Five Favorite Family Apps & Services of 2014

The Bay Area is the startup capitol of the universe and thankfully more ideas than ever are coming along to help parents manage this whole raising kids thing. Living here means we get to try a lot of things before they reach the rest of the country, and in 2014 I found a quite a few apps and services that made my life easier as a mama. These are my five favorites!

MOXXLY—2014 is the year the breast pump finally came under a proper level of scrutiny for the mess that it is. For many mamas and helpful partners the pump is a looming presence once baby arrives. It's almost like another baby—often fussy, constantly in need of cleaning, generally hard to figure out, and yet you don't know what you would do without it. Enter Moxxly, run by a group of smart women ready to revolutionize the pumping experience. I got to take part in a focus group they hosted and I'm really excited at what they have in mind, including a discrete bottling system and sensors to track your flow when their product is released in 2015.

OTO HOME—Think your child has an ear infection? This specialized camera attaches to your iPhone so you can take a picture of your child's inner ear and send it to a medical professional for a diagnosis. Instead of waiting for an appointment and dragging your sick kid to hang out with a bunch of other sick kids in a waiting room,  you can get an answer at home in two hours. I haven't personally used the Oto Home camera but it sounds like a godsend for parents with ear infection-prone kids. After buying the camera there's a per use fee that might be more than your co-pay, but the convenience is priceless. 

PARENTHOODS—There are a million places where you can share your pithy ideas and witticisms about parenting online with other mamas and papas. Parenthoods (read my longer review here) offers a space specifically designed for such chatter when Facebook isn't the right fit. It's just as good for hyperlocal news like which kid's store is having a huge going-out-of-business sale. When you want to vent about your in-laws this is the place to do it! The co-founders are San Francisco two women including a toddler mama, and they totally get it.

INSTACART—When I took Mia with me to Boston for a whirlwind business trip this summer, Instacart saved me at least two hours of grocery store drama. I ordered, got dressed and before I left our hotel Mia's favorite snacks were already on their way. In college there was an amazing delivery service,, that I used all the time. They didn't charge a delivery fee which is probably a big reason why they didn't last. Instacart does, and if you're in a pinch (or lazy or sick or busy) its a gift to have great groceries brought to your doorstep. If you haven't tried it yet you can use the code 'MAMASGUIDE'  to get $10 off your first order.

TOTSPOT—I'm the world's biggest fan of hand-me-downs. As the youngest of seven cousins Mia gets a TON of precious clothes, most hardly worn and a lot with tags still on. But when she hit a growth spurt just as the weather turned cool this fall, I found myself with gear perfect for warm Southern California, not foggy San Francisco. Enter Totspot, where mamas can sell their new or used gear at bargain basement prices via the Totspot app. Negotiating is encouraged and bundling means you can get unheard-of low prices on new Hanna Anderson and Juicy Couture sweaters like we did.

These are my five favorites—which ones are yours? If you have any apps and services we must try in 2015 let me know in the comments below!