Brand New Mom Cheat Sheet

The Hospital Stay

  • Car seat to bring baby home
  • Baby blanket
  • Socks
    Two-three pairs, especially if you’re getting an epidural — you will get cold! I recommend the ones with the grippy soles that pilates studios make a living out of. But if you forgot to bring socks, don’t worry — the nurses will happily give you a warm blanket.
  • Comfortable cotton nightgown
    The hospital will give you a decent cotton robe, but if you are on the smaller side you may want to feel a little more put together and not like you are swimming in folds of loose baby pink fabric.
  • Absorbent underwear
    Your hospital will provide you with enormous cotton pads and absorbent sheets, the result of which is frankly, not pretty, although quite effective. If you’re curious just google “postpartum diaper selfie”. Or head on over to Amazon and purchase something similar to this slightly more shapely underwear.
  • Layette or other cute outfit for baby
    The hospital will give your baby a onesie and a hat, but it won’t be the color-coordinated cute outfit with matching tiny gloves and socks that you received for your baby shower. Hospitals will often offer a photo shoot during the first day with your baby, so if you’re the type to take advantage, definitely pack an adorable set for your little one.
  • Something nice for you to wear when you leave the hospital
    Don’t stress about this, it’s quite fine to leave in the outfit you checked in with. However, if you’re feeling ambitions, opt for a nice outfit from month five or six of your pregnancy.

Baby Schedule

  • The first few days of being a mom are about you and your baby. Your body has exactly two jobs: healing yourself and feeding your baby. Give up anything that does not fit into these two categories.
  • Breastfeeding is difficult and will take a few days or even weeks to get the hang of. Your milk will come in gradually, so do what feels right to feed your baby in the meantime (for me, that meant giving my daughters formula once a day for the first three days in the hospital).
  • If you are the type of person who lives with lists and operates well on a schedule, you need to start tracking the baby’s patterns from the very first day. This is important 1) to track weight and growth, 2) to identify odd patterns and potential sickness, and 3) to get you and your baby on a reliable feeding and sleeping schedule asap, which is imperative if you’re ever going to get to a decent sleep schedule overnight.

Baby Tracking Apps

Baby Tracker

  • Great summary screen of the latest tracked activity: nursing, diapers, sleeping, and pumping.
  • Strong visual hierarchy of elements with the home screen grounded on a large photo of your little one (always a good way to appeal to parents!)
  • Detailed graph view that is easy to read with the days of the week on the x-axis and the 24-hour schedule on the y-axis
  • Recording nursing sessions is a multi-step process, with no shortcuts
  • No way to collaborate with another parent and allow two or more people to enter data
  • The recording screen could use larger target areas and better contrast of the main action button
  • Not as comprehensive in slicing and dicing the data

BabyConnect

  • More categories for tracking including mood, milestones, activities, etc
  • Ability to invite more people to track the baby’s activities
  • Offers a range of graph views including comparing the time spent on the left and right breast, total for each side per day and even the average interval between sessions
  • Recording nursing sessions is a multi-step process, with no shortcuts
  • Design could use a lot of love — the overall app feels busy, with type, icons and layout competing for attention
  • Timeline view is hard to read

The First Few Days

  • Nursing bras
    There can never be enough nursing bras. My main tip is varying the designs, so that you can cycle between ones with cups/lift and ones that are just stretchy fabric as your breasts will feel so tender in these early days! The most annoying thing is that you’ll have to get used to sleeping with a nursing bra under your nightgowns (because, um, leakage).
  • Nursing tops
    A half dozen should do the trick. Remember, there will be a spitting, burping baby on your shoulder eight to twelve times a day. Enough said.
  • Nightgowns/pajama tops
    You’ll probably make do with the ones you have at home, just remember to look for a nice open décolletage.
  • Nursing pads
    The #1 required nursing mom accessory. You will go through these like Kleenex or better yet, like newborn diapers. If you’re like me, you will at some point think that this is a massive environmental waste and buy the cotton ones that can be tossed in the laundry. And then exactly 12 hours later, after you’ve soaked through all six cotton ones that come in the cute laundry-ready bag and your blouse is covered in milk, you will embrace the disposable version and never look back.
  • Crib or bassinet
    With my second baby we discovered the SNOO bassinet, from Happiest Baby and my personal opinion is that it ranks right after the epidural as the second greatest invention related to parenting. The SNOO uses sounds, motion and a very tight custom swaddle (velcro + zipper) to render babies content for hours at a time from the very first days after the hospital. The downside is that the bassinet itself is very loud, so much so that my partner refused to use it the first day the baby arrived arguing that we would “never get a wink of sleep with this noisy machine”. Well, fast forward to 5am the following morning after a night of jumping up to calm our baby every 45–50min when I finally swaddled up our daughter, turned on the SNOO, and we both managed to sleep uninterrupted for two and a half blissful hours. Needless to say, we are now in harmonious agreement that the SNOO should be working its noisy magic every night. The Happiest Baby offers the SNOO for rent in some locations, which makes it slightly more affordable.
  • Changing pad
    There are a million amazing changing pads out there. My only advice is, get one that’s fully water resistant and can be wiped and cleaned under running water if necessary. Trust me, you will need to handle a pee incident in your very first week with your baby, so just make your life easier from the start. I’ve been quite happy with the Keekaroo.
  • Diapers & diaper pail
    Make sure you have both newborn and size 1 diapers at the ready. Never turn away diaper gifts — you will use them all! I personally like Huggies, but I don’t think there’s a big difference in the brands.
    I do feel quite strongly about the diaper pail, however. While I prefer the design of some of the more modern brands, the Diaper Genie is the one to get for one single, incredibly important reason — the garbage bag goes over the rim of the hole for dropping the diapers in. That one design choice will save you from breaking your nails cleaning the edges of a pail that smells like the worst dive bar bathroom you remember from your college days. Just trust me on this one.
  • Wipes
    Boxes and boxes of wipes. I use Water Wipes, but really, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you stock up regularly!
  • Basic clothes
    Here’s how this works — you’ve received a dozen full length onesies in a cute newborn size. But then the hospital hands you a baby with a giant clip on its belly button. This is the stump of the umbilical cord and your pediatrician will recommend not covering it for a few days, while the stump drops off on its own. The plastic clip comes in a nasty yellowish color and has a jagged edge, thereby catching on any fabric nearby and irritating your baby’s belly button, which will then proceed to bleed alarmingly. So for that first week back from the hospital, make your life easier by not putting on full length onesies and having a few separate tops and bottoms.
  • Swaddle
    Swaddles are what separate you from the land of sleep-deprived zombies. Just ask Dr. Harvey Karp. Now, if you’re anything like me, you will read online that the best swaddle blankets are Australian muslin ones and spend hours learning about the origin of Aden + Anais. I absolutely love the brand and I use their swaddles as airy blankets, absorbent burp cloths, and reliable bassinet sun covers. However, I never figured out how to use them for swaddling, as both my daughters extract themselves from the muslin swaddle wrap in under 2 minutes. So with baby #2 I use the SNOO or my new favorite on-the-go swaddle — the Ollie, which has what I can only describe as industrial triple-layer velcro action. You’re very welcome.
  • Baby bathtub
    Not strictly necessary in these first weeks as you can drape a towel inside the sink, fill it with water and bathe the baby there. But since you’re going to need a tub for a few years, I recommend just getting it from the beginning. Pro tip: get a toddler bathtub with an infant insert instead of a separate infant bathtub. I haven’t done a full analysis of available bathtubs but I’ve been using this cute blue whale tub for over a year and am quite happy with it.
  • Burp cloths
    Let’s face it — you and your loved ones will get spit upon endlessly, so having some of those nice long cloths to drape over your shoulders can be quite useful. They are the difference between changing your pajamas and tops once a day vs five times a day.
  • Cute outfits
    Invaluable for adorable photos of your newborn, which document every weekly milestone. I also recommend a private Instagram account as a way to preserve the majority of your friendships.
  • Baby swing
    One of these items that you will use for just a couple of months, but during that time is a life-saver during the evenings when all babies enter the witching hour of inconsolable crying. The best case scenario is to borrow one from a family whose baby has just turned six months and to pay it forward to another parent after you’re done. This puppy swing seems to be the hands-down parent favorite. :
  • baby mat for tummy time
    You need to let the baby stay on its tummy every day for a few minutes. This helps to prepare them for rolling over around the third month. A baby mat makes it fun and also serves as a good photo background. Here’s a beautiful sea world one.

Establishing a Schedule

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