When my daughter was born, I thought about ways to make her nursery “smart.” I didn’t really have much experience with home automation (I was doing mostly gaming reviews here back then) and I admit that my journey started and ended with a light switch. Now don’t get me wrong because the Belkin WeMo Light Switch WAS great for middle of the night diaper changes and having to walk from the bedroom to the nursery while holding a ticking time bomb of grossness in my hands. While I could always see what I was doing and where I was going, there was a lot more that I could have done long term.
In the 3 years since, the game has changed. Nurseries can be much smarter and it isn’t just from borrowing technology that belongs in different places of the home. Your nursery can be smarter and a lot of it is technology made specifically for the baby’s room.
Well I admit, this one isn’t so original. In fact, it’s probably the one thing everybody thinks of when trying to make rooms of the home smarter. However, the smart lighting game has evolved past just switches flicking lights on and off from a distance.
You can buy smart bulbs that dim through the use of your phone or through a remote-like switch. Take Philips Hue, for example. They have a kit that allows you to achieve this through their bulbs or a manual dimmer switch. Dim lighting is a better idea for you to do middle of the night diaper changes in so that the bright lights don’t wake your child up. You’ll have plenty of those nights on their own so try to avoid them when you can.
If light tone doesn’t quite matter and you just want a switch, you have lots of options like the Belkin WeMo or the TP Link HS200 Smart Light Switch (Review here.) Fair warning – Smart light switches are among the more difficult smart devices to install, requiring things like voltage meters for safe installation. Some even require you to have a neutral wire to install in the first place. They’re a great idea but will need a bit of electrical knowhow to get going.
The baby monitor is a lot different than when my young cousins were kids, that`s for sure. I grew up keeping an eye on my cousins through an audio-only Fisher Price baby monitor. Video baby monitors weren’t a thing back then and it was hard to tell when they were awake, asleep or just stirring.
The video baby monitor field is wide open. You can buy dedicated video baby monitors or can even go fancier with an IP Camera. I recently stumbled upon a friend’s Facebook status where he showed off the fact that his video monitor was a Nest Cam. Using an IP Camera like that one gives you the usual access to a lot of features of a video baby monitor (like two way communication and night vision) but they also give you great access to things like apps where you can monitor from anywhere and even cloud storage. Using an IP camera for this purpose also means that you can ditch the usual monitoring device and just use your phone or tablet for that purpose.
Do you remember what I said about nursery-specific smart home devices though? Smart video baby cameras are quickly becoming a thing too. There aren’t many out there, but 2017 might be a breakout year for them. Netgear’s Arlo division recently announced their own dedicated smart baby monitoring camera, while European company Withings has had lullaby and soft lighting features on their Home HD camera for the past couple years.
There are also some in-between cameras as well. If you want the best of both worlds, look to the Motorola 3.5″ WiFi Video Baby Monitor. Not only does it come with a local monitoring device but you can sync it up to the Hubble app and get notifications sent to your smartphone or tablet.
Did you know they make wearable technology for babies? This is something that hasn’t quite caught on, but probably will start to become a “thing” as more tech savvy parents become aware of things like the Monbaby wearable smart button. This is the most versatile baby wearable there is. While other wearables (yes there are a small handful of them!) require you to adapt to their clothing choices like slotting the device onto one of their branded onesies, Monbaby works on whatever you clip it to and connects to your phone via low frequency Bluetooth.
Monbaby is a button style wearable that clips onto the chest area of your baby’s clothing and monitors how they sleep and how well they’re breathing at night. If your baby wakes up, rolls over or stops breathing for periods of time, the monitor blares a loud alarm to alert you to go check what’s happened. As a result, this is really just a good idea for the first 6 months or so of your baby’s life before they start being able to sleep and roll freely. Since it’s recommended that your newborn sleeps on their back from birth, this helps keep the “back to sleep” campaign top of mind and put your mind at ease while your baby gets some sleep. If you’re interested in reading more about this wearable, I reviewed Monbaby at the end of 2015 with the help of my friend’s newborn.
Smart Baby Care
Things to measure baby’s temperature
As any parent of a sick child can attest, it’s next to impossible to take a baby’s temperature. It has taken nearly 3 years of convincing my daughter to let me use an ear thermometer. It’s just not worth it. Thankfully, a few companies agree.
Let’s start with the previously mentioned Withings. Withings has perhaps the most stylish and non-invasive thermometer in the history of baby care. The Withings Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer is one of the neatest looking thermometers and takes temperature with a sweep across the forehead. Nothing goes in the ear, mouth or elsewhere. It’s really unconventional but has the stamp of approval from the FDA and Boston Children’s Hospital.
Then there’s Kinsa. Kinsa was the first to the market with an FDA Approved smart thermometer and it’s stood the test of time. The Kinsa Smart Thermometer is an inexpensive yet crafty way of taking your baby’s temperature. Not only does it easily take your child’s temperature (and come with an app full of stall tactics so your child stays still) but the entire system helps track sickness and temperature and even help you pass information to your doctor.
Things to measure the nursery
My daughter was a spring baby which meant that she was around 3 months old when summer (and my temperature anxiety) hit. Babies’ bodies can’t help regulate their own temperature for around 3 months after birth, which means that you can bundle them up as warm as possible and they will not sweat in response. That isn’t a good thing. The optimal bedroom sleeping temperature for a baby is between 16-21 celsius but it’s really hard to measure that with any consistency. Grab a device that does it for you like the Netatmo Healthy Home Coach. It does it all. Room temperature, noise levels, humidity and even air quality. The Healthy Home coach even pushes you recommendations and can track trends over time. It’s a really good helper to have around the nursery so that you can help your child sleep (and let’s face it, you too) sleep comfortably.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on building a smart nursery. While the one “smart” option I think all parents should have will probably never exist (self changing diapers,) you can definitely up the smart game in your nursery today with a few things here and there.