'Baby tracking apps' leave parents feeling guilty and pressured, research says

Mother with baby on phone tracking app

Research has found that new parents are deleting phone apps that record their baby's feeding and sleeping patterns, because they make them feel guilty and inferior

The British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Newcastle heard that parents’ “early and enthusiastic use of a range of apps to monitor and track the care and development of their new baby” led eventually to “guilt, pressure and social comparison”.

Dr Kate Orton-Johnson, of the University of Edinburgh, spoke to 20 parents who had been heavy users of mobile phone apps to record their new baby’s feeding and sleeping patterns but had now stopped using them.

She told the conference that whilst the parents found the tracker apps useful at first, they came to feel that recording their baby’s development put pressure on them.

One parent told her: “I went from being all about the gadgets to just wanting to escape the routines and not worry if milestones were being met or the right amount of weight was being gained."

Another said: “I had to stop when I found myself actually going back and filling in entries for naps or feeds that I’d forgotten to fill in at the time. Who does that? Why was I bothering? It was about me and not at all about [the baby].”

Dr Orton-Johnson stated that: “The parents faced a love-hate relationship with the apps they used, feeling that they gave a sense of structure and security when tired, frazzled and vulnerable, but also that they exacerbated feelings of pressure, comparison and guilt.

“The respondents then described feelings of liberation and freedom following their rejection of baby tracking apps."

What Mumsnetters say

“Of course it isn't necessary, but I found a tracking app really useful. I was so exhausted that it was hard remembering when I last fed him etc. And it does pretty graphs if you miss them.”

“I used one but I would give a word of caution – I developed anxiety about DD's sleep after using this type of app too much and worrying about guidelines.”