All right, so I have a little document on my hard drive called “Baby Advice” that I put together a few years ago. I dig it up and fire it off to my preggo friends when they ask me what I recommend they add to their baby registries. Since I know so many people right now with buns in their ovens, I thought it might be easiest to just create a post for it.
This is neither an exhaustive list or an authoritative one, so please take what is helpful and leave what isn’t. These are just suggestions; things I decided to write down several years ago while the high chairs were still up and the Diaper Champs were indeed very full. I don’t share them to invite debate or suggest that I know it all; instead, I offer them as my own I-wish-someone-would’ve-told-me list that will hopefully be of some encouragement to you as you ready your homes and your marriages for little ones.
Schedule a haircut and a pedicure a couple weeks before your due date.
Eat something before you leave for the hospital.
Dads, try to go home the second night your wife is in the hospital and get a good night’s sleep. Ryan did this and it helped so much having him well-rested when we got home because I was exhausted and in a lot of pain. Ladies, let the nurses take your baby that second night so you can sleep. And do not feel guilty about this. Let them help you while you have them. They can bring the baby in for feedings and you can get some well-deserved rest.
If you plan to nurse and/or pump, get a nursing bra for every day of the week (it’s messy business!). And stock up on nursing pads and storage bags, too.
If you have an episiotomy, be militant about taking the stool softeners they give you in the hospital and take an additional laxative (Senokat-S is a natural vegetable one that’s okay to use if you’re nursing) during that first week home. Also remember your Boppy Pillow makes a comfy seat. 🙂
If you have trouble nursing, or if the thought of being tied down with it is too much for you, try not to feel bad about it. I pumped all my milk into bottles. I had to supplement with some formula, but the boys were able to drink mostly breast milk for a good six weeks. It was a lot of work, but that’s what my gut instinct told me to do both times, so I went with it.
Run errands with the baby as soon as you can function physically. The sooner you get used to toting her around, the better. Getting out of the house is so important for your emotional state those first couple weeks.
Shower every morning whether you think you have time for it or not.
Find someone you trust to watch your baby (like, um, us!) and go out together as soon as possible. Ryan and I were able to start going out when Landon was just barely 3-weeks old (thanks, Johnsons and Heimkes!), and realizing we could still have time alone together helped us both emotionally during those first couple months.
MOVE THE BABY OUT OF YOUR ROOM as soon as you feel comfortable. Ryan and I did this after three or four nights. We slept better and longer because we weren’t reacting to every little sound Landon (and, eventually, Evan & Selah) made. It also set in place an important boundary in our home that our room and our marriage bed would be kept sacred. Now that our kids are older, they respect our space and our privacy (which, let’s be honest, is important if you want to get busy making more babies!).
Save some money and buy generic diapers and wipes. The Kirkland ones at Costco worked great for us, as did Target’s generic brand. Same goes for formula. The ingredients in the pricey Similac brand, for example, are nearly identical to the ones in the Target brand. I so wish we had known this the first time around.
Skip buying a cover for your changing table pad. Just throw a towel on top so that it’ll be easier for you to wash. Also, invest in a Diaper Champ, not a Diaper Genie. You can use your own garbage bags with the champ, whereas you have to buy bags for the genie.
I can’t stress this one enough: If both of you are able to get up with the baby at night, set a schedule for the week that allows each of you to know who is responsible for getting up when. Before going to bed each night, Ryan and I were clear on “whose night” it was. This gave me at least two nights per week when I knew I would be able to sleep uninterrupted. Knowing I had a full night’s sleep or two each week to look forward to made it so much easier to get up during the nights and early mornings that were my responsiblity.
And speaking of sleep…
Books That Saved Our Clueless Selves:
On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
I promise your baby will sleep through the night by 2 1/2 months old if you follow the authors’ advice for what they call parent-directed feeding. Moms who have already taken this advice from me, please leave a comment to tell everyone how I saved your lives by giving you this book. I know you are out there, so speak up!
A lot of people hate on this book, but I will hear none of it. I swear to you our boys were sleeping through the night by nine weeks, and the “eat-play-sleep” schedule was to credit for getting Selah into a great rhythm (and adjusted to her new time zone) within two weeks of her being home. It also allowed us determine the way our days would be structured instead of being at the relentless mercy of our babies’ erractic eating and napping schedules. It allowed us to prioritize our marriage and our sanity while helping our babies thrive in a predictable routine, one that was governed by us, not by them. This was for sure an important set-up for toddlerhood, too.
The Babywise schedule also made it so much easier to leave our kids with other people because all we had to do was communicate where they were in their schedule for the day, and it was smooth sailing from there. They felt secure, their sitters felt prepared, and we were free to enjoy our time away without worrying.
I didn’t believe it when I first watched the DVD, but this is a real life saver for learning how to sooth a newborn. It’s magical. That’s all I’ll say. Oh, and thanks, Mom!
This bath mat is so much more practical than an infant tub. Plus, when they are bigger they can sit up on the mat in the tub so they don’t slide around. Here it is in action:
Sleeping gowns for nightime. Who wants to fuss with buttons and zippers at 2 AM? Not me!
You can NEVER have enough bibs or burp rags. Enough said.
Sassy, Arm and Hammer, or Knot It bags for containing dirty diapers and soiled clothes while you are out and about.
Infant bouncy seat & exercauser. NO Bumbos. Horrible for their hips.
Skip the bottle warmer, but definitely ask for a wipes warmer.
Blankets for swaddling. These were our favorites, but they probably have even better ones now.
Back-to-sleep Wearable Blankets. Oh, my. These are so awesome. Baby stays warm and snug and you don’t have to worry about him getting tangled in blankets at night.
Several TUBES (not tubs) of Vaseline if you anticipate having a circumcision to doctor. Be generous…swirl it on like soft-serve ice cream!
Pads for carseat straps:
A high chair that reclines. Case in point:
And, whatever you do…
“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”