What Is A Smart Diaper?
Pampers is rolling out the Lumi this fall and it promises to not only monitor baby’s urination but his or her sleep pattern’s too. Coming with an app and a video monitor, the package price is still under wraps. They aren’t reusable; so you will need to keep on buying just like any other disposable diaper. Yes, you read that right. They’ll track baby’s pee, but not poop.
Wait, that’s not all. Huggies is also on this bandwagon to scoop up more money from Millenial moms with a line of smart diapers labeled Monit x Huggies. The brand launched it’s product in Korea last fall and it’s now on its way to the U.S. The kicker? Their product monitors for poop, but not pee. The Huggies line retailer for $249 upon its American launch. Personally, I’m usually more concerned with the parents out there who can’t afford any diaper, but now I’m equally as concerned about the parents who will opt for “smart” diapers and potentially expose their baby to risks they aren’t aware of. The journal Pediatrics reported 30 percent of mothers couldn’t afford diapers back in 2013.
Obviously, Pampers is aiming for a diapering experience that makes baby’s first year a little simpler to manage for parents. Their all-inclusive monitoring system might ease worries parents have about SIDS or hazards that can occur when they’re not fully supervising baby. The video monitoring system sounds pretty typical of products that are already out there. Have I had one? Sure. Have I used it? No. I may when they’re older, but my babies sleep in my room with me, because that’s where science says they’re safest. As far as the sensors go in monitoring the baby’s sleep patterns, I have to wonder why a parent needs a device to tell them this? I know how well my child sleeps because I’m awake and nursing him any time he’s up.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? A diaper that will alert you when your baby needs changing, versus having to monitor the diaper yourself? Honestly though, if we’re signing ourselves up to not have to monitor our child’s dirty diaper, what does that say about us? We’re not concerned about proper long-term safety testing regarding the products we will put on our child? We’re so distracted or busy with other activities that we just can’t keep an eye on our kid’s hygiene? Really? Hey, you’re preaching to the choir. I’m busy AF. Two businesses. Four kids, one special needs. Homeschooling. And I don’t have one of those men that cooks and cleans much. Ya hear me? I’m still not hooking my kid up as a smart device. Here’s why.
Smart Diapers Aren’t For Us
Often, we humans are guilty of thinking products used outside of the body in the external environment can’t possibly be that harmful. Think again. We used to actually spray DDT on people. That was before we knew better. We have a 20 to 30 percent increased risk of lung cancer just from being around second-hand smoke. For years, we were told smoking was not just safe, but good for you. That was before we knew better. You get my drift. These products haven’t been studied long enough to know for certain that they post no additional risk beyond that of non-smart diapers (which isn’t negligible, by the way).
Allegedly, the risks involved are “less than that of regular cell phone use.” News flash: regular cell phone use isn’t great for you either. A recent study of regular cell phone use in mice showed evidence of cancerous tumors in the hearts, brains and adrenal glands. Keep in mind this ten-year-long study was studying the use of primarily 2G and 3G technology. Most of the developed world is now using 4G, which serious concerns looming around the advancement to 5G. Are those concerns unwarranted? How much damage could be done by jumping on board with it before we actually know? In a world where we have class action lawsuits forming for the explosion of cell phones and batteries, where the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports 95 percent of us are using cell phones, I think it’s reasonable to ask questions about these products and demand truthful answers.
Questions we should be asking: Is the outcome of regular use the same across the board in all brands? How long were the studies carried out? Were true placebos used? Were controls in place to negate data that could otherwise alter the study outcomes? Who paid for those studies? Who carried them out?
Have we not seen enough from study after study touting the negative effects on fertility from WiFi, laptop and cell phone use by adults? What could possibly go wrong with attaching this technology to human beings from the time they are born? Some folks are going as far as to question whether these smart diapers aren’t a way to distract from injury being caused by the very ingredients in existing disposable diapers (which aren’t innocent). Not all parents of this generation are walking through life quite that blind. Many are aware of the greed that exists in corporate America and they’re tired of being viewed as a marketing prospect instead of a human being.
What We Don’t Know May Hurt Our Babies
Honestly, disposable diapers already come with enough risks in my book. Beyond the unsettled science on endocrine disruptors and fertility, another study in the journal Frontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering showed the chemicals in disposable diapers were linked to causing asthma-like conditions. It took years for us to figure it out. Disposable diapers came into play in the 1940s, and many of these studies have only been completed in the last few decades.
This is par for the course in product development. Do I expect them to study these things for sixty years? No. But I will continue to question the legitimacy of such science until proven wrong. So it stands to reason there is potential for harm here where things are being overlooked, not studied thoroughly, or not studied correctly.
Listen, this isn’t just about chemical and toxin safety either. I’m concerned about privacy. Don’t we have enough marketing content spewing forth at us in every direction we look? Did you think this was any different? That little device in your Huggie smart diaper sends data right back to the manufacturer so they know how many diapers you’re going through. They also know how often you’re changing them.
While I’m all for making sure children are clean and well cared for, are we really agreeing to sign ourselves up for that kind of parental monitoring that only one party has control over? What’s next? Is the smart diaper the first step on the path to allowing those doorbell cameras into my home so that electronics manufacturers can monitor how often I interact on a baby monitor camera with my child? Sounds Orwellian, right? So do smart diapers, to those of us who are really listening.
What Are The Alternatives?
While I’d love to give you the grand tour of all things cloth diapers and scream from the rooftops how much fun and ease is actually involved (while saving me boatloads of money), I won’t. Cloth diapers aren’t for everyone. It’s not feasible for many families and I accept that. But none of us have been using smart diapers and all of us have gotten through the day without them. Soon though, they’ll become a new product that “moms just can’t live without.” Rest assured, you can. There are other options.
You can find disposable diapers these days that are a little lower on the chemical factor and still fit the bill. I get no compensation from recommending the following brands. They’re simply “cleaner” and highly recommended. The most popular brands I see being used in my groups are:
Eco by Naty
Let’s be frank here. What are we saying about the current generation of parents if they need to be alerted to tend to the very basic core needs of their child?
We use cloth on our 7-month-old, and we check him regularly or tend to his cries when he needs to be changed. It’s absolutely grueling work (insert sarcastic eye roll), but somebody’s gotta do it. There you have it. Are there risks to smart diapers? Time will tell. I’m not keen on my children being part of the experiment. Are you?
Sources: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Toxicology Program, Frontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering, Journal Pediatrics, Sleep Research Society, Evolution, Medicine and Public Health, CDC, National Toxicology Program, International Journal of Oncology, Journal of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, Pesticide Action Network, JRBE