When I first found out I was pregnant, I spent a LOT of time reading anything I could find on how to raise a baby. I know, I know. Everyone said that it’ll all come naturally (true). I would be fine (true, again). I would figure it out (also true). The thing is, I have an overwhelming compulsion to be prepared. I’m a planner. I need to know what to expect (and how to handle it).
So I read all kinds of articles and blog posts with all kinds of tips and tricks that dealt with babies. I ate that stuff up! And I loved it!
So now that I’m a few months into this whole mommy thing, I thought I’d share the things that I’ve learned and what did (and didn’t) work for me. Raising a baby is hard work! We women gotta stick together! And what better way to do that then to share the wealth!
So here are my tips and tricks for bring home baby –
Swaddle, swaddle, swaddle! – I cannot stress enough how much swaddling has helped us! After reading The Happiest Baby on the Block, I was determined to swaddle from the get go. Emma took to it right away and has been a champion sleeper since day one (Literally! She would sleep for 5 hour stretches at a time straight from the womb)! She seriously cannot even nap without being swaddled. She flails her arms around in her sleep and ultimately smacks herself in the face and wakes herself up. I know there are people who say their babies hate it, but I highly recommend it if you can. It’s a lifesaver!
It’s amazing what you can get done with a baby strapped to your chest – As I’ve gotten older, I’ve turned into my mother. I am pretty much incapable of remaining in a seated position for any extended amount of time. I have a constant running To-Do list in my head that “needs” attending to. I get most of my stuff done when Mini-Me is napping. But what if she’s awake? What if you wanna follow the sage advice of “sleep when baby sleeps”? How do you get things done when baby is awake? Toss her in a baby carrier and wear her while you work! There’s no sign on a baby carrier that says “Wear Outside of House Only.” I’ve cooked dinner (carefully), washed dishes, watered plants, painted furniture, and put on make-up all while Emma was dangling contentedly from my chest. So grab an Ergo, Moby, sling, whatever and do what you gotta do!
Keep clothing simple – I know that its way too easy to get caught up in the cuteness that is baby clothes. It’s like a hypnotist is swinging his clock and telling you to Buy. All. The. Things! And while that tiny little 3 piece suit looks adorable, in reality its gonna be onesies, onesies, onesies! With all baby clothes the important thing to keep in mind is how easy it will be to get baby into it. Very early on I discovered that I hated all clothes with snaps on the back of the outfit. Propping a baby up while simultaneously trying to snap snaps is not exactly quick and easy. I even found a top with buttons on the back. Buttons! Who has time to button up a baby?? Also, lots of baby clothes come in a set with a couple of onesies and some pants. These are not pants. They’re leggings. How much trouble do you have trying to stretch on and peel off a pair leggings? Now imagine trying to do that with a tiny, screaming ball of squirm. Then again when you change their diaper. Then an hour later when you change the next diaper. Save yourself the pain!
Double up your sheets – This is one of those tricks I read about somewhere else and its a good one! When making up the crib, put on a mattress protector, then a fitted sheet, then another mattress protector, then another fitted sheet. This way if baby spits up or has a leak, you just peel the top set off instead of having to completely remake the bed in the middle of the night! Genius!
Use fewer wipes – Did you know that in most NICUs, nurses only use baby wipes when changing poopy diapers? Yup! No wipes for wet diapers. If its good enough for the medical staff, its good enough for me! So I only use wipes when she poops and when changing her morning diaper. Not only am I saving money by buying wipes less frequently, but I’m not constantly putting chemicals on my baby’s butt. And guess what? So far, no diaper rash! Yay!
Just use a trash can – Another money saving tip I read about said to skip putting wet diapers in the diaper genie (or whatever smell-containing trash receptacle you use). Wet diapers don’t have the strong odor that poopy ones do, so I just toss them in a regular garbage can. And buying a roll of trash bags is way cheaper than constantly having to buy fancy diaper genie refills!
Bedtime routines are important! – It doesn’t matter what’s a part of your baby’s bedtime routine, just keep it consistent. It’ll help them get into the “Its time to go to sleep and leave Mama alone” state of mind. Emma’s bedtime routine is a bath (I don’t use soap everyday), a massage with nighttime baby lotion, swaddle, bottle, lullaby, and bedtime with the sound machine on. She can be screaming like a little banshee and as soon as I pick her up and start our routine, she immediately calms down. It took a few weeks for the routine to become, well, routine, but it makes our nights so much smoother.
Don’t wear earrings – Most of us already know that dangly earrings are the siren’s call for tiny baby fists. But studs can be dangerous too! Ever held a baby who didn’t quite have the whole I-can-hold-my-head-up-by-myself thing down? Headbutt city! Now imagine wearing a pair of earrings with little pieces of metal protruding very close to your jugular. Yeah. Just don’t do it. Fashion is not worth dying from blood loss!
Never wake a sleeping baby – Seems simple enough. If your baby is nice and pink and healthy, eating like a champ, and still peeing himself on a regular basis, trust me, he’s fine. Let him sleep. If he needs to eat, he’ll wake up and let you know. Control the compulsion to wake your baby up just to make sure they’re still alive. Trust me. I know the feeling. Control it! She’s not gonna thank you for shaking her out of dreamland! Being a baby is exhausting stuff and they need their rest. There will be plenty of time to be awake later. On that note, make sure your baby is actually awake before messing with them. There are two types of baby sleep. Active sleep and quiet sleep. Quiet sleep is what we normally think of as sleep. Baby laying like a tiny little lump on a log, breathing peacefully. During active sleep, baby can move around and make noise, but he’s still sleeping. Emma will smile, giggle, and sometimes let out a single (and really sad) cry, all while she’s sleeping. So I’ve learned not to respond to her until I hear that second cry. Then I know she’s actually awake and in need of attention.
Not all bottle brushes are equal – I know this one sounds ridiculous, but its something I would have never thought about before I had Emma. I got a million bottle brushes as gifts at my baby shower. I returned all but two. They were fine for the little four ounce baby bottles we were using. The, one day I used one of the big 8 ouncers and guess what? When I went to clean it, the bottle brush wasn’t long enough to reach the bottom! So unless you plan on washing all your bottles in the dishwasher, make sure your bottle brush is long enough for whatever bottle you’re gonna be using. Bottle brush problems. Who knew?
Make friends with other moms – Why? Free stuff! I cannot tell you how much money I saved by being the grateful recipient of lots of hand-me-downs. I got so many clothes that I literally gave away most of them because there is no way I could possibly use that many outfits without having triplets! I also received a Pack & Play, a highchair, two activity mats, a diaper genie, a baby carrier, a baby swing, and a bunch of baby bottles. I seriously scored!
This is hardly an exhaustive list of every tip and trick a new mom should know, but these are the lessons that have stuck out the most in my first few months of motherhood. To all the other moms out there: what have tips and tricks have YOU learned about surviving the first 3 months? Share your stories in the comments!