Gadgets aren’t just for grown-ups. At CES this year, there were plenty of items that focused their attention on toddlers and young kids.
Given how prevalent technology is in children’s lives today, that’s not especially surprising – but while some of the products make certain rites of childhood easier to handle, others border on being enablers of lazy parenting. Here’s a look at some of the more notable items.
1. SleepIQ Kids Bed
Parents have made Select Comfort’s “Sleep Number” bed a big seller over the past 35 years. Now the company wants to hook their children.
The SleepIQ Kids Bed offers the same adjustable firmness as the adult model, but also sends an alert when junior jumps out of bed, rewards kids for good sleep and has soft under-bed lights, so kids can easily navigate their room during any midnight potty emergencies.
Parental downside? It also offers a “monster detector” to help kids sleep, which is nice, but robs mom or dad of the opportunity to be the hero and scare those creatures away.
2. Mamaroo Electronic Baby Rocker
Automated rockers give parents a break when their infants are exhausted but refuse to sleep in their crib. But switching modes or slowing them down often requires a deft touch. Mamaroo’s new rocker is not only Bluetooth enabled (meaning you don’t have to put down your glass of wine to adjust things), but it also bounces up and down and side to side, like a mother would, to get junior to sleep.
Parental downside? Your kid could grow to prefer this rocker to your arms.
As your young son or daughter gets a bit older and heads off to school or jaunts down the street to play at a friend’s house, it’s only normal for parents to worry, given all the news about child abductions these days. This GPS watch, made specifically with children in mind, lets you set “safe zones” – and when your child leaves those, an alert will be sent to your phone. Alerts also sound if the watch is removed or if the child shakes it five times, a subtle panic signal if they’re in a troubling situation.
Parental downside? Not much of one. Anything that keeps your children safe is good.
4. Temp Traq
Nothing breaks your heart quicker than seeing your infant with a fever. It’s important to monitor the temperature, but taking a reading is often nightmarish, especially if it wakes the child. Temp Traq is a wearable smart monitoring patch that goes under the arm and constantly monitors a baby’s temperature for 24 hours, feeding that information to your smart phone, so you can keep an accurate record to share with the pediatrician if necessary.
Parental downside? None that we could think of.
Families are on the go constantly these days, so a family messaging service can be essential. This VoIP speakerphone also features a 2.9-inch e-ink screen, which lets you send handwritten or typed messages when you’re out and the kids are home. Better still, only authorized numbers can call the Triby, meaning no telemarketers or long-winded friends will tie up the line if you try to reach the kids. It’s all housed in a small form factor with a magnet on back, so it can stick to the front of your refrigerator.
Parental downside? Anything that makes it easier to avoid face-to-face conversations between parents and kids is a bit worrisome.
6. Baby GiGL
Bottle feeding is intimidating for some parents. Slow Control wants to make things a bit easier with this smart baby bottle monitor, which lets you know how much your child has consumed as you’ve fed him or her – while also letting you know if they’re getting air instead of formula (resulting in gas) of if there’s a blockage in the bottle’s nipple.
Parental downside? Ditch the technology, pay attention to your newborn and treasure these moments. Trust us, there’s nothing on SportsCenter or the evening news that’s worth the distraction.
Chris Morris is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in video games, consumer electronics and personal finance.