February 2, 2007

Itzbeen Baby Timer: Good. Couldabeen Great

itzbeen_baby_timer.jpgWho knew we were living in the midst of an at-home-dad-driven renaissance in baby tracking technology? While the Baby Industrial Complex was introducing such literally archaic devices as the Mom Abacus as recently as 2004, dadovators like Ben MacNeil and Greg Sheldon were busy ushering in a new golden age for parenting civilization.

MacNeil, of course, is the inventor of Trixie Tracker, an intricate and amazing web-based system for tracking and monitoring the timing and other vital details of caring for a newborn: diaper changes, feeding times, sleep schedules, breast milk management, and more.

Sheldon and his equally sleep-deprived wife, meanwhile, were facing some of the same challenges on the west coast, constantly asking each other, "How long it's been since the kid ___?" That inspired the Itzbeen, a 4-in-1 baby timer/alarm clock that you can clip anywhere: on you, on the kid, on the bedpost, etc. With one simple touch, you just reset the timer after you feed, change, or drop-sleep the kid. It's an easy, clean, and convenient design. As far as it goes.

What the Itzbeen doesn't do, unfortunately, is store or export the data; it just wipes it. Which, again, is fine, if you're using it as a replacement for an abacus or a notepad. The drawback of the Trixie Tracker system has always been the difficulty [sic] of entering the data, i.e., you had to go to your computer and click a button. [MacNeil's a software programmer who created 1-key shortcuts for his original system, so no biggie. Still, it's not as pushing the diaper button on the changing table.]

Tracking data like this can seem obsessive, but Ben showed how it can be revelatory as well; developmental patterns and trends emerge that are invisible even with the best-kept paper baby log. An Itzbeen that could collect and store elapsed time data, then upload it for sharing and analysis would be an awesome way to close the babydata loop.

Itzbeen is just now hitting retailers, check the site for pricing and availability
[itzbeen via dt reader mark]
Previously: Wow, Trixie Tracker's All Growed Up

12 Comments

I don't understand the "I can't remember when I last fed my baby" situation. I realize sleep deprivation has certain effects, but I wonder if this device is a warning sign of a deeper problem developing in society. Perhaps our lives are a tad too busy.

This is actually pretty useful. I think every daycare center or home-run daycare should have this gadget for each baby. Daycare centers are notorious for not changing babies' diapers often enough. Saving/exporting data should be a function though.

I'm pretty sure I'd forget to press the button more often than I'd forget to perform the action. But yeah, it needs wifi and a way to sync to Excel so you can do some cool multiple data set XY plots.

AJ-perhaps if you had twins then you would understand the "I can't remember when I last fed my baby" situation. Yes, I AM sleep deprived, and my life with twins IS a tad too busy to always keep track of both babies-especially in the early days when I was feeding 20 times a day. This Itzbeen thingy could be a godsend to the parents of multiples- but as pointed out it would be a big help if it could store the information.

Maybe I missed that the product is being pitched to parents of multiples. I also suppose parents who feed formula might need a reminder.

For breastfeeders, my wife tells me that, at least with a single baby, it's quite clear if you've gone too long between feedings. Your boob hurts and the baby is crying. For most parents in average situations, I think we do OK just as parents have for thousands of years. If an average parent *needs* this device (e.g., not *wants* it for the geek factor), then I do worry it signals trouble for our species.

[I think it gets complicated if you have a lot of handoffs, too. slightly different, but there were a couple of times where my wife and I both gave the kid cough medicine in the middle of the night. Also, I've always assumed that BF tracking isn't always so easy, just based on the proliferation of 'which boob did I use last?' reminder bras, bracelets--and abacuses. abaci? -ed.]

I think somebody needs to hack this sucker - add a usb port and software path to excel?

I hear you on tracking medicine. We used a dry erase board on our fridge, which also noted dosage amounts.

I'll stick by my breastfeeding comment. You might need a BF bracelet with multiples or an unusually over-stressed mom (for example, single parenting, or parenting with a non-helpful dad).

With multiples, would you need 2 devices? Do twins always feed and sleep at the same time?

I guess my beef is larger than this device. It's the catch 22 of PDAs and all electronic reminders. We use them to remember, but the more we use them, the worse our memory gets, and the more we depend on devices to remember.

AJ -- I do see what you're saying, in that it's very possible to become TOO dependent on gadgets and gizmos rather than just making sure you take the time to connect with your kid and communicate with your spouse and other caretakers. But at the same time, there are times when I forget when *I* last ate, or when I went to bed or when I woke up, if not for that day then maybe for the day before or something. If something like the itzbeen was used as a tool rather than a crutch, then I can definitely see where it could be useful.

If there was a way that these 2 inventors could get together, where the info from the itzbeen could get tied into TrixieTracker, it could be a fantastic helper. Like say, imagine you're going through, I dunno a week period of no sleeping through the night, or not wanting to eat very much -- wouldn't it be nice to go back and see "Oh, this happened 3 months ago when he was having a growth spurt and it only lasted about 10 days, so no worries."

We love the Itzbeen here at Dad Labs!

Check out this great demo with Greg, the creator of Itzbeen


From your friends @ DadLabs.com

This looks really cool. We're looking into getting one for our 3rd child (due in June).

Although I only have one baby, it is my first BTW, I find this extremely helpful. It's not that I don't pay attention to my child and pick up on his cues, it's that I don't wear a watch so I don't gash his head when breastfeeding and I don't have a clock on the wall. Clicking a button in the middle of the night instead of searching for my classes so I can see my clock across the room is way easier. I also use it to keep track of how long I have been breastfeeding. But yes, it would be awesome if it could save & export info to the computer.

Just saw this at ThinkGeek.com for $25.99. Glad I did a search before I sent a breathless "Wow check out this gadget!" note to the head Daddy Type. This definitely would have been handy for mom-dad handoffs, especially with our first when I was working the overnight shift. (She's 18 now, OMG)

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