Ah, the excitement of a new addition to the family. The joy, the pride, the exhaustion, the lack of sleep and personal hygiene…you get the picture. Adding a child to your family is one of the most wonderful and yet hardest things ever. Fortunately for us geeks, there are lots of technology options that can help us survive the process, keep baby happy and make sure everyone involved gets the absolute most out of the joy of parenthood.
Here are my top ten tech tips for surviving the new baby.
A. Keeping baby happy and safe
10. Baby Watching: Buy a GOOD baby monitor, not the first/cheapest one you find. A quality monitor has good sound quality, effective background noise reduction, and can let you travel around the house while keeping an ear on your bundle of joy. I don’t find the addition of video useful, but if that’s your thing, go for it. I chose a Vtech Communications Safe & Sound Digital Audio Monitor – $39.95 from Amazon – and I love it.
9. Lullaby Luxury: Most babies enjoy white noise and other calming sounds, especially at those crucial times when trying to get some shut-eye. The Tranquil Turtle works surprisingly well, as it plays calming sounds such as ocean waves or music while projecting relaxing wave patterns all around the room ($45.00 from Amazon).
8. Play Time: I’m pretty sure this generation of babies will grow up having some kind of attention deficit issue because most toys designed for their age feature lots of flashing lights and happy music. But at the end of the day a parent’s got to do what a parent’s got to do, and at least baby is getting some excellent hand eye exercise. We settled on the Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies Gym ($44.60 from Amazon), which we use every single day.
B. Keeping parents happy
7. Kick Back Time. After baby arrives (ABA) there’s precious little time to slump back and catch up with your favorite shows on the TV. You’re either cleaning up, catching your breath or preparing for Round 2. One thing we’ve found is having a nice tablet or smartphone lets you relax on the go, in any room. Any mobile options are valuable. You’ll have to select your platform of choice, we have an Apple iPad.
6. Streaming R&R. Untethering yourself from the TV also has the benefit of delivering more options for streaming cool video and using app sites for entertainment. Our favorite ABA entertainment activities include HBOGO, Hulu, and Xfinitytv.net. If you are a cord cutter (i.e. with no cable subscription), I recommend Amazon VOD, or of course iTunes . If you don’t know what services stream your favorite shows and movies, check out the excellent CanIStream.it
5. Food for the soul. No matter how conscientious you are about your eating habits, sometimes life after the little arrival forces you to compromise. Time runs out, the next errand needs doing, and at times like this a great resource is a quick Yelp takeout search. Sleep deprivation is so much easier to enjoy with a good meal inside your body.
C. Keeping relatives and loved ones happy
4. Stay in Touch. A webcam and video chat software are a must if you want to keep all the family and friends up to date with baby’s big events. Most newer notebook computers include integrated web cameras of course, and there are many free video chat options available (including Skype, Facetime, Facebook, and Google Hangouts). The Google option gives you the added benefit of being able to video conference with multiple in-laws. Oh the joy.
3. Face the Music. Social networking is a great tool for new parents, allowing you to share photos, updates, and videos on a regular basis. In addition to the best known networks, Shutterfly also has a nice free photo album sharing service. For those who gripe that you share too many (or not enough) baby updates, consider setting up Facebook lists, or Google Plus Circles so that you can target your posts to a particular audience. Or just ignore the complainers. :)
2. Photo Time. The older members of the family (I’m looking at you, grandma) may not be as comfortable with the online services and networks as everyone else, and for those types you’ll need to think differently. A good option is a digital photo frame (or even an old, unused laptop computer) which you can use to display digital photos when you’re not around. This Viewsonic 8 Inch model seems to offer a decent value for money choice at $34.99. Set it up and forget it, then you can add new photos regularly whenever you visit.
1. Snap Happy. And my #1 tech tip for surviving your new baby? You must must must keep a camera handy at all times. It doesn’t matter what type, phone, point and shoot, DSLR, just use whatever you’ve got handy. The time goes so fast and in such a blur that you will forget all the precious moments you enjoyed while this tiny being grows and develops into the perfect prince or princess. And who would want to miss such important moments as the one in the video below.