Parenting and Baby Apps - A pick of 5 essentials

I make no secret of the fact that I love my smart phone. It served me so well in those first few months of Wilf's life when the world went topsy turvy and suddenly I was awake all night and (attempting to) sleep all day. When Wilf would take up to an hour to feed during the night I would use my phone to access apps like Iplayer and 4od. I used it to read blogs, shop on Ebay and access Facebook and Twitter (as well as of course staring adoringly at my new born but come on, its hard to stare adoringly for a whole hour right?). Then when Wilf got a little older I started using apps for him, from sleepy time noises to finding baby friendly location to games. Here are a few of my favourite apps for parents.

Sleep, ahh sleep..lets start with the most important shall we? Babies (or at least mine and a few of the ones I know) like white noise type sounds, the rain, the ocean or just plain old fuzzy white noise. I tried a few different apps over the last year but I would say 'Relax Melodies' is the best. It has a huge variety of sounds (46) that can be used in synchronicity with each other, by tapping the picture of the sound you can use as little or many as you like at the same time. I like to use 'windchime' and 'rain' at the same time but sometimes I mixed it up with a bit of chanting in the background too ;) The only issue with using this a permanent fixture in your babies sleep routine is that you have to give up your phone every night, we gave this up and bought a 'sleep sheep' when my phone rang and woke him up one night. However I would say that if you are travelling or out in the day this is really neat tool to help a baby get off to sleep. It's also free so a good one to have 'just in case' you need it. On a another note, this app is worth downloading just to hear the 'humming' noise, its preeety creepy!

The second app I think is a useful parenting app is a fairly new one to me but one I wished I had known about when Wilf was a smaller baby. Its an app called Wowmom (free download) that allows you to see all the child friendly venues in your area (or what ever area you happen to be in). I remember it being such a worry when Wilf was smaller not knowing where would have a baby change facility, and for that reason staying very local for quite some weeks just because I knew my neighbourhood. Tom and I once took a trip to Clevedon and had lunch in a lovely cafe that (when half way through our meal I desperately needed to change Wilf) I found had no baby change facilities. I had to change him on the stair case as their bathroom was too small to even lay a mat on the ground, later that day we found a lovely cafe that was very baby friendly and were annoyed we hadn't known about it earlier, the perfect example of when an app like this can make life more convenient. The app isn't just limited to finding venues with change facilities it is divided up into Eat, Play and Pamper and you can refine your search by selecting which facilities are important to you be it 'buggy friendly', 'breastfeeding friendly' or even that they offer kids meals on their menu. There are six different search options you can choose to narrow down exactly what you need and it will then show you the nearest places that offer these services on a map of the area you are in.
The 'Play' section offers search criteria including soft play centres or defines what age range the venue is suitable for, I think this is really important as what is fun for a baby might not be for a toddler and often places that are kitted out for the 1-4 year olds can be intimidating for a new mum and her 6 month old!

'Pamper' shows you where you can buy baby friendly products (toys/clothes etc) or even where you can find a child friendly hair salon or photography studio. The app also shows reviews from other users as well as seeing what facilities are on offer you can see what other parents think of the place, I think this is a useful addition as sometimes just because a place calls themselves baby friendly they may not always be. Case in point a friend of mine recently went to a cafe marketing themselves as child friendly and found their attitude to children anything but, customer reviews are a great way to find out what a place is really like.

Moving on to apps for babies/toddlers I thought I would share with you a few of our favourites. I was introduced to 'Peekaboo Barn' by my friend Janet and since then onto the other 'Night and Day Studio' apps which are a firm favourite. We love 'Peekaboo Forest' (£1.49) and 'My Very First App' (£1.99) firstly because they are visually stunning (with Illustrations from Charley Harper and Eric Carle) and and secondly because they are really simple and gentle with no flashing lights or over excited voices.

The third app we have for Wilf to play on may just be my favourite, in fact Wilf isn't over excited by it but me? I'm addicted! Seriously, its the 'Sound Shaker' app (£1.99) . I know I'm not alone here because I showed my dad and he thought it was fantastic too (and then proceeded to play on it for another five minutes). Basically you can choose what instruments you would like to play with be it the drums or the piano then by tapping the screen a ball will appear with that sound. Holding down your finger the ball will grow and with each growth make a new noise. You can let go at anytime leaving that ball and that noise will continue bouncing around on your screen (if you hold down too long the ball will burst and turn into a little chirping bird). Moving the phone will make the balls bounce and fall in that direction making what ever sound they have turned into when they hit the side of the screen. It's recommended for ages 3-5...or y'know 27. Honestly its brilliant.

and lastly the first app I ever bought for Wilf (£1.99) is 'Ladybird - Happy Babies'. It is brightly coloured, easy to use (babies touch the screen for the animal baby to appear), a voice asks "Hello insert animal where is your baby?" and then 'Hello insert whatever baby was found". The only downside being Tom and I spend the whole day saying "hello insert (whatever thing we happen to be doing, say making toast) little toast, where is your baaaaby?". Wilf loves it, its non offensive (apart from getting stuck in your head) and will keep him amused for all of three minutes if I'm lucky :)

What are your favourite parenting or baby apps? I'd love to know! Do you think babies/children should play with apps? I know its a often a contentious subject!

 This post was a commissioned post

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