Anyone who knows me, knows I can't stand clutter. Like.... The fact that I let a ridiculous amount of things pile up in the early days of post partum recovery drove me nuts. But, what can you do when you're not that mobile and frankly, taking care of your little (and yourself) is MUCH more important than spring cleaning!?
Anywho, why is my disdain for clutter important? Well.... I really wanted to have the essentials for parenting, but NOT. A lot of cute but unnecessary items floating around our home. (I know. I'll change my tune when she becomes a toddler. I know.) Until then, though, living in a townhouse with limited storage and a mom who doesn't want to end up on the next episode of hoarders.... I did a lot of research on Pinterest & crowdsourcing mommy friends as I put together our baby registry. I'm happy to say that we didn't receive or buy ANYTHING that hasn't been or won't be useful in the immediate future.
That's a good feeling! I'm so eternally floored & grateful that we have such a large village of friends and family who sewed into our lives as we prepared for our little one's arrival. It has really impacted these first weeks at home with her to focus on learning her and bonding as a family, without trying to figure out the million things that babies need! Along the journey I'll share more reflections of what's clutch in our lives as she grows and I learn more about what works for us.
For now, here's my top 10 must haves for the first two months of new parent life:
1. Variety of diapers. Not only do you go through about 300 diapers in the first month (no exaggeration) and if following the trend we are on now, you will likely use about 250+ per month after that. Having a variety of diapers (newborn & size 1) will allow you get a sense of what fits your little best, what is most absorbent (at home and in a carrier on the go), and what agrees with their skin, too. I loved the Pampers Swaddlers in the newborn size because of the fit and the indicator line on the bottom (my husband loves that too!) - and hated regular huggies newborn fit. Luvs fit great in newborn and size 1, but the perfume smell is so strong... I will likely use those sparingly. A good friend of mine sent a trial of the Honest brand ones which I love because they are the cutest things ever and have no dye/perfume/etc - but no indicator! Bummer. Now that we are officially into size 1, I am finding the Huggies snugglers to fit well, prevent blowouts when on the go (better than Pampers Swaddlers it seems) and move with her pretty well as she gets more and more active. They also have the indicator line!! I do plan on ordering more Honest products to try with her as well.
2. Wipes, wipes, and more wipes. You're using a bunch of diapers? You're gonna use plenty of wipes. We have different styles of changing her (I use 1-3 wipes for the average diaper change, get in and out quickly and move on)... Where my husband may use like, 5 wipes and take his time... which usually means another diaper (or two) might be used in one changing session. Ha. Her granny has her own style, too - but all are just fine and get the job done. That said, you need plenty of wipes at home, in the diaper bag, in your car, your purse - wherever. You can never have enough and I am pretty diligent about making sure all of the changing stations in our house are full with wipes and diapers every few days or so. Similar to the diapers you may want an assortment of wipes, but I am have very sensitive skin and don't see a need to slather an infant with a bunch of smell goods (they smell like heaven when they are clean already in my opinion! I love the baby smell!) because you're likely to cause irritation. That said, I am partial to sensitive skin/hypoallergenic wipes - pampers, huggies, honest brands are what we've had in rotation so far. I am saving the scented wipes we received for emergency car kits when she gets a bit bigger and I have a better sense of her irritants, too.
3. Swaddlers. Swaddle blankets (thin Muslim cotton options works great and double as a burp cloth, carrier cover, scarf, nursing cover, blanket, etc) and pre-made Swaddlers with the Velcro closure are clutch. Our little loves to be swaddled at night - and sleeps better swaddled. She is amazingly strong, so the Velcro ones are easier to get her in, know she is secure, but still be safe/decrease the likelihood of hip displasia.
4. Assortment of bottles. Notice a theme? A small assortment of things to try out is important. It's hard to know what your little will prefer, and what they may need to combat reflux or other issues. All bottles are not created equal. Slow flow for newborns is key - but even some "slow flow" nipples aren't that great! Medela bottles & nipples are convenient for late night feedings because you can pump straight into the bottle (if you are exclusively pumping like me!) and add the nipple. Our mini has lots of gas and reflux so we mostly stick with Dr. Brown's for around the clock feeding now since she will slurp her milk down if we aren't careful and these slow her down just a tad but keep her happy. Avent bottles are nice but the slow flow (size 1) nipples aren't slow enough for my taste. We may revisit these when she levels up to size 2 or 3 nipples though! I think they will be easier for her to grip since they are so wide.
5. A system. I know this isn't an object - but trust me. You need one. So many parts of mom life are unpredictable. It's really a glorious and amazing thing. But, anything you CAN systemize or organize? DO IT. It relieves so much stress for me when I can minimize chaos, clutter, and maximize time. Once I got in the groove of her feeding schedule, I made a schedule for myself of when I would wash and sanitize bottles and pump parts, without doing it all at once so I could always have clean bottles to prep, pump parts to use, and still find time for a shower and/or power nap before it was time to feed again. That said, your routine can and will change! That's ok. Anything you can do to manage time - once you are clearheaded enough to do it - is so important. I also knew it would be important to communicate to other caregivers if I go out for an errand or once I go back to work, and I didn't want to wait until the end of my leave to start working on it. Having a system also makes it easier to communicate to someone else what needs to happen, once others are caring for your child. Whether it's for a couple of hours or a whole day.
6. Hand sanitizer. I keep a hand sanitizer foaming pump in our bedroom (where our little sleeps for now) and in the living room near her changing station. I prefer alcohol free foam because it evaporates the fastest and doesn't dry your hands out. When visitors come it's clearly available for them and it's handy after a diaper change or other fun thing which might call for hand sanitizer before you pickup your little throughout the day. I also keep hand sanitizing wipes in my purse/her diaper bag, as well as a mini liquid option for folks who may want to play with her or hold her when we are out of the house visiting family and friends.
7. Bottle warmer. Listen. Remember what I said about time? Well, if I can pop a previously prepared bottle in the warmer hike I make myself a snack or do an activity with our little, that's 3 minutes of time used effectively. Since she's exclusively breast milk, it also makes it easier for my husband or anyone else to get a bottle ready without extra fuss. Alternatively, we have dunked bottles in a cup of hot water - but knocking the chill off if it's been sitting awhile is important to mix the fat content up in the milk better.
8. A really big water bottle. Or tumbler. Or both! As a breastfeeding mama, water intake is huge (I think I mentioned this in a previous post) - and, similar to my 9-5 counseling life, I have learned that keeping an ample supply of water handy is SUPER important when time gets away from you in between things. I found a cute (brightly colored) 32oz water bottle at TJmaxx and I try to drink at least three of them a day. I love drinking water, so it's not an issue at all to do that, if I set myself up for success. So, I started filling a couple of 20oz water bottles I had on hand and keeping them in the fridge so I can grab them when i'm on the go in between tasks with our little (or if i'm headed out of the house) so I won't get caught empty handed. I am always thirsty. This helps so much - especially at night when i'm too lazy (read: tired) to make the trek down to the kitchen to get more water.
9. A diaper pail (or two). We live in a three-story townhouse. This is awesome for your Fitbit. Not for the back and forth with little humans. During the final stretch of my pregnancy, as we were getting the house together for her arrival, a friend of mine said "hey. I have a diaper pail for you to borrow! Want it?" I was thinking "hm. We've already gotten one on our registry.." THEN I was like oh, wait! We had already planned to set up a changing station in our living room (basket of essentials in a small decorative bin for whenever we were on that floor of the house. Having an additional diaper pail would complete that station. So we are borrowing it, and it definitely makes a difference! I am sure once she gets a little older and the pail can't hold in all the smells we will re-assess using them, but they are a must!
10. Pack & Play/bassinet. As first time parents, we knew we wanted our little to sleep in our room the first few months, and this works like a charm. When our friends gifted us this we were shocked and super grateful. They are parents and stressed how handy these things have been in their lives over the years. Boy, were they right!! Most pack & plays have a bassinet level which is positioned up high for newborn babies which makes it much easier to reach their tiny bodies for sleeping/changing/playing - especially after you've had a c-section! Phew. Ours also came with a removable changing tray and a removable rocking/cuddle seat that snaps right into the top of the pack and play. It's super handy to move around the house (she naps like a champ in it), and at night she can sleep in it inside the playard too! Soon she'll be too big for it I think, but then we will transition her back to the bassinet level of the playard. This is a must have baby item because it is multi-functional and will grow with your child!
New or experienced mama? What are your favorite things for the beginning of the journey? Share below!