Five short years ago, technology and babies didn’t really converge. Before my first born, I distinctly remember registering for one of the first models of a video monitor. An audio monitor was high tech, but a monitor that would emit black and white videos of baby from several feet away seemed so far fetched. At that time, sweet lullabies came from crib mobiles or plush characters that complemented the nursery. Music playing devices that hooked up to ipods and were geared to babies were still a novelty, with two, maybe three options on the market. And the iphone? Yeah, that too, was a baby in 2007, making its debut in June.
Five years has been quite a whirlwind, yet a lifetime as far as parenthood goes. Since my oldest was born, we’ve gone from city dwellers to suburbanites and have watched him grow from baby to big boy. But now that the big boy is a big brother, our family has grown, too.
After my second son was born a few months ago, I was reminded of how baby toys and gear continue to evolve. That high tech black and white video monitor from five years ago is now obsolete and replaced by high definition monitors that can sense motion and even have corresponding apps on smartphones. And speaking of smartphones, the iPhone that was just a few months old when the big boy was born, has been known to lull our new baby to sleep via the output on the infant seat, among other devices.
From a power-folding stroller to night lights that change colors according to temperature: the difference in gear, toys and technology between my two boys is quite astounding. But one thing’s for sure: my kids will never know a world without the convenience of smartphones, tablets or handheld devices. In fact, according to the New York Times, for some babies, smartphones and other digital devices are quickly becoming baby’s first toy, complete with teething-friendly cases. Well, when there’s an app to replace an old fashioned rattle, it’s no surprise that an iPhone becomes tactical gear in a parents arsenal for entertaining and pacifying a baby.
Play is, no doubt, essential for a child’s development, but with apps geared to babies as young as a few months old, how young is too young for smartphones and tablets? Media consumption, in general, continues to be a hot topic for parent. As more and more apps and techy toys become available for baby, balance remains an important factor in the semantics of playtime.
For us, building blocks, colorful plush toys, and yes, an old fashioned rattle are baby’s most favorite toys at 8 months old. The kids will have plenty of screentime in the days to come. After staring at one too many screens all day every day, right now, face time—the real kind—has the most value in our playroom.