No amount of reading can prepare you for the experience of having a baby for the first time. It's trial by fire and you will likely end up with your own list of tricks and hacks you never expected to need. Here is my list - do you have anything to add?
With our first baby we were living in a 100 year old house that creaked and moaned with every step. Not good (to say the least) when trying to sneak out of the room of a sleeping baby you just spent 30 minutes soothing to sleep. Slip an elastic band around the door handle and say goodbye to that door latch click sound. This hack is pure genius.
Breastfeeding can be rough, especially in those early days. Never mind the postpartum contractions that can occur when breastfeeding (why did nobody tell me about those?) but cracked and bleeding nipples can be excruciating. I was several weeks postpartum when I finally discovered lanolin - not only was it helpful to soothe my sore nipples but I used it well into the toddler years to soothe dry and chapped skin from runny noses.
With the baby's bedroom at the front of our house and a city bus that rolled by every 15 minutes (or more in rush hour) white noise was music to my ears. We experimented with a few white noise machines that mimicked a heartbeat or played a song, but finally found a simple fan was the most effective. Just make sure it's safely secured out of baby's reach.
This is not so much for the baby but essential for those blurry eyed middle of the night feedings. There are so many cute night lights out there, like this adorable campfire nightlight from Land of Nod.
I admit I never had this luxury but had I had the space I would have definitely put an extra 'grown up size' bed in the nursery. Especially useful if one parent is waking in the night and doesn't want to disturb their partners sleep.
In the early days of my first born I was still using a flip phone (do they still sell those?), so all recording of diapers changes and feedings was done with pen and paper. By the second baby I did away with recording at all. BUT... had I been more technically savvy I would have loved the convenience of an app to record these important daily milestones.
I know, I know, another elastic band?! How can something so simple by so useful? If you are like me and your phone is too full to install another app, a simple elastic band on the wrist to remember which side you last fed baby on works great.
Unless you have one of those unicorn babies who sleeps though the night by 6 weeks old, you will likely lose all distinction between day and night and whenever your new overlord allows you to sleep you will happily oblige (too real?). Some black out curtains and your trusty white noise device will help tune out the outside world and allow both you and baby to nap. These blackout curtains are pretty and practical from Pottery Barn Kids.
After my first baby was born I learned exactly what time reruns of MASH and Golden Girls came on cable tv (2:30 am and 5 am). For the second baby we had Netflix and I was binge watching Orange is the New Black, with the ability to stop and start whenever I wanted. Depending on where I left off in the show, I would sometimes actually look forward to those middle of the night feedings.
Baby gear is expensive and some items are used for such a short amount of time. Both breast pumps and baby scales can be rented depending on where you live. With a baby who was losing weight in the first few weeks, a hospital grade scale offered us peace of mind and probably saved us a few hours waiting in the doctors office to use their scale.
This lovely young lady is modelling her Medela breastpump that comes in a stylish tote. This is EXACTLY what I looked like postpartum carrying my breast pump around town....not.