New Developer Challenge: ONC’s Apps4Tots Health – Create a Toddler Parenting Tool

Adam Wong | April 25, 2013

ONC, along with the Office of the HHS Chief Technology Officer and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), recently launched the Apps4Tots Health Challenge – a developer challenge to create applications using the new TXT4Tots message library.

Through this challenge, we are calling on developers, researchers, and innovators to use the new TXT4Tots message library by integrating it into new or existing applications that will reach parents and caregivers of young children. There will be a total of $25,000 in prizes awarded to the top three winners, including $17,500 for the first-place challenge winner.

Like TXT4Baby, the TXT4Tots message library can send caregivers appointment reminders, health alerts and parenting advice.  The messages provide information about nutrition and physical activity for parents of children between the ages of one and five including:

  • tips and recipes for healthy snacking, and
  • ways to encourage physical activity among children through games and play.

While the goal of this app challenge is to integrate the TXT4Tots library and messaging functions into existing or entirely new applications, we aren’t looking for a typical smart phone application. We want to see how the parenting advice content in the TXT4Tots library can be integrated innovatively to reach users.  A submission that only delivers the TXT4Tots messages is not enough to win the Challenge.

A winning application must be able to distribute messages to a wide audience along with other functionalities that make it indispensable to parents and caregivers of young children.

The TXT4Tots API
To give flexibility in this developer challenge, the Application Programming Interface (API)-enabled TXT4Tots library is available at Our data liberation and innovation initiatives already prioritize the development and use of these APIs to help in building software applications. As many developers know, APIs make it easier for data to be accessed, updated and used; by enabling automatic content updates, the actual person-hours spent manually updating content can be markedly reduced.

The TXT4Tots library houses approximately 250 short, evidence-based messages on topics targeted to parents, caregivers, and health care providers of children between the ages of one and five. The messages are available in both English and Spanish. Content for the TXT4Tots messages was derived from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Adolescents, which uses a developmentally based approach to address children’s health needs in the context of family and community.

Enter the Apps4Tots Health Challenge
The winner of the Challenge will be announced at Health Datapalooza IVExternal Links Disclaimer on June 3-4, 2013, in Washington, D.C. A total of $25,000 in prizes will be awarded to the top three winners, including $17,500 for the first-place finisher.

To learn more about the Challenge and to enter a submission, please visit

Let us know in the comments below if you plan to participate in this new app challenge!