Now I know the greatest gift to an expectant new mother is yet more unsolicited advice, but I clearly cannot help myself.
1. Baby Name Wizard http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager#
“I thought we were being so original.” Yet it turns out that everyone was naming their kid Shogrun that year. If you really want to know whether your little girl is going to be the third Sacagawea in her Kindergarten class, don’t go off of how many people with that name you know. Look it up.
Growing up as a Heather in my generation (Heather was in the top 10 for the entire 70’s and 80’s), I was determined my kids would have real names that were neither trendy nor common. So here were my criteria: 1) real name, 2) NEVER in the top 100, 3) not in the top 300 in the past 30 years, 4) not trending up. Which is why our top boy name pick, Lincoln, didn’t make the cut–trending way too fast in the past 5-7 years. You may not know a lot of Lincolns yet, but you will.
2. Amazon Subscribe and Save
I use it for diapers, wipes and diaper genie rings among other things. You can find cheaper diapers and deals if you don’t care about brands, but I am a staunch supporter of Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers, so this works for me. I have to constantly change the subscribe and save parameters as the boys change size and go through fewer diapers, but there is no penalty for that.
A decent guide for how many diapers you need (per baby):-300 the first month (beware the five-diaper diaper changes of newborns!)-250 for months 2 and 3-225 for months 4 and 5
We ended up using fewer than that because the boys dropped feedings pretty quickly. I like to have twice as many individual wipes as diapers.
I have also had some good experience with Diapers.com. Much as we all love Costco, it is a long drive and a huge line, so I cheat on Costco all the time with online vendors.
3. Register for everything, and plan on going on several in-store trips for big ticket coupon items.
Even if you know you’re going to buy it yourself with the buy out discount. Amazon is a great place to register. Target, Pottery Barn Kids, Babiesrus, Great Beginnings. For big ticket items, “Great Beginnings” or “Babiesrus” are the kind of place where you want to go 3 or 4 times to buy the big ticket items because with every little purchase they give you the 20% off coupon that only works for three weeks. So you go back to use that and buy the crib, then get the next 20% coupon, and call or go back to buy the dresser, then the stroller, etc.
4. Stroll yourself thin.
You know you need to get out after the baby is born. You know you need to exercise. So you’re going to need a stroller (or maybe two–but not eight!). This seems like the most important decision in the world, and people have strong opinions about their stroller(s). We have been very happy with the Baby Jogger brand. One of my main goals was NOT to store extra strollers. We are often thrilled to have our Baby Jogger City Select with the second seat, car seat adapters and toddler glider board on the back for our toddler, but one of my best buys ever was a Schwinn Joyrider bike trailer that converts to a stroller. It seats our three kids more comfortably than anything I’ve ever tried, is a fabulously easy push on the trail, and does double duty as an actual bike trailer. As Fluffy would say, “Love it!”
5. Read now, sleep later.
There are many right ways to parent a baby, but if you have any sort of time before the baby is born, I think it pays to read up now and formulate a plan. We live in the information age where we no longer have to rely solely on mom’s sample set of 3-8 or the dubious concept of “common sense”, or try to trust our “instincts”. While it is true that in many instances, Mommy knows best, it is usually because she knows her baby better than anyone and what we refer to as “mother’s intuition” is really the sum total of her experience with that child. Instincts are really an amalgam of our limited experience, memories, cultural norms, passive exposure to pop culture, and personality quirks.
Instead we can make informed decisions by doing a little research.
Sometime I’ll make a list of all the books people loaned and gave me and give you my grades on them, but in the meantime, these are two of my favorites:
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (the original, not any of the later versions)
Brain Rules for Baby
The first is by a clinical pediatrician who has been studying and lecturing on children’s sleep for 35 years. If you’re wondering a) what’s normal (or average if you’d rather think of it that way) and b) what’s possible for your infant’s sleep as well as c) how to get there, the statistics and methods are in this book.
The second is written by a neuroscientist and aims to distill the entire body of scientific literature on pediatric neuroscience from conception through at five. Though not a perfect book (I wish he went in to more detail on the parameters of the studies on which he bases his recommendations), I loved how Brain Rules does not always use financial prosperity via academic achievement as a proxy for “success”, but instead spends time talking about what parents can do to cultivate their child’s brains in a way that sets them up to be both moral and happy–and yes, smart. Every time I pick this book up, it makes me want to be a better parent, and no amount of snickering at Bringing up Bebe has driven that out of me yet.
Things I Wish I’d Known – Part III