Getting used to your newborn is such an intense time as you recover from your birth experience physically and emotionally and there is a lot of trial and error as you work out what is best for you and your baby. The thing is, it’s ok to take a few short cuts and, as a mum of five, there probably aren’t many I haven’t tried – some were helpful, some not so much. Here are my top hacks to make things easier for you and your new baby.
1)Set up a feeding basket- it’s all too easy to get so busy with your baby (even the most easy-going baby will take at least nine hours of hands-on care each day), that you forget to eat and drink yourself. Set up a feeding basket with snacks, a water bottle and anything else you might need such as breast pads, lip balm, hand lotion, wipes, a nappy, burp cloth and a spare onesie. Then when you sit down to feed your baby, you can relax wherever you sit – in your comfy chair, on your bed or outside – and nourish yourself too.
2)Breast pad stuck? Squeeze out a little milk to moisten your breast pad then gently peel it off, otherwise it will HURT!
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3)‘Poo-slposions’ – instead of pulling baby’s dirty onesie over his face and head, make use of those nice wide envelope necks in his suit to stretch them down over his body and pull it off over his bum and legs.
4) Cleaning a dirty bum – when it’s a sh*t show (literally), forget dabbing with all the wipes, fill the hand basin/sink with warm water, dunk your baby’s bottom and legs and wash him clean. It’s much easier to clean all the bits than dabbing at a squirming baby and spreading poop everywhere.
5) Avoiding boy pee sprays - just before you change your baby boy’s nappy, wipe his lower tummy below the belly button with baby wipe. It’s supposed to have the same effect as the cool air does when you take his nappy off. And when you put the new nappy on, remember to tuck his penis pointing down – or risk pee up all his fresh clean clothes!
6) Bathing without tears- newborns can feel anxious being undressed for a bath, but you can help your baby feel secure by loosely wrapping a muslin around him then gradually unwrapping as he gets used to the water. Or, you can cover his chest with a warm wet wash-cloth when you pop him in a bath.
7) Drying your baby – you may have been taught to lie your baby flat and dab all of his cracks and crevices dry. Of course, it’s important to dry your baby carefully but lying him on his back after a lovely relaxing bath can trigger his startle reflex – and tears! So, instead, cuddle him dry – wrap him in a warm towel (wrap it in a heat pack while you bath baby) and cuddle him as you dab all the cracks dry – under his arms, chin, behind his ears, his groin and all those delicious little rolls.
8) Wear your baby – start wearing your baby while he is little, so your own muscles adapt to his weight and it won’t be a sudden strain if you wait to carry him when he is bigger. Carried babies cry and fuss less, they adapt to their surroundings and develop a circadian rhythm sooner, the stimulation of your movement supports brain development and best of all, you have free hands to make yourself some food or get a few chores done.
9) Wrapping – if baby has fallen asleep while being cuddled and you want to wrap him and put him into bed (It’s absolutely delicious to cuddle a sleeping baby and babies are fine unwrapped too, so no pressure) remember, if you lie him flat this will trigger your newborn’s startle reflex and wake him. So, practice holding him up against you as you start to wrap, then lie him gently on his side and finish the wrap, rolling him onto his back to sleep. If he stirs, hold your hand on his body for a minute as he settles into a deeper sleep.
10) Warm the cot – moving baby from your warm arms to cold cot sheets can wake your little bundle up (Damn! There goes that shower you planned). Pop a warm heat pack on baby’s mattress to take the chill off before you pop him down. Remember over-heating is unsafe, remove the heat pack from the cot when you put baby to bed.
11) Read aloud – you have a tiny baby in your arms, and you want to catch up on some reading? Self-care doesn’t have to be one more thing on your list of ‘to dos’ - your little one won’t care if you read a baby book, the Financial Review or a novel. Read whatever YOU want to read but read it aloud. Your baby loves the sound of your voice, watching your face and snuggling in your arms, so ditch the guilt – you are engaging with your baby and stimulating his brain as you are nourishing your own soul.
12) Love your fit-ball – if baby is unsettled, pop him in a wrap or carrier and gently bounce on your fit-ball as you hum to him. Humming will slow your own breathing and help you stay calm, the sound of your voice and gentle motion will soothe your baby as you get in some bum and thigh toning.
Get. In. The. Pictures! It doesn’t matter if you aren’t ‘insta-worthy’ with perfect make-up or if you have spit-up on your shoulder (or in your hair). Your kid won’t care when he gets bigger, he just wants to know you were there, you didn’t find him under a bush. Get somebody to take pictures of YOU with your baby. Babies change and grow every single day and the early days are such a blur, it’s amazing to look back at photos of even a few weeks ago and watch how those tiny cheeks and thighs are chubbing up, and the funny little milky grins have turned into deliberate smiles – at you!
Pinky McKay is an Internationally Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and best-selling author of Sleeping Like a Baby and Parenting by Heart. She is also the creator of Boobie Bikkies and Boobie Brekkie, all natural and organic foods to boost breastfeeding mothers energy and support a healthy milk supply.
Download Pinky’s free ebook ‘Making More Mummy Milk, Naturally’