Do We Really Need To Use Apps That Track Ingredients and Additives?

Hands holding smartphone with blank white screen

We live in an age where anything we want to know is easily accessible to us, with the push of a button. In many ways, the ability to google anything has changed the way we parent for the better. We can do birth classes from the comfort of our own living rooms and google images of baby poo at 2am to see if something is normal or if you need to book a GP appointment (which thankfully, you can also do at 2am).

Honestly, how did people parent before smart phones!

Sadly, there is a darker side to having all this information right at our fingertips, and that is the serious information overload for new parents. There are thousands of people online offering advice about baby sleep, wellbeing and development and how to feed your baby. Working out what advice is evidence based or worth following can be incredibly difficult. Having all this information can also place a huge amount of pressure on parents.

If you know how to do something “better” does choosing not to do it that way make you a “bad” parent? Choosing to ignore “advice” on how to be a better parent can make you feel immense guilt and even like you are failing. Let’s be 100% clear that this is not the case, just by showing up each day you are doing a great job. But everywhere you look on Instagram, you will see tips for helping your baby to meet a milestone, someone telling you how to feed your baby, 1000 brightly coloured and time-consuming activities to entertain and inspire your bub. There is no doubt that almost every post you see has good intentions. However, this constant input of information, on how to do parenting “right”, can really increase anxiety and lift the bar on what you feel you need to be doing to be a “good” parent.

This is where tracking apps come into the conversation.

There are so many, and I don’t want to name any or call them out because they may be incredibly helpful to some families. Once again, this information is not one size fits all. For example, if you have a jaundice bub and you have been advised by a paediatrician to feed every 2 hours, a tracking app might take the pressure off you having to remember when you last fed and how long each feed was. For another mum, tracking each feed, in that level of detail, is unnecessary and may heighten anxiety. Apps that look at developmental leaps and meeting milestones are incredibly general. For some parents it is helpful to get an idea of when your bub might start to roll while for others, it might ignite a hyper focus on tummy time and concerns about bub “falling behind”.

Whether an app is useful or not, really does come down to your own needs as a family. However, the unnecessary and overly detailed focus on your baby can be anxiety provoking for some parents too, something that is rarely spoken about. This is the case for several apps that are promoted to parents when their bub starts eating solids.

There are a couple of specific Apps that come to mind that really don’t add anything except mum guilt to the lives of many parents. These are the apps that look at ingredients or additives to foods. Some of these Apps give you a traffic light system for whether they are “healthy or not”. Health, however, is rarely so simple. Additives are not something to be automatically feared and avoided. Additives can improve shelf life, stability and flavour without being toxic or unhealthy to consumers. We are incredibly lucky to live in a country where what we purchase to eat is very closely monitored and strictly regulated already.

Recently, I have spoken to many parents about Apps that track supermarket ingredients and there is a worrying trend emerging. Parents are feeling overwhelmed, like they can’t even pick up a yogurt for their little one without consulting their App. When we unpack how they are feeling further, these Apps are promoting a disordered and obsessive relationship with food for some families. Instead of making it easier to feed their little ones, they feel guilty about food choices. Guilty about picking a more affordable option, guilty if something isn’t organic or is has vegetable oil in it.

To set the record straight- organic is not better or healthier and there is zero evidence that vegetable or seed oils are harmful.

Additives, food chemicals, sugar and fat content are not something that most parents need to worry about day to day. If an App is making mealtimes harder, you’re restricting foods or feeling anxious then maybe it is time to take a step back and keep it simple. Feeding our babies and families doesn’t need to be that complicated and shouldn’t make you feel stressed.

This is where we need to become critical consumers. Yes, we are consumers of these Apps, they are there to make a profit and keep people using them. As critical consumer, we should be asking if these Apps are really serving us and improving our lives? Or are they just making life harder? How are they making us feel?

If you find that you can’t feed something to your little one without worrying about every ingredient, or you feel anxiety about shopping to feed your bub then it might be time ditch the tracking Apps.

We would love to hear your thoughts! Leave us a comment below!

If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious about feeding your little one please join us for a one on one consult and let us help you ease your concerns with simple, realistic nutrition.


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