During pregnancy, soon-to-be first-time parents will often devour manuals, like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” to get clued into all the changes taking place in mom’s body, along with details on the baby’s development. But after the baby arrives, it’s often fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants time with 3 AM Google searches and teary phone calls to mom, dad, doctors and friends. A new app officially launching today, Hiro Baby, wants to make this transition to parenthood less stressful by offering personalized, timely updates on baby’s development, along with ways to get expert advice, product recommendations and other support.
The app is basically a personal assistant for parents. You start by entering your child’s information — their age, or even your stage in pregnancy, if you’re being proactive. As you move through your pregnancy, up through the first 12 months of baby’s life, Hiro Baby will alert you to upcoming milestones and offer context.
For example, the app may alert you that your baby will probably start crawling within a few weeks, so now is a good time to start childproofing the home.
There are so many milestones during this first year, and many new parents don’t know when these small changes will arrive. This includes things like when the child will begin to mimic your sounds, lift their head, roll over, focus on faces, sit up and more. Parents also often don’t know when to be concerned if the child hasn’t reached one of these milestones — that’s where the expert advice comes in.
“Until Winter 2015, our team was focused on developing an app that served a completely
different industry. Then, two of our team members became new parents, and due to the
mounting pressures of balancing parenting and working, they ended up quitting. This opened our eyes to the struggles of modern parents,” explains Hiro Baby’s co-founder and CEO Phillip Buckendorf, as to why the team decided to launch this product. (The company previously was working on an order-ahead app called Downtown.)
In addition to offering this general information, you can tell the app what you need help with, by speaking or typing. You can ask questions about behavior or even which stroller to buy, and Hiro Baby will respond.
Human experts work in combination with AI technology to provide answers, the co-founder says. The app leverages a neural network (LSTM – Long Short Term Memory) and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) to suggest responses to user requests. Then human agents approve or reject the suggestions, which, in turn, improves the AI by training it with more data, Buckendorf adds.
The information these experts provide is based on vetted information Hiro Baby sources from academic articles, pediatricians, nutritionists and respected parenting websites. Plus, most experts are parents themselves.
Along with providing responses to questions about baby and parenting, the app can also recommend products, like toys, bibs, cradles, car seats, teething aids and more. And you can use Hiro Baby to actually order those products, too, which are fulfilled through large retailers like Amazon and Giggle, as well as smaller mom-and-pop shops.
Today there are 4 million babies born in the U.S. per year, with parents spending $12,000 during the first year of the baby’s life — but while Hiro Baby could tap into this spending as its primary business model, it primarily focuses on its subscription offering instead.
Hiro Baby makes money through its premium service. While the free app will send you the proactive alerts and reminders, the $20 per month paid tier is what allows you to connect with the experts, receive recommendations and get help your with orders.
The app was previously available to a smaller group for testing purposes, but is today officially launching to the wider public.
The startup, meanwhile, has raised a total of $1.8 million in funding, but this includes investment raised for its prior app.
Hiro Baby is a free download on iTunes.