Our journey to having baby began with a half-hearted conversation about parenthood during a spring break happy hour. I wasn’t really sure where to start, but thanks to some friends who were a few steps ahead of me, I knew there was an app or two to help me figure it out. Some months later I was throwing out my birth control and downloading something to my phone called a “fertility tracker.”
Once the baby arrived, even more apps found their way onto our devices, some helpful, some not-so-helpful (I’m looking at you, Facebook). The truth is, parenting is hard enough, so it’s nice to have a little help and support available at my fingertips. If you’re looking for some apps to guide you in your own pregnancy and parenting journey, here’s a list of my personal favorites:
When to Download: When You’re TTC
The app, all color-coded and calendar-ridden, spoke immediately to my type-A soul. Soon my plans revolved around daily predictions as analyzed by this cycle tracking program that seemed to have the whole baby-making thing down to a science.
What to Expect
When to Download: During Pregnancy
The weekly updates seemed to be 90% on the money, listing my ailments in real time as I was experiencing them. Along with helpful updates, size comparisons, and tips for easing discomforts, there was also the handy dandy community portion of these applications. Message boards serving as a place for women to compare notes as their pregnancies progressed and there were some days when this feature was so helpful. After all, I needed to know I wasn’t the only one experiencing something seemingly bizarre like one of my feet growing two sizes or the beginning of my Braxton Hicks contractions.
However, there were also days when those discussion boards sent me on an anxiety-ridden spiral. As a survivor of multiple miscarriages, I had a hard enough time holding onto my hope and remaining optimistic without consuming scary stories. So if you wade into the world of motherhood message boards, just do it with caution, mamas.
The growing baby updates are so exciting to keep up with, but keep in mind that although pregnancy is something many women experience, no two women experience it in exactly the same way. If ever in doubt about a symptom or sudden pain, please consult your doctor, not a message board.
When to Download: The Newborn Days
This app is great for the first few fuzzy, sleep-deprived days of parenting and beyond. Useful features like tracking feedings (by time or ounces), diapers, and naps make it ideal for relaying information to hospital nurses and pediatricians.
When to Download: When the Dust Settles (4-5 weeks)
This app is both a blessing and a curse, with a handy chart that allows you to see baby’s upcoming mental leaps and “stormy weeks.” The app has useful tips for helping baby conquer new skills and concepts. Most importantly, the app allows you to gain a much-needed perspective and point of understanding for baby’s sudden mood swings. Just when you’re wondering why on earth your previously sweet baby is refusing to nap, the app will remind you that—oh yeah—this week, sleep regression is totally normal!
When to Download: After the Fourth Trimester (3-12 months)
This is another tracking tool that is especially helpful for determining sleep patterns and nailing down wake times for baby. This app is intuitive and predicts “sweet spots” for your baby’s next nap and bedtime based on baby’s age and their sleep schedule for the day. There’s no need to download Huckleberry until your baby’s naps and bedtimes become more predictable. After you’ve logged a few days of data, there’s also an option to get a personalized sleep consultation (for a fee).
The Best App Ever? Your Intuition
Apps can be great and we can all welcome the tips, the timers, the trackers, and everything in between. But the best “app” of all to guide your parenting is your very own intuition. So when your gut says baby is hungry, feed baby and forget the clock. When baby rubs those precious eyes and rolls out a big yawn, put baby down for a nap and ignore the fact that your app’s prediction was off by fifteen minutes.
Apps aren’t all-knowing. The fertility app could not predict our miscarriages, the pregnancy app wasn’t able to predict my C-section, and I’ve yet to find an app that can tell me exactly when to expect an extra hungry, extra tired, or extra cranky baby. And let’s not forget the wonderful moments that no app can predict: that first smile, or baby cutting that first tooth or unleashing a belly laugh for the first time.
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