5 Common Baby Gadgets That May Just Make Parenting Harder

how baby gadgets undermine our instincts

As our world’s technological advances continue to occur at astronomical speeds, do you ever wonder how baby gadgets can actually undermine our intuition? Even though we find so many advancements that make our lives easier, we worry about how we’re taking our own mothering power away. Things that separate you from your baby tend to discourage natural, attached behavior, so how can we maintain balance and make the best of our mother’s intuition and the gadgets that help us mother?

New moms are surrounded by baby gadgets, commercials for baby gadgets, and friends telling them what baby gadgets they need. We admit it; we’re often sharing the best of everything for mothers because we are all in this together and want to do all we can to help the sisterhood of mothers we are part of thrive in ways we never have before.

And, if we are honest, we need all the help we can get and sometimes that help comes in the form of a gadget. To deny that truth seems to mock the many women and mothers who have created things to allow us to have better quality time with our babies and to raise them as we’ve always dreamed.

But let’s also be real about the consumer-driven culture of baby gear. We should be real and we should beware – This culture is not always driven by what is best for your baby.

In fact, for some companies, what’s best for your baby isn’t even on their radar. It’s what’s going to be best for their bottom-dollar, and if that brings benefit to you and your baby in the process, that’s gravy for them.

Related: A Mother’s Instinct Is Biologically Real And Creates Attachment With Baby

But at what cost? Baby gadgets can and do undermine our natural instincts if we are not aware and careful in our use of them.

So, how do baby gadgets undermine intuition and our motherly instincts?

Well, let’s take a look at some of today’s baby ‘gadgets’.

  1. The Propped Bottle or Feeding Pacifier

Babies are intended to be held while they are fed. This is a biological and psychological need that stems in the early days of life, and doesn’t disappear for a while. In a world that would tell you new infants don’t do much in those first few weeks and month but suck your sleep away (while they sleep without a care all the times but when you want them to), the reality is that babies need to be held, and there is a biological need met when they are. Particularly when they are being fed, as to get to the breast, babies typically need to be in a held/close position.

Yes, the early days are hard and cluster feeding is hard, and if you can’t nurse your baby, there’s probably a difficult time bonding when you give bottle feedings. But it’s just for that fact that it’s important we keep our babies close to us, because especially when we aren’t nursing our babies want and need to feel close to us.

So while some may find these feeding gadgets ‘helpful’, they really aren’t designed with your baby’s well-being in mind, and frankly, they’re not in your best interest either. They’re designed to:

  1. A) get you to buy something and
  2. B) lessen your baby’s need to be held.

Your baby still needs to be held, even if technology has made it possible for you to do otherwise. In fact, especially because technology makes it possible for you to do otherwise, it’s even more important for you to hold your baby as you feed.

Need a break? (We know, we know…all mamas do!)

There are alternatives to the feeding pacifier or propped bottle:

Have someone else hold your baby. Your partner, your family, a grandma, a friend, your other children, people at church, people EVERYWHERE are generally thrilled to hold and feed a baby or simply hold your baby. It is a JOY to do so and they will feel blessed by the opportunity, not put out or annoyed.

When I was a teenager, a woman I went to church with had triplets. She had two older children that were toddler age. The group of friends and loved ones at church rallied around her to help her feed her babies. She made charts and schedules and people came every few hours to help her feed these little ones.

She would sit and nurse two of them at one time while the helper would hold and bottle feed the third baby. They all rotated (thus the charts) so that each baby got equal time on the breast.

Do you think it was easy for her to ask for help? Do you think it was easy for those that volunteered to show up and help?

Probably not.

It was however, the best thing for those babies to be held while they were fed, no matter what they ate. And bless her for knowing that and turning to her village to help her.

We can find a village of help in this modern day too. In fact, we need to find a village for the mental health of all involved.

  1. The Crib

The crib is perhaps the oldest baby gadget of all. I won’t deny that it serves a purpose nor will I deny that I have used one! The crib is great for a lot of reasons. We understand and are not judging.

But if you take a crib, then put it down the hall from mama (aka, the baby food source) and then expect everyone to sleep and throw in how important breastfeeding is, you are asking for some trouble.

It’s not that the crib is inherently bad, it’s just that it disrupts the ease of getting baby to the breast in the night. It also makes it much harder for the breastfeeding mother to get to her baby without fully waking. This then makes it harder for both of them to get back to sleep.

Do we ever wonder why the modern woman struggles so much with sleepless nights? Both she and her baby are getting fully and violently awakened several times through the night.

That is a recipe for disaster if I ever heard one. When baby is near you, life is better for all. And, the American Academy of Pediatrics now advises that baby stays with mama for at least the first six months of life, with an optimal time period being the first year of baby’s life. Many mamas can’t fathom (or fit) the big crib in their room, and hence, feel compelled to use the one in that gorgeous nursery they spent so much time and money on decorating. But they don’t have to…at least not as soon.A new study says that over a quarter of current ads by crib manufacturers depict infant sleep conditions that put them at higher risk of SIDS.

There are alternatives to the crib down the hall:

The alternatives to the crib down the hall are many and even include using the crib, but using it in the room with mama. Bulky or not. This makes the trip for food and the wakefulness much less. A sidecar co-sleeper, a bassinet, or safe bed sharing are also alternatives to the crib down the hall.

Re-think infant sleep spaces. There are not two alternatives: crib down the hall or a kid in your bed FOREVER. There are other options and they are often better for baby and mama and allow Mama’s natural intuition kick in when she’s at her most vulnerable herself.

  1. The Bucket Seat as a Baby Carrier

Babies need to be in a safe car seat to be safely transported in this day and age. No doubt.

They do not need to be carted around by their mother in said car seat while in the store, in the house, or anyplace else, though.

Those bucket seats are heavy, huge, and awkward. I personally hated carrying them. They also only last for a year or less before your baby is too big and needs a larger rear-facing seat. Talk about looking at how to make money off of mamas.

There are most definitely alternatives to the bucket seat as carrier:

Use an infant carrier to babywear your baby around when you are in the store or out and about. They are lighter, keep baby close to you so they feel the comfort of your heart and your sweet mommy smell (yes, babies like your smell!). Babies also sleep very well in a comfy carrier, and we all know that sleep is a big reason why people carry babies in the bucket – so they don’t wake up.

As an added bonus, an infant carrier like a stretchy wrap, a woven wrap, a soft structured carrier or a sling can last for years and encourage breastfeeding. Plus, if you have a toddler, they can sit in the cart at the grocery store and you can carry your baby, plus have room for the actual groceries in the cart! What a concept!

Oscha Slings are perfect for the 4th Trimester and beyond

  1. The Pacifier

I know, babies need to suck a lot. I spent six years breastfeeding and it can be a drag. We don’t need to be all flowers and rainbows about it. I am sure a pacifier serves a purpose, but mostly it is an artificial breast, a replacement for nature’s pacifier- YOU.

We have been taught that the need a baby has for us is a pain, an inconvenience, or something that can be replicated with a bit of silicone.

We have been lied to.

You are the original pacifier and the best one. All manufactured pacifiers are designed to be a hollow replacement of you.

So next time someone tells you that your baby is just “using” you as a pacifier, then tell them that actually, millions of consumer and research dollars have been spent to recreate the beauty of your round nipple.


Alternatives to the pacifier:

Mama or the ingenious thumb.

Or maybe that should be the other way around…

(I know, I just ticked off approximately 1 BILLION pacifier users. Don’t hate me. It’s nothing personal.)

You know what though, they don’t need to nurse that often forever. The most intense period of breastfeeding is the first few months and then things tend to space out. Also, as your baby gets older and older and adds more foods to their diet, you can appropriately set limits on constant access to you as a pacifier. There are other ways to gently get your baby to sleep!

  1. The Swing or Bouncer

First, I totally admit to using these contraptions. They have their place. Truly, your sanity is more important than what we have to say, and we get it. We do.

Live your bliss.

That being said, the swings and bouncers of the world replace a living, breathing mother with a machine. They remove the baby from the mother or loving caregiver and replace her with mechanical ticking and rocking.

In our lonely and nuclear society, mom needs a break sometimes. But swings don’t encourage us to listen to our instincts and hold and feed and comfort our babies. They encourage us to separate from them.


Alternatives for the swing or bouncer:


Baby carriers help too.

Let’s be real, in our modern world, it is incredibly helpful to have a few tools at your fingertips that help make raising a baby a little easier. Most of us don’t have a village. We often try to attachment parent alone (not how it was intended) and many of us work and must devote time to that and other children.

This article isn’t intended to feed the guilt that already runs through the veins of every struggling mother.

If you need something, use it. You know your needs far better than I could.

But let’s not forget that babies need mama and lots of other loved ones to hold, cuddle, feed, and love on them in order for them to develop normally.

They don’t need all this other stuff.

Not only do baby gadgets serve to further separate mom from baby, but they also undermine our most basic instincts to hold, touch, smell, and be with our babies.

Don’t even get me started on the myriad of baby parenting and sleep books that do the same by infantilizing the mother herself and seeking to convince her that an (often) male doctor knows more about HER individual baby than SHE does.

Mothers know what to do.

Listen to that inner voice.

Seek out people who encourage you to listen to that voice. Seek out groups and organizations that help you hear what you already know in your bones.

You are the mother of this baby for a reason. You are the expert on your baby and you are what they most need.

Don’t let the conveniences and marketing of modern life convince you otherwise.


25 thoughts on “5 Common Baby Gadgets That May Just Make Parenting Harder”

  1. I love Love this Article.. thank You so much for writing it ..great read lol everyone thinks I’m nuts Co sleeping , EBF and baby wearing I’m glad to see someone else Agrees

  2. I would just like to point out that there is a use for pacifiers. My son was born with a tongue tie, it was so hard for him to nurse that he would cry, fight it, slip off his latch. I could get him to sleep by giving him a paci and rocking him. Once he was asleep I could slip the paci out and get him to latch on. In a perfect world they are necessary but I may not have gotten my son to nurse without one.

  3. I’m a baby wearing, EBF, co-sleeping mommy who also uses a pacifier, bucket seat, swing, and crib. Pacifiers are shown to decrease SIDS (like cosleeping while EBF) and can be used by breastfeeding mommies to console babies in a variety of ways. Many babies won’t stay sleep while getting in and out of the car seat to the wrap and vice versa so I found a travel combo incredibly useful for napping on the go (which is necessary for some babies who sleep a lot in the day past the newborn stage, and some of us who need to live on the go and not be home for every nap). We used a swing for most naps from age 3 months to 20 months because it worked, it was comforting, he liked it and never cried, and I had to work during his naps so a “substitute for mommy” was necessary. I didn’t use the crib until he was outgrowing the swing but now it’s a great option for naps (many cosleeping mommies use the safety of a crib for naps when they can’t take a nap with the child). In conclusion, with the exception of the first feeding contraption (which I do find ridiculous and unnecessary…) I find the other four completely useful and have made parenting MUCH easier, and I recommend them to any parent including those who attachment parent and aren’t looking for “substitutes” for parenting.

  4. As a mother of 4 I love the bucket seat, especially in the winter months when don’t want to be carrying a small infant out into the cold car and having to expose them to the elements to get them buckled in safely (you can’t bundle them in those car seat straps!).

    I also love that when baby falls asleep on the way to an errand I don’t have to disturb their nano, wake them by popping them into the wrap and then have to work to get them back to sleep, while trying to complete my errand, with three other kids in tow. I definitely see them as super helpful the first year!

  5. While I don’t disagree that overuse of pacifiers can be potentially problematic, using them probably saved our breastfeeding relationship. Theres no doubt a real nipple is better than a fake one- to a baby. BF, as another blogger so eloquently put it, was one of the most nipple shredding things I’d ever done. I distinctly remember the anxiety I felt in those early months when the time for my baby’s next feeding was creeping closer and it frustrated, exhausted and pained me greatly when he would comfort nurse. It was agonizing. If I hadn’t been able to get a break once in awhile by using a pacifier, I may have chucked in the towel all together. Throw in a 3 month bout of a thrush and its a miracle I stuck it out.

  6. I LOVE this article! This is where mamas SHOULD be, in the home, holding their little ones 24/7!! If we only had a society where mothers stayed in the home with their babies instead of chasing the almighty dollar we would have a generation of strong, secure, healthy people. All a woman needs to be FULFILLED is motherhood!!! Stay home, nurse your babies, wear your babies all the time. There is no greater JOY!

  7. “All a woman needs to be FULFILLED is motherhood!!!”

    Um, speak for yourself? That seems like a very backward and outdated notion to me. What about women who do not have children? Are they just destined to an “unfulfilled” life? Not all women feel fulfilled simply by being a mother – what you call “chasing the almighty dollar” (a job/career) is very important to many women’s fulfillment in life and their feelings of self-worth.

  8. #2 is wrong. I am not the baby food source. My husband is too. It’s called a “bottle.” We split getting up at night so we both sleep, since we both work. Actually I work longer hours than he does.

    @Anna – what century are you living in? No, motherhood alone does not fulfill me. I have a great career and am a better mom because I am happy. If I was forced to be a SAHM I would be miserable because that is NOT who I am. I was raised by a working mother and am very secure and happy and healthy, and was ONLY fed formula *gasp!* Maybe you’d feel more secure if you had something other than motherhood to tie your worth to.

    1. I felt the same as Summe before I quit working to stay home with my firstborn. I loved working and thrived on the stimulation. But now that I am home, I find that I also thrive on feeling grounded and focused on one thing. I am fulfilled by motherhood. But I know when my children are more independent, the pendulum will swing again to new sources of fulfillment. I think we can all surprise ourselves and learn to love any situation, if we have enough time for self care whether working, Sahm, or something in between.

  9. Love this article, and it’s true. I prefer to have her snuggled up to me and sleep in the moby wrap (at least during the day) but she just sleeps too much in it. She’ll sleep in there more than 5 hours, if I don’t remove her from it myself. She never wakes up, and she won’t even acknowledge when she has a dirty diaper when she’s wrapped up. I usually take her out of the wrap after the two hour mark, because anything past that and she won’t sleep at night at all, and she’ll be sitting in a dirty diaper for a long, long time. Not to mention, ahe wakes up and sucks down a whole bottle as if she were starving. (She’s 7 weeks old)

    1. Hi Alannah, just so you know 🙂 gulping down a bottle isn’t a hunger sign at all. It’s a swallow or choke response. A baby instinctually sucks when something goes into their mouth and that means a mouthful of milk. Some babies allow the milk to flow out (I actually saw footage of this yesterday, of grandparents feeding a baby and the milk was just dribbling down the baby’s chin. My eldest did this same thing but I didn’t realise what it meant until much later on), but for others, the gulping is just to stop them choking. If she often has a bottle (particularly if it’s more than about 40ml of milk and even more so if it is formula as this is much harder for a baby to digest), that might be why she’s having such long sleeps cos her body has shut down to digest it (think about how all an adult wants to do is lounge around or sleep after a big meal, such as Xmas dinner). I wish I had known this with my eldest cos she’s paying the price of me not knowing now 🙁 (Oh, and none of my 4 children ever indicated their nappy was dirty) 🙂

  10. Generally love the article but for mothers of multiples, you can’t have extra people around all the time to hold your baby while feeding. If you have twins and older toddlers, you need your hands sometimes to care for the older one. Babies will survive propped bottles and feeding pacifiers. In fact, I would have loved to have one of those feeding pacifiers for when my twins were babies because they would have been able to feed a lot easier. I had to learn the hard way that parenting is not about perfection. I am just as bonded to my mostly bottle-fed twins as I am to my breastfed first born. I also learned that much of what we fuss about in this world of competitive parenting just does not matter. My parents didn’t fuss about parenting and me and my four brothers turned out to be kind, loving and contributing members of society.

    1. I agree, I was so paranoid after having C sections that I would never bond with my kids because it wasn’t a picture perfect, natural birth like you read about. No skin to skin, no nursing straight away, no pulsing cords, etc. I was so drugged up I couldn’t even hold the babies until hours later. Years later, they are both stuck to me like glue and I love them to bits. Sometimes the details are not important.

  11. I never used a springy baby seat that say on the floor, for my first three kids. Why? They would just have cried. I couldn’t imagine why they got sold. Then I had kid number 4. He kept going nuts in my lap. He wanted to be **with** his entertainment committee down there in the floor playing! It often wasn’t safe, and he couldn’t see, when on a blanket. We went a bought a bouncy seat, to keep him happy ;-).

    So, a case where the seat got him *more* human interaction! Individual family needs are different, and change over time!

  12. Agreed that gadgets are second to what a parent can provide naturally. But for the bucket seat, you can use a compatible stroller so that the baby can be kept asleep and you don’t have to bear the weight of the seat with your arm.

  13. I love that my baby uses a pacifier in the car. It makes car rides so much more sane. Shaming me for using one because I should be the one comforting him isnt helpful. I’m driving! I can’t comfort him in that moment.

  14. I disagree with a couple of these, especially the pacifier. First, not all moms can breast feed, and a pacifier can replace the breast in those situations because you don’t want to have a bottle in the kids mouth all the time. Second, encouraging thumb sucking is not only wrong, but, IMHO, idiotic. As a thumb sucker as a child, till I was 7 years old, it’s not as easy to give up the thumb as it is a pacifier. You can’t just throw the thumb away. My niece also was a thumb sucker, and she had to have expensive dental equipment inserted into the roof of her mouth to get her to quit, and she was 9 before that happened. Both my boys had pacifiers, and my oldest had his till he was 5. But, we did a “ceremony” to throw them away and he never looked back. My youngest quit his at 3. Our dishwasher broke and we couldn’t wash them properly and we stopped giving them to him and he stopped asking for them. Again, never looked back. I guess if you can breast feed and keep a child lock on for, oh, all day long, I guess it wouldn’t be a bad thing, but for those of us who actually have a life…

  15. So wrong and so judgemental. The pacifier and swing and two necessities. If you can get away without a passy more power to you because 2 yr olds look ridiculous with one in their mouth. You said you breast fed for 6 years? I hope to God it wasn’t with a 6 year old. and as far as their own space, a crib, you didn’t mention a play pen. What’s the diff? Playpens are extraordinary for getting things done. You love your baby but you gotta do what you gotta do. Now that dads help alittle more, it’s better but take away my swing and I will have to cut you.

  16. Every mama and baby is different, but very few mamas have everything work out perfectly. Pacifiers can be a huge help. Yes, it would be great if I could offer the breast every time my baby wants to suck, but all of my kids have had a strong suck desire and would stay there all day. How exactly would I pick my older kids up from school? Or go anywhere? He has free access when reasonable, but sometimes a pacifier is necessary. I’m just thankful he’ll take it!! Now, the dental bill to fix my son’s teeth after years of finger sucking is another story….

  17. With the exception of a propped bottle (no experience there), I have definitely had use for all those other items. Living in a cold climate, I did find a bucket car seat handy. I always kept a close eye on my babies if they were sleeping in the seat after we’d come in the house though. I preferred a carrier in general but the seat had its place.

    I needed the paci and crib for my one child who never slept properly with me when co-sleeping. I would have lost it eventually with her waking me up every two hours (past 1 yr. I know that little babes needs to eat)

    And like someone else who posted above, my third child like to bouncy chair for a good view of the sibs. These things are tools and they are just fine if you use them properly.

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