No more waking up your mother in the middle of the night to ask what to do with your bawling baby.
These days, advice, handholding and understanding are just a mouse click away thanks to an explosion of online resources that are helping new moms cope with some of the challenges of motherhood — the screaming babies, the stifling isolation.
“Sometimes it’s 3 a.m., and my baby is crying and I want some advice,” said Suzann Moskowitz, 30, mother of 1-year-old Jacob. “I know that if I log in, there are people who are going through the same thing. I don’t feel as alone.”
From blogs and self-help Web sites to message boards and sites that drop moment-by-moment tips on what’s happening during your pregnancy, Internet resources for parents have made the travails of motherhood slightly less terrifying.
“What’s happened over the last few years is the landscape has broadened,” eMarketer senior analyst Debbie Williamson said. “There’s a lot of mommy blogs, mommy blog ad networks and social networks specifically for moms.”
Some 61 percent of moms use the Internet multiple times each day, according to eMarketer figures from DoubleClick Performics and Microsoft research. About 98 percent of parents, men and women, are online, according to a January 2007 survey by Nickelodeon.
What’s more, U.S. online retail sales of baby products are projected to hit $1.9 billion in 2007 and grow to $2.3 billion in 2008, according to Forrester Research.
Figures such as these have attracted the attention of everyone from at-home bloggers with an audience of 10 to big corporations like NBC Universal and Walt Disney Co (DIS.N).
NBC Universal, controlled by General Electric (GE.N), purchased iVillage in 2006 for $600 million, acquiring one of the first women-targeted online resources and a site that devotes sections to expecting or new moms. (MSNBC.com is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)
Another popular resource is Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ.N) BabyCenter, whose software tools let mothers track ovulation, due dates and find baby names.
BabyCenter, which tries to target a broad range of moms-to-be, estimates it has about 78 percent of the market share.
“We are about many voices. People are very supported here,” BabyCenter Chairman Tina Sharkey said. “It takes all types.”
Sharkey, who previously co-founded iVillage and held an executive position at AOL, joined the company this year to revamp the decade-old site. The site is preparing to launch features such as social networks and a blog network thanks to a new technology infrastructure.
BabyCenter, which purchased networking site Maya’s Mom in August, also launched a test version of the site focused on U.S. Hispanic moms.
New mom Moskowitz, a technology and intellectual property attorney at Cleveland law firm Ulmer & Berne LLP, avoids the more traditional feel of mainstream parenting sites and instead heads for the UrbanBaby (urbanbaby.com) message boards.
Its quick banter and opinionated contributors have made it a media darling and preferred community for hipster moms.
“So many of the other parenting sites have a little bit of a Hallmark gloss to them,” said Jane Goldman, editor-in-chief of lifestyle programming at CNet. “UrbanBaby does not. The conversation is frank.”
Take one recent thread from an anonymous contributor on the UrbanBaby message board. It reads, “Need to leave bf (boyfriend) today. Discovered last night he’s cheating, again. I’m 24 wks pg (pregnant) & freaking.”
Another read, “My 9-month-old started gagging on a piece of masking tape tonight ... now I’m scared there could have been another bit in there ... ”
Goldman explained, “Sometimes it borders on the highly anxious — that’s what parenting is all about, high anxiety.”
Some mothers have taken the idea of sharing to a new level and launched blogs to document and share the adventure of motherhood. They offer tips on everything from baby carriages to potty training.
One place to find blogs is BlogHer, a network of women bloggers that offers resources ranging from mommy blogs to guides on personal finance, while other online resources include MyFamily.com and Babyzone.com.
“Everyday a new mom is born,” Sharkey said.