Move over Internet of Things. The new kid on the block is the Internet of Babies. That’s right, technology has finally taken on its tiniest audience—and one that can barely hold a smartphone, much less talk into one.
But giving babies a voice is exactly what baby wearables claim to do. And the potential is huge. After all, a baby can’t clear its throat and say, “Excuse me, Dada, but I’ve rolled over four times in the last hour, peed twice and I think I might be getting a fever.”
A dream come true for helicopter parents, these wearable devices attempt to hack into your little one’s every want and need. Baby has a fever? Pop in Pacif-i’s electronic pacifier or smooth on TempTraq’s smart patch.
Spitting up? Make sure you’re angling the bottle correctly with Baby Gigl.
Although none of these high-tech baby monitors qualify as medical devices (which would mean getting approval from the FDA), their messaging walks the line of “everything but.”
With lines like “Rest assured” and “When your little one sleeps better, you sleep better,” these brands are in the business of peddling peace of mind. Even the colors and typography—which tend to be as soft and round as a baby’s bottom—are designed to calm.
To be fair, this tactic is nothing new. From Enfamil’s “Because it’s your baby” to the Huggies line “There’s nothing like a hug,” brands have long played off the neuroses of first-time parents. Heck, the Luvs brand is entirely based on getting your sanity back the second time around.
And putting aside the very real threats of hackers, batteries with the potential to overheat and the untested effects of wireless technology on babies, it’s easy to see why parents have signed up for many of these products. Isn’t more information better? Why wouldn’t you want to know everything you could about your baby when you’re not in the room?
The difference, however, is that baby wearables are, well, wearable, which gives skin-to-skin time a whole new meaning. Unlike diapers, formula or clothing, wearables are not disposable. In theory, a smart monitor like Owlet or Sproutling might touch your baby’s skin more than you do, which begs the question of what you trust more: your screen or what you can feel with your own hand.
And while these brands promise to give you all the data you need to better care for your baby, how much intimacy are those insights worth? In other words, when does a brand that’s trying to keep up with us simply get in the way?
The best brands are measured by what they add to our lives. To succeed in this space, baby wearable brands will need to go further than simply talking about “assurance.” Instead, they will need to show how they bring parents and babies together without creating a layer—however smart—between them.
Elisabeth Dick Oak is a New York-based writer and branding professional who’s better known at home as “Mom.”