The GroeiGids (‘growth guide’) app aims to provide parents with trusted information to care for their child based on childbirth and youth healthcare guidelines in the Netherlands. The app pushes customized messages to support children’s development from pregnancy through the child’s eighteenth birthday. Parents can use the app to track their child’s growth and development, get expert advice, and receive tips on various topics including health, nutrition, safety, and connecting with their child.
Active since 2012
Developer GGD Amsterdam (Municipal Health Service)
- Technology utilized
Pregnancy – 18 years
- Target audience
ECD Focus areas
- Responsive caregiving Parents/caregiver’s ability to observe, understand, and respond to children’s cues appropriately.
- Health and nutrition Support for children’s physical and emotional health and access to diverse nutrient rich food. This also includes maternal health and nutrition including during pregnancy.
- Developmental milestones Skills and tasks children are able to perform during a certain age range.
- Safety and security Safe and secure environments for children free from physical or emotional harm.
How it works
GroeiGids aims to support parents through every stage of parenting and provides information parents need to make well-informed decisions about their child’s growth and development.
Users receive personalized content based on the stage of their pregnancy and the age of their child. Push notifications are used to alert users when new messages are available.
- The frequency of these messages can vary from 1-3 times a week based on the age of the child.
- In addition to regular content, users can opt-in to receive specific thematic messages. These messages, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Work and the Knowledge Centers in Netherlands, address some topics in greater depth (e.g., working during pregnancy and after birth, nutrition, child safety).
- The tool also has a search feature where users can look for content on topics of interest.
- The messages are simple and easy to read, thereby enabling wider reach to low-literacy audiences.
Through the ‘Parent Chat’ option, parents can ask questions, have a conversation with a trained youth healthcare nurse, and receive links to external resources with detailed information.
GroeiGids also allows parents to track children’s developmental milestones (e.g., ultrasounds, first steps), growth (height and weight), vaccinations, illnesses, and also upload photos and videos of these moments to create a growth album to save as a memory for the future. To support developmental milestone tracking, the app provides a short video about the milestone (e.g., following a toy with their eyes) which parents can watch to see if their child meets the milestone and track it on the app. Parents can create independent profiles for up to five children starting from pregnancy.
Public health organizations, local and government services can send messages to the users via the app to spread awareness on important activities such as vaccination campaigns.
The app content can also be accessed online through the website.
User engagement strategies
- Customized messages Sharing resources and content based on user needs (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, age of child). This also includes sharing personalized content based on short user assessments (e.g., activities shared based on child development assessments).
- Nudges and reminders Sharing messages to encourage users to take particular actions (e.g., appointment reminders, nudge to complete an activity).
- Flexible tool experience Providing flexibility and choice for users to determine their use of the tool (e.g., frequency of messages, content, sequence).
- Sharing tips and resources Sharing knowledge and activities to improve practices, behaviors, and skills in different ways (e.g., short messages, videos) to support child development.
- Providing expert support Providing access to experts (e.g., nurses, mental health professionals) through various means (e.g., live chats, consultations, video resources).
- Tracking ECD milestones Supporting tracking of developmental milestones and immunizations.
Reach and relevance
150,000+As of March 2023.
- Country of origin
Social media marketing such as Facebook campaigns are used to disseminate the tool to a wider audience. In addition, healthcare workers promote the tool during preventive check-ups and public health organizations promote it on different platforms like their websites and newsletters.
Technology and access
Users require a smartphone with internet connectivity to use the GroeiGids app. The content is provided to users free of cost without any advertisements.
- Connectivity requirements
- Device types
- Cost model
Data including numbers of users, frequently accessed pages, user region, number of users who access the chat feature, chat topics, and age of children, is collected to monitor usage of the app. Consultations with parents individually or in groups are organized when making changes or new developments to the app and a detailed user research study is conducted every 4 years.
There are also partnerships with local universities to conduct research studies, including randomized control trials (RCT), on the effectiveness of the app and its features. Some completed studies include an RCT examining the tool’s impact on behavior change, the variation in engagement between high-income and low-income users, and the effectiveness of push notifications to increase user engagement. Results from these studies indicate that low literacy populations engaged with the app more frequently and parents with younger children use the app to keep track of developmental data. A few published reports (in Dutch) can be found here.
GroeiGids is funded by different public health organizations. The app initially partnered with the Municipality of Amsterdam and was then scaled nationally in partnership with GGDGHOR, the Dutch Association of GGD’s (Regional Public Health Services). The app also partners with public health organizations, local universities and the international Maternal and Child Health Handbook committee to support dissemination and research.