The Baby Startup

Earlier this year, we welcomed our newborn daughter to the world. As it is probably a cliche to say, our lives have changed overnight, and my entire worldview has been reshaped through the eyes of a tiny human at my side. My colleagues often told me that raising a child was the toughest job they ever had. One serial entrepreneur even compared caring for a newborn with building a disruptive startup. And while I find the connection with my child a lot deeper than anything I’ve done at work, it is true that parenting can benefit from a lot of, what we call, transferable skills. Developing a long-term plan, establishing R&R with a spouse and carefully budgeting expenses are as helpful at home as they are at the office. Taking the analogy further, a skill that can transform parenting experience is the fluency with technology. I personally found tech incredibly helpful in the first weeks of my daughter’s life, and it made this time a lot less overwhelming than it could have been.

Let’s start with perhaps the most important area – access to information. Babies, as we know, are not born with manuals. And even those of us who attend prenatal courses and read-up on books often find ourselves helpless in front of a crying newborn demanding our help. This is why, countless times each day, I reach out to the internet with all kinds of questions. “Why is my baby crying?” “How much should she eat?” “What does the color of the stool mean?” “Is this squeaking sound normal?” The ability to type these queries and get instant answers has never seemed more magical than it does now. Since our daughter arrived, we have continued watching countless educational videos, reading articles and getting advice from experienced parents – all highly relevant to the immediate questions we have.

Another area that technology transforms is house chores. I’ve heard many times that what makes parents even more terrified than a sleepless night is the prospect of washing one more milk bottle. Luckily, we came across an automated bottle machine from a Singapore startup (we got to support local business!) that washes, disinfects, dries and tends all our feeding containers. Hours of time have been saved!

Next area to tackle – baby sleep. Countless books, studies and videos have been produced on this topic. And while in my experience, none of them quite reaches its marketing promises, some tips such as creating a constant white noise sound to help kids relax, were very helpful. At first, I tried to create a “ssshhhh” sound on my own, but when I started to hyperventilate, I once again turned to a technology solution – a battery-powered sound machine. Not only does the baby fall asleep faster, I find that even adults (like myself) can snooze better while listening to it.

Something that all techies are absolutely obsessed with is data, and taking care of a baby provides ample opportunities for some serious analytics. From day one, I started noting down all the minute details such as the frequency of feeding, the amount of milk the baby drank, the number of stools, the weight and other parameters. Not only is it encouraging to see the metrics going up and to the right over time, the internet also allows benchmarking the baby’s “performance” against other kids.  

As my little one reaches the first month of her life, my exploration of baby-tech is just starting. I’m confident that in the coming years I will find even more useful tools and gadgets. Besides time-saving applications, what I am most excited about is how technology will help my daughter develop as a person. I can distinctly remember the time of my childhood when our house got a dial-up Internet – my worldview, interests and circle of friends have expanded from my street and schoolyard to the entire globe. Thanks to the connections I’ve made online, people on remote continents no longer felt like “them”. Moving multiple countries later in life confirmed that we have a lot more in common than what divides us. My big hope for my daughter is that the boundaries between her and other people will become even more ephemeral, and she will grow up having deep, rich friendships all around the world. This, more than bottle washers, education games and smart toys, is the ultimate promise of technology in the years to come.

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