What to expect when you’re expecting a newborn…
(Packing and at home edition)
For me, motherhood has been about so many things…Love, compassion,beauty, empathy, growth, chaos, change (from personal change to diaper change, all the change), and lists. There have been never ending lists all day everyday. Some are real tangible lists but most of them end up, for me anyway, in the very cluttered inbox that is my mom brain. If you have recently joined the wonderful journey of motherhood but find yourself trying to decipher through the advice and books and pins and blogs then allow me to firstly welcome you to the hood. It’s truly the most beautiful, magical, wonderful, chaotic, mostly fun filled thing you will ever do with your life. There is nothing like it. Secondly, I would like to try to simplify things a bit for you, from what you actually need to take to the hospital, realistic and helpful gift ideas, items that you want to be sure you have before you meet your precious baby, and ways for you to adjust to changes that happen afterwards including how family and friends can help.
Let’s start with the things you will want to make sure you have on hand before your precious newborn joins the world…
- Blackout curtains – Do these really need an explanation? You’ll want sleep and the only way for you to sleep is for your newborn to sleep. I know you want all the cute new baby nursery feels so there are several ways to still achieve the level of cuteness you desire and still get the peace and quiet you and your newborn so desperately need. You can buy normal black out panels in a variety of colors and hang them on a separate curtain rod underneath the super cute themed curtains that pull the nursery together perfectly or you can find a pattern and color scheme that matches your babe cave. There are so many color and pattern options for blackout curtains these days. Also, if you take nothing else away from this list of must have items, invest in a Hatch product. There are several options for babies, kids, and even adults as well as different sizes offering different features/functions. You and your sleep will be forever grateful for this purchase.
- Newborn monitor – This was one of our most important decisions, biggest purchases, and honestly just most overwhelming for us to choose from. There are so many monitors on the market these days and every store has so many to choose from. What features do you actually want/need? This is personal preference entirely but I’ll share my must haves in a monitor. I wanted a SIDS detector and video capabilities with microphone. We decided to go on Amazon and just read reviews for different brands and models and that proved to be helpful for us. We landed on an Angelcare model that offered all of our needs and honestly my youngest is 3 and it’s still in her room since she’s upstairs. Just peace of mind for me and the mic feature has saved me 20 million steps back upstairs just for her to be up there screaming “I love you” or “I want water” at 2 in the AM. Owlet wasn’t a thing when she was born but it’s another great option. Some people want color instead of black and white, picture capabilities, cell phone connections, etc. Again, this is an item you’ll choose based on your personal preferences but reading reviews prior to going to the store, deciding 3-5 things you want in a monitor, and being okay with splurging here. You won’t regret not going for the cheapest one.
- Medicine/Frida – While you’re stocking diapers and wipes, make sure you swing by the medicine aisle and grab a few things. You’ll want infant tylenol and infant motrin, gripe water, butt paste (Boudreaux’s is a favorite), and pretty much everything from the Frida baby collection…Especially the nose frida as disgusting as it looks/sounds. You will appreciate every single item Frida baby makes within the first month of your babies life. Guaranteed!
- Humidifier – This is an absolute must! They help to alleviate cough and cold symptoms and offer other benefits as well. Dry air is often the issue for anyone who suffers from nasal infections or colds. Cool mist humidifiers work to increase moisture in the air and speed along your recovery time. Also hot water or vapor can burn children if they get too close so always choose cool mist for babies and children especially. Frida baby also makes a 3 in 1 humidifier, diffuser, and nightlight that is amazing. Ensure that whatever product you choose, you have a regular cleaning routine to avoid any bacterial growth.
- Breast pump – Make sure you have found a breast pump that you like and again, I went to Amazon and read tons and tons of reviews and pros and cons and did my research on every model breast pump available. Also, call your insurance company BEFORE you go to the hospital and ask them what pumps they cover and have them send you whatever pump you desire that is available through them. Breast pumps can be expensive but my insurance covered mine 100%, as do most. I did have to buy some extra parts but it was nothing compared to the pump cost. Also, I found steam bags for my breast pump parts for about $10. The bags are reusable and have a number system on the bags for you to mark how many times that particular bag has been used. You just pump, then throw all off your parts in this bag when you disassemble each time, you add a small amount of water, and you microwave them. Game. Changing. It saved me so much time not having to wash each individual pump part 17 times a day. My parts were clean and sterile and it was an absolute breeze.
- Nursing Pillow – These are good for so many things: Pumping, nursing, tummy time, sitting up, comfort, support, etc. I’m pretty sure we had one in every room of our house.
- Bottles – This is something I recommend 2-3 different brands of for a few reasons. Your baby will have a preference and it isn’t always the same as your preference. Also, certain bottles are designed to help with reflux and other specific needs. Pick a few brands with different specifications and let your babe try them all before you drop tons of money on bottles your baby doesn’t care for or don’t alleviate gas or colic or reflux. We spent a fortune on Dr. Brown’s bottles, had to have them, and she acted like she struggled with feeds. We read that often times the cheaper bottles offer nipples that babies are more prone to so we dropped $20 at Target on the cheapest bottles and baby girl was never happier. Gerber First Essential bottles were better for us than the Dr. Brown’s but you may find that you baby has colic and Dr. Brown’s is the best option for you guys. You have to try a few to know so that’s why I recommend just getting 2 bottle of 2 or 3 brands and letting babe tell you what works best for them. Every baby is different. Also, if you do decide Dr. Brown’s is for you check places like Ross or TJ Maxx. They will typically have them at half the cost and there is nothing wrong with them.
- Bath products – You want to be informed about what is going onto your babies skin because there is nothing more sensitive. Detergents and bath products can be very triggering to some. Read all the labels and look for clean products free of harsh dyes or chemicals to help avoid any skin reactions that you possibly can. We also found several options that offer monthly delivery services and we were so pleased. Hello Bello was our go to as they are plant based products and cheap. Honest Co, Burt’s Bees, Seventh Generation, and Aveeno are all wonderful options for babies and their sensitive skin as well.
- Thermometer – You will be glad you have this on hand to avoid a 10 PM run to the nearest open drug store. Our favorite was the Braun no touch thermometer for a few reasons. A. It was only about $50 and we’re 3 years in and still going strong and B. because it was no touch you could check babies temp without ever having to wake him/her.
- Aside from the obvious needs like wipes and diapers and a crib let’s talk pacifiers. This is a touchy subject and I was 110% against giving ours a pacifier (first time mom thought right here) and then to avoid a NICU trip and provide some comfort, our nurses grabbed a bili blanket and popped that pacifier right in. Avoid the desire to stock up on all of the cute matching trendy pacifiers. Initially, similar to the bottles, you want 2-3 different kinds of pacifiers for your baby to choose from. He/She will quickly let you know which ones they are fans of. Mine really liked the one from the hospital so we stuck to the soothies despite having a basket full of the cute Ryan and Rose pacis.
Let’s move on to the packing of the elusive hospital bag…
- Pillow(s) – Hospital pillows suck. There, I said it. They are either styrofoam or plastic coated and they are not comfortable to anyone ever. Bring your own pillow(s) for a personal feel and also for your own comfort.
- Phone charger – Because duh. You will take so many pictures you will likely get upgrade notifications related to your storage. Take all the pictures, send all the texts, but remember to relax, unwind, and just enjoy this time.
- Ponytail holders – You won’t be able to find any in the hospital and you’ll likely want your hair up at some point in time.
- Lip Balm – If you’re in labor for a while you will feel dehydrated and you will appreciate having your favorite lip balm handy to prevent dry chapped lips in the process.
- Outfit – Bring 1 cute matchy matchy monogram/embroidered going home outfit. There is no need for 10. Pack some onesies and 1 cute outfit. This was not advice I took and I most definitely look back and think of how much I packed and how little we actually needed…At the hospital anyway.
- Robe/PJs – You’ll want to be comfortable while you’re in the hospital and also if you’re pumping/breast feeding you’ll want a robe or tops best suited for easy access. Nursing bras are also helpful. Comfy PJs that button down are great for strolls around the floor as well as breast feeding.
- Snacks – For you and your partner. So hospitals provide meals but I was still having odd cravings. It helps to bring some of your favorite snacks and change for the vending machines. The energy and calories needed to breastfeed will require you to be well-fed. Kind Bars and trail mix were staples for me. My stepdad also brought us all of his favorite snacks, which was so great…For him. 😉
- Dry Shampoo – People will probably stop by and you’ll want to look presentable but you just gave birth so your body is still recovering. Dry Shampoo will be a very good friend of yours while in the hospital…And at home in the days and weeks (and months and years) to come. 😉
- Toiletries – Bring your own toothbrush and toothpaste and deodorant as well as travel sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Remember the hospital pillow conversation from earlier. The only thing worse than a hospital pillow is hospital toothpaste. Trust me.
- Sandals, socks, and slippers oh my – I recommend a really cheap pair of flip flops for all of your showering needs. You’ll actually want to shower and probably enjoy it as warm water is very soothing. Hospital shower flooring…Not so soothing. This is an inexpensive item and they came in very handy for me. Also, toss them prior to discharge and you’ll have 1 less thing to pack. You’ll also want to bring some comfy socks or slippers for all of the walking both before and after labor. MAKE SURE YOU WALK!!!!
Next up, what to buy? Gift ideas for expecting parents…
- Babymoon – Have a group of friends that wants to go in together to do something special before baby gets here? A weekend getaway is perfect for you and your partner to enjoy some time together and just relax before everything changes, in the most beautiful way.
- Cleaning service – Post partum Mama is lucky to take a shower and blow dry her hair in the same day. Dishes and Laundry pile up and add to the amount of stress. Offer to pay to have a cleaning service drop by weekly or biweekly just to help for the first month or so. Every little bit helps and new mamas are always grateful for someone taking things off of their to do lists.
- Food – Gift cards, meal trains, Grubhub, Door dash, or delivery services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron are all wonderful and very practical gifts for a new family adjusting. Amy uses Hello Fresh and swears by it! She’s even shared her code with us so we can get $120 off!!! Here’s the code!
- Diapers – Speaking of delivery, there are options on amazon, hello bello, and many others that deliver diapers, wipes, lotions, body wash, etc right to your front door. Sign them up for a month with a diaper delivery service and I promise you will have made life so much easier in so many ways.
- Lavish gifts – Buy Mama a gift card for a mani/pedi or a massage. Buy Dad a gift card to his favorite golf course. Anything you can do to show them you are thinking of them and that their life prior to baby still exists even though it may be slightly different now is always a welcome gift.
- Babysitters – This is a gift that is worth it’s weight in gold while not actually being costly. We want date nights after baby. A night where we can fix our hair and wear something other than his t shirts. We have to have trustworthy babysitters to do so though. If you personally know of wonderful babysitters in your area, share their names, or even offer to pay for a sitter so these new parents can enjoy a dinner date or a movie or even just a nap. *cough cough…Amy’s oldest babysits!
- Post partum recovery items – These items are typically cheap to purchase/make and they are worth a fortune to post partum Mamas. Make her some padsicles or buy her a basket with pads, tucks, bottom balm, peri bottles, colace, nipple cream, the essentials.
- Non Maternity items – While maternity clothes are comfy, there’s something to be said for new non-pregnant panties and jeans without a waist band the size of a tire. Buy her a gift card to her favorite store to pick up some new items that will leave her feeling like a hot mama or better yet take her out for a shopping day. She’ll enjoy getting out and some adult interaction more than you know.
- Salon – New mamas are often so busy taking care of everyone else that they forget to take care of themselves or put their needs last on the list. There’s a rule somewhere that once baby gets here your hair will only go into one of those weird tangled messy buns. Call her hair stylist and make an appointment for her to get a cut or color or at the very least wash and style. She will feel like a new person.
- Photography session – This is something that we treasure and we will cherish forever and ever. Most photographers offer packages where you can pick a few sessions and gift them if you choose. For instance, we were able to pay 1 price and included in that price were maternity pics, labor and delivery and fresh 48 (both done at the hospital), 2 week at home lifestyle session, and all of our milestone pics (3, 6, and 9 month as well as 12 month smash cake session). It was amazing to know that we would have these pictures forever. Truly the most wonderful gift. If you’re looking for a photographer who does an amazing job and offers these packages as well as gift options, Amy P Photography is without a doubt the best! Contact her TODAY!