Advice for New Moms

Ok, and (I hope) not in the annoying way, like “get sleep now” “wait until your kid is here you’ll never do anything,” etc. A really good friend of mine is pregnant and due about the same time I was last year. However, she lives in a MUCH colder climate than I do (Minnesota vs. Austin). We’ve been emailing back and forth about recommendations, must-haves, and the items to skip. When I was writing it, I thought, “hmm, this would probably make a good blog post.” So, ta-da, here I am. I hope my friend doesn’t mind that I’m sharing my info with the interwebs.

Expectations

I struggled a lot at the beginning because Elliott wasn’t the type of baby I envisioned having. I anticipated some walks in the park in her stroller, reading books together, lunch with friends while my baby hung out happily with us, playing with blocks on the floor, etc. And, although we do all of that now, it certainly was not (and is not) the leisure process I’d envisioned. I’ve learned to let it go and that this is her personality and I love her for it. She’s independent, strong-willed, and opinionated. Everything that I would want her to be when she’s older, just something I thought I had a little time to work up to. I’ve read a lot of the books and things that my blog friends do, and I pick and choose from each one the things that I like to do, or things that I think might work for us. And then when something stops working, I try something else.

Schedules

I think it’s hard to be so regimented with a breastfed (or really any) baby in the early stages. At the beginning they are purposely nursing so much to tell your body to make milk for them. I nursed E ALL the time. Plenty of people made comments about it, but it was her way of telling my body she needed milk, and my body responded. Not only that, it was a great way to bond, and it was soothing to her. But, since about 4-5 months, we got on a real schedule and it makes life so much easier. She kind of just fell into it though, and we went with what worked. Of course the schedule is ever evolving as she grows and changes, but for several weeks at a time, we have something that works.
So, just ride it out for the first 3 months as you are in survival mode and do whatever works. We co-slept that whole time, which I never thought we would do. But, I had to let my preconceived ideas and notions go and just do what made the most sense for us at the time. Now Elliott sleeps beautifully in her crib, so those first several months didn’t ruin her.
Must-Haves
But, here are some things that we really loved in the beginning (and some still now):
Beco Baby Gemini Carrier I use this thing every single day. I wear her to the grocery store, at the airport and on walks. She prefers it over her stroller and honestly it’s much easier. Also, I love that it has 4 different holds so it grows with her (front inward and outward facing, side carry, and on your back)
Cradle ‘N Swing: In the beginning, this was one of her happy places, and she still likes this thing and she’s almost 8 months old. We love the one I linked to because it plugs in and doesn’t use batteries. Probably time to put it away, but we haven’t.
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes: She loved this thing from like 10 days old and still uses it. The lights and music make her happy. Also, she seems to always want you to sing, and this allows us a little break from singing as long as music is on.
Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump: I used this from the very beginning when I was super engorged and I use it 4 times a day now. I didn’t expect to have to use it that early, but I was so glad I had one.
Swaddle: We had both the aden + anais Muslin Swaddle Blanket and a Swaddleme (which I referred to as a legit swaddle for my friend). Please get the legit swaddle. It made my life a thousand times easier because I could never do it tight enough and so she always broke out and woke herself up. I tried in the beginning to just use the A&A blankets and it meant many (more) sleepless nights. I’m still so glad we have those for other purposes, and we use those every day for time outside or just floor time in her room, but the legit swaddle was so worth it in the beginning.
Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine: We both have a white noise app on our phones and an actual machine for her room. She uses it for every single nap and night time sleep. Again, I tried to do without this in the beginning and it was a mistake.

PRI EuroBath: She has always LOVED a bath. It was one of her happy places early on. If she was really upset I knew I could put her in the bath and make her happy. We like this particular tub because it grows with your baby. One side for when they’re really little, and the other for when they can sit up on their own. We still use the little side for washing her hair, and once we finish with that part, we put her on the other side to play.

Soft Gear Changing Mat: I know it sounds weird, but again it was another happy place early on. Now she hates diaper changes, but she does like to sit on it and pull up on her diaper baskets. Probably not the safest thing, but I’m always there. Also, I don’t have this particular changing pad, but its the one I would pick if I hadn’t gotten one for free as a hand me down.
Glider. OMG. We use it ALL the time. Even now. For me, it’s a must have. Be sure to try them out and make sure they’re comfortable if you can. Those first several months I spent hours at a time in it. We have one from Babies R’ Us that is no longer available.
UPPAbaby Vista Stroller For me, this was an item I could have waited on. But, I really think it’s dependent on your baby. However, now we use it often. We have the Uppababy Vista. I got it on craigslist for about a third of what they normally cost and I’m SO glad. So, I want to encourage you to look beyond the travel system. The 2 strollers that I constantly hear that people love are the Bumbleride Indie and Uppababy. The thing that’s awesome about the Uppababy, is that it can turn into a double stroller with an attachable rumble seat, AND it can also have a running board for an older kid to stand on and ride along. So, it grows with your family. They’re on the flash sites a lot too. ALSO, the uppababy could double as a bassinet in the beginning because it has the carrycot attachment. I feel like i’m turning into an informercial, so I’ll stop.
Dr. Brown’s Bottles. Those are the only ones she’ll use! They do have quite a few pieces, but to me it’s worth it. When you’re heading back to work and your baby won’t take a bottle, but she finally takes one with several pieces, you just go with it. They also have a Glass version if you prefer not to use plastic.
SleepSack . That’s all she sleeps in. Love them!! We have three of them, and some are a little warmer than others, so we determine which one to put her in based on the weather. We transitioned from the swaddle directly to these.
BabyLegs Totally unnecessary. But they are the cutest thing ever, and I put them on her whenever I can.
Join Amazon mom. It’s not a product, but again it’s a must. Being able to get free prime and have must need items shipped to you for free in 2 days was awesome. Dangerous, but awesome.
Could-Have Passed On Items
Bouncer. We used it, but it was more because we had it, so why not use it. If I could do it over I wouldn’t get it. She liked the swing more, and if you need to put her down somewhere, that was just as good of a spot. The one advantage the bouncer had was that it was more portable. So, if I wanted to take a shower and have her be right outside the curtain, the bouncer allowed that, but I used it too infrequently to make it worth it.
Feeding items. Cups, bowls, spoons, bibs, etc. Yes, we use some of them now, but for 6 months they were just taking up space and collecting dust. And, as I started looking into feeding practices, I found that I liked baby led weaning the most. Which meant that I didn’t really need many bowls or spoons. And, I almost never use bibs either. I find that it’s easier just to get her naked and rinse her off in the sink. But, I know some people swear by bibs, to me it’s just one more thing to wash and she always seems to get food on her clothes anyway. People will probably buy you bibs anyway. We have about 12 and I registered for 3.
Humidifier: We actually didn’t get one of these, but I was tempted by the cute frog and penguin shapes. We haven’t needed one yet. Granted, I live in a warmer, humid climate, so you might find that you use yours all the time. Her skin does get so dry when we go to Colorado.
Sling/Moby: They seem too complicated. I know some people love them, but my Beco Gemini was the only carrier I needed.
Projection Mobile: I got desperate for sleep and I read that this “was magic for babies” so I bought it. And it certainly wasn’t magic for our baby. It sits in her closet basically unused.
Pacifiers: Our baby didn’t like them, but even if she did, the hospital gives them to you, so Sean and I just kept going to ask a different nurse for one until we collected about 6 of them, which we didn’t end up needing. But, let the hospital give it to you, you’re already paying for it.
Lanolin Yes, you need it, but again the hospital will give it you. Let them provide it! And, what worked WAY better for me was Soothies (again the hospital gave them to us). They’re actually for healing cuts and burns, but I basically just wore them in my bra nonstop for the first few weeks.
Newborn diapers: Again, the hospital gives them to you! Ask for more like we did and you probably won’t need to buy any in that size. We switched to cloth at 2 weeks, but we had more than enough from taking from the hospital.
Phew! I hope this was helpful for you all. And because I can’t have a totally wordy post, here’s a picture of E with her little headband on. :)

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6 Responses to “Advice for New Moms”


  • Great advice! We just went with the flow the first few months with Noah and right before I went back to work, I just tried to pay attention to his cues and he really had a schedule all on his own which was nice. You kind of fall into a rhythm without really knowing.

    Also, I love my pump but also I hate pumping haha, Medela rules! ;)

    I’m with you on the bouncer, we didn’t have one at home but he likes the one at daycare so we could have probably used one but didn’t miss one. As far as swaddles, I could use blankets when he was little but once he started busting out, I had to use a houdini style one. We went cold turkey once he started rolling over though.

    I’ve never used a sling and have only used my baby Bjorn once. I coulda done without it. Strollers were way more convenient for me otherwise, I just carried him.

    Lastly – I totally agree with you on asking the hospital for stuff!! I wish I would have gotten more!

  • This is great! I’m expecting our first in May and I can’t seem to do enough research or get enough tips.
    How are you liking your cloth diapers? Has the experience been as expected? I’m all for it, but the tough part will be getting my husband on board. I’m curious to hear your thoughts!
    Another random question…a bunch of my friends have talked recently about vaccinations & the cocktails they make of up to 5 vaccinations at once. It’s all a little overwhelming at this point, but I was wondering if you did/were able to take a non standard route, or if you just trusted the doctors.

    • Hannah, we absolutely love our cloth diapers. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I’m actually working on a cloth diaper post to talk both about what it’s like as a working mom, and also the brands, etc I would get.

      As for vaccines, we are following the CDC recommended schedule. I did a lot of research about vaccines, and I didn’t find anything that led me to want to alter the recommended schedule at all. Vaccine cocktails mean less pokes for my baby and that makes me happy. The scarier part is when people are not vaccinated. Here’s an interesting article to read: http://www.parade.com/health/2012/10/07-why-so-many-parents-are-delaying-vaccines.html

      • Thanks for the article, Kelsey! It’s hard to get all the info straight when opinions are flying from all directions. I absolutely agree about less pain with less visits and such, just wanted to get some outside opinions! Much appreciated :)

        I look forward to the diaper post!

  • I wish I had more new-ish mothers tell me just to go with the flow and put the damn baby books down. I was so stressed those first few months trying to get my son on a schedule or put him to sleep awake but drowsy, or not to let him sleep with us, or not to let him nurse so often, etc, and it turned out things just work themselves out and that it won’t matter what we do; he’ll just find a new schedule every 3 weeks anyways. I still want to punch people who had perfect, happy, sleeping babies who act like it was just so easy, though. Having a high needs infant sucks so terribly and is really really hard. Now at 7 months, my LO is still working out kinks, but hey, he sleeps in his crib, puts himself to sleep, is on a fairly regular schedule and hell, he’s alive! I try not to be too hard on myself so much anymore.

  • Such great advice! I agree about the free stuff at the hospital – L never used pacifiers, but now she chews on them (on the side, oddly) when she’s teething, so I guess they serve some purpose. :)

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