My wife and I are both entrepreneurs. Many times we’ve discussed going into business together but there would be too many chiefs and not enough indians so we know it wouldn’t work out. But 10 months ago we decided to launch our first joint venture, a baby. (Well, technically we decided 9 months before that.)
Neither of us accept the standard doctrine on baby raising; we both question everything. And over this last year we’ve figured out many hacks for keeping our little guy happy, both of us well rested, and our household functioning. Today I decided to document these so I don’t forget in case we decide to go through all this again. I’m only going to tell you the things you won’t hear other places.
While in the oven
- Read The Panic-Free Pregnancy (link) – You will receive false information about risks to unborn babies. Caffeine, alcohol, lunch meets, fish. Read this book for the facts. Some of them are real risks but most of them are not. This book summarizes the actual studies that have been done and explains which risks are real.
- Prepare for delivery – During the ~24 hours of delivery there was no continuous person who was with us and overseeing things. Even my wife’s OB wasn’t going to handle the delivery, whomever in their clinic happened to be on call when the time came is who would handle it. This makes for a frustrating process and is probably one of the advantages to bringing your own midwife or doula. We interviewed a couple doulas and didn’t like them. Instead, we found a friend-of-friend who is a labor and delivery nurse. We really liked her and make arrangements to call her day or night with questions. I called 3 times during the ~24 hours to update her and ask questions. Every ~5 hours there was a new nurse taking over so it was super helpful to have someone I trusted to call for a second opinion, especially since my wife was drugged up and not much help in making some of the decisions I had to.
- Watch The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD (link). Your baby will cry. You will not be able to calm it. You will start to go crazy. This DVD reveals several kung fu moves that work like magic.
- Read Twelve Hours Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old (link). Unlike every other baby book you come across which is 1000 pages long with no chance of you completing in your sleep deprived state, this book will take you just an hour to read. It is a step-by-step guide to getting your baby to sleep. You can’t start until week 5-7 (depends on birth weight) but week 10 our baby was sleeping 12 hours. Many a friend thanked us for this recommendation. You will read it multiple times and follow every step. It really works.
- Practice the straight jacket swaddle (video) – A good swaddle can make the difference between a full nights rest or getting woken up. After many failed attempts I found this on YouTube. There is no getting out of this swaddle. Babies love it.
Equipment no one will think to buy you but you desperately need
- The best bottles (link). Not only do these bottles eliminate tons of regular cleaning, these are better than any of those anti-colic bottles (Dr Browns or others you will undoubtedly be recommended). I spent too much time researching the colic bottles. All they do is eliminate air intake. Air comes from two places: bad suction at the nipple or air within the bottle. These bottles have huge freakin nipples, no problems with suction. And the bag liner eliminates all air. Buy these bottles and you’ll never need any other.
- Sterilizer steamer bags (link) – You will go through a super-paranoid-I-must-sanitize-anything-that-comes-within-twelve-inches-of-my-baby phase. It will pass quickly. Soon you’ll be brushing dirt off the pacifier and slipping it right in junior’s mouth. But until the paranoia has passed these bags make sterilizing fast & easy.
- Pacifier leash (link) – Buy 5-10 of these so you can tether pacifiers to everything. The carseat. The stroller. The baby bjorn. Your baby. Pacifiers are one of the greatest inventions ever and you always want to have one within reach.
- Hazmat poopy diaper bags (link) – Poopy diapers stink. When on the go you will want to contain those suckers and these bags do the trick. Worth clipping to your diaper bag.
Random other tips
- Colic means nothing. Your baby will have colic. This is not a condition, it is a set of symptoms. Specifically, it’s the symptom of your baby being healthy but still deciding to cry or displays symptoms of distress frequently. This defines every baby.
- Crying. It is very easy to get worked up when your baby cries but changing your perspective can really help. As an adult, we only cry in very extreme circumstances when we are in real pain. For a baby, crying is their only method of communicating. If a baby is slightly cold, they let you know by screaming hysterically. If they don’t like the position of their leg, they let you know by screaming hysterically. If they are a tiny bit hungry, they let you know by screaming hysterically.
- Dream feeding. You don’t have to wake your baby to feed it! This is called dream feeding. I can’t believe this isn’t mentioned in the baby instruction manual. We didn’t learn this until about 4 months but it was a life saver. There are times when you know your baby needs to eat but you don’t want to wake him. You don’t have to! Just slip the bottle (or breast) in his mouth and he will eat without waking. It’s magic.
- More crying. When your baby finally gets mobile, it is okay to let him hit his head. He will try to pull himself up on things. Sometimes he will slip and he will fall. Don’t freak out when it happens and don’t go out of your way to prevent it. This is how they learn. It only took our guy a couple times of trying to pull himself up on something flimsy like a paper bag before he started testing how strong a support was before pulling up on it. Absent sharp objects, babies won’t do any real damage hitting their head from their own height.