Today I will diverge a little from my cloth diapering posts to express my opinion on some up-coming disposable diaper trends, specifically the new ‘smart’ diaper by Pixie Scientific (read about it from FoxNews.com) and the Huggies TweetPee device (learn more from DigitalTrends.com). While I generally think that new technology always has a use in our society, I feel that these products have missed the mark.
Pixie Scientific ‘smart’ diaper:
If I understand correctly, this diaper has an embedded QR code on it and when your child pees, the code will change colours. If there are any abnormalities, you can scan the code with your phone and find out more precise info to determine if you should bring your baby to the doctor. While I do think this sounds pretty cool, the idea in general worries me for a number of reasons.
First of all, has technology allowed us to become so far removed from reality that we cannot tell that our children need medical attention? What will happen if the technology in the diaper fails and a parent does not notice? Will parents ignore other medical symptoms if their child’s diaper is still telling them that all is well? Regardless if your diaper is designed to tell you that your baby is sick, parents should know what to look out for and be actively keeping an eye on their children’s health. If they are doing that and they suspect a problem, properly trained medical professionals will be able to run the appropriate tests to get the same info the diaper could have told you (and likely more). Perhaps at that point, when a problem has been suspected, this diaper could be used to gather preliminary data on the baby to help expedite diagnosis but I don’t feel that it is an adequate every-day replacement for watching out for changes in your child. I worry about the families that may use it as such and possibly miss or ignore other medical symptoms because they have become dependant on their diapers.
Secondly, disposable diapers are already full of chemicals! In order to create this colour changing QR code that is supposedly precise enough to measure bacteria levels, chemical reactions are needed. In other words, chemicals are added to the diaper that react with urine to create the colour change. Our babies are exposed to enough and now we want to add more exposure in order to track their health (which we have been able to do all along without the help of a diaper)? It just doesn’t make any sense to me, even if the chemicals used are currently considered safe. By ‘currently considered safe’, I of course mean ‘for now’ as many products are considered safe for a long time to be promptly pulled from the market due to causing detrimental health problems.
Moving on to the Huggies TweetPee, which is currently being tested in Brazil. This is not so much a diaper as it is a gadget that works with your diapers. Huggies has launched an official website for this diaper gadget but since it is in Portuguese, my understanding of how it works has come from the news. Basically, it is a device that attaches to baby’s diaper and it sends your phone a message whenever baby needs to be changed. It also tracks how many diapers you use to tell you when to buy more.
My concerns with this device mostly circle around the idea that parents need to be told when to change baby. Shouldn’t we be in regular enough contact with our baby to know if it is time for a change? Huggies already has a colour changing wetness indicator to tell you if baby has peed but now we suddenly need our phones to tell us too? Is that a sign of the times that we are spending more time on our phones than with our babies? Perhaps if you think this product is an awesome idea, you should be asking yourself “why do I not know my baby needs a clean diaper?”.
I will give this product a little credit however. Some parents tend to leave their children in disposables longer than they should, simply because it saves money if they can stretch a few extra hours out of each diaper. Personally, this practice irritates me because if a baby is wet or dirty then they need to be changed as soon as possible. Adults wouldn’t want to live in a dirty or wet diaper for any longer than necessary, why should a baby? So I will credit TweetPee for helping to reduce this problem if it works to remind parents to change baby as soon as a diaper is soiled.