Judgment-Free Parenting by Computer

Parenting is a snap with the right technology. Here are three gadgets that remind or tell you what to do, and one that does it for you.

Photo of a Goodnight Sleep Trainer hand-held gadget with an LCD screen and three physical buttons.

Goodnight Sleep Trainer by 4 Moms is a substitute for reading a book on the cry-it-out Ferber method of getting a baby to sleep. Intended for infants 3 months and up, this hand-held gadget contains a progressive timer that tells you how long to wait before comforting your baby and then letting him cry some more (aka learning to self-soothe).

  1. Push the “down to sleep” button.
  2. Push “Crying” when baby cries, initiating the progressive timer.
  3. When timer finishes, comfort baby, then push “Done checking” to initiate a new timer.
  4. Stop the timer when the baby falls asleep.
  5. Push “up to play” when sleep time is over.
  6. Connect to the Internet to track your data collection. Fascinated? Read the manual [PDF].

Don’t feel bad about your beet-red sweat-drenched baby manically screaming. The machine says it’s not time yet to intervene.

Photo of a Why Cry baby cry analyzer gadget that somewhat resembles a square digital alarm clock.

WhyCry Baby Crying Analyzer tells you why your baby is crying. Plunk this beauty next to your crying baby and after 20 seconds the icon of a baby’s face lights up to indicate the baby is one of the following:

  • Hungry
  • Bored
  • Annoyed
  • Sleepy
  • Stressed

How do we know the machine is correct? Trust in the company’s assurance that it’s been clinically tested to be 90% reliable. I trust that they probably genetically engineered an infant who could speak straight from birth in order to tell us whether he really was crying because he was bored.

Hey, now you can spend even more time reading blogs, twittering and thumbing your BlackBerry. Put out of your mind the antiquated notion of bonding with your baby and the whacky idea that you could know your baby’s emotional state and needs long before he even cries. Now you can live your life just as you did before you became a parent, pausing occasionally to service your baby unit.

Photo of an ITZBEEN hand-held gadget with an LCD screen and five buttons and a switch.

ITZBEEN by Coast Innovations is a baby care timer for making obsolete your wrist watch and the dry erase board on your refrigerator. This hand-held gadget tracks how much time has passed since your baby last slept, fed or had its diaper changed. A bonus timer can be used for medications or whatnot, and a nursing reminder marks which boob was suckled last. An optional alarm can be set for each timer.

I especially like the idea of maximizing the time my baby boy spends stewing in a dirty diaper. I’ll select an arbitrary number of times I want to change a diaper every day, divide by 24 hours and shazaam, parenting just got a whole lot easier. YES!

Sadly, the ITZBEEN lacks the all-important track-data-on-the-Internet option.  I remember reading about an up-and-coming competing baby care timer that does offer web tracking. If you know the name, please drop me a note.

Photo of a Suima baby crib and remote control.

Suima Crib puts a price on the personal attention you give your baby at nap time, about $4,500 to $5,500. Made at the Kyuushuu University in Japan, the crib is only available in Nippon at the moment.

This automated crib has a sensor that detects when your infant is crying. The entire crib then rocks back and forth every 1.8 seconds in a gentle swaying motion. Don’t worry Little One. Suima Crib loves you.

[Link via Thinga-reader Andrew Fields.]

Cat’s in the Cradle anyone?


11 Responses to “Judgment-Free Parenting by Computer”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Wow. This removes all common sense, responsibility, human interaction and any emotional attachment. I know I got a lot of boos for thinking the Baby Blackberry was pretty funny, but this is plain old wrong on so many levels.

    February 5th, 2009 at 6:26 am

  2. Mary says:

    Talk about lazy parenting. I realized that it is nice to have your hands free to get things done, but ultimately it is a parent’s responsibility to soothe and comfort their child. Otherwise they will grow to not trust in the adults to comfort them but objects. Oh, and the devices…don’t get me started on those. The sleep trainer..we prefer a Sears approach with attachment parenting. Worked great for us with our son, doing great with our daughter, and we have happier, less fussy babies. As for the crying device, I sometimes don’t know why my daughter cries (I think she’s just trying to test me).
    Besides with all these devices, how are you going to fit the diapers and wipes in your diaper bag. Technology can be a great thing, but sometimes it is just too much.

    February 5th, 2009 at 6:33 am

  3. Allison says:

    Those are evil. I didn’t comment on the baby blackberry because although I dislike it and wouldn’t buy it I think that mostly has to do with me and not anything all that evil about the device.

    These on the other hand just seem to encourage child neglect!

    Ok not the baby translator one, that one is just useless. Reminds me of the dog translator sharper image used to cell.

    February 5th, 2009 at 8:34 am

  4. Sara says:

    All seem like silly devices to track what common sense can do, along with a pencil if necessary. I would forget to push buttons, and then the machine would be mad at me that I hadn’t changed or fed baby in hours, days or even weeks.

    February 5th, 2009 at 8:55 am

  5. KGS says:

    I actually like the rocking crib. Presumably parents would go get the crying baby if the rocking didn’t soothe her fairly quickly, so it seems worth a try. A baby swing was often the only place my daughter would tolerate being put down as an infant, so a swinging crib might have let me get a little more sleep. Even on our worst nights (she was once awake for 14 hours straight at 3 weeks, which I thought was supposed to be physically impossible!) I would have balked at $5000, though.

    The timers seem unnecessary to me personally. Again, presumably parents would use some common sense and override the timers whenever they needed to.

    February 5th, 2009 at 9:13 am

  6. vickie jacobs says:

    A wise nurse/midwife once told me that if you love, nurture, and make yourself available to your child when they are babies, they will become an independent, resourceful, intelligent, kind person. Someone you would love to have as a friend. My two adult children are now my dearest friends. There are no shortcuts for remarkable parenting.

    February 5th, 2009 at 11:53 am

  7. Erin says:

    The Itzbeen Timer was actually great for us in the first few months, and especially when our son was first born. He had jaundice and tried to sleep past times he needed to nurse, so we set the feeding timer to beep if it went past four hours. It also helped us learn his sleep and feeding cycles, and to notice changes in his trends. He fed and slept on demand, but it helped us to be even more aware of subtler cues for eating and sleeping. Yes, we could have used paper and pencil, but it was easier to find this when it was clipped to us or on the bedside table. We were taking any parenting reassurance and reinforcement we could get!

    February 5th, 2009 at 2:40 pm

  8. Markus says:

    Regarding the baby care timer on the web:

    How about the Trixie Tracker at


    Not really new, but comparable in functionality to the itzbeen tracker.

    February 5th, 2009 at 4:08 pm

  9. Teacher Jennifer says:

    Thank you, AJ, for once again reminding me what a wonderful (device-free) parent I really am. I think I’ll go lay down now.

    February 6th, 2009 at 10:47 am

  10. Jen says:

    I can almost see the need for a timer with alarm if you have a small child who needs to take medicine regularly. It might help prevent missed/ repeated doses. Other than that, though, I think that all of these seem really ridiculous.

    February 6th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

  11. Amber says:

    Wow. I would’ve LOVED that rocking crib when my son was an infant.

    Not because I wanted to be neglectful and unresponsive to my child’s needs, but because my son used to get up almost every half an hour for the first 6 months of his life. Not to mention the fact that he tended to wake up after 5 minutes in his crib, because it wasn’t moving like I was when I was holding him.

    I see nothing wrong with a little help. If that had let me get two hours of consecutive sleep once in a while, it would have been worth it.

    As with everything, there are ways to abuse technology, and ways to have it help you tremendously.

    You people with easy babies need not judge so harshly. ;)

    February 7th, 2009 at 7:05 am