As a first-time parent, bringing home a tiny newborn from the hospital can feel mostly exciting, but also REALLY scary. Strapping your wrinkly, 7-pound, squirming babe into a car seat, and then driving on roads crowded with death machines made of steel is a terrifying feeling. Does that sound dramatic? Ha! As new parents, our minds can go crazy places when it comes to the safety and care of our kids.
Fortunately for all of us parents, babies don’t stay fragile newborns forever. Gosh, I loved soaking up that snuggly, sleepy phase where I could protect my babies from everything except gassy bellies and warm baths (anyone else’s kids hate warm baths?!). I remember wearing out the batteries on my infant rocker and putting hundreds of miles on our three-wheel stroller just trying to keep my newborn happy and safe close to me.
As scary and uncertain as that newborn stage can be, seasoned parents will agree that once your baby becomes mobile, safety and preparedness take on a whole new meaning. I can’t be the only parent that has walked in on my kid with their hand and face in the toilet! It is this season of crawling and learning to walk, coupled with babies newfound curiosity for all things sharp, that will keep parents on their toes.
Once crawling began, we immediately looked around our home and saw hazard after hazard. We tried to focus on the areas that we knew our baby would have more freedom. Baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs were our first step. We put baby-proofing cabinet locks on accessible cabinets in the kitchen and anchored the furniture in her room. We put little finger pinch guards on the doors because opening and closing became her favorite pastime. Lastly, a camera in her bedroom allowed us to see if she was up to anything sneaky in her bedroom.
These sorts of easy fixes just scratch the surface regarding what can be hazardous to the baby, but the other half of baby-proofing is parent and caretaker vigilance. We can’t protect our babes from everything, but hopefully, we can do our best to prevent accidents in our home.
Give Me All the Cute Baby Clothes: Tips for Picking and Choosing Clothes and Accessories that Make Sense for Babies
I’ve never met a parent who doesn’t love to shop for cute little baby clothes for their kids! From the time you see that positive pregnancy test, it is tempting to stock up on baby clothes and accessories because there are so many adorable options out there. Experienced moms and dads will probably each have their own story about the ridiculous things they bought for their new or unborn baby that ended up being completely frivolous and ridiculous. Perhaps the most important lesson to learn the hard way when it comes to dressing your baby is: “LESS IS MORE.”
Now, to be fair, I won’t assume that any new parent will be able to take this advice and heed their desire and temptation to buy all the cute things for their baby. In the case that you are trying to be a LITTLE thrifty when it comes to baby clothes and accessories, here are a few things I have learned the hard way.
- Baby shoes before 10 months are useless. For some reason, there are very few companies that have figured out how to make an affordable baby shoe that will actually stay on their little tiny ankles/feet. I cannot tell you how many times I have loaded a baby back into the car seat only to realize that we have lost a “shoe” somewhere along the way. Those things are CA-UTE but so terribly impractical.
- Invest in some socks with tight elastic around the ankle. This is related to my first point. Many brands of baby socks are also lacking in the tightness that is required to keep something from falling off a tiny baby ankle. Especially if you have a baby born in the winter, you will want to invest in some taller ankle socks that stay tight around baby’s leg.
- Keep it simple. When it comes to clothes, try to invest in pieces that can easily be mixed and matched. Orca Care has a great assortment of outfit sets that give you different options. It is inevitable that your kid will get some piece of clothing covered in food/dirt/water, and it is such a time saver to be able to grab a different onesie or pair of shorts rather than having to change an entire outfit!
- Go easy on the bows. If you have a little girl, the bow temptation is REAL. Unless you are putting those things on daily, your baby will probably never get used to wanting to wear them. We have lost many a bow on the floor of the grocery store or mall because I wasn’t paying attention when my babe ripped it off and threw it on the ground.
- Comfort is key! I know those skinny jeans and tucked in button-down shirts look SO CUTE on babies in pictures, but that is about the extent to which you will probably see them actually worn. True denim is a bit hard for a baby to move in, and can inhibit them from doing the squirming they love! Keeping the dress up clothes to a handful of pieces will really ensure that you get more wear out of what you have.
I know that we are not all thrifty when it comes to shopping for baby clothes, and that is totally okay! If you find joy from shopping and dressing your babe in new clothes every day, then do it! If not, you might find a few of these tips helpful when trying to discern where to focus your time and money.
Don’t Forget About YOU: Must-Have “Stuff” for Parents
After finding out I was pregnant, my first thought was, “I am so happy!” My second thought was, “Oh my gosh we need EVERYTHING!” It is such an odd thing to think about when you step back a bit and gain some perspective. Having a child and bringing it into your home is such a foreign experience for first-time parents. There are so many things that you “need” (or think you need) when you have a baby that you wouldn’t have had any reason to own previously.
As expecting parents, it is hard not to get overwhelmed thinking about how much you will need to ask for or purchase in anticipation of your child arrives. Thankfully, you can rest assured that you are not the first, or the last, to bring home a baby. Friends and family members will be more than happy to offer their suggestions and advice on what is absolutely necessary, and what is absolutely useless when it comes to parenting and keeping your baby happy. If you aren’t getting great advice from those around you, the internet has no shortage of suggestions.
What we often do when we become engrossed in all of the baby gear needs is forget what we, as new parents, might benefit from having for ourselves. There are several products out there that can help soften the transition from childless adult to a caretaker of a new babe.
- Maternity Belt for back and belly support
DON’T EVEN PAUSE TO THINK ABOUT THIS! If you are bearing the weight of that belly and not feeling 100%, why even give it a second thought!.
- Pregnancy Pillow
Again, do not hesitate to treat yourself to this life-saver. You will be suffering enough from lack of sleep once the baby comes, so do yourself a favor and try to create as comfortable a situation as possible to get restful sleep now!
- Baby Carrier
Every parent needs some type of baby carrier. There are several different options to choose from: wraps, slings, soft-structured carriers, etc. You will be so glad for a hands-free option once your baby hits a growth spurt, or sleep regression and feels the need to be on you ALL THE TIME! These are also crucial to keeping curious, germ-laden, stranger hands off of your newborn baby while traveling or out in public.
- Washable, Organic Nursing Pads
Don’t even waste your money on the disposable ones. The washable, reusable nursing pads are more eco-friendly, and also more economically friendly. They are softer and more gentle, and also less-bulky to wear out in public.
- White Noise Machine
Most people have this on their list for baby’s nursery, but don’t forget about yourself! If you don’t already have a white noise machine, treat yourself to one! You will be glad to have the sleep help when you are running on fumes.
There are of course so many things to think about when a baby’s arrival is imminent. Try not to forget some must-haves for you as the parent as well. You will be thanking yourself later!