Any mother probably intuitively already knew this, but new study findings published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology have been getting a lot of attention: When a mother smells her newborn, she receives an immediate neurological reward on par with eating or taking drugs. In other words, moms crave the smell of a newborn.
Not surprising perhaps, but it's comforting to know that the human element in parenthood hasn't gone anywhere. Thirteen years into the 21st century, there are so many websites, apps and gadgets devoted to babyhood, it can almost be easy to forget.
Parents can forget, too. While it's easy to become enamored of the latest and greatest baby care gadget, be careful about getting too gung-ho, warns Julie McCaffrey, a baby planner who specializes in helping couples prepare for parenthood and services the greater New York City area.
[Read: Can You Afford a Baby?]
"Parents should look for baby gear and products that are technology-based that work with their current lifestyle and really will improve their daily life. Some technology may actually add unnecessary steps or maintenance, which most new parents don't have the time for," McCaffrey says, speaking generally and not necessarily about the following apps, websites and gadgets designed to assist new parents.
You're pregnant? There's an app for that. The March of Dimes offers a free interactive iPhone app called CineMama (marchofdimes.com/cinemama). It gives women advice to help keep them and their babies healthy during pregnancy; it also helps them create a keepsake – as in, it lets moms make a movie out of daily photos of her increasingly pregnant belly. Cost: free.
Breastfeeding? There's even an app for that. Sara Chana, a New York-based certified lactation consultant and mother of seven kids, has developed a new app for the iPhone and iPad called "Breastfeeding for BOOBs." It won't be out until December, but it will come with thousands of articles and videos to help moms breastfeed, as well as ample information for mothers and fathers about childbirth, dietary issues and more. Cost: still being debated, but it will land somewhere between $2.99 and $3.99.
Your chance to pretend you work for the NSA. The People Power Company, a software company based in San Francisco, has an app called Presence that allows old iOS mobile devices to be turned into security cameras, which may come in handy if you're leaving your precious cargo with a nanny or sitter you don't know well. Remote video feed is sent directly to your current mobile device, and you can even set up alerts so that if someone enters the room, you'll know about it. Cost: free.
[Read: 8 Products Your Baby Doesn't Need.]
Where can you find a babysitter, anyway? There are seemingly a million websites that will help you find and hire a babysitter, including Care.com/babysitters, SitterCity.com, UrbanSitter.com and CareLuLu.com. Cost: free to browse; the transaction price for matching you with a sitter varies.
Medical questions? When you're a new parent, you're going to have a lot of questions. HealthTap (healthtap.com) is a service that gets your health question to a trustworthy doctor in a network of 49,000 (and counting) physicians. You can even use the site's Doctor Mom feature, in which your health question will be directed to doctors who are also mothers. HealthTap's people – and this writer – are compelled to mention that this shouldn't be a replacement for actually going to the doctor, especially if you think your baby is truly ill. Cost: free. If you want to get an expedited answer to a question, however, it's $0.99, and if you want to ask a specific doctor a follow-up question (after a free Q&A interaction), $9.99.
Health and wellness tips. WebMD.com, the well-known health services information site, has its WebMD Baby App, available at the App Store on iPhone and iPod Touch. For those with babies from a day old to a year old, the user receives a new health and wellness tip every day; from ages 1 to 2, age-related information is sent to the user every month. The app also has a baby book feature, numerous articles and information on baby health and wellness questions, and a record keeper in which a parent can record what their baby is doing. Cost: free.