HOW TO GET THROUGH THE FIRST DAY AND FIRST YEAR
Here are some great tips I’ve received since becoming a new mom. A few are just quick one – liners. Some are more detailed ideas of what might work. Other tricks I’ve learned from my own hands-on experience getting through the first year with my son who is now 16 months old. Just remember the best advice is to take the advice that works for you, and leave the rest behind!
Please know, that not only am I a new mother, I was also the first of all my friends to have a baby. So no one around me had babies and I really knew NOTHING AT ALL until I had my own. These tips and tricks really helped me! I am more than happy to share the important information I’ve gained from other mom’s which is now listed in separate categories for easy reference. I hope you find it helpful as you embark on this beautiful journey called motherhood.
1. The boppy pillow is very over advertised as a breastfeeding pillow. So of course I bought one! However, what I realized is that it doesn’t really fit around your body unless you are a super tiny woman ….and who is super tiny after delivering a baby anyway? It always seemed to slide forward away from my body and I found it impossible to keep the baby in the correct nursing position. Also depending on what type of chair you are sitting in, it can makes things more difficult. Breastfeeding is already a challenge for most new moms so, why make it more complicated? One of the moms I met mentioned that any type of nursing pillow that has a wrap around strap that clips in place is way more helpful. I used My Brest Friend (strange name, amazing product) . But don’t knock the boppy pillow. Although for me, the Boppy didn’t work for nursing, it was great for other uses and helpful for other milestones. It can help the baby as they grow with, propping, sitting, tummy time etc.
2. Many women originally say they want to try to breastfeed their baby, but in the end I’ve heard many new moms say “It just wasn’t working.” Well, a $10 Nipple Shield from Babies R Us could have saved me $350 for the in-home lactation consultation. I’ll be honest though, the consultation was actually very helpful and I don’t regret seeing her at all. However, the nipple shield was the main advice that she provided which made the whole breastfeeding thing actually work for me. So give it a try, it’s only $10! (Please note, there are many reasons why breastfeeding is a challenge, so this may not be the solution to your problem, but it’s worth a shot) Just FYI, if you are interested in the in – home lactation consultation, Calm Baby RN was incredible! Alisa was so understanding, down to earth and extremely knowledgeable !
3. Regarding breast pumps, one of the nurses in the hospital told me, if you are going to “double pump”, instead of buying a hands free Breast pump bra with the holes cut out, ($30- $40 each) you can make your own with a cheap Wal-Mart or Target bra and cut out holes yourself. If you have a sports bra at home you can use that too. Not that $30.00 is SO expensive, but it was just an interesting suggestion.
4. I read so many articles and blogs about babies having “nipple confusion” and not to introduce a bottle until a certain age etc. Well, if there is a such thing as “nipple confusion” my baby never had a problem adjusting to boob vs bottle. So don’t let everything you hear/read scare you. Every baby is different and babies are smarter than you think.
5. A breast pump could be covered under your insurance. My human resources department at work told me about it. Mine was covered and it was fantastic, we saved hundreds of dollars! Call up the member services phone number on the back of your insurance card and ask.
6. In the beginning, breastfeeding is not always easy. For some moms, strictly breastfeeding may not create enough of a feeding since you and your baby are still trying to figure out what you’re doing. If your baby is not latching, or you are not producing enough milk, sometimes the doctor may suggest to supplement with formula. If this is the case, don’t feel like you’ve failed your baby. Baby is hungry and just needs to eat until you can figure everything out. It’s ok to supplement and it’s ok to choose not to breast-feed too. Everyone is different. I personally felt so guilty when I started supplementing with formula but my son just wasn’t latching in the beginning (before I learned about the nipple shield trick). He was crying because he was so frustrated and hungry due to my lack of nursing skills. The doctor said one thing I will never forget……: “It’s only formula, it’s not poison.” That truly stuck with me, it was so reassuring in that moment.
1. Sometimes during a poopy diaper change, you are just trying to get the baby cleaned up and move on. But babies are squirmy, and sometimes the poop gets everywhere! It seems like each time you go to grab a wipe, it slides back into the container! So you end up doing this scissor move with your fingers, desperately trying to get the wipes out to wipe your baby’s poopy behind! Instead, I take a few wipes out of the container right at the beginning so they are out and ready for easy access and quick clean up.
2. One mom told me that if your baby hasn’t pooped in a few days, sometimes just using a rectal thermometer can get things going. Also, adding a small amount of prune juice to baby’s bottle can help. (Check with your pediatrician first of course for approval)
3. Baby’s very first poop which will most likely happen in the hospital, is like this thick, sticky TAR substance and it completely sticks to your precious baby’s brand new little behind. If you could put A+D ointment, baby oil or Vaseline on baby’s tush before the first poop arrives, it will be a lot easier to clean because it will wipe right off. A barrier ointment in general makes poopy diaper changes a lot easier to clean.
4. Desitin or any white cream that contains zinc oxide is like magic for diaper rash. It makes that heart breaking raw, redness disappear really quick! The diaper rash is usually undetectable within a day or so. It’s pretty amazing.
5. One mom told me if you automatically use soap and water after every poop, you will never see a diaper rash. Even if it’s not an actual bath, just applying soap and water right there on the changing table, apparently works.
6. Another mom told me to remove the wipe warmer from my baby registry. Everyone told me not to buy a wipe warmer! They said, think about it, if you always use a wipe warmer, and baby gets used to this wonderful warm sensation during each diaper change, what will happen when you’re out and that fantastic wipe warmer is not available? Baby is going to scream his head off because he’s not used to the cold wipes on his little tush! Lets try to avoid that nightmare.
7. During nighttime diaper changes, try not to engage your baby or talk to him. Keep lighting dim. Limited stimulation is best, so he can easily go back to sleep.
8. Mommies love zippers! Zipper pajamas are so wonderful. No mommy or daddy wants to sit there during a diaper change snapping 15 snaps, in the dark at 2 a.m. Any zipper pajamas work for me, I don’t care what they look like! My son was wearing candy cane and Santa pajamas in March because they had zippers and I didn’t care! Convenience is key.
9. Apparently everyone knew this but me: When you remove the dirty diaper, you wrap it up and fasten the tabs on both sides. It creates a little poop filled gift! This way nothing seeps out. ( I just kind of rolled it up but didn’t fasten the sides until I saw another mom do it that way) Aha! You live and you learn.
10. When you are getting your baby dressed there will probably be a time (a few times) when you are trying to get what looks like a normal sized shirt over your baby’s head. You think to yourself “Is my baby’s head abnormally large? or is the hole for this shirt ridiculously tiny?” Is this even a shirt for a human baby, or a doll? Well, my best friend is a nanny and she mentioned that she always stretches out the head hole of any shirt a few times before she attempts to pull it over baby’s head. It just makes dressing easier for everyone.
11. During the first few months that you are caring for your newborn , always wear something with pockets!!! A hoodie, an apron, a robe, I don’t care if it’s a fanny pack….. You will need 2 hands to carry the baby around since they can’t hold up their head in the beginning. So when you are going from the living room to the nursery, or the kitchen to the couch, you will need a place to hold stuff. Just stick whatever you need in the pockets while you are carrying the baby around …. pacifier, bottle, bib, phone etc.
12. Keep a little basket in the nursery designated for clothes that baby outgrows. You’ll quickly find that this will actually happen quite often while you are dressing the baby and you will need a place to put the small clothes that no longer fit. You can bag them up and give them away to friends who are expecting, or keep them in storage for baby # 2.
13. When baby has a poopy diaper explosion, I was recently told that onesies roll DOWN which is why the shoulder flaps are so flexible! I never knew that!! Now we won’t have to roll the poop smeared onesie over baby’s head! Genius! Wish I would’ve learned that trick sooner.
1. When you are ready to give baby a bath, whether it’s in the sink, the baby tub, a bath seat or in the regular bathtub, make sure you have EVERYTHING YOU NEED for the bath laid out and ready to go before you even begin the bathing process. You don’t want to turn your back for 1 second when dealing with a baby bath. Get the soap, shampoo, washcloth, and towel ready ahead of time. Also remember a wet baby is slippery, a soapy wet baby is even more slippery. Be careful!
2. One mom told me that she turns on the hot water in the shower and closes the bathroom door for a few minutes before she brings the baby in for the bath. It keeps the bathroom steamy and warm for baby when you are ready to start bath time.
3. During our infant class at the hospital they told us to drape a warm wet washcloth over the baby’s belly during the bath to keep baby’s body warm. (After the belly button falls off) They also mentioned to put little cotton balls in baby’s ears to prevent too much water from getting in.
4. Start from the head and work your way down. For my son’s first bath, I was so eager to get his little tush cleaned, that I washed that first! Then I looked at the washcloth and said, EW! I’m not going to wash the rest of his head and body with this! ……Woops! Now I know.
5. Hooded towels are the best! Kids love ’em and mommy’s love ’em!
1. At the last feeding before bed, remember to change the baby’s diaper, put on pajamas, and THEN feed the baby. You don’t want to change your baby’s diaper or put on his pajamas AFTER he is in a sleepy “milk coma.” Get him changed FIRST so he is ready to go right to sleep after the feeding without any extra steps or interruptions.
2. Your baby’s ability to sleep through the night is directly related to how full his belly is.
3. Don’t be surprised if you don’t even touch the crib for at least 3-4 months. This was news to me, I didn’t know the baby wouldn’t use the crib right away. Lots of baby books explain that the crib is such a big space and babies prefer to be cozy and cuddled in something smaller. Even with the swaddle, babies may not feel comfortable in a crib. Most baby books say to attempt to transition to the crib around 3 months. We tried, but my son was NOT a fan. We waited until 5 months, which was long overdue, but we felt he was ready at that time. Every baby is different. Don’t let books, or other mom’s pressure you. Do what works best for you and your baby.
4. When transitioning to the crib, as mentioned above, it can be a very big space for such a little baby. One mom told me they placed a Changing Pad in the crib and had baby sleep on that. It kept baby cozy and snuggled because the sides curve upward. Although we didn’t try this it was an interesting suggestion.
5. The best advice I’ve ever received so far: Go to sleep at 9 pm. This way if baby wakes up at 2 am you will have already slept for 5 hours by then! This advice was such a life saver! Especially when you have to go back to work, that 5 hour stretch of sleep is incredible!!
Toward the end of my maternity leave as I was preparing to go back to work (baby was about 2.5 months old), the baby’s sleep schedule was as follows:
He went to sleep for the night at 9 pm. Then he woke up to be fed at 2 am, 5 am and then again at 8 am. So a mom at work mentioned to get the baby dressed and ready for the day when he woke up for the 5 am feeding. This way, when he went back to sleep and woke again at 8 am I wouldn’t have to get him dressed in addition to getting myself dressed and ready for work. That was a great time saving tip!
6. The Rock N Play was so great! My son lived in that thing! It’s light and portable and can go with you from room to room. It also collapses for easy storage. It’s on an incline which is a better position for your baby to sleep in after a feeding. My son slept in the Rock N Play next to our bed until he transitioned to the crib.
7. A co-worker mentioned that when you are putting baby down to sleep, try to figure out a way to re-create warmth. Baby loves your body heat and your snuggles. So when you put your baby down to go to sleep, they are not always happy about that decision! Try placing a heating pad down five minutes before you are going to put baby down to sleep. Do not let him sleep on or near the heating pad, it’s just a way to create warmth before he lays down so he feels cozy. Remove the heating pad before you put baby down and the bassinet / crib will remain warm. Also try a warm water bottle or a rice filled sock which you can microwave to create warmth. You can see a DIY here
8. When I was pregnant, I always heard people tell me “Get your sleep while you can” “Oh, get ready, to be up all hours of the night!” But I didn’t fully understand what that meant. I thought it meant, changing him and feeding him throughout the night. I thought, “Ok that might be annoying to have to get up so much, but I can do that! ” But what I NEVER REALIZED is that after you change him or feed him, he doesn’t just drift happily off to sleep again….. You have to somehow finagle a way to softly rock him back to sleep. You have to rock him and shush him and caress him and somehow gently get him back to sleep without waking him. So just when are absolutely sure he is completely asleep in your arms, you tip toe over to the bassinet and slowly lower him down, and the MINUTE you put him down, he immediately wakes up and cries and you have to do it all over again! NO ONE TOLD ME THAT PART! That was the only time I ever cried. When I tried like 6 times in one night to put him to sleep, he was about 1 month old and he wouldn’t go to sleep unless I held him. Me and my husband couldn’t figure out what to do. My sister was staying over that night THANKFULLY. She danced around with the baby in her arms doing this figure 8 motion and he drifted off to sleep and so did I.
9. My husband’s friend who has 3 kids always talks about the importance of consistency. Specifically setting up a consistent bedtime routine so your baby knows what to expect when it’s time for bed. For example: change diaper, baby massage, change into pajamas, dim lighting only, feed him, read a book, sing a song, rock him until sleepy, place him in crib/ bassinet, turn on white noise machine. You can create your own sleep routine with your own steps, but either way, complete the same steps in the same order every night.
10. Most baby equipment moves, or swings, or rocks or vibrates. So when we began the transition to the crib, I realized the crib doesn’t DO anything, it doesn’t move. So we bought this little vibration device ($20) to place under the crib mattress so it wouldn’t be such a big adjustment to go to sleep in something that doesn’t move. See it here.
11. While rocking the baby to sleep I used to do lunges. I was exercising and putting baby to sleep, at the same time. Ahhh, the beginning stages of multitasking…
12. When baby books or doctors refer to your baby starting to “sleep through the night” they are referring to a 5 hour stretch of sleep.
13. Later on when baby is older, around 9-12 months, sometimes the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and starts standing up in the crib and won’t go back to sleep! It seems like they are so excited about this new skill they’ve learned that they don’t want to go to sleep. Standing is so much more fun than sleeping! There are many methods of “sleep training” that parents can try. Some parents try the cry it out method and hope that baby eventually gets so exhausted that they fall asleep. Some parents sit next to the crib and baby feels the comfort of mom’s presence in the room is good enough so the baby goes back to sleep. Some parents pick the baby up and rock them to sleep. Some parents let the baby cry and just go in to reassure them at 5, 10, 15 minute intervals. Just remember there are a bunch of books with lots of different options and advice. It’s really trial and error and you will figure out whatever works for you and your baby !
1. No matter how much your baby is crying, if you have to pee, PEE FIRST, before you get ready to feed him/ change him. An extra 60 seconds of crying won’t hurt. You don’t want to sit down to feed the baby or start to change his diaper when you really have to pee. Just go!
2. GREAT ADVICE : The 5 S’s by Harvey Karp, MD, creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block . – “The key to soothing fussy infants is to imitate the womb.” Swaddling, Shushing, Swinging, allowing babies to suck on a pacifier and holding them on their sides, may help them to calm down. Amazing advice. You can check out the you tube video which quickly summarizes the 5S’s or you can read the book, which is very informative. I have often referred back to the book for advice and guidance.
3. The lactation consultant mentioned that if you want your baby to use a pacifier, just realize that sometimes you have to hold the pacifier in for at least 30 seconds before they get the hang of it.
1. You know your baby is starting to teethe when there will be more drool than is ever imaginable and they will start gnawing on their fists all day long.
2. A mom from work mentioned to place a wet washcloth in the freezer and have the baby chew on that as an alternative to traditional teething rings. Or I also heard giving baby frozen waffles apparently works.
1. Your baby won’t learn to crawl or roll over if you’re always holding him. As much as you love your little munchkin to pieces let him down on the floor so he can get the opportunity to explore his environment and try new things.
2. Just enjoy the moment, and the stage your baby is currently in. Don’t constantly think about what your baby will be doing NEXT. When will he roll over? When will he start grasping? When will he smile? When will he crawl? Just enjoy where he is right now. He’ll get there!
3. You don’t know when he will hit that next milestone. So if you are used to changing him on the bed for example, and today is the day he is totally ready to roll over at that exact moment he is getting changed on the bed…… you just have to be really careful and aware.
1. Great advice I received from a co-worker who is a mom of 2: Hire a cleaning lady! It’s unrealistic/ impossible to maintain a clean home while caring for a newborn. There’s just no time. Either tell daddy to stay on top of the cleaning, or be OK with giant balls of dog hair in the corners of your living room…..or just hire a cleaning lady. Even if it’s just while you are on maternity leave.
2. One mom said: “I never understood the purpose of those baby mittens, aren’t you just procrastinating the inevitable? You just have to clip/file their nails and stay on top of it”
3. It comes with practice, but you will be amazed at how many things you can do with one hand.
4. During the first few days, maybe weeks, make sure daddy knows not to expect a meal when he comes home from work. He should be prepared to have Cheerios for dinner until you can figure out a routine.
5. Once you have a baby, you will wonder what you ever did with all your time.
6. You will do more laundry than you could ever imagine: poop, pee, spit up, drool, baby food, snot, formula … it’s on the bib, the blanket, the shirt, the crib sheet, and on you!
7. Speaking of laundry, my friend who is a nanny told me to consider buying one of those mesh bags that you can throw in the laundry with the rest of the load. Put all the baby socks in this bag. This way you don’t lose those tiny little socks that will otherwise get stuck in the sleeve of a shirt and you will never find it again.
8. As a new mom, I quickly learned that showering and peeing are luxuries.
9. Friends and family will want to come over to visit and help in the beginning. But you may still be trying to bond with your baby and develop a routine. Instead of letting them babysit while you go food shopping, and do the dishes, and laundry etc, ask them to help with the errands and chores while you spend time with your baby. OR if you need a break, then take them up on their offer! Let them babysit while you get out! Whatever works better for you.
10.Keep a little notebook, or baby book close by so you don’t forget to write important updates and those precious moments you will always want to remember! First words, first steps etc
2 months: Today he followed a toy back and forth with his eyes.
5 months- Today he sat up
6 months: He’s obsessed with ceiling fans
8 months- Today he started clapping
11. I had my baby during the “polar vortex” December 2013 with ridiculous amounts of snow and very low temperatures. So during maternity leave, I was stuck inside, we didn’t go on walks or anything. As sad as it was to go back to work, it was nice to get back into the world again. I was like a hermit and we only left for doctor checkups. Going back to work (if you have to) is tough, and that first day back, you will drive home so fast just to get to see your bundle of joy who you missed so much. That sad and difficult day will be a distant memory very soon though, and you will begin your new routine which will become your “new normal.”
12. They are only little once, so cherish every moment, every gummy grin, every snuggle, every hug and every wave bye-bye with those precious little hands.
13. Just remember that once you have a baby, you will automatically relate to more than half the world’s population… They’ve done it, and you’re doing it! You will get through this! We can all appreciate the struggles of being a mom along with the enormous overflowing feeling of joy that is pretty indescribable until you experience it first hand. Good Luck, you’re going to do great!