As a mom of two kids, I’m often amazed at how much easier it was having a baby the second time round – and how many things I did differently to save time and money – not to mention my sanity. And while every parent just rolls their eyes when they get the advice to “just relax”, there are loads of other tips that are a lot more practical.
For me, (and don’t laugh) – it was getting a dust buster. Seriously, you’ll be amazed at what a life-saver it can be when you have a messy baby or toddler. Trust me, if you haven’t got one already, you’ll be having one on stand-by throughout the day to suck up peas, Cheerios, old Play-Doh bits, paper clips, breadcrumbs… even the odd wheel from a toy, puzzle or a LEGO piece that’s dropped to the floor (and can be a choking hazard). Besides allowing me to clean without having to haul out my giant Hoover, which weighs a ton, my toddler would volunteer to “clean” for me. Yay for free entertainment until the charge runs out, and a minute to sort out baby number two while he’s busy.
Unfortunately, I only got this tip after I had my second baby!
Here’s some other helpful tips from parents, which you might just find useful:
Easy-to-clean silicone bibs
When I look back, I can’t believe how many waterproof bibs I went through with my first baby. They get really gross after a while and have to be replaced with new ones. But the silicone ones are genius. You just need to give them a wipe and a rinse with water, and you only need one or two, they never stink, and last forever!
When your baby’s nose is stuffy, instead of waiting forever for the bath to run and steam up the bathroom, turn on the humidifier, sit down in front of it with your baby in your lap, and put a large towel over your heads, as well as the humidifier. The tented towel will trap the steam and create your own little instant steam room. (You could do this with a bowl of steaming water, too). Just be very careful to keep your baby away from the direct line of steam, for safety reasons, and have a few toys, a book or a game at hand to distract her.
Dimmer switches are a must
When it comes to building up a routine, there’s nothing like a dimmer switch to signal to your little ones that it’s bed time and time to quieten down, or time to get up for that matter. It’s also really useful if your child wakes up from a nightmare and is scared to go to sleep, or to stay in his room.
Breastfeed lying down
With my first, I never even considered this. But it’s totally doable even if you aren’t especially well endowed. If you’re uncertain how, ask your midwife or a lactation consultant for advice. It’s easier than you think.
Throw a wet wipe or facecloth on your baby boy’s privates when changing his nappy
This is not a new tip, but one first-time-moms are often amazed to find out. As one mom explains: “The cold wipe will make him pee because of the exposure to cold and you won’t end up with a wet face.”
Go everywhere with your baby before they’re mobile
As one mom shares, life is so easy when you can just put your baby in a wrap … and they only need milk. So, go to restaurants, fly to a holiday destination and run errands before your baby starts crawling and walking. As you know, life gets frantic once baby is on the move (and wants to run up and down aisles) and keeps throwing the kids’ menu to the floor!
Keep different toys in containers
This tip is one of my favourites, and one I wish I’d thought of when I was tearing my hair out thinking what to do with baby number one. Sort toys into different containers to play and bring a new one out each day (as a surprise), instead of giving him the whole toy box.
Two storage boxes in the cupboard
Put two big storage bins or containers in the cupboard, one for clothes your kids have grown out of (which you can toss out or donate later), and one for clothing items from older siblings that might fit them soon. This way you won’t feel like you’re constantly digging between everything shoved into the cupboard for something that actually fits.
Step chairs around the house
This one is a big time-saver: invest in a few kiddies’ step stools you can put in the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, and other places where a big sister or brother can reach for a book or a cup without having to get Mommy, who is feeding or changing baby’s nappy.
Don’t potty train a kid who isn’t really ready
One mom admits she probably tried to push it a little early with her first one and then ended up having to try the process all over again several months later. With number two, she says, she’s been more laid-back about it, and “ironically it seems to have had the effect of piquing her interest. I know now it’s better to start when they’re READY and be done quickly than start too early and be done eight months later.”
Skip baby food – just mash up whatever you’re eating
While it’s convenient to have pouches and jars of baby food on hand, or to invest in a fancy baby food blender, there’s really nothing wrong with just mashing the food you’ve prepared for the family with a fork at the table and giving this to your baby when he starts to eat solids. As mom Andrea reminds us: “Texture in food is good for babies!”
Combine dinner and bath
For those days when there’s no one to help you and you just can’t face the thought of cleaning up the food your baby has smeared across her high chair, or thrown on the floor, put her in the bath and feed her dinner there.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.