Photo: Sam Tsang
Kelly Yang
Kelly Yang

Forget the baby apps, it's better being an old-fashioned mother

Kelly Yang has dabbled in gimmicks and gadgets but concludes that looking after her baby is best done the old-fashioned way

One great thing about having a baby now is the huge range of apps available to help the mother - or so I thought. When my first child was born, in 2007, the "iCraze" hadn't even been born.

I'm not a technology addict, but I thought that surely, if there's any time when an app might be useful, it's when you have a newborn. So I set about downloading app after app - everything from "Baby Monitor Camera" to "Baby WebMD".

Don't feel like singing a lullaby? Nowadays, there's an app that does it for you. Don't like lullabies? Get the "White Noise Baby" app instead. Babies like shushing, but if you don't feel like going "shhh", there's an app. Can't remember what to pack when you go out with the baby? There's an app for that too.

I was having a wonderful time swiping and tapping away when suddenly I got a reminder: "You have not fed your baby in two days!" It's alarming for any new mother to read such words. In my sleep-deprived and confused state, I turned to my baby in panic, only to see the biggest smile on her perfectly content face. This didn't look like a baby that has missed 16 feeds. In fact, she hadn't; I had just missed updating my app 16 times.

That's the thing I didn't realise - apps, like babies themselves, take a lot of work. To get anything useful out of them, you have to be constantly on them, activating, inputting, downloading and selecting.

Within weeks, little red reminders started popping up all over my phone. When I tapped on them, very personal questions stared back at me, like: "What is the colour of her poop today?" or "When is the last time you drained your right breast?" I felt like shouting back: "None of your business!"

It was madness trying to keep up with these apps. I started making up poop colours and feeding schedules for all the days I had missed. This, unfortunately, only led to more problems - when I input my baby's actual weight, the app warned: "Your baby is not growing well according to what she has been eating."

Exasperated, I set aside the phone. This was no way to parent, I decided. I already have one baby to take care of; I don't need all these other little ones screaming at me. And as soon as I deleted the tiny buttons, I started to get my groove back.

Huggies recently announced that it's coming out with a new app called TweetPee and it will actually send parents a tweet via Twitter when their baby's diaper is wet. When I read this, I immediately perked up. The app works because Huggies has put a special humidity sensor on each diaper that activates the app every time it is wet. That's so cool, I thought. Then, I thought for a second and chuckled. Do we really need Twitter to remind us to change our children's diapers?

I'm proud to say I'm now back to being a mother in the old-fashioned way - feeding my baby when she cries and changing her when she's smelly. My baby may not get lullabies sung by a woman with an angelic voice, but at least she gets her mother.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Appless mum