Baby monitoring through ODK?

Hi all! So my wife is expecting, and as I look for apps to gather baby data (my most ambitious monitoring project to date!), I was thinking of maybe using ODK since that's the simplest way I know to gather data quickly.

Has anyone tried this before? I would appreciate a set of shoulders to stand on! :slight_smile:


Congrats on your growing family!

I thought of using ODK for baby data tracking too but didn't end up doing it. As with any data collection project, the first question should be what your data goals are. For me, I wanted to track data about eating, sleeping and elimination :poop: so that I could plan my days and be confident that my little ones were healthy. That made me the primary consumer of the data and I needed to be able to see it in real time as an input to my own behavior. I found that this kind of tracking is standardized and chose to use the Baby Tracker application. I tracked data as long as it helped me with short-term planning and then I stopped when I didn't need it anymore. It was not in my personal goals to have a summary artifact as a souvenir or to share with others.

ODK shines when you have a custom set of questions you want to answer and you want to collect a bunch of data and then produce an analysis artifact. It's particularly well-suited for offline contexts. If I wanted to produce some kind of data artifact to remember my babies' first days from, I absolutely would have used it.

Some things I've sort of half-wished I'd done but didn't make the time to do:

  • Build a form with a selection of milestones that matter to me so that I could quickly capture the date/time when they happened. There are many milestone tracking apps but they track SO MANY it's overwhelming to me. Having dates for the 5-10 I actually care about would have been nice.
  • Use a form to track language development. Again, there are specialized apps for this but they have a lot of functionality I don't want. It would be nice to be able to build a calendar of new words after the fact.

I'm pretty excited about flipping this around and helping my kids collecting data with ODK about things that interest them as @Florian_May has done.

What a fun topic! I'm so curious to hear from others about their own baby data collection.


Baby Tracker user over here, too! I agree with LN that being able to see the data you just entered is crucial. Then you can make slightly more educated guesses about what is upsetting your small human (hungry? tired? etc.).

That said, my partner and I did make a chart of one year of our baby sleep data exported from Baby Tracker:

White is asleep, black awake, 1 column per day, top (and bottom) is midnight:

I'm trying to think of what would have been fun to track that I didn't - I wish I had a better record of things my daughter said at what ages, like "panpake" (pancake) and "foffee" (coffee).


Thanks for that feedback! I will definitely follow suit!

@ktuite I can't believe your guys' diligence! That's amazing. Especially those first two months... it almost looks like the "night cycle stabilization" came in from the bottom and ended up settling in that range! Did you do sleep training? We have heard that 2 month thing, and hope for the same! Let's pray. It's also interesting to see how much awake time there is in the night even at the end of the year! Really insightful, thank you!

@LN thanks for your super long post, very useful! We have a "life" airtable w/ my wife, so I'll definitely create a table for each of those things... important milestones, and language development. I wouldn't have thought of that, thank you!

What milestones were important to you? I guess "I'll know when I have one because I'll want to track it" :slight_smile: but just curious if you want to share.

Lastly, I wanted to ask... this is really powerful data... is someone interested in this data to aggregate across users?

Thanks again!

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Also... someone just shared an interesting paper about app use and it's effect on mothers.

Small n, but interesting still.