While there are no set rules for how you manage life with your newborn, a few tricks of the trade might just come in handy.
Having a baby means learning a whole new world of strategies to not only keep Baby happy, but to make life more manageable as well. The following tips are ones that have either worked for me, or been sworn-in by fellow parents.
Introducing the Sling
A sling is, to many new parents, the most useful piece of equipment to own. It can be purchased in most stores carrying baby items, near the “other” baby carriers. Slings can be worn a variety of ways and allow for discreet breast-feeding. When baby is fussing to be held, you can wear the sling while doing household chores. (Note: NEVER wear Baby in a sling while cooking or cleaning with chemicals.)
The Sound of Water
It’s amazing how the sound of water soothes a fussy baby. With my firstborn fussing, I could open up the washing machine, start the water, and she would quiet down instantly. Of course, this meant getting the laundry started some nights at 3 a.m.! But running a shower can also calm a fussy baby. If this works for your baby, try recording the sound – it might help with your water bill! Pre-recorded water sounds are also available. In addition, “white noise,” such as radio static, are thought to calm babies.
Babies sleep best on a nice, warm chest, and while this is enjoyable for parents, it can create sleep problems down the road and leave little time for anything else. Being comforted by closeness is more than warmth, though, so I decided to place something with my scent in with my sleeping baby. I discovered that when I did this, naps lasted a little longer. To “scent” something for your baby, wear a cloth diaper (or another suitable fabric) up next to your body for a few hours. You may also use last night’s sleep shirt as today’s baby blanket. It sounds strange, but I found it to work like a charm!
Underpads for Changing Pads
Replace the changing pads in your diaper bag with underpads. Underpads are disposable pads sold in the adult “diaper” section. When you are out with baby, you can use the underpads instead of a changing pad, and throw away with the diaper. This keeps foreign germs from making their way into your diaper bag. Plus, when new babies urinate unexpectedly between diapers, they absorb the mess.
All kinds of storage caddies with handles are available today. Caddies are perfect for diapering necessities that you may want to carry from room to room. Diapers fit in one side, and the other side can be filled with other necessities like lotion and diaper rash cream. If you change baby in more than one room, transport is a snap with one of these.
It can take some time before new parents remember every little thing they need when taking a new baby out and about. Here’s a handy list of items to have in your diaper bag: diapers (newborns up to 10 a day); wipes; Desitin/Vaseline; a plastic bag (for disposing diapers or for soiled cloth diapers); changing pad; burp cloth; an extra outfit (especially if your baby is a “spitter,” in which case, a small bib helps protect outfits); a receiving blanket (for places where there’s cold air conditioning); bottle of milk/formula/water; pacifier; and in a pinch, infant Tylenol.
If you purchase more than one package of baby wipes at a time, you might notice they have a tendency to dry out. To combat this, simply store them upside down. This helps to keep the “top” wipes moist, and once opened, the moisture soaks back through the stack.
One-Handed Bath Soap
Transfer your baby soap/shampoo into hand pumps intended for hand soap. These pumps dispense just the right amount of soap/shampoo, and leave one hand free for holding onto baby.
Squeaky Clean Scalps
I found that just using my hands or even a wash cloth on a baby’s hair didn’t loosen all of the dead skin cells and this can result in a flaky scalp. A soft fingernail scrub brush works well to solve this problem. Simply use the fingernail brush to gently work shampoo through baby’s hair. This loosens dead skin and produces a beautiful baby scalp!
Use a Squirt Bottle
Save the hygiene bottle you receive in the hospital or purchase one at the drugstore. These are perfect for rinsing baby’s hair. Fill the bottle with luke warm water before the bath then let it float in the tub until you’re ready to rinse Baby’s hair. It will produce just the right temperature and pressure.
If you like to lotion your baby after a bath, take the chill off the lotion by placing the bottle in the bath water while you bathe baby. By the time you are finished, the lotion is nice and warm to baby’s skin.
Park near the cart return spaces at the grocery story. This will make cart return quicker after you’ve buckled in Baby and create less baby carrying for you.
Shoe Holder Organizer
Short on space due to baby goodies? Put up a clear shoe holder designed to hang on the back of a door. These usually have about 16 compartments and are perfect for holding baby shoes, hats, bows, clippers and other small baby paraphernalia.
Packing Mom’s Lunch
Days with a newborn can be quite busy, even chaotic. It is very important, however, that Mom takes good care of herself along with Baby and the household duties. I found that by lunch time, making myself something to eat was a chore. So I began “packing” my lunch early in the morning. I’d prepare a portion of leftovers in a microwave-ready bowl, or make a sandwich. By lunch time, taking care of my needs was only as difficult as a stroll to the kitchen.
Babies, even newborns, have a knack for staining clothing. Spray-on Scotchguard can to be a lifesaver. I once bought an outfit that was treated with Scotchguard and even my very messy toddler was unable to stain it! Ever since, I keep a can of Scotchguard with my cleaning supplies, and every new outfit is treated before washing. Simply spray, allow to dry and then wash before wear. I have been amazed to simply wipe red juice off an outfit. My second child hasn’t made a permanent stain yet!
Danielle Schultz is a mother and freelance writer with a B.S. in early childhood education. She has authored more than 30 early childhood curriculum books for Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company.