You’ve read the books, you’ve attended the classes, and you’ve seen the dreaded childbirth movie via camera angles that should never exist. You’ve even decorated the nursery, had a baby shower, and crafted your birth plan. Technically, you’re ready to tackle parenthood, right?
If there’s one thing newborns are good at, it’s defying all logic and finding that loophole of ignorance inside your sea of recently acquired knowledge. They’re like tiny little lawyers calling for a life sentence, leaving you wondering if you were even cut out for parenthood.
But fear not, young Jedi. If it takes a village to raise a child, count your lucky stars, because that village is filled with brave survivors who have come back from the diaper battlefield. Gather around this virtual fire to learn about the investments you should probably make as you begin this journey into parenthood.
1. As many duplicates of the vaunted “comfort item” as possible
Once your child has chosen their comfort item, nothing else in the world will exist. You will avoid so many unnecessary tantrums (and significantly decrease bacteria levels), if you can replace it easily with its clone when it inevitably goes missing. Not to mention, you can have one at daycare, and another at grandma’s house. Don’t put this off for too long: Murphy’s Law dictates that your child will fall in love with something that immediately gets discontinued.
2. Snacks, snacks, and more snacks
Have some in your car, in your purse, and even in your pockets. Have them everywhere. A busy mouth is a quiet mouth. It’s science.
3. Ear plugs
I know, it sounds awful to tell you to shut your baby out, but that phase of “baby’s learning how to self soothe” is even more dreadful. When you’ve tried everything in your human power and baby just won’t cooperate, give yourself a few minutes of silence to rock back-and-forth in a fetal position wondering how your life has come to this.
Don’t buy them at Costco. Buy them from the company that supplies Costco. Diapers will eventually be replaced with underwear, but wipes are forever.
I used to leave five or six pacifiers in my son’s crib. When he woke up in the middle of the night and was fussing around, sometimes we were lucky enough to have one of his hands graze a pacifier, grab it, put it in his mouth, and fall back asleep. This is like playing the lottery. The more pacifiers your baby has, the more chances you have of winning the grand prize: staying in bed.
6. Musical baby crib mobile
Kids love things that go in circles. Mine could spend hours looking at my kitchen’s ceiling fan while I cooked dinner. Add some calming lullabies to gently soothe baby to sleep, and you’re in business. Bonus: Get the one with the remote control so you don’t have to be a ninja just to turn it off when baby finally falls asleep.
7. Foam play mats
The cushioned surface will provide a fun, colorful, and safe play area for your kid to sit and fall on. They’re also easy to clean, inexpensive to replace, and, for the motivated parent, can double as your workout area.
8. Nasal Aspirator
When you became a parent, you knew you would have to deal with gross stuff. This is one of them. When baby is sick, use this snot remover to clean your baby’s mucus from nasal passageways. Keep your eye on the end result: A baby that breathes well is a baby that sleeps well.
9. A trained babysitter
When a loving (and free) grandparent is not available, go to the next best thing: A babysitter with a babysitter training course certificate! Sure, they’re more expansive, but they come with basic first aid training and with the confidence of knowing what to do in common situations that may arise while children are under their care. Babysitter for 5 hours? $65. Peace of mind? Priceless.
10. Food processor
Growing up is hard work, and your role as a parent is to provide your child with all the nutriments required for your baby to triple its birth weight by year one. Once your baby is off the breast milk/formula train, this becomes more arduous, because babies have the nerve to develop their own food preferences. Homemade purees tend to go over much better than any store-bought brand. Let your creativity flow, and puree away with a great food processor.
11. Sophie La Girafe
I wish I owned stock for Sophie La Girafe, because I recommend it to every new parent. We don’t know why, but kids are crazy about this 100 percent natural rubber toy and will spend hours chewing and squeezing on it.
12. Facebook and/or Twitter
The parenting community breaks the internet on a daily basis, so join in the fun. Individually we are one drop, but together we are an ocean of laughter and advice. Just make sure you don’t replace health professionals with random internet people.
13. Diaper Genie
Just get one. Your nose will thank you.
14. Baby camera monitor
We all know the moment your baby sees your face peeking through the bedroom door, nap time is officially over. Save yourself the hassle and just spy on them. It not only serves as attentive ears but also as watchful eyes to see if the deafening crying is due to your baby being in a bad mood, or because a leg’s stuck between crib bars.
15. A never ending supply of batteries
Purchase them in bulk, AA, AAA, C, D . . . buy the whole alphabet if it exists! You need power you can rely on to keep peace in your household.
16. Table topper disposable placemats
Kids put everything in their mouths, and once you’ve seen your cousin change her baby on a restaurant table, it cannot be unseen. This environment friendly solution sticks in place and provides a sanitary eating surface for your little one. For the rest of the family, please go back to #4 (wipes).
17. A grocery cart cover
Along the same lines, you don’t know if the person who pushed the grocery cart before you shares your standards of hygiene. Before your baby uses the buggy as a new teething toy, be proactive and purchase this removable cart/carriage cover. Bonus: It doubles as a restaurant high chair cover.
18. A humidifier
Humidifiers help babies sleep through the night. Not only do they provide some soothing white noise, but they also maintain a constant humidity level. And that prevents your baby from getting a dry, stuffy nose at night. I sometimes add lavender oil to encourage relaxation or eucalyptus oil when my baby’s already sick to help with respiratory problems.
Have I forgotten one of your favorite items? Make sure to include it in the comment section!