As third-time parents, the hubs and I have picked up a few tricks for looking after babies. Admittedly, the majority of these revolve around poop – the containment and disposal thereof. But since the other two things babies do (eat and sleep for the uninitiated) are generally without incident the emphasis seems warranted. Here, in order of rough chronological necessity, are our best tips and tricks for new parents:
- Zippered bags for poonamis – basic household zippered bags are readily available, easy to buy in bulk, and contain the smell that tends to linger around MDFs (major diaper failures).
- Exam gloves for diaper changes – although hand-washing is still a must, exam gloves for changing diapers helps keep things clean and quick. They also help eliminate that awkward moment when you realize that dark smear under your nail isn’t chocolate.
- Larger Diapers – in general, clothing sizes tend to be arbitrary no matter what your age. But for babies this is especially true. Just as a 6 month bodysuit can fit perfectly from one manufacturer, be too tight from another, and be voluminous from a third, so can diapers vary greatly in fit and size. We’ve found that moving up a size when our babies hit the middle of a diaper size range helps reduce the number of blow-outs, and with it the amount of middle-of-the-night washing.
- Hairdryers and Vacuum Cleaners – are your friends. It seems counter-intuitive that loud, noisy appliances would actually help babies sleep, but there’s something about the warmth or the white noise that tends to zen a baby out like nobody’s business. Just don’t expect a new coiffure or a clean house.
- Car Seats & Bases – there are a lot of amazing car seats and strollers out there, many of which run in the $1000+ range. While there’s lots of research on the safest seats and the most rugged strollers, the one thing we’ve always found necessary is a spare car seat base. When you’re sleep-deprived and struggling to keep everything going, having a spare car seat is one less worry. Even if you are one-car family, having that spare base means a relative or friend can pick up your child in the event of an emergency, another weight off already overburdened parental minds!
- Music in the bedroom – At first, I thought the idea of music while babies were sleeping was new-agey nonsense. But in desperation when the first baby was sleeping just 45 minutes at a go, I picked up a CD of Rainforest sounds and have played it every night since. It seems to drown out the household noises, offer routine and comfort when they wake, and cue them that when the music is on, it’s time for sleep. It even works on the hubs and me — hearing those first few bars is guaranteed to generate a sleepy yawn.
- Humidifier in baby’s room – One of the wonderful playschool teachers recommended a humidifier as a solution for our first son’s permanent runny nose. Not only does it give off white noise that (along with music) helps encourage sleep, it helps lubricate small noses. Because there are few things quite as scary as seeing your child covered in blood first thing in the morning (hello scene from a Stephen King novel!) even when it’s just from a nose-bleeds.
- Blackout blinds – So sleep is obviously a big thing for babies. Blackout blinds might seem a bit too much … until the middle of summer and your child is wide awake with the dawn before 5 am and demanding Cheerios and Toopy&Binoo.
- Cereal in fruit goo –When our little guys were just starting solids, I was given a tip by a friend to mix baby cereal with fruit and veggie baby food. As icky as it might seem to an adult palate, the slightly stodgy, bland concoction is much more palatable to little tummies.
- Squeeze spoons –I was given one of these (Boon Squirt) when the oldest guy was just getting into solid food and immediately went out and picked up 4 more. They are amazing for feeding with minimal mess on the go. I know this because other people have actually remarked, “that’s amazing!”. (This isn’t a plug btw!). I like being able to use my own baby food rather than pre-made squeezies. The only draw-back is when the little ones get older, the food gets more viscous and it tends to get stuck. But it’s still much less messy than trying to feed with a bowl and spoon. And because they come with a cover, you can pre-load them and pop them right in the baby bag.
Looking for more ideas on what to buy and what to avoid for your baby – including a FREE printable? Click here: What to Buy for Baby