Welcome to part two of my three part series on the best and worst parenting advice you are likely to receive!
Something about having a baby bump or baby on the hip opens you up to a variety of advice from everyone, from your next door neighbor to the lady behind you at the grocery store. After talking with friends and family and receiving such a huge response to the question, “What’s the worst and best advice you’ve ever received as a parent?”, I decided to make this column a three part series.
Last week’s blog was my top ten of the good, the bad and the WTF unsolicited advice. This week I’m focusing on my parents-to-be out there and the best and worst advice I’ve received about preparing for the baby’s arrival.
From apps that compare your baby to the size of a fruit as it grows, to the registry help desk at Babies R’ Us, moms-to-be can become so focused on the birth, blankets and what mattress to buy, that they forget about everything else. I was guilty of buying cute baby clothes and decorating the nursery and overlooked the fact I might need to find a pediatrician, buy a thermometer and humidifier for baby’s first cold. My maternity leave was 12 weeks and instead of researching daycares or interviewing nannies BEFORE the baby came I focused on non essentials (like what kind of rug should the nursery have), resulting in stress and tears my last few weeks of leave while I frantically searched for a nanny.
Learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of other moms out there and follow this great advice.
Prepping for a new baby and what you should be doing NOW:
1. Pick a Pediatrician – The hospital or birthing center where you give birth will want the name of the pediatrician you are seeing before they allow you to leave. Your baby will have a check-up two days after it is born so pick a place convenient to your house. Things to consider: do they have a separate wellness and sick area to keep kids that are sick away from ones getting check ups?, what are their hours?, do they have an urgent care on site (always take your child to an urgent care that specializes in children)?, are they seeing new patient?s, and does your insurance cover visits? Also, think about vaccines. If you want to do a delayed vaccine schedule (as I chose to do) will they support you? Are they more holistic in their approach or do they dole out medicine like candy? Start searching today!
2. Pick a car seat and stroller that is practical for your life – Are you a runner or do you barely get down the block for a walk? Do not chose a stroller that is trendy, pick one that suits you, and then get a used one, saving yourself some money. Look for one you can fold down with one hand, so that when you are by yourself you can do it with baby in hand. Practice before the baby is here, because let me say from experience you don’t want to be caught out in the elements trying to figure out how you are going to get the stroller in the car (or out for that matter). We have three strollers and now that Charlotte is older you know the one I use the most? The $10 umbrella stroller from Walmart. It’s light weight, folds easy and I can maneuver it around the mall, restaurants, and easily carry it up and down stairs. While you are at it, pick up the stroller you want to buy, and see if that’s something you can lift in and out of your car. Notice how many times a day you get in and out of your car and that will give you a good idea of how often you will take baby in and out. I recommend an infant seat that attaches to a base in the car then attaches to a stroller. Those infant to toddler seats might look appealing but then you have to take the baby in and out of the car seat every time you get out of the car. Not so appealing when you have a sleeping baby, is it? Also, you do not need two bases for the car seat as long as the car seat has a slot to slide the seat belt through which all of them do. They have to or you couldn’t take them on an airplane. Pick the car that you use the most and leave the base in there. While you are at it, get a mirror to hang on the back of the seat, so you can see your baby while driving plus a sun shade to go on the window to protect baby’s face.
3. Buy things used – I get it, we all love new things. Having a new baby is the perfect excuse to buy, or have someone else buy, you all those cute clothes, strollers, and the high chair of your dreams. Let me let you in on a secret, all that stuff does is become expensive plastic taking up space in your garage or closet. There is a chain of resale shops here in Colorado called Kid to Kid that my doula clued me in on when I had a panic attack because none of Charlotte’s 0-3 month clothes fit when she was born. We made a trip over there and got bags of newborn clothing for $40. Since then we have bought our pack-n-play, exersaucer, activity mat, sleep sacks, coats, bows, and just about anything else you could want from there. That swing and vibrating chair we wanted new? In the garage. Children outgrow their toys and clothing so fast, it’s just a waste of money to buy new. Most resale shops have gift cards, so ask for one there, and the best part is they will buy it all back when you are done! In fact, the only things I recommend buying new are a car seat, diaper bag (it’s your new purse!), and cloth diapers (the elastic tends to be worn out on the used ones). Maybe treat yourself to a crib if you like (which by the way you won’t even use for about six months, so try a bassinet or a rock-n-play instead). Save your money for daycare costs.
4. Figure out your childcare situation now – When you are pregnant you will get a lot of questions on what your plans are for returning to work. It’s something I brushed aside until 3 weeks before I was supposed to return, and I found myself in a panic to secure childcare. I alternate between using a daycare and a nanny, and I can tell you both have their perks and their downfalls. You must sit down and financially figure out how much you can afford first and go from there. How many hours will you be working? What time does the daycare open and close? Is it close to your house or your work, making it easy access for you and your spouse? Some daycares, especially in-home require a minimum commitment to a number of days your child will be there. Others have waiting lists. I believe I was in such denial about returning to work that I didn’t bother to think about what I would do. Daycare for infants is expensive! My best advice is whatever you decide to do, try a trial run before going back to work. Have the nanny or daycare watch the baby while you go out and run some errands or hit the gym. You will be amazed at the level of anxiety you will feel leaving your baby with “a stranger” the first time. If the first time happens to be when you go back to work all day you might not survive! Text or call and see how fast their response time is. Have a backup too. Daycares may be closed on holidays you still have to work, and nannies get sick… remember that!
5. How will you feed your baby? – When I was in the hospital they gave me formula to take home, which I wanted to instantly discard. “I’m breast feeding,” I thought, “Why would they do that?” But, my mom cautioned that I might become sick or have some scenario where it would come in handy to have, so I kept the cans of formula. I am so glad I did! No one can prepare you for breastfeeding but you, so purchase, “The Nursing Mother’s Companion,” line up a lactation consultant, and even take a breastfeeding class. The fact is, you are going to have to feed your baby and whether that’s on the breast or the bottle, you need to be prepared. Silly me registered for several types of bottles, not taking into consideration that maybe Charlotte wouldn’t like certain nipples or wouldn’t take a bottle at all. Babies may show a preference for certain brands of formula too, so if that’s the route you chose don’t be discouraged if they won’t take one kind, because they may take another. Since I had to go back to work I knew I needed a pump which my insurance (and yours may too!) covered, but I didn’t think about how to store all the breast milk I’d be pumping. Fortunately a mom of two gave me a whole breast milk storage kit, which I still use. If your baby will attend daycare, you will have to bring in their milk in containers or bottles, so look for something easy to label and transport. Also, just know even if you plan to breast feed, things may happen beyond your control – a tongue tied baby, premature birth, mastitis, clogged ducts, infections and more can occur that could derail your plans for breastfeeding. Are you OK with formula feeding if breast feeding doesn’t work out? Have a backup plan because baby must eat!
When babies are first born what they need most is your love. You will give and give and give, and it will be exhausting, because you will not get anything in return. No smiles, no hugs, no laughs… it’s basically like trying to bond with a sea sponge. Know as the baby grows, and becomes aware of the world around you, they will start to engage with you, and that’s when all the hard work starts to pay off. As you start to prep for baby, make sure you take into consideration the advice above, which I’ve complied from moms who’ve been around the block a time or two! During the pregnancy it’s easy to loose focus on what you need for baby. A little prep work goes a long way for a life that’s anything but the expected once your bundle of joy arrives!
What other advice would you give parents to be prepping for baby?
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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.