Before anything else, BABY PROOF. Most people think of outlets, medicines/cleaners, cupboards, and anything baby can destroy, but three things often forgotten are BATTERIES in things (especially the small round ones), CORDS (especially the window blinds ones), and BOOKSHELVES/DRESSERS (kids will climb and can pull them over on themselves). Read more here and here. That and do some research on teaching your kids safety, especially regarding getting lost, touch, stranger danger, etc. All of this is terrifying to think about but when you’re prepared you don’t have to think about it as much, and even though it doesn’t apply a ton to babies I know it still freaked me out when S was really little.
For even older kids: have an x-plan, and even a code word that can be used to confirm an adult is trusted or to alert you that they’re in danger.
Another safety tip: put emergency contact info on the carseat, hidden so people can’t see it through the window, but there so if there’s an accident and you’re unconscious your family can be contacted for the kids.
– Find YOUR way. Pray about what to do, then as long as it’s safe and everyone is happy/healthy – GO FOR IT.
– don’t hope in the end of the phase, hope in CHRIST.
– Your child’s sleep is not a measure of good or bad parenting (This seems so obvious now but I really did often feel like I was either failing or doing well based on how S slept).
– Pray FIRST. Root your mothering in dependence on God and His word… not googling what the best schedule is. There are times that can be helpful, but I really benefited from a while of being internetless because I realized how much I tried to find fixes for problems that were really in my heart.
– What’s “best” is what works for YOU and your family.
– Your baby is not annoying you on purpose. Life is new to them and they’re trying to figure it out as much as you are.
– Set timers and reminders! This makes such a difference for me in remembering to take vitamins, and it makes such a difference for S when I say we can do something “when the timer goes off” instead of “in five minutes,” plus it keeps ME accountable to follow through!
– Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re really burdened by something, especially if you feel like you’re the only one, talk to other moms. Everyone’s situation is unique but you may be really encouraged by sharing what you’re struggling with and finding others have been there and have wisdom to share or can at least pray!
Some of the best advice I’ve received
– Worry (or be concerned) about what you can change… do something about that and leave the rest to God.
– it gets easier if you let God get bigger
– trust in the Lord… not your own understanding of a situation.
Our “can’t live without” baby item is a good baby carrier… but exactly which one that is is different for everyone! I personally hated wraps and love a sturdy ring sling for the first few months.
Then I love the Boba since it has a narrower seat and higher back, making it good for smaller babies who have less head control and shorter legs.
Around 6 months I start liking the Ergo best since it’s more comfortable for me than the Boba.
But I know people that love Tulas (I didn’t love how bulky they were) and Lillebaby (wasn’t a good fit for me), and all sorts of other ones. I wish there was a “perfect carrier” from birth to toddler but I don’t think there is – they each have their strengths and weaknesses and after trying to make the Boba work for newborn and toddler I think it’s better just to have multiple things that really work for each stage if it’s something you use a lot.
The variety is often in padding, width and height of the seat, and pockets, as well as how it fits the parent. Find a babywearing group and try them on!
Learn about the ergonomics of baby carriers here.
We love this light for nighttime feeds.
Favorite baby toy: IKEA play gym. $30 for a wooden play gym that remains one of S’s favorite toys, now used standing or as a walker. When she was a few weeks old she loved the wheels on the side, and then when she was starting to sit she used the hanging toys to pull up.
We also love the Bolli, O Balls, and Indestructible Books.
If you have a Sophie Giraffe or other teether that needs to be cleaned, we found a mix of water, vinegar, and dish soap worked best to sponge clean it.
This little light is fantastic for night nursing and diaper changes.
For plastic-free baby life, we love the silicone sippy cup tops on smaller stainless steel cups, Anchor custard cups, and they usually just use regular plates once they are eating at the table and not on a tray.
Lucie’s List is a great way to compare products, and this is an amazing tool for strollers. If you want more info on natural stuff, this and this are good lists! And to help you narrow down what to register for, try this.
Clothes – we have only bought a few things new for S, thanks to generous friends and thrift stores. But I’ve still found it really helpful to make and keep inventory of everything we have, especially as girl #2 is coming so we can have a clear idea of what we need/want and can tell people accordingly.
Whatever kind of diapers you use… know that a soak in water and washing soda or oxiclean before washing does wonders on leak stains.
We have mostly cloth diapered and love it. There have been a number of times I’ve thought “I’ll use disposables this week to avoid having to wash them,” and then partway through the week realize it’s less work to wash cloth diapers than it is to get poop stains out. They leak pee more than disposables, but contain runny pre-solids poop much better, in our experience. And as long as you remember to change often enough, leaking isn’t really a problem at all.
Everyone has their own favorite kind of diaper, but what my sister recommended to me was to try a bunch of different kinds, and I’d recommend that, too.
Prefolds with a cover are our favorite for day time, and we usually use fitteds + insert and cover for night time since it’s more absorbent. I think prefolds are also usually the cheapest route to go, since you can get cheap prefolds at Green mountain Diapers and Nicki’s Diapers, and covers can be pretty cheap, too.
Our favorite covers:
Kawaii ones are cheap and lasted well through S, but started leaking with Ellie.
Flip are easy to replace the elastic in and fit well for small babies and toddlers.
Rumparooz are quality and trim, but not for chunkier thighs. Their newborn covers are my favorite newborn ones!
I love the Grovia but they are trimmer and don’t hold bigger prefolds very well.
The only thing I haven’t liked about cloth diapering is that we had really hard water in San Diego, and hard water can lead to mineral build up in the diapers, which leads to rashes and limits the kinds of detergent you can use. We used to keep a wet bag on the bathroom door handle and wash every few days – rinse cold, wash cold, wash hot.
But then our wetbag zipper broke, so we’ve recently switched to a diaper pail because in the long run it would be cheaper. We have the safetyfirst one and like it, although the opening is a bit small. It holds lots of diapers and you can use a reusable pail liner with it.
I did a post on this from S’s first six months here.
Here are some thoughts on the second six months.
This is the most helpful thing to me for baby sleep, along with the average awake time lengths below.
And following are lots of helpful links:
– Baby & Toddler Sleep Regressions
– How the Wonder Weeks Affect Sleep (I’m on the fence about Wonder weeks. most of the time S was not in line with them but other times she was and this helped a lot then).
– Managing Nap Transitions (4-3 and 3-2 were very smooth for us, mostly thanks to basing her sleep times off of wake time lengths and being flexible with bed time when we needed to be).
– Cheater’s Guide to Sleep Training
– Timeline of Baby and Toddler Sleep
– Average Awake Times (most helpful thing for us troubleshooting sleep, helping us know if she might be undertired or overtired and that causing short naps/crankiness/night wakings/early wakings).
– we love our sidecarred crib!
– 10 Reasons other than hunger a baby can wake at night
– Eat Play Sleep Fail
– Gentle Tips for Teaching Your Baby to Sleep
The Mission of Motherhood (Sally Clarkson)
Loving the Little Years (Rachel Jankovich)
Parenting (Paul Tripp)
Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tedd Tripp)
Keep a Quiet Heart (Elisabeth Elliot)
Mom Enough (Desiring God)
Some thoughts specific to motherhood:
– Creative Motherhood
– Managing your wardrobe with ever fluctuating sizes
– when motherhood feels overwhelming
– Musings on Motherhood
– 7 Questions to ask an older mother
– How caring for children changes the world
– You Could Have Been Something
– When You Want to Do Great Things for God… and He asks you to keep on being a mom
And some of our favorite (read: most convicting) parenting articles:
– 10 Ways to Grow your Marriage while Having Children (also see this)
– The Family Together in God’s Presence
– Little Eyes are Watching in Worship
– Should Children Sit Through Big Church? (as an emotionally reserved person these three are so convicting as I see how much S takes in during church, and want her to see me affected by God!)
– 10 Lessons on Parenting Little Ones
– To Moms of One or Two Children “It gets easier if you let God get bigger.”
– Raising Kids in a Technological World
– Preparing our chidlren for Suffering
– Simple advice about mommy advice
–Good Parents Connect, Not Just Correct
– Wasted on Children – Keeping Babylon at Bay
– Saturation Love
– Parenting in the Age of Binge-Watching
9 Things Your Children Need but Won’t Tell You
The Great Vision of Christian Education
Labor: Holy Labor (Aubri Smith)
Exercise & nutrition: Real Food for Pregnancy (Lily Nichols, though I would be less conservative than her about carb count).
Weekly guide: Mama Natural