As a first-time parent, I had a lot to learn after my baby was born.I had to figure out how to change a nappy, prepare for bath time, set up a door bouncer, purée apples and stretch a tiny vest over a not-so-tiny head. Second-time parents, I imagine, have most of this sorted. However, they’ve got an additional challenge – how to prepare their older child for the arrival of a new brother or sister.Developed by Kathleen Shimmield, the iMommy iPhone application aims to both entertain these older children and teach them how to interact with a newborn.
As you open the application, you’re asked to choose the gender and nationality of your baby, as well as choose colours for eyes, hair and sleepsuit. You can then interact with your virtual infant in five different environments: the bedroom, kitchen, playroom, bathroom, and on the changing mat. Drag the soap and shampoo over the baby in the bathtub, for example, and soap bubbles appear. Use the water jug to rinse them off, or let your baby play with a toy boat or rubber duck. Each interaction is rewarded with a short animation and sound effect (your virtual baby is a bit of a noisy sleeper!). Apart from the radio in the playroom, which plays English songs, there are no spoken words or written instructions for this application, allowing it to be used by children of all nationalities.
This isn’t a sim game. Your baby won’t learn anything. It won’t get any older. It’ll need a new nappy every time you see it on the changing mat. And indeed, if you restart your phone and open iMommyagain, you’ll be invited to create a brand new baby.
However, as a teaching tool for children, this seems to be a very useful application. My five-month-old already seemed interested in the cartoon baby and the cries emanating from my phone – and I’ll definitely be saving this application, just in case I have the need to use it in the future.