New baby tech gives parents peace of mind

- Parenting is a lot about intuition and instinct – especially during the first year – but bringing home a premature newborn is a task few new parents are equipped to handle.

Sherilyn Lavisky recalls leaving the hospital after her newborn, Grant spent eight days in the NICU - where trained professionals and sophisticated machinery track everything.

“It was nerve-wracking coming home and not having that peace of mind,” she remembers.

Stacy Krum can relate. Her daughter Margot was also born prematurely.

“We came home with a 4-pound 4-ounce baby, which was pretty scary,” she said.

These are fears parents of preemies have dealt with for years, but as technology progresses, peace of mind comes much more easily.

At Best Buy in Tampa, there's a new aisle devoted to digital products for babies. It recently had to stock up to meet the new demand for baby wearables, which can monitor baby’s breathing and heart rate.

Jim Murphy with Best Buy says prices for these gadgets range from $110 to $230.  

“This one goes under the baby, where this one goes on the diaper itself,” he said while showing us the range of options.

The one that goes under the baby is Angel Care. It tracks movement with a pad that goes in the crib, costing about $220.

To keep an eye on Grant in his early days, Lavisky picked the wearable Snuza, saying she liked its simplicity and price of about $100.

“It’s a little battery powered device that clips onto his diaper and, I would put it on the front of his diaper, and it monitors his breathing. So if he were to stop breathing, the alarm would go off,” Lavisky said.

Little Margot, born 12 weeks early, wears a different device called an Owlet. For $250, the smart sock monitors heart rate. It comes in three sizes and hooks up to a base station that pairs with your phone.

“You look and it's flashing green. OK, it’s OK. Whereas before, you're going up to bed, you’re holding her hand, you’re like, ‘Is she breathing?’” Krum said, explaining the peace of mind the Owlet gives her.

But it's not just moms of preemies who find comfort in these new products.

Amber MacDonald put the Snuza on her son, Quinn's diaper to help her feel at ease because his room is far away from hers.

“How could I tell if he was breathing if he was in another room, even if I was looking in the monitor?” she asked.

These moms admit they have had some false alarms, but blame user error. They say the Snuza can come unclipped from the diaper and beep. Amber recalls when it happened to Quinn.

“I run upstairs in probably five seconds flat and unzip his sleeper and he was breathing. The Snuza had become dislodged,” she remembered.

And the Owlet sometimes doesn't work right when you’re holding the baby, says MacDonald.

Pediatricians argued recently in Journal of the American Medical Association there's no scientific evidence that keeping tabs on a healthy baby's vital signs through these health apps is useful, and they can be inaccurate and cause paranoia.

“I think as a mom you're always paranoid. You worry about SIDS. This helps manage the paranoia,” MacDonald said.

These moms say smart technology was the smart choice for their families. 

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