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I’ve been a mom for seven long months now, and I wish that someone would’ve shared their parenting cheat sheet with me beforehand. So, I’ve decided to put together my own post-baby survival list for all of the new parents out there.
Here are five valuable things for you to do once your bouncing bundle of joy comes home.
Stock Up on Baby Supplies
Make a baby store run if your baby came early or if you didn’t get the chance to stock your home with all of your baby essentials such as diapers, wipes, bibs and toiletries. Do yourself a favor and buy extras of everything now so you don’t have to go grocery shopping when it’s inconvenient. I’ve been amazed by how quickly I go through lotion, body wash, diapers and formula.
Having the essentials and the right equipment helps set your mind at ease and makes for a more enjoyable transition into parenthood. Don’t forget things like burp cloths, bottle brushes, a humidifier, small toys, baby washcloths, lullaby CDs, a baby monitor, an aspirator and a thermometer. (I used all of these items in the first three months!) For some advice on what to buy as a new parent, click here.
Track Your Baby’s Growth
As the old saying goes, your little one will grow like a weed. Seriously! Take time as soon as you can to schedule appointments with a pediatrician in your area who’s certified with the American Academy of Pediatrics. These scheduled appointments are the best way to ensure that your baby’s development, and your care for your baby, are on track!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies get checkups after the first few days and at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months of age. If you’re a new parent you’re bound to have plenty of questions, so remember to write all of them down for your baby’s next appointment.
Also, be sure to buy a baby book so you can record your child’s growth, firsts and memorable moments. Take lots of pictures, too, so you can delight in the way your baby grows and changes in a short period of time. This also gives you and your family a chance to go back and reflect on your baby’s progress.
Prepare Your House
As a new parent, I underestimated how many pieces of equipment I had to find space for in my house. Don’t wait until the last minute to unbox your baby items. Put everything together and figure out how it all works. This includes the bottle warmer, the bouncy chair, the baby carrier, the portable crib, the bottle sterilizer, the baby bath and more. I had to clear out a whole kitchen cabinet for my daughter’s essentials. To say making space for my baby was an adjustment is an understatement, so handle this organizational step as soon as possible.
Also, prepare your car! Be sure to install your car seat properly and stock your car with extra diapers and wipes just in case you leave home without them in your baby bag. Buying a mirror to attach to your back seat may also be helpful so you can see what baby is doing while you’re on the road.
Share Your Baby News
Family, friends, coworkers and neighbors will all be patiently waiting for photos of your baby, so don’t leave them out after your bundle arrives. It’s easy to get caught up in the joys (and pains) of your new addition and forget about everyone else! I used group text messages, group emails and social media to share pictures and updates. If you have time, mail out birth announcements to the people closest to you.
Don’t forget to share your baby news with your insurance company and your employer, too. It’s important for them to have updated records on your family and your maternity leave information.
Find Time for Yourself (and Your Partner)
There’s no question that you’ll crash at some point from all of the post-baby excitement. As you adjust to a new daily schedule and sleep pattern, don’t forget to take time out for yourself! Whether you use the time to exercise, take a long bubble bath or just to catch up on sleep, alone time is an important item on your to-do list.
Also, be patient with yourself and your partner. Learning the ropes as a parent and figuring out your new routine takes time! Practice makes perfect when it comes to diapering, bathing and other parenting tasks. Everyone will want to give you advice, but you need to do what works best for you. And amid overwhelming moments, don’t be afraid to ask your support circle for help!
Remember not to panic about small mistakes or an unhappy baby. Try to keep your nerves in check and keep your cool – a crying baby can do a number on your emotions if you let it. The newfound responsibilities and crying can take a toll on your marriage or relationship, too, so take advantage of some alone time or have a date night every now and then!
If you have other helpful hints to share with new parents, leave a comment below.