Being a parent today means that you never leave home without one thing: wet wipes. Ok, scratch that. There are two things you never leave home without: wet wipes and your smart phone. The smart phone is a great tool for scheduling Jenny and Johnny’s multiple play dates and after-school activities; sending your family across the country the latest on the kids’ accomplishments; and, of course, catching your teenager smiling at a joke you told and capturing it with a photo to remind yourself why you love your teen when he or she is asking to borrow the car after ignoring multiple requests to take out the trash.
In the same way you can use apps on your smartphone to save special moments and help manage your children’s lives, you can use them to learn about, monitor and aid in your child’s health and development.
There are a number of wonderful apps that I recommend to parents during clinic visits. Here are a few of my favorites.
For the moms-to-be I talk with at my office’s meet-and-greets, I regularly recommend the Bump. This app, which can now be easily used on the Apple watch, lets you follow along week by week to learn about the growth and development of the soon-to-be newest member of your team.
From what size baby is to an explanation of what exactly baby is doing in there, you’ll find a wealth of information on this very intuitive app. There are also great ways to do slideshows of “bump pictures” that you can share, a wonderful calendar section to help you get ready for baby and, of course, access to the articles that have made The Bump.com a must-visit website for any mommy-to-be.
Swedish Kids Symptom Checker
Oh, no! Johnny or Jenny has a fever and a rash at 2 in the morning. Should you call your pediatrician, go to urgent care or the emergency room? If you want to try to triage your kiddo’s symptoms at home first, I recommend the Swedish Kids Symptom Checker app.
This app allows you to find your child’s symptoms in an alphabetical index, a body-area index or a full keyword search.
The app brings up a menu with advice and information on when/whom to call, depending on the severity of the symptom, and tips for home care. There’s also a section where you can enter your child’s medication and allergies so health professionals can have an instant list of vital information in case Jenny or Johnny’s symptoms require treatment or a procedure.
Did one of the kids get a little cut on that recent family hike? Have no fear, this app also includes a first-aid section that offers instructions specifically for kiddos. You can even call your child’s pediatrician from the app, or find the nearest emergency room using your phone’s GPS.
All of these features make this app a must for every parent.
Vaccines on the Go
It’s Jenny or Johnny’s first birthday and you know what that means. Did you remember to reserve the traveling petting zoo? Did you schedule a one-year well-child visit? Your child may have some vaccinations coming up. Do you know which ones? What they protect against? How they are made?
The doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have you covered. Not only is CHOP the country’s oldest children’s hospital and one of the most revered in the world, it also makes a great app about vaccines called Vaccines on the Go. I recommend this app to parents for a multitude of reasons, but the first is that it’s an unbiased and pharma-free app that has everything you would possibly want to know about vaccines.
There are schedules for vaccines based on your child’s age, as well as descriptions of each vaccine and what infections they prevent. There is a section on vaccine safety that includes information on different vaccine components, including preservatives and adjuvants.
The app also has more than 50 videos with information on vaccines and infections from the nation’s top pediatricians and infectious disease specialists. You will of course have your own questions to ask at your child’s well visit, so the app also has a notes section where you can jot down specific questions to ask your child’s doctor.
Because medicine has a language of its own, there’s a glossary explaining every medical term used by the app. And if you think you have your vaccine facts down as well as you do your child’s favorite bedtime story, test your knowledge by playing the three games on the app.
Your little one just got back from the doctor’s office with a new prescription for that rash, but you forgot how often you should apply that stuff to your child’s knee. Or, you are in the emergency room with Jenny after she made a spectacular catch at the baseball game, immediately followed by an equally spectacular fall that led to a broken arm. As you are filling out the paperwork in the waiting room, you can’t remember answers to much of the required medical information. Or, it’s 2 a.m. and you now realize what question you forgot to ask at Jenny and Johnny’s well-child visit.
Lucky for you and your family, you’re patients with Swedish and all of your medical records and questions can be accessed/asked via the MyChart app any time you want! This extremely handy app has your child’s health records available 24/7 and provides a safe and secure way to message your provider. Patients love this app, and their providers love it even more! If you’re having trouble accessing/signing up/using the app, feel free to stop by the office for a mini-tour and troubleshooting session.
One last smartphone tip
The last thing I recommend to parents regarding their smart phones and their kiddos doesn’t have anything to do with an app. It has a lot to do with a button. The off button.
After the pictures have been taken, the schedules made, the phone calls completed and the email sent, it’s time to put down the phone (that goes for your teenagers, too) and witness your miraculous pride and joy. Take it from a pediatrician who has seen thousands of children grow up. It happens fast, and you aren’t going to want to miss it or watch it through the lens of a smartphone.