Baby showers are a great way for friends and family to help you get the supplies you need for a new baby. While I may not be able to hand you a pack of burp cloths through a screen, as a third-time mom, I can offer something that will make new parenthood a little less hectic: app recommendations.
These aren’t baby apps — I’ve tried them, and the focus on diapers and feedings felt more like extra pressure than relief. The apps I suggest here integrate with the rest of your life to ease your mental load and make you feel functional as a person as well as a parent.
So many wise words about babies have to do with time: “don’t blink,” “cherish every moment,” “the days are long, but the years are short.” Some days I just ask, “Where has the time gone?”
You don’t have to cherish every moment to prove you love your baby — in fact, it’s nearly impossible. But if you know where your time is going, you can understand how to balance everything. Getting an idea of how much of your day is spent on childcare, work, errands, and other activities can help you plan more effectively and even free up (gasp!) time for yourself.
If you are not using a digital calendar, now is the time. I live in Gmail and Google Docs, so Google Calendar fits my schedule perfectly. If you have a partner, make sure to pick an app that enables calendar sharing so you can both update your schedules in real time.
Here are some tips to up your calendar game when the baby arrives. Not all of them will apply to everyone, but hopefully they will lead to some ideas:
Once your baby is born — or even earlier — add the deadline for adding your little one to health insurance (some providers don’t give you until 30 days after birth).
Note when you get the baby’s birth certificate and social security number, so you can check in if they haven’t arrived yet.
Add deadlines for tasks like submitting childcare forms.
Add a six-month reminder to open a savings account.
Color code to make it easier to find what you need: appointments in one color, deadlines in another.
Think ahead to the holidays. Do you need a pumpkin costume for babies? Thanksgiving plane tickets? Give yourself a push to plan ahead.
Don’t forget things in the long run. Dentist visits should begin on their first birthday. Children need a new passport every five years. Things like that – Future You’ll be grateful for the help.
Calendars are important for the responsible stuff, of course, but don’t underestimate how they can also help you remember happy milestones. Example: Create a recurring event to take the monthly baby photo (it’s cheesy, yes, but honestly so much fun watching them grow).
Choose: The best calendar apps
To do list
You’ll already lose some sleep with a baby in the house – the last thing you need is to lose any more because your mind is racing. With a to-do list, you can do the jumble of “posting birth announcements, changing oil, calling gutter cleaner, buying paper towels, cleaning fridge” and the thousand other things on your list.
The best to-do list is the one that you will actually stick to. Besides to-do list staples like todoist or Think of the milksome of my mom friends also like niche task apps like Toss for clutter control at home.
Choose: The best to-do list apps
Sometimes a simple notes app is a lifesaver for catching the things you need to figure out later. Keep a running list of questions for the pediatrician (eye poop, tummy time, teething). As your baby grows, it can be fun to write down the new words they learn or fun things you want to remember for the baby book (the way she pumped her fist when she first tried sweet potatoes).
A look at my own notes app shows that I keep lists about:
Books to read (I actually have four lists, sorted by genre)
Outlines and fragments of a novel I am writing
Cheap rewards I enjoy when I need a pick-me-up
Dinners without cooking
The Sunday Success System A Pinterest Mom Swears By
The drinking game rules my husband and I came up with for our favorite Food Network show
Some parents are even taking the art of note-taking to a new level. I’m part of a writing group with other parents, and several moms mentioned using their notes app and swipe-to-text to write articles with one hand while the baby was napping or feeding.
Choose: The best note-taking apps
One advantage of working from home is that I can spend a lot of time with my baby. But as much as I love to hug my daughter, sometimes I have to do adult things.
If you don’t have the following coordination to feed a baby with one hand and type with the other, a good speech-to-text app can be a solution to combine adult and childcare projects. Whether you’re sketching a meeting agenda, adding things to your shopping list, or composing an email to a friend, it lets you snuggle with a sleeping baby while still getting things done. (But also take a moment to cuddle.)
Parents in my group have recommended Otter and Google Keep for speech-to-text, but your phone also has a built-in option if it’s easiest.
Choose: The best speech to text apps
Birth is often a grueling process, whether you spend hours pushing or undergoing the major surgery of a cesarean section (I’ve done both). For me, fitness wasn’t about getting my body back aesthetically — even taking the stairs was hard after giving birth. I wanted to regain strength and healthy function.
run keeper is by far my favorite fitness app. I like the smiley spectrum to gauge how I feel about a workout, not just how far or fast I can go. The guided “My First 5K” program provided a supportive, encouraging voice at a time when I needed it most.
And fitness apps aren’t just for people giving birth (my husband also tracks his exercise as a way to maintain mental and physical health). All parents need time to take care of themselves, whether they are recovering physically or not, and a fitness app can really help.
Not ready to move your body after birth? Try meditation instead.
Choose: The best meditation apps
File and photo storage
When my first children were born, I didn’t think of a shared folder for baby files and photos, and I wish I had one. Example: We just finished my second child’s baby album – days before her third birthday.
A shared folder on Google Drive or an album on Google Photos would have made preparing the baby book much less overwhelming. (here’s how to) choose between Drive and Photos.) Cloud storage can also be a good digital home for important medical documents, scanned copies of birth certificates, and other documents you need quick access to.
Start by creating a folder with your child’s name. Then create subfolders to quickly find what you need. A few examples:
Photos (0-3 months, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, etc.)
Print for Grandparents
If you haven’t already, let this be your reminder to take a picture of your pediatrician’s list of specialist referrals, the crib warranty, the car seat label with the expiration date, or anything else you need. doesn’t want to dig for every time you need it.
Choose: Choosing a cloud storage app
make everything work
These are the tools that help me stay on track with a baby, but everyone’s life will be different, so think carefully about your schedule and see if you can discover other tools that can make things easier for you. And if you’re a working parent, you can use automation to keep your work and private life in sync†