In February 2006, the Earth's population hit a staggering 6.5 billion people [source: Live Science]. That's up from 1900 when the population was 1.6 billion. As of 2009, the world's population has grown a bit to more than 6.7 billion. Estimates have the Earth's population at 9 billion by 2050. That's nearly triple the 3.5 billion people who roamed our planet in 1960. For the next year alone (July 2009-July 2010), the U.S. Census Bureau predicts the world's population will grow by more than 76 million people [source: U.S. Census Bureau]. So what does this all mean? Nobody knows for sure. What is known is the life expectancy, at least in the United States, is going up. A recent study revealed the average lifespan for Americans is up to 77.6 years. Along with that, the gap between men and women, which was 7.8 years in 1979, has closed to 5.3 years. But don't fret, ladies. Women still live longer on average.
Registration for BabyCenter is a cinch. After entering in some information about yourself and your baby (or expected date of delivery if you're pregnant), you're a member. From here, you can customize your user profile to include a photo in your avatar, as well a personal signature that's displayed below each post you make. Once registered, BabyCenter is easy to navigate. Compared to other sites where advertising clutters the screen and bandwidth is sacrificed to run gimmicky ads, BabyCenter is clean and well-spaced. The menus are consistent, and you can easily distinguish between what is a tab with content and what isn't.
Tabs take you through the steps of parenting from getting pregnant to the family. Each section in between is devoted to the different stages in your child's life. Tabs take you to a variety of sections with loads of tips on different subjects. For instance, the Baby tab opens up a gateway to articles covering everything from getting to know your newborn baby, feeding and preparing formula, diaper changing and childcare.
The tabs across the top stay visible in every section of the site except the Community section. BabyCenter's Community is full of user groups spanning various interests and topics. Users can choose to join a group or start their own. These groups are similar to what you would find on other social networking sites. BabyCenter's Community section is almost like a site of its own. In fact, in order to return to BabyCenter's home page, you have to click on the BabyCenter Home link in the upper left corner. Otherwise, you'll remain in the Community section.
Perhaps the coolest feature on BabyCenter is the timeline. Located just below the site navigation bar at the top of the screen, you'll notice a notched timeline that begins with pregnancy and ends at 9 years old. If you scroll your mouse over any area of the timeline, you'll notice it gives you the ability to link to more information. Each notch on the timeline contains valuable information corresponding with the selected age. You can add your own child to the timeline by simply entering your child's birth date. Then, anytime you're logged on, you'll see where your child is and you can follow his or her growth.
We've seen that there's a lot of content on the site. Now let's take a closer look at some of the benefits of all that information in the next section.