Baby Buddy: Your Digital BFF

Dr. Ranj Singh
 @DrRanj

NHS Doctor and Medical Presenter (CBeebies Get Well Soon, ITV This Morning, BBC Watchdog, Channel 5 News)

Dr. Ranj joined us for the Baby Buddy Stakeholder Day 

For most people, becoming a parent is an exciting time.  There are so many wonderful things that you and your baby will share together, and so much to look forward to.  However, it can also be equally stressful for a number of reasons.

Getting the ‘labour bag’, cot, baby clothes and car seat ready just doesn’t seem enough anymore.  People want you to be a parenting expert too!  But there’s so much to know or do, that it all feels a bit overwhelming.  And where do you go for that information?  Who can you trust?  What if you can’t find what you need?

Luckily, the world of healthcare information and technology is moving to meet those needs.  Nowadays we want relevant and reliable information at our fingertips - resources that we can access any time from anywhere.  We’ve come such a long way from simple handouts and patient leaflets.  Today, it’s all about websites, podcasts, blogs and, even more exciting than all that, apps.

Baby Buddy is an app that has been developed by Best Beginnings, a charity dedicated to helping parents get the information and support they need to give their kids the best start in life.  That’s why I got involved with them – I’m passionate about promoting children’s and family health and they’ve been thinking of really creative ways to reach those people who are most in need.  So far they’ve had fantastic results with things like the brilliant Bump to Breastfeeding and Small Wonders projects.

Baby Buddy is their latest project and really is the future of pregnancy and parenting support.  It acts just like a digital best friend!  It goes on your parenting journey with you, giving you useful tips and help anytime you want it.  When you open the app, not only does it look stunning, it immediately draws you in and asks you to create a character that represents you.  Using some basic information, the app then refers to you individually, making it a really personal and relevant experience.  It offers helpful information from trusted experts, so you don’t have to worry about whether it’s reliable.  You can store your appointments, look things up, watch videos of common questions, and even ask your own!  It’s not just useful though – it’s fun too!

What I’m most excited about it how it gives us a chance to reach out to people who want and need support but don’t know how to access it, particularly young people.

When wanting to support young mothers, an app is a really sensible approach.  It was estimated last year that 93% of UK teens used mobile phones (81% smart phones).  Given teens don't necessarily have lots of disposable cash for mobile phone contracts, that's quite impressive, assuming the bank of Mum and Dad aren't always paying!  More than that, the average UK teen owns six digital devices now and over 90% of them have 1 or more social network accounts.  So a digital offer like Baby Buddy, accessible through smart phones, really will reach out to young mums in a place of their choosing.

There are lots of great resources and projects for parents out there, but Baby Buddy is light years ahead.  From the start I’ve been amazed at how much it can do and the amount of excellent information it has.  Also, I’m equally impressed with how dedicated the team behind it is and how seriously it’s all being taken.  It’s no surprise, then, that it has received approval from a number of professional organisations.  This isn’t just any old app – it’s going to become a routine part of everyone’s care.

I can’t tell you how proud I am to be part of a project like this.  I work with young people and families on a daily basis and I know how difficult it can be for them to get the information they need – especially when it comes to pregnancy and parenting. 

When it comes to stuff like this, we all want a BFF that we can count on.  Someone who is reliable and there for us 24-hours-a-day, who is going to tell us exactly what we need to know, and where to go for help.  For some people that will be a friend, family member or their midwife – for many it will be their Baby Buddy.