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Are you plugged in? Baby apps every new parent should have

The kid is here! Freak out!

The first months of having a baby are rough, regardless of whether you are a repeat parent, like me, or a rookie just entering the exhilarating and exhausting fray.

In those newborn months, and even through the first year, most bleary-eyed parents go into survival mode, yet miraculously adapt to all of the challenges that come with the transition.

While there isn’t any technology to get your baby to start sleeping through the night at eight weeks (yet!), plenty of great apps can help you in one way or another during that foggy and fantastic first year.- Jeana Lee Tahnk, Mashable

Ready, Set, Baby!

Leave that tattered baby book on your nightstand and instead turn to this all-encompassing app/e-book, which is a great resource for every parent to have during the first year. With a mix of helpful text, photos, interactive tours and videos (how do you install a car seat?), Ready, Set, Baby! provides new and veteran parents with expert advice on feeding, sleeping, bathing, swaddling, infant development and much more. $9.99 for iOS

Eat Sleep: Simple Baby Tracking

Exactly how many diapers do babies go through when they’re newborns? It might seem mundane to be tracking diapers, but what you’re really tracking is output (and intake). Weight gain is crucial, and for nursing moms, especially, dirty and wet diapers are the only indication that babies are eating enough. Eat Sleep Tracker not only keeps tabs on diaper changes, but feeding times and sleep patterns, too. Free for iOS; Feed Baby is a similar Android option

Baby Soother

Speaking of sleep, any magical tips to actually get a baby to fall asleep are always welcomed by parents. People assume that the house has to be museum quiet when baby is sleeping, but in reality, the womb was quite noisy. Sound Sleeper is a great app to fill the silence with options such as ocean waves, white noise, hair dryer, vacuum and more. Free for Android

BabyBook

Babies go through so many firsts, each more exciting than the last. BabyBook is a terrific app that lets you document all these milestones and preserve memories from your baby’s everyday life. With easy-to-use templates, you can seamlessly fill up a book of moments from your mobile device that you can share with family and friends, and even print into a hardcover book. Free for iOS (in-app purchases for additional designs and milestones; Peekaboo Moments is a similar app for Android.

 

12 YouTube science channels to keep your kids learning this summer

YouTube is brimming with quirky, entertaining and educational science programs. As much of it is produced for a general lay audience, there’s plenty of appealing content for precocious kids and parents.  Here are some of the best YouTube science channels to check out.

1. AsapScience

Whiteboard illustrations explain every-day questions like if video games make you smarter and if plants think. During the Olympics, learn more with videos on topics like why Olympic records are always broken. Not all the content is kid appropriate though. For example, there’s a video on if sex affects athletic performance. The video merely acknowledges people have sex and focuses on non-titillating questions like how many calories sex burns and its effects on energy, anxiety levels and alertness, but parents might want to keep an eye out.

2. The Brain Scoop

From The Field Museum in Chicago, this channel explores science through the museum’s vast collections and exhibitions with host Emily Graslie.

3. DNews

Though not focused exclusively on science, DNews covers topical questions and current event issues like why zoos kill healthy animals, in reference to the euthanization of a healthy, two-year-old giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo, and the physics of figure skating, in time for the Olympic game. There are more evergreen topics like how carbon dating works. Parental guidance strongly recommended as there are some not-for-kids content, such as a study that finds women who fake orgasms also cheat. 

4. DoctorMadScience

This channel is produced and hosted by a 12-year-old named Jordan, who also happens to have autism. Jordan uses every-day household items to perform simple science experiments, like making boiling water freeze instantly in cold air and creating a fruit battery. Caution to parents: Jordan’s experiments may instill in your children the desire to explode things in your microwave.

5. Minute Physics

The channel illustrates common physics questions via whiteboard. Learn what gravity is, how magnets work and  the science behind rainbows. The show occasionally touches on other science disciplines like evolution versus natural selection and the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment

6. NASA

Of course NASA has a YouTube channel — it has several, actually, including separate channels for their various research centers and even the Hubble Space Telescope. Keep up with discoveries, launches, profiles and more.

7. Bill Nye the Science Guy

This television series from the 1990s wasn’t produced for YouTube, but we’re including it anyway. See clips from the charismatic host explaining everything from static electricity to how an eyeball works.

8. The Periodic Table of Videos

This channel focuses on chemistry with a video for every element in the Periodic Table — hence the name. In addition to the elements, videos focus on science news and related topics, like boiling water and exploding hydrogen bubbles. Host Martyn Poliakoff literally looks like a mad scientist.

9. SciShow

This channel is fun,fast-paced shorts on science news, history, and more. Visit weird places like the Waitomo Caves. Meet great minds in science like Dmitri Mendeleev. SciShow also produces a talk show and a series on the fundamental forces of physics.

10. Sick Science!

Science educator Steve Spangler has three related channels. Sick Science! features simple experiments you can try at home (with adult supervision, of course). SpanglerScience TV has more advanced experiments that mostly require special equipment. And TheSpanglerEffect features crazy experiments you probably shouldn’t try at home but are fun to watch. Let’s just say fiery explosions feature prominently.

11. Veritasium

Veritasium covers everything from why venomous animals live in warm climates to the question, if we can really touch anything (don’t assume the answer is yes). Host Derek Muller performs expert interviews and science experiments, debunks misconceptions and even performs a few songs (seriously, you will never think of atomic bonding the same way again).

12. VSauce

VSauce is my 10-year-old’s favorite science channel, which means exactly what you’d think. The focus is on the weird and the mind-boggling. Find out what does human taste like and why we kiss. (That’s about as racy as it gets.) Sibling channel VSauce2 focuses on general craziness found around the Internet and VSauce3 is about gaming.

Once you’re hooked, you may even want to keep watching your favorite science shows even after spring finally arrives. Most of these are updated weekly, if not daily. Subscribe and you and your kids can get a regular dose of smarts.

Adriana Velez

Got a budding scientist? Check-out these kid-friendly apps!

If you’d like your children to spend less time looking at their devices and more time observing the world around them, the answer may lie in those devices. An engaging science app may be just the guide they need to unlock their inner scientist. From astronomy to zoology, here are some of the best science apps for kids.

Alchemy Genetics (Ages 9+; Android, Kindle; free – $0.99) This game introduces kids to genetics by putting them in the role of a mad scientist tasked with crossing different species of animals. Start with four creatures and work your way up to unlocking 450 different wacky types of creatures. The game includes links to Wikipedia entries on real world animals.

Bobo Explores Light (Ages 8-12; iOS; free) Bobo is the children’s robot companion as they learn all about light, featuring 21 topics from the Aurora Borealis to concepts like reflection, refraction, photosynthesis and bioluminescence. Experiments, videos, 3-D holograms and articles bring these topics to life.

Kid Weather (Ages 6-10; iOS, Android; $1.99) Designed by a 6-year-old boy and his meteorologist dad, this interactive game gives kids real-time weather updates and forecasts, and fun science facts. Kids can choose their own avatar, which they dress for the weather. This app is a Parent’s Choice Approved award winner[MC1] .

Luna Solaria (Ages 12+; iOS, Android; free) This app will appeal to teens or maybe precocious late-elementary-aged kids. An interactive interface allows you to follow the phases of the moon and positions of both the moon and the sun. Find rise and set times, position in the sky, and more technical data like the brightness.

Project Noah (Ages 10+; iOS, Android; free) Got a budding naturalist in the family? Discover local wildlife and help contribute to research through this app’s three modes.

— Spottings allows you to learn more about a plant or animal you photograph.

— The location-based field guide shows you which plants and animals have been found near you.

— Field Missions allows users to contribute to ongoing research projects.

Sky Map (Ages 7+; iOS, Android; free) Point your phone to the sky and this app shows you stars, planets, constellations, moon phases and meteor showers.

Solar Walk 3-D (Ages 8+; iOS; $2.99) This app is an interactive 3-D model of the solar system and the Milky Way. Navigate through space, explore planets close-up, learn about their trajectories — and more. Solar Walk is a Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner and a National Parenting Publications Awards Gold winner.

A lot of these sound so much fun, you may want to download them to your own phone. The best-case scenario is that these apps open up the world to your children, and bring your family closer together as you bond over your discoveries.

By Adriana Velez, Photo: Wisky

5 homework apps that make the grade (and save your sanity)

Now that we’re well into the school year, you and your kids are probably coming to terms with the homework load. There’s no app to help your kids carry their books, but there are apps that can help you and your child keep track of all those homework assignments. There are even a few that can lend a hand when your kids need help with math formulas you’ve long forgotten.

MyHomework

iPhone, Android, iPad, Windows 8, Web, Kindle; Free

MyHomework lets you track homework assignments and classes. When you add an assignment or test you can indicate the class, due date (time optional), and priority level (color-coded as low, medium or high). You can set up reminder alerts, which are saved to your calendar. You can then see your homework assignments by your calendar or in a queue by class, priority or type. 

Apps allow parents to monitor children’s mobile Web surfing

With smartphone and tablet users getting younger, new apps can help parents of 2-to-13-year-olds monitor and control their children’s use of the Internet.

A Pew Research Center study shows that more than one-third of American teenagers own a smartphone, up from more than a fifth in 2011. For nearly half of these users, the phone is their main way of getting online, making it difficult for parents to supervise their behavior.

“When you have a smartphone, you basically have the Internet in your pocket wherever you are — away from your parents’ eyes,” said Anooj Shah, a partner in Toronto-based company Kytephone, which develops apps.

Expecting a baby? Want to conceive? Apps to help you plan

How did we ever have babies without our smartphones? I’m joking, of course. But with the array of fertility and pregnancy tracking apps available, there’s now a plethora of customized information at your fingertips showing you everything from the best days to try to conceive a baby to what your unborn child probably looks like in utero.

Trying to conceive a baby? Forget about counting out days on a paper calendar. These apps will track your most fertile days for you. The most basic conception apps track a woman’s menstrual cycle. If you’re willing to pay a little something extra, there are apps that provide you with more specific information about the best time to try for that baby.

The Period Tracker | Android, iOS; free

Enter the start and end dates of your last period and this app will estimate your next period, ovulation, and most fertile days for the next three months on a calendar. You can mark “intimate” days and note symptoms. Upgrade to the “Deluxe” version ($1.99) and you can join social groups from your app focusing on specific issues.

Ovulation Calendar and Fertility Calendar | Android, iOS; free

This somewhat simpler app cuts to the chase: Enter the dates for your last period and it will tell you your most fertile days. It will also tell you your baby’s due date should you conceive on one of those days.

Maybe Baby 2013 | iOS; $4.99

A quick glance will tell you if you’re fertile today, when to expect your next period and when you’ll ovulate next. Click over to the calendar and they’ll predict whether you’ll have a boy or girl based on the date you conceive, though I wouldn’t put money on those predictions.

Get Baby | Android; free

Like Maybe Baby, Get Baby shows you at a glance if you’re fertile today and what dates your period and ovulation are most likely to fall. It also predicts the gender of your baby based on conception date.

Pink Pad Period Tracker | Android, iOS; free

Don’t be put off by the name — not all of the graphics in this app are pink. This calendar app tracks your period and most fertile days as well as letting you take note of symptoms. You can set up discreet reminders alerting you to your fertile days. And you can join communities to discuss specific issues.

So you’re already pregnant? What else do you want to know? When I was pregnant with my son I was consumed with curiosity about his development. What body parts was he growing now? What did he look like? A sonogram will only tell you so much. Now there are apps that can provide you with much more information, at least based on where you are in your pregnancy. Something to keep in mind: These apps are not going to be 100 percent accurate for you and are meant to be mostly for fun. They are not a substitute for doctor’s visits or real medical tests.

BabyBump Pregnancy | Android, iPhone; free

This app tracks each week of your pregnancy, showing you illustrations and diagrams, and suggesting symptoms you may be feeling. There’s a countdown to your due date, and you can join discussion forums from the app.

WebMD Pregnancy | iOS; free

This app gives you information about your baby’s development and your own body through your pregnancy. You can snap photos of your growing belly and place them in a slideshow. The app also provides you with a list of suggested questions for your next doctor’s visit.

Pregnancy++ | Android, iOS; $2.99

Get daily and weekly updates and graphics for your baby’s development and your body’s changes.

BabyCenter My Pregnancy Today | Android, iOS; free

Get daily information and advice for your pregnancy and see your baby’s development with medical illustrations and 3D animations. You also get pregnancy checklists, a nutrition calendar and access to forums.

Ovia Pregnancy Tracker | iOS; free

Ovia claims to be “smarter” than the average pregnancy tracking app because it can give you more personalized information about your pregnancy. You provide more information about your health and age, and Ovia will give you health and risk alerts based on that data. The app also dispenses advice on nutrition, vitamin supplements, tracks your sleep, and it lets you record everything from your moods to your baby’s kicks. You can even collect photos.

CineMama | iOS; free

Looking for something a little light and fun? This app lets you snap photos of your growing belly throughout your pregnancy. After you give birth, the app will compile all your photos into a little movie with the soundtrack of your choice.

And there you go — everything you need to track your pregnancy. Just remember, these apps are just to satisfy your curiosity and help you plan for your baby. They are no substitute for a real doctor’s advice. However, they can help you engage more actively in your pregnancy in a multitude of different ways.

 

6 Spooktacular Apps for Halloween

Millie’s Book of Tricks and Treats Volume 1 and 2 by Megapops LLC ($0.99) iOS Universal is an adorably interactive digibook for kids in the Halloween spirit. The adorable Millie the dog dresses up in lots of costumes and it’s up to your little one to scratch away the cobwebs to find out what she’s wearing at each trick-r-treat location. Help Millie knock on each door and wait with anticipation as each door turns out to be a trick or a treat! This is innocent, spooky fun appropriate even for the tots.

App Spotlight Roundup: 11 Great Apps for Moms and Kids

Do you troll the app store at least once a week looking to add new ones to your collection or are you always looking for great apps that help your kids get excited about learning? I know I certainly do both on a regular basis. Then again, I do admit, I am an app-aholic.

We’ve got a great roundup for your today – especially note the first two on the list – both are produced by local developers! If we don’t share your current favorite, please let me know about your latest finds in the comments below!

7 Summer Learning Apps for Your PC

If you’re sick of trekking down to Best Buy every few weeks so your kids can pick out a $20 CD ROM learning game they’ll be sick of in a week, Intel has the cure for your time and money woes. If you use the family computer as a learning tool over the summer months and want to save money on educational programs, you need to check out Intel AppUp.

If your computer runs on a recent version of Windows, you can download the Intel AppUp App store and get to loading up your family computer with useful apps today. Don’t let the word “app” fool you – these are fully functional computer programs. And thousands are available within a matter of minutes (and pennies). Below I’ve listed some of the best educational picks of recent weeks and the words the developers have published that best describe them.

5 Must-Have Music and Ambiance Apps to Beat the Summer Heat

We all have our own ways of beating the heat (popsicles, dips in the pool, air conditioning on full blast, ice baths, etc. A fun way to add to the “cooling off” sessions is to add some music or audio entertainment to the mix – anything to distract our brains from dwelling on the sweaty misery!

If you have a smartphone, music is just a tap away. Why not put your smartphone to good use and add these great musical apps to your collection this summer.

Spotify (free) by Spotify Ltd is an app I find myself using multiple times a day. Spotify is like Netflix for music (only with a much bigger selection). Stream music over wifi for free (with commercial breaks), or pay $9.99 a month to download as much music as you wish to your phone for easy on-the-go playback. While the fee may sound a bit hefty, if you’re a music fanatic, it’s worth it. I find myself downloading entire albums regularly and truly do end up saving lots of money using the service. Not to mention, my kids love that they can hear Laurie Berkner (or whoever their current favorite artist is) wherever we go! Find it on the Android Market as well!