Can an app help reduce your mental load as a new parent?

It was the most important mental calculation I had done since school.

The numbers weren’t complicated, but there were a lot of them. They were difficult to follow. When was the last time our new baby boy slept and how long had he slept? When did he last feed? When was the last time we changed her diaper?

As I discovered in the summer of 2021 when we welcomed our son into the world, being a new parent is overwhelming in so many ways.

Along with the sleep deprivation, emotional upheaval, and nearly impossible-to-understand redesign of your daily life, there’s also the long list of information you need to keep track of in your head.

We were first recommended Lingonberry when our boy was about four months old. I was skeptical at first. An app to record our baby’s daily habits sounded great on paper, but the colorful display — so packed with different boxes and information it was hard to read without squinting — reminded me of an Excel spreadsheet. . How could we find the time to record everything? If I had trouble remembering how long it had been since our baby’s last nap, how could I remember to log his sleeping and waking times?

The doubts, I soon realized, were unfounded. Once we started using Huckleberry and got into the groove, we found it incredibly useful – whether it was helping my wife quickly remember in the middle of the night which side he had been feeding on for last time or to help me figure out when my wife was sleeping, what time he would probably need his next diaper change. And it wasn’t long before I realized that there are plenty of other parents who have gone down a similar path.

So, is it common to use an app like this? How do they actually help? And do they work for everyone? I spoke to parents, Huckleberry, and the Postpartum Depression Awareness and Support Foundation (PANDAS) to find out more.

Some examples of different Huckleberry displays.
1 credit

Beth Hawkins, 32, from Hampshire, UK, became a first-time mum during the pandemic. Before using an app, she told Mashable that she felt lost.

“Before I had a baby I was very knowledgeable, but being a new mum and stuck at home 23/7 during a pandemic (our exercise time at the time!), I felt trapped and I wanted to get into some form of routine to help us get through the day a little easier and with fewer tears of fatigue,” she explained. “I had read so much about the importance of a baby’s routine and the Huckleberry app was a great start to show me that at 11am today I should be free to have a hot coffee, and mentally it helped me frame our day.”

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Hawkins used the app to track when she put her son to sleep, how long he slept, and when he woke up.

“I would recommend these apps to anyone as a great way to capture all that information to give them a view of what their little one is doing, food and sleep, and know they are doing a great job as a than mom,” Hawkin said.

“Still, with all this information, I would encourage those who feel like they’re just checking in these days and don’t know what to do with it or how to improve their sleep and diet if they need it. , not to feel alone and seek help.”

Hawkins ended up contacting a sleep consultant, and using the data recorded in the app, she was able to create a better sleep routine for her son. This experience eventually led her to quit her career in marketing, train as a children’s sleep consultant, and start her own business, Starry Nights Baby Sleepto help other moms.

Along with sleep, food was the other big topic that kept coming up when I talked to parents.

“When you’re awake and desperately trying to soothe a crying baby, it’s surprisingly easy to forget whether or not you gave the baby the medicine.”

40-year-old writer and graphic designer Ian MacAllen from Brooklyn, New York used the app for $4.99 per month Baby Login keep track of her first child’s meals and medication doses.

“During the two-week check-up, the pediatrician was concerned that the baby was not gaining enough weight,” he explained. “The baby ate breast milk exclusively, but preferred milk pumped from a bottle. We started using the app to track the volume of milk the baby was drinking and ensure feedings were as frequent as the pediatrician wanted. .”

When the pediatrician advised them to supplement breastmilk with formula at six weeks, MacAllen and his wife used the app to track not only feeding amounts and times, but also whether feedings were breastmilk. or formula milk.

“We tried to track feedings with a pen and notepad for a few days, but the notepad was never in the same place as the feeding. It was easy to forget to record a bottle. We We’re much more likely to have our phones in our pockets than the notepad, and since the data is synced across everyone’s phones, anyone can grab a feed.”

Reflux medications, which they were prescribed to prevent their baby from coughing up after feedings, were also recorded in the app.

“When you’re awake and desperately trying to soothe a crying baby, it’s surprisingly easy to forget whether or not you gave the baby the medicine,” MacAllen said.

Elena Veleva, an IT consultant living in Sofia, Bulgaria, had a similar experience with an app called BabyTracker.

“When my first daughter was born I had difficulty breastfeeding and I was trying to keep track of how much was pumped and how much formula and milk she was drinking, if she was gaining weight properly, how much I kept saving it to Notes on my phone, but it was taking too long and the data was not easy to analyze,” Veleva said.

“BabyTracker helped me easily track my daughter’s diet and gradually ease the anxiety that she wasn’t getting enough. Eventually we gave up formula and I exclusively breastfed her, which was my objective.”

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As you can probably see, the use of apps like these is quite widespread among parents. A Huckleberry spokesperson told Mashable that their app has served more than 1.4 million families worldwide, with the most popular feature varying depending on the age of the child (parents use the app “like a second brain” during the birth months, they said, while sleep becomes a bigger focus later on).

Using Huckleberry means, of course, entering a lot of data. The more we used the service, the more we used the service, given the frequency of large-scale hacks in recent years, not to mention the leaks and misuse of data among technology companies. .

“We use industry best practices to protect data during transmission and storage, such as using up-to-date encryption standards. We use encryption at transport, at rest, and asymmetric encryption,” said said the Huckleberry spokesperson. “Authentication is tightly controlled for our users as well as our internal team. We do not provide personal data to any third party or service provider unless the user consents. ‘ads in the app. The data is used to provide more personalized experiences and recommendations to our users.’

Data issues aside, though, are apps that let you track every little detail of your baby’s life still beneficial? Is there a risk of becoming obsessed with numbers, or trying to fit your baby into a routine they may not yet be ready for?

Sally Bunkham, Head of Communications and Development at PANDAa British organization supporting parents affected by perinatal mental illness, stressed that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

“Well-researched and well-thought-out tracking apps can benefit parents by helping them get valuable insights and timely reminders of information about their babies’ behaviors and needs. This can provide a useful framework to work around, both that the information is given with the understanding that it is just that, and not an exhaustive list of everything their baby should and shouldn’t do,” Bunkham said.

“All babies are different and develop at different times, and trackers tend not to allow that. Parents can easily fall into the trap of reading everything their baby ‘should’ be doing by age, and worry if this is the case. We hope that a parent will follow their own instinct for guidance, based on knowing their baby, and their own routine (if they have/choose one) to develop their own confidence in the practicalities of parenthood.

“The apps are not designed to take into account any additional health or nutritional needs that might be best advised by a healthcare professional. Sleeping and feeding habits vary from baby to baby and it is important whether it’s the parent or the caregiver and the baby-driven to make sure their needs are sufficiently met and not just utilized through a digital app.”

As for me, I will continue to use Huckleberry, at least for now. As with most decisions I’ve found regarding our new son, choosing the right thing to do is never easy. But the application does at least the daily routines easier, and anything that can lighten that load — as most new parents probably know all too well — can’t be understated.

About Raymond A. Bentley

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