Babies! Yes! I’m a dad now and it’s all about babies these days. This blogpost is about the digital side of the new household situation. There is a lot more planning involved when it comes to daily operations in the house, so I’m going to talk about the apps I use to manage, track, notify, listen to, view and store everything that has to do with my new baby girl. Now keep in mind that for the apps that I use, there are alternatives. I haven’t done a lot of testing because, to be honest, these apps are working fine for me. I use Apple products (as does my girlfriend) so this post will be geared toward iOS based apps. Most of these apps will also be available on Android phones as well, like Evernote, Dropbox and Wunderlist.
Ok, so as it turns out babies have only a few things that they do and it’s good to keep track of those things namely: sleeping, eating and filling up diapers. Especially in the first weeks it is something you really need to do and it can be frustrating to have to walk around with a notebook or notepad and a stopwatch (even if it’s the stopwatch on your phone) My girlfriend breastfeeds our little bundle and through the Babytime app she can easily keep track of the amount of time is spent on each feeding, the time between feeds and the amount of feeds per day (and night of course) Naturally, you can also keep track of your bottle feedings.
The app also keeps track of the diapers (and their content) and the amount of time the baby sleeps, through a very slick tap on/ tap off interface. Because we record all of this stuff, we can see changes in the munchkin’s patterns and it allows us to give very specific answers when we talk to a healthcare professional. The first step in the quantified baby.
2. BABY MONITOR 3G
If you have an old iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet lying around, which most of us do, then with this app you’ve got yourself a very effective baby monitor. It uses the very powerful microphone and camera from the aforementioned devices to give relay information about you’re baby’s sleeping or non sleeping status. You connect to your devices with the app through a simple setup procedure and Bob’s your uncle.
The best feature of this app is the fact that you don’t have to be on the same WiFi network as the baby monitor. You can walk out of reach of your WiFi network and you will still stay connected over your 3G/ 4G/ LTE network. With the nightlight function you can check the room with your (dimmed) flashlight if the room is completely dark, which will often be the case.
You can also sing a lullaby through the speaker, but that will freak out most babies.
Tip: Buy a good mount for your the baby (your old) phone. I bought a GorillaPod basic tripod. You can bend the legs into any shape which allows you to place the baby phone anywhere or clamp it onto pretty much anything.
Most of us keep to-do lists in one form or another: in Moleskine notebooks, post-its or just random sheets of paper strewed about our workplace and there are dozens of great apps for to-do’s. To-do lists are meant as simple reminders, but if not managed, can become a burden. Looking at a list of 117 to-do’s is not the greatest way to get motivated.
Enter Wunderlist! You can easily make and share lists, create sub-to-do’s and add notes. With their latest update you can also create folders, so you can easily categorise your to-do’s. I have a “Today”, a ”Home” and “Work” folder, each with subfolders. Now the “Home” folder is shared with my girlfriend. So we both add stuff to the “Grocery” list and so whoever is near a supermarket always has the updated list. This way there’s less need to call the other to check what the other might need (assuming he/she updated their list) It also helps to prevent buying stuff twice. It’s the sharing of the lists that make it such a powerful tool.
When my girlfriend was pregnant we made a list of all the baby stuff we were going to need. At first that is a pretty daunting list. But because we both crossed stuff off, the list very quickly became shorter and shorter. The overview this list gave was of tremendous value, because it gives a pregnant woman clear insight that everything is being taken care of. Happy mom = happy baby. We’re planning at trip to France this summer and so there is another list in the making.
I’m not a fan of Word, or Pages for that matter. I like writing with Evernote, because it’s simple and syncs across all my devices. This way I won’t have worry about different versions. Because Evernote is simple and effective and it doesn’t have the barrage of options, it allows me to focus more on the actual writing. Being a designer I’m tempted a lot to start fiddling with the font, the size, the colour etc. Theses things don’t matter when you’re creating content, but it’s hard to ignore as a designer.
I keep a diary, or what it suppose to become a diary for our baby girl. I can just dump thoughts and facts in Evernote on the go and sort it all out later on. Once again it’s the sharing of the notes that make it very handy tool and very effective in in our household. This post was largely written in Evernote.
Once you become a parent you start taking photos like crazy, trust me. But these pictures need to go somewhere, because your iPhone can only store so much. You could put the pictures on an external USB hard drive, but in my experience once it crashes there’s very little you can do to retrieve your files. It’s like your house burning down with all the family photo albums inside: there’s no way to replace them.
You can use Google Drive, Box, SkyDrive or Dropbox, it’s the same principal really. I use all of them, because they give you a lot of free storage, but Dropbox is used for family photos. I have a folder shared with my girlfriend, where she uploads her baby pictures too, so we have all of them safely stored in one place.
Babies cost money. Nothing new here, so saving a few euro’s here and there seems like a good idea. At the same time I hate having all these coupon leaflets in the house. You never go through them all and they just keep piling up. It’s an outdated system, but I would like to save some cash. Diapers especially can really have an impact on your monthly expenses. So finding a good deal can really make a difference. Scoupy is the answer! You simply let the app know what brands and stores you’re interested in and it will find all the discounts and sales in the area and web shops too. Which is even better because they deliver that pile of diapers right on your doorstep.
A shared calendar is really must for every household. Letting each other know who’s where and when, through a calendar we can both add stuff to is a real timesaver. It prevents you from making double bookings and then having to re-schedule. You can also anticipate what’s going on the next week and prepare better or make better arrangements, making the household run a little more smoothly.
Well, this one needs little explanation, I’m sure. Entertainment for you and your infant. Netflix has a huge selection of baby, toddler and kids programmes, which you can watch with pretty much any device these days.
Music can be a great asset in the soothing process of an over tired baby. I recently leaned that our baby girl likes Shubert and Bach. But she’s not averse to some chill-out tunes either. Streaming music throughout the house, gotta love it.
10. INSPIRETHING PLATFORM
Of course our own platform is perfect for sharing baby news and pictures with a select group of people. In this case only the grandparents have access. I’m not a fan of putting all of our baby pics on social media, like Facebook, because I don’t think everyone wants to see them and I don’t want to share them with everybody. So with our platform you can create a ‘member only area’ and invite the people you deem worthy.
So we store all the photos we make in Dropbox and place a selection for the grandparents in the Member Area. Then I add some additional info from Evernote, like her weight, height etc. and where the picture may have been taken.
Being a new parent means big changes. Lots of new things are happening and it’s not always easy to manage your time and resources. These apps make a lot of things easier. The combination of apps should support your family's lifestyle. If they don’t, there are many other apps out there that may better suit your needs. It’s worth putting in a bit of time and effort into creating a digital infrastructure for your household. For me the main goal was to streamline certain tasks and make communication easier and more efficient. Knowing what the household needs without having to repeatedly talk about it is the real time saver.
If you have any thoughts or if you have any suggestions, feel free to drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org