Parenting Hacks for New Moms and Dads
Clever tips for surviving a new baby with everyone intact
New to this parenting gig? Chances are you have a stack of books on your nightstand that tell you what to do. But considering you're barely sleeping and have probably forgone regular showers, who has time to read them?
We went to the experts for fast, clever, fail-safe hacks to help you — and your bundle of joy — make it through the first few months of your new life together.
Sing a song. Got a fussy baby? Rather than talking in a soothing voice, trying crooning a tune. Canadian researchers found that when Mom or Dad sang instead of talked, infants stayed calm twice as long. Stick to nursery rhymes, the researchers suggest, since they’re simple and repetitive.
Keep the petroleum jelly handy. To make poop cleanup easier, coat your little one’s bottom with a thin layer of petroleum jelly before you put her in a clean diaper, advises celebrity baby nurse Polly Gannon, CCE, CLE, a childbirth and lactation educator at Calabasas Pediatrics in Calabasas, California. Come the next diaper change , it’ll be easier to wipe any poop away.
Related: 9 Baby Safety Myths Debunked
Stave off diaper rash. It occurs when moisture gets trapped in baby’s fat folds, allowing yeast to grow. To prevent it, let your baby’s bottom air dry for a few minutes before you put on the clean diaper. Or turn your blow dryer to the cool setting and let the cool air do the drying, advises Rallie McAllister, MD, co-author of “The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.” Another tip: Before putting on the clean diaper, sprinkle cornstarch (not talcum powder) on your baby’s bottom and in her fat folds to absorb moisture.
Oil away cradle cap. A natural remedy for cradle cap? Look no further than your pantry. “Olive oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties,” says McAllister. Gently massage a little into your baby’s scalp after bath time.
Don't buy out the diaper store. First, babies grow more quickly than you think, says McAllister. Second, you may not love the brand you chose. “Buy a small quantity of newborn diapers to start,” advises McAllister.
For diaper changes, don't forget the floor. While a changing table is great, changing diapers on the floor is easy and you don’t have to worry about your baby wriggling over the edge. “Put a clean cloth and plastic mat down and you’re good to go,” says McAllister.
Contain the spray. To avoid “accidents” when you change your little boy’s diaper, lay a wet wipe over his privates while you’re cleaning him. He may still pee, but at least you won’t get sprayed.
Vacuum away colic. There’s nothing more upsetting than a colicky baby. Your assignment: Stay calm. “Your baby will feed off your body language,” says McAllister. Then, turn on the vacuum cleaner, the fan above the stove or a white noise machine. These sound a bit like what the baby heard in utero and should comfort her. As a last resort, put your baby in her infant car seat and drive around in the car.
Make shots easier. To lessen your baby’s angst when she gets her shots, lie her down on a cozy blanket instead of a cool table, advises pediatrician Tanya Altmann, MD, founder of Calabasas Pediatrics in Calabasas, California and author of “Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers.” And as soon as the shot has been given, nurse her or cuddle her.
Layer up. Dress your baby in one more layer than you need to be comfortable, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. But don’t put your baby in his car seat with his coat or snowsuit on. The extra bulk could make the harness too loose. Instead, put blankets over the baby in the car seat to keep him warm.
Dress with success. It can be tricky to maneuver a chubby baby into that cute new outfit. One trick: Roll up your baby’s shirt as much as possible, to the neck, pull the shirt over her head and then unravel it. To get her arms through the sleeves, roll up the sleeve as much as you can, put her hand in the top of the sleeve and gently pull her arm through. Then, unroll the fabric.
Use a simple gum soother. Freeze a washcloth and let your teething baby gnaw on it. “The nubby texture of the cloth and the cold feel good on baby’s gums,” says McAllister. In a pinch, let your baby gnaw on your clean finger. As she does, gently massage her gums.