Suddenly you have a new full-time job, and its name is Baby. It’s hard to juggle taking care of your little one with taking care of yourself. Your nights belong to feedings; your bag belongs to baby gear; and your hours are broken up by baby’s short attention span.
Make eating a game: “For those with toddlers, at restaurants order foods that your little ones can pierce with chopsticks (keep some in your bag). It occupies them by doing something different.”
Bendy straws: “Bendy straws in every purse/diaper bag for toddlers. Makes it so very much easier to avoid spills in restaurants, etc.”
Feeding schedules as tantrum prevention: “Keep kids on a schedule, especially with meals. Three balanced meals and two healthy snacks a day will avoid most meltdowns in kids, especially toddlers.”
This one’s genius: “All melty summer treats in the bathtub.”
Hacks for healthy and civilized eating
Introducing your baby to solid food can be a messy process, and teaching them how to behave in restaurants, an ordeal. How to get them to love the healthy food you know is good for them? How to keep them from protesting the tedium of the restaurant? These parents have some great ideas!
Sneak in those veggies: Blend veggies into a smoothie with strawberries for picky eaters.”
Toddlers can love baby food:“I have a 7 months old, who eats home cooked purees, most of them are green, yellow and orange veggies. My big one gets jealous and thinks it’s so cool to eat her baby sister’s food. So I take advantage and give it to her–green beans, squash, you name it, she eats it!”
Hacks for breast and bottle feeding
Keeping a newborn fed is a 24-hour around-the-clock job, so anything that can make it easier is a godsend.
Pumping lets dad help with feeding: “For breastfeeding mamas, your breastpump is your best friend, even for a stay-at-home mama. Even if you just pump once a day, do it so dad can do even just one feeding a day. My husband took the 10:30-11 pm dream feed at three weeks and it gave me the ability to have precious time in the evening to myself and the ability to go to bed early and sleep for a good solid block of hours.”
Genius bottle-warming trick: “If you’re exclusively pumping and want some time to get out and enjoy not being stuck at home with a newborn, bring a thermos filled with hot water to warm your bottles anywhere-in the mall, at the park… It also saves you money instead of buying those expensive bottle warmers for the car.”
Save your bed from milk dribbles: “Put bassinet size mattress pads on top of your sheets from night nursing.”
Hacks to keep you organized
When you’re a new parent, time is at a premium: minutes and seconds to yourself are precious resources, not to be squandered. Space in your bag is also at a premium, considering the metric ton of baby gear you have to haul around wherever you go. Organization can make your life SO much easier!
Ditch nonessential tasks: “Don’t waste your time folding baby clothes.”
Bedtime feedings = longer sleep for parents: “Change, diaper and feed your newborn the most/longest right before you go to bed so you’re able to get a little more sleep. Works great with my 7 week old right now!”
Keep your diaper bag prepared: “Every time you get home, clean out your diaper bag and refill so it is ready to go. If I have the essentials ready to go, I can throw in a snack and go in a quick minute. This has saved me more than once to be on time.”
Don’t give them time to mess up their out-of-house outfits: “When going out always get dressed first. Then dress your little ones. Once dressed I put on a towel/apron combo to keep my clothes clean and intact.”
Use baby’s naptime wisely: “Don’t do anything while the baby sleeps that you could do while she’s awake! (i.e. folding laundry, etc.)”
Sheet-changing hack: “Doubling/layering the bed sheets. When they need changing just strip & the next set is ready to go.”
Bathroom multi-tasking: “Brush your teeth while peeing. There’s no time to do these things separately.” (Note that more than one person gave us this particular parenting life hack!)
And here’s our favorite tip: “Maintain your Babylist long after the initial ‘new baby necessities’ phase and send the link to family and friends who ask for gift ideas for baby’s 1st birthday, Christmas, etc.”
Hacks to make diapering easy
It’s hard to put a diaper on a squirming, wriggly, restless baby! Plus, having the perfect diaper gear on you at all times requires so much planning ahead. Hack your way out of your diaper dilemma.
Don’t waste $ on a changing table: “Instead of buying a changing table, simply use the changing table topper instead wherever you typically change diapers at home.”
Face pants game: “Putting baby’s pants on their face while changing their diaper and when they pull them off shout peek a boo is pretty helpful for diaper changes.”
Diaper distraction trick: “While changing my daughters diaper I now place a magnet letter on her forehead and pretend she is invisible while it’s on. She’s so distracted she doesn’t wiggle.” Another parent used a similar trick, but with a clean wipe instead of a magnet letter.
Backwards clothing to prevent diaper escape: “When dealing with little lives who love to rip off their diaper, take a pair of footie pajamas, cut off the feet, and put them on your munchkin backwards!!”
Red light bulb for night changing: “Late night diaper changes are rough in the beginning! Instead of fumbling in the dark or turning on a bright light, grab a red light bulb! You’ll have enough light to change the baby but no one will be forced awake by the shock of the bright light!”
Maxi Pad as emergency substitute diaper: “If you ran out of diapers during errands but have a pad in your glove box, paste it to their onside bottom or a pair of bloomers to give you a good 20 minutes until you can figure out your next move.”
Take a lap through the house: “Babies have short attention spans and because of that I feel like I get nothing done! So while doing dishes or folding laundry, if she gets fussy, I pick her up, do a lap throughout the house so she can look around (and you get more steps) then I put her in a slightly different spot or angle, then I have another five-ish minutes then I repeat.”
Try a back carry: “Back your baby! Whenever my little one is fussy etc I put her on my back using the Ergo carrier and it instantly calms her down! I’m able to get many things done and she enjoys being there.”
Diffuse anger with goofy fun: “When they throw a tantrum, just get them distracted by something completely different and use a princess voice or something…for example my 2.5 years old comes home very hungry and irritated from school and goes toward the snack cabinet almost crying and losing herself over it. Not to spoil her appetite before the dinner, I offer her to go upstairs and put on a pretty dress that she likes so much. That does the magic. She forgets she is hungry and is excited about her dress.”
Eye contact wakes up babies: “When baby wakes up during the night for feedings/diaper changes, AVOID EYE CONTACT!! Give them hugs/kisses/love but don’t look them in the eye. They will think it’s time to play and may not want to go back to sleep. I’ve used this tip with both my kids and it always works.”
This one might be obvious but… “Never wake a sleeping baby. He will wake up soon enough!”
The theme here was that tots don’t need fancy toys to keep them entertained. The whole world is so magical and new to them that everyday items are plenty entertaining enough!
Masking tape: “For flying or long car rides with a little one: buy a roll of masking tape to let them unroll. It’ll keep them entertained and distracted for ages with basically no mess or cleanup involved. Plus it’s sticky, so it’s less likely to get thrown or dropped on the floor.”
Do-it-yourself playground: “Learn to swing the car seat like a pendulum. Once you get that down, you’re golden.” Make sure they’re strapped in safely.
Make toys from junk and household items: “Give baby household items for toys. Plastic cups to bang. Magazine pages to tear. Cardboard boxes to explore.” And this particular parent got really ingenious with household items: “Colorful Popsicle sticks, Pom poms, cotton balls and Q tips in an old cleaned-out Parmesan cheese container. My one year old loves taking them out and putting back in. There are two flaps on these lids, one side is wide open and one has three holes. Keeps him occupied in restaurants!!”
Backup security item: “Always have a back-up blankie, teddy bear, whatever their security item is. Buy two from the beginning because one will get lost and you’ll need that backup in case it sells out or is discontinued!”
Take a timeout: “Dance with your children, sing with your children and play with your children, but also set aside time for yourself. Sometimes, I even tell my oldest that I need a ‘timeout.’”
Go on outings: “Get baby out in the world early!! Once they are here they are part of the world.. Let them learn to sleep with noise and see people!”.
Take time to enjoy: “Take time to admire the miracle you created! I think too often we are so tired that we forget why we are tired. So everyday I find myself spending some time to just look at my little man and think about what my body did and went through to get him here.”
Breathe: “Deep breaths. Time to step away, refocus, relax and focus on the big picture. The days are long but the years go by fast.”
Be kind to yourself and others: “There will be days you feel like you’re failing at parenting completely. Please remember to be kind to yourself, and know that being a parent is not always easy. As absolutely wonderful as it is, it’s also a lot of work. Don’t be too hard on yourself! You’re doing a great job! We all feel a little run down and have feelings of guilt thinking we could do better. Love yourself, and you’ll be an even better momma.”
What wonderful advice: love yourself! Remind other parents to love themselves, too. We hope some of these parenting life hacks came in useful.