Being a first-time mom can definitely be an interesting challenge, even for one who may have grown up babysitting her whole life. In my journey of becoming a mom I have found a few items/resources through friends/birthing class, etc. that have helped smooth the transition of being a first time parent and I wanted to share. (Feel free to share in the comments any of your own lifesavers that aren’t included here!).
*I am in no way a child expert, and I’m not here to debate anything. The below lifesavers are simply what we have utilized and what has worked for us 🙂
…and now, without any further ado…
1) Interpreting Your Baby’s Cries
This video helped us learn what Jaxon was trying to communicate to us via his pre-cries so we were able to meet his needs. Priscilla Dunstan (who has essentially a photographic memory for sound) appeared on the Oprah show and she breaks down babies’ (pre)cries and what babies are trying to communicate to you! We listened for these cries with Jax and it was amazing!! So helpful to know if he was fussing because he just needed to burp more, be soothed or was truly hungry.
2) Soothing Your Baby
Every baby fusses at some point or another and if they are fed, dry, and nothing seems to be wrong, they may simply need soothing. This video of pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp (author of Happiest Baby on the Block) on the Dr. Phil show, demonstrates and explains the Five S’s and how you can calm a fussy little babe. Works like a charm 🙂
3) BabyConnect App
This app isn’t free, but it’s totally worth the $4.99.
This app acts as a supplement to your brain and allows you to keep track of not only feedings, sleep, diaper changes/bowel movements (yes, you can even mark the stool consistency, color, and if your child has an “open air” accident.. ha ha ha), but baby milestones and more.
I use this app to mainly track feedings, and sleep (when he was an infant I would keep track of his diapers). It’s amazing how fast time flies by during the day. Sometimes I feel like I just fed Jax and he’s fussing and I’m thinking to myself, “He’s making the hunger cry, but there’s no way he’s hungry – I just fed him” and then sure enough, I check the app and a couple hours have passed and it is time to feed again!
Some veteran parents chuckled at me with all the tracking when I posted on our baby Instagram account (@itstheGrayFamily), but it’s been a great tool and I’m going to use it for each of our kids.
4) A Baby Monitor that Gives you Peace of Mind… and can save your child’s life.
My older sister used the Angelcare baby monitor brand for her first kid and recommended it to me as well. I did a lot of research and this one seemed the best, by far, and we have LOVED it. Not only can you hear you baby at night (you can adjust the sound sensitivity, which for us, is extremely helpful because Jax grunts in his sleep :), you can see your child via the video monitor, AND the best part about this bad boy is the movement monitor. If your baby stops breathing during the night it will alert you. This feature has given us a HUGE peace of mind and allows us to put Jaxon in his own room and rest more easily. There’s so many great other features this monitor has, but those are the main ones.
(Side note: I have already had two mom’s tell me that they got this monitor and it literally saved their child’s life. Please please please don’t bypass this monitor because you want to save a few bucks.)
5) Gas Buster
This may be a simple and not an “epic revelation” but having a great gas reliever on hand was so helpful! Jaxon tends to be a bit gassy at times (more-so earlier on when his tiny system was developing), so having some infant gas drops at home and in the diaper bag at all times has been a life-saver (or a scream-saver, I should say :). We use the target generic brand and also bought some gripe water (a more natural solution for upset tummies). Whenever Jax got gas, we’d give him drops, pop in his pacifier to help calm him, while we pumped his little legs to let the gas work its way through.
6) A Pacifier
There’s a lot of talk about using a pacifier or not, and nipple confusion and all that jazz, so you just need to do what is right for your own kid and you.
Jaxon was a great nurser from the get-go (thank God), and when he seemed inconsolable (in one instance – after a quick Google search, it was revealed gas was the culprit based on the symptoms) we busted the pacifier out when he was a few days old, and like we mentioned in #3, it helped calm him right down as the gas worked through his system.
Having a pacifier on-hand whenever Jaxon gets a bit over-stimulated and needs to calm down has been fabulous, especially if you don’t want to act as a human pacifier and get him used to snacking all the time on you, or pop the goods out in public.
We use the Avent Soothies, seeing they are “most like nature.”
Side note #1: Sucking is a natural reflex when something is put in a baby’s mouth and hits the upper part of his palate. If you put a paci in there, most babies will instantly start sucking.
This is great for your eardrums, but possibly not so good for your baby. When your baby starts to fuss, it’s important to figure out first what is wrong, instead of just popping the pacifier in to quiet them. More often than not, there’s a reason they are crying.
Side note #2: I was worried about having one of those kids who is 10 with a paci stuck in their mouth 24/7… (Ok, I may be exaggerating slightly). Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that (to each his own), but I just didn’t want to have to deal with breaking him of the habit. What we have done is we only give it to him when he needs calming or when he’s in bed.
7) A Great Swaddle
I don’t know what moms and dads did before swaddles!
Being able to swaddle Jax when we put him down for the night was so calming for him. He would love to move his arms a lot, so being able to secure him helped him fall asleep and stay asleep.
I read SO many reviews on different types of swaddles. We got the Aiden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets (Jax would wiggle out of them in no time), we got the Halo sleep sack swaddlers (the velcro part was nice to help secure him in the swaddle, except when he was first born it was too big for him for quite a few weeks – works like a charm now that he’s bigger), and we also got the Miracle Blanket and that ended up being the best swaddle for Jax.
What makes the Miracle Blanket such a “miracle” is the little flaps on the inside that help keep wiggly arms secure (we nicknamed Jax “Houdini” because his arms would always escape, pre Miracle Blanket, that is).
Bonus tip: We use an extra pacifier clip to help secure his Miracle Blanket swaddle! Works like a charm 🙂
8) Four S’s to a Great Bedtime
The “Baby Whisperer” suggests four S’s to help a baby wind down for sleep. These were (and still are) really helpful in getting Jaxon calm and ready to go to bed. We knew we wanted to make sure that Jax learned to fall asleep on his own and could go down without a ton of sleep props. This short article helped guide us any time that he needed to go down.
Read the article HERE.
For those of you who don’t want to read the article at this moment, we’ll share the “S” that has been uh-mazing for us. It’s the “Sitting” S.
Whenever we are getting ready to lay Jaxon down, whether for a nap or for the night, we “sit” with Jax and then we lay him down and he falls right asleep.
Often he’s been so stimulated by all of the new things he is discovering that when we put him down for a nap without giving him space to collect himself, it’s just too much for him. Giving him a moment to “sit” with one of us (not rocking, but just being still), calms him down and relaxes him so he is able to fall asleep once we put him in his crib.
9) A Good Nights Sleep for All
This is a hot button topic.
Before you judge or share your own opinion in the comments on the blog, I encourage you to make sure to FIRST do your research. READ both books on the two main parenting styles, talk with other moms and dads and then make a choice and do what is best for you, your marriage, and your family.
When we read the books, we were surprised that a lot of the intentions were actually the same and many of the points that the opposition had were not, in fact, valid at all (and they would know that if they had done their own research and read the book).
I’m not here to debate – I have simply done my research and this is working great for us.
I digress. Read on.
Sleep is not only one of the most important things for babies to have so they can continue to grow and develop, but sleep is also important for parents to have as well. It’s hard for me, or Zach, to be at our best for each other and for Jax when we haven’t slept in a year… or two 😉
There are two books I recommend, and in reading both, you will be informed of the two main parenting approaches, especially when it comes to feeding and sleep time.
Our two cents: Humans thrive on routine, and kids (and yes, even adults) function better when they have a routine in place and get great sleep. By implementing a routine with Jax (with grace and flexibility), he has been one well-fed, happy baby, loved on us like crazy when he is awake, and he has been sleeping like a champ (around the 8-9 week mark he began sleeping through the night consistently).
When Jaxon gets a good nights sleep, he gets the rest he needs to grow and develop, and I get the rest I need. When mom sleeps well it not only helps me be the best for my kid, but for my spouse as well (who is my first priority.
Remember: A great family flows from a great marriage.
For those of you doing your homework on this topic, here’s another short online article I have referenced a few times by some good friends of ours who have an amazing family and kids and also implemented the Baby Wise approach.
10) An Amazing Support Person/Group
Unfortunately ladies, you can’t have my husband, but having a partner who is in this with you, definitely makes this journey a smoother ride.
I have to admit – Zach is pretty awesome 🙂 There are things that simply fall as my responsibility with Jax (like feedings) and then there are things we both can do with our little man and I love how Zach is fully engaged (not that I would expect anything less from him, but you know). Also, having Zach take on more of the household responsibilities has been great too (thank-you baby, for still doing the cat litter even though I’m not pregnant anymore! xoxo).
I’d recommend talking beforehand with your spouse of expectations of house and baby responsibilities before your little one is born, so either of you don’t have unmet expectations and it becomes a point of tension between you two.
If you don’t have a spouse and are rocking the single parent journey, make sure to get plugged into a local group for the support other parents can give each other.
And that’s it! Hope you enjoyed this top ten list!
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If you’re a mom already, I (as well as other mom-to-bes) would love to know what YOU have found was a lifesaver in making the transition to becoming a parent. Please share in the comments – we would all love to know!
Enjoy your journey into parenthood. It truly is such a joy!
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PPS. For those of you new to the blog, feel free to stop by our About page and read about the difficult journey we have gone through to where we are today.