Techno Parenting: Tracking baby’s every breath, poop and babble with an app!

According to a Wired story, the latest trend in parenting is tracking (and graphing) with computer software every poop, babble, cry and minute of sleep your baby experiences.

With the help of Web sites such as Trixie Tracker and of course your iPhone (because there’s an app for that) parents can record in mere seconds the most mundane statistics to help them know that their child is developing “normally” and on par with his peers.

Wired interviewed Allen Fawcett and his wife about their tracking of their baby’s diaper changing, feeding and naps – for three years!

“With the help of the Trixie Tracker website, they know they’ve changed exactly 7,367 diapers for their three-year-old son and 969 for their three-month-old daughter. They also have a graph of precisely how many minutes each of their children slept on nearly every day since birth. During their daughter’s first month, the data shows she averaged 15 hours of sleep a day, which is two hours more than her brother at the same age and well above average for other Trixie Tracker babies ….”

The Fawcetts are both economists according to the story so I think their interest in numbers and tracking trends comes honestly to them, but it’s not just them!

“Fifteen years ago, tracking your baby’s development meant going to the pediatrician every few months and recording his growth on a simple height and weight chart. Today, baby tracking is a booming business. In addition to websites that let you track your infant’s schedule, there are iPhone apps that translate and record your baby’s cries, wearable devices that keep track of how much you talk to your child, and even electronic toys that record how your child plays with them, so you can compare his progress to developmental norms….”

In the past parents have been encouraged by pediatricians and lactation consultant to write down during the first week or two of life, the baby’s intake of breastmilk/formula, the number of wet diapers and the hours that they sleep. Your doctor just mainly wants to know if they are getting enough to eat.

I did keep a hand-written chart for each child for the first week or so until we knew they were getting enough breastmillk and weren’t dehydrated. Most of friends kept charts too – for the first week!!

I know you all think I’m a crazy helicopter parent, but even to me this trend seems obsessive and to some extent harmful.  Here’s the downside according to Wired:

“According to pediatricians and child development experts, however, this new obsession with quantifying our kids has a potential downside, especially when parents cross the line from merely tracking an infant’s schedule to obsessing over developmental milestones and worrying about how baby measures up to her peers.”

The story continues to talk about a bunch of different software programs that you let you also track how your kids play and learn.

What do you think of the Techno Parent Tracking trend (I just named it that!)? Are you tracking stats on your baby? If so what? Why? And for how long do you intend to track?

What tracking is useful and what is crazy competitive? How will this manifest itself when these kids hit elementary school? Will the kids be focused also on how they compare with their peers?

At what age, should you stop writing down when your kid poops?

43 comments Add your comment

JATL

December 14th, 2009
9:45 am

This is ridiculous!!!! Who ARE these people? This reminds me of something the Rick Moranis character in the movie “Parenthood” would do -and the whole point of his character was to show how nutty and obsessive yuppie parents were becoming back in the early 90s! I, too, kept the first week log for my newborns on breastfeeding, pees and poops so we would know they were getting enough milk and not getting dehydrated. Beyond that, if you’re doing this you have WAY too much time on your hands and your kid is going to be a neurotic freak.

TnT's Mom

December 14th, 2009
9:56 am

This trend is ridiculous. The first 2 weeks or so, yeah maybe write things down, but after than, no. This type of stuff is extreme. Should these parents be focusing on the baby and their interactions with her instead of the numbers and stats?

...

December 14th, 2009
10:31 am

Apparently, some people have a lot more time than I do.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 14th, 2009
10:33 am

I thought it would stop if they had a second child — there’s no time for that stuff — BUT that first guy they talk to has a second child — but I think they are odd because they are economists — I bet for the most part this applies to parent with their firsts —

lakerat

December 14th, 2009
10:37 am

Wow, and most of us, and most of our children, survived without all this “documentation”! How did we ever do it? What a waste of some good time!

Photius

December 14th, 2009
10:42 am

I fear what type of self consumed, self absorbed Me Generation child these parents are raising. Parents for over 20 years have been raising the most Narcissistic generation ever and its only getting worse.

Sterilize these parents, now.

JATL

December 14th, 2009
10:52 am

I keep trying to post this comment and it keeps telling me I’ve already said that, so let’s see if it will post it this way:

This is ridiculous!!!! Who ARE these people? This reminds me of something the Rick Moranis character in the movie “Parenthood” would do -and the whole point of his character was to show how nutty and obsessive yuppie parents were becoming back in the early 90s! I, too, kept the first week log for my newborns on breastfeeding, pees and poops so we would know they were getting enough milk and not getting dehydrated. Beyond that, if you’re doing this you have WAY too much time on your hands and your kid is going to be a neurotic freak.

cld

December 14th, 2009
10:55 am

Wow. I can believe first-time parents might track those stats for a little while . . . but I think it would get old after a few weeks – three months at most. I’m sure it probably only takes a few seconds each time to pull up the app, record the number in the appropriate category, and be on with your day . . . but over a period of three years, how much time have those parents *wasted* recording information that adds next to no value to their lives? There was a topic several weeks (months?) ago about whether non-parents waste their time. In my opinion, these parents are wasting time.

I kept diaper-sleep-nurse records on my son for the first 10 days. That’s it. And he’s only 18 months old. Aside from that, I’ve always had a rough idea of how many diapers/potty trips per day, how many hours sleeping, etc. Is it really necessary for me to know whether it was 10 hours Monday night and 10.25 hours Tuesday night? No. Unless there are major disruptions for mulitple days at a time, it’s all water under the bridge.

Allie

December 14th, 2009
11:27 am

Can someone please tell me what these apps are supposed to achieve??? Are they going to pull out his baby stats years down the road, and go through his poop schedule with his girlfriend, like we do with embarrassing baby photos now?????

Andrea

December 14th, 2009
11:30 am

I think the technology is great and would probably be most useful with a premature baby or an ill child, where tracking their activities is important to their development. When my preemie was born, we had to track everything for the first year and then had to continue tracking some things (but not all) through the second year.

While I do think the parents they profiled are zealous, I do think the technology could be used in a good way.

DB

December 14th, 2009
11:35 am

This is a perfect example of “TMI” – too much information! Good grief, it was all I could do to finish the baby book, much less document every bodily function!

Can you spell O-B-S-E-S-S-I-V-E?

Meme

December 14th, 2009
12:06 pm

Sounds like something some first time moms would do but once they get that second or third (or more) baby, probably not. My niece scalded everything with the first one and now it is just pick it up and blow it off.

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DB

December 14th, 2009
12:44 pm

@Meme: Ah, the “5-second rule” — if it fell on the floor and landed for less than 5 seconds, it’s still good. :-) Or the “magic pocket”, where you pick it up off the floor, stick it in you pocket, then forget why you stuck it in your pocket when you give it back to ‘em later!

nurse&mother

December 14th, 2009
12:57 pm

Wow! Seriously???? Ok, for once (and probably one of the FEW times), I will have to agree with Photius.

Some people obviously have too much time on their hands to analyze a bunch of CRAP (pun intended).

Nicole

December 14th, 2009
1:08 pm

I had a son who WOULD NOT sleep and I did try to track a lot of stuff in Excel trying to figure it out. What worked and what didn’t. I wish I had software to help me do that! I think if you have a “smooth” parenting experience, this might be overkill, but if you have some kind of challenge (preemie, jaundice, sleep, allergies, etc.), I think this is very helpful. Now I have a whole site about sleep and president of Babble Soft (http://www.babblesoft.com), which competes with Trixie Tracker. It really only takes a few seconds once you get the hang of it and when sometimes there is a working parent who wants to be involved, it can really help people feel “connected” and know what’s going on. I do admit that it takes a certain type of personality to want this much information about their baby. :)

nurse&mother

December 14th, 2009
1:24 pm

I think the thing that baffles, me is that I myself am on the verge of being a helicopter parent and can be a little obsessive at time (getting better last few years). But even I can’t imagine using such a thing. (And that speaks volumes).

Nicole

December 14th, 2009
1:34 pm

@nurse&mother I think it boils down to how analytical you are. Do you look for patterns in things? I am analytical by nature and very visual so “seeing” how much my baby was sleeping or not was my way of coping and trying to figure things out. If you aren’t analytical, you *won’t* like having data. You won’t do anything with it and it will just feel like one more thing to do. But, if your baby is screaming for 2 hours every night at 5pm and you start to see a pattern when he doesn’t get enough sleep the day before, you might start to learn he’s really overtired and needs to sleep more, as one example. I don’t think this is about helicopter parenting or not. It’s about finding patterns and gaining insight into your baby’s rhythms and schedule. Some people will like it and some won’t. It’s nothing against one or the other, in my opinion. It’s just whether you like “seeing” things “on paper” or not. Many people use pen & paper to do just that. When you’re a tired mom, sometimes it’s just hard to see the forest for the trees. Sure, you can use your checkbook the old fashioned way to balance your checking account, but many people use Quicken, now, right? I see it as the same. And, some don’t balance their accounts at all. :)

Nicole

December 14th, 2009
1:49 pm

Oh and one more important note is that if your child requires medication (think premature babies) where every dose is very important to get right and you have multiple caregivers, tracking who gives what at what time can actually be the difference between life and death. Will everyone need this much information? No. But, it does help those who do, whether it’s just for “fun” for the analytical types or a nervous new mom who just went back to work and wants to “check in” with the nanny if little Suzie is eating enough of her expressed breast milk but not call the nanny a million times a day or if you, your husband, and grandma needs to synch up medication giving, it’s just a tool to help parents with the many details of baby care.

KPG

December 14th, 2009
1:52 pm

I used a paper scheduling system for the first year of my baby’s life and even now, when I have a baby sitter, we use it to foster communication. Had I known about the online products, I may have tried that. I don’t really see what the issue is. When you don’t know what you’re doing, not getting much sleep and have no one to talk to, it helps to put things on “paper.” I could track if my baby was having reactions to what she was eating, how she was sleeping ,etc and now I have a wonderful log of my baby’s first year. But more important, if this type of system helps someone, I’m not sure why everyone needs to put it down. We’re in an age of technology and if someone enjoys using such a system it’s a personal choice. I don’t think anyone needs to spend time being so negative about someone else’s parenting style.

Claire

December 14th, 2009
2:05 pm

My sister had her first child on October 10. She is technology savy, but I think one app she has on her iphone is GREAT. She used it when she went into labor and it kept track of her contractions- she hit two buttons- start, stop. It kept track of how long they lasted, how far apart they were, etc. She used it for diapers for the first few weeks, and now she uses an app for nursing. It just keeps track of what side she used, what time he started, and what time he stopped.
I don’t think it’s necessarily obsessive or anything- she is a VERY organized person (a skill I did not get, unfortunately) But these are the kinds of things a lot of people would write down to keep track of, why not do it on the phone? She won’t keep track of how much he eats all his life, or his poop pattern… but it’s helpful for while she’s nursing.

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The Momster

December 14th, 2009
2:53 pm

I breastfed and raised 3 healthy children, and NOT ONCE did I ever track how much they ate, from which side, etc. Today’s parents seem to be obsessed and overly involved with the minutiae of daily life. The more relaxed you are about parenting, the more relaxed your child will be. When my first child was a week old and I was worried about her “schedule”, the woman who was helping me out threw my parenting guide under the couch and told me that by the time I felt like retrieving it, I wouldn’t need it anymore. She told me to listen to my child, and not to a bunch of experts because my child was unique. That was about the best advice I ever got!

deidre_NC

December 14th, 2009
3:21 pm

the only thing i tracked even a little bit was which side was last nursed on..and even that was done seldom….with my first-my grandmother in law would have loved this device..she wanted all details on every bowel movement..details i couldnt give her…my kids all pooped-peed-ate-they just did what they did..i never tracked it..weird i think…maybe for baby that is born with health problems and needs lots of medsor something…and for people with severe illnesses it would probably be a good thing…when my grandfather had cancer i never knew how my grandmother kept up with all his meds…she had a major chart…he had so many pills to be taken at so many different times…i could see the use of a device for somethign like this…not for just normal stuff tho.

Becky

December 14th, 2009
3:57 pm

@THE MOMSTER..My sister breast fed twins, then two years later breast fed a singles birth and I agree with you..Never once did she keep track of any of these things..We’ve had 2 premie babies in our family and neither of the Moms for them kept track of any of this stuff..I guess if this is the kind of stuff that floats your boat, great, if no, I see no reason to keep up with any of this..

New Stepmom

December 14th, 2009
4:43 pm

Oh good lord….we registered last week for our little boy that is due the end of May. I am amazed at the “stuff” that is available and we did not register for much of it. Basic bedding, stroller/car seat, and a swing is all we need. I refused the wipe warmer and shopping cart cover as I see those as the most ridiculous items ever…..Thank goodness for hand me downs from my nephew and other friends for toys and such!

I can see tracking some sleeping habits if the little one is having issues, but beyond that I agree with those that do not have time for that. I know I will not have the time nor will I make the time. Jeez…

new mom

December 14th, 2009
5:00 pm

Hey guys!
I had to take a minute (about all I have) and comment here on this topic. I do jot down when I feed our baby and on which side, mainly for convenience–so I don’t have to rely on my memory as to when she was fed last. Plus, it’s so helpful for my husband, who can glance at the notepad and say ‘oh no wonder she’s fussy, it’s been almost three hours!’ :) I also put a check mark down when she poops, just so I don’t have to remember that she’s gone that day. But I don’t write down the time or anything, I do a tiny check mark. But it’s sooo not obsessive, it’s more of a habit then anything. Plus, I have been known to look through it later on, like I did w/ our now two-year old, and reminisce. Or just observe that the child sure ate and pooped a lot.

All that other stuff? Being scientific about it? If that floats your boat, fine. Unless the baby has some conditions that you need to track all of this for, it just seems like your baby is more a lab rat in a science experiment then a baby who craves one-on-one interaction as well as skin to skin contact and eye contact. Are those parents tracking that too? I just don’t have time for much other stuff these days…this happens to be a rare moment that both girls are asleep at the same time!

And I’m thinking of changing my online name, I just don’t feel like a new mom anymore. Not necessarily experienced, just old! How do y’all feel about ’sweetgirls’mommy’?

Becky

December 14th, 2009
5:18 pm

@new mom, that sounds like a great new name..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 14th, 2009
5:19 pm

I don’t know — I like newmom — you do have a newborn!!! you can change it if you like …..

nurse&mother

December 14th, 2009
6:29 pm

Nicole, actually I am relatively analytical. I did keep up with if the kids had bowel movements, when they ate etc. I just didn’t feel the need to write it all down. When I left the little one with my husband, he would always ask me when he last ate. I breastfed both babies and didn’t have to write down which side I started on. I’m sure on occasion I started the children on the “wrong” side. But big deal.

Sorry that I disagree with you. I didn’t mean to imply that everyone who uses this app is a helicopter. I can understand the premies or even multiples. But, IMHO, if I (a big control freak) thinks (for the most part) it is overkill……

nurse&mother

December 14th, 2009
6:31 pm

oops, a few typos. Need to slow my typing down.

motherjanegoose

December 14th, 2009
7:23 pm

Wow! I was simply thrilled that I was able to breastfeed and go back to work with both of mine.
We were so broke that it was either breastfeed or cloth diapers. In the end, the breastfeeding was a blessing! I am certain we would not have been able to afford any technology…it would have been a pad of paper and a pen…..LOL.

I did leave my husband a list ( as we swapped shifts and both worked with our son) and had both of mine on a strict schedule for naps and feeding but I never kept a chart. I tend to be organized but ( to me) that is over the top.

Guess mine both turned out o,k., in spite of my shortcomings. My daughter just found out she has been accepted to UGA and I am proud of her! WHOO HOO!

April

December 14th, 2009
9:54 pm

MJG – Congrats to your daughter! Early acceptance is a great accomplishment.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 14th, 2009
9:57 pm

MJG — that is wonderful!! big, big deal!!!

[...] Techno Parenting: Tracking baby's every breath, poop and babble … [...]

[...] Techno Parenting: Tracking baby's every breath, poop and babble … [...]

[...] Techno Parenting: Tracking baby's every breath, poop and babble … [...]

Jim

December 15th, 2009
12:02 pm

Accepted to UGA? Is she a hostess?

Michelle

December 15th, 2009
3:01 pm

New Stepmom…I LOVED the wipe warmer! I know it seems a little silly, but believe me, in the middle of the night, it is SO nice to have when feeding/changing the baby! He would fuss, I would feed him, then change him, and he’d go right back to sleep! With the “cold” wipes, talk about a JOLT to wake them back up! My BFF took my old one and also loved it!

Is it a little frivolous…yes, but, the babies who are all warm and snuggly appreciate the warmth!

MJG-congrats to your daughter!

deidre_NC

December 15th, 2009
9:59 pm

MJG congrats to your daughter i know yall are thrilled1

Peter

December 28th, 2009
3:18 pm

I find all the negative comments interesting about this article.

I can certainly understand that some people find all the tracking a bit obsessive, but I can tell you that there ARE some parents who absolutely love tracking this information. I know because I hear from them daily. I am a parent of 3 and developed a similar app for Google phones (Baby ESP, http://www.babyesp.com/).

One thing I didn’t see mentioned was having this data tracked is helpful when there are multiple care givers. If Mom watches baby part of the day and Dad the other (or you have a nanny), having this data tracked makes it easy to switch. You don’t have to ask when did baby last eat, nap, etc., just look at the app. That makes figuring out why baby is crying a bit easier.

[...] the internet, what does this say about parents and their child’s development? An article, titled “Techno Parenting”, discusses the benefits and downsides to such tracking devices, mainly one called Trixie Tracker. [...]