10 New-Parent Apps to Download Right Now, According to Local Moms and Dads
From tracking feedings to lactation support, these apps are here to make your life easier.
“I’m New at This” is Be Well Philly’s biweekly series for new and soon-to-be parents. This educational resource covers the ins and outs of prepping for the arrival of a little one and taking care of them — and yourself — with insight and advice from local experts. Tips featured in “I’m New at This” are recommendations, and we believe in pursuing methods and approaches that work best for your unique family. Have a question you’d like to see answered? Email Be Well editor Laura Brzyski at Lbrzyski@phillymag.com.
When I arrived home from Penn Hospital after 34 hours of labor and an unplanned C-section last March, I needed a vacation (and probably lots of therapy). Instead, it was time to get to work taking care of my darling 10 lb., 7 oz. newborn. Fortunately, the answer to keeping my sanity was at my fingertips — in the App Store.
I asked some other local parents for their favorite new-parent apps — because sharing is caring (and life-saving!). Read on for 10 recommendations from Philly moms and dads.
For prepping before baby arrives
Franchesca Isaac, owner of Alma Acupuncture in Fishtown and mom to a six-year-old and a one-month-old, says What to Expect was her favorite app during her recent pregnancy. “I loved to keep up-to-date with each week of pregnancy and joined my pregnancy month forum for the virtual community,” she says. What to Expect also features an ovulation calculator, a development tracker (so you can see what fruit your baby’s size should be akin to), information about your changing body, and a due date countdown.
For local fashion and lifestyle influencer Davida Janae (@vidafashionista), Ovia Pregnancy was especially helpful these past 38 weeks. (She is expecting her second child any day now!) “Along with the app giving you details about your growing body and baby, you can track many things like your mood, symptoms, and blood pressure, write notes to yourself or to baby, add doctors appointments, set reminders, and more,” she says.
For tracking everything after baby arrives
Feedings, diaper changes, sleep — there’s a lot to keep track of, which can be particularly challenging in those overwhelming early days.
“My husband and I realized we could use help tracking while at the doctor’s office when we’d have completely different answers to the question, ‘How many wet diapers a day?’” says Point Breeze resident and mom of a 21-month-old Marie DiFeliciantonio, who recommends Huckleberry. “We couldn’t remember at all. Later, it became useful when sleep training. We figure out our son napped 3-4 hours after waking in the morning, so we could mark the time and set alarms if we wanted. Also, we could give the login to anyone helping to take care of our son for any period of time, so we’d know how his day went and still be able to get him to bed according to his ‘wake window.’”
Casey Watson, who lives in East Passyunk and is a new dad to an eight-month-old, is partial to Baby Tracker. “For me, the hardest thing to find was an app that tracked things like sleep, feeding, pumping, etc., but that was not trying to get you to read a million advice articles. There are plenty of good resources for content like that, but it seems like most of the ‘baby tracking’ apps are actually there to get you to read content first and the tracking stuff is just tacked on,” he says. “I eventually found one that had a good tracking function and didn’t try to push any other newsletters or blogs. Design-wise, Baby Tracker is way behind the others, but the functionality is really good.”
Personally (although I admittedly didn’t experiment with any others) I’ve loved Nara Baby Tracker to record feedings and diaper changes. My husband and I can both access it from our phones, log every feeding and diaper change, and see the history and trends of our baby’s activity to know if anything abnormal is going on. Our extremely knowledgeable postpartum doula had recommended it as a foolproof tool for new parents, and she was right!
For sleep help
The Hatch brand of smart sleep devices comes with an app that allows you to switch up the sounds and lights from your phone. “It helps us differentiate reasons we’re in the nursery, and helps baby make those connections to sounds/colors,” says Jordan Price, Fishtown resident, mom to a three-month-old, and food and fitness influencer (@foodsweatnbeers). “A green light plus birds means it’s time to wake up. Red light plus TV noises signal it’s time for sleep. Dim orange/yellow and a lullaby means post-bath, bedtime feed and book.”
I’m also a fan of the Hatch “Rest” device and believe it’s part of the reason (aside from sheer good luck) that my baby sleeps through the night.
For milestone questions
Whenever our baby has been unexpectedly fussy the past few months, my husband BJ reminds me that she’s in a ‘leap,’ a term we learned from the app The Wonder Weeks. You simply plug in your child’s birthday, and it tells you what to expect from their behavior by week. It’s certainly alleviated a lot of anxiety and built our confidence as first-time parents with no frame of reference. BJ connects the app to the calendar on his phone and gets alerts for when our daughter enters a new developmental stage.
DiFeliciantonio agrees, saying the app “gave us some reassurance that our son was progressing and there wasn’t some other issue bubbling under the surface that he couldn’t tell us about. It also explained each leap as far as brain development and the skills he was acquiring. No kid is ‘by the book’ but it was nice to have a general idea of what was happening with him.”
For lactation support
Price recommends the Pacify app, noting that it’s free through the city. “When I had a serious case of mastitis, it was great to have an on-demand resource with tips to reduce pain/engorgement [and] ideas of how to reduce it in the future,” she says. The app connects new parents to a network of registered nurses, doulas, and lactation consultants for virtual support.
Mari Silber, owner of Queen Village-based Pilates and TRX studio The Balance Room and mom to a four-month-old, uses the Elvie wireless pump. The accompanying app, she says, “is super helpful in tracking how much I’m pumping, and saves all of my metrics in case I want to track the progression of my milk supply.”
For finding community
When I’m on Facebook these days, it’s usually to check out the city-and-neighborhood-specific groups that have been surprisingly helpful when it comes to parenting in Philly. Props to the “Babysitters Club of Philadelphia” and “South Silly Parents” groups on Facebook for helping me find the perfect nanny in a crunch and offering honest assessments of local daycares. And when the height of the formula shortage was happening, parents in the “Philadelphia Formula Find & Exchange” group helped each other out by posting where they were finding formula and offering to pick up specific brands that other parents might need.