The pacifier, or dummy, is a well-used symbol of childhood, with the likes of Maggie Simpson embedding the image of toddler and pacifier in the public consciousness.
At its heart, the device is incredibly simple and has changed little over the 500 years or so that they’ve been in operation. A new UK based start-up aims to change that, however.
BlueMaestro has developed a connected pacifier, which they’re calling Pacif-i, which connects up to the smartphone of the parent and provides them with a regular temperature reading from their child.
Now, it’s undoubtedly a clever piece of technology, but I have a number of concerns about the product. First things first, do we really need a 24/7 temperature report from our child?
It does seem altogether excessive, especially in a market where there are already a number of intuitive ways of taking the temperature of the child, such as the Kinsa thermometer I’ve looked at last year.
Even aside from the somewhat OCD nature of monitoring your child’s temperature all the time, the act of taking one's temperature orally is not especially accurate. It’s believed that taking one's temperature via the mouth can produce readings of up to 1 degree higher than if taken via the ear, which is the more traditional and recommended method.
Good for Development
Which brings me to my second gripe about the product. Whilst an ear-based thermometer can grow with the child, a pacifier based one has a very limited shelf life.
There is a degree of evidence to suggest that using a pacifier can be effective in the very early stages of a child’s life (i.e. around one month), but the National Health Service recommend that even this is only really useful if the child is not breastfeeding, and pacifier use alongside breastfeeding can hinder the ability of the child to latch during its feed.
What’s more, they can also prove highly detrimental to the normal development of both speech and teeth in the child.
Of course, the website glosses over any of these concerns, instead urging parents to consult other parents before considering whether to use such a high-tech pacifier.
There is already so much extensive and conflicting information thrown at parents that it’s often hard to distinguish the medically proven from the slickly marketed, and I’m afraid the Pacif-i seems to fall very much into the second camp.
I know the NHS have made various attempts to provide a degree of quality control for health apps and other new technologies, but maybe a renewed effort in this regard is required to stop unhelpful technologies finding their way to market.