Can Apps Help With Parenting And Baby Care? A Pediatrician's Advice And Top Picks

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Whether you're a first-time parent or a seasoned pro, nearly everyone can use help navigating parenthood, especially when caring for babies and toddlers. From ounces ingested to diapers soiled, there are plenty of things to track during your baby’s first months and years of life. Apps can help with that.

"The most important thing to track is a baby's growth and development," says Jacqueline Metz, D.O., a pediatrician at Henry Ford Health System. "Parenting apps are appealing because they help parents track how their baby is trending over time."

Helpful Parenting Apps

When you're a new parent, you have to keep track of a lot of "stuff." Is your baby dirtying the right number of diapers? How often and for how long is your baby napping? How many ounces of breastmilk or formula are they taking in daily?

"There are so many parenting apps to support parents as they adjust to caring for a new baby," Dr. Metz says. "But parents shouldn't feel like they have to use an app to track baby's every movement." Instead, she recommends using apps to record specific data about the things that matter most to you (and your baby).

A few favorites:

  1. Baby Connect: This powerful app helps parents track sleep schedules, feedings, medications and physician visits. You can also set reminders for feedings and share information with sitters and caregivers.
  2. CDC's Milestone Tracker: Using simple illustrated checklists, this handy app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows you to track your baby's milestones from 2 months through 5 years old. You'll get CDC's tips for encouraging your child's development. The app also tracks your child's doctor appointments and sends reminders about recommended developmental screenings.
  3. Huckleberry: Designed primarily to help families create a custom sleep plan that supports baby's growth and development, Huckleberry also tracks diaper changes, feedings and growth.
  4. Sprout baby: This app helps you track diaper, feeding and milestone data and keeps tabs on doctor's appointments. You can even convert baby's data to a PDF for easy sharing with the child's pediatrician. "One feature I really like is the ability to track symptoms of an illness," Dr. Metz says.
  5. Vaccines on the Go: Created by the pediatric experts at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Vaccines on the Go puts information about vaccines right at your fingertips. The app also provides recommended immunization schedules for children, teens and adults, along with vaccine safety information.
  6. White Noise: As the name implies, the white noise app produces white noise to help babies sleep. Even if you have white noise machine at home, an app like this can help when you're away from home and need your baby to nap or sleep without having to add the machine to the packing list. "These apps can be very helpful for young babies who benefit from white noise while they sleep," Dr. Metz says. "Just be mindful that you're not playing the white noise too loudly and that the app is placed at least 12 inches from the baby's head.” 

Be wary of apps that come with a hefty price tag, Dr. Metz cautions. "Apps with premium features usually aren't necessary, especially if your baby is healthy," Dr. Metz says. "Since you can track all of your baby's data with a pen and paper, I don’t think parents should be paying money for the option to track with an app.

App-Free Parenting

Parenting apps provide a ton of information about your baby with just a swipe. The trouble is, it's easy to get bogged down in data. You may even start to feel like you have to track everything baby does 24/7.

"In my practice, I've seen families feel overwhelmed while using these apps and like they have to track everything their baby does. That's unnecessary," Dr. Metz says. "As a pediatrician, I want to see trends over time."

The bottom line: Apps can be helpful for parents who enjoy tracking data, but they're not necessary to raise a healthy and happy child. What's more, if you're the type of parent who can become obsessed with tracking information, you may miss out on your baby's subtle cues, milestones and smiles when they happen in real time.

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To find a doctor or pediatrician at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Dr. Jacqueline Metz is a pediatrician who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center - Ford Road in Dearborn.

Categories: ParentWell