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The device that rocks the cradle

By Julie Clothier for CNN

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The cot is fitted with a sensor, and will gently rock the baby back to sleep.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Parents of newborn babies could be in for a better night's sleep, thanks to an invention by a young design graduate, which gently rocks a baby if it starts crying.

Garry Cho's "Caring Cot" could also save babies' lives, as it can sense whether the air temperature is appropriate and whether a baby is lying still for too long.

Acting as a virtual nanny, the device works on similar principles to baby monitors currently on the market, with a handheld device for parents linked up to a sensor attached to a cot.

But where existing models measure only sound, Cho's also measures movement and temperature, which could help the early detection of symptoms that lead to Sudden Infants Death Syndrome (SIDS).

SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a child aged one or younger.

Cho, 22, came up with the idea of the "Caring Cot" after babysitting a nine-month-old and found the monitor used was very basic.

He then did extensive research, talking to and surveying parents and reading a wide range of material, from case studies to baby magazines.

"I found that 60 percent of the time, babies cry for no reason, which means parents are getting up in the middle of the night when they don't need to. The babies require a bit of rocking to put them back to sleep," he says.

Cho, of North London, says he discovered vertical rocking was more effective than side-to-side rocking, and so he built a rocking device into the cot that moves up and down.

It automatically rocks after the child cries for more than 30 seconds.

If they cry for more than two continuous minutes, despite rocking being activated, it signals to the parents' handheld device that something is wrong, by sounding an alarming and activating flashing lights and a vibrating signal.

"If a child remains unsettled for that long, it usually means something is wrong, that the child needs to be fed or that they are not well," he says.

But equally important, says Cho, is detecting if a child does not move. His device is fitted with a movement sensor, similar but much smaller than those fitted in burglar alarms.

It is programmed in a way to anticipate some movement from the baby.

"Babies generally tend to have a solid period of sleep for 90 minutes, which is followed by a period of 10 to 15 minutes of some movement," says Cho.

"The Caring Cot sounds an alarm if a baby does not move after 110 minutes."

Cho designed the prototype as part of his design degree at London's Brunel University and has had some commercial interest from a Hong Kong manufacturer.

The UK-based Pampers diapers Web site, for parents of young children, has described Cho as "ingenious" for thinking of the idea.

"The burden of a crying baby can seem enormous," says the site.

"Especially if you are coping on your own. And so often the cause of the crying is not entirely clear."


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