Life with a Newborn: All my must-have products + game-changing baby advice for the first three months
Hello from the blissful whirlwind that is newborn-land! In the first few weeks and months with our baby boy, I learned a lot about all the things I did (and didn’t) need, as well as learned some incredible mom hacks that have made ALL the difference for us that I wanted to share with you guys. I’m not going to even pretend to have it all together. As I’m writing right now, I’m sitting here in my pj’s, with unwashed hair and a very messy house. BUT the baby is fed and napping, I got a hot-mom-walk in this morning, made some fresh celery juice AND I’m getting this post done. SO I do have a few tips up my sleeve for new parents that can help you keep it somewhat semi-together. These tips are a bit all over the place and cover everything from little things we’re doing that are making a big difference for his sleep and general happiness, to products I’m loving, to general new parent advice. It may not be super organized, but bear with my new mom stream-of-consciousness here.
Learnings, new mom ‘hacks’, and game-changing products from my first few months as a mom
Lessons I’ve learned the first three months of having a newborn baby
Embrace the Chaos and Keep a Positive Attitude
I feel like all we hear these days are negative motherhood stories and struggles. While I think it’s important to know that, yes, there are things that can go wrong in pregnancy and as a new mom (and you’re not alone in anything that does!), it’s just as important to know that, for many women, things will go right! And you know what? Maybe not everything will go right, because chances are you’ll be given a curve ball (or many) as a parent (we were given a very tough one right at the beginning of Harrison’s life in the NICU), but I believe it’s all about how you handle those curve balls. For us, those curve balls have helped us to appreciate all of the incredible moments and all the things that go right!!!!
I think it’s important to try and remember that just because Suzie had mastitis and trouble breastfeeding coupled with postpartum depression, or Kelly took three months to recover from a tough emergency C section does not mean you will. I personally find that worrying about the worst-case-scenario isn’t conducive at all to enjoying those first few months to their absolute fullest! Don’t over-complicate having a baby. Yes, life will be messy, and yes, your to-do list will be a mile long, and yes, you’ll be getting less sleep. But it’s an adventure! Enjoy the ride. You’re starting your family!!! And your baby is only this little once, even if it’s not easy all the time, it’s important to learn to enjoy the chaos.
And if all you’re hearing is how hard those first few months are, let me be the one to tell you how FUN they are! I have been seriously in bliss with Harrison. Whenever people ask how I’m doing, I tell them it’s all ‘sleepless nights and dreamy days’ which is truly how it’s been. No matter how little sleep I get, every day, I wake up so, so happy and fulfilled. Being a mom is the absolute best. And don’t worry about the sleep – I get into it more below, but we all have a ‘mom gear’ that kicks in when it needs to – I don’t need nearly as much sleep as I used to!
You’ll hear other mothers say, “The days are long but the years are short.” which is so, so true. Every mom will tell you how much they miss the newborn snuggles, the sleepy newborn ‘scrunches’, and the silly way their baby used to peck at them like a little woodpecker for food. This time isn’t just precious, it’s very, very fleeting. So try not to wish it away. I always think of the country song “You’re Gonna Miss This” (if you haven’t heard it, read the lyrics here!).
I definitely have a bit of a reflective personality, so I’m constantly thinking about how incredibly fleeting these life moments are, and I look at them almost as my future self telling me to soak them up. Yes, even the shrieking cries, even the crazy diaper changes (the hardest my husband and I laughed in months was when Harrison peed like a squirt gun right into our faces). These are the moments!!!!! Soak up the good ones, and try to laugh at the ‘bad’ ones – they can be so special, and funny, if you have the right attitude. Life is messy right now, and that’s okay.
This all being said, if you do struggle with postpartum depression or are not feeling the happiness you expected, that’s COMPLETELY normal, too. Know that there have been so many people who have been in your shoes before, and there are people and resources who can help. You can find some of those here.
Have a really, really good partner
Having a newborn baby is MOST DEFINITELY a two-person job. My husband, Kenny, is really hands-on with Harrison. He picks up a ton of the parenting workload and we are truly a team when it comes to giving our all to Harrison while also finding the time to run and support both of our businesses. He has zero qualms about prioritizing and helping with the baby (and around the house) when needed. I truly cannot imagine a world where he wasn’t doing as much as he does for our family during this time – even just helping with the all of the house chores like crushing cardboard, doing the dishes, getting the trash taken out, keeping the house in shape, and always keeping me happy! He knows that my main job right now is the baby, and his main job is ME. The biggest way a husband can help with a new baby is to help mom. If mama isn’t in a good place to take care of her baby (read: rested, supported, fed and hydrated), then baby isn’t in a good place, either!
Always remember crying = communicating
I’ve found that it’s helped me a lot talking to other new moms and learning that, wow, EVERY baby cries a ton (shocker, I know!) and that doesn’t mean (usually) that they’re in pain or upset, they’re just trying to communicate with you, mama! I tell everyone my angel baby can be a ‘diablito’ (little devil) sometimes. Babies will be babies!! You’ll start to learn in those first couple months what each of their unique ‘cries’ means (from I need food to I need a diaper change to I need sleep to I just want attention!), and I feel like knowing what they’re trying to say and what they need from you will help you not get stressed when they start crying.
Try new things, try everything, and keep trying until something sticks
The first days, weeks, and months are a lot of trial-and-error when it comes to figuring out what works for you, your baby, and your partner. Between feeding, sleeping, wake windows, etc etc, you and your baby are both are learning about each other! It may take time, but you’ll find out what routines, systems and products work best for you all. Trust your instincts!
Sleep (or lack thereof) with a newborn
If you’re anything like Kenny and I, lack of sleep once the baby came was one of our biggest stresses about having a baby. Everybody talks about it like you’ll never sleep again once you have kids, and that can be pretty intimidating!! Well, I’m happy to report it is NOT that bad. And no, he’s not some miracle baby who was sleeping through the night at a month old, he is a very typical newborn, who wakes up to feed and will keep us up some nights more than others, and definitely more than we wish. But it really hasn’t bugged or affected me as much as I thought it might! You kick into a different gear once you’re a parent and I’ve found you just don’t need as much sleep in a night. ESPECIALLY as a mom – our bodies are made for this! I’ve found it so much easier to get back to sleep when I wake up to feed him in the middle of the night than I ever would have thought before having a baby. You’re so tired you fall right back asleep, and you’re also just in a different mindset.
Middle-of-the-night feeding and sleeping hacks that have worked for us
The first three months with a newborn baby can be pretty dang sleepless. That’s normal! Your baby’s tummy is tiny! it’s totally normal for a newborn to get up to eat when they’re hungry, but the key is getting them to go back to sleep and to be getting as deep and restful as possible in-between feedings. We aren’t sleep training, but there have been a few things we’ve done for his sleep routine that have made all the difference for us. First, we do a really BIG feeding right before bed. At 7-8 weeks, he has been sleeping 4-6 hour chunks after this first big feeding (huge!!!!), when he does get up in the middle of the night, I unswaddle him, feed him, change him, and then put him back to sleep. He goes right back to sleep! Before I started doing that order, I was changing him first (thinking get the hard part over with), and that simple change of order has made A HUGE difference. Then the other big thing that has worked for us has been switching diaper brands. At first, we tried Huggies, which were fine, but I was getting ads for Coterie and reading all the reviews and I figured we’d try them and HOLY COW you guys I cannot recommend getting these diapers more. They’re coined ‘the Rolls Royce of diapers’ and, yes, they’re more expensive (bougie diapers, for bougie babies), but they are SO WORTH IT!!! I literally thank these diapers are the main reason why Harrison started sleeping in (much) bigger chunks throughout the night, because they do such an amazing job as absorbing and wicking, that babies don’t even know they have a dirty diaper, so they’re able to sleep more, and feel more comfortable. They are amazing. You’ll notice the difference in them, and in your baby’s comfort, right away. Give them a try – you can get $10 off to try Coterie if you go through this code (not sponsored at all, they just have a referral program!)
Another thing that’s been so key to us when it comes to sleep is knowing when to take on a ‘shift’ to help the other catch some extra much-needed zzz’s. For example, Kenny will often take the morning shift burping, changing and entertaining the baby when baby is done sleeping and doesn’t like to go back to sleep but mama’s been up on-and-off all night.
Traveling with a baby!
I’ve been getting a lot of questions on instagram about traveling with the baby / when we plan to / etc! We decided to stay home the first couple months with Harrison to get him oriented to his new home, and to give ourselves as much normalcy and rest as possible while we were entering this crazy adventure! Now that he’s a couple months old, we plan on ‘easing’ into travel by taking a one night beach stay-cation nearby Charleston (we’re going to Kiawah Island – 40 mins away). I think this will help us feel more confident about traveling as well know what we need to bring with us when we travel, etc! Then, when he’s closer to three months, we plan on taking him on some bigger trips that we’re really excited about! (after he has his 2-month immunizations, which is what most pediatricians recommend). I’m going to be sharing lots more about my baby travel tips, what I look for in baby-friendly travel destinations, etc. in the coming months!
Getting Travel Documents for your newborn baby – one travel related task we were able to get done in his first couple months was to get Harrison’s birth certificate, social security card, and apply for his passport. Taking passport photos of a newborn is a pretty hilarious experience, but it was seamless! Just keep in mind to do it as soon as you can if you are planning any international trips, as it can take awhile to get! Also, if you have global entry, you’ll need to have him apply for that as well (and go in for an interview), since you won’t be able to use your global entry while traveling with your baby unless you are both enrolled, I called and they told us to just walk in with him the next time we’re at the airport but call your airport’s global entry office to be sure!
Prioritize your time with a newborn
I’ve found that my to-do list is always going to be never-ending, and that’s okay. Whether you’re on full maternity leave or trying to work some from home with your new baby, the days will FLY by. I try to remind myself that my only job right now is Harrison, if he’s happy, well fed, and well taken care of, then I’m happy. But, I’m an achiever, and I run my own business. I’m definitely not used to getting things done! I’ve found it really helpful to pick just ONE key thing I need to get done off of my to-do list each day that will help me feel accomplished. At least for these first few months. The great thing about newborns is they sleep a ton, so you just have to be ready to spring into action on whatever you want to tackle as soon as the baby is asleep, and be ready to shelve it the second they wake up. I’ve also been trying to organize which types of things I can do on my phone vs. what need more attention (i.e. if I can do something on my phone I can do it while breastfeeding – which is what I spend most my time doing!).
Buy back your time!
Also, don’t be afraid to buy back your time. We’ve been getting our groceries delivered via Amazon Whole Foods, and that saves me a ton of hassle and time every week getting groceries (plus, I can grocery shop on my phone while feeding the baby). We also use Costco.com delivery for diapers, etc! And, my favorite splurge for time, we get a maid every other week to help keep the house in shape!
Take LOTS of pictures
If I can give you all one piece of mom advice, let it be this. I swear all I do when he’s sleeping or I’m away from him for a second is look at pictures of him. Based on how much I treasure every photo of his adorable newborn self now, I can’t even imagine how much I’m going to treasure these pictures in the future as he grows. I highly recommend taking alllllll the photos and videos and filling up your phone space, because they grow SO fast. And they change!!! It’s so fun to see how much. We also started a shared album with the grandparents so that they get to see all of our favorite photos every day too and watch him grow!
Products, random tips & things we’ve been loving
Here are all the best newborn must-haves for those precious first three months so you can save your sanity and spend your energy soaking up every moment of those newborn snuggles.
Have a portable diaper bag that you bring with you every time you leave the house
Here’s what’s in ours:
Wipes, diapers, our portable noise machine, a portable fan to keep baby cool if we’re eating or strolling outside, an extra onesie, extra pacifiers, a portable changing pad (this is SO handy!)
Download the Wonder Weeks app
This was an app recommended to us by the nurses in the hospital and then by multiple friends afterwards. The concept of The Wonder Weeks is all about the science behind how babies go through mental developmental phases, or “mental leaps,” that help them build awareness of the world around them. Since these new developmental stages often cause little ones to become irritated and confused (everything is so strange and new in their world when they go through a leap!), they can get fussier than normal, sleep less, eat more, etc. etc.
The doctors behind the app discovered 10 predictable mental leaps that are tied to age, from the time an infant is five weeks old to twenty months. Understanding these leaps and when your baby is going through one helps parents get insights onto how their baby is feeling and how to best help them – it can also help you feel less frustrated to know all the insight and information when all of the sudden they’re fussier than normal and you don’t know why.
Download the Wonder Weeks app here.
Have a changing table on both floors of the house
If you have a house with multiple floors, I can’t recommend having multiple changing tables more! We keep one right in our living room and one upstairs in the nursery. We use both equally! I cannot imagine having just one.
Here’s a link to our downstairs changing table (our upstairs nursery one is on top of the dresser!). You’ll also need a changing table topper – we use this one. Or if you’re putting it on top of a dresser, we use this topper.
Use electric nail clippers!
You’d be so surprised at how fast your baby’s nails grow, and usually clipping their nails (so that they don’t scratch their face!) is something that every mom dreads – because it hurts them and it’s easy to accidentally get a piece of finger caught when the nails are so, so small. (yikes). The solution? This super handy electric nail clipper from Amazon – he doesn’t even notice when I’m doing it!
Magnetic onesies are AMAZING
When you’re changing your baby in and out of their onesies as much as you will be, anything that makes the process easier and faster (especially in the middle of the night) is a godsend. These magnetic onesies are genius, and Harrison loooves them!
You’re Going to Need a Portable Sound Machine
This portable sound machine has come in SUCH handy. We use it to soothe the baby on strolls through the neighborhood, in the car, and for any nap! It’s great because you can switch from nature sounds, to womb-like sounds, to white noise, to nursery lullabies. I love it.
Put a warm wet washcloth over baby during bath time to keep him or her warm!
This was an easy little ‘mom hack’ that we started doing and Harrison loved it! He also loves to have water poured on him (swim schools will tell you to start getting them used to lots of water from a very young age, and even will tell you to pour it (gently) over their faces so they start to get used to the sensation.
Shop our rubber ducky bath thermometer on Amazon here
And these adorable monogrammed towels here
BTW: We also have started doing bathtime IN the bath with him versus the sink in the infant tub (I hold him tightly on me and wash him while he rests on my legs) and he seems to love being with me so much more than being in the sink, and it’s so fun for both of us. Plus, I’ve started to be able to introduce him more to the water so he gets more comfortable with water. Definitely recommend! Just be ultra safe and don’t ever take your hands off of him (obviously!)
Also, put baby’s bath towel in the dryer during bath time!
This is a nice handy mom hack so that it’s nice and warm when he or she gets out!
Stash wipes everywhere
You’re going to want to buy wipes in bulk and have them everywhere!
The baby bjorn bouncer is a godsend
Harrison loves his bouncer and it’s an easy place to put him in any room if I need to be able to do things (like get ready in the mornings, do my skin routine, or cook dinner).
And so are baby carriers!
He also loves to be held on me, so in order to keep my hands free and able to do things around the house, I love having the Solly baby wrap and our Ergo baby carrier! The Ergobaby is sturdier, and definitely better for using on walks or outside the house, but the Solly baby is great for around the house!
This is the exact one we have – but it comes in many colors! You can get 10% off using this link and the code JETSET.
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