I often joke that it would be nice if a handbook about our specific baby was delivered right along with the placenta.
Well, that’s not the case – and this parenting thing is more like a “choose your own adventure/learn as you go” dealio.
And even though it can be easier with the more kids you have…all kiddos are different, and you have to learn and adjust with each one. I’m definitely finding that to be true the older Oliver gets – totally different kid.
But parenthood is a fun one. I’m grateful for all the ups and downs, because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. Embracing the messy parts make the sweet so much better.
Although I haven’t had vans full of children, and my oldest is only five, I feel that I’ve learned a few tricks along the way that I wish I’d known when Jack was first born. So I thought I’d share some of the best new parent hacks that I think all parents should get sent home from the hospital with.
I also surveyed some of the mamas in the breastfeeding support group I run, and they gave some great advice.
It seems like most of the hacks I know have to do with changing diapers – makes sense…that consumes A LOT of your life, even beyond the first year. So, I figured I’d share those first – I don’t know about you, but anything I can do to #HugtheMess is a win in my book.
- Put diaper under dirty one – This just makes changing a diaper a little bit easier – plus, if you have little boys, it can be dangerous to keep a diaper off too long. I’ve definitely been peed on a time or two while I’ve gotten a diaper from the package.
- Pull onesie down instead of up – Did you know the necklines on onesies are designed to make it easy to pull the onesie down instead of over baby’s head? This is a great for babies who hate having things pulled over their head (maybe that’s just my kids?). But it’s even better when baby has a blowout. You can just easily pull it down – rather than getting the nasty mess in their hair!
- Coconut oil to help remove meconium – Meconium is the black, tar-like poo that babies produce during their first few days of life. It doesn’t really smell, but man, it is HARD to clean off. A little bit of coconut oil can make it a little easier (and it’s great for baby’s skin, as well).
- Wait five minutes after the first poop before changing – This is a great tip from my friend, Katelyn, from What’s Up Fagans, “Especially in the beginning, it seems like babies like to poop over the period of a few minutes. After you hear the first explosion – just wait a few minutes. It will prevent you from having them poop on your while changing (or having to change several diapers within a 10 minute period).”
- Never buy diapers and wipes without a coupon – There are ALWAYS coupons available for diapers. I always recommend watching the sales while you are pregnant and stocking up on larger sizes (2 and up) with any coupons you find.
- Use wipes for everything – When you head to the store, you’ll be inundated with a wipe for every possible thing – wiping noses, cleaning pacifiers, face wipes….well, you don’t need them! Baby wipes are so multi-purpose.
- How to get out blowout stains – No matter how careful you are, you will likely have to deal with some poopy clothes every now and then. From everything I’ve read, the best way to get out these fresh poop stains is a mixture of 2 parts hydrogen peroxide, 1 part Dawn Dish Soap, and 1 part baking soda. Stains already set in? Here is a great post with four ways to remove baby poop stains.
- Buy one size up for nighttime – The whole time Jack was in diapers – especially once he started sleeping through the night, and we didn’t necessarily wake up to change him – he would always leak through. We would sometimes buy nighttime diapers – which helped…but they were an added expenses.We finally started just using the next size up for night time, and it seemed to help.
- Diaper Changing Stations – A few moms suggested having little pins with diapers, wipes, and other diaper changing essentials set up around the house. I did this when Oliver was a newborn, and I didn’t really want to go into the boys’ bedroom to change him in the middle of the night. You can get plastic bins for pretty cheap! Another mom suggested having mini-feeding stations and postpartum care stations as well.
- Use makeup brush for diaper cream – Diaper rash cream is messy! I feel like whenever I get it on my hands, it takes forever for my hands to feel normal again. Just buy a cheap makeup brush to gently apply it during diaper changes.
- Wipe a wet wipe across baby’s belly under the belly button before changing diaper – This supposedly prevents baby from peeing on you.
- Prevent baby from taking diaper off – I didn’t have this problem with Jack, but we definitely do with Oliver. This post has some great ideas on how to prevent a baby from taking off their diaper.
- Diaper Change Only Toys – When your child gets a little older, diaper time can be a lot more difficult! If you have toys that they can only use during diaper change time, it can become something they really look forward to.
- Mattress protector, sheet, mattress protector, sheet – This was a genius suggestion from Elise K. “I put two layers of bedding in the crib – waterproof pad, fitted sheet, waterproof pad then another fitted sheet. If the little one has blow out or spit up in the middle of the night you can just pull off the top layer and the next layer is already there and ready to go.”
- Get a Wubbanub or glow in the dark pacifier for night – There are few things I dislike more than searching for a pacifier that’s bounced away in the middle of the night. I swear they get eaten by the wall! However, once we got a Wubbanub (one of those pacifiers for a stuffed animal on the end), it made it so much easier to find them. They don’t bounce away! You can also buy glow in the dark pacifiers, which are easier to find!
- Download a white noise app – I swear by white noise. It’s helped my children sleep better, get used to life outside the womb, and it’s just more soothing! You can invest in a white noise machine (we LOVE this one), but there are plenty of free apps that work well, too.
- Stroke nose to fall asleep – I remember when Jack was first born, my sister-in-law, Charbel, came to visit. She kept getting him to fall asleep by stroking his nose. It worked every time. Alexsis L. uses a similar technique with her baby, ” I would always blow on my baby’s eyelids gently when he was fighting sleep. It helped him be drowsy and quit fighting it!”
- How to make a baby fall asleep fast – Right around the time Oliver was born, this video was circulating the Internet. It’s awesome! –
- Wash baby socks in a mesh bag – Along with pacifiers that bounce away never to be seen again, I think baby socks are another item that just disappears…especially in the washer. Put baby’s socks in a mesh laundry bag to keep them safe from the laundry monster!
- Command hook on the back of a high chair for bib – We have done this with both of our boys, and it makes keeping their bibs organized so much easier.
- App baby monitors and FaceTime – I love video monitors, but they can be pricey. There are actually quite a few apps that you can download on your phone that will work as a baby monitor. One that I used actually worked with my Apple Watch, so as long as I wasn’t too far away, it worked great. Otherwise, you’ll need to have a tablet or phone on the other end.
- Woombie – I am not someone who can swaddle very well. I study the nurses at the hospital while they do it, and I just have come to the conclusion that it is a talent I will never have. Woombie swaddles make it SO easy to swaddle your baby, and it also makes nighttime changes so much easier.
Other Helpful Hacks
- Keep your birthing ball! – This tip comes from Hannah M. from my breastfeeding support group – My six-month-old loved it as a newborn and still wants to bounce once or twice a day. He got used to it when I was pregnant and it was the only way to calm him down those first few months.
- Baby kimonos – The hospital I gave birth to Oliver at had all the babies in little kimono shirts instead of onesies. I fell in LOVE with them – so much that I was tempted to swipe one on my way out (though I resisted ;-). They made it so much easier to change diapers, see if the diaper wetness stripe was yellow or blue, and it made skin to skin a breeze!
- Fussy baby? “Face them out, and hold them tight against your body with your arm pushing into their bellies. Sometimes they have gas or something. But, whatever it is, it often helps calm down the fussy baby. Works sooo well” – Another great tip from Katelyn from What’s Up Fagans.
- Plastic Bags with Extra Clothes – “Put extra clothes in ziplock bag inside diaper bag. That way the soiled clothes can be separated from everything else” – Elizabeth S.
- Blow on face to make the medicine go down easier – I think this is something one of my sisters told me about. When you are giving a baby medicine, if you ligthly blow on their face, it helps them swallow medicine faster.
- Cut a hole in pacifier for medicine – Some babies (like Jack) love medicine. Other babies (like Oliver) do not. If your baby is a binkie baby, you can get a little hole in the bottle of their pacifier, and then put the syringe in the other end. You can slowly feed it in while they suck away.
- Band-aid over outlet cover – I do recommend getting real outlet covers, but if you are somewhere like a hotel or a non-baby household, placing a band-aid over outlet covers can be great in a pinch.
- Put baby wash into a foaming soap container – I think baby soap is so much easier to use when it’s foaming. However, it can be pricey! Just use an older foaming soap container and put your regular baby shampoo or wash in it. Easy peasy!
- Breastmilk popsicles – These are great for teething or sick babies. You can read the link for this section for my “recipe”.
- Use space under crib for storage- We have lived in an assortment of places over the years, and we just never seem to have enough room in our kids’ room. If you buy a couple of plastic storage bins with lids, you can store quite a bit under the crib.
- Designated Countertop Space/Cupboard for Baby Stuff – From Andrea S. “I claimed a corner of our kitchen countertop for baby stuff. Drying rack and a 3 drawer organizer to keep all pumping parts, bottle parts, pacifiers, cleaning supplies all organized. It has helped me a ton!”
- Water with baking soda for vomit – I remember feeling like I was officially initiated into the mom club when Jack vomited on me for the first time #sonasty.
- Bite baby’s fingernails instead of clipping – I can’t remember who it was, but shortly before Jack was born, someone told me that it’s worthless to try and clip your baby’s fingernails (and it’s scary!). They suggested that you just bite them off while they are nursing or taking a bottle. I thought it was weird…but I tried it out, and it works so well. No battling with trying to clip their fingers or worrying about clipping their skin.
- Paint Smock for Bib – similar to theseCute bibs never do the job for our kids. We love the IKEA paint smocks () – it covers their arms, their neck…everything!
- Cookie cutter over cupboard door handles – This is an inexpensive way to keep little hands out of your pots and pans! Just find a cookie cutter that fits over the handles and can’t be easily taken off.
- Shoe caddy in the car – Traveling – even to the grocery store – is never the same once you have kids. You can get a cheap shoe caddy to place on the back of the site for diapers, wipes, extra pacifiers, socks, shoes, etc. for your trips away from home. It’s great for when you don’t want to bring your diaper bag, but you still need to have those supplies close at hand.
- Put a disposable table cloth underneath your baby’s high chair – This is especially important if you have a carpeted dining area! Way easier to clean or toss a tablecloth than remove all the stains from the carpet!
- Heat Bottles on the Go – This is a great tip for bottle feeding mamas from Tracy S. “I learned this from my neighbor and it’s been an absolute game changer. Boil water and put in a s’well bottle before leaving the house with frozen or cold milk. That way if you need to give LO a bottle while on the go, you can pour the water into a cup (we use a collapsible camping cup) and plop the bottle or bag of milk into the hot water to warm up the bottle. The s’well bottle will keep the water hot for hours. Beats using the sink in a public restroom….”
- Use a blow-up pool as a play pen – Just make sure you supervise baby!
- Use a large t-shirt as a bib – meal time can be messy once solids are introduced. I’ve always had trouble finding the bibs that are perfect. However, just slipping on an oversized t-shirt can provide full coverage, which is a great alternative if you don’t have a paint smock like I mentioned above.
- Sauce Container for Pacifier – use a little plastic sauce container to store extra pacifiers in your diaper bag.
- Hair Tie on Wrist – Not sure what side you breastfed baby on last? Just put a hair tie on your wrist and switch it back and forth depending on when you last fed baby.