Father in work clothes changing a baby's stinky diaper

Technology is incredible, but every now and then I scratch my head and think “What the hey, really?”

A recent article in the newspaper said that in the fall Procter & Gamble's Pampers will introduce a new “connected care system” called Lumi that will track babies’ activities through a sensor that you attach to their diaper.

Yep, you guessed it: One of the activities that the sensor on the diaper will send out is an alert to an app when the diaper is wet (or in established baby lingo terms, the baby has gone number one). The sensor will also track the baby's sleep.

But — and this is a big but — the system will only be able to track number one, not number two. For the poopy pants we will still need to rely on the smell test that our great grandparents, grandparents and parents mastered and refined over the years.

There are also baby expressions that will alert you when a number two effort is underway. If you wish, you may refer to the Mayo Clinic website to view a poop color guide for what a baby deposits in their diaper.

Men (and women) of the cloth

I thought I would interview a couple of veteran moms and ask them how they survived in the cloth diaper era. They were on their own to determine when a diaper needed changing. Diapers had to be rinsed, washed, sanitized, dried, folded and used again.

Gloria and Ed got married in 1953. They had three daughters, all born in the 1950s. Gloria said she was inexperienced at this mom thing. Gloria did her due diligence and bought a copy of Dr. Spock’s “The Common Book of Baby and Child Care.” The first edition of the book came out in 1946 and sold for a quarter.

Gloria remembers Dr. Spock indicated you had to sterilize the dirty cloth diapers. One day not too long after daughter No. 1 was born, Gloria had a big pot of diapers boiling in water on the stove. Her mom stopped by and when she walked in she looked at Gloria and asked, “What in the world are you cooking?”

When Gloria told her mom she was boiling diapers to disinfect them, her mom said something to the effect that she would take care of washing the diapers from now on. Mom took over using the old style wringer washer.

Gloria said this was a huge help. When she and Ed first got married, they lived in a tiny apartment with no washer and dryer. She said caring for babies is a little trial and error. Both mom and dad learn to figure things out.

Confidence game

Stephanie and Mark were married in 1988. They raised five kids, with three born in the '90s and a set of twins in 2000. Growing up, Stephanie did quite a bit of babysitting and even some nanny work in college. She had experience when it came to diaper time. Similar to Gloria, Stephanie’s parents and in-laws were close by and helped out a great deal.

Even in the '90s, cloth diapers were still being used by parents as environmental issues were a concern with the use of disposables. Stephanie remembers the stinky diaper pail. She would rinse diapers in hot water and then double wash them.

Eventually she began to use disposable diapers, in particular when they were going somewhere. By the time they had the twins; it was all about attempting to make life a little easier so the transition to disposable diapers was made. They were always on the watch for disposable diaper coupons.

I asked Stephanie about this app thing and this mom of five wasn’t too sure that a system like this is necessary. Parents are going to know if the baby needs changing and something like this may prey on a new parent’s lack of confidence.

I contacted Proctor and Gamble, and by golly Ani Dietman, senior executive of MSL Group, responded. She indicated that parents of today want to know if their baby is comfortable and safe. Ani said this system will help achieve that. The Lumi system includes a video monitor and parents can view the baby anytime using the Lumi app.

Ani said this system will help parents blend intuition with real data to help them make better decisions. Wow, did you ever think your phone would tell you to change a diaper? Once I understood the system, I have to admit this might be the good fit for many of today’s parents.

All moms and dads will always need to use that intuition and occasionally figure things out with tried-and-true methods. I’m sure many of you remember when you would hold the baby up, move your nose toward the baby’s butt and take a whiff. Not much intuition needed there.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s Day in History column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com.

What's your reaction?