Women all over the world, regardless of race, religious beliefs and regional customs share one thing in common: the ability to bear and nurture children. For some women, it's the most important thing in their lives. And while women have maternal instincts, who's to say each one has everything figured out as soon as they leave the delivery room? Raising a child, especially in the earliest stages, can be challenging. For fathers, it can be even tougher. So why not give yourself as much chance for success as you can, right? That's what BabyCenter, a social networking Web site for parents, is all about.
Founded in 1997 and owned and operated by Johnson & Johnson Co., BabyCenter caters to both mothers and fathers, though the majority of users are women. The site plays an important role in the growing world of niche social networking. Sure, 15 years ago, you could talk to someone in London from Atlanta on the phone without any problems. But if you wanted to send a photo of your new baby girl, it'd take a week, maybe two. But not anymore. With social networking sites such as BabyCenter, you can set up a pregnancy calendar, send photos, post blogs and even share video in no time flat. Isn't technology great?
This article will teach you everything you need to know to get started on BabyCenter. Are you ready? Let's begin by setting up a user account, then we'll navigate and take a comprehensive look throughout the site. You're just a click away.
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.
Benefits of BabyCenter
Perhaps BabyCenter's greatest strength is the way the site is organized. It's easy find what you're looking for. User tools include:
- Due date calendar
- Ovulation calendar
- Development calendar
- Height predictor
- Growth chart
- Pregnancy and fertilization tips via phone
- Baby cost calculator
- Recall finder
- Immunization scheduler
- Baby name finder
- Celebrity baby names
- Baby name polls
Once you begin to explore the many features available on BabyCenter, it becomes abundantly clear the site is a one-stop social networking site for new and expectant parents. The breadth of information available is what sets BabyCenter apart from similar social networking sites for parents.
Similar to other parenting social networking sites, BabyCenter offers users expert advice as well as parent-to-parent networking. But unlike family-oriented sites such as Disney Family Community, BabyCenter targets everyone from soon-to-be parents through people with children up to age eight with an emphasis on pregnancy, pre-family planning and babies.
Like most social networking sites, BabyCenter has a place for blogs -- two of them actually. MOMformation and FameBaby are both blogs written by mothers for mothers. Blogs found on MOMformation are snippets of commentary that can be both informative and entertaining. Much of the content in these blogs is similar to an editorial you'd find in a newspaper or magazine devoted solely to mothers. FameBaby, on the other hand, is purely entertainment. If you're looking to get your fix of celebrity gossip with a twist of parenting, this is the section for you. These blogs discuss how celebrities cope with parenting. Remember, you're still at a social networking site even if you're there primarily because of your love for parenting. Why not have some fun along the way?
Two of the most popular features on BabyCenter are the "is it safe?" and "is it normal?" sections. These two sections have answers to many of the most common (and uncommon) questions regarding children's health, safety and overall well-being. If you can't find it here, don't sweat it. BabyCenter has a search function for you to find whatever it is you need.
If you're having trouble finding something on the site, the search function works like a charm. Type in a topic and the search engine will scour the entire site to help you find whatever it is you need. Once the search comes back with its results, you can choose to sort them between Expert, Community or All Results. This is especially helpful when you're searching for information on what to do if your baby has a temperature of 104 degree (40 degree Celsius). In this case, BabyCenter's search engine prioritizes the expert results, rather than those from other site members.
Though the site is based in the United States, BabyCenter appeals to users around the world. Referred to as outposts, BabyCenter reaches more than 6 million users in 18 countries, and site content is written in seven different languages.
The power and creativity of the human mind combined with the immense amount of information on the Internet has spawned a new age of social networking. In this case, it gives parents the chance to share their successes and find answers to their problems.
For more information on social networking Web sites and related topics, head on over to the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- BabyCenter. (June 5, 2009) http://www.babycenter.com/
- Britt, Robert Roy. "Life expectancy in America hits record high." LiveScience.com.Feb. 28, 2005. (June 7, 2009) http://www.livescience.com/health/050228_life_expectancy.html
- David, Leonard. "Planet's population hits 6.5 billion Saturday." LiveScience.com.Feb. 24, 2006. (June 10, 2009) http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/060224_world_population.html
- U.S. Census Bureau. (June 8, 2009) http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html
- U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. "Birth Rate." The World Factbook. (June 8, 2009) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2054.html