"Alexa, help me with the baby!"
Everyone’s heard of the hands-free tech that can help your home run smoothly by making phone calls, turning lights on and off and performing other tasks. The fact that the smart home devices are hands-free is a huge value to new parents, but how can Google and Alexa specifcally help parents of newborns and little ones? And is one better than the others?
Our pick for an in home voice assistant is Amazon's Echo -more commonly known as Alexa- to help you with your newborn, infant and older kids. Here's why:
- Integrate with Amazon Prime:
Order diapers, groceries and other essentials for 2-hour or same day delivery. With delivery, you'll never be without diapers, wipes, groceries and other home essential. This means convenience, but also safety because won't have to bring your newborn out to the crowds in grocery stores or other large shopping centers where germs are everywhere. This is even more of a lifesave for parents with newborn twins and triplets.
Expectign parents can also sign up for discounts and ongoing tips and coupons before baby arrives.
- Play white noise...safely:
White noise, or reproducing the gentle "shhhh" sound baby is used to hearing in the womb, is a well known way to calm babies and help them get to and stay asleep. There are concerns however that white noise that's too loud or too close to babies' ears can harm hearing and speech development. Playing white noise via the Echo means parents can control the volume and duration of white noise, as well as keeping the actual device far enough from baby to not cause any harm.
- Secure baby monitor:
The Echo Dot (audio only) or Echo Show (for audio and visual) can be purchased as companions to the main device and can moved from room to room for safe monitoring of baby's nursery and other areas. Because the Echo is typically tied into your home wifi, hacking is rare, but for extra protection, families can password protect or even use fingerprint authentication to secure Alexa.
- Play music, jokes and stories of course!
Ask Alexa to play gentle chimes, dance-party music, kid-friendly jokes or even tell a story to help engage the whole family. We personally like this better than kids TV programming -or worse yet, the news!- droning on in the background of a home. No commercials and families can get moving, laugh and talk together without having to sit around the television.
- Enable "Baby Stats"
Baby Stats is Amazon's skill to track diaper changes, feedings, weight, pumping sessions and sleep. Breastfeeding moms never have to worry about forgetting which side baby last nursed on and parents have all baby's vital information ready for the pediatrician. This is another lifesaver for parents of multiples! Baby Stats also stores this information so it can be shared by babysitters, nannies and anyone else caring for baby. For pregnant moms, Baby Stats can also provide a daily "kick count" and due date countdown.
As with all electronic devices, experts warn that usage should be limited. In an NPR interview, Solace Shen a psychologist at Cornell University who studies how children interact with robots, said: "These devices offer more engagement and interaction than just passively watching TV, but that interaction is still impoverished compared to talking to a parent or teacher." Shen says to treat Alexa as you would a tablet, with strict limits. If you have more Alexa tips, let us know!