Aimed at parents with babies aged up to six months old, the Baby Check app – developed by The Lullaby Trust and Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – is designed to help reduce mortality, improve early identification of severe illnesses, and prevent unnecessary visits to the GP or A&E.
Now The Lullaby Trust has awarded £81,000 to
Professor Jos Latour, Professor in Clinical Nursing and Associate Head of Research in the University of Plymouth’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, to update and re-evaluate the app, ensuring it is in line with the latest evidence and designed to empower parents and carers with confidence and knowledge.
The app currently features 19 questions that cover signs and symptoms of illness that parents should check. Each check is given a score and, when added up, the higher the total number the more unwell the baby is likely to be. Parents are then signposted to take different appropriate actions, such as dial 111, call their GP or call 999.
Through the Early Recognition and Assessment of Severely Ill Babies by Parents (EASIER) study, Professor Latour and the research team will revise the content, usability, and impact of the app. These changes will be based on research, including the experiences of parents, carers, and healthcare practitioners.
Alongside Professor Latour, project partners include: the University of Plymouth’s
Centre for Health Technology; Great North Children’s Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne; Imperial College London and a parent representative from The Lullaby Trust.
Professor Latour said:
"Looking after a young baby is a daunting experience for anyone, and if you suspect something is wrong it’s important to get the help you need as quickly as possible.
“The research that the app is based on dates from 1991 but, while the symptoms of illness haven’t altered, research has progressed. The understanding of carers should be taken into consideration against the app, and no research has been undertaken into the usage of the app by families, which we need to change. We’re really looking forward to getting started and working with all the project partners to empower parents and carers to make the right choices for their infant.”
When it was updated in 2021, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Postnatal Care guideline stated that healthcare professionals should consider using the Baby Check scoring system. However, at the same time it pointed out that there were limitations as the app had not been fully validated.
Professor Latour and the research team will use the funding to update the Baby Check app and revise its content, gain validation by parents in the local community, and promote the updated version of the app to parents during antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care.
They plan to do this by setting up a stakeholder group of parents, carers, and clinicians to review the app; and collaborating with developers to make the agreed changes and to analyse how parents use the app. In-depth interviews with 25-50 parents will be conducted along with an online survey of around 500 app users to measure impact on parental confidence and anxiety, and to assess user-friendliness.
Professor Latour’s final report will be distributed via open access journals and shared with NHS partners across the country.