Back when I was born, the most high-tech devices available for parents were things like manual swing rockers, baby monitors that were more like walkie-talkies, and disposable cameras to capture those precious milestones (12 images at a time, of course). Now, parents have smart technology that makes the old stuff seem positively dumb by comparison. Take Babylist's Best of BabyTech Awards for 2019, for instance. The just-released list of must-have products includes remarkable gadgets that would make those poor old Teddy Ruxpin talking bear dolls lie down and weep.
Now in its fourth year, the Babylist competition invites inventors and business owners to submit their innovations in baby-related tech gear. Winners are chosen in each of six categories: Baby Health and Safety, Baby Play and Learn, Baby Sleep, Fertility and Pregnancy, Parenting, and an online Audience Favorite. The entrants are judged both by a panel of experts and by Babylist online users. This year's finalists came to the CES 2019 awards ceremony in Las Vegas, where the category winners were announced.
Babylist cites a survey by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) that found that a full 43 percent of expectant parents feel "overwhelmed" and unsure of where to start researching baby gear. Learning about products such as the Best of BabyTech winners can help parents build their registries. "We saw an 88 percent increase in entries this year, proving that baby tech is booming," Babylist editor-in-chief Rebekah Otto tells Romper. She notes that baby monitors, in particular, are becoming increasingly more sophisticated (and more expensive), but that "parents are willing to pay for innovations that solve a real problem."
Here are the products that took top honors this year. If you or someone you know is looking to build a baby registry, these items are definitely worth adding to the list.
1. Winner: Baby Sleep And Audience Favorite
This state-of-the-art baby monitor won in two categories, and it's not hard to see why: It's way more than just a video monitor. Miku actually tracks your baby's breathing, movement and sleep patterns contact-free (the device never touches your child), and sends the info to your smartphone via its app. It also records room temperature and humidity and plays lullabies for restful bedtimes. That alone would make it worth the investment, but the Miku goes even further. Its hardware encryption ensures that no outside hackers will get access to your child's images or information. Reviewers rave about the added "peace of mind" and say they can now rest as easily as their babies.
2. Winner: Fertility And Pregnancy
Women trying to conceive often track their basal body temperature (how warm the body is when at rest); right before ovulation, it goes up a bit. But it can be tough trying to take your temp at the same time every day, or keeping track of your numbers every day. The Tempdrop fertility thermometer takes the inconvenience and guesswork out of the equation. It's a wearable thermometer that straps to your arm as you sleep, keeping tabs on your body temp and a running record of the changes through its connected app. Over time, the device's smart algorithm identifies your body's patterns, and can adjust for variables such as illness or late-night shift work, giving you a clear picture of your most fertile days.
3. Winner: Baby Health & Safety
"Amazing," "A must-have," and "So thankful for this product" are just some of the raves parents give to this unique GPS tracking device. Tiny and easily attachable on or in a child's clothing, the tracker shows you exactly where your child is at any given time, be it on the school bus or in a crowded amusement park. It can be programmed to create a "geofence" with the parameters of your choice, alerting you instantly if your child goes beyond the border; you can also connect the device to trusted caregivers when your child is being watched by someone else. Parents of children with special needs who are nonverbal or who have a tendency to roam report feeling more peace of mind with the Jiobit. The device has two service options; one requires a two-year contract, or get unlimited use for $150.
4. Winner: Play & Learn
This is one electronic toy you won’t mind your child playing with. Light years beyond the Furby, Woobo is a multitasker that can ask and answer questions, play hundreds of games and songs, and help your child practice social skills. But what really makes it worth the investment: Parents can connect Woobo to their smart devices. This makes it possible for you send messages to your child during the day or on grandparent overnights, or program reminder alerts for daily activities. (Wouldn’t you rather hear “Time to brush your teeth” from a cute furry creature than from a nagging parent?)
5. Winner: Parenting
Any mom who’s ever endured months of pumping, feeling like a milk machine, and searching for private places to express will understand why this godsend took top honors. Elvie is the first-ever silent and *wearable* breast pump; it actually fits right in your bra. Babylist’s editor-in-chief reports that she tried it at work, and no one was the wiser. As if that weren’t enough, it’s easy to disassemble and clean, and can be connected to the Elvie app to track your milk volume. It’s not yet available for purchase, but you can go on the wait list through their website.
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.