On January 25th I started the next chapter of my life: motherhood. The last four months have been the most overwhelming, exhausting, scary yet unbelievably happy times of my life! Being a first time mom feels like walking into school on the first day of kindergarten. I’ve waited so long (a grueling 9-months) for this day to arrive & now that it’s here, I’m excited yet have no idea what to expect.
Although I may be a newbie when it comes to motherhood, it’s amazing just how much I’ve learned in such a short time. From one new mommy to another (or future mommy), here are a few of my tips & tricks, or “life hacks” if you will:
- Diaper Genie – don’t waste your money. Babies go through a ton of diapers a day, even more so when they are newborns. Unless you plan to empty the thing out on a daily basis, I would pass on this little invention. As a less expensive, more practical option, I recommend getting a tall kitchen trashcan with a lid & use scented trash bags. The size holds more dirty diapers & the lid combined with the scented trash bags keeps the smell from seeping into the room, let alone the rest of the house. So far, we’ve been able to empty ours on a weekly basis without any smelly issues. I also recommend springing for the Forceflex + Febreeze trash bags & emptying your trashcan when it reaches half-full. I learned the hard way just how heavy a trash bag full a diapers can be.
- Take the freebies. Once the world found out I was expecting, the coupons & free samples soon followed. This was a huge money saver for me when it came time to transition my little guy to formula. It was a trial & error process testing different formulas until we found the one he liked. Had it not been for the free samples we received in the mail & from the pediatrician’s office, we would have spent a ton of money on formula just trying to figure out what worked. Also, don’t forget to check your baby products for freebies included with purchase. We bought a humidifier for the nursery & got a free 12-month subscription to Parents Magazine.
- Sleeper Onesies – zippers not snaps. Until your baby is sleeping through the night, nighttime diaper changes will be part of your new routine. Trying to match up the snaps, in the dark, with a squirmy baby at 2 am is not fun. Unless you want to spend the next 15-20 minutes trying to get your baby back to sleep, turning on the bedroom light is not an option. Avoid the hassle by putting him/her in a zippered sleeper instead. They even have a little cloth piece at the neckline that snaps over the zipper to keep it from popping up a poking your little one in the neck.
- Buy a nightlight. For those nighttime feedings & diaper changes this is a must have. It doesn’t have to be expensive or even an actual nightlight. At my baby shower, I received a battery operated, light up letter “G” (for Grayson). It now sits on a shelf by his changing table & rocking chair. It gives off just enough light for me to see, but not enough to wake him up. Plus, it has specialty bulbs that don’t get hot, so I can leave it on all night without worrying about it becoming a fire hazard.
- Have a back-up diaper bag. When filling out my baby registry I registered for 2 diaper bags & double of anything that we would put in our diaper bag. This includes: nail clippers, thermometer, Nose Frieda, pacifiers, bibs, travel wipes, butt paste, formula dispenser & burp cloths. We now have his daily diaper bag and what I call our “Daddy Bag”. The daily diaper bag is huge – allowing for the extra diapers, wipes, formula, clothes & toys needed for an 8-hr day with the sitter. The “Daddy Bag” is a smaller & less “girly” diaper bag that is packed with the essentials & ready to go when Daddy is.
- Invest in a good, easy to use baby carrier. The week I got home from the hospital with Grayson, we found out that our 4-yr old Pitbull tore both of her ACL’s and needed to have surgery. The 16 weeks of recovery & reconditioning required that she be kenneled or leashed at all times. The first 4 weeks she had limited use of her back legs & was on a sling to help her walk. Taking her out to go potty required both my hands. One for the leash, one for the sling & none left for the baby. I first tried the Moby wrap. By my third attempt, I finally got the not-so-simple steps right & was able to put him in place safely but he wanted no part of it. Not to mention our poor puppy begging to go out so she could finally potty. That’s when I realized that I needed something easier to use. I decided to bite the bullet & splurge for the pricey Ergobaby carrier. After a short 5 minutes adjusting the straps to fit my body & clipping in the newborn insert, I was ready to go. Now, it only takes seconds to put on & Grayson loves his puppy walks.
- Baby Tylenol before shots, not after. I learned this the hard way. Grayson had his first round of shots at his 2 month check-up. Two in the leg, one in the mouth. He cried for a bit afterwards but was easily comforted once he was cozy in my arms. It wasn’t until an hour later when he woke up from a nap that I experienced heart-wrenching screams. Not only did he spike a little fever, his poor little leg was in so much pain. With each movement or touch of his leg, a teary scream followed. The 20 minutes it took for the Baby Tylenol to kick in were the worst 20 minutes of my life.
- Trim nails during naps. I’ve never attempted to trim Grayson’s nails while he’s awake, and until he’s old enough to understand when I ask him to sit still, I never will. It’s hard enough trying to pry his hand open when he gets a fist full of my hair, I can’t imagine trying to get clippers around his itty bitty nails. Instead, I wait until he’s asleep & relaxed so I can gently open his hand & carefully trim each nail.
- Onesies go down after a blow out. Do you ever wonder why onesies have those little flaps on the shoulders? It’s designed so if your baby blows-out his diaper, you can simply pull the onesie down instead of up; which only drags his poop further up his back & onto his head. A bath may still be required, but at least your not washing poop out of your babies hair.
- Some “baby” items are unnecessary. After talking with my pediatrician, I found out that I don’t have to buy certain “baby specific” products. For example, we use All Free & Clear for our laundry detergent. Since it is free of all dyes & fragrances, it is safe to wash his baby clothes with, sparing us the added expense of separate detergent. After a bout of really dry skin, my pediatrician told me that normal Aquaphor or Eucerin works the same, if not better, as the “baby” version. Plus, the whole family can use it. REMEMBER: ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN FIRST TO MAKE SURE THE PRODUCT IS SAFE FOR YOUR BABY.
So there you have it. Just a few tips that have worked for me & Grayson. As I’m sure you already know, every baby is different. What works for us, may not work for you. My hope is that this will make adjusting to your new life a little easier; giving you more time to love, snuggle, kiss, hug, and play with your perfect, little bundle of joy!
Do you have more life hacks for new or experienced mothers? Share them with us below.
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