Now that we’re a few months away from expecting Baby #2, I am beginning to make trips into the basement to recover all those essential items that helped me survive the first few weeks of motherhood. I don’t care how many kids you have, caring for a fresh, tiny human is intimidating and overwhelming. You’re exhausted, more sore than you’ve ever been in your entire life, maybe you’re juggling other kids, and now you have an entirely new person who is 100% dependent on you for every thing [you know, like they were inside the womb, only now they can express their displeasure with screams].
These are the items I’m hunting down in preparation for baby #2:
- burp cloths – This is pretty obvious, but I want to stress the importance of having many burp cloths, and in a variety of locations. I breastfed, and was often stranded in whatever place I was feeding the baby in, unable to move to go get a burp cloth, as I ended up covered in vomit. After our first few, immobile, vomit drenched episodes… I stashed some near the couch, on my nightstand, in her room, in my purse and in our diaper bag. If you don’t need it for spit up, you’ll end up needing it for drool, or some thing else. Either way, they are always handy to have, and when the majority of them are sitting soiled in the hamper, you’ll want to have extra!
- onesies – Did you know newborn baby poop is actually really watery? Yeah, it doesn’t always just stay in the diaper. Gross, but it’s the reason why you need 100 onesies to get through the first few months. Don’t even bother with cute outfits. I kept my babe in a onesie [which I knew would be changed frequently,] and then wrapped her in a variety of cute swaddle blankets, which brings me to our next item….
- swaddle blankets – Your life will be a lot easier if you can just unwrap a swaddle blanket to change a diaper, as opposed to undressing a baby from a 4 piece outfit. Not only are these little blankies great for actual swaddling, but they can provide shade when draped over the stroller, be used as a nursing cover, or double as a burp cloth if you run out.
- nursing pillow – Even though we weaned Sugar Plum from breastfeeding months ago, I will still bust out my nursing pillow from time-to-time when I give her a bottle. The support they give is wonderful! Especially in the first few weeks, when your body is still healing, you’ll need all the help and support you can get!
- gripe water – Some babies are gassy or have abdominal pain for no apparent reason [adjusting to life outside the womb is tough!] but gripe water is just a couple bucks, and it’s great to have on hand. I’ve heard mixed reviews from moms on how effective gripe water actually is, but trust me, it will AT LEAST give you some peace of mind when you’re baby is screaming at 3 am and you feel like you actually have some thing to give them.
- kids ‘n’ pets – this is a non toxic cleaner and stain remover that was designed specifically for poop messes. It was a total lifesaver! So far, I have only been able to find it at Walmart. It’s excellent for messes made during diaper changes, or surprises you find after leaving the baby in the pack n’ play while you did the dishes. The best part: it’s completely safe for — well — kid and pets.
- pack n’ play – Speaking of PNP’s… mine was so convenient! We have a 2 story home and since newborn babies actually sleep a decent amount, I didn’t want to walk up stairs every 2 hours to lay her down. I had our PNP set up downstairs [we had one with a bassinet insert, so I didn’t even have to bend down] so I could just set the baby down to sleep until the next feeding. This also allowed me to keep an eye on her while I pumped breastmilk or relaxed on the couch.
- advent natural flow bottle – This was the only bottle our babe would drink from at first, and we actually got it as a free sample. Since I was breastfeeding, I didn’t think I would need any bottles at all. Well, my mom stayed with us for the first week we had Soph, and like a good mama, she offered to take on some of the nightly feedings for me so I could get some extra sleep. The hospital gave me a manual hand pump [also a good thing to have to relieve that first week if being engorged] so I was able to pump enough milk for her to take on some feedings. This bottle is specifically designed to act like the breast so baby hopefully won’t detect too much of a difference.
- a comfy chair – Or couch, but make it a place you don’t mind sitting for at least 30 minutes while you feed/burp your baby. You’ll spend a lot of time feeding, cuddling, and bonding with your baby! You’ll be sore though, so make sure it’s a soft, comfortable place you won’t mind spending a good bit of time in.
- new baby app – Your nervous the first few weeks, that’s just the way it is. You think you’ll be too exhausted to be nervous, but I guarantee you, you’ll try to take note of every little thing your babe does so you’ll be prepared if there’s a crisis and you need to provide said information to the doctor. I had an app on my phone that kept track of which breast the baby last fed from, and the amount of time she spent on each breast. You could also track milestones, questionable diaper changes, and a whole bunch of other things you think won’t matter until you’re actually at home with a newborn baby. Again, it gave me so much piece of mind just to have it, and I don’t think I could have survived the first few weeks without it.
- *bonus* help from family! – You feel squishy, sore, and ugly, and the last thing you want to do is mingle with family. I totally get that, but don’t be afraid to ask them for help! Even if you don’t want to hang out, no family member wouldn’t help a humble mama who asks “Please can you just come over and help me with some chores?” I turned down plenty of people who wanted to come over just to see the baby that first week, because I was just too exhausted, but if some one asked, “Is there any thing I can do around the house to help you out?” then I took them up on the offer. You’d be surprised what chores people will do just to catch a glimpse of your newborn baby. But, if for some reason you think some one has overstayed their welcome, don’t be afraid to say “well, baby and I are going upstairs to rest now, but thank you for [insert chore here]” Just remember: your family is excited for you! They love you and genuinely want to help, so try to find ways to let them.
Thoe are my absolute essential items, but there are a few other favorites I’ll list here. They didn’t make the cut of “essentials” because I could have [and maybe did] survive the first few weeks without them.
-a video monitor was good to see if baby was crying but starting to soothe herself, versus crying and in need of her mama, but I didn’t list this as an essential because your baby is so small at first, that you can’t even really see him on the monitor! Not to mention, you end up going into the room 90% of the time any way….
-I mentioned the breast pump above, and while I could have gotten by with out it, it was nice to be able to pump bottles so that others could occasionally help out. In addition, it’s pretty painful when your milk initially comes in, and a manual pump can relieve some of that pressure.
-some people swear by white noise machines, but since I was having weird postpartum hot flashes, our AC was running all the time and the fan acted like a white noise machine with out us having to invest in one. That being said, we have really squeaky wood floors, and white noise may have helped to mask the noise of us walking up and down the stairs while the baby was sleeping.
Any items to add to the list? Throw them down in the comments below!