Baby’s First Month: What Do You Really Need?
June 17, 2015
In the weeks before I had my oldest child, I had a handful of fairly important things on my to do list I didn’t get to because my husband had the brilliant idea of labeling and indexing all the baby clothes and entering them into a spreadsheet to make them searchable. Guess how useful that turned out to be? Not at all. I’ve figured out how to prioritize a bit better this time around with the birth of my fourth child. I kept my focus on having the best recovery possible and making the most of the bonding time with my newborn that first month. Here’s what I did:
Needs Come First
There are a lot of things you don’t need at all right now and a lot of things you might need depending on your baby. My philosophy is to wait and see. I went to the tremendous trouble to get the perfect rocking chair and then my baby couldn’t stand being rocked. That said, there are some important Must-Haves:
-Diapers and wipes, enough for the first few weeks. Get both newborn and size 1, depending on how big your baby ends up being, you might not be in newborn very long. If you are using disposables, I would also recommend getting a few smaller packs in a few brands to get one that you fits your baby best. My newborns’ bottoms all fit Pamper’s Swaddlers best, but once they were bigger, we liked Target’s Up and Up brand. Newborns can easily go through 5-8 diapers/day. When I buy wipes, I get the most natural one I can find that is also marked “fragrance-free.” Unscented wipes can actually have fragrance added to them to make them smell neutral. Making your own wipes is actually really simple, too. There are plenty of good recipes on Pinterest.
-Feeding supplies: I have breastfed all my newborns, but I always had some formula on hand for peace of mind. I’ve never ended up using it, but I worried excessively every time about my supply and having a back up on hand has been comforting to me. Options for bottles are almost endless, but for the purpose of just having a backup, anything with a slow flow rate nipple will work for now.
-Binkies: you might need to have a few types on hand if you are committed to using them. I’ve had really hit and miss luck with my kids.
-Burp Cloths: Cute, flannel burp cloths are okay, but I’d recommend some heavy lifters, too. I use pre-fold cloth diapers 100% cotton for burp cloths and they are wonderfully soft, absorbent, and the right size.
-Blankets: These aren’t just for warmth. If you have a summer baby, you’ll still need blankets for wrapping baby snuggly in a swaddle. You can buy the kind that has the velcro to help you get a nice tight swaddle, but those aren’t a necessity. In fact, I do a better swaddle with a slightly stretchy or muslin blanket and my husband prefers flannel.
-Wash baby clothes and blankets in a gentle detergent. Be on the look out for fragrances again. Charlie’s Soap is wonderful. There are also lots of DIY options.
-Pick a doctor for baby. First doctors appointments happen in the first week.
-Figure out your car seat. A car seat is not safe unless it is installed properly. Know what that means for your car seat before you are sitting in a wheelchair at the hospital with a screaming baby on your lap while your husband is frantically flipping through the manual and muttering in the backseat. Been there, done that.
-Read up or review books and articles on how to care for a newborn. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp is life-changing for a lot of parents. I really like The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg, it gave me tools on how to understand babies. I love The Baby Book by William and Martha Sears. It covers development for the whole two years but is also really good at giving practical, age-specific advice.
-Make sure the camera’s memory card isn’t full. I never feel like I’ve gotten enough sleeping newborn pictures and they really do change so fast!
Everything else can wait a few months.
Mama Has Needs, Too:
Never underestimate the power of good food to nourish and comfort!
-When you make dinner, double your recipe and freeze half for after baby comes.
-Stock the fridge, freezer, and pantry with foods that are good and fast (I love trail mix!). One mom I know went a step further and put a mini-fridge next to her nursing spot.
-Perineum Care: there are lots of options here. You can buy a product, Earth Mama Angel is a delightful brand, or go the DIY route. You can add witch hazel, Tea Tree Oil, and Lavender to your peri-bottle, or put the same mixture into a spray bottle. I soaked some pads in this mix and froze them and they were heavenly that first week. You can also invest in a sitz bath and put Epsom salts, witch hazel, healing herbs, or essential oil.
-Nursing bras with just enough support
-Nursing pads for absorbing leaked milk
-Comfy pants/shorts or nightgown
-Comforting resting place. Whether that means upgrading your sheets and pillows on your bed or arranging the couch and living room for optimal comfort, spend some time feathering your recovery nest.
-A good, functional water bottle you can easily drink from one-handed. Hydration is SO important
-Media/Entertainment: put some new books on your Kindle (easier to hold one handed), have some audiobooks or movies on hand, stock your Netflix queue or fill up your DVR. This helped me from getting antsy about being down during recovery and helped keep me relaxed during long days and nights of nursing.
Anticipate and Plan Ahead
-Get ahead. What of your responsibilities can you get ahead on so you can ignore them for a few weeks? Any paperwork or bills that you can take care of now? What about your partner’s responsibilities?
-Stock up on household things: toilet paper, laundry detergent, paper towels, etc.
-Deep Clean. Get ahead on your cleaning, too, especially your personal space and the bathroom.
-Have meal plans, shopping lists, or even just a list of favorite recipes ready so you can eliminate planning while you are sleep-deprived and pass the job off to someone else entirely. Consider using disposable dishes for a while to simplify clean up as well.
-Finish up any projects around the house that will bug you if they remain undone for a few months.
-Run the errands you don’t want others doing for you.
Don’t Get Behind
As you get to the point where labor could start any day, don’t start any huge projects but stay on top of:
Sleep- don’t go to bed late
Food- don’t skip meals
Rest- don’t exhaust yourself and find time to meditate or some other soul-nurturing activity.
Quality time- nourish your relationships with your spouse, family, and friends.
Laundry- it’s going to multiply like rabbits with a baby in the house, so don’t get behind
Let Go of the Rest
Whatever you do manage to get done is good enough. Accept your situation and constraints and don’t waste your energy worrying.
Interested in learning more? Visit our blog piece on what we think are the best baby monitors.
What other things do you think moms REALLY need the first month?
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