Parents

'Appy' baby: 8 innovations that will make new parents' lives easier

When we brought my first son, Asher, home from the hospital three years ago, I remember feeling like I had gone to sleep on Earth and somehow woken up on Mars. I needed to relearn everything about how to live —everything was new, exciting and terrifying.

Today
Randi Zuckerberg with her son Asher.

I think I finally managed to shower and leave my house a month later. But when Baby Simi arrived three weeks ago, I felt calmer, more prepared — somewhere between “I got this” and “Oh, this again.”

I was able to find a few moments in the never-ending cycle of feed-burp-change-nap-post baby photos on Facebook-repeat, to reflect on the difference in my experience with my two boys.

While much of my new comfort level stems from experience, a lot is due from some of the exciting new apps and innovations in technology within the past few years.

Here are some of the biggest differences I’ve noticed between Baby #1 (now 3 years old) and Baby #2 (3 weeks old).

1) Quantity of Photos: When Asher was born, my husband and I took photos of everything. Hiccups? Photo! Bath time? Adorbs. With your first baby, every moment is worth a photo. But by baby #2, it’s not that every little moment or facial expression isn’t cute — it’s just that you’ve seen a snoozy baby before. Or maybe you’re just exhausted. I actually went three straight days without taking a single photo of the little guy last week. One app that’s really helped me is the ROOM For Thought app, which prompts you to take one random photo every day. This way, we journal his experiences in a more spontaneous manner.

2) Posting on Social Media. With your first child, you can’t help it. You become that over-sharing person that you used to roll your eyes at. With baby #2, you start feeling like less is more. This time around, I didn’t post a single photo showing my pregnant belly until I was almost seven months along, and I didn’t announce on Facebook that my son had arrived until five days after his birth. I’ve been far more selective in what I share, and I’m doing more through private Facebook groups, which allow you to share photos and updates with just the people you choose.

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Randi Zuckerberg's newest arrival, Simi.

3) Perfection is way over-rated: With my first son, we painstakingly decorated a brochure-ready nursery—from the custom-painted mural to drawers overflowing with over-priced, impractical onesies with inconvenient snaps. In preparing for baby #2, knowing better, we designed everything around reality. Whereas Asher had his own nursery, Simi has a glorified walk-in closet. Luckily, sites like Pinterest and Houzz have taken off within the past few years, and allow you to customize any space, to any level of effort you’re willing to expend. Also, PJs with a million snaps are for masochists.

4) Thank you cards. With baby #1, every gift sent to us was promptly acknowledged with a handwritten thank you card. This time around, I wised up. Using apps like Postagram and Snapshot Postcards, I was able to use photos on my phone to immediately send thank you postcards with a custom message to anyone in my address book.

5) E-commerce. Since I had my first son, an amazing thing has happened. You can now get ANYTHING delivered, no matter where you live. While this is nothing new for New Yorkers, trust me, when you live in the California burbs…it’s a big deal. Between Amazon, Seamless, Postmates, and DoorDash, I don't have to leave my house AND I don't even have to feel bad about it! Starbucks just announced delivery in 2015 — if they had that now, I truly would have no reason to leave my house!

6) The smarter house. Somewhere in the three years between my two sons, our houses got smarter. Asher was stuck in the 2000s with his old fashioned thermostat, but Simi’s nursery features a Nest device, which not only monitors carbon monoxide emissions but also keeps the room’s temperature regulated. Plus, it saves Mommy and Daddy a nice chunk of change with our energy bills. And the best part is — we installed it ourselves!

7) Virtual pediatrician house calls. With your first child, the slightest sneeze or sniffle has you running to urgent care in the middle of the night. Thanks to the wonders of telemedicine over the past few years, you can now fire up your computer and chat with a doctor in real time, via sites like Doctor on Demand or HealthTap, diagnosing everything from pink eye to gas without that frantic trip to the ER. You can also purchase simple mobile phone attachments, such as the Cellscope otoscope, that allow you to diagnose an ear infection from your smart phone.

8) Paternity Leave. Technically, this isn't a technological advance — but it is a wonderful, growing trend. By far, the best difference for me has been having my husband home longer. When Asher was born, my husband got two weeks off. This time, he was able to take a whole month. I’m excited about companies expanding paternity benefits and the changing conversation around men and women splitting family and childcare obligations more evenly. We still have a long road ahead, but I’m optimistic. Having my wonderful husband, Brent, around with me to share this first month with baby has been a wonderful bonding experience. I’m already a little teary thinking about him returning to work next week.

Randi Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, New York Times bestselling author of Dot Complicated and children’s book Dot, editor-in-chief of digital lifestyle destination Dot Complicated and host of “Dot Complicated” on SiriusXM.

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