Many years ago, in a time when pregnant women still drank and smoked with abandon, "Mommy's little helper" referred to a chemical form of stress relief to help mom's get through the day. Today we know that all those things are not healthy for us, and we are forced to rely on helpers of a different nature to get us through the day. My latest addiction is my brand spanking new iPhone and all the fabulous applications that make my day easier, happier, and shinier (much like the "Mommy's Little Helper" of old)! If you have an iPhone you know that there are something like 75,000 different applications available to download, it's an absolutely dizzying array to choose from. But in just a few short weeks I have found some indispensable apps that I would love to share with you.
First, all NYC mommies (or visitors to NYC) must download iKidNY. Created by a brilliant NY mommy (and UWSider to boot), this is the app I dreamed about when Pooka was first born. How many times have you found yourself outside your hood and wondering where you're going to find the closet changing table after your dear one has just blow out their nappie? Trust me, it happens, usually when you have forgotten to bring along a clean set of clothes. The first time I was confronted with this dilemma I rushed home and searched the web, assuming someone must have created a website to address just this issue. And yet, unbelievably, no such site existed. How about a stroller friendly restaurant, or the closest park for the wee ones to burn some energy? And the real piece de resistance, the closest subways with elevators so you and your stroller (avec bebe) can ride the subway with wild abandon! Salvation has arrived in the form of iKidNY. Using the GPS in your phone, this app will locate the nearest indoor and outdoor activities, restaurants, changing tables, and subway elevators. Now, if only this app could also tell us where the cutest baby boutiques are! A girl can dream...maybe in a future update.
How about making mommy errands easier? I have been reveling in Grocery IQ, especially when gearing up to make baby food. Enter your list item by item (the app has an awesome autofill that even lists brands), make separate lists by store (for instance Whole Foods, Target, Babies R' Us), and never forget your list at home because it is always in your phone. Want Dada to grab a few things on the way home? Email him the list from your phone. I like to add items to the list as they run out, then head to the store once a week with my completed list. No more mommy brain leaving me stranded in the paper goods aisle trying to remember how many rolls of toilet paper we have left. I mean, when do I ever have a free hand or pen and paper handy to make grocery lists the old fashioned way?
My husband has been after me to work out a budget (can't imagine why?). Thanks to iXpenseIt keeping track of spending is almost fun until I see the bottom line and gasp a bit (How much did I spend on Pooka's clothes last month?). You can itemize spending, keep track of the form of payment, and even add the vendor or notes to a purchase. Then you can create reports to view accumulated spending by category, like groceries, baby supplies, baby clothes, or shoes for mama. View your spending in a bar graph or pie chart to better understand your habits. Well to be honest, I already know my habits, but viewing the bottom line on a regular basis is very sobering.
How about keeping track of dirty diapers, feedings, and baby milestones with Total Baby. With Pooka over 7 months now I don't need to keep track of diapers and feedings, but I would have loved this when Pooka was a newborn. I use it now to keep track of her doctor's appointments, vaccination record, and developmental milestones. Only want to keep track of nursing or diapers? There are also separate applications for those individual needs if you aren't interested in the whole sha-bang.
What about keeping your dear one entertained? For the youngest babies try iBabySee. This app flashes simple, beautiful black and white images perfect for captivating your newborn. It likes having flash cards in your purse at all times. For older babies check out the Peekaboo Barn and Peekaboo Wild apps. The Peekaboo Barn app hides a farmyard animal making noises behind barn doors. Once the doors are tapped, they open to reveal the animal with the name spelled out and an adorable child's voice repeating the animal's name. Peekaboo Wild does the same except with safari animals hiding behind tall grasses. I've found this app popular with babies all the way up to kindergarten aged children. I also love Baby Piano, which turns your screen into a simple piano keyboard where you can create songs of your own or follow the lead to play familiar songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Play it for your infant, or let your toddler or preschooler play the piano themselves. While I do not endorse these apps as educational or strengthening development in the infant stage, they certainly have their time and place. These apps have really come in handy at restaurants, on the train, or in the car when your dear one becomes a fussy nightmare.
All of these apps are avaialable in the Apple iPhone App Store, and some of them, such as Peekaboo Barn and Baby Piano offer "Lite" versions that you can download for free and test drive. You're a mommy now, so go ahead and toss out that Blackberry you had from work and grab an iPhone. I did, and I'm never looking back!