The Data-Driven Mom: Baby Log iPhone app review

One thing you discover after you bring your new baby home is that there’s a lot of weird input you have to track. When did she last feed? (Turns out you have to feed babies roughly 15+ min every three to four hours or they get very sad!) How long is she sleeping every day? (They’ve got to sleep around 16-18h a day, and too much awake time drives them crazy!) And how many times is she pooing, and what colours are those poos? (Turns out there’s a right and wrong answer to this too!)

Well, to drag out the old cliche: there’s an app for that. Lots of apps, actually! And the one I’ve settled on so far is Baby Log. It’s $4.99 at the App Store, but it’s a small price to pay for tracking all this data consistently. (The free apps were all too skimpy on features and lacked graphical analysis and data exporting.)

So far, here’s what I like about it:

  • You can track nursing (it knows which side you’ve fed the baby on last), pumping, bottle feeding, solids, diaper changes, sleep time, measurements (height/weight/head circumference), baths, milestones, doctor’s notes, and more.
  • You don’t have to handwrite anything into those paper sheets they give you at the hospital! Just carry your iPhone around with you and hit a timer when your kid starts an activity. Or you can enter the data manually into the app. THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER.
  • The timers keep on running in the background, so you can move around the app and edit other entries in the database, or move to other apps while you continue to time the baby’s nap or feeding etc.
  • Exportable data in .csv format! Pretty graphs showing how your kid is doing across many measures!
  • It’s incredibly stable. No crashes yet and I’ve been using it nonstop for 3 weeks!

Where it could get better:

  • The nursing log assumes that you feed on both the left and the right breast during each session. This doesn’t really work if you’re only doing one breast per session. But logging time on each side as an individual session screws up the nursing graphing function for some reason—it won’t display any of the times the baby has fed on the right side.
  • There’s an awesome graphical timeline of your baby’s day, showing when she’s sleeping, feeding, getting her diaper changed, etc. But it’s way too small and you can’t zoom in on it, which is annoying because you can’t tell at a glance exactly what time an activity started. (This is probably only annoying for those who like to really drill down in their data visualizations.)
  • You have to manually back up your data to your computer via WiFi. I’d really prefer a central website where your data is automatically synced, so you don’t have to worry about data loss.
  • You can export data to CSV, but you have to export each activity separately, (nursing/sleeping/diapers) rather than dump all the data in one big lump onto your computer.
  • You also can’t automatically replicate the fancy iPhone app graphs on your computer with the exported CSV files. Lame! I didn’t spend $5 to dick around with spreadsheet formulas!

Of course, all these complaints are a bit moot: any app and any level of analysis is way better than tracking on paper. And also, I like to have a level of data tracking and visualization that probably far exceeds what a normal person cares about.

And, in the course of researching Baby Log and its associated competitors, I’ve discovered that there’s a decent alternative called BabyConnect that has a central syncing website and similar functionality! So I’m going to toss in the $4.99 and see how that one works out. Stay tuned!

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Our heads were too blurry to think of this. Instead we have reams of handwritten notes that only Gord can decipher. I did try a simple app to log breastfeeding (press the right or left cupcake to start) but I found having a timer running just stressed me out.

said Sarah Ross on 2 Jun 2011 at 12:17pm

Sarah! So good to hear from you!

I couldn’t not think of finding an app. The iPhone is basically welded to my hand these days, as it’s one of the only things to keep me occupied (and connected to the outer world) while breastfeeding and other things. And the data is so rich.

said Jhenifer on 2 Jun 2011 at 1:39pm

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