Ok it’s been a while since i’ve done anything parenting related and i know many of my readers and viewers came to my channel because of my original minimalist baby lists videos.
Finn my son is now around 20 months! Gosh time has flown. When i look back to what it was like when he was a little baby and the things that concerned me as a parent i can now definitely see why mothers of multiple children approach their subsequent pregnancies and newborn phases so differently to first time moms. I thought given that i’m now out of this phase completely it would be a good time to reflect on the things i’ve learnt and maybe what i might have done differently (plus things i’m glad i did) or will do differently next time around.
1. Ignore the Clock when you have a Newborn
Unless you have a child that is underweight and you have medical professionals concerned and needing you to log every feed and every wet diaper (which they may do for the first few days after birth in which case use a phone app as your brain will be too muddled to keep track of details like that at this stage), make every effort to ignore the clock. This is particularly the case when it comes to sleep at night. It is going to feel so much worse if you are more aware of exactly how little you might have got in the beginning. Likewise lose any notion that you need to be in bed at a certain time or you or newborn should be sleeping a certain number of hours. Particularly in the first 3 months, just go with the flow, listen to your baby. Feed them when they need. Sleep whenever you can and don’t wear a watch! One thing that really helped me with this was having my newborn in my bedroom with me in a co-sleeper. That way i could easily feed my son while i remained in bed and didn’t even need to turn the light on. If you need to do lots of diaper changes at night use a dim light (or cover a lamp with something to make it less bright) so that you don’t get too woken up and can get back to sleep quickly afterward.
2. Baby Things Seem Really Important Especially Before the Birth but They Really Don’t Matter Afterwards.
I think part of the nesting processes for many first time moms is to get caught up in the excitement of planning a nursery, picking out cute outfits etc. This can extended into the baby phase too especially if you get caught up with something like woven wraps in the babywearing world or collecting different cloth diapers. Personally i did get quite focused on babywearing for at least the first 9 months after having Finn. This was kind of fun, but looking back on it now probably quite unnecessary. You of course need things that work in the right ways, that are functional, but once you have the necessities everything else is just fluff. We still babywear but use a toddler buckle carrier as it is the most functional for us at this stage. I kept 3 baby wraps for when we might have a future baby, but to be honest probably 1 would be enough. I certainly won’t be getting any new ones or trading the ones i have. Avoiding the types of facebook groups that encourage buying and selling certain collectable type baby items (certain clothing brands, cloth diapers, baby carriers, prams etc) is probably a good idea. You do not need to be part of these groups to feel like part of a mummy tribe. Just go to a playgroup or if you want online find a group that is generic and not about owning a certain type of item.
3. Babywearing was/is Awesome. I highly recommend parents get a baby carrier. Preferably something ergonomic as it will be most comfortable for you and your baby. It will free up your hands, allow you to go places you couldn’t with a pram and is great for Dads to be able to be more hands on. Careful though as there is whole consumer world of babywearing which is easy to get caught up in. Unless you want to get caught up in it – just find something that works for you. You might want to trade it for something that works better with a toddler when they get older if you still want to wear. But apart from that it really doesn’t matter what a carrier looks like or it’s rarity or the type of unicorn thread that it was spun from. Your baby certainly doesn’t care.
4. Baby Baths are Better than Many Blogs Say. When i first investigated what the absolute minimalist list of items that i needed for my newborn many blogs said how unnecessary a baby bath was. Personally I have found the opposite and that they were fantastic for the first 6 months. The great thing is baby baths are very easy to come by 2nd hand for next to nothing. I paid $5 for mine and then sold it for $5 when i was done. So there is no need to store one between having babies as you can just get them every time you have a new baby and probably lose no money (same applies to bouncer seats). The reason i really liked it was mine had a kind of reclined seat in built into it. This made holding my baby safely in the bath SO much easier. In fact it really did all the work and i could just use my hands to do that actual washing, of course keeping and eye that my son didn’t fall off. Additionally having a bath meant i didn’t need use as much water as i would have if had to fill our whole adult sized bath. Many people just use a laundry sink. My son was too tall to fit in that from very early on and i would have found holding him safely above the water in a sink much more difficult than it was with my baby bath. Having a seat in it though is key. It isn’t a complete necessity but it does make life easier which you might appreciate given it doesn’t cost much.
5. Choose the Smallest Pram you can Get. I’m so thankful that i made the decision early on to get a very compact pram. So many of my friends got huge monsters that were difficult to get in and out of cars and impossible to take through grocery isles. Many of those friends ended up purchasing multiple prams because of this. My pram was very simple, not a lot of bells and whistles. it doesn’t have fancy holders for things on the handelbars. The basket on the bottom is fairly small. But it works really great. We didn’t use it an awful lot in the beginning preferring babywearing. Now that my son is a toddler though it gets a lot more use. An alternative if you love babywearing might be to just use a carrier until your child is old enough to sit in a stroller. Personally though i like the fact my pram has bigger wheels than a stroller so is easier to take for long walks that are exercise for me. When we travel we just take our buckle carrier and if necessary purchase a $15 stroller at our destination.
6. The Safest Carseat Isn’t Necessarily the Most Expensive. This one i luckily learnt through very detailed research before my son was born. There is no correlation between cost and safety. In Australia we have a website where they publish the result of independent carseat safety testing. It turns out some of the extra features in more expensive seats marketed as providing greater safety actually can do the opposite! Some baby seats aren’t actually all that safe. The required standard maybe isn’t high enough. It really is worth while checking out these independent testing websites (assuming there are others in other countries). In the end our carseat cost $200 whereas if i’d just bought the one i thought would be safer and fit in our car i’d have spent $300. The other thing to know is that not all carseats will fit in all cars. If you have a small car you might need a more compact one.
7. You do not need to buy a 4WD just because you have a baby. This one probably is more of a ‘thing’ amongst more affluent people however there is a huge trend in certain communities to go out and purchase a new 4WD with the idea that this is a more suitable family car than whatever they previous had. 4WDs are terrible for the environment, cost a lot to run and are completely unnecessary unless you either take them off road recreationally or live in a rural environment where it is necessary. They are also not necessarily any safer than other cars tending to be quite top heavy and more likely to roll and will do more damage to others if you get in an accident. There are compact child car seats that will fit the smallest of cars these days. Unless you have a 2 seater convertible or ute then chances are your new baby will be able to fit into whatever car you might already own. New car purchases because you are having a baby really should only be truely necessary when a family is expecting a new child and they already have every seat full in their current car with their other children.
8. Cots are Pretty much the Same Regardless of the Price. In Australia at least the safety standard for baby cots are pretty strict and anything sold new must comply. This means that a $80 ikea cot will be as safe as a $1000 designer brand one. We went with ikea and it is fine. If you are paying more it is for the looks only. 2nd hand is also fine so long as it isn’t too old as then it might not be complying with safety standards. Getting a new mattress though isn’t recommended as there is some link with SIDS and old mattresses possibly due to bacteria or something that might get into the mattress. If you are worried about ‘off gasing’ of new mattresses, purchase it early on in the pregnancy and unwrap it so it is off gassed before you ever need to use it. Little babies weigh next to nothing so cheaper foam mattresses provided they are firm enough will be just as safe and comfortable for them as an expensive spring or latex mattress.
9. A dresser is more versatile than a change table. We really like the decision we made to not have a change table and instead get a set of drawers and just put an ikea inflatable change mat on the top for newborn diaper changes. As soon as your child starts rolling using a change table becomes unsafe anyway so this way we still have the drawers which we keep all his cloth diapers in. Most of our changes these days as a toddler happen on the floor or a bed with a travel change mat underneath him.
10. Forget fashion and get a backpack. One common status item among moms is designer diaper bags. Some of these can be very expensive and very heavy especially the leather ones. Carrying a diaper bag on one shoulder can also be quite uncomfortable even if it is only occasionally that it isn’t slung over a pram. Give your self a bit more comfort and use a backpack instead. This will not only encourage Dads to be more involved in helping carry the bag from time to time but it just makes much more sense. Backpacks are also easy enough to attach to prams when need be and you also don’t actually need an official ‘diaper bag’ branded backpack either. Anything with a few different pockets and easily cleaned fabric will do, you might even already own something. Try and use something more lightweight. The other thing to note on this topic is that with just 1 baby you probably will go out on lots of trips where you don’t even need a big diaper bag. This is because at the baby stage all you really need is a diaper, maybe a change mat and some wipes. For short trips i prefer to just put these items in a small handbag and i save my backpack for when i’m out for several hours. Even then i don’t bring anything with me except diapers, sunscreen, a hat, an emergency onesie, wipes, a wetbag, a water bottle and some food (and that list is for a toddler who eats solids, a baby needs much less).
11. Every Baby is Different. Every Parent is different, do what feels right to you. Finally as a new parent you probably will get all consumed with conversations with others about the finest details about diapers, developmental steps and sleep schedules. At the end of of the day none of it really matters unless you are feeling like you are struggling and need to reach out to others for help (in which case maternal health nurses are probably your best bet for good advice). You don’t need to feel like you are doing something wrong if it is different to your friends or if your child is developing along a different schedule to other babies. There is so much variation. Do what feels right to you and what keeps your baby most content. Your baby needs love, food and security and not a lot else.
12. Try to Take it In. It is hard at the newborn stage when you are sleep deprived but do the best you can be be mindful and enjoy your child at this stage. You’ll definitely look back on this time in the future and miss your child being at this lovely stage. All stages are lovely of course – they are just very different and the baby stage goes by so very fast!