I’ve had a few friends who are expecting their first baby ask for a little advice on how to prepare for the bundle of joy. So here are a few things that I figured out or know because a wise woman told me so.
1. Nursery Placement and Planning.
When placing your nursery furniture, 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. For instance, when you wake up to the cry of your newborn at 3:00am, walk in the nursery, and immediately smell something … terrible … you know that you’re gonna need to change a diaper, and probably clothes, blankets, and maybe sheets. 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, of course. So when arranging your furniture, it’s good to have your dresser (or wherever clothes are kept) within easy reach of the changing table, so you don’t have to walk off and leave the baby!
2. Layer Sheets.
Speaking of changing the sheets, all moms know that changing crib sheets is a giant pain in the booty. So how do you make yourself have to 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 sleepy or busy self more times than I can count. So what you do is have 4-6 sheets and full mattress-sized waterproof pads, and layer them into the mattress. I like to take the mattress completely out of the crib to do this. That way, I just peel off the offending layer whenever there’s a mess, and toss it in the laundry, and there’s already a sheet on there, ready to go! Of course, 1/6 times, I’m screwed. But I’m saved the rest of the time!
3. 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/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 take-out place. It’s a win-win. 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. Right?
4. 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 for a smoothie in them. Put in your fruit, kale, spinach, oats, flax, or whatever you like in there, each in an individual Ziploc bag, and then all you have to do for breakfast (or lunch, or a snack) is put it in the blender with the liquid of your choice, and yogurt or peanut butter if that’s how you roll. For lunches and dinners, spaghetti sauce and chili are easy things to make and stock up on, as well.
5. Get the Book The Happiest Baby on the Block.
Or at least skim it in Babies R Us one day. Cliff notes: When they are fussy, swaddle them, let them suck on something, swing or bounce them, hold them positioned on their side or stomach and make some loud white noise (loud “shh”, vacuum, hair dryer, etc). Y’all are thinking I’m crazy. Try it.
6. Sleep Habits.
Start letting baby put himself to sleep even when he’s a couple of weeks old. When he’s fed and diapered and snuggled (and swaddled, in my opinion), lay him in the crib and leave the room. Learning to go to sleep on his own will make everyone’s lives easier in the long run.
7. Plan Ahead for Diapers.
Something I didn’t do until recently (mostly because I think they didn’t have it when my first was a newborn) is sign up for one of those Amazon diaper subscriptions, where they just send them to you. I’ve got it now that my kids aren’t growing out of diaper sizes too quickly (and they’re both in the same size), but before then, here’s what I did. I took all those coupons for creating 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 used the coupons. Babies R Us is great at mailing you stuff monthly, and almost every time there are 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, I at least had some in the size up they could wear so I was never completely and totally out.
8. Find a Good Stain Remover.
This is a total must, because your baby is going to be causing stains on everything. I really love Babyganics, and it really seems to work on everything from poop and spit-up to red wine and coffee (and those are the four most common stains at my house).
9. Bed Bath & Beyond Coupons.
Use the heck out of those annoying and wonderful Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons you get all the time. Use them on carseats, strollers, toys, nursery furniture, pillows, swaddles, and anything else you can buy there instead of a baby store. Our BB&B recently got a major baby section upgrade, so I get tons of stuff there with those super coupons.
10. Don’t refuse the 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 willing to keep it up for a little while. But if someone offers to snuggle the baby and let you nap, or let you shower, let them. If someone offers to do a load of laundry or pick up some groceries, let them. These things are so nice and helpful, and often it’s a chance for a friend or aunt or someone to meet your little bundle. A win-win for everyone!
All you almost-mamas, I hope this helps! Pass it along to anyone who might need some words of wisdom before their little babe gets here!
Do the veteran mamas have anything to add to the list? If so, feel free to comment below!