It’s hard to believe that a little device that’s the size of your hand can actually help parents become more organized, time-efficient, knowledgeable, even relaxed. However, that’s the beauty of an iPhone. The key, though, is to find the right apps to get you there, and with so many choices (more than 75,000), it takes time and effort to find good ones.
What follows is a list of 20 free apps that won’t necessarily make you a better parent, but can make your life a little easier, or help out in a pinch wherever you are. And when you have a screaming, bored, hungry, or need-to-use-the-bathroom kid, sometimes a little help is all you need. The apps listed below have been compiled from the eyes of a parent, but many can be used regardless of whether you do or don’t have children.
There are also several apps listed below that are ‘lite’ versions. These are completely functional, but just offer limited options compared to their more robust, feature-rich priced apps. What other great iPhone apps are you finding helpful as a parent? Let us know in the comments.
1. WebMD Mobile
WebMD’s iPhone app enables parents to look up symptoms and try to figure out what’s ailing their children. Of course, it shouldn’t take the place of professional medical advice, but for those cases when your child has a minor rash, fever, cough, etc., this is a great resource to try and narrow down what is going on, and prepare for a doctor visit if necessary.
Although you won’t get professional quality photos from your iPhone, the 3 mega-pixels are sufficient for taking quick snapshots of your kids. And with this app, you can instantly upload photos to your Shutterfly account, send them to your friends and family, and let the bragging begin.
Kids’ behavior is unpredictable and there’s no knowing when a time-out may be necessary. When you’re away from the confines of your house and your kids act up, this simple timer on your phone can be used to track a time-out.
Ask your kids one minute if they have to use the bathroom and the answer is “no.” The next minute, they’re doing the potty dance. SitOrSquat is a great app to have on your phone when you are out-and-about in an unfamiliar place and need to know where the closest public restroom is located.
KidStatz LITE is an app that enables you to house basic information about your child, his/her physical characteristics, medical information and a photo. In the horrible event that your child goes missing, this will help you have immediate access to crucial information. The lite version enables you to email the information directly from the app, as well as call the police, but does not offer the option to enter information for multiple children, as the full version does. This type of app is a must-have for any parent.
6. Pizza Finder
What kid doesn’t like pizza? When you’re on the road, on vacation, or in an unfamiliar area, Pizza Finder identifies local joints in your area, links it through Google Maps, and lets you call directly from the app. It is perfect for finding a quick meal and quelling the constant “I’m hungry!” whines.
But pizza for dinner only makes sense if you have the cash to pay for it. Bank & ATM Finder is a good resource for any parent who is in need of some quick cash. By mapping out your location, this app quickly locates local banks and ATM machines near you.
Ask any parent what the worst part is about going to Disney World and they will likely say the exorbitant prices and the constant waiting. There isn’t an app that can reduce the cost of admission, but this app certainly addresses the wait times. The app’s by-the-minute updates on how long the lines are for rides at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, can keep you one step ahead of the crowds and help you to plan your day at Disney more efficiently.
It’s easy to remember the birthdays of the people in your immediate inner circle, but throw co-workers, friends’ kids, distant relatives’ birthdays into the mix and it becomes a lot harder to keep track. With the Birthday Notification app, you can input all important birthdays (and also import from Facebook) and get email and/or push notifications.
Parents with young kids are usually sleep-deprived. Sleep-deprived parents usually need coffee. Use this app to find the nearest Starbucks location and refuel on caffeine.
ICE (in case of emergency) contacts are becoming a standard notation for cell phones. The lite version of ICE iEmergency allows you to list your top three emergency contacts, as well as select a wallpaper screen displaying your designated ICE contact. A different developer makes a similar, parent-focused ICE app, as well called, appropriately, Parent ICE.
As routine as a trip to the local library is for adults, it can be a fun outing for a child. If your kid loves going to the library and you are often in new locales, then the Library app is for you. This free app will automatically determine your location and then show you nearby libraries on a Google Map.
AroundMe is great all-around resource for finding everything in your area, including restaurants, hospitals, movie theaters, parking lots, supermarkets, gas stations and more. It also provides mapping functionality and enables you to send the information to a friend. It’s a perfect app for on-the-go parents who need help planning their errands and getting things done or finding things to do when traveling in unfamiliar locations.
14. ManGo Shopping
ManGo Shopping is similar in concept to AroundMe, but it focuses solely on retail stores in your area. ManGo covers 300+ retail chains and will help locate the nearest Target, Home Depot, Costco, etc. It’s perfect for when you’re traveling and you run out of diapers or formula and are in need of the nearest superstore.
Regator is an app that aggregates information from the blogosphere to provide you with a steady stream of news from popular blogs. With more than 500 topics available to search from, you can prioritize which you follow. There’s even a topic on parenting which encompasses many popular mom blogs, which makes for great morning reading before the kids wake up.
When you want to transport yourself away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, even for a few minutes, would you prefer to hear the sound of ocean waves, or perhaps rain? With this lite version, you can pick from eight different sounds or even mix and match to create the perfect combination to suit your tastes. It even offers music box sounds to help calm a crying baby.
It’s 5:00 p.m., you’re leaving work to pick the kids up from school and you have no idea what the dinner plan is. With Allrecipes.com’s cool ‘Dinner Spinner,’ you can select a dish type, ingredients, and prep time and ‘spin’ to see what kind of options pop up. Complete with photos and a search function, this is a great app for anyone who is responsible for meal planning in the house.
IsWhen is a very simple app that lists upcoming holidays and their dates for 2009 and 2010. The calendar that comes with the iPhone does not designate holidays, so when scheduling a family vacation or time off, it is a simple resource for finding specific dates. It’s also useful for planning for those tricky Monday holidays like President’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Columbus Day when schools are closed and businesses are not.
19. Events Finder
This app locates all events in your designated area. By identifying everything from concerts to festivals to sporting events, Events Finder is a good resource for parents who are looking for something fun to do with the kids on the weekend.
reQall is an innovative voice-enabled service that allows you to capture passing thoughts, reminders and to dos in an easy way through your iPhone. But, this just scratches the service of everything it is capable of. Not only does reQall keep track of things you need to remember, shopping lists, etc., it also organizes your reminders, integrates into Outlook and even shares them with others. reQall works with both its free web-based accounts and paid subscriptions for added functionality.
[Contributed by: Jeana Lee Tahnk is a writer and high tech PR consultant who focuses on a variety of topics including, social media, family & parenting and health & well-being. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, MommyTrack’d and Examiner.com. You can follow her on Twitter.]