New parents can now monitor the development of their newborns through various apps. However, these tools that are supposed to comfort and liberate parents can become a source of anxiety at any time.
On December 29, 2020, Lucy’s baby ate milk 4 times, with a total duration of 2 hours and 23 minutes, 54 minutes on the left breast and 1 hour and 29 minutes on the right breast. Lucy changed her diapers 6 times in total, one of which was with poop. The little guy slept a total of 6 times, with a total duration of 11 hours and 1 minute… A year has passed, why does Lucy still have information with an accuracy comparable to that of a sports timer? That’s because during the most hectic first few months of her baby’s life, she recorded all the information in an app on her phone called Baby. One is also installed in her husband’s phone, and their information can be synchronized between the two of them.
| Taking care of both parenting and sleep |
Digitally record a newborn’s daily, weekly, and monthly growth changes, and present them in color charts, which are paid or free software such as “Baby Management”, “Baby Tracking” and “Baby” function. There are various icons on it: a diaper to represent the number of times the baby has passed, a bra (left or right) to represent the state of the breastfeeding, a moon to represent the state of sleep, etc. The interfaces of these software are mostly soft and colorful, and parents and mothers can swipe the screen to view photos of their babies.
A few years ago, people began to use mobile phone software to record their exercise steps, heart rate and calories burned while running, and adjust their sleep according to the mobile phone’s suggestions. Today, people are again measuring things other than themselves—one’s own children. Users can use the mobile phone software to record the number of times they change diapers, and rate the degree of dirtiness of the diapers (by uploading photos), and accurately record the baby’s crying or feeding time. Here, the baby is quantified.
The apps are designed to make life easier for new parents looking to “balance parenting and sleep.” Xavier Lornay, who designed and launched the BabyConnect app in 2009, said: “When I was a new dad, I used to get up in the middle of the night to cover my wife’s shift, but I didn’t know if the baby had been fed or not. Not knowing if the diaper was changed…and I don’t want to wake up my wife for that.” His app has been downloaded 1 million times since launch, translated into 11 languages, and has 100,000 monthly active users , 80% of which are in the United States. According to Kavita Harrison, the customer service director of the app “Baby”, the app was designed by a British couple and has been translated into 22 languages. It has 1.1 million monthly active users, of which 85,000 are in France. The French government is promoting a new app and website, “The First 1,000 Days of Life,” which will guide new parents from trying to conceive until the child is two years old. Parents can click on different stages according to their own conditions (early pregnancy, childbirth, 0 to 3 months, etc.) to obtain information and suggestions, and can also synchronize events in the calendar to the app to record appointment information such as pediatricians and vaccines.
| Monumental stats|
In order to “minimize technical communication as much as possible”, Paris-based graphic designer Dario downloaded the “Baby Manager” app in 2016, the year his son was born. He explained: “We don’t have time to talk about parenting all day long, and this app relieves us of the mental burden in this area.” Of course, there are some uncertainties, such as the precise time when the baby falls asleep, etc. Once the child’s sleep became more regular, the couple no longer needed the app. However, Daario kept the data because he felt that if it was deleted, “it would be a little sentimental, it would feel like losing a hobby”.
Eric Daguilar, a sociologist at the Center for the Study of Social Relations at the University of Paris, who works on self-quantification tools, said of the monumental function of these applications: “In the long run, these data are monumental, and they provide The most important thing is to commemorate children and the relationship between parents and children, just like children’s health records passed on to the next generation.” From this perspective, these applications are the digital expression of parents’ love for children, and they are another way to love children.
| Double-edged sword|
These apps are especially popular with novice parents. Faced with their first child, these parents pay special attention to every subtle move of the child, even if they hear the baby’s first fart, they are unwilling to miss it. In addition, new parents will feel anxious when faced with difficult problems. Sarah, who now lives in Paris and whose son was born at the end of 2019, said: “The main function of the ‘Baby Tracker’ app is to give me peace of mind. I will never understand why he is crying, so I will record everything: Diaper changes time for breastfeeding, time for bathing…” This is like an “exorcism” ritual performed by parents to eliminate anxiety: since many things are out of control, newborns will always encounter various dangers, we can only hope Peace of mind. Sara jokingly said: “We should all remember things like breastfeeding and napping! My wife has never opened this app, and he trusts his instincts more. I am different. I am a bit technical and like to talk to data. Deal with people and get used to solving all problems with apps.”
She recommended Baby Tracker to her friend Lucy. Lucy, 35, is a psychologist and her daughter was born in September 2020. “My baby is breastfed. Since confinement, I have had to deal with countless bells reminding me of what to do and what not to do, and the baby’s constant crying. I have heard that one breast should not be fed for longer than 15 minutes, but my daughter eats for an hour at a time. So, I click on the left side of the app to feed, then start the timer, and switch to the other side after a quarter of an hour.” Lucy said frankly. Lucy, who previously used period and pregnancy apps to track herself, now uses Baby Tracker to track when her baby feeds, and she reviews the data before seeing her pediatrician.
Such detailed documentation brought more than comfort during Lucy’s more fragile postpartum period. “This application may be a double-edged sword. Breastfeeding and sleeping have almost become an obsession, because we desperately want to see the pattern. However, if we want to see the pattern from the chart, we must enter the information on time. Once Forget, and it will lead to errors,” said Lucy. In this way, a tool originally intended to appease and liberate parents can become a source of anxiety at any time.
At the extreme, we worry that these tools will create a mechanized parent-child relationship that prevents the formation of instinctive, trusting relationships. “A friend of mine downloaded the app before my son was born,” Dalio said. “I remember saying to him: ‘This is horrible! You turned your son into a number!’ Outsiders It seems that this method is indeed somewhat mechanical and cold, but in fact, only those who are in it know how convenient it is.” Julian, a 34-year-old project director who lives in Toulouse, uses the “Baby Management” application purely Because of its “practicability”, he said: “Our daughter has gastroesophageal reflux problem, this app can help us monitor her diet. When she was six months old, the reflux problem disappeared completely. , we uninstalled the app.” However, he admitted that his wife uses it more frequently, and she often visits the forums in the app, and sometimes it is inevitable to lose herself.
So, how to explain the irregular behavior of newborns? Paris-based couple Jules Grandin and Clara Dillerbertot are graphic designers with a passion for data. Their daughter was born on March 15, 2020, before Paris was locked down due to the new crown epidemic. After the closure of the city, they spent a lot of time at home and spent time with their daughter. In Clara’s view, “babies are an incredible source of data, and everything about children can be told through graphs.” Zhu Er added: “Both of us are actually interested in topics that are not easy to quantify, such as music, literature, etc.” In the end, they registered a social network platform account and named it “Little Big Data”. Then published a book – “Illustrated Baby”, which uses data to tell the growth process of her daughter before one year old. There are graphs on sleep and diaper changes, as well as graphs on “babies’ love for the changing table,” a “distribution of crying causes” (with “unclear cause” accounting for 40%), and “can be bottle-fed”. time” (ending with a dozen offshoots, ending in complete uncertainty). So new parents can rest easy: Even with quantitative tools, parenting remains an inexact science.
| From smart baby socks to smart rocking chairs|
New parents are full of insecurities and anxieties, but their worries related to their children’s health can still be alleviated by consumption.
In France, a survey titled “1,000 things that scare parents the most” ranked sudden infant death at the top of the list. Every year, 300 newborns die suddenly in France, a phenomenon that has not been explained so far. Seeing an opportunity, manufacturers have created a variety of baby products to reassure new parents, while emphasizing that they are not selling pharmaceutical products. These include: smart baby socks (worth more than 300 euros), which parents can use to track their child’s heart rate and blood oxygen levels in the lungs of the child’s sleep on a smartphone; Remind parents when the child is sleeping on their stomach; video surveillance, with night vision, humidity and air quality monitoring functions; smart rocking chair, parents can remotely control the shaking mode through the application – swing, seesaw, car, wave and kangaroo mode. This last kangaroo model is obviously more attractive than the other models, but the safety factor is unknown, because the instructions do not state that cushioning should be placed around the rocking chair.