I hate the word ‘tips’. (Almost as much as I hate the word ‘strategies.’) Tips are supposed to be NEW things, that you didn’t already know, that can help you.
And yet. Have you noticed? Every single article with tips (10 tips to a slimmer you! The 5 best pregnancy tips! 20 tips for teachers!) is full of the same rehashed bullshit. Things not only that you already knew, but things that aren’t helpful and sometimes aren’t even concrete things to do or get. “Take care of yourself.” “Drink lots of water.” (Hey look, those could be top tips for all three of my examples! See what I mean?!!)
Perfect example from last summer: We listened to an audiobook about tips for twins, and one of the tips was, I shit you not, “shop online.” Effing DUH.
So please know that it pains me to use the word “tips”. I don’t throw that around lightly. But these are little things that I’ve learned or figured out over the past three months–that I didn’t read in the books or on the blogs–that have been helpful, and may be helpful tips for you too!
At the changing table, when you know there’s a dirty diaper, take several wipes out of the container BEFORE opening the diaper. That way you don’t have to frantically tug with one hand if something leaks or someone squirts you.
Also, unfold the new diaper down under the old one. Unfasten, lift, remove, fasten. Makes for a much quicker change!
For pete’s sake, never leave the baby undiapered to throw out the wet/dirty diaper! Clean and re-diaper first! Otherwise you’re just asking for a mess. Yes, it’s gross to have the icky one right there, but it’s already contained. Hold your breath and avert your eyes and cover up that leaky baby!
Use dry erase markers to write directly on bottles. It wipes right off. IKEA sells a set of 4 for like two bucks.
Re-use the nicer wipe container (with the snap lid) with generic brand wipes.
Tie a muslin aden and anais swaddle blanket around your neck like a giant neckerchief, as a makeshift nursing cover/pump cover.
If you are a non-short person like me, you may end up hunching at your changing table because it’s not tall enough. Get some bed risers–less than ten bucks–and your back will thank you.
Make any space an ‘activity mat’: Get a thin tube, dowel, pvc pipe (three bucks at Home Depot!), bamboo, whatever you’ve got. Slide on any hanging toys or rattles. Hang over a co-sleeper or playpen. This idea comes from a girl in my mama’s group–she hung a bamboo pole between two low couches, over a large squishy floor mat covered with a sheet. Instant, free baby entertainment!
Don’t get hung up on name brands for things like wipes, diapers, and formula (unless your baby/babies have special dietary needs). (This is a generic ‘tip’, sorry. Just want to make the point that brand names truly don’t matter.)
Write shit down. All kinds of things. We have a whiteboard up in our kitchen that includes things happening each day that week, grocery/errand lists, a fun countdown (we recently got up to 14 days without being peed on!), a copy of the pediatrician info, and a list of emergency contact info too (clearly we are bad parents because we only just thought of this one, oops). My already forgetful brain has gotten worse with the monotony of daily baby life, so it’s really helpful to have visual reminders and notes.
Wipe some olive oil on pump flanges to prevent chafing/chapping. Much smoother and less messy than lanolin. (Took some digging on a babycenter board to find this one.)
I’d love to hear your best practical baby tips! I’m going to check out Parent Hacks on Facebook…