Parents today never leave home without one thing…wet wipes. Ok, scratch that. There are two things they never leave home without: wet wipes and a smart phone. Smartphones are a great tool to schedule children’s multiple play dates and after school activities, send family the latest updates, and of course catch a picture of that sweet teenager’s smile (a reminder of how much you love them, even in the toughest times).
But apps go beyond capturing and sharing these moments. In fact, there are a number of them that can help parents learn about, monitor, and aid in their child’s health and development. Below are three wonderful apps I recommend to parents during clinic visits.
For “moms to be,” I regularly recommend the Bump app. This app, which now has great adaptability for the apple watch, lets moms follow along week by week to learn about the growth and development of their new addition. Information on the baby’s size and what it’s doing in there is all included with this very intuitive app. There are also great ways to do slideshows of “bump pictures” for parents to share, a wonderful calendar section to help get ready for the baby, and of course access to the articles on theBump.com that have made the site a must visit for any mommy to be.
Oh no! Johnny or Jenny has a fever and rash at two in the morning and the parent’s wondering if they should call the pediatrician, go to Urgent Care, or go to the Emergency Room. Parents can triage their child’s symptoms at home with ChildrensMD. Pediatricians and programmers at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado developed this wonderful app that allows parents to find their child’s symptoms in an alphabetical index, a body area index, or full keyword search. After finding the symptom, the app brings up a menu with advice and information on when/who to call, depending on the severity of the symptom. It also has tips for home care.
The app also has a section where parents can enter their child’s medication and allergies so health professionals can have an instant list of vital information just in case. The app also includes a first aid section that offers first aid instruction specifically for kids. Parents can even call their pediatrician from the app or find the nearest emergency room using the phone’s GPS. The doctors at Colorado Children’s really thought of pretty much everything with this app. It’s a must for every parent.
Vaccines on the Go
Parents have plenty to remember around the time of their child’s 1st birthday. There’s the traveling petting zoo to reserve, but there’s also the 1 year well child visit and vaccinations coming up. But which vaccinations are they getting again? What do they protect against? How do they make them? Parents can take comfort that the doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have them covered. Not only is CHOP the country’s oldest and one of the most revered children’s hospital 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. The first is that it’s an unbiased and pharma-free app that has everything parents would possibly want to know about vaccines. There are schedules for vaccines based on the child’s age, as well as descriptions of each vaccine, and what infections they prevent. There is a section on vaccine safety, including information on different vaccine components including preservatives and adjuvants. The app also has over 50 videos regarding information on vaccines and infections from the nation’s top pediatricians and infectious disease specialists.
Even with all this information at their fingertips, parents will likely have their own questions to ask at their child’s well visit. So, the app also has a notes section where parents can jot down specific questions to ask the doctor. And because medicine has a whole language of its own, there is a glossary explaining every medical term used by the app. For parents who want to test their knowledge, the app comes with 3 different games to test their understanding of vaccines.
One Last Smartphone Tip
The last thing I recommend to parents regarding their smartphone and their kiddos doesn’t have anything to do with an app at all, but it does have a lot to do with a button. The off button. After the pictures have been taken, the schedules have been made, the phone calls completed, and the emails sent, it’s time to put down the phone (that goes for you teenagers too). Being a parent means taking time to witness their miraculous pride and joy. Take it from a pediatrician who’s seen thousands of children grow up. Kids grow up fast, and parents aren’t going to want to miss it or watch it through the lens of a smartphone.
Matthew Fradkin is a pediatrician in Seattle, WA and a 2016-17 Doximity Fellow.