NO, IT’S NOT ME. Seriously, do you think that’s how I would tell you?
Actually, I don’t know how I would tell you, but I know it would be from a prone position because I would be lying on the ground from the shock.
Dear friends of mine are going to be first-time parents and they are looking for advice on the baby stuff. You know, What To Buy, What Not To Buy, Nuggets of Parenting Advice and, of course, What Will You Give Them If You Are Done With It, because GUESS WHAT—she’s having triplets.
Internet, this is your moment to shine.
Since a triplet pregnancy gives you less time to prepare than a singleton pregnancy (which doesn’t seem fair, really), this mom-to-be-times-three is trying to get all her preparations done soon. Really soon.
And while she really needs a triplet stroller, three cribs and a day at the spa (oh, and a BLOG, because she is a great writer and boy, does she have material), you can help out by giving her and her husband the best parenting & baby gear advice you can think of. And come now, you don’t need to BE a parent to give parenting advice—we’ve all had parents, right? These babies will have two amazing parents, a wonderful extended family and all the love they could ever want, which is what you really need to start with. But love alone won’t get them to sleep, so if you have a trick, tip or piece of advice, pass it on!
Swaddling—learn the swaddle in the hospital, and don’t be like me, thinking it was just a pretty way for the nurses to present the baby. As it turns out, it is an actual soothing technique, and it helps baby fall asleep.
We’ve learned to keep an “emergency” kit in the car with a receiving blanket, extra diapers, wipes and a change of clothes for baby (and you, too!). Especially in the early days, diaper blowouts and massive spit-ups occur without warning in any location. As they get older, you can add snacks, paper towels, tissues, toys, etc—this kit has saved me (and other moms who have borrowed from it) many times, especially when you get a little cavalier about leaving the house without the full-on diaper bag.
It’s also a good idea to always have an extra receiving blanket handy in your diaper bag, car or stroller, or just up your sleeve. You’ll find it being pressed into service as you tuck it around your Baby Bjorn (s) while walking on a cool day, to wrap around baby as you contain blowouts on your way to a changing area, as a burp cloth, to roll up and support baby’s head or body, to lay him down and change him, etc.
Clear out some space in your freezer, even if you’ve been dutifully filling it with pre-made meals before baby. You’re bound to get a few more meals (or batches of cookies) that need to be frozen. To make room, eat the cookies.
For night changings/feedings, we liked having a clock that we could see in the dark, as well as a light with a dimmer switch. As the weeks go by, keeping the lights low at night is helpful in teaching baby the difference between day and night, an important distinction they don’t always come out knowing!
Your baby might come home with full-grown talons, so have some teeny baby nail clippers on hand, or dress your newborn in those gowns with the flip-over hand mitts if you need a few days to gain the strength and focus to cut those little nails. They also make little teeny cotton mittens you can use or use some baby socks. They can really scratch the heck out of their faces if their nails go uncovered/untrimmed.
Have some infant Tylenol and infant Motrin in the house, and know where the closest 24-hour pharmacy is. You never know when you will need it. And be sure you factor in location when choosing your pediatrician. You will be there ALL THE TIME, so make sure it is easy to get there!
Our NICU nurse recommended the Chicco Keyfit infant seat for its amazing infant positioner, esp. good for very small babies in danger of positional asphyxia. We got the Keyfit and really, really love it—so easy to adjust. For “big kid” car seats, we have the Britax Marathon.
The exersaucer, from about five months to walking was our best friend—both kids loved the upright position after months on back and tummy. (That being said, of course you’ve heard it’s best to borrow or buy second-hand the optional gear, like swings, bouncy seats and exersaucers. Some babies can’t stand the stuff, and you’ll never know until you try a few times.)
I really prefer the softness of jersey knit and flannel crib sheets—the regular cotton ones, even high-end ones just felt too rough for new baby skin.
I’m a big reader, so it is no surprise that I have read a LOT of baby care books. My favorites? Baby 411, Your Newborn Head to Toe and the classic, given to me by a dear friend, Your Baby and Child: From birth to age five (Hi Barbara!).
I also have read all the sleep books, (Ferber, Weissbluth, etc.) and by far I really like Jodi Mindell’s Sleeping Through the Night. Who wouldn’t, with a title like that? Of course, you could also go with Jennifer’s brilliant sleep book idea over at Playgroups are no place for children, but we probably shouldn’t scare future parents that much!
The best advice we got about baby furniture from experienced parents was this: don’t get a high chair. They’re too expensive, and take up too much space. Instead, get a feeding seat that can be strapped to one of your chairs. When baby is done with the tray, it becomes a booster seat at the table. They take up much less space and are so much easier to clean—also great for traveling. We love our blue and green $25 Fisher-Price one.
The packs of prefolded cotton diapers are ok as burp cloths, but the flannel ones are really, really soft and nice and more absorbent.
When baby starts moving around, soft-soled leather slip on shoes like Robeez are fantastic until they really start doing a lot of outside walking— in winter they keep the socks on, keep the feet warm and protect the toes of little crawlers. Target has a cheaper version of Robeez shoes, plus there is an eBay store that sells similar soft-soled shoes for much less than Robeez, search for “ShoesZoo” on eBay.
We have the Diaper Dekor diaper pail, and find that it does a pretty good job of containing the smell. You can use regular bags in it or the special liners, which I like because they last FOREVER, and they are in a tube format, so you can change a stinky pail before it is full, without wasting a bag that is less than full.
I love the Vera Bradley and Skip-Hop diaper bags. And to put in them, Amazon sells giant economy boxes of disposable diapers and wipes at great prices (often better than the warehouse stores, and the boxes are usually bigger than any you can get at other stores), and they come straight to your door with free shipping. Yes, that’s right, I said straight to your door with free shipping. Why would you buy diapers anywhere else?
Oh and, don’t get hung up on the newborn diapers with the cord cutout—both my babies were too small for the cord cutout so we had to fold it over anyway, and by the time they grew into the area where the cord cutout is, the cords had fallen off.
Strollers, strollers, strollers—I did more research on strollers than the rest of the baby gear combined. Baby Bargains is a help, as is the good parent feedback available on the Baby Bargains message boards. My big piece of advice would be don’t buy a matching travel system—most infant car seats fit into most strollers just fine, and you get a much better stroller if you buy it separately. If you are wondering if your car seat of choice fits your stroller of choice, just go try it out at a baby store. Oh, and definitely buy your stroller through Marilyn at A Running Stroller, fantastic prices, fantastic service (call her and talk to her for advice and ideas) and NO shipping charges. She also has GREAT prices on Britax car seats, Skip-Hop diaper bags, etc.
And don’t forget the lovely Internet! Find the support groups and parenting sites that work for you, from Baby Center and Parent Dish to all the blogs you could ever want—see list to your right for starters!
Okay, your turn, Internet! What could you not live without with a newborn (or three) in the house? What’s the best parenting book, children’s book, sleep technique, piece of gear, web site, parenting blog, easy recipe or just plain piece of advice you can think of? And if you know any moms of multiples, please ask them to stop by and share their advice!