The virtual baby

Dd is studying child development as one of her gcse options. Part of the course involves looking after a virtual baby for a weekend. These dolls were created to show young adults some of the reality of having a baby. Of course you don't get lots of the horror, no poo, no vomit, no worryingly unexpected high temperatures or rashes. But you don't get much of the fun either, no squishy cuddles, no laughs, no smiles, no kicking feet. But you do get to experience the thing all new parents get, a lack of sleep.

DD has always been very keen on children. She adores babies and kids, so I was surprised at her reaction to the baby.

Virtual baby doll in buggy

Day one, the baby is set to react like a newborn. It wakes and sleeps at all times of the day and night, it constantly wants feeding or changing (they have nappies with little sensors in, so the computer in the baby can tell if you actually changed the nappy) but unlike real babies it's never especially cute. It seems that they are mostly annoying or boring. The first night the baby did not want to sleep at 9pm, DD's normal bedtime, by the time she was ready for bed it was 10pm, I wen to bed then too. The baby woke in the night, waking me each time too, at midnight, 2am, 3.45am, 5am and then again at about 6am. I had to go to work and I left an exhausted and pissed off dd at home.

During the day the baby continued to be needy and DD continued being annoyed. By the evening I was actually concerned for the fake babies safety and took it into the hall for a while to rock it as it cried. Poor DD she was determined by this stage that she would never have children!

toy baby virtual baby child buggy

Day two the baby is set to behave a few weeks older. Last night the baby slept more, but still woke several times. The joy of nappy changing on a virtual baby is the lack of poo, the non existent risk of an explosive nappy and the need to change all the baby's clothes plus bath it and change all the cot sheets. But on the downside there are no cheeky grins or raspberries. DD is finding it hard to 'like' the virtual baby. It gives nothing back to the virtual parent.

The day went better though, the baby was more settled and fed and cried less.

Day three. Last day to be a mum. DD was into her stride by now, recognising the various cries and sorting the baby's problems really quickly. Sadly she still doesn't really get anything from it - it's very automated now, just a quick feed, burp, nappy change, no eye contact no snuggles.

When she woke on the morning the baby was due to be returned she said "oh wow I had a great nights sleep!" and I asked if the baby had slept though, "No, she replied but it only woke once at 1am it was bliss" haha I think maybe she will make a mum after all.

baby in a buggy toy doll

Our view of the virtual baby is that as it's designed to show children what a real baby is like and put them off parenthood too early it sort of works. But it's a bit of a cheat, it gives you the noisy bits of the baby but that's really all it does, there is no mess, no making up of feeds, (no breastfeeding and subsequent sore nipples!) no bathing. And there are no real nice bits at all, no cuddles, no smiles, no kicking feet or grabbing your finger. One thing she did say "This would be so much easier with someone to help" It's a reasonable tool but i think maybe I should borrow a real baby for DD ... anyone need a break ... for a few minutes? Before she gets annoyed and gives the baby back?

1 comment:

  1. Aw, it's a pity I didn't see this post a bit earlier. I used to work for the IT dept of a local council that provided these 'dolls' for the teenagers that they had 'On the books' - Apart from the huge range of responses that you can program into them (You can make them more or less needy as you think the potential parent deserves / can handle)

    There was also one that used to gurlge at random, whether it was turned on or off... We sent that one back to the manufacturer. (After we'd left it locked in a filing cabinet in a store-room for a month at a remote-site that got used as a hot-desk drop-in centre for social workers that is)


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