|Brayden & Boppy|
I have survived what all the baby books consider the most chaotic stage of new mommyhood! Looking back, I recall a few little things that made a big difference in getting me through it all. So that I don’t forget should we ever brave a second baby, and in case it helps any new moms get through it all themselves, I am going to record those things here…
1. A ceiling fan. Forget the cute little safari animal mobile, colorful rattles and crinkly taggie blankets. A regular old household fan is enough to holds a baby’s attention better and longer than any newborn toy I’ve found. (The little mirror on his activity mat comes close). I’d heard of cardboard boxes keeping toddlers busy, but apparently the good ole’ house fan is a newborn’s muse.
2. Sleep Sacks. As it turns out, not all babies like to be swaddled. Mine is and always has been one of them. A sleep sack is a nice alternative to the traditional swaddle-sleepwear. The baby’s legs and body are loosely contained, but his arms are free to flail. Every night, we zipper Brayden into his little sleeping bag, and he seems to love it!
3. A Boppy pillow. I think Brayden’s first true love in life was Boppy. In the early weeks, he wasn’t particularly fond of laying flat on his back which made it really hard to put him down, even if it was just to make myself a sandwich or change my clothes. But Boppy elevated him just enough to make him comfortable, and secured him in place enough to make me comfortable. Now that Brayden came to terms with being on his back, Boppy still offers a comfy perch from which he can look around or practice building his neck strength during Tummy Time. Of course, I wouldn’t leave a baby unsupervised in the cushiony half moon of a pillow (there is a large tag advising against it in case parental instinct doesn’t kick in), but it is a great little device for a baby’s temporary and supervised safe-keeping.
4. Burp cloths. Lots and lots of them so that they can be stationed everywhere from your shoulder to the nightstand and the coffee table in the living room. If you are as lucky as me, you will have a crafty friend that makes adorable ones by garnishing cloth diapers with sewn-on strips of colorful fabric. Who knew that spit-up cloths could be so fashionable? But should you not have a pinterest savvy, artistic-minded pal, any burp cloth will do!
5. A stroller with car seat attachment. I cannot tell you how useful it is to be able to pop baby out of the car and into a stroller when I am running errands. It’s not that it’s hard to take the little guy in and out of his car seat. It’s just that he falls asleep nearly every time we go in the car and I love not having to wake him up. If your stroller doesn’t have a car seat attachment, consider purchasing something like the Graco Snugride stroller. I received mine at my baby shower, and I leave it in my trunk for whenever I am shopping. It’s essentially a stroller frame with wheels specifically built to hold my Graco car seat. It is not suitable for walking on rough surfaces, but it’s a great supplementary stroller to my beloved City Mini by Baby Jogger.
6. An extra set of arms? Evolution has yet to supply new mothers with any additional baby-carrying appendages. And sometimes, no matter how much baby loves his boppy, stroller, car seat, or swing, baby just wants to be held. And baby’s desire for closeness usually strikes when mommy is engaged in a characteristically two-handed activity like eating a steak dinner or straightening her hair for the first time since baby’s birth. That said, should another person not be available to play Pass the Baby, a smart investment for new moms is a sling or front carrier. Baby gets closeness and mommy gets full functionality of her arms. That’s a win-win.
7. Dry Shampoo. Washing your hair becomes less of a priority and styling it a novelty. Thanks to the gods of hairproducts, it’s easier to keep your hair fresh with this blessed innovation!
8. Nursing Paraphernalia. In addition to standard feeding accessories like bottles and a warmer, should you choose to breastfeed, you will need a long list of items you never imagined existing before making the commitment… nursing pads (Nuk Advanced Dry are my favorite), a breast pump, nursing bras (Target has a good selection), a nursing cover, and Lanolin (lots of it). But above all, you will need a little something called Perseverance. For something so natural, breastfeeding can be surprisingly complicated and incredibly uncomfortable in the beginning. Which is why it might also be useful to recruit a Commiseration Comrade, someone who has been there done that to remind you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that it gets worse before it gets better, and that the craziness of it all is actually quite normal.
9. A travel playard. Being such a mobile couple, I don’t know what we would do without our pack and play. It is far from the most souped-up one on the market, but it does have an attachable changing station and bassinette that zippers in to make a sleeping infant easy-to-reach. Personally, I can’t imagine needing more than that. The crib folds up easily and packs nicely into a carrier smaller than a golf bag. It’s, in a word, awesome.
And, last but definitely not least…
10. Someone to share the experience with. Whether it’s a mother, brother, significant other or friend, or any combination of loved ones, recruiting a support system is my most important recommendation to new moms. I’ve always liked to think that I can do it all. But when it comes to having a baby, I don’t think that it’s realistic. It’s been wonderful having people to enjoy the baby with. And, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a small army vying for the chance to cuddle with the baby so that you can take a nap or a long shower.