Over the past few months, I’ve been keeping a list of tips and tricks for new parents. Here they are!
- Lanolin has multiple uses. I didn’t use lanolin so much for chapped nipples, but it is great for chapped lips, insect bites, dry skin, skin protectant for baby bums, and I’m sure for much more! So don’t throw away that tube of lanolin that you didn’t use!
- Muslin blankets (especially the big ones!) are great for using as nursing covers. When I flew with my baby for the first time, I forgot to pack my nursing cover in my diaper bag, but was able to easily tie my muslin blanket around my neck as a make-do cover. It was plenty big and light.
- Reusable nursing pads. My mom sewed me some of these and they are wonderful! She used waterproof baby diaper fabric, a microfiber cloth, and bamboo fabric. You can also get these off Amazon. They are super absorbent to help avoid those leaks. And you don’t have to pay for disposable ones! Note: Make sure you let these dry all the way or they will get mildew. Sometimes I rinse mine out before washing them if they were really soaked.
- You don’t need “nursing tops.” A simple cami or tank top under your shirt can help you feel more modest. Button-downs or tops with a criss-cross style are great, too, especially for dresses.
- Some people love to breastfeed their baby in a carrier. If you want to try, there are a lot of great YouTube videos out there. I suggest practicing at home before trying on the go. Here is a helpful video about feeding in a wrap: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mUuzQVNKMd0
- The dressing room is a great place to nurse. If you are like me and try to find somewhere private to nurse your baby, then the dressing room might be your safe haven, too. There might not be a comfy chair, but at least you can close the door and sit on a bench. Great mid-shopping pit stop.
- Use a hand or manual pump for road trips. Or get a car adapter plug for your electric pump. This was perfect for a short 4-6 hour trip where I just had to pump two or three times on the way. I would sit in the back seat with baby, pump when she went to sleep, then feed her a bottle when she woke up. No more stopping! (Until they have a melt down or poopy diaper, that is…)
- Long phone charging cord. I got a long (10 ft) charging cable and it has been SO nice for when I’m feeding baby and want to plug in my phone/iPad.
- Ask about using tubing for helping your baby learn to breastfeed. My milk took a few days to come in, and baby was so hungry that she would get really frustrated when trying to nurse without any milk. I finally tried using a system of syringes and tubing to deliver a little formula to her while she was at the breast. It took two people, but it is what saved our breastfeeding efforts!
- A case of water bottles by your bed. In the first month, I was so tired. Having a case of water bottles by my bed was so helpful so I didn’t have to go fill mine up in the night.
- Waterproof changing pad covers under bassinet bedding protects the mattress.
- Diaper bag-size changing pads are great for so many things. I put them on changing tables so it’s not so hard or gross for my baby. I lay them on the floor with a blanket on top if I need to put my baby down on the floor for some reason. They are great for when we are traveling without a changing table. Sometimes I would even use it to sit on the floor of the bathroom to breastfeed when I got desperate for some peace and privacy.
- Grocery bags or doggie bags for stinky diapers. I use grocery bags at home and get dog poop bags to put in my diaper bag. Note: doggie bags are often cheaper at Ross, TJ Max, Tuesday Morning, etc.
- Use kitchen trash bags to refill diaper pails.
- Make changing stations around the house so you don’t have to go up/down stairs so much.
- Dish soap + cold water works wonders for blow out stains. Just do it right away.
- Use too-small diapers for blow outs. If you ever have a huge blow out, sometimes you just need to pull out an old newborn diaper to put under everything. You can also use a grocery bag under their bum to give you an extra layer while wiping clean.
- Onesies can be pulled down for blow outs to avoid getting poop in baby’s hair.
- Onesies can also be rolled up and over baby’s head for blow outs.
- Put the new diaper under the old to catch leaks.
- Gate check you stroller/car seat so that you can carry your stuff to the plane. If you’re traveling alone, it’s also helpful as a place to put baby down while you go to the bathroom.
- The car seat makes a bouncer-alternative while traveling. I used it to put baby in while I was visiting family and needed to take a shower or go to the bathroom when no one was home to hold baby.
- Sit in the window seat of airplanes. I know this might not make sense at first, but the window seat for me offers a few more benefits than the aisle seat: 1) a little more privacy for breastfeeding, 2) something entertaining for baby (or you) with the window, 3) you don’t have to worry about people bumping into you from the aisle. Generally people don’t mind getting up if you need to get out and use the bathroom, change a diaper, or bounce baby. On a plane the number of times I get up just doesn’t outweigh the benefits of the window seat for me.
- Use a carrier if possible. Babies are so much calmer if they are kept in a carrier while traveling. They can sleep or look around while you are doing what you need to. If you’re skilled, you can even feed them in it (I haven’t mastered that yet!).
- Use a photo group to share baby pictures with friends/family (Amazon, OneDrive, iCloud, Google Photos, etc.)
- Use headphones to watch a movie or listen to books while holding or nursing baby.
- Watch some videos on baby cues. This one is helpful: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ve7yXXRaYT8
- Swaddle baby at the edge (put their head at the flat edge) instead of folding down the corner of the blanket. I found this easier and more effective at times.
- Use an app to track feeding, diapering, sleep, medicine, etc. This is especially helpful to help you see patterns.
- Go to the public library for books, story time, to meet other moms and, if needed, air conditioning!
- Tell visitors your baby’s routine so they aren’t surprised when you put baby to sleep shortly after they arrive, etc.
- Yogurt containers are great for holding small items, like pacifiers, nail clippers, bows, socks, etc.
- An upside-down cardboard or plastic box makes an excellent and free squatty potty for your postpartum needs!
- Ask you pediatrician about community resources, like support groups, play groups, kid activities, etc.
- You can generally exchange an unopened pack of diapers for a different size. Walmart is a great place for this. I don’t remember where I got the diapers originally, but they exchanged them without any questions. Also, most stores are really good about giving a refund if you don’t like the store brand diapers.