FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- New moms have a lot on their minds – they worry about developmental milestones, struggle through sleepless nights and agonize over day-care choices. But one local mom, Melissa Whitehead of Fairfield, aims to make mealtimes a little easier for parents with a new app that takes on many tasks.
She created “Little Bites,” an iPhone app, to track the foods that baby has tried and allows caregivers to identify those that may have caused an allergic reaction. The app also provides recipes for quick, kid-friendly and healthy meals and allows a user to email the doctor a list of foods that the child has tried -- all with a few simple clicks.
Whitehead, a software developer with a passion for cooking, created the app to track her own daughter’s first bites of solid food and identify potential allergies. New parents are advised by their children's pediatricians to try new foods in isolation for three days at a time, watching for a reaction to determine whether the baby is allergic to the food.
But for many new parents, it can be a challenging endeavor. “It's hard to keep track of the foods you've tried. We used to have a crumpled piece of paper we'd scribble on in the kitchen and I'd inevitably misplace it,” she said.
While pieces of paper often get tossed out, cellphones are usually within an arm’s reach, so an app seemed to be an ideal solution for parents suffering from “mommy brain." The thoughtfully designed app allows parents to simply give their stamp of approval or disapproval to 250 different foods with a simple touch of the screen.
Whitehead designed the app so that several children’s diets can be tracked simultaneously.
The app also contains a recipe component with 20 easy to prepare recipes developed by Whitehead. The recipe section interfaces with the food database to help the family chef to incorporate “approved” foods into the child’s diet and provides alerts for “avoid” foods.
The recipes are grouped by stages: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced and is designed to grow with your child. Through her companion blog, LittleBitesRecipes.com, Whitehead provides additional recipes that the entire family can enjoy and contains tips on helping parents develop their children’s palates so they don’t get stuck in a chicken-nuggets-and-buttered-noodles rut.
“I have made my daughter's food since she started solids and we've always steered clear of processed foods. Because of that and the way we value mealtime, I have a child who isn't even two yet and tells me we need 'broccoli and kale and chili powder' at the grocery store,” Whitehead said.
She has big plans for the future of her little app. “I’d love to see it used in day-care settings so that caregivers would be alerted to allergies - I’d love to improve how this information is shared and updated between necessary parties. I also plan to expand the number of recipe packs once I reach 1,000 users,” she said.
A way to get your baby to eat better? Yup, there’s an app for that! Whitehead’s Little Bites app is available at the iTunes store for $1.99.
Ann Quasarano is a Westport-based freelance writer and the author Fairfieldista.