Let’s be honest. Being a new mom is hard enough. Your entire world is rocked like a 9.0 earthquake. Your body is doing weird things; you’re up all night with this tiny, new human being that is just as overwhelmed and confused as you, and now people want you to leave the house and just continue with life… REALLY?!
Well, yes, but here’s 15 hacks for the new mom that provide you with some very practical wisdom that only experienced moms now know… because we lived through it! Listen to us, learn from us, trust us.
1. ALWAYS have extra bags
This is not negotiable. Gallon sized Ziplocs, used store bags, small garbage bags… whatever. Have at least one everywhere. In your purse, your car, your diaper bag, your baby backpack, the baby carrier, the stroller… If you want to be more eco-friendly, you can get wet bags for most occasions (Monkey Foot is my favorite). But, you will discover that the ONE time you will beg the universe for a plastic bag because the baby’s poopy diaper exploded all over (good bye adorable outfit), you won’t have one.
2. Keep a towel and blanket in the car
Did you leave the house when it was sunny and 75 degrees? You’ll come home when it’s 45 and raining. Because, you know, seasons. But that will be the day you didn’t pack the coat because it was useless five hours ago. Have a blanket to cover baby. Remember the whole inevitable explosion thing? It will happen in the car at least once. You’ll be so thankful you kept that ugly, tattered towel in the back seat.
3. Keep an emergency bag in the car
I don’t mean bandaids and gauze, though that’s a great idea too. I mean keep an extra diaper bag (thank you, thrift shop) or old diaper box in the car (I wrapped mine with pretty contact paper) with the following at ALL times:
- 2-3 disposable diapers (even if you are exclusively cloth)
- a NEW package of wipes
- 1-2 onesies
- 1-2 shirts
- 2-3 pants
- 1-2 pairs of socks
- a Pacifier
- a toy
- a snack
- a bottle of water (if you formula feed AND to keep mom hydrated)
- 2-3 bibs
- a baby hat
- a sweatshirt or warm jacket
- a tshirt for you AND dad
- a nose sucker
- pads (not pantyliners)
- a small spray bottle with water (saves on wipes when you clean up messes)
- hand sanitizer
- children’s tylenol
Rotate the sizes out every six months. Set an alarm on your phone in the calendar to repeat every six months – you’ll NEVER remember to update it.
These are not the cute outfits you show off. These are the plain white onesies, the shirts your cousin gave you that her kids wore 15 years ago, the plain awful brown pants and the baby hat that resembles a boob. And because your body is still doing weird things, you have pads. Mother Nature is a bit vindictive while your body is still healing.
4. Focus on function in your nursery
- Are you tall? Get bed risers for the changing table.
- Hate laundry? It will quadruple when baby is born…so skip the drawers and use totes and cubical shelving or hangers for everything.
- Buy a dimmer switch for the light, everyone’s eyes will thank you at 3 a.m.
- Use a Command Shelf above the changing table for hand sanitizer, butt paste, nose sucker, clippers and all the little things you want in YOUR reach, but not the baby’s.
- Totes are your friend. Three will fit on the shelf under the average changing table. Store your wipes, diapers, extra changing table covers, PJs and fuzzy pjs in them. One tote for each thing.
- If you have a walk-in closet, consider switching it to the second bedroom and have the closet be the nursery. It’s right off your bedroom, it’s darker than you can make it in a room with windows, and most are big enough to fit a pack and play (what we used), changing table, laundry basket and garbage. The rest is just fluff.
5. Take advantage of the nesting phase
You will get more clothes than you can handle. DO NOT just toss them all in a box. Buy a few clear storage totes and label them NB/1 month, 3 month, 6 month, 12 month, 18 month, and 2T. As you get the insane amount of clothes from everyone, wash them, toss them in the box that matches the size. When your little is getting too big for the current size, dump the drawers into the empty container and pull out the next. Know that all the laundry will go into the smaller size box.
6. Make frozen meals
Precook and freeze. Your world is turned upside down, you’re exhausted, you’re sore, you’re trying to figure out the whole motherhood thing…and then you have to eat. I literally ate nothing but hot pockets, top ramen, and PB&J for three months because I couldn’t find the energy to cook – and I couldn’t find more than pizza or Chinese delivery.
Prep three or four meals on a Sunday for a few weeks straight. Get the pans from the dollar store and freeze them. Soups, meatloaf, enchiladas, taco, lasagne, spaghetti, chili. Everything. If you have people to cook for you every couple of days that’s GREAT! Still do it. Because the ONE night everyone is out of town, working, or busy…you’ll both be zombies because of gas or teething all night and you’ll have forgotten to buy bread or milk and it will be the day before payday. But also, sometimes, it’s just amazing to have your own cooking, your own food, in your own home, with just you and your new tiny family. Get a HUGE list here.
7. Kitchen appliance awesomeness
- Get a “family size” crockpot or InstantPot. A LOT of freezer meals can be put into a gallon Ziploc bag and just dumped in to reheat. The best part about crockpot meals, is you don’t always have to precook.
- If you don’t have one, a toaster oven is the best thing you’ll ever own. It takes no preheat time, won’t heat your whole house, and will turn off when the timer stops. A higher quality one can also double as a broiler for steak and chicken, and though there are larger ones that can fit a turkey, most are still smaller than a microwave.
- Upgrade your coffee pot to one with automatic shut off. Even better? Get one that has a carafe (the container that keeps drinks hot in a restaurant) so even though your pot shut off to prevent burnt coffee and fires, you’ll still have a higher than normal chance at having a hot cup of coffee THAT day. This is also for tea drinkers. No one said you have to put coffee in the pot…
8. Baby clothes secrets
- Those weird folds at the shoulders of onesies? That is so you can peel the onesie off the shoulders…preventing the level 5 poop-splosion from getting in their hair too.
- The snap at the top of fuzzy pjs is to hide the zipper so when your little figures out how a zipper works, it takes some work to find it.
- Throw away any pants with snaps or zippers. It is the worst baby clothes design in the world…and obviously the designers who make them have never, in fact, had babies to undress and dress 50 times in a day.
9. Take ALL the hospital things
Did you know you pay for them anyway, and they will just toss them when you leave to prevent possible cross contamination? Take every pad, nose sucker, paper underwear and peri bottle you can get your hands on. Do NOT leave the premises without the peri bottle. In fact, lie and say you didn’t get one so you can take a couple home.
10. Depends underwear after delivery
Your body will bleed like a Dexter episode after baby. It’s good. It’s healthy. It’s still gross. You will get these paper underwear that would make your teenage-self hide for a year. As a new mom, you’ll wish you had listened to number 9 and taken four more pairs. But the next best thing is Depends underwear. They are comfy, they cover everything, and you can throw them away. Like buying tampons for the first time on your own, you will try to ninja your way in and out of the store. But it’s worth it.
11. Sign language is not a fad
Babies start learning language the moment you begin talking to them. Some will go so far as to say in the womb. Unfortunately, language skills will not develop until (at the earliest) 18 months. That’s a LOT of tantrums because they don’t know how to communicate with you. You don’t have to know or teach the entirety of the American Sign Language, but the basics of “milk”, “mom”, “dad”, “diaper”, “all done”, “eat”, and “more” will not only save your eardrums from less tantrums, but help your baby develop communication earlier. My son knew all 7 signs by eight months old, and we just kept teaching him more. Don’t over think it either. Baby Sign Language has videos, flashcards, and a full dictionary to help you. Just ALWAYS use the sign when you say the word, be it using “milk” for nursing or bottle. I promise they will catch on quickly.
12. Pack more than you think you should
Not only because babies use WAY more than you can truly understand (even after you’ve had them a while), but what if you want to stay longer after dinner? Pack the pjs just in case. The trip to your moms is extended by a day, you got stuck at the airport from a cancelled flight, the road trip took longer than expected, whatever happens you want to make sure you don’t run out. Also, always have a tiny travel kit packed with their soap, night time lotion, and sample sizes of their butt cream and sunscreen. Buy a travel kit from Target with the zippered bag and just never take it out of the diaper bag.
13. You can never have too many washcloths
The baby ones are cute… but I’m talking about real washcloths. I got three packs from a friend for my baby shower (white so you can bleach if needed) and I still bought two more packs. You’ll use them for everything: it’s easier to wipe faces and hands; freeze a wet, clean one for teething (they like to chew on it, it’s soothing); red ones don’t show blood so littles freak out less when they scrape their knee (mostly toddlers); it’s easier when milk is squirting everywhere to put a washcloth in your bra then grope around for an adequate breast pad when you forgot to grab your stack.
14. Use your smartphone
There are tricks like putting a hair band in one wrist to remember what side you last nursed on, but if you are like friends of mine and will wear one and forget about it that trick no longer works. Or when the doctor asks endless questions like: how much is he wetting and pooping? How many ounces of milk is he drinking? How long is he sleeping at a time? How’s his moods? How long has he had a stuffy nose?… Your sleep-deprived and overwhelmed brain will respond with, “I dunno…A LOT!” which is not an adequate answer. You’ll use your smartphone to stay awake while nursing and, most likely, more often than you’ll admit to take pictures of every little fart face and fist curl. So use it to track everything so you don’t have to think about all those answers that you’re supposed to know. My preference is Baby Connect because your husband, baby sitter, and other caregivers can have a log in for your child and you’ll be able to see their day even if you aren’t there, but you do have to pay for it. Google “baby tracking app” and you’ll find quite a few with reviews. BONUS: If you have an old iPhone it can become the “Baby Phone”
15. The law of feeding baby
There is a law of motherhood that is inevitable. When you wear white, they will be dirty. When you wear black, they will spit up. When you sit down and begin to nurse, you will need a tissue/breast pad/wash cloth/blanket/be hungry/be thirsty/have the remote and/or phone just out of reach. This will happen. All. The. Time. The best thing you can do for your self is to have a small handled basket (think Easter basket with a shorter handle) that is always filled with these things that you put next to you before you begin to feed the baby. Keep granola bars/bananas/apples, travel tissue, a wash cloth, stack of breast pads, an extra pacifier, your phone and the remote in this basket. Get multiple, cheaper, refillable water bottles and keep them full constantly. Keep one in each location where you feed the baby (you get dehydrated nursing, and will actually lessen your milk supply if you don’t drink enough water). Carry that basket like it’s the baby’s twin.