Ever since our new little girl was born 6 weeks ago, life has been crazy around here. Not just with having a newborn (as if that’s not enough!), but also with other life circumstances. When it rains, it pours, right? All to say, there have been many days of pure survival on very little sleep in the last 6 weeks. And when you are in survival mode, you need survivor tools. Here are some of the items I’ve found this time around to be a lifesaver-it’s a wide assortment of items, but they’ve all helped me keep my sanity.
Our newborn caught a cold at about 2 1/2 weeks and while she never got very sick with it, it did make her a bit more fussy. This meant long nights and having to hold her most of the day. I started to despair of ever getting anything done (after all, one does eventually have to get laundry done!), so we ran out one night and picked up a Moby Wrap at a local store. Oh Wow! I have been very happy with it thus far. It’s not half as hard to “wrap” as I thought, as it’s actually quite intuitive once you’ve been shown how to do the basic wrap. And it leaves me with two hands instead of one. From my experience thus far, I have to say that I would highly recommend them. My baby is happy in it and I think that they are much more comfortable than any other sling/carrier I’ve tried.
I’ve found with all of my children, that having some good books that aren’t too difficult to read a must during the newborn stage. I’ve found that there are many times a book helps time pass, such as when I am nursing, rocking a fussy baby, or just dealing with insomnia. With Elena, I read through the whole Jane Austin collection (again) when she was a newborn ( I read fast). This time, I read through a bunch of P.G. Wodehouse books the first few weeks (they are delightfully funny and light), and then turned to a new find, Miss Read. Miss Read is the main character of her “own” books (it’s the pen name of Dora Saint). Here is a short description from Wikipedia.
Saint wrote a series of novels from 1955 to 1996. Her work centred on two fictional English villages, Fairacre and Thrush Green. The principal character in the Fairacre books, Miss Read, is an unmarried schoolteacher in a small village school, an acerbic and yet compassionate observer of village life. Saint’s novels are wry regional social comedies, laced with gentle humour and subtle social commentary. She is also a keen observer of nature and the changing seasons. Saint and her husband, Douglas, now deceased, married in 1940. The couple had one child, a daughter named Jill.
Her most direct influence is Jane Austen, although her work also bears similarities to the social comedies of manners written in the 1920s and 1930s, and in particular the work of Barbara Pym. Miss Read’s work has in turn influenced a number of writers, including American writer Jan Karon. The musician Enya has a track on her Watermark album named after Saint’s book Miss Clare Remembers, and one on her Shepherd Moons album titled No Holly for Miss Quinn.
I’ve found these books delightful! A true new treasure. My favorite so far is Thrush Green
Chlorophyll (not mint flavored)
My midwifes recommended that I take chlorophyll both before Aria was born and afterwards. I noticed within a day or two of taking my chosen brand of chlorophyll that it really helped me energy significantly. I picked up a brand I found at a local store, called Chloroxygen, and it’s very concentrated so you just add it to water. It’s made from fresh stinging nettles. The company had this to say about this product. ” Use for low red blood cell count, fatigue, shortness of breath, high altitude sickness, or heavy menstrual flow. Intestinal deodorizer.” I truthfully don’t know a lot about the benefits of chlorophyll, but I certainly have noticed that it has helped me feel good and have more energy, always a good thing, but especially appreciated in the newborn stage. My one tip is to not consume mint flavored chlorophyll if nursing as mint can reduce your milk supply, especially if consumed everyday. I didn’t know that until after I had been consuming the mint flavored concentrate for several weeks!
My babies have generally enjoyed and been calmer when playing pretty, soothing music. It’s also very soothing for mothers too! I especially like the sound tracks from many of the Jane Austin movies. Most of the music is very beautiful, lyrical and perfect for fussy babies and tired mothers. It doesn’t hurt that I also just love the movies too.
Big Pots of Soup
Cooking has been at a minimum lately, so when I am cooking I try to make the most out of it. I’ve found it very helpful to make HUGE pots of soup and serve that soup for several meals. It’s nourishing and easy (and frugal come to think of it). I made a big pot of stew and a big pot of turkey soup recently. Served with bread and a salad, and you are set.
Exergen Temporal Scanner Infrared Thermometer
I LOVE these thermometers. They used them at the birthing center, and I loved that you didn’t have to stick anything in your mouth or ear as it’s simply swiped against your forehead. It’s perfect for newborns, children, or adults and it’s gotten very good recommendations. This is a household essential, instead of just a new mother and baby essential. It’s one of those items I just don’t know what I did without!
A Happy Heart
One thing that we always tell our four year old is to have a “happy heart”. We like to think that our hearts are happy or sad because of circumstances, when so often it’s simply a choice we make. So regardless of what season of life I am in, I have tried to take my own advice to heart and often remind myself to have a “happy heart” when life doesn’t go as planned. As mentioned, life has been quite full these last 6 weeks, full of blessings and some trials too. But our attitude has a lot to do with whether we allow the hard things in life to shadow the happiness of life. Trying to keep a “happy heart” has helped me tremendously these last few weeks and allowed me to enjoy my newborn and this special season despite the imperfections of life.
Once again, I would love to hear what your new mother and baby essential recommendations are!
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I just had a baby boy on October 6, and have just made it to 8 weeks yesterday! Can’t believe it either. It went fast, yet there were many many nights and days of pure exhaustion and like you said, a survival instinct sets in. This was my first baby, so it has been a huge learning curve as well. Some things that I have really enjoyed/loved/needed in the last few weeks:
1. I agree, the Moby Wrap rocks! The best part is that my baby loves it too… so its fun for both of us!
2. almond butter, I have stocked up on quite a few jars, but it has been a breakfast, lunch and dinner, middle of the night snack that has given me comfort, nutrition and simplicity while nursing. I have relied on almond butter every day.
3. organic bamboo nursing pads, that have been soft, and have gotten the job done. 🙂
4. having a variety of nourishing, soothing and relaxing herbal teas on hand has been a lifesaver at all times of the day when I just need something to sooth my insides and out.
5. organic gripe water and gas drops…. these have been really helpful to me in the first few weeks. I had so so so much breastmilk that my baby was always choking down milk, causing a ton of air bubbles in his stomach. which is just awful to see a newborn hurt with bubbles. i am not the “drug” type of person, but these drops do not enter the blood stream and help dry up the bubbles. thankfully, my milk supply has become more balanced and my baby is growing enough to be able to handle the milk. But, I have really relied on the drops to get through some pretty fussy and awful moments.
Thanks for sharing!
Oh me too! I’ve eaten through so much almond butter the last 6 weeks! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thank you so much for these recommendations (including Stephanie’s)! We are about to welcome our second, a little boy, in the next few weeks and I am having a hard time focusing on what we’ll need for a peaceful transition. I will definitely stock up on chlorophyll and almond butter, pull out some soothing music and look for one of those thermometers (been wanting to get one for quite awhile).
Miss Read is the greatest! I read through them several years ago and thought they were delightful. Very soothing books for when you need a little comfort and cheer. I’m way beyond the new mom stage in life, but am looking forward to having grandchildren one day–I will keep your post in mind for infant must haves.
My 2nd is due any day now – and my 14 month old has started teething (4 of her molars!) so the last couple of nights have been disrupted more than usual (she still breastfeeds through the night normally). I appreciate your comment about attitude – so easy to excuse a bad one on lack of sleep! But given that I’ve got a lot more lack of sleep coming up, being reminded to have a ‘happy’ heart is very timely – thank you.
Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama
LOVED my Moby wrap. #1 was still shy of 18 months when #2 was born!! I needed it to chase her around and still keep the baby close and safe. EVERYTIME we went shopping until he was 6 months, and most of the time until he was 12 months, I wore him (later in a Mei Tai). Of course, he’s 16 — coming up on 17! — months now, so he wants to get down and run with the big kids.
I’ve never used thermometers. I’ve learned that fussy baby + hot and dry = fever. Doesn’t matter to me how high it is, I just watch the baby.
Gripe water was a must for us, too. Really helped in the early weeks if they were struggling. One night, my son even screamed and screamed, until the second the gripe water was in his mouth. Then he kind of coughed/choked, swallowed, and immediately went to sleep. Oh…we were so thankful!!
A baby swing was great, too. Both of mine slept it in a LOT when they were small. It let me get stuff done if I didn’t want to or couldn’t hold the baby (think cooking).
And HELP was awesome. My husband was home for 2 weeks and my mother was here for 2 more weeks after each baby (and they will do this every time). I had someone around 24/7 for the first MONTH so if I needed a nap or something…I could have it. I remember one night my first was up from 3 – 6 AM for NO reason….(Other than simply being a newborn) And I enjoyed the peaceful, dark moments rocking her. But I was exhausted at 7 am when she was up again! I handed her off to my mom and went back to bed! lol.
I always enjoy your blog and THOROUGHLY enjoyed your e-course. Thanks for writing today about a happy heart. You are a real encouragement.
My little guy is 8 months now. Some things that I have found to be helpful are:
1. Tweezerman baby clippers
The other clippers I used would just score his nails. Which is super frustrating when I’d finally get him still enough to clip. The file that comes with it, was great for the first few weeks when it’s better to file than cut.
2. Fuzzibunz diapers, wipes and pail bag. A great system that is easy to use. Though recently, I’m getting some leaking. I’ve just been changing him more often.
3. Merino wool soakers. Awesome for nights. I didn’t think they’d work as well as they do, but they’re great (and not itchy). I like the Disana and Ruskovilla brands so far.
4. Bebe sounds motion detector/monitor. We lost our first daughter (not due to SIDS) after 2 1/2 days. I had night terrors about my son not waking. This monitor detects the slightest movement (breathing). It shows the movement on the monitor, and alarms you if there is no movement after 20 seconds. I can now sleep through the night (when he does), and if I wake up, I can just look at the monitor to see if he’s moving.
Oh thank you for the wonderful book recommendations! Life is rather fast paced at this particular time of our lives (two teenage boys and a 6th grader) with lots of changes and there are times when I just need something light and cheery to read.
I know I haven’t commented in an age (probably before our move back in January..) but I wanted to let you know I’ve been following along. Congratulations on your sweet baby girl and I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your dear mother-in-law. I know she is now at home with the Lord but I do know we still grieve when our loved one’s are no longer here. We’ve been praying for you all and will continue to do so!
Oh! I love P.G. Wodehouse!
Great post and discussion. We’re about to get pregnant (we’re trying starting this week!!) and I’m always interested in what people really need for baby and why.
Have you read the Mitford books by Jan Karon? Those are my all-time favorite light reading material.
Love all of the baby tips…we have #4 (and our first girl!) due in three months and I’m always happy to learn new ways to survive the exhaustion stage.:)
I know this is “OFF topic,” but I sense it important to write.
PLEASE, if there is anyone considering not to carry to term, read carefully about the harmful effects of such a decision. It will haunt your for life if you don’t. I know because I’ve been there. You will have a time of difficulty, yes. But in the long run you will know that you have chosen to give life not only to your child but to a deserving couple who will cherish that life.
I write to you with much love
What a great list and one that I would agree with. I will have to look into chlorophyll for my next birth. Blessings to you and your beautiful little one.
My naturopath recommended that baby’s first food be coconut cream. Sit can of milk in a cool spot (or fridge) and let cream rise and harden. Open can and scoop out the good stuff. I started with 1/2teaspoon 3x’s a day.
My 2nd is now 13 mos. My hands-down favorite sanity-saving tip is for poopy clothes. I keep an oxi solution in a bucket in the bathroom. Whenever there’s a leak, I do a quick rinse in the sink (followed by a spray of diluted Simple Green for the sink), then toss it in the bucket. When I do laundry, I just toss the whole thing in the wash. No scrubbing, no toiling! 🙂
I do about 2T of oxi to about a gallon of water, and I keep a plastic stick in it for pushing down. (You may have to adjust the amount of oxi for your water, ours is on the hard side.) We also keep a bucket in the kitchen for the baby rags we use for cleaning the boys after meal-time. I’ve learned though, if you don’t take care of a stain before it goes in the dryer, it never really comes out. So the first couple times you do this, you might want to check your stains before they go in the dryer to make sure you have the right amount of oxi.
Congrats Kimi & family, and thanks for all your efforts on this website. Couldn’t manage with out.
I’m the first time Mom of a now 4 month old and I have missed reading – so thanks for the book tip!
1- I too love the Moby wrap, and the ergo-baby carrier for longer walks.
2- My acupuncturist had me take a Health Concerns supplement called “Postpartum” it is really nourishing and helps with energy, fatigue and is blood building after the birthing process.
3- I didn’t know mint affected your mild supply – thanks for the scoop. I have worried about my milk supply and whether it is enough. I found some great information about Fenugreek and it has helped. You take 2 capsules 3 times a day for 10 days, then stop. And if you feel the need again repeat. I have returned to work and am able to supply plenty of milk for our little guy by pumping while I’m away from him and nursing when we are together.
4- Great music suggestions! I’m curious if you have suggestions on creating a nighttime/bedtime routine? I haven’t found just the right combo and would love to hear what others do…
5- I love your focus on having “happy heart” – – that’s a gem, I’m going to take to hear 🙂 …pun intended.
Thanks for being an inspiration!
A new 4 week old added to our collection!!! I agree with all of you and have little Ella sleeping in a Moby as I write. It is always so reassuring to read from other like mothers and just know that we all Love our babies and children and husbands sooooooo much!!! It puts a smile on your face if you just stop in the middle of the chaos to think about how amazing bringing a life into the world can be for a bonding family!!
I have ten children, so we have plenty of experience incorporating a new baby into the routine. My first suggestion is to get a basket of little books for your older child. Every time you sit down to nurse, ask her to pick out a book for you to read. If you read her a book first, she won’t feel left out and it will give you an opportunity to stay connected. I homeschool, so I pick a letter each day. Then while nursing I tell them to look for things that start with that letter’s most common phonics sound. If we are doing D they could find dolls, dog, door and so on. It works to help them keep learning when you are occupied. I just started my own blog, come check it out. Big families will be a focus of mine.
Thanks for a great post and the book suggestions. I love hearing about your dear family too.
Thanks for the updated picture of the new precious baby. Sweet girl.
BEAUTIFUL BABY 🙂 She’s lucky to be born to a family who loves the Lord and nourishes their bodies.
I read your blog for the recipes/info, and though I’ve never been a mother, I have to say that your newborn is lovely, and your writings I help me to imagine what it must feel like to hold a child of my own in my arms. thank you.
What a darling pic of Aria. She is beautiful just like her sisters and momma.
I am looking for the fry pan you recommended a while ago on one of your posts. It was a non-stick pan that was not teflon. Am I dreaming this up or did you have one that you liked?
Stephanie B. Cornais
Congrats on your new baby!!
In the Aruvedic tradition, post partum women are supposed to eat nothing but nourishing soups and broths for the first 45 days…not sure why, exactly, but something I came across the other day.
Hope you have a wonderful rest of the 4th trimester!