Everyone Has Advice

As new parents, you're going to be getting a lot of information from a lot of people. There are whole books dedicated making sure your children are eating, sleeping, and growing at normal rates. The problem is that there's information that as a new parent you really need and nobody seems to remember or be aware of, because everyone worries about the macro-view.

I'm listing five simple things that I wish I'd known early on with my first child, because these really are great little hacks that will save you some grief, money, or time.

Boy that kid is MAD
Credit: morguefile.com

This kid could be mad for a billion reasons, but for the purposes of my point, he's really needing a new diaper.

#1: Size Up Your Diapers!

Especially at night, size up your diapers - if your kid is wearing newborn diapers, put them in 1s, and so on up the chain. The size your children are supposed to wear work if you're able to change them every couple hours. Overnight, however, once your baby starts to actually sleep in they're going to pee a lot, and wake up wet and cranky. In addition to providing a nighttime pee barrier, bigger diapers help with the inevitable blow-out poops you'll experience constantly.

Good thinking, grandma!
Credit: morguefile.com

Oh man, especially with spaghetti. Spaghetti is the Destroyer of Garments.

#2: Use Bibs All The Time

Your children want to eat the messiest possible things, and they will while wearing the whitest possible clothes. This is a universal constant, and so bibs are a reasonable part of the things people will buy you as new parents. Something nobody suggests, however, is using a bib always. Kids spit up, burp up, throw up, and are generally boogery, and having a bib around is a good way to wipe up the various fluids they produce, while protecting their adorable clothes.

Cute but pointless
Credit: morguefile.com

Don't fall for it.

#3: Be Shrewd When It Comes To Shoes

This probably is sacrilege for a lot of people reading this, but honestly, baby shoes are very expensive for something that very young children don't need at all.

Infant shoes can be super pricey, and they grow out of them very quickly - we spent a small fortune on my son's shoes buying them new. It wasn't until he was a bit older that we found it's much cheaper and easier to buy from resale sites, garage sales, or other trade-up events. You can normally find used shoes in good condition for a few dollars, versus spending $20, $30, or more on new shoes.

#4: Establish A Bedtime Routine

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to establish a bedtime routine. My son basically would sit and play with us until he fell asleep on my lap, and then I'd take him upstairs and he'd wake up, and I'd have to lay with him for an hour before he'd fall to sleep and I could get up and be an adult for a few hours. That happened nightly, until one day I decided to try structuring bedtime, and thank goodness I did. I set an alarm on my phone, when it goes off we take a bath and brush our teeth, and then get pjs and I lay in bed with him and read a book or sing. It's not perfect - some nights he's up later than normal, but it took bedtime from a 1-3 hour ordeal that was very unpredictable to a 40 minute start-to-finish ritual and it's pretty safe to say that 95% of the time, he'll be asleep by 8 (starting the process around 7:15). It's freed me up a lot, and it makes for more restful sleeping for him. I also recommend a good white noise machine. The Cloud B Sound Machine (Sleep Sheep) is wonderful. It gets more use than just about any other baby device we got for our son and it's lasted nearly 2 years and doesn't show signs of stopping.

Cloud b Sound Machine Soother, Sleep Sheep, Eight Sounds
Amazon Price: $54.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 8, 2016)
This thing is a miracle worker, and I mean that in the most literal way possible.
Ice cube tray
Credit: morguefile.com

Not just for making rectangles anymore.

#5: Ice Cube Trays For Dinner Time

I have a toddler, and he's picky about eating. That's not a surprise - kids can be very picky. What I have learned, however, is that his pickiness is like the wind and changes very quickly. We'll sit down to a meal of spaghetti - his favorite - and he'll eat one bite, flip out, and want watermelon. As a toddler, he only eats a very narrow range of foods, and while they span vegetables, fruits, and proteins, it's still a narrow range of actual foods, and as I said before, he can decide they're disgusting at a moment's notice. Enter the ice cube tray: by adding a little bit of various foods in  several/all of the compartments (I would stick with several because kids tend to get overloaded with information easily) your child can pick and choose what they want to eat, and then if they want more, you can get it. Typically my son will have fruit, cheese (he loves string cheese) crackers, olives, veggies, and yogurt, along with one or two new things we're trying. He will sometimes eat all of it, sometimes eat a bit here and there, and rarely will just not want any of it and throw a fit. While it seems from the get-go to be maybe a lot of work, it's really not. A lot of work is making a plate of food for dinner and having your kid say "done!" because they don't want to eat any of it at all.

While this list isn't comprehensive, it's not meant to be - these are just a few things I wish someone would have stressed to me when I started out as a dad. They will really help in the aspects of life they are respective to, and are almost universally applicable. Good luck in your baby adventures!