From time to time we will be making JOINT posts - this being our first. To keep you from getting uber confused in this post any writing from AMY will be BLUE and Any writing from MELODY will be GREEN!
Please keep in mind that this is just our perspective on what works best. we both have done this twice now, with one boy and one girl and trust me - the second one is only SLIGHTLY easier, haha.
Drum roll PLLLLLLEEEASE!
Hi! I'm Amy, a friend of the owner of the blog. She and I have discussed my writing some guest spots on the blog about my DIY journey and some helpful hints, tips, and tricks of navigating through the mommy life. I have a 7 year old little girl and a 1 month old baby boy and have just committed to staying home full time with my son and caring for my family.
It's been quite some time since I've had to do the newborn thing so I feel like a Newbie at this again! One thing I found incredibly helpful in the weeks before our little guy made his arrival were the blogs and videos about what some new moms considered their essentials. I decided it would be a good idea to compile a list of what I found absolutely essential in these first few weeks along with a few new things that I didn't have or know existed my first time around that have made life just that much easier!
1.) Bath Cozy or Bath Buddy. I had NO idea these even existed until about a week before I went into labor. I was at a baby shower for a member of my family who was due just after me. She opened what I thought was just a cute little animal shaped washcloth until I heard another mom speak up "oh those are GREAT for newborns!" I had to ask. What they told me was that it was a bath cozy. It's basically a cute little washcloth type thing, usually in the shape of an animal. You soak the cozy in the warm bath water and drape it over baby while you're bathing them. It keeps them warm and calm! I immediately HAD to have one and found this cute little monkey with a guitar. This was pretty much amazing. My little guy just LOVES it, and we didn't get any first bath blues like we did when his big sister had her first bath!
I love this Idea! We just use a regular washcloth to lay over her chest, but its always fun to have cute things for your baby. For me this isn't essential but its definitely a nice addition just like those cute little clothes you drape your babe in =)
2.) Bouncer. Pretty sure this is no secret, but bouncers are pretty much amazing. I wouldn't get a lot done without mine, and our little guy sleeps in his most nights because he gets pretty gassy and may have a touch of reflux and keeping him slightly upright while he sleeps is SO helpful! Our bouncer has sounds and vibration like most and also has a cute little mobile (I call it his monkey friends) We rarely use the sounds and vibration anymore though!
This is DEFINITELY an essential. You cant hold your little one 24/7 and a bouncer is the best way to have them at the right angle without being afraid they may fall or squish up when you aren't looking. If you get a nice compact bouncer you can take your baby with you. I ALWAYS had my bouncer on the kitchen counter with me when I cooked and both of my kids stayed happy for a long long time since they not only could see me, but me moving around like a whirling dervish was extremely fun to watch haha.
3. Wall Decals or other fun wall decorations. I have discovered that my little guy is far less likely to scream through his whole diaper change if he has something fun to look at. I purchased some wall decals for his room and placed some on the wall behind his changing table to give him something fun to look at. We chose a large black and white pirate flag and some cute little peel and stick pirate decals. He is extremely interested in that pirate flag.
For this I am glad we have decorated ceilings and rainbow fans! My baby LOVES fans, especially the colored ones. Whoever invented mobiles was no fool!
4. Sling/Wrap/Carrier. When my first child was born Baby wearing was the furthest thing from my mind, but in the years since her birth and the years spent trying to conceive, I had done some research on baby wearing. While there are tons of benefits for baby (such as being close to mom, skin-to-skin, etc.) I have to admit, I purchased my sling for purely selfish reasons...I HAD to be able to get stuff done, especially as a mother of two! I opted for a Seven Sling (Click Here for their site) I had received a promo code for a free sling (just pay shipping) so When it arrived I immediately tried it on. My son loved it, and so did I. It really helped me get things done in those early weeks when he was awake every two hours.
I think every mom will attest to the miracle that is the sling!
I AM breastfeeding and I LOVE it. Can you say HANDS FREE FEEDING? Im a chronic multi-tasker and I think I would die if I was stuck sitting doing nothing for the 16 hours a day Im feeding her. My husband even uses it to prop her up.
Also, are there any items you purchased or received as a gift that you found really useless? When my daughter was born, someone got me a wipes warmer...I don't know how much they paid for it, but a few packages of diapers probably would have been a lot more useful!
Thanks Amy! Now on to my list. I was a little more practical and tedious about my list. I even surveyed some people who were absolutely not helpful haha (The number one answer for an ESSENTIAL when having a new baby was boobs....)
So lets get real. If you are about to have a baby here are the seemingly obvious things to not miss (I wont mention the things about that were mentioned):
- Diapers (If you have a diaper raffle at your baby shower, you could end up having a long long time before you have to buy them! My son is 8 weeks old and we are STILL using diaper raffle diapers, and we still will for a few more weeks!)
- LOTS of wipes
- A diaper bag/backpack/huge purse for leaving the house.
- Lots of blankets! Youll always need a backup when one gets poop, puke, beverages, etc on it. Sometimes I use a second to prop up babies legs so she still thinks Im holding her.
- Which also means lots of towels/burp rags (I have found that pre-fold cloth diapers make the BEST burp rags!)
- Lots of different sized clothes (And don't get crazy - you'll be lucky to get a month out of any one garment in the first year!)
- Car seat and Stroller
- A bath - I have to say that with our first we had one that went in the tub, and it was more a pain than anything to kneel and hold him and wash him and lean over and get slippery.. ugh. This time we are Sinkin' it and I havent been happier. My back,patience, and baby appreciate it.
- Binkies - Remember that some babies LOVE them, some HATE them with a fiery passion, and some go through phases. Both of mine happen to like them and they really do their job. If my baby is tired I put that sucker in there and baby is instantly pacified, and passes right now! Please use responsibly! ;) Say what you want about pacifiers, but they greatly reduce the risk of SIDS, and my baby has been sleeping through the night since 8 weeks old! (make sure to get a few different types of binkies to try out! Babies have strong preferences about what type of paci they use! My daughter strongly preferred the NUK brand orthodontic pacifiers while my son will only use the soothies. Breastfed babies tend to prefer the MAM binks because they are flat and feel closer to the breast in their mouths)
- Small bottles (even if you are breast feeding youll want to have a couple around if you EVER want to leave the house for more than an hour without your child - and there will be days your sanity depends on it.)
- With bottles youll need nipples. Probably different types because some babies are really finicky and usually new babies dont like those cheap hard nipples. Mine doesnt care, but it doesnt hurt to have variety on hand if you are desperate at 4AM)
- Nail clippers - Those new baby nails cut like hot knives through butter on their own little faces, but imagine laying in bed resting soundly snuggled up to your precious spawn and all of a sudden youre woken up to something ripping your face, lips, and even gums apart. upon opening your eyes you see a sweet little face looking back at you wondering why you look so scared... and then theres your boobs hen you're nursing! (I have found that even with nail clippers, my son finds a way to give himself some pretty severe scratches, you may try filing baby's nails, but you could also opt to use baby mittens. They also help to prevent babies from becoming over-stimulated which can cause them to become really fussy)
- Soap and lotion (lotion only really for a lavender smell to help sooth the little one) (I'm not usually a brand loyalist, in fact I tend to prefer generics over name brand because of the cost, but the bed time lotion I received at my shower was "sesame street" brand and was very thin and watery and absorbed really fast, which made our bedtime massages a lot more difficult, so I bought a bottle of Johnson & Johnson which is much thicker and creamier and lasts a lot longer during massage time, sometimes the name-brand is just better)
And the NOT so obvious stuff I found absolutely important:
- A night light - We use a salt lamp. You want something so you can see your baby at night without having to turn lights on and disturbing your spouse. My baby actually will wake up if I turn the lamp off and before we figured to use the lamp we were leaving bathroom or closet lights on - a huge waste of electricity and money, plus it wasnt as ambient and comfortable for any of us.
- LOTS of hand soap - remember that baby is BRAND new, try not to touch her after blowing your nose, washing dishes, cleaning your older childs butt, etc! I washed my hands so much in the first month or so its not even funny. Not just for the kid, but because I didnt wanna touch my own face or food after being pooped, puked on, etc. (My personal preference is to stay away from anything that is antimicrobial or antibacterial when dealing with baby. You certainly want to keep clean because of how sensitive baby is, but I try not to use too much hand sanitizer or anti-bac. Overuse of these things can weaken baby's defenses)
- Food that is incredibly easy to cook. Crock pots are awesome for dinners, but even a health conscious mostly vegetarian like me had to eat frozen pizzas, bagels, and frozen dinners in times of desperation throughout the day when my husband was working. (we weren't prepared to have baby for another two weeks so we didn't have any of these things on hand and did a LOT of eating out and ordering in after baby was born and it cost a LOT of money, so this tip is SO important!)
- Caps for your bottles (They are usually called "sealing disks" or something like that) - People who love me gave me packs of dozens of these things cause they get lost like crazy. I use them to store milk in the fridge, freezer, in diaper bags for travelling.. a LOT. These get overlooked I think. I seriously use at least 3 a day for various reasons. They look like this, or just flat discs:
- Gripe water - They told me that a breastfeeding baby doesnt get constipated. That may be true but she doesn't poo for days sometimes, maybe even weeks (I cant tell, I dont sleep anymore) and her gas and tummy cramps get CRAZY. Im going to make a whole post about gripe water coming up so look out for a recipe as well as things to AVOID when buying it from the store. This stuff can get expensive in the store, and Im over it!
- A noise maker - This can be anything. Babies sleep better with white noise. We have an air filter, but soft music, noise machines, even a baby monitor hum can greatly increase your chances of soothing them. (there are white noise apps that you can use if you have an extra phone or tablet that you can have on while baby is sleeping! There are also you tube videos with "womb sounds" that can help keep baby asleep just a bit longer!)
- Breast pads, especially for the first few weeks after having the baby, ESPECIALLY if youre breast feeding - you're gonna be leaking all over any social situation you get yourself into and wake yourself up drenched if you dont take my advice! ;)
- This one is a big one, and I Think its the most essential of all: Support - someone to hand the baby off to for at least 10 minutes while you regroup, hide, cry, or whatever you need to do in order to get back in the game. This stuff gets dicey sometimes and no one stays totally sane through the whole thing. (I literally count down the hours, minutes, seconds, until my husband gets home from work so I can run upstairs to write a blog, watch youtube videos, nap, facebook, whatever so I can keep my sanity!)
- With that said another very important thing you need is PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE. (Double this if you are breast feeding) Like I said... it gets rough at times but remember every day is a little easier.. and then harder.. and then easy again. You're awesome. Every time you want to scream or cry remember that you're awesome, and you created that bundle of joy out of thin air, grew it, then popped it out. Its a huge deal and Im really proud of you! Now hand that baby to your husband and go do whatever you need to do to remind yourself that you're a human being and not a milk making slave!
Specifically and ESPECIALLY for breast feeding moms:We already mentioned nursing pads, bottle stoppers, Boppy, a pump... but theres more!
- LOTS of water
- Soy Lecithin - This one might not be ESSENTIAL, but it was for me the second time around. I almost got mastitis so many times, and I owe this little pill a lot. Getting clogged ducts is not a fun game to play! This thins out your milk so its easier to unclog your ducts, and makes them less likely to clog in the first place.
- Bottles for storing.. or bags if you prefer.
- Nipple cream. The first few weeks of feeding with both of my kids I spent crying quite a bit until they werent hugely engorged... I have a friend whose kid literally ate off her nipples BEFORE she had teeth. Breast feeding an be a war zone, stay moisturized!
- IB Profin - I had my baby at home for one, no pain killers and no hospital. I didnt think Id need it but I did. I ESPECIALLY needed it when breast feeding became a war zone (see above) and I literally dont take any types of pills except vitamins.
Speaking of Breastfeeding...EPing (exclusively pumping)
I wanted so badly to breastfeed my son, but circumstances in the hospital made it near impossible and he wouldn't latch, so I tried to exclusively pump for him. EPing is a LOT of work. You have to pump for an hour at a time every two hours around the clock. If you skip just one session your supply will drop a LOT. The kicker is that the most important session is 2-6am as you tend to produce more milk at that time of day (thanks hormones!) Well I didn't stick to the strict schedule and slowly I dried up. After 4 weeks my sessions were so non-productive that we decided to switch to formula and our stock of pre-pumped breastmilk. But the few things I found helpful...
- Pump (duh, right?) you will absolutely need to have a medical grade pump, preferably an electric one and one that has dual capabilities. Luckily due to the Affordable Care Act that went into effect this year, insurance companies are required to pay for a medical grade dual electric pump for their insured mothers. Usually you will have an option to either buy a new one or rent one from the hospital all on your insurance company's dime.
- Multiple pump parts and bottles to pump into. I had a c-section which made it hard to go up and down the stairs to wash bottles and pump parts, so I kept a "bus bucket" (one of my daughter's old Easter buckets to be specific.) for my husband to wash for me when he got home from work, so I had to have extra everything! **HELPFUL HINT** If you're recovering from a c-section and have stairs like I do, a cooler and lots of ice packs or a mini-fridge if you have one is absolutely necessary if you have to wait all day for someone to take it to the fridge or freezer for you at the end of the day.