Our kids have been getting good at waking up and making breakfast and entertaining themselves while we get up and get ready to take them to school… As they learn to make breakfast, they are also “exploring” other things in the kitchen… Today after dropping them off at daycare/school… I found they hadn’t used their little milk as intended for cereal. Instead, they used it to mix with food coloring to drink purple milk for breakfast… Amazingly didn’t make a mess. After school, I told them I was impressed that they remembered where to get the food coloring and were so careful not to make a mess. Hilariously they admitted they had made a mess, and they worked together to clean it all up before we came downstairs.
Honestly, I don’t really know, all I know is I would have done it differently if I knew what I know now. This has been somewhat of a constant battle and silly learning in our family… I often reference it as poor planning and wastefulness, while my wife probably has a fond place in her heart for most of the strollers. I believe you can get by with one or two strollers, and perhaps my descriptions of all our strollers will help someone out there decide on the right set of strollers for their family.
If you only plan to have one kid or you’re determined to get a second stroller when you have a second kid this is the absolute best single stroller for a single child. It travels great it fits through the metal detectors it doesn’t require you to buy a second travel stroller (see more about that later )it’s a highly efficient and easy to move around the stroller with lots of space, adapters, and features. It’s great on all sorts of terrain from bad sidewalks to lighter hiking trails. We have been able to effectively use it as an “offroad” stroller, which is something our travel stroller could never do. If you are headed towards two kids, read on for the best double stroller.
AKA: If you know you are having two kids, just buy this one
If you’re only going to have two kids, you can perhaps just get away with this as a single stroller! This stroller is a great option because before the second kid arrives at has all sorts of attachments to use the extra space like a shopping cart attachment or other things helpful when rolling around a city. The city double isn’t quite as easy to maneuver as the regular city mini, but it’s still quite great — it’s wheels work really well even on bumpy and off-road conditions like going on trails. We have yet to travel with a stroller yet, I don’t believe it will fit through the standard security scanner. Which will require extra time for the stroller to go through the metal detector and inspection, so that’s a negative against it. That is the primary reason to get more than one stroller, having something smaller that can get through security. If you really want to limit yourself to a single stroller and you’re planning on two kids this is a great option.
Did you jog a lot before you had a kid? No… Now that you have a kid you’re going to find all that extra time for extra workouts… Really No, it isn’t likely to happen. We’ve used the stroller maybe 10 times in the multiple years we’ve had it. If you are already a serious exercise addict maybe but don’t believe having a kid will help you get in shape.
The Travel Stroller
Actual Name: ?
AKA: we should have just brought the city mini GT
The idea that you will want a smaller stroller while traveling is cute. Although most of the time you will just want your trusty primary stroller. If you’re going to Europe and running around all tiny alleys and public transportation it sort of makes sense, but the wheels on the travel stroller across bumpy cobblestone roads and areas without sidewalks really make you regret the decision to have a less than good stroller with you. You generally just want your primary stroller with you, one that can travel well enough and fold up well enough. A travel stroller has limited storage capacity starts to fall apart quickly, after taking a beating while traveling, and really isn’t that much easier to move through an airport than anything else.
Just a quick note from Erin here — I took Theo around Europe a lot and definitely think we needed the travel stroller. This one is a good mix for price, weight and utility. You want your primary stroller to have more of the features described above, but if you are traveling outside the US with a kid too big for a carrier, you’ll want something like this too. If your kid still fits in the carrier, use that. If not, you want a stroller that is light, easy to fold, and can be carried over your shoulder one handed while your kid is in the other arm — both to walk up to your 5th floor walk up and to maneuver the many stairs in their metro systems.
AKA: We should have just bought the city mini double stroller
This stroller’s fine but it’s only just that, fine. It’s wheels aren’t great on bumpy sidewalks, it’ll get stuck on small bumps, and you’ll have to push and pull to get it going again. It kind of starts to fall apart quickly, the bottom already his required home repairs to keep the basket from tearing apart as it drags on the road when loaded. It’s okay it was just me I’d probably keep it, and avoid spending more money. Why did we get another double stroller, the 10% of the time I’m not pushing a stroller and my wife or a grandparent is using this stroller all you will hear is complaints about how hard it is to push and how it doesn’t maneuver well and how y’all really should have just paid for a better stroller.
AKA: Another Stroller, just for visits, sure why not…
If you don’t want to always lug a stroller around, you can keep a stroller with your grandparents. I still think this is a bit silly, but we have used it more than the “aspirational” jogging stroller, so perhaps it makes more sense than I think. If your grandparent’s help with the kiddo’s a lot and want to keep a stroller at their place, go for it. Overall it is a nice stroller as well and has great handling. You can see it was in action alongside our City Mini GT on a pebble hiking trail.
So, obviously, if you are pregnant, you’re going to deliver– one way or another. And if you are far enough along to be thinking through planning for your birth, congratulations!! I know that the road to this place for many families is long and paved with heartache. Know that I am cheering you on.
This guide is imperfect and, by its nature, anecdotal. It’s based on my experience having two kids at two different hospitals with two different providers. But it’s also informed by my expertise and advocacy in maternal and child health policy.
My first birth (in February 2017) was a spontaneous vaginal delivery in a hospital, performed by a Kaiser physician who I had not met where lots of things went wrong. My blood pressure spiked, but the diagnosis of preeclampsia was missed until I was readmitted with severe symptoms 5 days postpartum. The delivery room was chaotic, communication was abysmal, and in the end, an uncontested episiotomy was performed that led to a 4th degreeperineal laceration. My baby boy was born small for gestational age, but healthy and vigorous.
My second birth (in June 2019) was a planned cesarean, due to ongoing pain and functional issues from the 4th degree tear — 4th degree tears rarely fully heal (unlike lesser tears) and can lead to long-term complications. My c-section was performed early, around 38 weeks, because I developed pregnancy-induced hypertension and my physician wanted to do everything possible to avoid risk factors for preeclampsia this time (being readmitted to the hospital and the treatment for preeclampsia are both miserable). My baby girl was also born small for gestational age, but healthy and vigorous.
This guide is designed to be action oriented and covers what I think are the most important pieces of preparing to welcome a baby to your family. There are book recommendations (item #7) that contain tons of great additional information.
Looking through this list, it’s a lot. Pregnant and stressed — no wonder! Check out this mental load! Yes, it’s true that you’ll be busy too when the baby comes, but this stuff is planning, it’s academic, it’s cerebral. And on top of all of this, the majority of pregnant women in the United States are working full-time without fully-paid maternity leave, so you are also planning your maternity leave from work and your family finances. In some ways, taking care of newborn is primal, it’s hard and overwhelming in a completely different way, and a welcome break from this type of thinking.
So, here’s my advice, YMMV. The items below are listed roughly in their order of operation. If you disagree or have other tips, PLEASE leave feedback in the comments.
************ Given the breadth of the rest of this guide, it may seem odd for this last tip to be so very specific. But we are in this phase right now — blowouts happen, several times a week. With our first kid, it was winter and so he was dressed mostly in footed pajamas, which are very easy to change (especially those with zippers — always get zippers, not snaps). But it’s summer now with our second kiddo and footed jammies are an impractical choice for all-day use. And I realized that my husband got through most of our first kid’s early months without understanding why onesies have those folds at the shoulders — it’s so that you can pull them down, and don’t have to pull a poop-soaked onesie over your baby’s precious little head.
These exercises should be able to be done at home (you’re not going anywhere for awhile), start very slow and easy and gradually build-up. It’s great to have a plan to follow to rebuild your confidence in your body.
Even in the United States, I have not been charged for taking all of the baby supplies in our recovery room upon discharge. Or perhaps, it’s more accurate to say that you have already been charged for it, so take it. You can sometimes even ask for extras of things right before discharge so you can take home more. Some personal highlights:
The mesh underwear (obviously)
The receiving blankets (as many as you can get your hands on) — they are made by Medline and ubiquitous across the world. Much of the U.S. uses a blue and pink stripe pattern, but both hospitals I delivered at have opted for the slightly-more-expensive foot-print pattern. Watch the nurses use these blankets — they use them for everything, they are so absorbent that nurses use them as towels after a baby’s first bath, they line the crib. And they are still soft enough to use for a swaddle. At home we’ve used them as a way to line a counter for the baby’s sponge bath before her umbilical cord falls off and to line changing tables.
The little newborn hats (also in the picture above). Our kiddos were born small and almost no purchased hats were small enough for their heads. It’s key to have some hats at home to throw on after baby baths for the first few weeks.
All the diapers and wipes you can find — those have been donated to the hospital for marketing purposes, so get ‘em while you can.
But seriously, take anything and everything you like — like the plastic cup? Take it. Like the pads, take those too. Got a tube of Benadryl for an allergic reaction? It’s yours now.
Wonder Weeks: How to stimulate the most important developmental weeks in your baby’s first 20 months and turn these 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward. (Also a helpful app for understanding your kiddo’s developmental phases)
It’s true that newborns don’t need much other than a functioning caregiver and a place to sleep in those early days…but before I had my first babe I crowdsourced all the advice I could on what exactly we needed to care for a new baby. And I have since answered this question for a number of friends. One of my friends told me the only thing you needed for a new baby is to live somewhere with Amazon Now — that is, Amazon’s two-hour delivery. This is excellent advice — impractical, but excellent. If your area does have Amazon Now, be sure you are familiar with how it works — forget infant (or adult) Tylenol, you can order it — need formula or diapers TONIGHT, you can order it.
The things you should buy:
For you — all kiddo will need for the first few days is food and diapers and wipes and you — and so you need to be well-cared for:
Perineal ice packs — you will need them and love them. These were my favorite and they worked well on my incision after a c-section too.
Small Depends diapers, yes, for YOU — more comfortable in the early days than trying to stick giants pads on your mesh underwear with tiny little dainty “wings.” Bring them to the hospital.
Good coffee — if you are not well-slept, be well-caffeinated. No, caffeine does not pass through your breastmilk in any appreciable way.
If you are going to breastfeed, clip-down nursing tanks are the easiest way to go in the early days — great access for the babe while you are figuring everything out.
Audio books — the trick with the early morning feeds is for you to be awake enough to take care of kiddo but stay asleep enough that you don’t have trouble getting back to sleep once the kid is down — I find audio books really helpful for this — they keep your brain at just the right level and then help you fall back to sleep — any good audio book will do — we really enjoyed Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime — if you haven’t read the Harry Potter series, I hear it is great for this too. We’ve also had fun with Guns, Germs, and Steel (kind of like a good college lecture) and Becoming by Michelle Obama. Also, both or all 4 of your hands will be full a surprising amount with one kid early on, so if you have an Alexa or some such, it’s great to get the audio book hooked up to it so that you can tell it to play once you get the kiddo latched (see HOW TO LATCH YOUR BABY TO YOUR LEFT BREAST IN A CROSS CRADLE HOLD IN 33 EASY-TO-MASTER STEPS)
Larabars — put them in your nightstand now. I was completely caught off guard by how much HUNGRIER I was in the early weeks postpartum than when I was pregnant, I hammered snacks all night. Larabars will also help with that all-important postpartum poop.
Also — get a huge water cup with a lid and a straw for your nightstand. Breastfeeding makes you sooo thirsty and you will not have the patience for a midnight spill.
Forehead baby thermometer — it’s unlikely that kiddo will get sick in the early months, but this way, if you are worried, you can check.
This baby carrier is the way to go — super easy to use and lasts a long time.
A travel crib — do it, travel with your babe. We liked this one.
A bassinet for your room for the early months. (Side note, pro-tip from one of my friends — once the kiddo is in a full crib, layer the sheets like this — waterproof cover, sheet, waterproof cover, sheet. This way, if the kid has a blow-out in the middle of the night you can just rip off the top two layers and put the kid back down.)
One trillion cheap wash clothes — if/when kiddo gets a diaper rash, one of the best ways to help treat it is to stop using wipes, so you will need a lot of water and a lot of wash clothes. 🙂
Good diapers and wipes — we like Huggies Little Snugglers and Pampers Swaddlers for the early months
Lots of burp cloths — we liked these for all around use. The method we copied from our friends and used for both kids was to just scatter them around the house on the furniture and throw them onto the floor once they couldn’t be used anymore — a signal that they need to be tossed into the laundry.
At least a couple good kids books. Read to your babe. Goodnight Moon and Little Blue Truck are my favorites.
A stroller — we love our City Mini GT around town — the wheels don’t inflate so they can’t pop — a sunshade, recline, and basket storage are important.
A nursing pillow — This one!! THE BEST. It pulls right up to your chest, whereas I found that the boppy left this weird gap for me and wasn’t nearly as comfortable.
Disposable changing pads/chuck pads — so helpful for babies. Use them to give the baby a sponge bath, or to line the bassinet for midnight diaper changes. If your kid gets a diaper rash and needs to spend time without a diaper on, put them on one of these. There are a million ways they can make your life easier.
A diaper bag — I would truly not bother. Buy a portable changing station and put it into a day-hiker backpack that fits you well (I like my CamelBak Sundowner Lowrider 22). Throw in some toys for any older kids, a change of clothes for each kid, snacks for you and any older kids, a giant water bottle and some back up formula in case of an emergency and you are GTG.
The best ways to avoid pregnancy-related depression (as we noted, it’s the most common complication of pregnancy) are the 3 Ss — sleep, sunshine, and support. You will need support. New moms should not be required to do anything other than soak up baby love while dropping crumbs on their new baby’s head from food brought from loving friends and family members (or ordered from Grubhub) for at least two weeks. You’ll likely be told not to lift anything heavier than your new baby for those two weeks anyway. Limit your stairs, do no laundry, soak up that baby. In order to have any hope of this, you’ll need support. As I approached the end of my second pregnancy, my sister told me that everyone wanted to help, but just needed to know how. I said that I hoped she was serious and drew up a postpartum support plan. And honestly, everyone did their part, if not even more than they were assigned. I had everything I needed at every moment and often wondered, “how is it that everyone knows EXACTLY what I need right now?” — Oh yeah — I told them, and it worked. Write up a plan and share it with your support team, which can be family or friends or a mix of folks.
Things to include:
Help with childcare or childcare drop-off and pick up if you have an older kiddo. (If your older child is in childcare, I strongly recommend keeping that going during at least the beginning of your leave — no need to disrupt their routine any more than necessary, and it will be great for you.)
Someone to bring you food at the hospital — many hospitals do not have a way to get food 24 hours a day and you don’t know when you will go into labor or when you will be hungry. Also, having snacks in your postpartum room is great for guests.
Help with food prep and dishes when you get home
Help with house cleaning/keeping so that you are not tempted to do it when you should be soaking up baby love
Help with laundry (you will go through outfits for you and the babe, blankets and burp clothes at an alarming rate for weeks months.)
Help with any routine outdoor chores — e.g. shoveling, mowing
This felt a bit awkward to me the first time — it sort of feels like you are telling other people how to do their jobs. However, I learned from that experience and was much more specific the second time around. First, many nurses and physicians want to meet your needs and respect your wishes, but genuinely won’t know how to do that unless you are specific. Second, sometimes there are hospital policies that are not always the most family friendly, and if you express your wishes clearly, the nurses can respect those wishes against hospital policy. For example, many hospitals require nurses to check on patients every hour. Do you really want a check at 1AM, 2AM, 3AM and 4AM? Or, if your baby happens to blessedly sleep for more than an hour, do you want a chance to get some shut-eye too?
The care teams for your delivery and your postpartum stay will be different, so I recommend having different plans for the two events. Give both plans to your provider as soon as you make them (you can always change it and update it as your pregnancy progresses). When you get to the hospital, give a copy of your birth plan to the first nurse you meet and give one to the anesthesiologist or another provider in your room. Give a copy of your postpartum plan to the nurse that takes you to your postpartum room.
Keep your plan short and to-the-point and remember that busy people will be reading it.
Things to include:
A tiny bit about you, your medical history, your concerns and goals for your birth
The specifics of your plan, including what you want to do about the vitamin K shot, Hepatitis B shot, and antibacterial eye ointment. I consented to all of this with both kids and think these things generally make sense. But however you feel, be sure you have thought through them before you are in active labor.
A request for warm liquids as soon as possible. Postpartum constipation is real. And for a surprising number of women, it becomes almost as big a deal as the initial birth. You want to avoid it. Be well hydrated going in. Continue to hydrate well. Warm liquids and chewing gum both help “wake up” your intestines and get things moving. Eat foods that promote regularity too. And take the stool softeners when they are offered.