Read this before downloading any baby tracking app
If you're a new parent—or mama-to-be—and recently got the memo that baby tracking is essential, you're in the right place. If you don't find yourself in one of those categories, allow me to bring you up to speed. Baby tracking is the act of notating key details of a newborn or young infant, including but not limited to: feedings, diapers, and naps/sleep (with a 24 hour period).
With an explosion of baby tracking apps over the last 20 years, it's clear parents are tracking their babies more than ever. But, is this abundance of baby data producing better, happier parents or more neurotic, data-focused caregivers less able to adapt to the stressors and demands of childrearing?
I'd argue that it's not the baby tracking that's the heart of the issue, but rather the format in which baby tracking is done. Many millennial moms opt for digital apps to track feeds and diapers, only to lose hours scrolling on TikTok. Perhaps the constant need for mothers to always be "connected" to digital devices increases the likelihood of googling to oblivion—only to be convinced baby has: insert 'terrible-skin-condition momfluencers-are-talking-about-this-hour. Just a thought.
As archaic as it may sound, "old school" pen and paper baby tracking has more advantages than it may appear. (And calling your pediatrician/provider before—or instead of—googling yourself to tears is always the better way to go). I'm not suggesting that baby tracking is unnecessary—quite the contrary! I'd venture to say baby tracking can be one of (if not the best) tools you can use to discover your baby's patterns and build YOUR confidence, too.
But, before you download a baby tracking app, check out the 7 reasons paper tracking could be the better choice for you and your baby.
Digital baby tracking apps are unreliable.
Scrolling and tapping and freezing, oh my!
With so many windows to tap and scroll through to get to the actual tracking location. In a fraction of a second, with paper baby tracking, you can jot down a quick breastfeeding session/bottle, diaper, AND nap without a robust wifi connection or fears of an inevitable crash or a frozen screen. Because let's be honest, if you're holding something frozen, it should be a tasty treat (frozen marg anyone?), not your phone!
Your time awake is precious! Don't spend it scrolling, tapping, waiting on—or heaven forbid, forgetting your password and jumping through all the reset emails—just to input information about a poopy diaper.
Not to mention, downloading a clunky app (with endless updates) takes up ever-evaporating space on your phone. Why not save the space for more meaningful videos and pictures? Chances are, your extra storage space is rapidly evaporating before your eyes with pixels of every smile, bath, and milestone more irresistible than the last. And you know what they say: "The days are long, but the years are short"—so add the priceless pictures and videos, not the data-sucking, battery-draining baby tracking apps that add no value down the road.
Most baby tracking apps are not great with multiple users!
Like when grandma (aunt, relative or friend) comes over to watch baby. She's not going to sign in and log the information, she wants to snuggle. She's also far more likely to not know her app store password to download it in the first place—or at least my mom is (still love you, Gigi)!
Leaving the house doesn't get any easier with a paper baby tracker. Your spouse/partner can quickly jump in when you need to run a quick errand or take a nap without missing a beat or listening to a 15 minute summary of the morning because everything is simply written down.
Victoria ditched her baby tracking app and switched to a TinyTracker after a frustrating first 8 weeks postpartum juggling the app between her husband and mom. She began noticing upload discrepancies when her husband logged the feeds, and grandma made it abundantly clear she wanted nothing to do with the digital app. She explained it like this:
Baby tracking apps are not twin friendly.
If you're a twin mama, good luck finding an intuitive, simple baby tracking app. Five years ago, there was nothing on the market, digitally or physically, to track twins. So I created my own, the first TinyTracker (which is still one of my most prized possessions. See #4 below). In the TinyTracker Twin Edition, both babies' data are on the same page, side by side, so you can easily see the rundown of the day for both babies in one glance. (Not multiple taps or screens).
Data and graphs are cool but memories matter in the long run.
With space to jot down milestones and notes on who came to visit, medications, or questions that come up throughout the day for your pediatrician, paper seems far more valuable than a single fancy-pants-graph that, in the moment, is cool, but later is meaningless. It's incredibly easier to see the day-to-day changes and notice patterns emerge as you flip through the pages—which in my opinion, can be your parenting superpower—giving you a firm grasp on the day-to-day events can help you anticipate baby's needs, decode baby's cries and ultimately boost your confidence.
Also, when you're finished tracking your baby, if you've only used an app, you'll have nothing to show for it. A memory book doesn't magically appear. A paper tracker, on the other hand, like the TinyTracker, is a memory book and tracker all in one (it's also a milestone and development guide, doctor appointment tracker, planner, and basic baby care guide). A paper tracker becomes more like a day to day diary with your little one.
In fact, the TinyTracker actually features dedicated memory book section. It's simple enough not to overwhelm (perfect handwriting definitely NOT required), and thorough enough to cover all the bases. With dedicated space to add baby's hospital band, a fill-in family tree, and clear back envelope, making a baby book has never been more straightforward.
Here's what Miranda H. had to say about using her TinyTracker:
And as an added bonus, if or when additional littles join the fold, you'll be able to open up your paper baby tracker to refresh your memory about the early newborn days. #momnesia is definitely a thing. Yes, you will forget how often and how much a newborn eats during the first few days and months of life.
Baby tracking apps are not customizable.
What if you want to add notes like medications, reminders to babysitters, notes on how the day went, and recording your pumping times or outputs? Without paper, it's not really possible. And the other thing, babies are predictably unpredictable. You'll definitely want to write down some of the fun moments and milestones in the margins of the pages.
In fact, actually took my TinyTracker to the hospital with my third, Annie, and the nurses added her footprints inside- can an app do that? Absolutely not.
You don't always have your phone nearby (or fully charged).
Am I the only one that can never find my phone? When juggling a newborn and all its duties, the simplest activities become exponentially more difficult. Things like: remembering when you last ate or where you put your phone down (and praying it's charged so you can find it).
With a postpartum planner like the TinyTracker, you're less likely to be forced to fish it out from the couch cushions. Most moms feed their babies in the same spot and can keep a paper planner where they're most likely to use it: on the nightstand, table in the nursery, coffee table, or portable nursing cart. Another bonus? Paper baby trackers don't rely on your wifi connection, data plan, or battery life.
Baby tracking apps are glorified spreadsheets (a dime a dozen).
The primary value of a tracking app for your newborn relies on YOU inputting information, with no inherent value other than a glorified spreadsheet on your phone wrapped up as a shiny app.
With a paper tracker, not only does it allow you to keep everything in one spot, but the extra content within the pages is unmatched by any app. With sections to house important phone numbers, doctor appointment notes, and a dedicated memory book section—complete with space to tape in the baby's hospital band, no less—the TinyTracker is a must-have baby book for new moms seeking sanity.
Another section, penned by pediatric occupational and physical therapists, features a quick rundown of 0-3 and 4-6 month motor development and infant milestones. Then, the TinyTracker takes it one step further and incorporates 180 simple sensory activities at the top of each daily tracking page to boost baby's brain development. Can you feel the overwhelm lifting?
Lastly, with a TinyTips section with baby care tips from pediatricians and experienced moms alike and a 6-month blank calendar, it's practically a type A mama's dream.
The TinyTracker essentially does the job of 5 apps combined (calendar, tracker, infant development, parenting tips, and memory book) with none of the data usage or digital distractions.
Then when you add a clear envelope in the back (for storing away little treasures), a pen holder, gold foil, and linen details throughout, it's a postpartum planner, grand millennial style. So whether you decide to track your baby's feeds, sleep, and diapers for 6 days, 6 weeks, or 6 months, the TinyTracker's got you more than covered.
New mom Ashley is obsessed with the versatility of the TinyTracker:
"Absolutely love this. It is so well made and perfectly put together for the everyday new mom. I love that it has areas for calendars, doctor visits (because there are so many in the first few months), feeding, changing, and anything else I need to keep track of while having a new little one. I will totally be buying for new mom friends because I think it will definitely help keep them organized during a time when you feel like everything is a little crazy. Thank you!" -Ashley M.
And Loren, a first-time mom, (and a labor and delivery nurse) sums up her TinyTracker experience like this:
"The TinyTracker is essentially the Bible of babyhood! It helps guide you and gives you tips when you didn't even know you needed them." -Loren E.
On the surface, baby tracking on paper seems archaic, so last century. Yet the sanity-saving and keepsake-worthy simplicity of the TinyTracker is worth a look before you download the baby app you'll most likely delete.