As an expecting parent, life with a newborn can seem very intimidating. Here are 10 newborn tips and tricks for making it through those first few months with Baby.
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1. Sleep when the baby sleeps
You are probably so tired of hearing this piece of advice, but the reason it’s so popular is because it’s true. Obviously, you do not need 17 hours of sleep per day, so I don’t mean sleep every time the baby sleeps, but just use it as a guide. Some moms try to use that time to catch up on laundry, clean the house, or make fancy meals because that is what they are used to doing in their spare time. I’ll give you a piece of advice – nobody cares if your house is a mess. You just birthed a human being, I think you’ve earned a little break from cleaning. Instead, try to get some naps throughout the day so those midnight feedings aren’t as tough on you. Naptime is also a great way to get a few minutes to shower, use the restroom, or anything else you might need for self-care. If you don’t want to do these during naptime, you can always move a swing or portable bassinet into the room to keep an eye on baby while you shower!
2. Split the duties
Sleep can be scarce in those first few weeks and there is no sense in both partners being overly exhausted. Have one person stay up later with the baby while the other goes to bed early. Then in the morning, the person who went to bed early can get up with the baby while the other sleeps in a bit. If you are breastfeeding, it can be a bit harder since you are in charge of most (if not all) of the feedings. If either of you are having a hard time falling back to sleep after those midnight feedings, you can check out my post for tips HERE.
3. Contain Blow-Outs
Blow-outs do happen, unfortunately, and usually at the most inconvenient times. It’s best to lay down a changing pad liner to contain the mess. I love THESE washable cloth liners by Munchkin (full review HERE) because they are compact, easy to clean, and they come in a 3-pack. Get set up with a changing pad, change of clothes, a new diaper, and plenty of wipes. A normal onesie has the folds on the shoulder; this is so you can pull the outfit down over their shoulders to avoid getting the mess on their face or hair. I normally use Dreft stain remover spray to get the stains out of his clothes and it has worked well for me (as long as I don’t let the clothes sit for too long).
For the middle of the night blowouts, there is a parenting hack that can save you so much time. Purchase 3 crib/bassinet sheets and 3 waterproof liners. Layer them on the crib or bassinet (wherever your child sleeps currently). When your baby spits up or has a blow out in the middle of the night, you can just strip the top layer of sheet and the waterproof liner off and you will have a fresh set underneath.
4. Understanding Baby Clothes
Some baby clothes come in 0-3 months, 3-6 months, and so on which makes it clear on the size range. However, some clothes just have one size (eg: 3-months, 6 mo, 9 mo…) which will generally fit a baby up to that age. So a 3-month clothing item will fit a standard size baby until about 3 or 4 months. Just like adult clothes, different brands will fit differently. Some will be longer and skinnier, while others might be shorter and wider. If you are trying out a new brand for the first time, don’t rip off all the tags before you know they will fit well.
5. Understanding Diapers
To go along with the previous tip, diapers are also baby-dependent. Some parents will swear by one brand, while others say their baby leaks and blows out of them every time. This is because they all fit slightly different. I would recommend buying a small pack of a new brand so if they don’t work for your child, you can return them. There are also companies like Diaper Dabbler that specialize in creating packs of different brand diapers so you can try them out and see which ones work best. We were able to try a few different brands through all the registry welcome boxes we received. Additionally, some store brand diapers are made by popular brands and can be a great cost-saving alternative.
- Luvs – Target Store Brand. These diapers are made by the Pampers manufacturer Procter & Gamble. These are an older style of diaper without the elastic waistband and are sold at a cheaper cost than Pampers brand name.
- Kirkland – Costco Store Brand. These diapers are made by Huggies manufacturer Kimberly Clark. They are an older generation of Huggies diapers sold at a much lower price tag.
- Other popular stores like Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Target, and some national grocery stores negotiate with Procter & Gamble and Kimberly Clark for a version of their brand diapers every year. This means that the diapers you buy at these stores might be an older model of the above brands, but the manufacturer and quality of the diapers can change every year.
6. Take advantage of Baby-wearing
Baby wearing can be so helpful for so many things. First, I always preferred to wear my baby when we went out and about. People are much less likely to try and touch or kiss them when they are pressed up against your boobs. It also keeps them warmer and happier being close to mom or dad. I really love my Lillebaby structured carrier for outings or anytime I have to wear the baby for an extended period of time.
For an easier, more compact carrier, I love my K’Tan carrier. This wrap is different than many other wraps, in the fact that you don’t have to tie it around your body is any complicated fashion. You just slip your arms through and pop baby in. This is my favorite carrier to keep in my diaper bag or to use around the house while I’m trying to get things done. I can do the dishes, cleaning, laundry, vacuum, or anything else while still holding and bonding with the baby. You can also position the carrier lower and breastfeed handsfree after you get the hang of breastfeeding and baby gets a little more head control.
7. Set up Stations throughout the House
Diaper changing, breastfeeding, and bathroom stations can be so helpful. Put a basket with all the essentials in each of the main rooms so you have everything you need without having to search for things. Stock the bathrooms with pads, dermoplast spray, tucks pads, extra underwear, and wipes. For a list of items to include in your breastfeeding stations, you can check out my post on all things related to breastfeeding HERE.
8. Remember to take care of yourself
If you have time before the baby gets here, try to prep some freezer meals. This will be a lifesaver for when you don’t feel like cooking in those first few weeks. I would also highly suggest taking advantage of grocery delivery or free grocery pickup if you are on a budget. I signed up for Instacart and I am still using it 9 months postpartum. Taking a baby to a grocery store can be hard and unpredictable so I try to avoid it like the plague. If you are looking for free alternatives, many grocery stores are now doing free grocery pickup when you order online. I’ve used the Walmart grocery pickup and was pleasantly surprised with the quality of their produce and with the fact that they bring it out to your car and load it into your car for you.
You should also invest in a nice water bottle or tumbler with a straw. The straw helps with staying hydrated while breastfeeding or babywearing so you can tip it to the side and take a sip. If guests want to come over and ask to bring something, don’t hesitate to ask for them to bring over dinner! People WANT to help and are more than happy to do so.
9. Don’t expect too much too soon
The first 8 weeks or so are really on an on-demand basis. Nursing (or feeding) on demand is a great way to keep babies growing and gaining weight at the right amount. Watch for hunger cues and feed them whenever they act hungry. This is great for development, but not so great for schedules. Newborns also get around 16 to 17 hours of sleep per day, but they only sleep for about 2-4 hours at a time. This means it will feel like they are sleeping ALL. THE. TIME.
Once your baby is about 6 weeks old, you can try to start implementing a schedule if you would like. This drastically helps once you go back to work so you can let the daycare know what time is nap time and when they eat. This will help with crankiness in the evenings. Open windows during the day and turn on all the lights. Don’t worry about sounds, lights, or any other normal daytime stimuli. When bedtime rolls around, turn off the lights, shut the blinds, and keep the house quiet. This will help baby differentiate the difference between day and night so *hopefully* they will start taking longer stretches during the night.
10. Try to enjoy the time with them.
Hold them, snuggle them, and take way too many pictures. This time goes by so quickly, and soon you will be looking back wondering how they got so big, so quickly. The beginning can be exhausting, but it doesn’t last for long. I love using TinyBeans App to share my photos with friends and family that don’t have social media (full review HERE).
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