There’s no denying that the early days of motherhood can be daunting, both when you’re pregnant and are anticipating the joy and chaos to come, and then once baby has arrived and you find yourself adjusting to life as new parents! I remember wondering what exactly you *do* with a newborn, when you bring them home from hospital, and spent much of my time during my final few weeks of pregnancy trying to prepare as much as possible for the unknowns that lay ahead. And so to that end, I thought it might be fun to put together a little post of tips and tricks for managing life with a newborn, with a few of the things I was so glad I’d sorted ahead of Ottilie’s arrival, and a few great ideas I’ve picked up along the way that I’ll be remembering for next time…
O N E : Fill your freezer!
Like many newborns, Ottilie had a knack for waking up wanting a feed JUST as I sat down in the evening to eat my dinner. Thankfully for both Jason and I though, I’d been given the wise advice to spend my final couple of weeks of maternity leave stocking the freezer with ready to cook/reheatable meals, and so with Ottie resting on a cushion on my lap feeding away and a bowl of something hot and tasty beside me, we’d both fill our bellies at the same time. Meals you can eat one handed are ideal, so think cottage or shepherd’s pies, ragu (to be heated then spooned over pasta or jacket potatoes), mild curries, chilli con carne (I’m veggie so would make this with lentils and beans instead of mince), ratatouille, stews, and soups (reheat and serve with some potato wedges or a stack of toast!). Those little foil pots that Chinese takeaways often come in are ideal, as they can be put straight in the oven and don’t need washing up!
T W O : Set up feeding spots around the house.
I attended an event with Graco last week, and learned from Sarah Redshaw of BabyCentre that a newborn’s stomach is the size of a hazelnut, and by the end of their second week of life it’s expanded to the size of an egg. That explains why they want feeding around the clock, I guess! And it also explains why my abiding memory of the newborn days are the many, many hours I spent sitting and feeding!
Whether it’s by bottle or breast, feeding is time consuming and leaves you stuck in one position for often up to an hour at a time. It’s a great idea to set up a few little boxes around the house in arm’s reach of in spots you’ll likely be sat feeding, containing a bottle of water, some tasty snacks (flapjacks or granola bars are great!), the TV remote, a book, and other essential nonessentials like hairbands/lipbalm/handcream.
T H R E E : Practise, practise, practise with the pushchair and carseat!
I’m fairly sure every new parent has experienced the flummoxing stress that occurs when trying to assemble/disassemble a travel system in a car park, whilst a sleepsuit-clad 7lb person shrieks in the background. It becomes second nature in no time, but practise taking it apart and putting it all back together again a few times in advance to save on the early days-stress!
F O U R : Prepare for stain removal.
Babies poo. A lot. Usually at inconvenient times, and very often on things that are not a nappy. A tub of Vanish Oxy Action should be handed out to all parents departing hospital with a newborn, if you ask me, and plain white vests are best to buy as you can bleach them back to good as new as many times as is needed without messing up any patterns or designs.
F I V E : Connect with other new mothers.
There is nothing, NOTHING better than the support of other mothers. Whether you attend an antenatal course whilst pregnant, reach out to other Mums you meet who live locally to you (my neighbour has a baby 10 weeks younger than Ottilie, and we’ve been a lifeline for one another more times than I can count this year!), visit your local children’s centre, or book onto a music, baby massage, or sensory class, the chance to connect with other women experiencing the same life changing joys, highs, lows and challenges as you will be invaluable. And you’ll be so glad you got brave and got yourself and little one out of the house!
Sarah Redshaw recommends contacting your local children’s centre in advance of baby’s arrival to request a timetable, and to see if there are any waiting lists for classes you might want to add your name to. Such a great idea!
S I X : Wraps and slings are your new best friend.
This isn’t true for all babies of course, but many, Ottilie most certainly included, hate being put down. I’d been bought a Solly wrap as a gift when I was pregnant, and remember tying it on and putting Ottie in it for the first time when she was 5 days old, and she stopped crying at once and fell fast asleep. The proximity to your body and the secure way in which the wrap holds them to you is incredibly comforting for a baby during the fourth trimester, and having both your hands free at the same time will be a welcome relief for you! (Photos above from that very first baby-wearing occasion! Ignore how loose the wrap is, I got better at it as time went on!)
A few more of my favourite tips and ideas:
- Have a bottle of Infacol in the house ready for when baby comes home from hospital. A Godsend for windy newborn tummies!
- Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are expensive, but worth it. As a light blanket in warm weather or for layering during winter, as a swaddle, breastfeeding cover, or throw-over for the pram or carseat, they’re invaluable. Ours have washed so well and are in mint condition for next time around!
- Pick up as many packs of maternity pads as you think you’ll need (Boots slimline ones were best, I found!) then buy at least 3 more packs. And you’ll probably still run out.
- If your baby hates being put down in the pram or a cot, try warming it with a hot water bottle first (Lady Ottilie of Surrey demanded this for the first three weeks!) and a rolled up towel placed around the edges of the bassinet and covered over with a soft blanket can help baby feel more secure.
- You might not think you want to use a dummy, but have one to hand just in case. I was stupidly adamant we wouldn’t need one but caved after 10 days, and the blissful silence that fell as soon as Ottie took it was a complete and utter joy!
In short, Sarah’s motto, ‘Whatever your expectations are- lower them!’, is a brilliant one. Ignore anything or anyone who tells you your 8/12/20 week old should be sleeping through the night, or be in a predictable routine, because it’s all nonsense. And hard though it may be at times, being kind to yourself should be as high a priority as taking care of your sweet baby.
I’d love to hear any more tips, tricks and ideas for life with a newborn in the comments!
~ This post is part of my ongoing collaboration with Graco. Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~