Being a new mom is overwhelming, trust me, I would know because I'm still in the trenches with a 4.5 month old that I'm just starting to get into a routine with. Oh, and I'm using the word "routine" loosely because just as you think the last week of the little one sleeping for most of the night is amazing, the next week they could be going through a developmental phase that throws any sense of routine out the window. You are back at square one. So I'm going to share a few random mommy hacks (aka tricks and tips) that have made my days a little smoother.
Set up a diaper changing station in your common area. Or if you are tight for space prep a changing caddy with all of the essentials (changing pad, diapers, wipes, creams, hand sanitizer etc). When we first brought Mía home and I was still recovering from the c-section, this diaper caddy was a life saver and made the million diaper changes that much easier. Also, get a caddy for the car too because you never know when you will need the essentials and you wouldn't want to be left in a lurch.
Put your pumping parts in the fridge - OK hear me out before you dismiss this. Mía hated any synthetic nipple that came her way for the first 3 months. In an effort to give myself some freedom from breastfeeding, I would pump one morning feeding and one bedtime feeding and attempt to give it to her in a bottle - sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. As you can imagine, I was washing pumping parts and bottles for what felt like all day long. If I was having a rough day and I didn't think I would get all of the pump parts washed and dried before the next time I needed it, I would rinse the pumping part (still assembled) that I just used and place it in the fridge in a plastic container. This way in a few hours when I would be ready to pump and save for her next feeding I would have the parts ready to go. Mind you, I wouldn't do this every day or use the same refrigerated pumping part more than twice for sanitary reasons. I plan on buying lots more pumping parts when it gets closer to the end of my maternity leave/return to work and I have to pump more often. That way I can pump during the day and put all of the parts in the dishwasher at night so they are ready for the next day.
Muslin swaddles are your best friend. You can never have enough muslin swaddles. I never really got why everyone loved them so much until I became a mom and realized that I reached for one all the time. I use them as nursing cover ups because I hate trying to get the normal nursing cover ups over my head one-handed. They are great as stroller and car seat covers when you want a little privacy for the babe. I fold one up and use it as blanket for Mía at night because its warm but breathable or as a play blanket on the floor. Obviously they make amazing swaddles for your little one to feel cozy and safe. I could list off a dozen more uses but the point is, you will need lots of them and keep one or two handy at all times!
When you lay baby down, you should lay them on top of a burp cloth. Spit up happens, and it happens a lot when they are this young so why not be prepared? You don't need anything fancy, even having several rectangles or peanut shaped cut outs of thick material like a flannelette would do just fine. My mother is amazing and made us a whole drawerful for Mía. I always have one under her head when she is laying anywhere that isn't wipeable and trust me, this method has saved our sheets and couch many times.
The envelope folds on diaper shirts make them multidirectional. What the heck does that mean you may ask. The folds are placed there to make it easy to pull the shirt over the babe's head... but did you know you can go the other way too? That's right my friends, you can use those folds to your advantage to pull the shirt down their shoulders, torso, and legs versus up over their heads. This is exceptionally handy for massive poop explosions that span up the back and make you wonder how to avoid getting poop in their hair. Also, dressing the babe from the tush upwards is good if your little one isn't fond of having anything pulled over their heads.
Toss dirty socks in a mesh washing bag. Baby socks are tiny and like most things tiny, they are more likely to get lost in the shuffle. I keep a mesh washing bag on top of Mía's laundry bag to place her tiny socks in when they get dirty so when it comes times for laundry they are all in one place for washing and drying. This also makes matching and rolling her socks super fast when they are dry and ready to go back into the drawer.
Wear a tank top under your shirts when you go out. Just because you are nursing doesn't mean you are limited to only wearing button down shirts for easy access. I love wearing a nursing tank top or regular tank top under my tee shirts or sweaters and when it comes time for nursing it's an easy reach up and under to unhook and feed. This also provides a cover up for your belly/top area and you aren't stretching the heck out of your shirts by pulling them down all the time. I find that most nursing tank tops fit tighter around the mid-section than I would like if they fit me perfectly on top. I don't know about you but my in-between body isn't ready for anything tight going around there just yet. Using the maternity tank tops as under shirts as well as pj tops really made me feel like I was getting my money's worth since they can be pretty pricey. I would suggest having a few inexpensive longer fitting tank tops (black, grey, white, etc) that you can pair under your shirts for hassle free outfit pairings. I love these ones from h&m because they come in lots of colours and are made of light weight jersey and great for layering.
Park next to the shopping cart return area if you are grocery shopping solo. Living on the East coast with our long winters I quickly learned that the best parking spot at the grocery store when I was alone with babe was the one next to the cart return and not actually the baby spots near the door. This way I can get her settled into the warm car, put groceries away, and then quickly slide the cart into the return area so I don't ever have to worry about leaving her alone in the car and walking away.
Use your soda can box as a frozen breast milk dispenser. I saw this one on pinterst randomly early on in my pregnancy and I remembered thinking it was genius and that I would 100% use it. You freeze your breast milk flat, date it, and toss it in the box so when you use the dispenser side you will always use the oldest dated milk first because it is on the bottom. Again, genius!
Wear a light weight robe while you are prepping to leave the house. Nothing drives me more crazy than being dressed and ready to leave the house and the babe pukes or spits up all over my outfit. Wearing a light weight robe over your out-the-door outfit is key in saving your precious time and sanity. If babe does end up messing on you somehow, you can take off the robe and leave and toss it in the wash later. Easy peasy!
Do you have a mommy hack that you use often? I would love to know about it so please leave a comment or send me a message on the CONTACT page.
Photo: Monica Phung
Until next time,