The birth of my last child was not too long ago. My husband and I had planned to have three children so the pregnancy and subsequent birth of our fourth little girl came as an unexpected blessing in which we rejoiced....well, after a little hiccup on my end. We were thrilled to find out I was pregnant and it wasn't like we hadn't done this before. The only thing we were not prepared for? The stuff! I had given away every last baby item of nonsentimental value, every last maternity outfit, every last toddler tool. I cried over my unpreparedness as it pertained to "stuff."
"Is that all you are crying over?" the hubby asked.
"Yes." I wailed.
"Honey, if that is all you are upset over there is no need to worry. We can always get more."
Hubby was right, of course, and we were gifted, loaned, and purchased all of the items we needed. As I walked through the aisles of the baby store I was registering/purchasing from, I was in awe of some of the nonessential items I saw promoted. Sure, these items can be fun to purchase and use; however, other basic necessities can be of far more use and make your life much easier on a daily basis. Do baby stores tell you this, no way! And so my registry was full of items most moms don't hold in high regard because they don't think about it. In this post, I have combined some of the life hacks and essential items I learned make life easier after having four kids. These top tips will save you time, heartache, and sleep. Beware, these items and ideas are not always Pinterest pretty; however, they are lifesavers!
1. Baby Waterproof Mattress Covers:
I recommend three. Yep, you read that right, three! The goal is to layer your baby mattress. Anyone who has had a baby knows that making a baby bed is absolutely horrible. My husband and I would make the bed in this order (and start with a blank mattress): bedsheet, mattress cover, bedsheet, mattress cover, bedsheet, mattress cover, bedsheet. Many people have asked me if this compromised the safety of baby. My husband and I purchased nonpillow top mattress covers so they were very thin. By the time we had layered, the mattress was a bit more snug in its space...which is actually recommended. Now, I could see a problem being had when you purchase three pillow top mattress covers. Plush mattress covers can create a hazardous environment for baby when it relates to SIDS. Babies are to sleep on their back on a flat surface; therefore, baby mattresses are made to be firm. My point in writing this bit of info: when layering, choose non-plush linens. Ok, what is the point in all these layers?
My reasoning: when baby spits up or poops all over the bedsheets at night you are prepared! If I awoke to feed baby, I was able to simply strip off the top sheet and waterproof mattress cover to find a freshly made bed underneath. Isn't that amazing at 3:00 am?! Why, yes it is!
You could always tell when my hubby got down to the last layer when you heard the griping and complaining from the other room as I fed baby. Those were not fun evenings; however, I always had a spare bedsheet he could throw on so that I could layer the mattress back up in the morning. Just remember, the mattress still must be flat-not plush.
2. Burp Cloths, cloth diapers, and baskets:
Have you seen the price of cute boutique burp cloths? They are stupidly expensive! My babies were all breastfed babies (no judgment or bragging here-just stating the facts for reference) and they were all the spitter queens. Each one had to be burped or the entire meal would come back up in increments making my life miserable, my hair stinky, and both of our clothing soiled. Burping baby, in my household, was a necessity. I kept cute burp cloths with me in the diaper bag; however, I used the super absorbent cloth diapers for my home use. I mean, they are made for poop, am I right?! Additionally, I kept a basket in several rooms full of them. I had one next to the rocker for burping, one basket in the living room for tummy time/ burping. One in my bedroom and even a few in the bathroom. I made sure the baskets were stylish to the room they were located in and easily accessible. It was always great to be cooking and have one of my big kids yell,
"Mom, sister spit up again."
"Grab a burp cloth from the basket and wipe it up," I'd reply.
We were always at the ready. It kept my baby's clothes cleaner, my hair smelling fresh, and didn't have me running to another room or tugging at a drawer to find a burp cloth.
3. A Toddler Potty Seat:
Ok, I know this doesn't sound like a baby item, but read me out. My kids were all potty trained by 18 months. I know, for most everyone that sounds absolutely crazy; however, it was pain free and my kids never had an issue with it. All because, 1) I had a fun system 2) they were girls (gender does make a difference) and 3) the potty was not anything they had not seen before.
After working in daycare/preschool for many years, I had more than one occasion where I encountered a child who was afraid of the potty (another post on my personal fun potty training system to come later). You take a kid who has been peacefully soiling in their pants for years and suddenly try to make them sit on a strange device, expect them to relax, and hope for success. Nope. It doesn't happen. Then parents are baffled, frustrated, and concerned their child will never be potty trained. Trust me, I have met so many parents like this. So, why the potty seat?
No matter when you introduce the idea of potty training, a child is more secure when you use something which has been a natural part of their home as long as they can remember. The item is not scary, it is not new, nor is it foreign. To introduce the potty is simply to show a child the meaning and use of the piece of furniture they have always seen. I typically have put the potty seat out at around 6 months old. Crazy sounding, right? But, as crazy as it sounds, babies become crawlers, then cruisers, and soon toddlers. They will explore everything including the crazy seat sitting on the floor of the bathroom. Making the potty chair a natural part of their explorative surroundings takes the fear out of the device.
4. Bibs with pouches:
There are a plethora of bibs on the market and they all have different uses. No one bib fits all circumstances; however, the pouched bib is definitely made for the new eater in mind. Your baby may come out all cute and small, drinking milk, and burping between; but, big kid food is right around the corner. I have tried many many MANY pouched bibs but my overall favorite was definitely the Dexbaby bib. It is made with snaps and will easily unsnap in all areas so that it can wash clean in your sink and be hung straight to dry before the next meal.
Unlike most bibs that have ties, velcro, or knob-in-hole closures, the Dexbaby bib has snaps located at the back of the neck and at the pouch allowing the bib to be fully extended for washing and drying. According to Durabib, the company claims and delivers a product described as:
"The Dura-Bib™ patented “Catch-All” pocket prevents typical messes and is Guaranteed Leak-Proof! Soft yet durable surface, unsnaps and wipes off easily for quick clean up anywhere. Dishwasher safe. "
I admit my husband and I would snap the bib onto the top rack of the dishwasher and allow the bib to wash with the dishes on our lazy days and the bibs held up really well. We, additionally, would wash and dry our bibs with no wear. We still own one original bib today. Our bibs faced four girls and lasted more than 10 years! It was amazing! I can't say enough good things about them except that they are also free of phthalates, BPA, and PVC!
Our family was able to purchase these bibs at Wal-Mart in the past; however, I am not sure they carry this product at all Wal-Marts around the country. You can always purchase directly from the manufacturer by simply following this link here or google it to find a seller near you.
One last photo so you can see the cuteness!
5. The Bottle Brush:
It is easy to overlook this item which seems to be so simple you could simply pick it up from the nearby dollar store but don't be fooled. Do not underestimate the significance of the bottle brush. It is a secret multipurpose multiuse tool that has changed the way things are cleaned in our household. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I did not know, yet, how much I would rely on such a simple tool. I had planned to breastfeed but considered the bottle brush to be something good to have; therefore, I purchased one. I was picky about the item which would grace my counters and sought after one which would please me. I had high standards and not any bottle brush would do.
The difference of the bottle brush I chose compared to the typical bottle brushes you can purchase is that the one I picked had rubber bristles. After working in a daycare setting for five years, I felt like the rubber would be more durable and less likely to hold bacteria compared to the nylon bristle and sponge tipped ones. I was correct. I was confident of the cleanliness of my bottle brush because I could bleach the end without worry, throw it in the dishwasher, boil it, and allow it to dry completely so that I knew it was sanitized.
Like I wrote earlier, we used our bottle brush for more than bottles. I enjoyed using the brush for baby bottle (of course!), toddler sippy cups, coffee mugs, coffee cups, the coffee pot, the tea kettle, water bottles (those things are always so deep and unreachable!), reusable salad dressing bottles (I make my own vinaigrette), vases, and anything else you cannot fully clean and this nifty brush can reach. I was so enamored with this multiuse tool, that I actually bought one for household items and one for baby. Since the baby one was used less often, it lasted the longest and way past my years of bottle cleaning. With my oldest being 15 years old, my youngest at 4 years old, and my bottle brush gone, I am ready to invest in another. Water bottles are in daily use and it is time to replace my kitchen staple.
6. A Baby Wearing Device:
Ok, I know this is only supposed to be five tips; however, I couldn't help but put this one in here. It has truly made my life easier with multiple children! The power of a babywearing device lies in the fact that you have both hands free while baby feels snug, comfortable, and close to mom/dad. I have had several during my time as a mom and it has been a life saver. I have been able to wash dishes, wash clothes, fold laundry, hike, trek through Paris, exercise, grocery shop, and so much more while wearing my children.
My ultimate favorite babywearing device has definitely been the Ergo. I can fully recommend this brand for myself; however, I have heard many moms completely happy with other brands and styles. As much as I recommend a babywearing device, I really believe the type is a matter of personal preference. The most important thing one must look for when purchasing a carrier is that the weight of your baby is not placed on your upper back; rather, on your hips. If you do not take this into account, you will find yourself not using your new carrier because you will end each session you wear your baby in pain.
A few more things to consider when looking for a carrier:
* How much weight does it carry?
* It is a front, back or dual carrier?
* Will baby be able to be placed safely in it at birth or will you need to wait until they are a bit older?
* Can you get the carrier on and off by yourself?
If you are unsure of what type of device would be right for you, consider signing up to attend a local baby wearing group so that you can try on and experience some devices before purchase. I attended one at my local church several years ago and it was astounding how many devices are out there. Additionally, there was a plethora of women in attendance to educate and help new mothers, mothers to be, and dads decide which device was right for them based on feel and information. One of the local groups of my area has a Facebook page here, and could possibly point you to a group or chapter located in your area.
There are so many items on the market to help make your life easier as a new parent; however, navigating the ones which ones will truly help your family is really just trial and error. I have provided six items from my arsenal of things I have learned. I would love to hear the top thing you learned could make your life easier after you became a parent. Simply login as a member to comment and subscribe here to get the latest updates and messages from yours truly! I look forward to reading your top tips!