Upgrade Your Life

Upgrade Your Life: Must-have gadgets for parents

Upgrade Your Life

Moms and dads need all the help they can get. So in this week's episode of Upgrade Your Life, Yahoo! News' Becky Worley shows us some must-have gadgets and apps for parents!

Motorola DECT 6.0 ($59) and Plantronics Calisto Pro ($279)

Most parents probably wish they could grow an extra hand. These cordless home phones won't give you a third arm, but they will let you talk on the phone hands-free. That's because they use the same BlueTooth technology that wireless cellphone headsets use.

The Motorola DECT is a decent budget phone, with all the basic features that you would expect. Its downside? Only so-so headset sound quality and comfort. But the Plantronics Calisto Pro may be one of the best home phones, period. The headset is easy to set up and stays in place when you're wearing it, the sound quality is superb, and you can even use it with your cellphone or to make Skype calls.

Speaking of which --

Skype app for iPhone ($0) and Qik for Android ($0)

If you haven't tried Skype out yet, here's the deal: Skype is an app that lets you make video calls for free. You can also make phone calls with it, but when it comes to communicating with your kids, it's all about video calling.

You may already have Skype installed on your Windows or Linux PC, or on your Mac. But there are also Skype apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, plus Android phones and tablets! And unlike Apple's FaceTime, the video chat works over a cellular connection as well as Wi-Fi. So when you're on that business trip and missing the toddler at home, just fire up Skype on your phone and get that baby fix.

The Android version of Skype doesn't yet support video chat. But Skype owns anther app called QIK, that does let you make video calls from your Android phone. You can download it at qik.com.

Compro IP540 Baby Monitor ($294)

Tired of being tied to your baby monitor's screen? How about a monitor that you can watch from your iPhone or Android phone? The Compro IP540, which is "powered by Seedonk," lets you do just that, with a free smartphone app. You can even use your PC or Mac's web browser, to watch your child over its secure connection.

The Compro IP540 has night vision sensors and "No geeks required" setup, plus a wireless adapter that lets it connect to your home's Wi-Fi network, so you don't have to drag a cable into your child's room. Another smartphone-enabled baby monitor is supposedly coming soon from a company called Withings, but there's no word yet on how much it will cost, or when it will be ready.

Baby Monitor iPhone app ($4.99) and Android app ($2.99)

Like the idea of using your smartphone to monitor your child, but don't have the money for an expensive camera? Just download the $4.99 Baby Monitor app for your iPhone. You can set your phone next to your child's bed, and have it text you on another phone or call your home number if it hears your child crying. It can even start a FaceTime call, to your compatible Apple device.

The Android app doesn't have a video feature, but it does let you record your voice or play as song for your child, as he or she falls asleep. It also keeps a full log of every noise it records, so you can play them back later. It's $2.99, and you can download a free trial from the Android Market.

Both apps are especially great for travel, since they don't need any hardware besides your smartphone!

Safety First Sleepy Baby Nail Clippers ($5.75)

Clipping a baby's fingernails is really nerve-wracking when they're new borns. You're hunched over tiny fingers, blocking the light, and you worry you'll clip them too close. Safety First Sleepy Baby nail clippers have built-in LED lights that illiuminate your baby's nails, and let you see what you're doing.

Meeno Babies "Cool Mee" Universal Car Seat Liner ($39)

Every kid wants to be cool, especially when he or she's crammed into a hot car seat. The Cool Mee seat liner comes in five colors, and it uses the same sort of wicking fabrics as Underarmor and Nike Fit, to increase air flow between your child and the car seat and to pull heat and sweat away from his or her body. The only downside is that the headpiece attaches with velcro, so you have to keep resticking it if you choose to use the top piece.

Eye-Fi 4 GB Connect SDHC Card ($42)

Do you have a shelf full of memory cards of your kids' photos, that you've been meaning to copy over stouchomeday? The Eye-Fi cards make this easy for you! They're camera memory cards that have a built in Wi-Fi connection, so as soon as you walk into your house they copy all of their pictures to your home computer. They even work with iPhoto, if you have a Mac.

Their "Eye-Fi View" feature lets you go online to check out all the pictures you've taken in the last seven days. You can even set them to upload everything automatically to Flickr or Facebook, instead of just copying pictures to your PC or Mac. Plus, the newest Eye-Fi cards can automatically send their photos to your iPhone, iPad, or Android smartphone or tablet instead, if you prefer.

There are a variety of Eye-Fi cards available, at different price points. All of them cost more than normal memory cards, but with their "Endless Memory Mode" -- which automatically makes room for more pictures as the old ones are uploaded -- you just might save some money in the long run.

Kidz-Med VeraTemp Non-Contact Thermometer ($29)

Tired of trying to get your child to hold the thermometer under his or her tongue? Here's a thermometer that doesn't even need to touch your child to get an accurate reading -- you can use it while he or she's sleeping! It's also good for checking if food, bathwater, or bottles are too hot or cold, or just for checking room temperature.

Of all the digital thermometers Becky has tried -- in-ear models, forehead-swiping thermometers -- this one is the most consistent, and the least traumatic for small children.

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Original article by Jared Spurbeck, published on May 24, 2011.

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