Are Pampers Smart Diapers Worth It? What You Shoud Know Before Putting A Wireless Sensor on Your Baby
Pampers Lumi is coming!
Before you know it, baby's first smart device won't be an iPad playing cute cartoons. No--it could be much closer to his cute little bottom--attached to his disposable diapers!
That's right, smart-diapers are soon to be part of the IOT, or Internet Of Things.
Pampers recently announced that diapers with sensors are coming to market this fall. They will allow you to monitor an app on your smartphone to see whether baby is wet or dry. Now, If you're thinking "This will go great with my fridge that tells me when I'm out of milk and my smart toaster and smart hairbrush," then you should probably read on and see if maybe, just maybe, we've gotten too smart for our own diapers.
Moms and Dads are already passionately weighing in on the smart diaper debate from both sides -- some are adamantly opposed, while 1,000s of others are on the waiting list to be notified of the launch so they can have the first IOT child on their block. Several people have personally reached out to me over the last few days to ask my thoughts on this new baby innovation. Alexis Fedor, mom of 3 including a newborn, was as shocked as we were, "You’ll never guess what I just stumbled across. I can hardly believe someone even thought of this junk, much less perused making it! Hoping people fight hard against this one!"
Here's what we think.
Is A Smart Diaper A Smart Idea?
Google's parent company thought so. Alphabet, which owns Google, also owns Verily Life Sciences (it used to be called Google Life Sciences). Verily applied for a smart-diaper patent in April 2018.
Then, Verily went into partnership with Pampers, owned by Procter and Gamble, the world leader in disposable baby things, to create the smart diaper and smart diaper sensor that attaches to the diaper. Pampers says they are doing this with the goal of reducing the time that baby's diaper is wet. (How nice. Because all through history, babies have neglected to tell us when they need to be changed!) This, says Pampers, will minimize the risk of diaper rash and allow parents to track their new baby's routine's in an easy way. (And perhaps to get them to change diapers more frequently, since they will get an alert the second baby goes! Even if it means you change diapers 5% more than you would without the sensor, that is a huge profit gain for P&G.)
How Do Pampers Lumi Diapers Work?
I researched the Verily patent application and found that it talks about conductive elements INSIDE the diaper. These are elements that many parents would not want anywhere near their baby--let alone attached to them. Things like a power transmitter, a power source, a control circuit and other electronic components and sensors. All of this hardware in and on the diaper will sense wetness, dryness and maybe other conditions in the future, then send this all-important information to your smartphone. Pampers is also partnering with Logitech, a company famous for all kinds of keyboards and mice and Bluetooth devices, to create what they call an "All In One Connected System" the Lumi. So the whole Pampers program will include 1) a baby monitor 2) the smart diapers and 3 ) an app that allows you to track and log when baby got changed, fed and slept.
The smart diaper with the Lumi sensor also acts as an activity monitor that not only tracks diaper conditions, but also sleep patterns. There are other stand-alone activity monitors like this on the market that claim to sense babies breathing by monitoring tummy movement. Some don't use wireless transmitters like the original Snuza and some do; transmitting Bluetooth energy, like the Snuza Pico.
Tech Wellness strongly recommends that you do NOT place any wireless devices on or even near your baby.
Is it Safe to Put a Wireless Device on your Baby?
So Pampers says that information about your baby will be sent to you via an app on your smartphone. Although they don't say if that is going to be via WiFi or Bluetooth or cellular data, wireless energy is definitely going to be involved. Every type of wireless device emits electromagnetic radiation.
The patent said the connection could be one of several types of wireless radiation, from Blue Tooth to Wilan. I'm thinking it will probably be ELE (extremely low energy) Bluetooth. ELE is used when the Bluetooth signal doesn't have to travel too far to get to the receiver, and is lower power than most other Bluetooth signals.
To get really science-y for a moment, a couple of facts: The ELE still emits radiation and that radiation is extremely close, if not directly attached, to your baby. We're talking non-ionizing radiation, which a lot of people think means-non harmful. But research over the last three decades proves otherwise, especially when it comes to the developing brains and bodies of our kiddos.
I have a section on our Research page called Children and the health effects of EMF. There are studies that show increased EMF exposure during pregnancy is linking to some pretty eye-opening results:
- increased asthma
- lower birth weight
- higher rates of miscarriage
- children with more hyperactivity and behavior problems
- pregnant rats had babies with impaired neuro-development
- pregnant mice had babies with abnormal tails and enlarged livers
In our Screen Guide for Kids I talk about Dr. Hugh Taylor Chair of OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences at Yale The Baby Safe Project. The Baby Safe Project is a great organization that focuses on helping pregnant women understand the potential hazards of wireless radiation--especially to a developing baby.
Dr. Taylor's findings will inspire any mom to be to be careful with exposing her tummy to wireless radiation: Mice whose mom's were exposed to cellphones while they were pregnant displayed behavior that was "similar to ADHD or ADD"
If Research Shows EMF Exposure Is Harmful To The Baby In Your Tummy, It Follows It Could Be Harmful To Your Baby As They Grow.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that radio-frequency electromagnetic fields can be carcinogenic to humans and has designated them a Class 2B carcinogen, along with diesel fuel and a number of other things you might find inappropriate for the nursery.
You may have heard that the EMF we're exposed to from our cellphones has been linked to an increased risk for brain cancer. It's true. There are also studies linking EMF radiation to a host of other issues, from lower sperm count, to negative effects on your heart, thyroid and much more.
After years of researching EMF radiation, I've come to look at it as just another environmental toxin our bodies have to deal with in our modern world.
Just like you steer clear of smoke, pesticides, nitrates, chlorine bleach, chemically laden sunscreens and cleansers or plastics, avoiding EMF radiation is a good healthy choice for you and your children.
And just as we know some people can enjoy cigarettes with seemingly no bad health effects, there are people who will feel good and show no signs of negative health issues even though they wear wireless earbuds, live in a smarthome and spend their days using laptops, smartphones and WiFi.
Your Baby Can't Tell You If Wireless EMF Makes Them Feel Bad!
Your sweet, innocent bundle of joy could be like me and roughly 5% of the population and could have EHS or EMF hypersensitivity. I can actually FEEL the EMF radiation from wireless devices--and it doesn't feel good.
Years ago I came across a report by Ronald Powell, Ph.D, reached out to him and he was kind enough to share his up to date research, “Symptoms After Exposure to Smart Meter Radiation.” The report sheds details and can tell you more about what people reported feeling when WiFi with its invisible EMF radiation was installed. Here's a sampling of the EMF exposure symptoms they felt:
- insomnia and sleep issues
- headaches and head pain
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Lethargy and extreme tiredness
- memory, a fog, cognitive issues
- burning, tingling, numbness
- cardiac symptoms and heart palpitations
- Joint pain
- The onset of Electromagnetic Sensitivity or ES or EHS
- Pressure, Heat
- Anxiety, Irritability
- Problems with eyes or eyesight
- Rashes, Excema, Skin issues
- Muscle spasms
- digestive or bowel problems
- ear problems, worsening hearing
- depression, loss of motivation
- endocrine problems and thyroid problems
- increased rate of infections or colds
- allergies, food sensitivity
- intensity of electromagnetic sensitivity
- sinus problems
- lump in throat or throat problems
- weight loss or loss of appetite
- swollen face
I'm not sure how I got to be sensitive, but I knew something was strange the first time I held a cellphone and literally got a shock and tingles as I held it. For a long time, I thought everyone felt the same thing. From what I've heard from people who have sensitivity, it often comes on after an intense exposure or after spending lots of time on devices.
So parents, why start your child's life of exposure to wireless radiation so early? Why put a wireless diaper connected to a wireless camera in baby's beautiful new home?
Especially when it's a fact that children absorb more EMF radiation than adults because their brain tissues are more absorbent, their skulls are thinner and their relative size is smaller.
We spend so much time deciding how we feel about vaccines and sunscreens and natural vs. organic baby foods... I believe every parent should give the same attention to understanding the risks of EMF exposure and take serious steps to keep your children safe. But what exactly IS safe?
Science has not proven a Safe Level of EMF Radiation
Which means that existing research hasn’t revealed the threshold of EMF radiation exposure that clearly poses no threat to humans.
Since we really don't know for certain what the long-term effects of new technologies like wireless phones, Bluetooth wear-ables and Smart-homes, we rally for the Precautionary Principle.
Wikipedia says the principle "generally defines actions on issues considered to be uncertain." It's caution in advance and the rally cry for big issues like global warming and world-wide health concerns.
"The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk." and when it comes to wireless EMF people have been calling for the precautionary principle for a decade.
Basically, this means that because there’s research, lots of it actually, saying the energy that powers our cellphones– RF radiation– could be causing health concerns-including tumors and cancer, then we ought to take care when using our cell phones -and all devices that emit RF-and use them mindfully.
Make Sure Your Home Enjoys Low Radiation Levels With This EMF Meter
Will Using A Smart Diaper Make You A Better Mom, Dad or Care-giver?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Every parent wants to be the best. It may seem appealing to be able to know baby needs a new diaper even before they do. But what about that sweet bonding that comes from studying that sweet baby, looking and listening and sniffing for cues about what your baby needs. That's parenting magic. And besides, if you really need a diaper to help--they already exist, Pampers actually has a diaper with a blue line that gets darker when baby is wet.
Will checking your phone or getting one more notification on your smart device make you a happier?
Our smartphones are causing brain fog, brain drain, distraction and a malady called Digital Dementia. Every single one happens as a result of spending too much time looking and interacting with our phones.
One of my favorite studies on cellphone distraction, showed how even if the phone is on airplane mode or turned off and turned over-screen down- it still took a big part of our cognitive function--or brain space.
So, when the focus should be on our baby, will an app on our phones take divide our focus? Will it take our attention off our bundle of joy?
Something to think about.
If you still find the need to use Smart Diapers, here are some tips to make them safer for you and baby:
1. When signing up and registering your baby on the App don't reveal your child's real name or birth date. There's no reason you need to provide this personal information in order to find out if your baby's diaper is wet or to track their patterns. Value your privacy and don't give it away.
2. Use the sensor when you really think you need it. Night time perhaps? Wireless exposure, like sun exposure, is cumulative. That means the damage "layers on" so anytime you can avoid it, means less potential health effects.
3. Wireless baby monitors are another source of wireless radiation, keep it as far away from baby's crib as possible. Radiation dissipates as it gets further from the source so that baby is exposed to less and less the farther it is away from them. It's easy to set up a wired monitor that is much safer.
If you would like to know more about EMF radiation check our Guide. If reading this has inspired you to look for a wired baby monitor option, we've put together a great DIY wired baby monitor here!
I'm so glad you took the time to get the details on the smart diaper. Let's keep the discussion going and please--share this story with other new moms and dads so they can make an informed decision on this very important subject.