With Mother’s Day coming up next weekend I thought I would share that I’ve learned since Emery made me a mom just over 7 months ago. If you’re a mom I know you’re short on free time and I’m writing this as she contact naps so I’ll get right into it…
1. You need wayyy less than you think
We didn’t buy much for Emery, a few friends gave us some hand-me-downs which was AMAZING, I bought or picked up some key pieces of gear through Facebook marketplace and give-and-take groups in our community and I registered for some key things we needed too. Our space is small and I thought I was being pretty minimal but even then a lot of it still hasn’t been used.
It all depends on your baby and what they like and need. That's advice my midwife gave me when I told her I was even stressed about what clothes I needed for the baby… which depending on your climate and home you also really barely need. Yes, they are cute but some can be such a pain for diaper changes or are super expensive and they just wear it once. Even things that were beautiful gifts for her as a newborn just felt kinda wasteful as she wore them mayyybe 3 times. So, my advice is to ask friends to size up if they want to get you something adorable and special. Plus baby sizes are so random, I swear we went straight from 0-3 month things into 6 month things when Emery was right around 6 months and within a week the 6 month sizes were feeling snug. And, I was SO disappointed when special clothes were too small when I finally went to put her in them… I think most European and foreign baby clothes are made smaller. Ugg.
Also, my daughter has the same couple of favorite books and toys but we have lots more. I try to rotate things so she can “discover” them again and that keeps things new and fun.
Some useless (for us) stuff; Nursing covers (she would get too hot and rip it off which made covering up more awkward), swaddles – even the velcro kind (Emery refused to be swaddled so this was just a no, her startle reflex didn’t wake her so we just let her be), even burp cloths (Emery just didn’t have a lot of spit ups). Again, every baby is different and it’s good to have some stuff on hand but also remember that with things the way they are Amazon can get you whatever you need likely by the next day.
2. Narrate, narrate, narrate
Talk to your baby and tell them what you’re doing. Everything from making breakfast and whatever's happening around you in your home or when you’re out with your baby to a little run down of your day (what you're about to do and whats after that). They may not understand you yet but this helps them learn words sooner and it just seemed to help Emery regulate her nervous system. Maybe it was all in my head because it felt a little weird to be out and about with my baby (and I waited til she was over a month old before she ever went in a car) but it’s so helpful to talk to her and respectful for them to include them.
Especially if you have a baby that’s upset – during a diaper change, driving in a car or whenever – you may feel your nervous system starting to get anxious and stressed and want to go faster to get the diaper on or even drive faster but try and calm yourself first and you will often find that narrating what’s happening helps with that. I like to respect Emerys space by asking her if I may pick her up, kiss her etc. It just slows down the movement around her too which is more at her speed as a newborn.
3. Ask for help
To do the dishes, to pick up the mail (or the things you actually need for your baby that you just ordered off Amazon), to learn to breastfeed… literally anything and everything so that you can rest and focus on the baby. And if someone offers, just say yes. You can also come up with an easy one liner like “I never turn down food” or “I can’t say no to laundry help” so people know how to help. It may not be cleaned or done how you like it exactly but it will be done and honestly you just have to let things go as much as you can.
And if you’re reading this and not a mother or mother-to-be I just have to say that taking care of mom is taking care of baby. She should be focusing on the newborn and you helping with more water, snacks, managing outside visitors etc – even 7+ months in! – is you taking care of baby.
4. Double batch your food
Someone gave us this advice before Emery was born and it still applies over half a year in. I started double batching soups and lots of other things that can be frozen “prepared” to be cooked later like lasagna, casserole etc but truly almost everything can be double batched to save you time in clean up later or help you feed yourself fast with one hand so that you can feed your baby.
I’ve even taken to doubling pancakes and still am making huge batches of soups that feel like a little gift from younger Natalie lol. Dinner is delicious and so easy. Even if you’re doing a meal train I still recommend this.
5. Find a mamas/parenting group
No joke, I said at least a dozen times while I was pregnant that I wasn’t going to be one of those moms who goes to mama groups and is friends with other moms. HA! Literally less than a year later and I’m eating my words.
It started with a birthing class and I just wrapped a 3-4 month group baby class with Emery locally and we’re probably going to sign up for the next one and considering two others. It’s SO helpful to have a community of people around you that “get it” and are going through the same things. Being a new parent can feel very isolating and having a group meet up was so helpful to navigate the changes for me personally, for my marriage and to get tips on motherhood and parenting too that weren’t from some middle of the night black holes of the internet doom scrolling. Which brings me to…
6. You are the right mom for your baby
All credit to my husband for this one. Early on I was telling him he should read some book I was reading (one of MANY I read) and he just said that he was going to take his cues from Emery. At first I was taken aback but I realized that he’s right and while there may not be a baby manual there is a source of connection and intuition between each of us and our daughter.
I’m still happy I read lots of books about breastfeeding, parenting, learning, etc but at the end of the day I just have to be present to Emery and what her needs are in that moment. There’s no way I could remember all of it and as I love to say because it’s true, we’re all just making it up as we go along and doing our best. Just come from a place of love and do what works for you and your baby and just take all advice or ideas as things for your “baby tool box” and not set in stone, hard and fast rules. Everyone is on their own journey and you are the right mom, dad or parents for your little one.
7. Cloth diapers can be SUPER easy
Before Emery was born I knew I wanted to do cloth diapers because of the environmental impact for traditional disposables. It’s a bit debatable if cloth really is better for the environment with the water used etc but the fact that typical diapers have so many chemicals in them and take about 500 years to decompose was just not sitting well with me. 500 YEARS!
So… there’s great bamboo options that can be composted and options for disposables with less absorbent and other chemicals but I figured why not try cloth diapering. I even thought about buying some used cloth diapers off Facebook marketplace – there’s a big resell market for cloth diapers! Who knew?! However, I didn’t find what I wanted and was very confused by the options, pre-folds, all in ones, all in twos… it was too much to research and get lost in for me when I was 8 months pregnant but thankfully someone offered me their plan and it’s what I also use and love.
Pre-folds with waterproof shells are the way to go. You only need about 5-7 shells and about two dozen prefolds. I won’t get into the details of cloth diapering but basically you only need to change the shell every time your baby poops or after every few changes. Otherwise you just wipe it out and insert the new pre-fold. Cloth diapers are super soft and absorbent and get even more so with use. I have NEVER had a blowout with cloth diapers. I’ve had a handful of blowouts in the handful of disposables I’ve used which is a lot considering I only use them at night and when I want things to be more streamlined under Emerys outfit since cloth diapers are a bit bulky.
When babies are just breastfed their poops are water soluble so you don’t even have to wash them out but I would because I liked to hang them up to get sun bleached and dry out before we washed them. Since Emery was 3 weeks old we’ve also been practicing elimination communication. She does a lot of her elimination in the toilet so we don’t go through diapers as quickly as other people that are washing their cloth diapers every 2-3 days. So rinsing and hanging them up to dry and washing more like every 5-6 days is where we’ve landed. That’s more than I thought I would get into on it but if y’all really want me to I can give you my full run down of thoughts on cloth diapers and/or elimination communication in another blog post.
+Bonus Tip (The sun bleaches blowouts)
Because of cloth diapering I learned that the sun bleaches baby poop. At one of my mom group meetups I remember a mom talking about how her daughter always seemed to have blowouts in her favorite outfit and she was going through a 1/2 bottle of shout every time and the outfit was now ruined. I told her about sun bleaching it and she came back the next week super grateful.
If baby is breastfed, all you have to do is rinse out the blowout and hang the clothing in direct sun. Seriously in about 1/2 an hour the stain is mostly gone. Sometimes I would turn it inside out or to the other side of the fabric and of course leave things out longer for bigger stains but it couldn’t be any easier. Then you just launder as normal.
Well, there you have it. Those are my best new mama tips folks. I feel like I might be opening a door for people on the internet to come at me who disagree or who made different choices but that’s the great thing about parenting. You get to decide what works for you and your family. So do you and have fun mamas!! …and dads too!!