Congratulations, your first child is on the way. Soon you will enter a new world of bottles, baby wipes and just enough cuteness to get you through. It's okay if you're feeling a little underprepared or overwhelmed by your new responsibilities–what new parent doesn't?
The good news is it's easier than ever to turn yourself into the smart, active and involved parent that your child needs. We live in the age of innovative, inexpensive Edtech, and in this article I'm going to introduce you to six Edtech apps for parents-to-be which will help you to prepare for the birth and then educate yourself on the fly in the years ahead.
1. Today's Parent - My Family
This is the app of the magazine, Today's Parent, and is one of the most comprehensive apps around. Offering tips, articles, recipes, feeding schedules, nap trackers and potty training guides, it's the Swiss Army Knife of parenthood. One handy feature is the ability to input your baby's birthday for specific information on their health and development based on age.
Putting the tools (of which there are several good ones) aside, since we're interested in the education aspect of these apps, it's hard to beat the quality of the articles you get with this one. As you'd expect from a magazine, they're either written by experts or are well researched.
Out of the six apps discussed in this article, this one is your hub. This is the one to go to when you don't know what you want to learn, but you just want to learn.
2. WebMD Baby
This is the baby-centric app of the famous WebMD.com site. It can help you gauge when not to worry, when to offer a remedy at home and when to head to a doctor. Offering hundreds of articles, videos and health guides written by real physicians and health educators, you can learn about your baby's bumps and burps in an accurate and convenient way.
Just as you might use the main WebMD site to attempt self-diagnosis of symptoms you're experiencing, this app will be your place to turn with specific questions and concerns as well as to proactively fill any gaps that exist in your baby knowledge.
For first time Mothers, breastfeeding can seem like a huge hurdle to overcome. This is where latchME comes in. As one of the world's most comprehensive breastfeeding apps, it offers learning through a variety of articles, videos and community forums. Connect with other parents to get advice and tips, share local breastfeeding-friendly locations with Mums in your area and even talk to doctors and hospitals.
The value of the community aspect of the latchME shouldn't be underestimated. It's easy to jump on Google and get bombarded by conflicting advice on everything from feeding routines to which foods increase milk supply, however only in a busy community can you get answers to your specific questions or connect with other parents experiencing similar issues to yourself.
4. Natural Child Birth
Natural Child Birth is an innovative app that walks you through the delivery process before you ever step foot in a hospital. With a combination of game-like graphics and text-based tips and tricks, you'll learn everything that you need to know about your upcoming delivery.
What should you expect when you enter the hospital? How should you breathe during labor? What exactly happens when you cut the umbilical cord? Natural Child Birth will shed light on the process and help you to feel at ease with the journey ahead.
This is such a great piece of Edtech because it offers an interesting and alternative way to learn, bringing an element of familiarity to a first-time birth, normally a situation that's full of unknowns.
5. Safe Sleep Sweep
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) kills between 1,000 - 3,500 babies a year. While a number of cases remain unsolved, there's growing evidence that a baby's sleeping arrangements may increase their risk of SIDS.
The Safe Sleep Sweep app is an interesting bit of Edtech as it takes the form of a game and
yet is informative, accessible and addresses a very serious subject. While you play, you learn how to put your baby to rest using the current best practices to avoid SIDS. Due to this, it offers significant peace of mind for new parents.
6. Baby Medbasics
New born babies can seem like danger-magnets. They can be securely nuzzling in your arms one minute and choking the next. That's why, as parents, you should always know what your next step might be.
Baby Medbasics is a quick reference guide for emergency situations. Covering everything from the smallest to the biggest baby emergencies, this app is definitely worth buying, especially since it's only a few dollars. It's built around clear-cut instructions, graphics and illustrations designed for quick, urgent navigation.
Sticking with our theme of educating yourself, rather than just amassing tools, you should take the time to become well acquainted with the information in this app (as well as how to navigate around it) before emergencies actually arise. The first reason for this is simply to be well prepared, the other reason is that, depending on your device, the text in the app can be a little small due to the level of detail it provides.
This list is by no means complete, there are many other great Edtech apps for new parents. However these six, when put together, represent a mix of broad learning alongside the ability to delve deeper into almost any baby subject. They also cover most of the major learning methods including written word, video, interactive elements and even direct mentoring and support via forums and discussion threads.
As you'd expect, these apps are either free or inexpensive, and they're written in plain English, without technical terms and jargon, so you won't need a Masters in Health Science to understand them.
All that's left to say is good luck and I hope this article helps you feel more prepared and relaxed about the wonderful and frequently nerve-wracking journey ahead.
Oliver Braithwaite is the author of Edtech & Co, a blog on applications of education technology, and the Founder of Stars & Catz, a private tuition company.