Surviving the Newborn Stage: Newborn and Baby Hacks Parents Need To Know
Sharing is caring!
If you’ve stumbled over to my corner of the internet, that must mean you’re a new parent! Congratulations! I’m going to share all of the BEST newborn hacks and baby tips for surviving the newborn stage.
If you’re a new mom or dad, taking home a newborn baby with no previous experience can seem scary.
I was petrified!
I couldn’t believe the hospital was letting me take this teeny, tiny helpless little person home, even though I had no idea what I was doing.
I just want to tell you that it’ll be okay.
Yes, there’s going to poop and/or pee everywhere, there’s going to be tears (you, baby, or both), there’s going to be sleepless nights.
The good news?
It doesn’t last forever.
You’ll get the hang of it and it’ll all be okay.
I’ve learned a thing or two along the way and I wish I knew these newborn tips before bringing my little burrito home.
Here’s my list of newborn hacks and baby tips for surviving the first few months.
Hopefully, these newborn hacks will save you some tears and frustrations.
So babies don’t come with instruction manuals (they really should though) but they do come with some cool built in functions. These are basically involuntary responses baby elicit to different stimuli.
Knowing these are helpful to determine if baby is having typical brain and nerve activity, plus some of them are just funny.
Did you know that if you lightly stroke the corner of baby’s mouth/cheek area they will turn towards the area you are stroking.
This helps baby find nipple when feeding.
You can encourage your baby to feed with this technique.
This usually comes in handy when your little one is falling asleep while feeding as well.
You’ll notice that when your baby gets startled by a loud sound (or maybe when they are being re-positioned or moved unexpectedly) they throw their arms and legs out as if they are falling and trying to catch themselves.
Many babies also do this in their sleep and startle themselves awake.
That’s why it’s a good idea to swaddle a newborn to prevent them from doing this.
When you stroke the underside of your baby’s foot, you’ll notice that all their little toes fan out. It’s actually super cute!
This is another cute one!
If you hold baby upright while supporting their heads and place their feet on a flat surface they will begin attempting to step as if walking.
This one disappears around 2 months and doesn’t come back til its time to actually start walking for real.
This is probably my favorite one.
If you stroke baby’s palm they will close their fist really tight.
Try placing a finger in their palm and they’ll grip it tightly. If you try to take it away, they hold on even tighter.
Now, that’s too cute.
The Fourth Trimester
There’s this idea that our little people aren’t quite done cooking when they come out. There’s simply not enough room left in there to finish cooking so they come out a little early.
They still need about another 3 months.
Keeping this idea in mind is super helpful because if you can mimic the conditions of the womb, you can make your newborn that much more comfortable and cooperative.
Newborn Sleep Hacks & Tips
There’s really no way around it. You’re newborn will be sleeping and then waking up pretty much every two hours.
This is perfectly normal in the beginning.
They have teeny tiny tummies so they have to feed often.
However, there are a few things that you can do to help baby sleep longer.
This is such a hot topic with new parents that I’ve actually got an entire post dedicated to just baby sleep tips.
Do You Even Swaddle, Bro?
Swaddling baby so they’re snug as a bug in a rug is a surefire way to help them sleep longer.
This helps mimic how they feel in the womb.
Plus it stops them from startling themselves awake because their arms are tucked away.
Your swaddle should be snug and tight so it doesn’t come loose and pose a suffocation hazard.
There are also great sleep sacks available if you can’t quite get the swaddle down.
I absolutely loved the Halo Sleep Sack and used them religiously to help my little guy nap longer stretches.
They offer them in tons of different designs and fabrics so you can get fleece ones for winter and lighter organic cotton for summer months.
Mama You Smell So Good
Babies have fairly poor eye sight when they’re born but their sense of smell is great!
To help baby feel secure and safe, I recommend you sleep with the swaddle you’ll be using on your baby so it will have your scent.
This will instantly have them feeling like you’re right there next to them.
White Noise Machine
This goes against every instinct and logic, or at least I thought, at first.
You might think you’re little one needs things to be utterly quiet to sleep but actually that’s not true.
Remember what I mentioned earlier?
We’re trying to recreate the womb experience.
Your baby was lulled to sleep to the sound of your beating heart and the rush of blood throughout your body. So, they definitely don’t want a soundless room to sleep in.
You can purchase a white noise machine to simulate a similar experience.
Or you can do what I did and just play white noise from Youtube.
The other downside of having them sleep in an uber quiet room is that you’re creating a pattern.
Once you teach them to sleep in a quiet room, you’ll always have to put them down in a quiet room and we all know that’s not always possible.
AVOID THIS UNNECESSARY PITFALL!
Shushing and Other Sounds
Another way that my little guy was instantly soothed was by making a fairly loud shushing sound like shhhhhhh.
I would hold him close and make a loud shhhhh noise near his ear.
I think this sound is similar to the rushing of blood in the body so when he was sleepy or fussy this would calm him right down.
Other sounds that I’ve heard worked for other moms: running water, a blow dryer and even the vacuum.
I’d wait try out the other stuff first though, unless you want a ridiculous water bill.
Just like us, babies thrive on familiarity and routine.
It’s never too early to start a bedtime routine so you’re baby starts associating these activities with bedtime.
We kept it fairly simple: bath time, feed, story, and off to bed.
Sleepy, not Asleep
This is mission critical and will save you A LOT of pain in the future!
Always try to put baby into their crib/bassinet while they’re sleepy, rather than after they’ve fallen asleep.
You want to start encouraging them early to fall asleep on their own.
Otherwise they’ll grow used to falling asleep in your arms and while that’s cute now, they get pretty heavy pretty quickly and you really don’t want to be rocking your two year old to sleep.
Night and Day
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a baby that automatically distinguishes between night and day but this isn’t always the case.
A lot of times, you have to teach baby the difference.
For instance, for night time sleep make sure all the lights are out while during the day that’s not essential.
Eventually, they will associate dark with sleep. Even during night time diaper changes or feeds we avoided having lights on and relied on night lights instead.
Shorter Day Time Naps
Babies sleep A LOT but make sure the longest stretches of sleep are reserved for night time.
In general, during the day I don’t let my little one sleep more than about 2 hours before I wake him up again. Although typically, he’ll wake up around that time anyway.
You’ve probably heard this before but it’s worth saying again.
Always, always, always put your newborn to sleep on their backs!
This is one of the biggest tips recommended to avoid the possibility of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Baby is best able to breath in this position.
I’m not sure if this works with all babies or just mine but it’s worth a shot.
One surefire way to put my son to sleep (only if he’s sleepy already) is to lightly run my fingers from the top of his little head, across his face and down his chest.
You can also use a tissue instead of your fingers. If you do this repeatedly, your little one should slowly drift off to bed.
Breastfeed to Sleep
Breast milk can help baby to sleep and establish the difference between night and day.
When baby breast feeds at night, the milk contains higher levels of melatonin which aids in sleep.
I think that about wraps up our baby sleep tips here.
An Oldie but a Goodie: Sleep When Baby Sleeps
I know most of you probably don’t want to hear this and ignore it but its crucial.
The laundry can wait, the dishes can wait, the housework can wait.
Get that sleep!
You are going to be a cranky zombie with no sleep. As often as you can, try to sleep when baby does.
RELATED POST: How to Score Awesome Baby Products For FREE
Tips For Buying Baby Clothes
Sleepers Are Your Best Friends
Have I mentioned my love of baby sleepers as my go-to outfit?
They are genius!
Don’t get me wrong, the cutesy stuff is fun to look at, but it’s impractical and uncomfortable. Ditch the fancy pants and keep it simple.
Sleepers are more comfortable and way easier when you consider how many times a day you’ll be changing diapers.
I love sleepers with a zipper, it allows for a super quick change.
Buttons, I Loathe You
Why oh why do they still put button snaps on baby clothes?
They are time consuming and impractical with a squirmy baby.
Whenever possible I opt for zippers to make life easier.
The Onesie Hack
This one is genius and I had no idea it existed until after a few poop explosions.
Have you ever noticed that if you look at this cute baby onesies, the shoulder area has little tabs?
Ever wonder what that’s about?
It’s actually there to save you when baby has a poop explosion.
Imagine trying to pull a poop covered onesie over your baby’s head.
With this hack, just grab those tabs and shimmy shimmy that onesie down and off your little one without getting poop on their face. Score!
This is yet another reason I prefer sleepers as my newborn clothing of choice.
Diaper Changing Hacks
While you’re waiting for your baby’s umbilical cord to fall out, make sure it stays dry and aired out.
Make sure to buy diapers that have a cut out for the belly button area or fold down the front of the diaper for the time being if you’ve already purchased other diapers that don’t have this feature.
Set Up Multiple Changing Stations
I suggest setting up little portable baskets or a diaper caddy with all your necessary supplies (diapers, wipes, Vaseline etc).
You can either just take this around with you or make 2-3 and leave them in the rooms you spend the most time in.
This way, you don’t have to run up or downstairs and grab supplies every time you need to change a diaper.
Contain the Stink
With about 10 stinky diapers a day, it’s hard to avoid the smell.
You can opt for an odor locking diaper pails like the Diaper Genie .
These need you to buy liners each time so it can get expensive.
If you’re not using an odour locking diaper pail make sure to bag each diaper individually in a plastic bag (like those doggie poop bags) and tie it up before your throw it away.
This will help to trap some of the smell.
The Diaper Under the Diaper Trick
When you’re changing baby’s diaper, place the new diaper under baby before you take off the old one.
This way you can wipe baby quickly and if they happen to pee, the old diaper will catch it.
Once you’re done, you can quickly re-diaper since the new one is already in place.
How Can You Avoid Getting Peed On By Baby Son?
If you’ve got a boy, most likely you’ll be peed on at least once in your diaper changing career.
There are some things you can do to minimize the risks though.
Wipe their tummy with a baby wipe before you open the diaper. It’s the cold that usually causes them to pee. This should trigger the pee before you open the diaper.
As soon as you open baby’s diaper, place a baby wipe or wash cloth over baby to help prevent being peed on if the shower continues or get a Pee Pee Teepee to place on top of baby while you’re changing him.
Another thing to keep in mind with boys: point that pee pee down.
Every time you put on the diaper, you must make sure it’s pointed south or he will wet himself and you’ll end up with pee everywhere!
Your Hands Are Tied
You know what’s gross?
When you’re trying to do damage control with a poopy situation and your baby tries to lend a hand and gets themselves covered in poop.
One genius way to avoid this is to roll baby’s onesie up and over their arms until you’re done changing them.
It Changes Colour!
Most people are probably aware of this but it’s good to note in case you aren’t.
Baby diapers have a super cool feature.
There’s a little yellow strip on the front that changes color to blue when baby pees.
This way you don’t even have to open up the diaper to check if its wet, amazing!
What’s with the Ruffles?
Did you notice that diapers have a sort of ruffle thing around the leg area?
These are actually there to help minimize leakage, so make sure to pull them outwards to prevent the pee from getting out.
For bedtime, I suggest using a larger size diaper.
This way you won’t have to wake them for a change unless they’ve pooped themselves.
Fussy Newborn Hacks
Why oh why won’t your stop crying baby?
There’s usually a few culprits to look for.
Is baby: hungry, tired, sleepy, bored, over stimulated, gassy needs a diaper change?
Being a baby is hard work!
So much has changed so quickly and they’re just trying to figure it all out but they need some help. Keep in mind, crying is normal.
This is the only way they know how to communicate right now. They’ll try to give you some subtle clues along the way but when all else fails, you wail!
If you miss baby’s cues and wait til he’s hangry af, you’re gonna hear about it. Sometimes when they get this way its hard to calm them down long enough to get them to stat drinking.
It’s better to be aware of hunger cues and jump in before all hell breaks loose. Look for these cues:
Licking their lips or smacking
Opening their mouth (wide O)
Turning their head/rooting/turning head back and forth quickly
♡ Putting hands in mouth
♡ Increased movement and wiggling
♡ Trying to suck on you LOL
Tired, Sleepy or Over-stimulated?
You want to make sure you get your little one to sleep before they’re over-tired.
If you wait to long, they can be super fussy and hard to calm down. Look for these cues to see if baby needs some quiet time:
♡ Avoids eye contact or looks away repeatedly
♡ Rubbing eyes
♡ Pulling Ears
♡ Just generally being a cranky pants: frowning, rigid/tense movement, wailing away
Maybe your little one has some gas buildup that’s making them uncomfortable and they just don’t know how to get rid of it yet.
All babies are gassy but some just don’t deal with it as well as others do.
Try these tricks to help our little one relieve gas pain.
♡ Feeding Position – make sure to keep baby’s head/shoulders stay elevated around a 45 degree angle (basically just not flat) to avoid or minimize gas in the first place
♡ Bicycle – move baby’s legs gently as if they are riding a bicycle and alternate gently bending and pressing towards their tummy
♡ Belly Rub – gently massage baby’s tummy in a clockwise motion
♡ Burp – make sure to burp baby well after each feed and you can even burp in between switching breasts (when breastfeeding) or about every 2-3 ounces if bottle feeding
♡ Gas Drops – I haven’t used them myself but many moms I know swear by it. If you bottle feed, you can add it right into their milk.
Some More Newborn Baby Tips
Here’s a few more newborn 101 tips, tricks and hacks that didn’t fit into nice neat categories (don’t you just hate that).
♡ Baby Wearing – I highly suggest getting a baby carrier and practicing baby wearing.
It’s wonderful for bonding, soothes baby and they usually fall asleep in there, plus it frees up your hands if you need to get somethings finished.
♡ Baby Swing– many babies love the rhythm movement of a baby swing. It can often stop a fussy baby’s cries.
♡ Haakaa – if you’re breastfeeding, get yourself a haakaa and thank me later.
These silicone pump basically just collects milk from the nipple the baby isn’t feeding on. This is liquid gold that would otherwise be going to waste.
♡ Pumping Hack – if you pump breast milk, save time by storing your pumping parts in the fridge between pumps for the day
♡ Spatula for Spreading – if you’re applying baby rash cream, use a silicone spatula because the cream is made to be water resistant so it’s a real pain to try to wash off your hands!
♡ Extra Extra– always keep an extra change of diapers, wipes, and clothes for baby and yourself in the car
Finger Nails – Get an electric nail file kit for your little one so you don’t ever have to risk cutting them with a nail cutter. Wait until baby has been asleep for about 15-20 minutes before you start.
For more must have baby items take a look at my minimalist newborn essentials I used pretty much every day!
The Secret To Actually ENJOYING the Newborn Stage
The number one thing I can tell you to actually enjoy the newborn stage is to take the pressure off.
You need to LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS!
There’s a huge learning curve so it’s totally okay when you mess up.
What me might THINK is normal, isn’t a baby’s normal.
So when you imagine baby finally sleeping through the night, that doesn’t mean 8 to 10 hours.
Consider yourself blessed by an angel if you’re little one can manage 4-6 hours straight. It’ll be a few months at least before you’ll get these longer stretches and that’s totally normal too.
You have to remember that crying is totally normal and just the way your baby communicates. It’s their way of saying hey, some help over here.
Just allow yourself the grace to make mistakes and learn on the job.
You’ll both be just fine. Promise. Listen to that mom intuition.
That’s All For Now
Hopefully you picked up some new baby hacks that’ll save you some tears.
Do you have some of your own tips that I missed?
Leave me a comment so we can keep growing the ultimate newborn survival guide.
Just remember, this stage won’t last forever. You got this!