We’ve all been there. Maybe, it’s 2am. Maybe, it’s half past four. The time doesn’t really matter. What matters is that somehow, despite being subjected to the ongoing torture of a child who just will not sleep, you have reached inside your barely functioning brain and plucked out an idea that it going to make you billions. ‘That’s absolute genius,’ you think, before perking up, rocking the baby into a snooze, heading back to your bedroom and excitedly tapping your partner. “I’ve done it,” you exclaim. “Quit your job and go on a spending spree, because I’ve come up with the next big parenting must-have.”
At this point my better half will either punch me for waking her up or roll her eyes and disinterestedly listen to what I have to say. If she goes down the former route, then the dream dies there and then. But if she chooses the latter option, then it remains a thing for at least two or three minutes. And what a glorious 120 or 180 seconds they are. I see the R&D, the early prototypes, the logo and the packaging. I see 5-star reviews, awards, business leaders fist-fighting to invest in my brand and happy parents discussing how I’ve made their lives 562,000,000 times better. But most of all I see a big house, piles of cash and… …then comes the reality check.
“Do you have the £100k you’d need to get this device off the ground?” yawns my wife. “Well, no. But…”
“…And how would you keep the weight low enough to make it portable?” ‘I haven’t thought that far, but obviously…’
“…And you do know that Tommy Tippee launched this exact thing six years ago and sells 60,000 units per year.” “Um, um, um. I don’t know. Okay. It was just an idea. Now, let’s go to sleep. Baby’ll no doubt be up in 20 minutes.”
“Are you in a huff, Stuart?”
“No, I’m asleep.”
“How can you talk when you’re asleep?”
“Fine, if you’re going to be like that. Why don’t you publish your ideas in one of your precious blogs?”
“Maybe I will.”
“I thought you were asleep.”
Boy, do we have some fun in this house. But when the partying stops the hard work begins, with my wife rolling up her sleeves and saving the world as a doctor, and me opening up my laptop and spamming the world as a blogger. Today, she’s supervising the final medical exams at one of the UK’s top universities (good luck, students) and I’m overseeing my latest midweek list. And just to prove that I do listen to the love of my life, this one focuses on 5 inventions that would make life easier for parents.
1. The Mini Burper
For years, I was the undisputed trapped wind champion of the house. Then the little man came along and put me in my place with his stomach-tightening bouts of colic. During months two and three, things got so bad it would take my wife and I more than 30 minutes to get a burp out of him. These tear-filled sessions, which were usually spent slogging up and down the stairs, both improved my leg muscles and got me thinking. ‘Why hasn’t anyone marketed a tiny wind-up or battery-powered mini-hand that parents could use to rhythmically tap, tap, tap a burp out of their baby?’ According to my wife, it’s because “it’s just as easy using your actual hand”. According to my arthritis and RSI, it’s a guaranteed money-spinner.
2. The Headband Mirror
You’ve pumped up the white noise, dimmed the lights, shut the nursery door and sung 73 renditions of Twinkle, Twinkle in the most soothing key you can muster. Now baby is nestled snugly of your shoulder and seems ready to be put down. But are his or her eyes still open? If you’re the type of parent who has the foresight to put a mirror on baby’s bedroom wall, then you’ll know the answer to this question. If you’re like me, then you have three options. You can put baby down and hope for the best, you can step out of the calming oasis in search of a mirror or your partner, or you can invest in my patented headband mirror.
This gloriously practical gadget takes its inspiration from well-respected products like the head umbrella and the happy birthday candle headband and sees a parent don a headband that has small mirrors dangling off its front and back during the sleepytime routine. What happens next? Next, you get baby to chill out on your shoulder, use the mirrors on the headband to judge when he or she has reached a deep sleep, lay them down safely and strut out of the room like you are the Saturday Night Fever John Travolta of parenting.
3. The Tooth Detector
If someone can invent a metal detector that can pinpoint Roman coins buried deep beneath a Shropshire cow pasture. Then I find it difficult to believe that no-one can design a tooth detector that tells parents where the next sleep-killing gum breakthrough is going to take place. Sure, in the grand scheme of things this would be an expensive luxury that does diddly-squat to make your or your kid’s life better. But it also sounds pretty cool, right?
4. The Robo Cry Descrambler
We all know that kids have a wide selection of cries that they are able to pull out at will, but how on earth do you tell the difference between an attention seeking wail and a bona fide I tried to get up and banged my head on the side of the cot blubber when it’s 2am and the last time you had more than two hours of uninterrupted sleep was during the Obama administration? With The Robo Cry Descrambler, of course.
Initially, you use this sleek, two-piece gizmo to record each of your baby’s cries (e.g. “2.13pm, Friday March 3, needed milk”; “3.47am, Saturday March 2, wet nappy leak”). Then, once every scream is documented, you place one part in baby’s nursery and the other in your bedroom. Done this? Great. Now, lie back, relax and wait for your pride and joy to begin making a racket in the middle of the night. What happens then? Then, the device in the nursery deciphers the type of noise your little one is making and the device in your bedroom issues a short verbal report like: “Poop cry: nappy change required,” or “Fighting sleep because I am a stubborn rebel without a cause cry: stay in bed.”
“That’s actually quite a good idea,” says my wife. I know. I KNOW!
5. The Pop-up Bassinet
I have a dream that one day I will be able to leave the house without planning for every potential eventuality and packing more kit than I would need to summit Everest. And I believe this dream would be far closer to becoming reality if someone did the right thing and invented a pop-up bassinet. This parental godsend is essentially a simple, mini-version of the pop-up tents lazy people like myself find so helpful. Just open the bag, chuck the contents up in the air and, hey presto, you have a lightweight mobile sleeping chamber for your child. In my head, this product would truly come into its own on planes, but it would also save you lugging travel cots to festivals, friends’ houses, family events, weddings, Next Boxing Day Sale queues etc. etc.
And that’s it. End of list. End of article. End of sales pitch. If you like what you’ve read and want to play a part in helping these gadgets see the light of day send cash pledges to firstname.lastname@example.org or steal the ideas and make them yourselves.