Baby Monitor or Smartphone? Why It's an Easy Mistake to Make

Does the handheld Summer Infant Slim & Secure baby monitor, right, remind you of a different kind of gadget? (Summer Infant)

Mildly Inappropriate Mommy's #technologyfail …

Parents today: We're hip. We're trendy. We want our diaper bags to look like messenger bags, our strollers to look like SUVs and, now, at least according to marketers, our baby monitors to look like smartphones.

I recently became the owner of a Slim & Secure Handheld color video monitor from Summer Infant. For those unschooled in contemporary Big Brother baby technology, I'll explain that video monitors are the modern, neurotic parent's answer to the audio baby monitors of yore. Is junior definitely lying on his back and not his stomach? You can put your mind at ease without leaving the comfort of your recliner. Did your little sweet pea grace the mattress with a puddle of mysterious origin? You can see it, tell yourself it's nothing more than drool and later plead ignorance when your spouse asks why the nursery smells like a nursing home.

But back to this particular video monitor: The box advertises the hand-held component as having "sleek styling for today's tech savvy parents." What this means, in short, is that it's about the size of a smartphone and it looks like your 2005 iPod, sans the ear buds and the Pussycat Dolls tracks. Don't cha wish your baby monitor was hot like mine?

Still, the monitor does, to Summer Infant's credit, look pretty sleek, which is perfectly fine in the right hands.

In my hands, it was a different story. On a recent hurried morning, I slipped my electronic devices into my purse and ran out out the door as usual. It was only about 10 miles into my commute that I realized I had an extra gadget on hand - that new video monitor. It meant my babysitter would be flying blind for afternoon nap time while I was left wondering whether I was the only idiot who had done this.

To my relief, my friends at (which is owned by ABC News' parent company, Disney) hooked me up with a blogger who had a somewhat similar experience - although her mistake was probably more understandable than mine: When her cell phone sounded in the dark of night, Casey Mullins frantically reached for it on her nightstand, hoping to silence it before the ringing woke her snoozing husband.

"I got to it and started to furiously push buttons - I was trying to get it to answer and hold it to my ear at the same time, but it wouldn't stop ringing…and it was because I was trying to answer the video monitor instead of my phone," she told me.

Mullins, who blogs at Babble's Shutter Lovely and, happens to also have a Summer Infant monitor. Hers is a different model - the Summer Infant Best View - but she too says hers looks like an iPod and, as in my case, it's about the same size as her smartphone.

Phone fumble aside, Mullins wouldn't want her monitor to look any other way.

"You need to have the screen on there and it needs to be small. I don't want to carry around a little TV with me," she explained.

The folks at Summer Infant, for the record, say this is the first they've heard of parents confusing their monitors for other gadgets, but they'll happily cop to the fact that the design of their handheld monitors are in fact inspired by or comparable to other modern devices on everything from portability to color schemes. Their BabyTouch monitor, in particular, has a 3.5 inch LCD touch screen, with dimensions similar to that of an iPhone.

As cool as that one sounds, I think I'm going to forgo an upgrade to save myself the trouble of another monitor-in-pocketbook mishap.

And in case you're wondering, no, my monitor did not work from my office, some 20 miles away from home. Coincidentally, Summer Infant informed me that there's now an app for that - its new Peek Plus Baby Monitor (retailing at $349.99 at comes with a free smartphone app that would allow you to view your baby monitor's video feed from your mobile phone. Forget confusing your phone for your monitor; this way, your phone becomes your monitor.

… And maybe your purse becomes just a bit lighter too.

Want more information on the latest advances in tech? Check out ABC News' Tech This Out page.

For more Mildly Inappropriate Mommy, read:

Girls Heart Dissection: Changing Minds, One Virtual Scoop at a Time

Working Moms = Social Misfits? How to Fight Isolation

Babycinno Buzz Kill

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