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When you’re preparing for baby care, you need all the baby hacks you can get!
One of the most difficult things as a new mom is not knowing what to expect when it comes to your baby and your own exhaustion!
Most new parents report their first month with a newborn baby as the happiest, hectic, most exhausting phase they’ve had.
Here is some practical advice for keeping your life as simple as possible during that first month as a new mom.
# 1 Keep a Milk Stash in the Freezer
If you are breastfeeding, you probably know that breast milk is liquid gold for babies.
There is just one small logistical problem when it comes to breast milk… only moms can produce it!
So whenever you feel extra tired, your baby will be relying on you and only you to feed him.
That is unless you have a stash of breast milk in the freezer that someone else can just use to feed your newborn.
Ideally, there should always be at least 3 complete feedings in the freezer at all times.
However, this means producing a little bit of extra milk at first, if you’re struggling with breast milk supply, you can read here how I doubled my supply as a preemie mom in just 2 days.
Building a Breast Milk Stash, the Basics
When you’re building your own breast milk stash, keep in mind the following general advice:
- You may get very little milk at first, but don’t dismay, being consistent pays off, as you’ll be sending your body the signal that you need more milk.
- Don’t pump for more than 15 minutes after a nursing session, your breasts need to rest as well.
- Keep a section of your freezer completely separate from other foods, that’s where you’ll store your stash.
- Store your milk in non-reusable sterilized bags, we used these Lansinoh bags and were super effective!
- Even if you don’t use the whole contents of one bag, do not restore and reuse after heating it, measure your portions well.
#2 Use Diaper Cream with Calendula
As recommended by our premature baby’s pediatrician, we used diaper rash cream with calendula to treat and prevent rash.
To amazingly great effects, our son, who had super sensitive skin got few diaper rashes and got over them quickly.
Tips to Treat Diaper Rash
Here are some other practical tips to treat your baby’s diaper rashes:
- Leave your baby without a diaper to air for a few hours a day.
- Bathe your baby’s bottom three times a day in warm water mixed with a couple of tablespoons of baking soda.
- Avoid using powder and cornstarch, since they dry your baby’s skin, and it needs to stay as moist as possible for recovery.
#3 Swaddle Your Baby
Swaddling your newborn baby helps her adjust to the new life outside mom’s womb.
Swaddled babies feel safe warm, and cozy and usually are soothed easily.
To swaddle your baby, follow these eays steps:
- Place your baby face-up on top of a blanket.
- The blanket should be spread out on a flat surface, in a diamond shape and with the top corner folded down about 5 inches.
- Make sure that your baby’s head is above the top folded corner.
- With your baby’s left arm straightened, wrap the left side of the blanket over your baby’s chest and tuck it underneath her right arm.
- Now, fold the bottom corner of the blanket over your baby’s body and tuck it under the bit of the blanket you just folded. It’ll stay tucked right below her chin.
- As you did with the left corner of the blanket, fold the right corner over your baby’s straight arm and tuck it under her left side.
- Make sure the blanket is not too tight, and that your baby can move her legs freely.
My husband used to called our swaddled baby the “Ollie burrito”.
Pro tip: consider having a swaddled baby photoshoot, they are so cute and you won’t regret it later!
#4 Set Up Your Pack and Play Smartly
Did you know that there is a right way of setting up a pack and play?
By this time, you may have a crib in your baby’s room, a bassinet in your own room, but do you really spend most of your time in yours or your baby’s room?
We didn’t, so we found ourselves uncomfortably coming back and forth around the house during the day.
That is until we set up the pack and play for newborn use and placed it in the living room, where I worked from!
We tend to think of pack and plays mostly for babies that are a little bit older, not for newborns…
However, most pack and plays have an infant safe bassinet for your napping newborn and give you some time to go about your day and have your newborn baby right under your nose!
They are totally worth the investment!
#5 Don’t Use Onesies With Buttons
Forget about the onesies with buttons, you’ll be buttoning and unbuttoning it several times a day and it will make the whole changing diapers process more tedious.
Say hello to zipper onesies!
Zip down, change diaper, zip up, and you’re done!
I can’t tell you how many times I missed a button when buttoning my newborn baby’s onesies and PJs and had to do it all over again, especially as a sleep-deprived new mama!
A word of caution, when you zip up your baby’s onesie, place your hand below the zipper so that you don’t accidentally hurt your baby’s skin with the zipper.
Bigger zippers will be more safe for your baby’s skin, but having a little extra precaution doesn’t hurt!
This applies to the onesies with buttons all over the side, the ones that have buttons only at the bottom are completely fine!
#6 Walk as Much as Your Doctor Says it’s OK
Here’s a weird fact: mamas to premature babies usually recover faster than moms to full-term babies.
Even from C-sections.
The reason is that moms with preemies usually need to walk more to get to the NICU and back.
My son was born at noon, and by 9 pm that day I walked down to the NICU and stood over his incubator for a couple of hours.
Sure, it hurt, but then it hurt less and less every time I did it, and by the fifth day I was able to climb down and up a couple of steps as well.
My doctor then confirmed that my quick recovery had lots to do with the fact that I didn’t spend most of my time lying down and resting.
A word of caution, walk as much as your doctor allows, do so responsibly, don’t overdo it even if you don’t feel pain.
But walk, even if it’s a few steps a day!
Your body will thank you, sooner than later!
#7 Wear Your Baby
You can go about your day fairly easily when you wear your baby!
We wore our son to the doctor’s appointments, around the house and when we went for a walk.
Make sure it’s safe though, for instance, don’t wear your baby when you cook since you’ll be handling a stove.
Here are some of the benefits of wearing your baby:
- You’ll have more freedom to do the things you need, especially if you have other kids.
- You’ll baby will be warm and comfortable.
- Your breastmilk supply may increase thanks to the release of oxytocin due to having your baby close.
#8 Learn How to Play With Your Newborn
Newborns sleep a lot!
So the time that they are awake and not feeding, burping, or in the middle of a diaper change, is precious.
Learn how to play with your newborn to help her development, and strengthen your bond.
If you’re wondering about baby development, here’s a month by month guide on what to expect.
Don’t know which toys to use when playing with your newborn, here are the toys recommended for your baby’s month by month development,
#9 Use White Noise to Help Your Baby Sleep
There’s no need for a white noise machine at first, you can just find a white noise Youtube video and play it to see if it’s effective with your newborn.
But the fact of the matter is that white noise has been proved to soothe newborn babies because it’s reminiscent of the cozy time the spent in mom’s womb.
When your baby was inside the womb, ever breath that her mom took was heard by your baby as loud as the sound of your vacuum cleaner! (That’s as high as 90 dB).
You can even try turning on the vacuum cleaner at home if your newborn baby is extra fussy to see if it helps to get her to sleep.
#10 If You’re Breastfeeding, Watch Your Diet
Kind of obvious, but it needs to be said!
Everything you eat, you’ll pass to your baby when you breastfeed her, so it’s good to avoid caffeine, high-mercury fish, alcohol, sodas, gassy food, garlic, sugar, and artificial dyes.
Want to hear my crazy story breastfeeding my son?
When my baby was around 3 months old, he started developing food allergies to something.
His stool would come out with mucus and specks of blood, which eventually grew bigger and bigger.
By the way, you don’t need to be an expert on baby poop to know that specks of blood are no good, but if you want to know more about baby poop, I made this useful guide for new moms.
The thing is, that after going to the pediatrician and eliminating the obvious allergens of my diet (milk protein, nuts, fish), the allergy continued, and it was growing worse.
After 2 months of continued bloody stool with no sign of improvement, I was just about done with the whole thing and reduced my diet to the minimum.
I only ate avocado, chicken, rice, and a daily vitamin supplement.
And the allergy resolved itself in two days!
I continued my crazy diet (as approved by our doctor’s pediatrician and my ob-gyn), with a vitamin supplement for a couple of months and then I slowly started introducing foods, one at a time.
6 months after the first sign of allergy everything was perfect, and I was eating normally again.
We never found out what exactly caused the allergy, so we had to go to extremes to solve it!
The moral of the story: what you eat passes on to your baby when you’re breastfeeding. The good, and the bad!
#11 Let Your Husband Take Care of Some Night Feeds
Dads normally have to return to work earlier than moms, so the feedings usually fall on moms most of the time.
Figure out a schedule with your husband that works for you. And try to stick to it.
For us, my husband used to do midnight feedings Fridays and Saturdays. And the rest of the days he did night feedings (so at 6 pm and 9 pm) so that I could catch on some early sleep.
It worked wonders, and I felt supported by him the whole time!
#12 Don’t Change Your Baby Immediately After She Poops
It’s funny how you can totally tell when your newborn is pooping most of the time.
You’ll see a funny little smile, and smell it immediately, and of course, feel the urge to change her right away.
It’s wise to wait for 5 to 10 minutes after your baby’s passed a stool before changing her, because most of the time babies won’t do everything in one sitting, so you’ll avoid having to change her two times in a row.
#13 Pack Your Perfect Diaper Bag
There are many recommendations about how to pack your diaper bags, but you won’t know what’s perfect for you until you try it.
Whether you need a tiny purse or the Mary Poppins handbag it’s up to you and your needs.
Whatever you pack, have an “always ready” kit in case you need to rush out of the house at any given time.
#14 Care for your Baby’s Nails
The moment you’re facing your newborn’s nails with a nail cutter ready to trim them can be very scary.
It’s crucial that babies don’t have long nails so that they don’t scratch their sweet faces, but trimming them can be extremely difficult.
When one of the nurses saw me sweating bullets trying to get my baby’s nails trimmed, she gave me the ultimate advice:
For the first nail trims, you can just use a soft file to file your baby’s nails!
The process does require that you be extra careful since your baby’s fingers are fragile, but by having the correct baby nail file you won’t have as much trouble (and danger) as with the nail cutter.
Eventually, you’ll have to use the nail cutter, and you’ll become a pro mom at it!
#15 Bicycle Gas Away
If your baby is feeling extra gassy and nothing you do seems to work, try bicycling the gas away.
Place your newborn baby in a flat, soft, surface, and gently move each leg toward her tummy in an alternate motion.
The soft movements will generate a small pressure on your baby’s tummy and help her get over that uncomfortable gas!
That’s a Wrap!
That’s it! Fourteen random but useful tips for new parents when taking care of their newborn baby!
Let’s go over them, one more time!
- Keep a Milk Stash in the freezer.
- Use Diaper Cream with Calendula.
- Swaddle Your Baby.
- Set Up Your Pack and Play Conveniently.
- Use Onesies With Zippers Instead of Buttons.
- Walk to Recover from Birth.
- Wear Your Baby.
- Learn to Play with Your Newborn.
- Play White Noise to Help Your Baby Sleep.
- If Your Breastfeeding, Watch Your Diet.
- Alternate Night Feeds With Your Husband.
- Don’t Change Your Baby Immediately After She Poops.
- Pack a Diaper Bag Perfect for You!
- File Your Baby’s Nails.
- Bicycle Gas Away.
What’s your biggest challenge when caring for your newborn baby? Want to share your best tip?
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