Since Baby Buddy launched in November 2014, it’s supported over 350,000 parents, won national health-tech awards and has produced evidence of its impact on improving parental knowledge and confidence, continuation of breastfeeding, mother-infant bonding, self-care, and contact points with Healthcare Professionals.

Despite these successes, Best Beginnings has continued working to expand Baby Buddy to support more different types of parents - and to support them for longer. We’re now celebrating the release of Baby Buddy 2.0 (beta)* – the new and improved app that’s been built in collaboration with parents and professionals to deliver augmented supported for families across the UK.

*The app is now in a ‘pre-launch testing phase’. We are seeking user feedback to inform improvements and optimisation ahead of public launch in the Autumn. You can download Baby Buddy 2.0 (beta) here, and share your feedback here.

Matthew Black is our Head of Digital & Content, who has been working with the developers and the content team to pull it all together – here’s his ‘behind the screens’ view on the exciting journey of getting from where we were, to where we are now…


Why build a new app?

In 2014, approximately 53% of the UK population owned smartphones, iPhone 6 was the latest device on the market and health-tech apps were just breaking through. Today, approximately 91% of the UK population own smartphones (Statista), and there are over 350,000 digital health apps available to consumers. Needless to say, technology has evolved rapidly, and Baby Buddy 2.0 (beta) has followed suit.

The original Baby Buddy app infrastructure only supported one user journey: mums. Although 7% of users were dads and/or co-parents, we knew that we needed to do more to support partners and other co-parents. Anonymised app user data and feedback told a story of how Baby Buddy needed to grow. Users asked us to extend the user journey beyond 6 months postnatal, and to support more diverse user types with more app features.

As stakeholders on NHS England’s Maternity Transformation Programme, we identified key areas in which Baby Buddy 2.0 (beta) could be developed to support the implementation of Better Births. Choice and Personalisation are key factors in improving outcomes in maternity, and we recognised the need for new features that would provide data on maternity units and birth choices across the UK, and digital Personal Care and Support Plans.

Best Beginnings has long been committed to supporting the Healthy Child Programme, and new technology has made it possible for Baby Buddy to provide complementary support to this service framework through pregnancy and the first 5 years of life. As the programme has evolved and the importance of digitally connecting parents with developmental information about their children has been evidenced, Baby Buddy needed to evolve.

Making use of growth chart APIs provided by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Baby Buddy 2.0 (beta) now provides a user facing digital personal child health record, and in-app nudges that encourage parents to make use of statutory services available to them and fully engage in their child’s development during this window of opportunity from conception to the 5th birthday.  


What’s new?

Our new features include:

  • Support for longer: personalised content up to baby’s 1st birthday
  • World’s first app with daily information personalised for fathers
  • Management of multiple children and pregnancies
  • Syncing of child profiles with partners
  • NHS login
  • Shared Spaces to collaborate with family, friends and healthcare professionals
  • Choice of Place of Birth feature with data on all UK maternity units, provided by Birth Choice UK
  • Personal Care and Support Plans
  • Track your baby’s development: growth charts, vaccination schedule, developmental milestones, feeding status, letters to baby, bump selfies and appointment notes



How was it made?

With funding secured from the National Lottery Community Fund, we kicked off our ‘discovery’ phase in November 2019. Anonymised app uptake and usage data, alongside 1,457 user feedback messages were analysed.

Eighty two interviews with parents and healthcare professional were conducted, and several prototypes went through cycles of user testing to inform a full design and build specification, including a series of consultations with technology experts to determine a technology stack that would future-proof Baby Buddy 2.0 to deliver to content and feature expansions that we plan to implement in the future.

Baby Buddy 2.0 (beta) truly is a step change in digital resources for families across the UK. In order to inform and deliver the extensive feature sets that parents want us to create, we have relied on many crucial partnerships and collaborations, including:

  • Engagement with NHS Digital and NHSx on the Digital Child Health Programme to inform the development of our un-connected, user facing child health records.
  • Partnership with Birth Choice UK to bring the most comprehensive and accessible data sets on UK maternity units into the hands of Baby Buddy users, through a Choice of Place of Birth feature.
  • Collaboration with The Fatherhood Institute and Future Men to develop the world’s first daily information pathway for fathers to navigate pregnancy and the 1st year with the same level of support that mothers can access through Baby Buddy.

The Digital & Content Team have worked iteratively and in collaboration with the Best Beginnings Parent Panel, Editorial Board, EYDP and stakeholder organisations to develop a functional and ever-improving app that will be publicly launched in the Autumn.


What’s next?

Whilst parent, co-parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals continue to use and feedback on Baby Buddy 2.0 (beta), the Best Beginnings team is also looking to the future to implement even more functionality to support families. Some of these features include:

  • Goal-setting, recording and monitoring to support healthy weight gain in pregnancy, smoking cessation, reduction of alcohol exposure and mental wellbeing
  • Integration with NHS Digital to surface healthcare professional recorded data for users as a connected Digital Personal Child Health Record
  • Personalised daily information up to your child’s 5th birthday, with improved personalisation for LGBTQ+ parents
  • Digital Maternity Health Records
  • And much more!

So that’s how we got to Baby Buddy 2.0! We hope you love using this updated version of Baby Buddy as much as we’ve loved creating it – and we’d really welcome your feedback. Please download the beta version on your App Store now and tell us what you think.


Blog by Best Beginnings Head of Digital & Content, Matthew Black