As healthcare providers for young children, we’re very aware of the challenges faced by new parents and the common mistakes they make. There are a few iPhone apps that can help parents provide better healthcare for their children. Note that these apps do not replace the need to consult healthcare professionals. For example, the first app helps you track medication dosages and timing when you’re caring for a child with a fever and even gives dosage recommendations. You should always consult a professional about which medication to use and to confirm dosage and timing recommendations.
The most common mistakes associated with treating fevers relate to dosages and timing. Parents may give too much or too little Tylenol, Motrin, etc., or forget when the medication was last given. To help with this, we recommend an app called FeverMeds.
This app has several features that are very helpful. The first is its ability to display a picture of the box in which the medication comes. This reduces the possibility of giving the child the wrong medication, especially if you have to get up at three in the morning to give the child the medication. The app will calculate the recommended dose based on age and weight, and it will track the time it was given. It also will create a countdown for the next dose.
We, and other healthcare professionals, are noticing that many of our patients are taking a more proactive approach to their medical care. To do this, people need to be able to access trusted, medical information that is presented in a way that is understandable. The next two applications do a good job of this.
WebMD mobile provides accurate medical information on a variety of topics and has excellent first aid, symptoms, and CPR sections that can be very helpful. Again, it’s not a substitute for being evaluated by a trained health care provider, but it’s a useful first step.
This medical atlas provides you with a quick text reference of more than 50 of the most common childhood diseases. It includes basic descriptions of the disease and its symptoms (including pictures), possible complications, and transmission. It lists six major symptom categories and one relating to parasites. The pictures are interesting and can be educational for parents. This app is not complete but has a lot of potential.
Getting some sleep
It’s sometimes hard for parents to get the sleep they need, especially if their baby’s sleep schedule doesn’t match their own. Here’s an app that may help your baby and you get to sleep.
Free; “Pro” version $0.99sleepmakerapps.com.
The apps in the Sleepmaker series generate sounds that make it easier for your child to fall asleep. The app listed here plays the sounds of a gentle brook, a medium-fast flowing stream, and a waterfall. Other apps in this series play the sounds of rain, waves, storms, and wildlife. They come in a free or a “Pro” version that includes more features.
Breastfeeding is a great way to feed your new bundle of joy. There are many reasons that women choose to breastfeed. It is extremely economical…it’s FREE! Breast milk passes antibodies to the babies that protect new babies from illness. This is nature’s own vaccination, without possible side effects. Breastfed infants have a decreased chance of childhood allergies and cavities. However, one great benefit is that new mothers can burn up to 500 calories a day while they are breastfeeding!
The Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition developed this application to provide support for breastfeeding mothers. The app provides new mothers with knowledge about breastfeeding and helps them deal with common problems encountered in the first few weeks of life. It includes a section that provides guidelines for the use of medications during breastfeeding and provides links to addition information about medications. The app also provides information about early breastfeeding management, a page of frequently asked questions (and answers), and a list of resources for new parents.
As an emergency physician, I cannot stress the importance of knowing CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. As a parent, I have personally had to do the Heimlich on two of my toddlers. The following app was developed by the University of Washington and King County EMS to provide quick instruction in the techniques.
The CPR & Choking app provides short videos that show you how to perform CPR and provide aid to choking victims. Because minutes count in emergency situations, you should review these videos well before an emergency occurs. The app includes videos that show standard CPR for adults, hands-only CPR for adults, CPR for children, CPR for infants, and choking videos for adults, children, and infants. Hands-only CPR, as the American Heart Association calls it, is an easier and more efficient way to help a victim of cardiac arrest. If you encounter a person experiencing cardiac arrest, call 911 first—then start chest compressions. It is important to note that this app is not a substitute for taking a comprehensive class in CPR.
Podcasts for parents
It’s nice to be able to sit back and listen to some helpful parenting advice, especially if you’re a new parent. There are a variety of these podcasts available online, and a number can be downloaded from iTunes.
Parents Magazine Podcasts
Free; avail. through iTunes; parents.com
The podcasts from Parents Magazine cover a variety of topics, including Crying, All About Babysitters, All About Safety, Breastfeeding, and more. You’ll find them in the “Kids & Family” section of the iTunes Podcast listings. Parents magazine (parents.com) is an excellent online resource for parents.
Free; available thru iTunes; pediacast.org
Pedicast is a podcast created by Dr. Mike, a board-certified pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Mike focuses on a wide range of topics, and the podcasts last from 15 minutes to over an hour in length. All topics are up-to-date and interesting. They are geared to parents interested in learning more about “hot’ topics like teen risks, video games, bedwetting, breastfeeding, swine flu, and many more.
Additional resources for new parents
A variety of additional parenting and healthcare resources are available for iPhone and iPod touch users.
Just In Time Parenting
The iTunes Store also has a section called iTunes University. Here you will find a number of helpful resources, including “Just in Time Parenting Podcast,” a weekly series of audios focusing on the growth and development of children. The topics are very good and to the point. The audios are about 3-5 minutes in length and cover topics that we find helpful for parents, including baby safety and the developmental phases of babies and children. The podcasts are available in English and Spanish.
The Most Essential Classical Music for Your Baby
$5.99; select individual tracks for $0.99 each; x5musicgroup.com
This collection contains 49 classical music tracks. It can be downloaded to your home computer or directly to your iPhone or iPod touch. The music is effective in calming a baby down during the day and as part of a bedtime routine in the evening. Some research has shown that it is also beneficial for their brain development.
Kindle for iPhone
Free; Price of books varies; amazon.com
As a new parent, getting to the local bookstore can be quite a task and finding time to read one near impossible. This application gives the user access to over three hundred thousands books on Amazon’s online Kindle Store. You can use the app to view free book samples or read the first chapter of a book before purchasing it. The app lets you read in landscape or portrait viewing modes, change text color, zoom in and out on text, and more. The parenting and families section of the Amazon Kindle Store has over 6,500 titles, including popular ones like What to Expect the First Year.
Blausen Human Atlas 2.0
$19.99; Free “Lite” version also available; blausen.com/iphone
This app contains 150 3D animated videos about 1-2 minutes each, along with definitions of over 1,500 medical terms. Once you purchase the application, you are able to purchase additional topics that include, but are not limited to, pediatrics, reproduction, muscles, and many others. Please note that this app is targeted towards healthcare professionals. However, it can come in handy if you need to see visuals of an area of the body about which there is a medical concern.
Making better healthcare decisions
There’s a lot of practical knowledge about parenting that has nothing to do with the iPhone. Stay at home when you’re sick, and keep your hands clean, especially when you’re dealing with your child. If you or your child does get sick, try and contact your primary care physician or visit a local urgent care facility first, before you go to a hospital emergency room. Of course, if you or your child is a high-risk individual, don’t hesitate—go to the emergency room.
The apps and other resources reviewed in this article can help you make better decisions and reduce expensive healthcare expenses. However, we’ve only reviewed a handful of solutions—many more are available for iPhone and iPod touch users. Get in the habit of regularly checking the Medical or the Healthcare & Fitness sections of the App Store. Also, when you use the App Store’s Search or Power Search features, think of three different words or phrases that describe what you are looking for and do your search three times. You will be surprised by the number of apps you’ll find.
Raising a child is one of the hardest jobs you’ll ever have—and one of the most important ones! Be proactive about it and get the knowledge and tools you need.