works for each new family, but the wonderful thing is we now have a variety of excellent choices and resources through which we can adapt as our children grow.