21 Tips for the First 21 Days with Baby
Even though this is my second time having a newborn, I’ve still been shocked and surprised at how much work they are. It’s amazing how quickly you forget the early days as your child grows. Luckily, you only tend to remember the good things. Those first few weeks of baby’s life can be tough, but there are some easy ways you can simplify life with a newborn. Here are 21 tips for the first 21 days with baby.
Breastfeed During the Golden Hour
If you chose to breastfeed your baby, one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success is to breastfeed during the golden hour. The golden hour is the time right after birth when your baby is calm and alert. It’s a great time to try to nurse and your baby’s natural instinct will be to find the nipple. You can find more great tips about breastfeeding your newborn here!
Take Advantage of the Hospital Nursery
I know it’s hard to let your newborn leave your sight after you just waited nine long months to meet them, but you need to take advantage of the hospital nursery. This could be your last chance to get uninterrupted sleep for a very long time. After an exhausting labor and delivery, it’s so important to get as much sleep as you possibly can before it’s time to bring your baby home and start your new life.
Take Home Everything from the Hospital
Don’t be afraid to take all the disposable postpartum products and baby products from the hospital before you leave. I’m talking about diapers, wipes, maxi pads, postpartum underwear, ice packs, etc. In my opinion, you can never have enough of these things. Once you get that hospital bill, you’ll be glad you got your money’s worth.
Introducing an Older Sibling
I was a nervous wreck about introducing Weston to his new little brother. I didn’t want him to be jealous or feel like he had been replaced when he came to the hospital to meet him. My doctor gave us great advice on how to introduce them and I think it worked out beautifully. Before Weston got to our hospital room, we wheeled the baby down to the nursery. Once Weston arrived, we spent a few minutes giving hugs and kisses and answering questions about my IV (he was very concerned). Then we walked down to the nursery as a family to pick up his new baby brother. He was so excited to see him through the window and helped me push the bassinet back to our room. Picking the baby up from the nursery together seemed like a much gentler way to introduce them than to just have a new baby on mommy’s lap as soon as he walked through the door.
Be Prepared to Cluster Feed
If you’re breastfeeding, be prepared to cluster feed. While it can be extremely exhausting and even frustrating at times, it’s nature’s way of getting your milk supply up and running. It’s also nature’s way of helping your baby prepare to sleep for longer stretches at night. Most newborns will cluster feed in the evenings. Cluster feeding is basically nursing on and off for hours at a time, with very little time in between nursing sessions. Remember, cluster feeding is not a sign that your baby isn’t getting enough milk. My best advice is to get comfortable, find something to binge watch, and remember that it doesn’t last forever.
Take a Breastfeeding Course
While I think it’s great to take a breastfeeding course while you’re still pregnant, it can also be extremely helpful after you’ve had your baby. I took Milkology, an online breastfeeding course, before having Elliott, but I’ve actually found it more helpful since I’ve had him. We had some latching issues in the beginning and I immediately logged in to the course and replayed the lesson on latching and positioning. I also replayed the lesson on what to expect in the first month. I love that I have lifetime access to the course and can go back to it whenever I need to.
Get a Haakaa
If there is one product I’d tell a breastfeeding mom to get, it would be a Haakaa. A Haakaa is a silicone breast “pump” that suctions on to your second breast when you’re nursing. I put pump in parenthesis because it’s not actually making a pumping or sucking motion. It’s more or less pulling and catching milk from your other breast that would otherwise go to waste in a nursing pad. I have saved so much milk using this thing and already started to build a freezer stash. It’s also helped me when I’m feeling really engorged and don’t want to use my actual breast pump. I absolutely love it and highly recommend it to any breastfeeding mom (especially because it’s extremely affordable). Note: I didn’t get the one with the stopper and I regret it. It’s top heavy and can tip over easily.
Set up the Pack n’ Play
I have another post titled “8 Genius Ways to Prepare your Home for Baby” and I share this tip there too. If you have room, set up your pack n’ play in your main living space. Most new pack n’ plays come with bonus features like a changing table and bassinet. It’s a great to have a space to change your baby, let your baby sleep, and keep all your random baby stuff.
Get a Baby Bum Brush
Newborn’s skin is super sensitive. Speaking only from my own experience with two babies, diaper rash is likely to be an issue in the first few weeks. Those sweet little booties are trying to adjust to diapers, and pooping, and the outside world. The Baby Bum Brush is a genius product to help you cut down on the diaper cream mess and keep your fingers out of your baby’s butt (just keeping it real here).
Only use Zip-Up Pajamas at Night
I forgot how many diapers newborn babies go through. Every time Elliott wakes up to eat, I change his diaper as well. Simplify late night diaper changes by only using zip-up pajamas when changing your baby for bed. The last thing you want to do at 3AMis fuss around with a bunch of buttons.
Keep Baby by your Bedside
Obviously, this is a personal matter, but I’ve found that keeping my baby by my bedside is the easiest way to maximize sleep for the entire family. First, it coincides with safe sleep guidelines. Second, if you’re breastfeeding, it’s so much easier to just reach over and scoop up your baby rather than running to the nursery every few hours. Lastly, if you have other children you don’t want to wake, having your baby right next to you is the easiest way to cut down on the crying and get your newborn back to sleep as soon as possible (without waking up the entire house).
Get Velcro Swaddles
Many babies love to be swaddled when they first come home from the hospital. It comforts them and reminds them of being in the womb. Using a velcro swaddle is so much easier than rewrapping your newborn every few hours, and I find them to be a lot safer as well. Both of my babies have been able to break free of regular swaddles and wind up with part of the blanket covering their face. The Velcro swaddles stay put and keep your baby safe and snug.
Make a Diaper Caddy
My favorite nighttime trick is to put together a diaper caddy and keep it by your bed. When Weston was a baby, I took him to the nursery for every changing in the middle of the night. This time, I decided I didn’t want to leave my bed. All I do is layout a towel and change him right there. Our diaper caddy includes:
- A baby towel
- Nursing Pads
- Burp rag
- Diaper rash cream
- Clean pajamas
- Boogie sucker
- Hand sanitizer
Download the Glow Baby App
I absolutely love the Glow Baby app. We’ve used it for both babies and it has been so helpful. The app allows you to track feedings, wet and dirty diapers, and baby’s sleep patterns. Since I breastfeed, it’s so important to keep track to which side he nursed, how long he nursed, and how many wet and dirty diapers he produced in a day. The app is easy to use and helps you keep track of everything when you’re too tired to do it on your own.
Download the Wonder Weeks App
Another app I live by is the Wonder Weeks app. The Wonder Weeks app allows you to see when your child is going through a developmental leap and gives you an idea of what they’re behavior might be like during that leap. As a mom who always wants an answer for why my baby is fussy, this app is a lifesaver. We had it for Weston and it was eerily accurate. It’s a must have in my book.
Try Gripe Water
Gripe water is a natural over the counter remedy for gas, colic, fussiness, and hiccups. It’s safe to use with newborns and starts working almost instantly. Both of my babies have had problems passing gas and are not a fan of the hiccups. When they get overly fussy and start pulling their knees to their bellies, I can usually blame it on gas. Gripe water has been a lifesaver, especially with Elliott who seems to be a little fussier than his older brother.
Keep your Diaper Bag Packed
Always keep your diaper bag packed and ready to go. Stock it up when you get home from an outing, rather than right before you leave. Leaving the house with a newborn takes forever (I had nearly forgotten how difficult it is). One way to cutdown on that time is to make sure you’re diaper bag is fully stocked with diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and all the other essentials ahead of time.
Make Yourself a Postpartum Care Kit
So much of our energy is focused on the baby in those first weeks home from the hospital. But, on top of learning how to breastfeed, being sleep deprived, and trying to manage life with a newborn, you’re also going through some major changes. When I had Weston, I was in no way prepared for the fourth trimester. I didn’t even have any maxi pads (please don’t ask me what I was thinking). This time around, I made a fully stocked postpartum care kit that stays in the bathroom and has everything I need to survive the first six weeks postpartum.
Wear that Baby
Having a toddler and a newborn is hard work. I’ll be honest, it’s a lot harder than I expected it to be. One thing that has simplified my life is wearing baby Elliott. I have a Boba Wrap and a structured carrier (like this one) that give me the ability to carry my baby hands free. That means I can make lunch, clean the kitchen, and help Weston with potty training while carrying Elliott. I’ve even managed to nurse him while he’s in the carrier a few times which made me feel like nothing short of a superhero.
Accept Help and Let your Partner Pick up the Slack
When people offer to help you with the baby, or the house, or a meal, accept it. There’s nothing wrong with accepting help from people who truly want to help you. It’s also okay to let your partner pick up the slack for the first few weeks. Send your partner to the grocery store, have them cook dinner, tell them to pick up a broom and get to work. You’ve been through a lot and it takes time to recover. Your only job during those first few weeks is to cuddle and care for your baby.
This time with your newborn is so tough, but I promise, one day very soon, you’re going to miss it. The way your baby smells, the way they’re still curled up in a little ball, the way they lay on your chest and fall asleep… all of that will change in just a few weeks. Before you know it, you’ll be looking back at old photos wondering where your tiny newborn went. It’s okay to not enjoy every single moment, but try your best to slow down and soak up this time with your baby.