Meaghan Grant and Alexandra Weinberger know a thing or two about newborn babies. As the co-owners of Toronto Family Doulas, they have seen more than their fair share of new moms and dads deal with the monumental stress that can come with bringing a baby home for the first time.
Due to that fact alone, the pair have also amassed a wealth of tips and tricks that can help make that newborn adjustment period an easier one on the whole family. From how to better deal with dirty diapers to making the most of your breast milk, here are nine life-saving hacks that any new parent should know.
1. Use shoulders to change messes
No, we don’t mean you should hold your kicking babe down on the change table with your shoulder while you fumble with clasps, we mean use his shoulders. Specifically, the shoulders on his onesie. Apparently they’re designed to make taking clothes off a little bit easier when there’s a mess down there.
“Those funny, envelope shoulders on onesies open the neckline so that you can take the onesie off over the shoulders and down instead of up over the head,” Grant and Weinberger advise. “When you have had a diaper explosion, pulling the onesie down can save you a bath.”
2. Learn this secret disposable diaper trick
Ever wonder why there’s so much extra material at the waist of a disposable diaper? According to the doulas, it’s so that you can create an extra layer of protection with a makeshift tent.
“Fold that material in towards the belly and back. It acts as an envelope and contains any migrating mess. It might even save you from a blowout or two,” they say.
3. Make the bed twice
Nobody wants to change the sheets in the middle of the night after a poopy blowout or a leaky diaper. That’s why these doulas are fans of double making the bed. According to them, your setup should go like this: mattress, mattress cover, fitted sheet, waterproof mattress cover, then another fitted sheet. Then if something happens in the middle of the night all you need to do is remove the top two layers and you’re good to go until the morning.
4. Pacifier practice makes perfect
Just like breastfeeding can take some practice, using the pacifier is a learned behaviour that often requires more than one try to get it right. “Give it a week of constantly trying before giving up,” the doulas suggest. “And keep in mind that there are different shapes for a reason; your baby may have a preference of pacifier shape so you may need to try a few brands first.”
5. Sing a song
You’re probably ready to sing a whole slew of nursery rhymes and other songs to your baby. But when it comes to comforting your little one when she is upset or hurt, the doulas recommend picking one song and sticking to it.
“Over time they will associate that song with being soothed and calmed, and they will relax faster when they are upset,” the partners explain.
6. Your lap can be a seat
If you’re bottle feeding your babe, sit cross-legged and use your lap as a seat. That way your legs will support your baby and you will only need one hand to feed. “This is particularly helpful when feeding multiples,” the doulas say.
7. Toss the milk bags
Planning on pumping? Don’t waste your money on fancy schmancy bags, say the doulas. Pour your milk into one-ounce ice cube trays instead and freeze them. That way you always know exactly how much you’re defrosting at a time. When the baby gets older you can use this same trick for pre-making and storing purees, too.
8. Stop getting peed on
Both boys and girls can pee on unsuspecting diaper changers, resulting in a wardrobe malfunction for you and the baby. “When cold air reaches the genitals, many infants respond by urinating,” the doulas say. “To save yourself the wardrobe change, open the front of your baby’s diaper, wait five seconds, then close it. Once your baby is done peeing, you can proceed with the diaper change.”
9. Don’t be afraid to accept help
New parents — and moms in particular — are often completely overwhelmed for the first few weeks after bringing a baby home. That’s why loved ones usually offer to help. Whether it’s bringing over food, doing the dishes or watching the baby for an hour so that you can get some much-needed sleep, the doulas advise that you should never be afraid to say yes to these offers.
“They aren’t doing it to embarrass you or suggest that you should be doing ‘better,’ they are offering because they know you have taken on a huge job and they want to help,” they explain. “And if your friends and families come with a few too many opinions, say yes to a professional postpartum doula!”