Thursday, April 21, 2016

Planning Ahead for Baby

When I was preparing to welcome my first child home, like most women do, I spent a lot of time thinking about 3 things: the baby registry, the nursery, and the birth. Fast forward to baby's arrival: the birth came and went in the blink of an eye, I couldn't care less about the color theme in baby's nursery at 2am in the morning, and our tiny condo was overflowing with baby gear from our registry and no where to put it all. I think the baby industry does a huge disservice to moms-to-be by focusing all their attention on the nursery "must haves" and infamous birth plan. Looking back, when I was a mom-to-be I sincerely wish I would have allotted more brain space to considering some of the topics below. In fact, I would trade every minute if thinking about my birth plan for thinking about the coming months/years, had I known what to be considering.

So - below is a list of things to consider. THIS IS NOT A TO-DO LIST! This is just my list of things I encourage new moms to simply think ahead about before baby comes. If you read the whole list and then do nothing, great! But if it saves you some time down the road by thinking about some of these things now, even better!

{ where to buy new items }
Usually your first influx of baby toys and gear comes from your registry or from pass-me-offs from friends. Once a few months goes by and the gifting dies down, you'll eventually find yourself needing to buy more gear/toys/clothes. It's good to spend some time now thinking about the various places you can get these items, and checking them out ahead of time so you know what they offer:
  • Brand new online (or in store) at the usual places: Carter's, Old Navy, Amazon, Target, Babies 'R Us, Walmart...
  • Consignment shops or consignment sales (such as Just Between Friends)
  • Local Goodwill or Value Village (I always find screaming steals at our local Goodwill!)
  • Garage sales 
  • Craigslist
  • Buy Nothing or Buy/Sell/Trade groups on Facebook
If you're planning on doing a lot of online shopping, be sure to check out these resources (there are many, but these are the ones I use):
{ how to organize toys, clothes, and gear }
When baby is first born there is a lot of gear, normal amount of clothes, and not a lot of toys (yet). Over time the emphasis slowly shifts to be a lot more toys*, a lot less gear, and usually the same amount of clothes (but the clothes get bigger and take up more space as the child grows). You'll want to spend some time now thinking ahead to about:
  • where will the main play area be as baby grows into a toddler, and do you have room for toys and activities in that space? what about in baby's room as baby grows into a toddler?
  • Is there room in baby's closet or dresser for bigger clothes as baby grows?
  • Is there space for the baby gear or do we need to temporarily remove some furniture?
  • Is there room in the kitchen for baby's bottles, baby food making supplies (if you go that route), and eventually your toddler's dishes and sippy cups?
  • Is there room in/near the bedroom for diaper storage? Diapers come in big boxes and you'll want somewhere to store the big box of diapers as you likely will only be putting a few dozen at a time into a draw or diaper bin. If you're using cloth diapers, you'll need to devote even more storage space for the related supplies (we use the entire top drawer of their dresser, which also doubles as their changing table). 
*A note on toys: I'm not talking about frivolous, unnecessary toys. I'm talking about educational, necessary toys/activities/learning tools such as: rattles, books, blocks, music toys, art supplies, make believe play (kitchen/tool shop/house/dress up clothes), legos, matchbox cars, outdoor toys, puzzles (oh the puzzles!), etc. I recommend storing half of the toys/activities out of sight at all times (up high in a closest, for example) and rotating your child's toys every month or so. This cuts down on the actual amount of toys you "need", because your child feels like the toys brought down from storage are brand-new every time!

{ where to store things not in use }
If you're planning on having more kids, this will become one of your bigger challenges. Spend some time thinking about :
  • All the baby gear you'll be assembling soon: Where will all of that gear be stored when baby outgrows it? 
  • Baby's clothes: Most people store clothes simply by size and I've found that to be the easiest too. Everything of a certain size goes into one bin, including coats, swim wear, etc. Storage bins take up a lot of space, though! You'll want to think about where in the house you can make space a 1-2 dozen storage bins (each time your child moves up a size, you'll add a new bin to the collection). 
  • Baby toys: Where will you store the toys as your baby outgrows them? We do storage tubs of toys sorted by age (baby, pretoddler, toddler, etc).
{ photo storage and sharing }
You're going to amass a high volume of photos right out of the gate after baby arrives. Spend some timing thinking about how you will manage all the photos:
  • Do you have enough space for all those photos on your phone? Computer?
  • Do you regularly back up your photos to your iCloud or computer? 
  • How do you want to start preserving your family photos so they don't live forever on your hard drive? 
  • How are you going to share photos of baby with family and friends?
Some families choose to print off photos every month/year and just store in a photo storage box, while others choose to create online photo albums. A few of my favorite sites for doing online photo albums are Shutterfly, Snapfish, and MyPublisher.

Some new moms love to share photos via Facebook for all the see, while others want something a little more private (like a blog!). If most of your family members have iPhones, I recommend setting up a Photo Stream for your family and invite other family members to join the Photo Stream. 

{ go-to resources }
Inevitably you will find yourself awake at 2am googling some weird stuff when you have a newborn. It's nice to know ahead of time what some of your trusted online resources will be. I have a few recommendations in this area:
  • Friends and family - who in your circle already has kids? Who has a home life that looks like something you want for your family?
  • A local moms group on Facebook
  • A local PEPS group (if you're in the greater Seattle area)
  • A local MOPS group
  • parenting books
{ breastfeeding support }
If you're breastfeeding, it's best to research your local breastfeeding support options now. Our hospital offered a drop-in breastfeeding support group led by some of the Lactation Consultant's on staff. I went faithfully for weeks with Drew, simply because I felt safe there and I was surrounded by other moms trying to get the hang of the whole mothering a newborn thing. The Le Leche League is also a knowledgeable resource, although they are typically not Babywise friendly so keep that in mind.

{ your postpartum body}
Some women soon fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes right after birth, while others don't. If you fall into the later camp (hi! welcome!), you'll want to consider getting your hands on some "transition clothes". These are clothes that will fit you while you're working on loosing the baby weight. Some things to consider:
  • You may not loose the weight as fast as you want to
  • You may technically loose the weight, but your body may be shaped differently after pregnancy
  • Do you want to invest money into transition clothes, or just purchase a few things to tide you over?
  • Consider setting some money aside now to cover the cost of a few transition pieces as you figure out what you new postpartum body will look and feel like
{ pick a sleep training camp}
Most babies spend something like 22 hours a day mostly or completely asleep! This is no indication of how well your baby will actually sleep once they come out of the newborn weeks. Around 6 weeks babies go through a development leap where they become more aware of when they are awake versus when they are asleep; they sleep harder and are more alert when they are awake. After this leap is when moms find baby starts having sleep "troubles": baby wont sleep alone anymore, baby starts wanting to eat around the clock at night, baby wont sleep for long chunks of time anymore, etc. Mom will take to the internet and find a whole host of sleep information. Most sleep sites fall into two camps: attachment parenting, or parent-led. Attaching parenting lends itself to on demand feeding and co-sleeping, where as parent-led methods lend themselves to sleep training and eat/play/sleep routines for baby to follow. I'm talking in extremely generalized terms here, but the point being it's somewhat important to decide early on where you want to get your sleep advice from because which direction you go will profoundly affect the lives of everyone in your home. A home with on demand feedings and co-sleeping looks very different from a home where baby is on a routine. What you decide will depend on your family values, your beliefs, and your instincts. I can't speak to attachment parenting, but if you're going to use the Babywise method for your family here are some Babywise resources:
{ pretoddler and toddler years }
I know it's hard to think ahead to your baby being a toddler, but it will come up fast! If you use Pinterest, considering starting a board for toddler topics and collect pins about the following topics:
  • weaning from breastfeeding
  • moving from bottle to sippy cup
  • local activities 
  • local classes (usually "mom and me" style)
  • potty training
  • media reviews once they start watching shows (we use Plugged In)
  • discipline (I recommend Shepherding a Child's Heart and Love and Logic)
  • school (when to start preschool, where to attend, home school/private/public)
I hope this list has given you some things to ponder now before baby arrives and you begin your adventure in parenting. If you're a seasoned mama reading this list, anything you would add?

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