We learned a lot from our newborn experience with Caroline – survival tactics, necessities, advice, etc. In no way do I feel like an expert on babyhood but I at least had some idea of what to expect the second time around with Thomas. Now, we are only a few weeks into the exhausting newborn phase but here’s some helpful things I’ve learned from being a second time mom so far…
The first few months (aka the fourth trimester) of life with a newborn are all about survival. The days are long and are filled with countless diaper and outfit changes, feedings every few hours, loads of laundry, pumping, never ending cycles of bottle washing and more. By night time you are flat out tired yet still have to prepare for the marathon ahead of night feedings and diaper changes too. Being a new mommy is amazing, but let’s face it, it’s overwhelming and exhausting! So, tired mamas, here are a few tips that have really helped make our lives just a tab bit easier during this super tough newborn stage (again).
1. Saving Money on Diapers, Wipes and Formula. After pricing out the giant pack of Pampers Swaddlers Diapers (.22/diaper), economy sized box of Pampers Sensitive Wipes (.02/wipe) and 4 pack of Earths Best Organic Sensitive Formula ($1.09/ounce) from various places I found the most affordable and easiest place to purchase them from is Amazon Prime at the Subscribe & Save price (20% discount). Subscribing to these items in bulk have also saved me so much money and inconvenience from having to run out to the grocery store at the last minute to pick up emergency diapers, wipes or formula at an outrageous price.
Note: if you are using Pampers, be sure to sign up for the Pampers Loyalty Program so you can earn rewards for your diapers and wipes purchases! You’ll be surprised how quickly those point will add up!
One more note: the diaper color line. Don’t feel like you need to change the diaper the second you see a partial blue line (brilliant marketing by Pampers)! Trust me, you will know when the diaper is full enough to change. It will swell up and the blue line will be very pronounced. I can’t tell you how many diapers I prematurely changed with Caroline because I saw a dot of blue and assumed a new diaper was necessary.
2. Moms on Call. We swear by Moms on Call. It worked for Caroline and it’s working so far for Thomas to get them both on regular sleeping and eating schedules. Without a schedule I found myself shoving a bottle in my baby’s mouth with every little peep or fuss. I assumed they were hungry all the time. With MOC I have a much better idea of how long of a stretch Thomas should sleep before I wake him to eat and how often I should be offering him a bottle. This also allows for me to plan my day much better around naps and feedings. You can find the Moms on Call book (here) or you can download the app for a few dollars (recommended so you can have the schedule on you at all times).
3. Borrow or Buy Second Hand. I am all about shopping consignment and wish I had done this for all of our baby supplies and not just the additional stuff we needed for Thomas. During the first year, your baby will only use the bigger (and most expensive) items for a brief period before he or she outgrows them (and you have to find places to store them)! Some of those items include the Boppy lounger, swing, bouncer, pack n’ play, rock n’ play, exersaucer, Bumbo etc. I highly recommend borrowing these items from a friend or purchasing on consignment. Same with clothes! During the consignment season I stock up on pajamas, play outfits, smocked items, holiday outfits and more at a fraction of the price I would pay for new. Also, there is no need to dress your newborn in anything but a simple onesie or pajamas for the first 3 months! Don’t waste your money on expensive clothes for at least the first 6 months, your baby may only wear these items a few times (or not at all)!
4. Disable your Doorbell. Despite the massive blue bow on the mailbox and welcome sign for Thomas on the porch, the UPS man feels strongly about ringing the doorbell every single afternoon (during naptime of course) to notify me that my Amazon package is on my doorstep. This domino disaster begins with Charlie flipping out and barking for a solid 15 minutes at the door, followed by Caroline melting down from the chaos and ultimately waking Thomas from his slumber too. Put a sign over your doorbell asking people to knock and tell your friends to just come right in when they arrive.
5. Create an Additional Changing Station with your Pack n’ Play. We keep our pack n’ play (stocked with diapers, wipes, pacis, mustela, swaddles and onesies) in our bedroom as a second changing station during the night time. This also helps us avoid changing Thomas in the shared nursery when Caroline is sleeping.
6. Mommy Friends. Each week I look forward to mommy-baby play dates which includes lots of advice sharing, wine, laughs and briefly restores my sanity. These ladies are some of my best friends and I don’t know what I would do without them! I always know I can send a panicked “is this normal?” text message any time to these friends. If you’re looking to expand your mommy friends network, find local events in your area (library story time, Facebook mommy groups, mommy & baby workout classes, church nursery, etc.).
7. Need Breastfeeding Tips? Check out tons of recommendations from (this post).
8. Team Up with your Husband. Especially for first time dads, chances are pretty good that your husband doesn’t have a lot of baby experience or know how to help you. However, he probably wants to help and may just need you to tell him how! Whether it’s diaper changes before feedings at night, making lunch, wrangling your other kids, washing bottles, bringing you things while you’re attached to your pump or nursing the baby, etc., let him know! And then remember to tell him how much you appreciate him afterwards! One thing that works really well for us is splitting the night shift. Since we started bottles right away Matt was able to help feed the baby so I could get some restorative sleep each night. Right now I have the bedtime until 3 am shift and Matt takes the 3 am until Caroline wakes up shift. Since we’re following the MOC schedule, we each get up once right now to tackle a feeding.
9. Keep Burp Cloths and Pacifiers Handy. I keep a handful of burp cloths and pacifiers anywhere I feed or lay the baby – the couch, rocker, our bed, in the diaper bag, stroller, car seat, swing, etc. There is nothing worse than searching for a burp cloth or paci in the middle of the night or when you’re covered in spit up.
10. Remember, everything is a phase! This is probably the most powerful piece of advice I received with both newborns. Breastfeeding issues? Just a phase. Feedings every hour? Just a phase. Teething? Just a phase. Sleep regressions? Just a phase. No matter what the issue is, you’ll learn that it is only a matter of time before that difficult stage quickly passes and you’re on to the next one. But you know what? Mixed in with those tough phases are really awesome phases too – chest naps, funny expressions, milestones and more! So don’t wish away time even when it seems you can’t get through the day. I promise you’ll blink and that sweet, cuddly newborn will be a walking, talking toddler.
Next up is our list of newborn items we seriously couldn’t live without. Assuming you already have the larger items (Boppy lounger, swing, bouncer, pack n’ play, rock n’ play, exersaucer, Bumbo, stroller, monitor, etc.) this list is a compilation of the essentials we find ourselves using many times throughout the day. Heck, I’d even say some of these items are even more important than the larger items!
Onesies & Infant Gowns: During the first few months you don’t need to worry about dressing your new baby in fancy clothes. A simple onesie is comfortable for the baby and easier for you during diaper changes during the day. Buy a ton of these as you’ll be going through outfit changes often! For bedtime we use infant gowns so we can easily change diapers without the frustration of snaps in complete darkness.
Triple Paste: Unfortunately it took Caroline’s first nasty diaper rash for me to discover this miracle diaper cream. After trying out all sorts of diaper creams I learned from many veteran parents that this is the one and only cream to own. Buy it in the largest size! It’s a bit pricey but worth it. We keep a container at home and a container at daycare for Caroline.
JJ Cole Agility Carrier: I wanted so badly to love the cute, trendy baby wraps but those just aren’t practical for me these days with a second child in tow. This baby carrier slips on like a shirt in seconds and doesn’t require any wrapping, is super comfortable and inexpensive! I love to wear my babies and never leave the house without my wrap. We also have the original Baby Bjourn for when Matt wants to babywear too.
Snuza Baby Movement Monitor: Hands down, our number 1 baby product recommendation to all parents. We began using the AngelCare Movement Monitor after Caroline’s incident but purchased the Snuza for Thomas since it’s portable and he can wear it anywhere – in the crib, pack n’ play, swing, our bed, etc. Please, please, please purchase a movement monitor for your baby. They are $100 and worth every penny. Every mom thinks SIDS won’t happen to them. If you don’t think you need one of these read (this post).
Mustela PhysiObebe No Rinse Cleanser: One of our very favorite baby products introduced to me by April long ago! Essentially “baby Windex,” we use this cleanser often on both kids to remove lingering stink and residue from spit-up stains, neck roll milk crust, spaghetti hands and more. This gentle product is also fantastic for non-bath days for sensitive baby skin. All you have to do is pump a little cleanser onto a cotton pad or a baby washcloth, wipe down your babe and soak in that heavenly fresh scent!
Sleep Sheep Sound Machine Soother: We pretty much live with white noise in the background these days to lull our babies to sleep (and stay asleep). In the crib we use the Sleep Sheep, for the infant carrier we attached the mini On The Go Sleep Sheep, in the car we also have the myBaby HoMedics Sound Spa On The Go and in a bind we use the Relax M app on our phones. The Cloub b Sound Machines come in a variety of plush animals, have multiple soothing sounds to pick from, contain sleep timer options and easily velcro wherever you need them.
Microwave Steamer Sterilizer: Who has time to boil bottles and pacis? We did that like 3 times before we exclusively began using the Dr. Brown’s Sterilizer to quickly steam bottles that don’t fit in the dishwasher. Any steamer sterilizer will do but we use the Dr. Brown’s sterilizer since those are the bottles have. When traveling we pack the Dr. Brown’s Microwave Steam Sterilizer Bags.
MAM Pacifiers & Bella Tunno Pacifier Clips: As desperate, sleep deprived first time parents we literally purchased one of every type of pacifier on the rack of Buy Buy Baby to see which brand worked best for Caroline. Within a few days we discovered MAM pacifiers to be glorious sanity savers. Not only do these binkies have an anti-slip texture which helps keep them comfortably in the mouth, the MAM Air Silicone pacifiers have holes in the shield to let the baby’s skin breathe without collecting saliva in the shield. Oh, and the glow in the dark feature is a lifesaver when fishing around the crib for a paci during the middle of the night! Also, we love the Bella Tunno pacifier clips which have saved us many times from dropped pacifiers hitting the germy floor. A huge plus that these are super cute and come in a variety of pattern options too!
Sheet Savers: Unless you enjoy changing crib bedding in the middle of the night, stock up on sheet savers! We use these in the cribs and also lay them on the changing table pad too.
Boon Grass Countertop Drying Rack: Perfect for drying bottles of any size, pacifiers, pump parts, sippy cups, etc. Depending on how much counter space you have, you may want two of these! And don’t forget the twig accessory too!
Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets and Summer Infant SwaddleMe Swaddles: We use our A&A blankets for so much more than just swaddling. Made from 100% muslin cotton, these blankets are super soft and breathable. I keep these handy to use as a blanket, nursing cover, changing table cover, burp cloth, swaddle, tummy time and even throw it over the infant car seat carrier to block the sun on walks or keep strangers hands out of my baby’s face when we’re out in public. As for actual swaddling purposes, we went through dozens of swaddles (and YouTube videos) until we found the magical SwaddleMe Swaddles. Created with wings that velcro, these are the only type of swaddles that our babies have not been able to break out of. My only complaint about them is the velcro can destroy delicate clothing items so we have to be careful about what we wash them with. SwaddleMe also come in a variety of patterns, sizes and stages (based on weight): Stage 1: SwaddlePod (5-10 lbs), Stage 2: SwaddleMe (7-20 lbs), Stage 3: WrapSack (7-20 lbs), Stage 4: ComfortMe (12-24 lbs).
What did I miss? Leave your favorite newborn tips and essentials in the comments to share!