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    What’s new in baby tech

    Times have changed, and baby products today have gone high tech. Dr Schuman rediscovers what’s new in parenting gadgets for newborns that no family should be without.

    Many years ago, when my now-grown children were babies, we had the bare necessities for raising our young ones. Cloth diapers and diaper pins, plastic bottles and NUK nipples, and the all-important windup baby swing. Now decades later, parents have an assortment of high-tech gadgets to help raise their newborns.

    Recommended: Best of tech from 2015

    With the recent arrival of my first grandchild, I learned about all the parenting gadgets that no family should be without. Let me share my discoveries with you and make some recommendations that you might consider sharing with the parents of your patients. This is the stuff parents rarely tell you about, and with which every pediatrician should be familiar. 


    Back in the day, parents had 2 choices: disposables or cloth diapers. Cloth was more economical but messier than disposables, even with diaper liners and plastic covers to contain the wet. Because I was in residency, we opted for cloth diapers. I hated the cleanup with cloth, as well as the fact that the kids got a lot of diaper rashes. 

    Disposables were for special occasions such as going on a trip or shopping. These high-tech wonders kept the kids dry and parents happy. Eventually, competing diaper brands became innovative and offered disposables for girls or boys, and some even changed color to alert parents that the diaper needed changing. The tape fasteners were terrible and rarely could be resealed, and I often resorted to duct tape to reattach diaper tabs when the need arose.

    Today’s disposables are awesome. The sizes are numbers and they feature very secure, stretchable, reusable fasteners that work! I was pleasantly surprised that Huggies (Kimberly Clark Corporation, Neenah, Wisconsin) disposable diapers for young babies have a line that changes color when wet. Even contemporary cloth diapers have been improved. They now have rows upon rows of snaps that adjust the diaper size as the baby gets bigger, and they can be used with charcoal-infused or bamboo-based pads that are very absorbent and washable. These new cloth diapers fit well and prevent leaks, and when changed appropriately rarely contribute to diaper rashes.

    Breast pumps, bottles, and sanitizers

    Although I advise parents to invest in a good-quality electric breast pump, I admit that until recently I had been unaware of competing brands and features. My daughter told me that one of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act is that most insurance companies will provide electric breast pumps and supplies to nursing mothers. After doing a lot of investigation, my daughter purchased the Medela Freestyle Breastpump (Medela Inc, Breastfeeding US, McHenry, Illinois). It is a portable system that supports double pumping from both breasts simultaneously. 

    When babies first go to breast, they suck fast and gently to stimulate milk production (stimulation phase), followed by slower and more forceful sucking (expression phase) to bring out milk faster. The Medela pump has a 2-phase system that simulates natural breastfeeding. It can be used with the Medela storage system to place breast milk in sealable bags for storage in the freezer (maximum 6 months) or refrigerator (maximum 5 days). Medela even has a system for sanitizing the reusable breast pump parts. These are placed in the Medela reusable sanitizer bag along with some water. When placed in the microwave, the steam produced sanitizes the accessories.

    Although I usually don’t recommend sanitizers and believe that washing bottles in a dishwasher or washing in hot soapy water is more than adequate (as does the American Academy of Pediatrics), I do appreciate that using a sanitizer for baby bottles and supplies may reassure parents that they are doing their “best” for their baby. There are many inexpensive electric and microwave sanitizers available, and they are inexpensive, so I don’t discourage their use.

    To defrost breast milk and heat it to the right temperature, my daughter uses the Philips Avent Fast Bottle Warmer The entire defrost and heat cycle takes just minutes to complete. 

    NEXT: Baby swings and more

    Andrew J Schuman, MD, FAAP
    Dr Schuman, section editor for Peds v2.0, is clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, ...


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