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My Must-Have Baby Books and Apps

Author: Naomi Liddell

I’ll be honest. You need zero apps or books to raise a child. Babies are pretty good at telling you when they’re happy and when they’re not. But for me first time around, it was my worry and disorientation at this new parenting world that drove me to look for resources that would help me navigate everything. Because while it’s true that babies will tell you when they’re unhappy, they are entirely unable to tell you why they are unhappy. In Oz as part of our health visitor sessions, we were taught how to identify baby’s cues for hunger, sleep etc. which I found unbelievably helpful. The whole point was to be able to watch and read your baby’s tiny little gestures to anticipate how they were feeling rather than waiting for a meltdown. That might be worth its own post of any of you are interested? But in general, babies are also very good at moving the goal posts. Sleeping through the night? Boom. Four month sleep regression. Eats really well? Boom. Two weeks of unexplained constipation.

One thing I learned from parenting the first time around was to never assume things would stay the same. Kids go through phases and stages and every single one differs from the next. A friend once told me to remember that as silly as it sounds, babies are little humans too and we all go through emotions and developments as people, so why shouldn’t they? So you won’t find any ‘baby tracking apps’ in this post. Unless you need to measure baby’s feeds and naps for medical reasons (or if you just like keeping a note of these things), I found it completely unhelpful to try to ‘find my baby’s rhythm’ as most apps will tell you to do. Because quite frankly he would establish a rhythm then the next day completely change the beat.

Also, do we really need any more apps to open an input data into? Likely not.

However, all that aside, with baby’s arrival around 4 weeks away, I have been feeling a little swell of anxiety about what to expect. While this certainly isn’t my first rodeo, I do kind of draw a blank when I think about that first year. I know it involved many dirty nappies and nights of broken sleep, but how long do newborns tend to sleep for? How many nappies per day will I need? At what age do they start teething? I’m a little nervous I will have forgotten most things.

When that feeling arose, I turned to three resources that I feel helped enormously especially in the early stages of motherhood. I have now re-downloaded them all and refreshed my memory on what to expect in the first few months. I’m already feeling much more prepared and less anxious. For me, these are essentials and they definitely all helped me navigate being a new Mum. Hopefully, they can help some of you too.

What to Expect – App
While perhaps a little bloated and full of information, I find the search feature and informational videos in this app to be great. They cover a whole heap of stuff from how to wind baby, how to bath them etc. Perfect for a little confidence boost in the early days when everything you were shown at the hospital flies out of your head. If you download this app while pregnant, you’ll get pregnancy updates but won’t see all the super useful baby features until baby is born.

The Wonder Weeks – App & Book
I honestly don’t know how I would have coped with the difficult phases of that first year with Ethan without this app and book. In my Australian mum’s group, most of us swore by The Wonder Weeks. Basically, the idea is that babies go through 10 major developmental leaps. During each of these ‘leaps’ (as they’re known) the app guides you through what behaviours changes to expect, when they typically occur and how to help baby get through them. This app provided a lot of comfort in times of frustration. The book is also superb and more in-depth if you prefer to have a paper copy.

Your Baby Week by Week by Simone Cave & Dr Caroline Fertleman – Book
This book was recommended to me in a very late night Messenger chat with our very own Becky way back when I was pregnant with Ethan and she was up late feeding Leo. She called it ‘beyond helpful’ and I absolutely concur. The book breaks down what to expect from baby week by week. It covers almost everything… From how many wet/dirty nappies you’ll have, how much awake time baby will manage, how much baby will typically cry, feed… Everything. The authors aren’t at all prescriptive and recognise that every baby is different, but having some loose guidelines on what to expect was a sanity saviour in the wee tiny hours of the morning. The same authors have also written a book called Coping With Two, which I’m now seriously considering.

The only other resource I’ve flirted with using is the Peanut app. I’m clearly smack-bang in their target market because I can’t scroll through Instagram without being served up one of their ads. Unfortunately marketed as the ‘Tinder for Mums’, it’s an app to meet up with Mum’s in your local area. Has anyone tried it? I’ve got a few Mum friends at the minute, but would be nice to meet up with some other ladies in the newborn throes as most of my friend’s kiddos are older.

So there you have it, the three resources that I’ve gone back to time and time again. Do you have any apps or books you would recommend for getting through baby’s first year?

Naomi can’t decide which she loves more: adventuring with her boys or being left alone in a luxurious bath with a great book.
Follow Naomi on Instagram @naomiliddell
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16 thoughts on “My Must-Have Baby Books and Apps

  1. I love this post! Thank you! Although I would say that the wonder weeks didn’t work for us. Not sure if this is because my little one was premature? But adjusting (or not adjusting) his age for the app didn’t work so something to bear in mind. Other friends rated this highly too though so I think I’m in the minority!

    I’m also looking for a book recommendation – I guess about toddler/young child development and psychology. I’m not looking for a how to raise or discipline your child type of book….I’m interested in what phase he’s going through and what might be going on in the little head and body! Anyone got something of this ilk? x

    1. Hmmm I haven’t got the best knowledge on books for that stage, but one that I read and adored was called Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph. Without being a ‘method’ or any of that nonsense, he just shines a light on boys in today’s society, their developmental stages and offers great advice for how to help deal with their changing emotions. Fantastic book.

  2. These are the three resources I’ve used! Love the week by week book, I find it really helpful and digestible in its format.x

  3. I found the week by week book really helpful in the first few weeks but the most useful/supportive author I’ve found is Sarah Ockwell-Smith. She really helped me to have confidence in myself as a new mum and to trust my instincts. She has a lot of free resources available in her website.

      1. She was a life saver for me! Before I found her I honestly thought I was ruining my child’s life FOREVER because I fed him to sleep (or more accurately he fell asleep whilst I fed him)!

  4. Sarah Ockwell Smith’s The Gentle Sleep Book – total lifesaver for me as I had one of ‘those babies’ that refused to be put down ‘drowsy but awake’ and wouldn’t sleep anywhere but on me! I thought I was doing things all wrong (oh the newborn mum guilt) but Sarah’s book was really reassuring.

    I also loved the wonder weeks app – I could set my clock to it!

    1. Kate I was up with Ethan quite a bit last night (overtiredness and hay fever) and while I was rubbing his back I was wondering how the hell im going to do the newborn sleepless thing again. I must look this book up. Thank you!

      1. I had my second baby almost 3 weeks ago, my first has just turned 2, and wondered how on Earth I’d do the sleepless nights again (and get them both out the house, manage a toddlers needs and the 24/7 care of a newborn etc) especially as my eldest has only just started consistently sleeping all night. It’s been tough (and there have been tears) and I am tired but it’s not nearly as hard as I thought. I think because your life has already been completely disrupted by the first one it’s not such a shock. Also I had more clue what to expect and also know everything does pass eventually! Good luck!

  5. Parenting beyond Pink and Blue. Such a good read and really blasts away all the stereotypes with actual science. Also opened my eyes even more to how irritating so much of the clothes and tv for small children is in terms of gender- and importantly helped find ways to talk about this with my children. I also loved Wonder Weeks as it’s based on thousands of hours of observation and neurology not just anecdote and prescriptive neo Victorian ideas of how babies should behave.

    “Raising Boys” has got a lot of flak for being essentialist, anecdotal and patriarchal… lots of reviews out there but here’s a quick nope to his idea about testosterone spurts from an endocrinologist…

  6. Something that I found handy was the Glow baby app.
    It allows you to log all sorts of information: feeds, sleeps and nappies. Then pings up with relevant info and tips depending on what you’ve entered.
    It also includes milestones to reach for each month which I found really reassuring and helped guide how I played with our daughter to help her hit them!
    It is American but most of it worked!

  7. I wouldn’t recommend Your Baby Week by Week to anyone. Someone bought it for me and it was fairly helpful for the first few weeks but the ridiculous “guidance” that your baby should be mostly sleeping through the night at 3-4 months was enough to move me to hysterical tears. When my partner got home that day he promptly threw the book in the bin. There’s been some recent research on baby guides/books being pretty harmful to maternal mental health which isn’t mentioned here at all but which I don’t find in the least bit surprising.
    I would second Sarah Ockwell-Smith and also for great breastfeeding advice. That and find some friends with babies who don’t sleep…..and who don’t lie about it like my NCT group did!

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