How to keep sane during your baby's first weeks at home

Peter Wells' new daughter.
Peter Wells' new daughter. 

Spring is a great time to be a technology journalist. Apple, Sony and Samsung announce their hero products around this time to ensure strong sales over Christmas. And this year I had another major announcement to look forward to: the birth of my first child.

Doctors familiar with the matter suggested an August 18 launch. They were a few days off – I'm not sure if it was a supply chain issue or an unreliable rumour mill.

The unboxing started around 1am last Friday – not ideal, but years of tracking Apple announcements had prepared me for early morning rises.

Long story short, our child arrived and we're quite happy with it. But children come with no instructions, so here's a quick guide to the apps, websites and devices that have kept us sane over the past week.

Actually, let's go back further. Over the course of the pregnancy, we tracked the progress of our unborn child with an excellent app called Ovia, available for Android and iOS. The pregnancy section of the app store is pretty intimidating – there are almost as many pregnancy apps as to-do apps. But Ovia​ was the best by far, explaining our baby's growth in simple, fun daily updates.

I became addicted to the podcast The Longest Shortest Time, a This American Life of baby stories. I'd recommend it for all new parents.

Now that the baby is here we're using Sprout, an app for tracking the sleeping, pooping and fussing timelines of our little girl. She's pretty good at telling us when she needs us; the app just gives us a little heads-up so we can plan around her.

And all parents seem to know of The Wonder Weeks app. It's like a secret handshake. It'll warn you of the more long-term changes in store.

Speaking of apps, my wife and I are clinging to Wunderlist for shared to-do lists, and Google Calendar to remember where we're supposed to be each day. My to-do lists have become laughably basic; "1) Shower 2) Go to IKEA", but routines and checklists are necessary when you're running on so little sleep.

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And for a website so often associated with pubescent males trolling each other, Reddit has been an invaluable resource. My wife has found the BabyBumps sub-reddit to be a fantastic and supportive place. I've been lurking on Daddit and stocking up on Dad Jokes.

Be sure to back up your baby photos – I'm backing up ours to Google Photos (free, unlimited) and Flickr (free for 1 terabyte).

And while I have no proof, I'm sure Netflix knows we've had a baby. Netflix is now suggesting we watch The Delivery Man among other baby-related shows. I assume Netflix figured this out after it took us 15 attempts to finish Easy A over one weekend.

Finally, if you see my wife and I at a cafe and we're both staring at our phones and not at the baby, please don't judge us. There's a good chance we're checking a baby app, reading a baby book, checking our to-do list or simply enjoying the first non-poop-related thought we've had in a few hours.

If you need any further information, please seek a professional or at the very least someone who has slept this week. Good luck out there.

With thanks to the amazing staff at RPA Hospital, my beautiful wife, and our support crew lead by Madeleine. Oh, and little Penelope.

Peter Wells is a technology commentator who works in IT at UNSW Australia.

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