My Bag of Tricks

Having a newborn is stressful, no doubt.  I’ve found that there are certain things that work for us really well, and I’ve developed my own little “bag of tricks”, if you want to call it, of “must-have” items when it comes to having a newborn.  These things have really come in handy and I’d recommend them to any new mom…

1. A baby carrier.  We went with a mei-tai from Oyako and I’ve been very happy with it.  So has Joe, as you can see from the picture:

I’ve had people stop me on the street and ask where I bought this carrier, and I’m happy to say that it’s made right here in New Zealand.  It’s easy to use, I can wear it on my front or like a backpack, Joe can face me or face out, and it can be used from newborn – 15kgs {33lbs}.  I can put Joe in this and, usually, he stops crying within 5 minutes of me walking around {keyword: walking – he doesn’t like it so much when I’m stationary}.  It comes in handy when I’m doing chores or running errands.  Joe is content to be close to me and it’s been suggested that babies who are “worn” cry less than babies who aren’t.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it makes sense to me and Joe isn’t a big crier.  Bottom line – it works for us and I love it.

2. A bouncinette

This thing works.  We bought the one above.  It’s a Bright Starts model and retails for a fairly economical price.  You know how people recommend putting baby in the car and driving around for awhile if they’re fussy?  The vibrations on this chair have a similar soothing effect.  It’s lightweight and easy for me to carry from room to room.  I’ll usually feed Joe, burp him, then set him in the chair and bring him to wherever I’m going to be – the bathroom for a shower, in the bedroom so that I can take a nap, too, at my desk for when I’m online… you get the idea.  Joe usually naps in this at least once a day, too.

3. Cloth nappies.  We love our BumGenius 4.0 nappies.  I use a flushable liner and flushable wipes.  All we have to do is take off the nappy, wipe-wipe-wipe, put the wipes on top of the liner {which is inside the nappy} and then turn the whole thing over the toilet.  The liner and wipes fall into the bowl, and with one “flush” the whole mess is gone.  I put the nappies in the pail and do a load about 2 times a week.  Easy peasy, and Joe’s bum doesn’t have even a hint of a rash.  They’re also husband-friendly 😉

4. Fisher-Price Cot Toy

FYI: cot = crib in New Zealand

Joe doesn’t spend much time in his cot.  The only time he’s in there is when I’ve finished changing him and need to set him down so that I can flush the liner and wash my hands.  I bought this cot toy last-minute and had my mom bring it with her from the States.  It’s probably the best toy that I’ve bought.  I’ll put Joe in his cot, turn on the toy, and he is absolutely enamored.  Seriously – he’s in awe of this thing.  I don’t know what it is about it, but he will just stare and coo at it, and it’s been this way since day one.  The toy plays music, has lights and movement, and it’s like the world ceases to exist once this thing is turned on.  I only wish that there was something similar that I could use on his play mat or in the bassinet!

5. A pacifier.  I know that not everyone likes these and that some babies just don’t take to them.  It’s up to you, but when your little one won’t stop crying and you’re all worn out, you might consider giving them a try.  There were times when I knew that Joe wasn’t hungry but he was just plain fussy.  In the early stages of breastfeeding, it would be really frustrating for him to latch on, suck for maybe 3 minutes, and then stop.  All of that pain for only 3 minutes of sucking!  Enter the pacifier – it made life much easier.  Babies who suck on a pacifier have a lower risk of SIDS, and pacifiers don’t interfere with dentition like sucking on a thumb does.  We have an orthodontic pacifier for newborns, and Joe loves it but doesn’t need it, which is something I was a bit nervous about.  If he’s sleeping and it falls out, he won’t wake up crying for it to be put back in his mouth.

6. A swaddling blanket.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, patented, or brand-name.  Ours is just a plain old stretchy merino blanket.  The stretchiness is a nice touch – makes it easier to get him nice and tightly wrapped up.  We joke about it being a “baby strait jacket”.  Some people think that swaddling is cruel.  I disagree.  Joe doesn’t have complete control of his limbs yet.  Particularly when he was a newborn, his arms would move about as if they were independent of his body.  He’d be whimpering and fussing while still asleep – I’d look over and, sure enough, there his arms would be, waving above his head and bopping him in the face.  Poor baby!  We wrap him up tight as a sausage and start to “shush” him {a very useful tip from “The Happiest Baby on the Block”} and he’ll settle right down.  At night, if his swaddling isn’t tight, he’ll work those little arms free and you can bet your bottom dollar that he’ll start crying.  So, get yourself a good blanket with some stretch in it.  I haven’t tried any of the specially marketed swaddling blankets/sleeping bags, but I hear that they work well, too.

7. A good stroller {or “pram”, as I like to call it over here in NZ!}.

We have the Baby Jogger City Mini.  It’s got to be one of the best prams out there.  I can fold it, unfold it, and carry it with one hand and be holding Joe in the other.  You can use it with newborns all the way up to toddlerhood.  He can be almost entirely flat on his back or fully upright.  It has a 5-point safety harness, storage baskets and bags, comes in a plethora of colors, the canopy has 3 different positions and pulls down far enough that he can be almost entirely shaded, and you can attach a glider-plate for when you have 2 little ones and one needs to ride along in the back.  We got ours with the optional cup holder so that Chris can push Joe and have his coffee, too 😉  When you consider the fact that I walk just about everywhere, having a good stroller is a necessity.

8.  Pillows.  Lots and lots of pillows.  Preferably some with good support.  I’ve never been a big fan of the “breastfeeding pillows”.  Why?  A couple of reasons – they’re big, you typically only need them for the first month or two, and then what?  You have a big pillow and no use for it.  We live in an inner-city apartment which is large for Auckland but still not big on space.  Especially storage space.  So I bought a pillow designed for reading in bed, a second memory foam pillow {to go with the one that I already have}, and some more throw pillows.  When I breastfeed Joe on the couch, I usually sit in the corner with 2 pillows behind my back, my legs crossed or stretched out on the couch in front of me, and one throw pillow underneath Joe to give me a little extra support.  When I’m in bed, I sleep with 2 pillows behind me.  If I have to breastfeed him while I’m in bed, I grab another one from the floor, stuff it behind me, and pick up a 4th pillow to put underneath Joe {assuming that I’m not breastfeeding him while I’m in a side-lying position – that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax}.  Even if you’re not breastfeeding, you’ll need a lot of pillows.  Babies eat.  A lot.  And you’ll be pretty sore if you don’t take the time to have proper support.

9. Baby music.  Joe loves to lie on his play mat with baby music playing.  It’s also a great way to provide extra sounds and noise, which help him stay awake a bit more during the day.  I was given several “Baby Mozart” CDs and you know what?  We don’t really care for them.  Joe does, but we don’t.  My mom gave us 3 of the “Praise Baby” CDs and Joe loves them.  I can put them on and within seconds, his eyes grow wide and he’s very obviously listening.  If he’s in the midst of a crying fit, they won’t help,  but they’re great at keeping him quietly alert and occupied.  I’m also interested in checking out some Kiwi offerings that have been suggested by friends – Craig Smith, who writes about the “Wonky Donkey”, and “Wamma Jam Jive” from Tessarose.  I’ve also heard that Coal Train Railroad is a good one – it’s a collection of jazz music aimed at little ones.

…and last but not least… one of the best items in my bag of tricks… something that I love to use whenever Joe is fussing and I’m tired and I need some help…

10. My husband.

Chris is absolutely indispensable to me and to Joe.  He makes taking care of our little boy exponentially easier.  I know that many women don’t have a partner and feel strongly that they don’t need one.  Could I raise Joe without Chris?  Yes – in a worst case scenario, I could.  But I wouldn’t want to.  Those nights when Joe is up and crying?  Those days when it’s been a little bit crazy?  When I feel like I look like a lump and have done nothing but nurse and change nappies and rinse off spit up?  Those are the days when it’s so wonderful to have my husband come home and tell me that he loves me and that I’m beautiful.  It feels so good to have him tell me how much he appreciates what I do for Joe, and it’s great to have another pair of hands who can hold Joe and soothe him while I try to catch a few ZZZs.  I’m so glad that he’s around!

So, there you have it!  My bag of tricks for making motherhood just a bit easier.  What are some things that worked for you?

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5 comments

  1. Laura says:

    I loved reading about all of your “bag of tricks” and have to agree with all of them! I am a mom to a 2 year old boy, and about to be a second time mommy next month when my daughter makes her arrival. I love reading your blog and feel like I’m getting a refresher on having a newborn again. My son never liked being swaddled, and breastfeeding stressed me out so I ended up pumping to bottles mostly, so I am really determined to make it work this time around, and to try new techniques!

    Love the advice about the pillows, it’s one of the things you don’t really think about until you find yourself crouched down trying to get baby to eat properly, and next thing you know you have sprained a muscle ha!

    Laura
    laurasblondemoments.blogspot.com

  2. Christine says:

    Hi!
    I found your blog somehow… maybe Kiwi Mummy Blogs?? Not sure 🙂 Anyway… just wanted to say hi and that I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. Joe is super cute!
    I’m a New Zealander but lived in California for all of Junior High and High School, came back for University, met my husband and stayed. But I miss it lots! 🙂
    Hope you are not finding the cultural differences too hard, and I hope you are making lots of friends!
    Take care,
    Christine

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