Paranoid Parenting: Do 'Helpful' Products Make It Worse?

Amy Keyishian
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MonitorsThe latest in ersatz SIDS prevention? These jammies, which monitor baby’s heartbeat, connects with your computer or cell phone, and lets you know, continuously, that your baby’s still breathing. It’ll also function as sort of a “mood ring,” monitoring your baby’s heart rate and skin temperature and letting you know if he’s distressed or happy.
 
Add this to the list of things that are supposed to prevent SIDS: a fan, a pacifier, an egg. Not to mention the list of things that tell you stuff about your baby that you could find out by, say, picking your baby up.
 
It all seems so silly. But since becoming a mom, even silly stuff makes me stop and wonder if I should get it. Sure, it’s a waste of money, but what if …

And here’s the larger question: Does this really help … or just make us, weirdly, less tuned-in and oddly more at risk?

When Penny was in the NICU for six weeks, many of the first pictures of us show the same thing: we’re holding the baby, but our faces are frozen in concentration as we stare at the cheerfully hued lines going across the screen, measuring her heart rate, her breathing, and her oxygen saturation. “Look at the baby, not the monitor,” the nurses told us. “Is she pink? Is she warm? Snuggle her and make sure. If she stops breathing, give her a second before you shake her. She might come out of it herself.” Most of all, they urged us to trust our senses and our instincts.
 
It was hard to do. And as much as we wanted her out of there, we were terrified to think, when we got home, that we no longer had the beeping safety net. We hated the monitors, we loved the monitors. It’s a common occurrence – so much so that we were lectured again, upon release, that we had to learn to trust ourselves and our ability to take care of the baby.
 
Things are better now; she’s hearty, strong, and spunky. But I’m an incredibly anxious mom. Is the NICU to blame, or would I be like this anyway? Who knows. I was able to resist a similar monitor that was supposed to attach to Penny’s mattress, but only because people said it set off too many false alarms.
 
I do wonder if in a larger sense, the many gadgets we have at our disposal -- GPS tracking devices for our teens, cell phones for our tweens -- are stopping us from, well, looking at our kids?
 
Is she pink? Is she warm? Snuggle her and make sure. Isn’t that the best advice no matter how old your kid is?
 
Do you buy paranoid-mom products? Do you secretly wish you could?


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