We tried to think of some of the times we said "whaaaaat, I had no clue!" or "genius, trying that!" as first time moms, and we came up with this list of tips, tricks, and shortcuts. We hope you'll find some helpful, but, as always, if they aren't your style, you do whatever gets you through!
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Diaper Changes (and Diaper Blowouts...)
Instead of trying to take your baby’s onesie off from the bottom up, use the onesie's top flaps, which are specifically designed for this purpose, and take it off from the top down. Just fold the flaps down over the shoulders and down the arms and then legs until it is completely off.
Using a wipeable changing pad or cover can make it easy to quickly clean/disinfect:
Cloud Island makes a wipeable changing pad cover
We used a portable changing mat like this Ava + Oliver or this travel diaper mat both at home and on-the-go
Consider an easy-clean changing pad like these from SkipHop or Keekaroo
Keep a little bit of laundry detergent near a sink where you can wash out some poo stains before they set in/before you're ready to do a full load of laundry. We found that products like Spray 'N Wash or OxiClean Baby got that (literal) sh*t right out.
If baby is having a lot of blowouts, you could try the next size up in diapers, even before baby reaches the "recommended" weight for that diaper size. Sizing up and pulling the tabs tight (sometimes) worked for us.
After using a wet wipe, dry off the area with a dry cloth to help prevent diaper rash.
Once baby starts reaching and/or rolling, keep some "toys" near the diapers so you are ready to keep baby distracted and in place (small bubbles, a teething toy, a ball or rattle, a crinkle book).
Bath Time For bath-time, heat up the room by running the shower for a couple minutes. If your baby hates being cold as much as ours did, bring what you need to change baby in the warm bathroom on a changing pad afterwards rather than carrying baby to a colder room.
Give baby something (teething toy / toothbrush / bath toy) to keep them busy as they become more interested in grabbing whatever soap or bottle you are using.
Keep baby extra-safe in the tub:
make sure there isn't a shower head or shampoo/soap on a soap stand that could fall down unexpectedly and hit baby's head
consider an anti-slip mat if baby is on the go in the tub (hang to dry and follow care instructions to prevent moisture from being trapped in the tub)
be mindful of the water spout (or cover it with something like a wash cloth or this bath spout cover) if a baby-on-the-move might bump into it
Use something for your own knees and (maybe even your elbows) like soft folded towels, a yoga mat, a memory foam bath mat, or this bath kneeler with elbow rest (genius, amiright?!) to keep yourself comfortable while leaning over the tub.
Soothing a Fussy Baby Try Dr. Harvey Karp's "Five S's":
Side-Stomach position (for holding baby)
Shush (make a consistent "shushing sound" that matches the volume of your baby's cry)
Swing (use a rocking or swaying motion to soothe baby with motion)
Suck (offer your baby a pacifier or clean finger)
Watch Dr. Karp demonstrate in this video or read more about this pediatrician's suggested techniques in this article. (Source: Happiest Baby / Dr. Harvey Karp)
Try bouncing on an exercise ball as another option to soothe baby with motion. Log that in your FitBit 100%.
Try Taking Cara Babies' Top Ten Tips for Witching Hour: Cara demonstrates how to soothe baby with a swaddle and warm water and suggests decreasing stimulation or even getting in the bath together. We suggest passing baby to your partner and staying in the bath.
Try going outside or opening a window for some fresh air, even briefly.
Introducing simple sign language signs can help older babies (ages 8 months+) communicate effectively (source: Mayo Clinic).
Signs we used: eat, more, milk, all finished, potty/bathroom, help, please, and thank you.
How to start signing with your baby, video by My Smart Hands
Baby Sign Dictionary with video demonstrations from Baby Sign Language
Stash extra diapers and wipes in your car. Try to remember to replace them when baby moves up to the next size.
If this is all too much and you can't even remember where your keys are, try the Tile StarterPack "item locator." I "call" my keys daily. And then I use my keys to "ring" my phone, which I've already lost, even though I used it to call my keys. It amazes me every time.
Store small diaper bag items in clear pouches (like these) so they are easier to grab and to find.
Keep wet/dry bags (like these) in your diaper bag in case you need to bring something home to wash later.
Ways to Save
Once Upon a Child is a nationwide secondhand baby store that has nearly everything you could imagine for clothes, gear, and toys. Items are generally well-organized, and you can often find clothes with the tags still on.
Register at Amazon for these Baby Registry Perks:
Receive a Welcome Box with gifts valued up to $35.
Take advantage of the completion discount on select items from your registry. Eligible items can be purchased at a 10% (or 15% for Amazon Prime members) discount within 60 days of your Baby's Arrival Date. You receive two coupons, so you can place two orders to purchase eligible items using this discount. Review terms and conditions here.
Hide items you don't want your mother-in-law to see on your registry by designating them as private and still use the discount coupon!
Register at Target for these Baby Registry Perks:
Take advantage of the 15% discount on anything left on your registry starting 8 weeks before baby's arrival. You receive one 15% off coupon, so you can place one order to purchase eligible items using this discount. See details here.
Target offers a Welcome Kit with coupons and samples. Picked up in-store, subject to availability.
It may be helpful to try multiple burping techniques after feeding your baby:
On your chest or shoulder
Sitting on your lap
Face down across your lap
See video demonstrations from Baby Center or Taking Cara Babies.
These highlights from Taking Cara Babies, which show how a "normal" amount of spit up can look like SO MUCH, helped us better understand babies and spit up. Of course, talk to your pediatrician about how much your baby is spitting up, especially if you are concerned. More on spit up from Mayo Clinic here.
WTFTM Tip: Here are more tips and essentials for Breastfeeding, Formula Feeding, and Baby-Led Weaning.
Following a (flexible) sleep > eat > awake schedule can help set up good habits during the newborn phase. We learned to feed our babies when they woke up, not as they'd fall asleep.
Feeding your baby as soon as they wake up can give them energy for their awake time and help them not to rely on milk to fall back asleep.
If you’re trying to wake up baby in the middle of a feed and nothing’s working, open their onesie or change their diaper.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself to do this perfectly, especially not at first! It is okay to enjoy the sleepy newborn snuggles sometimes when you both need a break.
Having baby sleep in a dark room with white noise and introducing a bedtime or nap-time routine may help cue baby that it is time for sleep.
A pre-sleep routine can be simple. Taking Cara Babies ideas here and here.
For white noise, you can use a household fan, an app on a phone or tablet, or a white noise machine (like this one).
Set the white noise to be to be about as loud as a shower running (Taking Cara Babies highlights: sound machines).
Learning approximately how much sleep babies need at different ages and after how much "awake time" they may be ready for a nap can help:
Sample (flexible) newborn nap schedules from Taking Cara Babies
Sample (flexible) schedules for 5-24 months from Taking Cara Babies
Sleep patterns and schedules for babies 0-12 months from Nested Bean
Learning baby's "sleepy cues" can help prevent over-tiredness. This post by Taking Cara Babies might help you recognize when baby could be "telling you" they are ready for sleep.
Consider using a pacifier for sleep, which may reduce the risk of SIDS (source).
Taking Cara Babies does a great job answering pacifier questions in this post.
Your baby may prefer a certain pacifier, so it can be helpful to try different kinds. Taking Cara Babies has great tips and a helpful video for introducing a pacifier.
WTFTM Shares: L never regularly took a pacifier. We tried, but eventually it was a battle we stopped fighting. That was best for our family, so do what is best for yours! A friendly reminder that none of these suggestions are required or even "best" - just suggestions if you need something to try!
Consider swaddling your baby for night sleep and naps to create a womb-like environment (source). This article Should I Swaddle My Baby? can help.
An easy-to-use swaddle with Velcro or zippers can help make this process easier (we love The Ollie World Swaddle or SwaddleMe).
After weaning baby from a swaddle, baby can use a sleep sack to stay warm and cozy while sleeping.
Here is a great post from Taking Cara Babies on how and when to transition baby out of a swaddle.
If you'd like additional sleep suggestions, a sleep class can help you feel hopeful and empower you with expert-approved tools to help you and your baby get better sleep. We can't say enough good things about Taking Cara Babies online classes. Not sponsored, not a partnership, just our favorite resource for new moms!
*If your baby isn't sleeping through the night or getting long stretches of sleep, you are not a failure. Keep trying, keep learning, and (as long as everyone is safe) keep doing what feels right for your family's situation - maybe a different approach is working for you or feels better for you! No matter how you get through it, remember, this phase doesn't last forever - you will sleep again!