So, the baby has arrived. He or she sleeps and then doesn’t sleep, feeds and then won’t feed, cries a lot, requires frequent nappy changes and is a constant source of worry for the new parent. Indeed, as a first-time mum, I often find myself on the phone to my own mother or Googling random baby topics in the middle of the night. What is colic? Where can I find baby massage classes? Is this a rash to worry about?
Over the early months of parenthood, my iPhone has also become a constant companion: filled with an increasing number of applications to provide me with information, keep record of my baby’s feeds and keep in touch with family and friends. From these, I’ve picked the ten applications that really helped me through the first three months in the hope that they might also prove useful to other new Mums and Dads here in the UK.
Bounty, the people behind the free sample packs that you may have received during your midwife visits or in the hospital, have also created a free iPhone application packed with articles and videos to help UK parents through their early months with a baby. Topics covered range from bathing and sleeping to what to wear when you’re breastfeeding and when you need to take your baby to the doctor.
The application also features regularly updated news items on baby-related subjects, information on what to expect week-by-week for the first thirteen weeks, and even a baby rattle that can be activated by shaking your phone.
The developers of Baby Smiles are parents themselves, who have created an application that summarises their own views and research on the first six months of parenthood. In doing so, they’ve put together a useful resource for other new parents, containing articles relevant to the health and wellbeing of both baby and mother, growth charts, sample feeding and sleeping schedules, and a diary to record how your little one changes from day to day.
One of the nicest features of Baby Smiles is its personalisation. Enter your baby’s name, gender and date of birth the first time you use the application and the articles then refer to your baby by name and correct gender pronoun. On opening the application again, you’re greeted with your child’s current age and a tip for the day. Today’s tip: looking in the mirror together and pulling funny faces can be a lot of fun. Yes, indeed.
Even when you get to three months, it might be a while before your baby’s ready to be weaned off formula or breast milk. However, if you feel like reading ahead about this next rather messy stage of your baby’s development, you might want to download CleverMatrix’s Baby Weaning Food application.
While the exact time you start weaning and your baby’s first foods is something to discuss with your doctor or a community health nurse, Baby Weaning Food gives a good overview of the types of food you might want to try – from apples to sweet potatoes – and how each of them can be turned into a baby-friendly puree. If you’re really planning ahead, there’s also a recipe for a Christmas meal mix. I wonder if brussel sprouts taste any better when blended?
When did you last feed your baby? How long has he been sleeping for? How many wet nappies has she had today? When you’re sleep deprived yourself, it can be difficult to remember the answers to these questions. With Baby Timer, however, you can time feeds and sleeps as they occur, as well as enter nappy changes, vaccinations, doctor’s visits, the day’s activities and a range of other baby-related data.
While BabyTimer is not the most visually attractive application, it is easy to use. The recorded data helps you answer those ‘when did your baby’ questions, and the 24 hour log and the weekly averages allow you to spot regular patterns in your baby’s behaviour and work out their individual routine.
Having a baby means doing a lot of things on repeat: feed, change, settle to sleep. However, around these every-day tasks, there are always other things on a new parent’s to-do list. For me, the list-making application, Paperless, provided a way of recording what needed to be done around the house and slowly ticking things off item-by-item whenever I got a spare moment.
There are no alarms or due dates here, so it’s not an application for reminding you about important GP or hospital appointments, but it can bring your lists – from to-dos, to gifts received, to books to share with your new baby – all into one place and help you feel that you’ve still got some semblance of order in your life.
This is the era of Facebook and, as such, when a new baby is born the requests for Facebook photos come in thick and fast. If you’re so inclined, you can use the iPhone Facebook application to share photos of your hour-old baby from the delivery suite (provided there is mobile reception) and watch the comments start coming in from friends and family around the world.
These comments, and the regular status updates from your contacts, can help new parents to continue to feel connected, even when their baby-caring duties don’t allow so much time for a social life. I know I’ve spent many a night feed browsing the Facebook news feed from my iPhone!
The Skype application allows you to make free phone calls to other Skype users. This is benefit enough for new parents, as they watch their savings being slowly eaten up by sleep-suits and disposable nappies.
However, the real benefit of Skype on the iPhone is that it allows friends and family who live far away to access your baby’s world. The rear-facing camera means that you don’t have to be stuck holding your baby up to the computer to show an Australian uncle her first smiles. Instead, with a wi-fi connection, you can use the Skype application to stream live video from the changing table or under the play gym or wherever your baby may be.
As a new parent, you’re often told that newborns need a lot of sleep. However, it sometimes seems that nobody has passed on this information to your baby. It can take hours to settle a crying infant to sleep – and then before you know it, they’re awake again.
Everyone has advice on how to settle a baby: swaddling, rocking, feeding them to sleep. You also might want to try playing them calming music or noises that they heard in the womb. While it’s not to be used as ‘a substitute for the loving care of a human’ (as the disclaimer says), Baby Sleep Comforter gives you a range of sounds you can use to try and calm your baby: from ‘lapping waves’ to ‘vacuum cleaner’. In monitor mode, these sounds are triggered when the baby cries out, hopefully lulling them back to sleep again.
While having a new baby can be overwhelming and exhausting at times, it’s also a lot of fun to watch your little one grow and develop. Gymboree’s Play & Music application draws on their book, Play & Learn: 1001 Fun Activities for Your Baby and Child to present new mums and dads with over 365 activities to share with their baby.
These activities are sorted by location – activities for the home, for on the go, eating out and so on – and can also be filtered by the age of your child. For each activity, there’s also the option to save it as a favourite or find out why it’s beneficial to your child’s development (after all, when you’re being advised to make silly faces at your baby when you’re at the supermarket, it’s always good to know why).
The application also gives you the words and tunes for a number of baby songs, which is useful if, like me, you haven’t had reason to sing a nursery rhyme since you were a child yourself.
Ever since she was days old, our baby has been fascinated by black and white patterns. We’ve got our fair share of black and white books, black and white pictures on the wall by her crib, and a black and white helium balloon by her changing table.
Baby Look are a suite of iPhone applications that follow a similar philosophy, using high contrast images which 0–18 month-olds can watch and interact with. Baby Look Patterns, for example, plays a slide show of black and white patterns: squares and dots, triangles and squiggles. Being used to more complex applications, I initially thought, ‘is this it?!’ However, our baby seems to really love watching the shapes change, and it has been known to calm her right down when she’s fussing.
At three months old, our baby reaches out towards the black and white pictures, and I wonder how long it will be till she wants an iPhone of her own!