When you’re in the thick of the new mama days, it’s all about sleep (and the kind of exhaustion you never thought was possible) and making sure your baby’s alive and well, literally. The Nanit is a smart baby monitor that helps new parents watch their babes with smart sensors to track baby’s sleeping and waking patterns. The monitor tracks things like when and how your baby falls asleep, parent visits and any sleep “activity” throughout the night.
Nanit is nothing like the baby monitors of the past which had basic audio and video capabilities. The Nanit is said to be the only smart baby monitor that connects parents to their baby’s health and development and also reports helping babies sleep for longer stretches. It’s also the smart monitor of choice for celebs like Gigi Hadid and Halsey.
Summit mom Sarah Dorsett has been leading Nanit as its CEO for nearly two years. She calls Nanit the “Google Maps of parenting navigation” designed to support new parents on their journey. We chatted with Sarah about what’s happening at the baby tech startup, how it impacts new parents and what she loves to do in and around Summit with her family.
New Jersey Family: You joined Nanit as CEO in 2019 and the company has grown dramatically since then and especially during the pandemic. What have you been able to do to drive this success?
Sarah Dorsett: Since I joined, we’ve listened to our users and thoughtfully applied the incredible capabilities of computer vision to develop Nanit into a resource that helps parents gain more information about their child’s wellbeing. We’ve launched textiles—items like pajamas and crib sheets—that augment the capabilities of the Nanit camera and that parents already use on a daily basis. We also introduced a digital baby book into the Nanit app where the camera captures moments parents might miss when they are not in the nursery. Nanit is the Google Maps of parenting navigation. Similarly to Google Maps, our goal is not to set your destination or put parenting on auto-pilot but to naturally augment parents’ confidence with the insights that support their parenting journey. As more and more parents have shared their great experiences with Nanit, we’ve seen growing interest.
NJF: During the first few months of the pandemic, there was a huge uptick in interest in the video piece of Nanit since grandparents and other family members weren’t gathering together in person. How did this work for Nanit?
SD: Parents use our app to be able to view and even engage with their baby and to access many other features we offer. They can also add users, like grandparents, caregivers and friends to what we call their parenting team. Since we are app-based, anyone can download the app and a parent with a Nanit camera can add them to their team to be able to see the baby and talk to them through two-way audio. As lockdowns went into place last year, this feature became a way for family and friends to stay connected to little ones that they were unable to meet and visit. At the start of the pandemic, we added additional user profiles to the parenting team feature so parents could invite even more friends and family members to be looped into their baby’s experience since they couldn’t be there in person. We saw many families use this feature over the last year so much so that now 20 percent of users are grandparents, aunts, uncles and other friends and family members.
NJF: SIDS is a huge worry for new moms and Nanit also tracks baby’s oxygen. How does this feature work?
SD: For some parents, leaving their baby alone in their crib does make them feel anxious for many reasons. Nanit is designed to help parents feel confident that their baby is okay in their crib. We know the crib is actually a magical place where babies do a lot of their growing and developing. Nanit’s computer vision can alert parents to sound and motion and can also track breathing motion when used with our line of wearables called Breathing Wear. Breathing Wear is unique because every item is made entirely of cotton with no wires or sensors. The camera’s computer vision analyzes the subtle movements of the baby’s chest using a unique pattern printed on the fabric and our smart algorithms to detect a baby’s breathing motion in light or dark environments from any angle. Breathing Wear comes in a variety of options – a band, swaddle, sleeping bag and pajamas.
NJF: Nanit has had positive reviews about the way it helps babies sleep longer. How is a baby’s sleep tracked?
SD: Nanit uses computer vision, machine learning and sleep science to understand a baby’s sleep and movement in the crib. Based on images delivered from the camera, Nanit uses algorithms that analyze and track behaviors. Our smart algorithms can detect a baby’s sleeping patterns and actions such as how long it takes them to fall asleep, putting themselves back to sleep and parental visits. That analysis is returned to parents in a daily report and in personalized sleep coaching, based on that data, to help their baby develop a sleep routine and sleep better.
NJF: How do you juggle running a fast-growing tech company with raising kids?
SD: It’s absolutely a juggle. I don’t know if I actually succeed at juggling as much as I just try to apply the same principle to both which is to keep the business and the family happy and healthy. More so during the pandemic than ever before, I found myself defining not only my own rules for work and parenting but also how I measured my own success for each one.
NJF: You live in Summit with your family. What do you love most about your community?
SD: I love almost everything about Summit. It’s a gorgeous town with so much to do. We moved here after 15 years in NYC and I was so happy to find that the community is centered around families. There’s more than enough for the kids to get involved in and so many programs where families can enjoy time together.
NJF: What do you like to do with the kids in NJ?
SD: Just about anything. We love movie nights, fishing, sporting events, shows and fairs, days at the beach and even hours at the batting cages. Hiking has become a recent favorite especially when we can include our dog, Chase.
NJF: What does a perfect family day look like?
SD: The perfect day is honestly any day when we can all spend time together and everyone comes home happy and exhausted. The best summer days are often grilling out by the pool and ending the night with my husband’s famous backyard fireworks show.
NJF: What does self-care look like for you these days?
SD: I’m lucky to have the career I’ve had because I have such an appreciation for how things are made. Sometimes the most relaxing day for me is actually taking some time to discover something new. I also developed a very DIY approach to self-care during the pandemic and found that DIY manicures actually force me to relax so I’m now on the hunt for fun new colors.
NJF: What’s next for Nanit in the way of new products or enhancements?
SD: We launched Smart Sheets earlier in the spring with Nanit Pro, our latest Nanit camera. For anyone that’s tried to measure a wiggly baby, they know it can be tricky and often inaccurate. Parents simply lay their baby or toddler down on a Smart Sheet in the crib and let Nanit do the work. Parents use the in-app tools to mark the key measurement points on the baby, then Nanit processes the baby’s height based on its calibration against the pattern printed on the Smart Sheet. Parents can see a real-time reading of their baby’s height and track growth progress over time.
We just launched a global community for parents connecting them to each other in our Nanit way – through data. The Nanit Community connects parents to each other to share their questions and experiences as well as expert content and resources on all things parenting.
NJF: What advice can you share for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners when it comes to growing their business or increasing their footprint?
SD: Continuous improvement has been a big theme throughout my career and I’ve witnessed firsthand how anything that wasn’t constantly changing seemed to diminish in perceived value over time. However, the best advice I received in this start-up world I’m now in was that companies don’t die of starvation but they do die from indigestion, meaning, don’t try to do too much. Spend the time to prioritize, make smart choices and test new ideas so you can stay focused on making the next thing you do really successful.