When you get pregnant, one of the first things you do is start planning for the baby’s arrival. You research, read books, and spend hours on Pinterest. But there’s really nothing like experience to know what to do with your little bundle of joy once you get home. Nothing. Here are 10 tips for the mom-to-be that I picked up along the way:
1. Set Up the Nursery
When placing your nursery furniture, sure, it’s important to make it look nice. It’s also important to make it convenient for you to use each of the pieces in the room. When you wake up to the cry of your newborn at 3 a.m., walk into the nursery, and immediately smell something terrible, you know that you’re going to need to change a diaper, and probably clothes and blankets, and maybe sheets. So you pick up your sweetie, move to the changing table, and roll up your sleeves. Within arm’s reach, you want to have that extra change of clothes as well as diapers and wipes. Take this into consideration when arranging your furniture and make sure your dresser (or wherever clothes are kept) is within easy reach of the changing table so you don’t have to walk off and leave the baby.
2. Make Changing Crib Sheets Easy
Speaking of changing the sheets, all moms know that changing crib sheets is a giant pain in the booty. So how can you change them less often, even though your baby will have messy poops, incredible-sized pees, and spit-ups that stink to high heaven? One word: layer. My wonderful mother-in-law introduced me to this idea, and it’s saved my sleep-deprived, overwhelmed self more times than I can count. Take four to six sheets and full mattress-sized waterproof pads and layer them on the mattress. This way, I can just peel off the offending layer whenever there’s a mess and toss it in the laundry. Of course, 1 out of 6 times, I’m screwed—but I’m saved the rest of the time.
3. Keep a Meal Calendar
When someone offers to make a meal calendar for you, take them up on it. When they ask for email addresses, give them every single one you know. If people don’t want to help or are too busy, they just won’t sign up. But everyone else? Let them feed you. Lots of them (like me a lot of times) will just ask what you want from your favorite takeout place. And sometimes, it’s a sweet friend who comes bearing dinner and does some dishes or some laundry while she’s there, because it’s somehow easier to do someone else’s than your own.
4. Stock Up on Easy Meals
Related to No. 3, stock your freezer. If you’ve got a meal calendar set up with people doing dinners, stock the freezer with pancakes, waffles, muffins, breakfast sandwiches, sausage, bacon, etc. Another great idea is to pack individual baggies with everything you need for a smoothie. Put fruit, kale, spinach, oats, flax, or whatever you like in an individual Ziploc bag, and then all you have to do for breakfast (or lunch or a snack) is put the contents in the blender with the liquid of your choice.
5. Look to the Books
Get the book The Happiest Baby on the Block or at least skim it when you’re in Babies”R”Us one day. Cliff notes: When babies are fussy, swaddle them, let them suck on something, swing or bounce them, hold them positioned on their side or stomach, and provide some loud white noise (make a loud “shh” or run the vacuum, hair dryer, etc). Y’all are thinking I’m crazy. Try it.
6. Get the Baby to Sleep
Start letting the baby put themselves to sleep even when they’re a couple weeks old. When they’re fed and diapered and snuggled (and swaddled, in my opinion), lay them in the crib and leave the room. Learning to go to sleep on their own will make everyone’s life easier in the long run.
7. Diapers. Get ’em.
Now that my kids aren’t growing out of diaper sizes too quickly, I’ve signed up for a diaper subscription. But before that, I took all those coupons you get when you create registries at Babies”R”Us and Bed Bath & Beyond and bought diapers—a couple of cases in every size. I waited till they were on sale (since before you have the baby there’s no rush, right?) and then used the coupons. Babies”R”Us is great at mailing you stuff monthly, and almost every time, they include coupons for diapers. I only bought one box of newborn size (they grow out of those the quickest in my experience) and two boxes of the rest (stopping at size 4) just in case. I felt totally prepared, and if I did run out of diapers, at least I had some they could wear in the size up so I was never completely out.
8. Don’t Let
A Little A Lot Of Spit-Up Ruin Your Favorite Shirt
Find a good stain remover. This is a total must, because your baby is going to be making stains on everything. I really love Babyganics, and it works on everything from poop and spit-up to red wine and coffee (and those are the four most common stains at my house).
9. Use Those Coupons
Use the heck out of those annoying and wonderful Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons you get all the time. Use them on car seats, strollers, toys, nursery furniture, pillows, swaddles, and anything else you can buy there. Our BB&B recently got a major baby section upgrade, so I’ve gotten tons of stuff there with those super coupons.
10. Don’t Refuse Help
Yes, there’s a line between letting a thousand people traipse through your house every moment of the day and accepting the help of well-meaning friends and family for a few days—or a few days a week if they’re so inclined. But if someone offers to snuggle the baby and let you nap or shower, let them. If someone offers to do a load of laundry or pick up some groceries, let them. These things are such a lifesaver, and often it’s a chance for a friend or family member to meet your little bundle—a win-win for everyone!
All you almost-mamas, these tips will take some of the stress out of those first weeks and months. You’re just getting started, but it’s all going to be so worth it.