Background Baby Buddy is a free app for iOS and Android devices that supports and guides women through pregnancy and the first 6 months of their child’s life using both evidence based tailored information and film clips in an interactive format to expectant and new mothers in a highly accessible medium. Currently, 88% of 16–24 year olds in the UK own a smartphone (Ofcom, 2014).
Aims The overall aim of Baby Buddy is to improve maternal and child health outcomes by increasing users’ knowledge and confidence about pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. We wished to evaluate uptake, how it is used, feedback on its features and the extent to which the app is helping users feel more knowledgeable and confident in their transition to parenthood
Methods Data on Baby Buddy was collected through the App’s survey feedback functionality. It was anonymised, age and postcode were requested upon registration.
Results Over 12 months, 37,138 people registered to use Baby Buddy. 80% of the 46,392 downloads of Baby Buddy resulted in registrations.
9% of Baby Buddy users are health care professionals and 5% fathers. The age distribution of Baby Buddy users maps closely to the age distribution of new parents (ONS 2013) with the exception young mothers;- 10% of Baby Buddy users are under 20, whilst 4% of mothers in England are aged under 20 the App was used in more disadvantaged families – Figure 1.
Baby Buddy users report to be learning more about their pregnancy and to feel closer to their baby (Figures 2 and 3). The impact is greater amongst younger women and in two localities which “actively embedded” Baby Buddy.
Conclusion Baby Buddy has been well received in the first year of its launch, particularly by young socially disadvantaged mothers.
Attunement and self-efficacy are important factors in parent infant relationships. Early insights on Baby Buddy have shown that has a significant impact in reducing health inequalities. As Baby Buddy written and film content continues to expand, this impact will continue to be closely investigated. A formal independent academic evaluation of Baby Buddy will commence in January 2016.
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