It was 10 p.m. and I was on the rocking chair in my toddler's bedroom waiting for her to sleep, like my husband or I had done every night for the past five nights. We had just returned from a trip abroad and were cursing ourselves for "breaking" our child who once slept through the night, but now had all sorts of new and complicated sleeping patterns and requests for us to try to figure out. She needed it to be light, but not too light. The sound machine that used to softly lull her to sleep now jolted her awake the second it shut off automatically after 42 minutes. I was desperate, texting my husband from her bedroom (and hiding under a blanket so she couldn't see the light from my phone). My husband and I frequently come up with parenting inventions and at that moment, an idea struck. I texted him immediately:
"I have an invention idea. It's a smart night light and sound machine combo. Multiple sound settings and light brightness dimming options. Can stay on all night, you can control it both with your phone and on the device. Alerts you on battery life. If battery dies or when timer ends for sound or light, both fade away vs. jolt to off. Probably a little better than the owl. Portable (non plug in). Cute animals. I would pay $50 for that no question."
Since I had some time on my hands, I Googled around to see if such a product already existed, and I found something that came pretty darn close: the Hatch Baby Rest ($59.99). It doesn't run off batteries and it doesn't come in cute animal shapes, but it is what we actually needed. I placed my order on Amazon before I stealthily left my daughter's bedroom.
Our Hatch arrived two days later, and here's what I love about it:
- I am able to set programs based on her schedule. Right now we have a bedtime program, which runs every day from 7:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. with the dim light and ocean sounds. We have a "Time to Rise" program that turns on a pink light at 7 a.m. to let our daughter know that it's an acceptable time for her to wake up. She's still learning what "Time to Rise" means, but we'll get there! And we have it turn for her naps on the weekends.
- It's synced to my phone via Bluetooth, so I can make adjustments as needed without stepping inside her bedroom.
- It's small and lightweight, which makes it easy to pack on vacations.
- We've been able to adapt it to our daughter's needs. She initially was okay sleeping in a dark room, so we'd have the light turn off after two hours. Now she needs the nightlight, so we simply changed the settings and keep the light on all night. It is one of those rare products that I know would have been good when she was an infant, and is still useful 2.5 years later.
It's $60, so above the price point I had set for my invention, but was well-worth the extra $10.