One of the biggest challenges for me in the first few months of parenting – with both children – has been establishing routines.
I’m a massive believer in routines for young children – and, to be honest, for older children too – and I personally love the predictability of routine. I’ve blogged before about how I establish a bedtime routine, and ages ago, before Life by Naomi was in existence, I blogged about Ben’s routines at different age. My initial aim was to record it for other people, and to look back on when we had a second child… Aim achieved!
However, I’m not keen on enforcing a routine on a child, time-table style. It’s one of the reasons I avoid the word ‘schedule’ to be honest. Later on, when the baby is older, you can pin-point naps to a specific time, and meal times get established, but when they are younger, you really want to follow their cues.
This time, I’ve been using an app on my phone, particularly for tracking sleeps and feeds. I’ve tried several apps, and I think the new app from Mumsnet is one of the best. It’s called the Mumsnet Baby Bundle App, and includes everything from timing feeds to an amazing health reference guide. Mumsnet are calling it “The essential one-stop baby app,” and, I have to say, it does have a huge amount of information in it.
The app itself is very instinctive to use. For working out a routine and tracking feeds and sleeps, you add information using the central button. If you’re breastfeeding, you can track which sides you’ve fed from, and this would be so useful in those first few weeks. You can also track bottlefeeding or solids, and expressing. Quite handy (if you get into the habit of expressing) to know how much milk you’ve got stashed in your freezer!
The information is stored on a Activity summary. I could then look at the Activity Summary and work out exactly how long Samuel was going between feeds, and between sleeps, and work out when he would next need to be fed or would get tired. He is a fairly predictable baby, and does generally like a loose Eat – Activity – Sleep schedule. it just helps me avoid screaming I-need-to-be-fed-right-now-style meltdowns with him. Basically, if you know your baby will need to sleep or feed at an approximate time, you can make sure that can happen. It makes everyone’s lives – especially yours – so much easier.
The only gripe I have with the activity schedule is that you have to work from bottom to top to see the day through. I end up reading it backwards to work out our pattern!
It’s also a bit confusing as it tries to work out overnight sleep and naptimes. Samuel’s overnight sleep has been absolutely terrible (4 month sleep regression is a real thing, it appears), and I actually started finding it a bit depressing to log his sleeps and feeds at night! There’s nothing quite like seeing that your baby has been awake every 90 minutes when it’s written down in an app. Please don’t let yourself be ruled by the need to monitor every moment!
However, for daytime feeds and sleeps, and for working out your baby’s routine, it is excellent.
The other thing that I think is excellent in this app is the Health Reference guide. I can’t count the number of times I’ve googled a health query about one of my children, and then worried about whether to go to the GP or not. Well, on the Health Reference guide, which is part of the app, you have a detailed breakdown of the condition; Mumsnetter’s quote about that condition; and a traffic light guide. This breaks the condition down into ‘Manage at home if your child…’, ‘See your GP if your child…’ and ‘Seek urgent medical advice if your child…’
Just as a word of caution, when I have gone to the GP and it’s been something that I didn’t need to worry too much about, they’ve always said I was right to go to the GP. They would rather see 100 well babies and concerned parents than miss the one baby who was really ill.
The parenting guide is full of useful information. I found the sections on Development Milestones, Sleeping and Vaccinations particularly relevant to me, as that’s what I’m dealing with at the moment!
The baby bundle is free to download on the App Store for Apple products – I imagine it’s amazing on the Apple Watch. You can also pay for a subscription which will ‘unlock’ additional features. These Pro features are a Baby Monitor, which sends a video to another iOS device; Check-Up Planner, (fairly useful but is also covered in the Red baby book from the Health Visitor); Growth Tracker (also covered in Red book) or Family Sharing (this allows you to share information with someone else with the app – useful perhaps if you share a lot of the childcare with a nanny, for example). If I’m honest, I don’t think the Pro features are worth the £1.49 a month that Mumsnet are asking. The free elements of the App are the ones that are really useful.
I do really like Mumsnet, and I’m part of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. I think this app is a really good one for new mums, and I will certainly keep using it.
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have received a voucher as a token of thanks for this post.