What Do Newborns Really Need?

There’s no doubt you’ve come to realize there are an endless number of baby products available for purchase. Before you buy up the baby supply store, ask yourself, what do newborns really need? Or better yet, just keep reading…

Your precious sweet baby will certainly be a handful but when considering what do newborns really need, the answer is fairly simple: Not much! That’s not to say you won’t end up with a lot of baby stuff by the end of your baby’s first year. But you truly don’t need all that much from day one. In many cases, you can wait to meet your baby to determine her needs. And remember, you’ll probably receive many gifts so buying a bunch of “nice to haves” may be unnecessary.

What do newborns really need? Here’s the essential list:

Diapers and Wipes: Or better said, something to diaper with and something to wipe with because there are many options when it comes to diapers and wipes. If you go for the standard disposable varieties, you may want a small pack of a few different types to determine which ones your baby wears best without wasting money on a bulk supply. You really can’t go wrong with any type of wipes. For those who are taking the greener route, have your reusable diaper supplies ready to go and a simple washcloth works as a washable wipe.

What Do Newborns Really Need?A Bed: Notice we don’t say a crib. Your baby can sleep in several places in the first few months although experts recommend that she does have her own safe sleep space outside of your bed. A cradle, basinet or play yard can work as an early bed for your baby. Don’t feel obligated to have a crib right away. Many parents don’t bring in a crib out of superstition or may be waiting to transition a toddler out of the baby’s eventual crib.

Blankets or Swaddles: Your baby will likely enjoy being wrapped up snugly in a swaddle. In the hospital you’ll probably get some blankets that work just fine for swaddling but have a few more on hand. You can go for traditional blankets that you will fold into a swaddle or pre-stitched swaddles.

Clothes: Cute clothes are fun but when it comes to what you really need for your newborn, function is more important. Eight to 10 bodysuits and five to seven pajamas should do it. You’ll probably run your baby’s laundry several times a week (you’ll need a gentle laundry detergent!) due to diaper leaks and spit-up so too many items are unnecessary. Keep in mind that your baby will hit several growth spurts within the first month to six weeks of life so she’ll grow out of her newborn clothes rather quickly.

Feeding Supplies: When you’re breastfeeding, all you truly need is your body! However, you may want to have a nursing pillow on hand to make things more comfortable. Several nursing bras that you wore during pregnancy should transition to nursing for the few weeks and then you can buy more nursing bras once your milk comes in and you determine your size. Burp cloths are a good idea but regular wash cloths or hand towels work well too. Experts recommend holding off on giving your baby a breast milk bottle until at least four weeks after birth to establish a strong breastfeeding routine and to encourage milk supply. If you know you’ll need to pump and serve bottles before then, have your supplies ready before your baby arrives.

Car Seat: Many hospitals won’t let you leave unless your baby is secure in a car seat. Make sure you get one that is appropriate for an infant but also has room to grow.

Along with love, patience and a good attitude, that’s really all you need when you bring home a newborn. Your precious new baby will spend most of her time eating, sleeping, soiling diapers and hanging out in your arms, all of which is covered by our list.

Looking for things that will make your life easier or that you may need eventually? Here are a few “nice to haves”:

Rocking Chair: Rocking can be soothing to your baby but some don’t like it. If you can’t fit a rocker in your nursery, don’t worry. Bouncing, swaying or walking around work well for calming your baby too. And you can nurse anywhere so don’t feel obligated to have a rocker.

Stroller: Strollers male life easier when you’re out and about but chances are you won’t be going anywhere with your baby for a few months other than the doctor’s office. Some car seats are paired with a stroller system to transfer your baby without having to take her out of the car seat.

Baby Carrier: Planning to get things done around the house with your newborn? If so, a baby carrier will help you keep your baby close while freeing up your hands for other tasks.

Changing Table: Any old dresser can double as a changing table with a changing pad on top. Don’t feel like you must buy a table or baby dresser designed just for this purpose.

Baby Venues: Setting your baby down for a moment in a bouncy chair or infant swing may be helpful but again, not mandatory. In fact, sometimes these replace tummy time or interactive play, which can hinder your baby’s physical and mental development.

Baby Bathtub: Bathing your baby in the sink for the first few weeks (or months) is completely fine! As your baby gets bigger, it may be cumbersome to hold your slippery wet baby safely and then you’ll need a bathtub. Baby towels are super cute, but your regular bath towels are just fine too.

Sources: WebMD and Scary Mommy

How to Truly Help a Friend with a Newborn

How to Truly Help a Friend with a NewbornWhether you have kids or not, being truly helpful to a friend with a newborn is the best gift a new mom could receive.  Even those with kids often don’t think about what it means to be truly helpful because we often get caught up in outdated etiquette that is actually beyond unhelpful to new mothers.  We’re here to show you how to truly help a friend with a newborn.

Help around the house:  When you come over to a new mom’s house while her baby is sleeping, don’t make her sit and talk to you.  That is her time.  Instead, let her take a nap or a shower while you tidy up, fold laundry, run to the grocery store for her or put together the four new baby items that are still in their boxes.  Be useful, don’t eat up her time.

Organize a meal train:  What’s better than bringing your friend’s family a meal?  Getting all of her friends to provide meals for the first month after the baby arrives.  There are online sign-up programs that make organizing meal trains simple and streamlined.  Be sure to ask the mom the types of foods she wants for her family and be mindful of food allergies and dietary restrictions, especially if mom is breastfeeding.

Get her a gift she really wants:  It’s nice to get adorable outfits, burp clothes and blankets, but new moms usually get tons of these generic gifts from people who don’t know her very well.  Ask the new mom what she wants and actually get it for her, even if it is a box of diapers, breast shields for her pump or housecleaning service.

Arrange playdates for older siblings:  Pick up her older kids and let them play with your kids or others outside of their home to allow mom time to bond with her baby or get some chores done.  This is a gift to the whole family.

Listen to her without judging:  Being a new mom can be very hard for even experienced mothers.  Ask your friend how she is doing and actually listen to her without negating her feelings or imparting your personal judgment.  Sometimes just expressing herself will make her feel better.

Sit with her while she breastfeeds:  When mothers exclusively breastfeed, they can get lonely day-in and day-out.  Spend your lunch break sitting with her while she breastfeeds so she has some company that can actually talk back and doesn’t spit up on her.

Take her out:  Make your new mom friend get out of the house when she’s capable so she’ll remember that life is not the bubble she’s been living in with a newborn.  Even if you just take a walk in the park to get fresh air or have a quick girls’ night dinner, remembering what the outside world is like will do her some good.

Tell her all the mistakes you made as a new mom:  New mothers often feel they are the only ones struggling and constantly making mistakes.  Share your blunders with her to help her feel better about her own.  It will probably give both of you a good laugh too.

Give her space:  If your friend says she wants to be left alone, give her that space for the first little while.  She may want to soak up all the time she and her partner have with their newborn before returning to work.  Do be cautious though that your friend isn’t avoiding you because she is depressed.  Intervene if you think she needs help.  Also, if others are constantly bothering her by dropping by to see the baby, be on hand to “manage the door” and let visitors talk your ear off instead of hers.

Be an awesome friend and think about how to truly help a friend with a newborn!

What you should Know about Newborns

To a certain extent, each of us has an idealistic perspective on having a baby.  While we know we’ll be contending with crying, constant diaper changes and a lot of work ahead of us, there are several aspects of having a newborn that are completely unfamiliar.  The newborn stage is filled with joys and challenges, many of which are unexpected.  Today we’re sharing what you should know about newborns to help prepare you for the arrival of your new baby.

Even full term babies are not fully developed at birth.  Although we try to bake our babies as long as possible, even 9½ months of growth in a mother’s womb doesn’t completely get the job done.  Bones, cognition and many bodily functions are still maturing well into the first year of a baby’s life.  This is why nutrition, healthy sleep habits and nurture are essential to a baby’s physical, mental and emotional survival.

Babies can be fierce and explosive.  Your baby may look tender and delicate but babies are much stronger than you would ever imagine.  A baby’s grasp or tug of the hair may feel like you are wrestling with a body builder at times.  And you may be surprised at the volume, velocity and force of your baby’s spit-up and poop.  For such a small creature, they can really spew despite champion burping and super-duper diapering.

Newborns may look odd but they grow out of it.  When you see beautiful pictures of babies, you’re usually not looking at a newborn, but rather an older infant.  Newborns are often misshaped from their experience in the womb and journey through the birth canal during labor and delivery.  Sometimes the head is shaped like a cone and without muscle tone and facial features are limp.  Additionally, babies often have skin conditions from being submerged in amniotic fluid.  But don’t worry, the newborn aesthetics shed as your baby matures into an adorable infant.

What you should Know about NewbornsBabies are pretty vocal about getting enough to eat.  The most fundamental need of a baby is to be fed.  But if you’ve never fed a newborn before, how on Earth do you know if she’s getting enough to eat, especially if you’re breastfeeding?  The truth is, your baby will tell you in three ways:  1) she’ll root and cry when she’s hungry (and you’ll learn the hunger cry pretty quickly) 2) she will be soiling diapers frequently, and 3) she’ll gain weight when she’s eating well.

Love at first sight is not always the case.  Every parent and baby bonds at their own pace.  For some, they fall in love immediately.  However, sometimes the stress, hormones, life changes and time commitment involved in parenting delays the bonding process.  The connection will develop gradually over time when parents remember to remain calm, nurture their children, meet their basic needs and take “stress free” breaks when necessary.

Babies require basic mammalian social needs that have evolved over 30 million years.  Social mammals have been around for a long time and their needs require “intensive parenting,” according to Psychology Today.   This means that newborns and babies need breastfeeding for holistic health; constant touch, love and affection; responsiveness to their distress; playtime starting at birth; and someone to help them meet their physical needs of food, shelter and protection.

Newborns aren’t facially and verbally responsive for at least six weeks.  The gurgles, coos and smiles that melt your heart usually don’t emerge until your little bundle of joy is six weeks or older.  Getting this brief feedback from your baby is extremely rewarding and more than makes up for many of the stressful moments of new parenthood.  Just don’t hold your breath from the beginning because it takes a little time for these adorable sounds and expressions to arrive.

Your parenting style will differ from what you expect.  It’s great to consider the type of parent you want to be before your baby arrives, but a lot of flexibility is required in your parenting style.  Without having been in a parents’ shoes before, you really don’t know how you will respond and what you will want for your child.  And your baby will also dictate much of what she requires from you as well.  Your personal parenting style will evolve along with your child and you’ll make decisions that are right for you and your family in each new phase of parenthood.

The newborn stage is fleeting so embrace both the joys and the challenges because it will all be over before you know it.

Breastfeeding Tips for the First Three Days: A New Mom Guide

The beginning is always the hardest; that’s true of any skill when you’re learning the ropes. Breastfeeding is no different. New moms are often overwhelmed by how consuming breastfeeding becomes from the first feeding: latching techniques, constant feeding schedules, different hold positions—the list goes on! We have some breastfeeding tips that address the first three days of nursing and serve as a blueprint of what to expect. From hospital to home, let these breastfeeding tips (adapted from Pregnancy and Newborn online magazine) guide you through the first days of nursing and into a seamless routine.

Breastfeeding Tips for the First Three Days: A New Mom GuideOnce you’ve delivered your baby, ask to hold your newborn so you can experience skin-to-skin contact. Establishing an external connection with your baby as quickly as possible will aid breastfeeding. If you can, you should try to nurse the first time you hold your baby as well. Be patient as your infant tries to latch for the first times and look for signs that she is properly sucking and consuming milk.

Watch to see if your baby’s mouth is open wide (most of your areola and nipple will be covered) and listen for firm, sucking sounds. If you think the latch is too light, gently break her suction with your fingertips and try the latch again. If you have concerns, ask for a visit with a lactation consultant and have her guide you through a successful latch. Once you know what to expect and roughly how nursing will feel, you will find that some of your initial breastfeeding anxiety is quieted.

If your baby is soiling diapers, you’re providing milk, even if it doesn’t seem like a large quantity.

Breastfeeding at home

Once you’ve begun to nurse, you have to establishing a breastfeeding schedule. Try to nurse every two hours in the beginning. While at home, continue this routine as best you can. If your baby exhibits signs of hunger, though, try to feed even if it throws you off your schedule. Keeping a basic log of your breastfeeding schedule will help you stay on track and informed of your nursing progress. Note things like diaper changes, length of breastfeeding sessions, frequency of sessions, and how successful your baby is at latching on. This information will be helpful in your first pediatrician visits.

Enlist your partner to help you keep your sleep schedule. For the first days, you may want to use a bassinet in your room to make nighttime feedings more convenient. Your partner will be able to help you get up or assist you with feeding if you, baby, and partner are in the same place. You’re all sharing the same goal of successful breastfeeding for your infant’s health, and creating a comfortable, nurturing space together will make round-the-clock feedings easier.

Around the end of your first week of breastfeeding, be conscious of your breasts becoming engorged. Engorgement varies is pain between women, but using ice packs or cabbage leaves are common ways you can ease some of the pain you might feel. If your breast pain becomes severe, call your doctor and see what he or she can prescribe that’s safe for you and baby.

Just remember—at the end of your first week, you’ll have learned so much first-hand information about breastfeeding! Stick with it, because nursing your baby is the healthiest, most natural way you can feed your baby. You’re giving her so much when you offer her a breast to latch onto.

Have any tips for moms-to-be you learned from your first few days breastfeeding? Share with us in the comments.

Caffeine and Breastfeeding

Caffeine and breastfeeding is a much debated topic among medical professionals and mothers alike.  I recommend limiting caffeine intake to less than 500 mg per day in the early weeks and months of breastfeeding.  That’s about one large cup of brewed coffee from a coffee shop.

Loving Moment between Mom & BabyBalancing your caffeine consumption and breastfeeding is a most important to consider at the newborn stage.  Newborns are more sensitive to caffeine than older infants and toddlers, so restricting caffeine a bit at the beginning is wise.  If you find your infant to be fussy and can’t get to sleep, consider reducing your caffeine intake for a few days to see if it makes a difference in your baby’s sleep patterns and overall behavior.  If that is helpful, consider cutting out caffeine for awhile until your baby is less sensitive to its effects.  When you reintroduce it, do it slowly so as not to jolt your baby’s system.

Everyone reacts differently to caffeine so consult your physician to get a recommendation that is best for you and your baby.  Keep in mind that there will always be conflicting information and opinions about what pregnant and breastfeeding women should put in their bodies.  Ultimately, it should be a personal choice.  Like most choices, being informed and striking a balance are key to making the best decisions for ourselves.

Amy Berry
Amy is a lactation consultant and proud momma of 7 (yep seven!) wonderful children all breastfed and a Loving Moments fan!