I requested a copy of this app when I first saw it, because I've often thought "There needs to be an app for this!" And here it is. MyPreemie was developed by two parents of preemies and a neonatologist, the experts who wrote Preemies - Second Edition: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies.
And I'll tell you right off the bat, I like it.
The first thing I noticed was how beautiful it is. The graphics are lovely, and it is easy and fun to navigate. You just enter a baby's name, birth date, gestational age and photo, and then keep all sorts of information about each baby (you can keep track of multiple babies.) It has 6 primary functions, available on the main page:
- diary pages
- weight/height/head circumference tracking
- a guide filled with helpful information about preemies and NICU's
- a notepad for keeping to-do lists and questions to ask
- a list of keepsakes you'll want to remember throughout your stay
- a settings page for customizing the look of the app.
I wanted to give this a good testing, so I created a make-believe baby named "Test Baby" (I really need to work on my creativity!), and entered all of her information: birth date, gestational age, birth photo, etc. The app made all of this very easy. I then went to the diary section and started writing, pretending to chronicle the journey right from the beginning.
The diary page starts off with an option to easily add pictures, which I think is a lovely idea - a nice reminder to keep a regular photo journal and a great way to keep them organized with the information about that particular day in the NICU. The diary page suggests topics to write about followed by a drop down menu to select some standard choices ("off ventilator" or "no more IV's" or "first bath"). Or, you can just write freely, filling up the pages of the diary to your heart's content. So you have free text writing for those of you who like to write, or just simple menu choices for those of you who appreciate more guidance. Here are some screen shots from my sweet little Test babies, to give you an idea what it looks like (Click the images for a .pdf version you can see better. Notice Test 6 is the diary written by the baby's brother, Jake):
Aside from the dairy pages, the rest of the app is equally easy to use. The weight/length/head size tracking is straightforward and handy - I particularly appreciate that it will create a line graph to show visually how baby is growing. The resource guide provides a very thorough list of basic NICU information, and I like the suggested questions they provide for every subject. The notepad for your "to-do list" and "questions to ask" is a basic notepad, but I like that it's here within the app so you can easily keep track of those NICU related topics (I can't tell you how many times I advise parents to get a notepad and keep it handy, because the questions you have are almost ALWAYS forgotten when you get to the hospital!)
In the end, I created 6 "test" babies, and enjoyed tracking all of their progress, flipping through the pages and reading about their journeys. I really enjoy this app, and I think NICU families will too, for these reasons:
- Beautiful illustrations and cute design, fun to use.
- Very easy to use.
- Prompts families keep track of information they might otherwise not remember.
- Easy to include pictures in a chronological manner, along with comments and thoughts on any given day.
- Simple share functions, either to email, facebook, or pdf (you can even tweet your photos).
- Created by knowledgeable folks, so the information is relevant, trustworthy, appropriate.
- Can keep track of several babies (I got up to 6 babies, and quit after that), so it's perfect for multiples! (What did I name my other babies? Test 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. I REALLY need to work on that creativity...) You can even customize the color scheme of each baby.
- Each baby can have multiple diaries written by other family members. When entering a new baby, you can add brothers, sisters, grandparents, and then each of these people can have their own diary entries for the baby.
- It's full of clever little extras, such as a prompts to record the name of the nurse taking care of the baby each day (and it remembers the names of previous nurses, so you don't have to write it each time, can just click that name), and many others little helpful details.
- It's only $6.99, available for download at the App Store. [UPDATE: As of 12/2014 the price is now $4.99]
Is there anything about the app I don't care for? Well, I would say one negative is that it is limited to ONLY preemies. While it's great for preemies to have their own specific app, I believe all NICU families would enjoy using an app like this. (When I say limited to only preemies, I mean this - when entering a new baby, you can only enter a gestational age up to 36 weeks & 6 days). The only other feature I wish it had is a way to track feedings better. Feeding tolerance is so often a major issue for preemies, and the parents I know love to keep track of feeding volumes, whether they took feedings by bottle or tube feeding, and how the feeding was tolerated. You can certainly do this as a journal entry, but I can imagine this being something the designers might consider as a lovely addition to any future updates. Speaking of updates, I did have an opportunity to exchange emails with the co-authors, and I must say they were extremely delightful, and eager to take suggestions to make this app great, so I believe it will only keep getting better over time.
Bottom line: Is this going to get your baby home sooner? No. Is this going to answer every question you have about your NICU experience? No. But it is a beautiful, fun way to document and share your journey through this exciting, unique, difficult time. $7 seems extremely reasonable for everything that it offers. I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of this app to review. I did not get paid to write this review. If you purchase the app via the links included here on this page, I will receive an extremely tiny fee, but I absolutely would not be giving it a good review if I didn't truly believe everything I've said about it.