Smart changing table: A Fitbit for babies?

Hatch Baby
Source: Hatch Baby

What's the latest inside poop from the Internet of Things, which has already brought us smart TVs, smart appliances and smart thermometers? A smart baby-changing pad.

The Smart Changing Pad connects with an app so new parents can track their child's weight, sleep and even the number of diapers they use.

It's debuting Monday at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas, made by a start-up called Hatch Baby, which recently raised $7 million in early funding.

"We know that parents are anxious about this, period," said CEO and co-founder Ann Crady Weiss. "How do we help parents relieve that anxiety? We aren't replacing a clinician, but this is a connected generation, and when you become a parent, your baby can't tell you what's going on, so this is something that can."

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It's a new take on an old favorite that's been a ubiquitous gift at baby showers for more than 50 years, Weiss said.

The $299 wireless device has a soft, washable material on top of a robust, waterproof plastic and LCD screen. The companion app, to be used with or without the changing pads, includes traditional tracking features, plus a picture-a-day feature for sharing milestones, and health tips that correspond the baby's age and weight.

While the neuroses of new parenthood is unlikely to be solved by one device, Weiss said she thinks it's helpful for parents to be able to track information from the comfort of their home, rather than running to the pediatrician.

"This makes tracking a more passive activity," Weiss said.

The Smart Changing Pad, temporarily discounted to $199 and slated to ship in December, is one of a series smart devices aimed at young parents. Kodak, for instance, released a high-definition baby monitor app on Thursday.

Parents with children under 18 are twice as likely to have smart home products, according to an August survey of 4,043 adults released by Coldwell Banker brand and CNET. Parents with children at home are also more likely to access online health portals and use video consultations with doctors, according to separate studies by research firm Parks Associates.

To be sure, the trend toward connected parenting is not without its dangers: Many top baby monitors are susceptible to hacking attempts, according to a September report by Rapid7, a firm that engineers security data and analytics software and services.

Weiss said all data from the Smart Changing Pad is encrypted. After her experiences as a new mom, she said safety is a top concern.

"I went from an easy-going person to a very, very anxious new mom," Weiss said. "Long term, we're building a community around how parents can connect to one on another, sharing with each other."