The internet is awash with hints and tips for everything from keeping clothes in tip-top shape to prepping food and cooking it more efficiently, but where is the help to get women through the most significant event of their lives? If there is one thing that people need hacks for it is parenthood. However, not all stages of child rearing are the same, so there are few hacks, if any, hacks that are universal.
Not only that but I am reliably informed that SHOCK, not everything on the internet is real, so how are you supposed to know what advice is the right advice for you and your child right now?
Fear not dear reader; we have your back. Not only have we scoured the web for as many hacks as possible that are applicable in the first six months, but we have even tried them out for you.
Some of these are tried and tested hacks that experienced parents already know but that are never found in the baby books, so new parents often only stumble upon them by accident. Other hints and tips here been developed on the fly by genius moms in need of a quick fix to a problem.
Without further ado, here are our top genius level mom hacks and the results of our real-world testing.
15 Oil ‘Em Up, Buttercup
One of the first great shocks of parenthood is the strange, dark green tar-like substance that emerges from your newborn's butt in the first few days after the birth. This sticky stuff from hell is called meconium, and unlike regular number twos, which is waste food, this stuff is made of the skin cells, mucus, lanugo, amniotic fluid and biles your little one has swallowed while in the womb.
It is exceptionally viscous and is a complete nightmare to wipe off of your baby's bottom, just what you need in those first scary days with a newborn.
Fun Fact: The word meconium comes from the Greek word for poppy because of its similarity in appearance to raw opium preparations and the belief that, like opium, ingesting meconium would help you sleep. YUM.
Top Tip: Rub coconut oil or olive oil on the clean bottom of your newborn. Not only will this make them smell like a pina colada or an Italian dinner, but it will also prevent the sticky green gunk adhering to the bottom of your little one.
Does It Work?: I stalked a few friends who were expecting and asked them to try it out, and the response was a resounding YES. Everyone who tried said that, as long as they remembered to apply it before the poop it worked like a charm.
14 The Thin Yellow Line
While we are on the subject of diapers which, coincidentally, is where you will be spending a lot of time in the first few weeks, let’s talk about changing time.
When do I change a diaper?
Is a question most of us have at some point. New babies pee all the time, their tiny bladders are, well, tiny, and cannot hold much at once, so you become stuck in a place where you feel the need to continually check their diapers, so they aren’t sitting in a wet pool of pee. This can result in you waking your baby by accident or changing a diaper that is still good and dry, so what is the solution?
Fun Fact: When Marion Donovan was fed up with the mess on her baby daughter's bedding and clothes from dirty diapers she set out to create a solution. With a sewing machine, layers of tissue, and a shower curtain she made what is considered to be the world's first waterproof diaper.
Top Tip: Most modern disposable diapers have lines or pictures on the front that disappear when they become wet. This makes it easy to see, at a glance, whether or not you need to whip out a fresh diaper.
Does It Work? Yes, but it is as easy to squish the front of a diaper to check for a pee.
13 Over The Shoulder, Baby
It would appear that this piece of genius is all over the internet, but despite spending far too much of my time online, I had completely missed this one.
Do you know the way onesies and other baby vests have that funny looking flap design on the shoulder?
Well, it turns out that that is not just to give you something to wonder about and they are not there to make it easier to pull clothes on over baby's head.
Fun Fact: You can now buy onesies that connect to a wireless baby monitor system. With this system, you can monitor your baby's body temperature, body positions, and movements and the data is sent straight to your smartphone.
Top Tip: They flaps are made so that, wait for it, you can take the vest off downwards if there has been a poop explosion and you don’t want to pull the clothing off over little one's head. Mind Blown.
Does It Work? : This one works like a charm and I can’t believe I got through the diaper changes of five children without knowing this. Instead of trying to pull the vest away from your baby’s body and smearing poop up their back and in their hair you can just roll down the onesie turning it inside out and quickly sliding the entire mess off over baby’s legs.
12 Keep Track Of Your 'Girls'
Just working to get your baby to latch on and feed can be a big enough drama in those first few weeks so you need ways to make it as easy on yourself as possible. You will hear and read a lot of information about foremilk and hindmilk, whether you should offer one breast or both and how long you should be feeding your baby.
When it comes down to it, try not to get too hung up on a timetable and learn to follow your baby’s cues.
Fun Fact: A mother's body is continuously changing the milk it makes to ensure it is optimal for the baby. As your little one grows the nutritional profile of the milk, you produce changes. It can even change from day to day with water content being adjusted according to the weather.
Top Tip: One thing you should remember is to begin a feed on the side you didn’t start with last time. This ensures both breasts create plenty of milk and you don’t become lopsided. Seriously, that is a thing, so put a loose hairband on your wrist on the same side you are going to begin feeding on. After the feed swap wrists and you will always remember where to start.
Does It Work?: This is by far the simplest way to keep track of your breasts, and it is unobtrusive enough to be used outside the home.
11 A Basket Case
Once your baby is a little older bath time in the adult bath can be an excellent source of fun and a great source of stress. It is fun because once your little one is stable enough to sit up in the bath, this leaves both of your hands-free to wash and then play.
The stress comes in when you are continually fumbling around under the bubbles to retrieve that favorite toy and then when you pull the plug and have to recover all of those toys.
Fun Fact: Not so much a fun fact, more like a bonus tip. If you use a glue gun to plug the holes on the bottom of bath toys, you will not have to squeeze the water out of them after the bath, and they will not grow moldy inside.
Top Tip: Use a laundry basket with a non-slip mat on the bottom in the bath. The water will flow through the holes, and your little one can sit in the basket with their toys within easy reach.
Does It Work? This one works brilliantly. You can sit beside the bath and keep toy spread to a minimum while your mini-me has a splashing time. One note of caution though. Do not think that this is a safe way to leave your child in the bath alone, even for a moment.
10 Red Light District
Getting up in the middle of the night to feed a baby isn’t anybody's idea of fun. While you may have an image in your head of a glowing momma sitting rocking gently back and forth with a newborn in her arms, happily feeding the reality is likely to be somewhat different. By the six week mark, it is easy to mistakenly stuff a teddy bear up your nightshirt and try to feed it when you stumble in for the 3 am feed, so any help to make it quick and painless is welcome.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks is having enough light to see what you are doing, but not so much your baby thinks it’s time to get up and play.
Fun Fact: Your newborn will need feeding on demand but by three months your baby will begin to establish circadian rhythms and will be capable of four or five hours uninterrupted sleep at the beginning of the night. By six months you can expect them to go the first five to eight hours of the night without a top up.
Top Tip: Use a low wattage red light bulb in your baby's room to minimize confusion to their emerging biorhythms.
Does It Work?: Maybe. I have always used red light in our kid's rooms, and each one of them has slept differently. Many moms swear by this, and it certainly can’t do any harm.
9 Be The Best Undresser You Can Be
Although it calms down a bit as your baby gets older, the night feed/diaper explosion combo is a favorite trick of the under six months set. Not only do you have a grouchy baby who wants to be fed right now,
but they are also cranky because they are cold and damp and stinky. Not only that but you look down and see the horrific abstract art creation painted on the crib sheet.
Fun Fact: Cribs were not a thing until the 19th century. Before then babies generally slept in the same bed as their parents, usually until they were old enough to move to a bigger bed. Imagine having a disgusting diaper blow-out in a family bed with a mattress stuffed with straw.
Top Tip: The worst thing about night time bed changes is trying to get the crib remade. To save yourself time and hassle make up your crib with multiple layers, alternating waterproof cover/mattress protector, and sheet. With two sets on the bed, you can whip off the soiled bedding to reveal a ready-made crib with clean covers.
Does It Work?: Most of the time. If you have an especially colossal blow-out, you may end up soiling two sets of bedding at once.
8 Hook Yourself A Hint
Once your little one has progressed to the stage where they are ready for solids, there is an entirely new world of mess for you to experience.
Two small spoonfuls of fruit puree are, inexplicably, enough to cover one baby, one mom, one high chair, and a fair square footage of floor.
Fun Fact: 1960’s Doctor Walter Sackett, Jr. recommended in his book “Bringing Up Babies,” that moms feed their babies cereal at 2-3 days, "at noon and at midnight" and to not be "surprised to see Baby eating his first cereal with gusto and a surprising dexterity."
Top Tip: Place a couple of those sticky plastic hooks on the back of your high chair and hang a couple of clean bibs and a “mop up” cloth on them. This way you will never again get settled down for feeding time and discover you forgot a bib.
Does It Work?: Yes, but there are a couple of additional pointers. Remember to replace the bibs you use with clean ones after dinner time. In the interests of safety do not hang anything other than a light cotton cloth and a fabric bib or two on the hooks, so you do not risk making the chair unstable with weight on the back.
7 Stake Your Claim
Organization is essential when you have a new baby. You spend so much of your time in a semiconscious fog that some days it can be challenging to find your own face with both hands.
To ease the stresses of wandering around the house trying to remember where you put things to try to establish order before your baby arrives.
Fun Fact: According to RelicRecord.com baby bottles are not, as you might imagine, a relatively modern invention. Terracotta feeding pots with spouts on them have been discovered dating back as far as 1500 BC, and medieval babies were “bottle fed” with a hollowed out cows horn topped with a leather nipple.
Top Tip: Before your baby even gets here designate an area of counter space in the kitchen that is reserved purely for baby items. Here you can keep a small plastic drawer unit with bottle parts, pacifiers, breast pump pieces, and cleaning supplies. You’ll always know where the bits you need are.
Does It Work?: As long as you remember to put things away or return them to the place from which you got them. If you can do this, then this is one genius tip that will keep you organized all through the weaning process too.
6 Track Your Dose
There are few things as terrifying as a sick baby. Not knowing what is wrong with your mini-me and seeing them upset is heartbreaking and having to give them up to a medical professional goes against every motherly instinct to keep them close.
Hopefully, you will never have to experience anything worse than an illness which requires a prescription or over-the-counter medicine, but even this can have its hurdles.
For example, make just one person responsible for giving your baby medicine. This avoids mom giving a dose and dad unwittingly giving another.
Fun Fact: Opium was used to calm fussy babies, from the 10th century BC until the early 1900’s. Breastfeeding moms would smear it on their nipples to ensure their child slept through the night.
Top Tip: Draw a basic grind on the side of the medicine bottle to keep track of the doses you have given. This way you never have to worry about double dosing or try to remember if you really did give your child their morning spoonful.
Does It Work?: Only when you remember to use the grid, keep a pen next to it and use a permanent marker. Then it is fantastic. If not you can end up with a smeared mess on the bottle and be none the wiser about dosages.
5 Roll ‘Em Up
Which one of us hasn’t stood in the store holding up baby outfits and cooing over how cute they are? Before your first baby, you will have visions of a tiny fashionista decked out in fabulous costumes lighting up the mother and baby group with their dazzling stylings.
The reality is that although it is fun dressing up your little one for special occasions, they will end up getting completely ruined.
They get covered in poop, spit-up or vomit so quickly a simple bodysuit will soon become your goto item.
Fun Fact: A June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department wrote, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”
Top Tip: Lay out your body suit and place a onesie on top in the center. Add a pair of socks and roll them up together and hey presto you have an entire outfit in a single roll which is easy to grab from the drawer.
Does It Work?: Yes, but you have to take the time to roll up your parcels in the first place and on those occasions you just need one item you have to have a few spare.
4 Harness Your Power
Child car seats are such a regular part of parenthood that it is difficult to imagine a time when not only were there no convenient travel systems but there were not even any requirements for seats at all.
What is your number one pet peeve as far as car seats go? Maybe it is the way in which the harness fills the seat when you are trying to get your baby into it? Don’t worry; we’ve got your back on this one.
Fun Fact: It was not until the early 1980’s that legislation was introduced in the US that made crash testing for child safety seats a requirement for certification. Before then all that was required, from the 1970’s onward, was that a seat had to be seat-belted into the car and the child should be harnessed, in some way, to the seat.
Top Tip: Have you ever noticed those two little slits in the cover of your child’s car seat? They are there for a reason. The slits are the place where you place the metal parts of the harness while you put your baby into the seat, so you are not struggling to put them down and then pull the straps and buckle out from under their bottom.
Does It Work?: Every time! No more trying to hold a snoozing kiddo with one hand while attempting to set the harness out of the way with the other hand. Why don’t manufacturers tell you these things?
3 Double Down
Some children never become attached to a particular toy, blanket, or in the case of our oldest son, ball.
While it is incredibly cute to see a little one with their “blankie” or favorite stuffy all of the time if you are the parent of a child with a comfort object the need to keep track of it at all times becomes critical.
Fun Fact: When hotel chain, Travelodge was trying to reunite stuffies left behind in rooms with their owners they were in for a surprise. A survey of 6,000 guests revealed that 35% of adults still have a stuffy they take to bed with them sometimes, and 25% of men reported taking a stuffie with them on business trips to remind them of home.
Top Tip: If your child starts to show an attachment to a particular object, buy a couple of spares and swap them around on a regular basis before your child is old enough to notice. This way, if you lose a special toy, you have a fighting chance of replacing it with a suitable substitute.
Does It Work?: Maybe. By the time I was given this tip, each of our kids with a comfort object was old enough to know the difference between a replacement and the real thing. It may be possible, but I suspect it might still be traumatic.
2 Store A Secret Stash
Having a beautiful nursery and a designated changing area is a luxury many of us would like but have neither the time nor the resources to create.
If you are feeling down about this, take heart because sometime in the first couple of days home with your baby you discover you spend hardly anytime in the nursery and going in there to change diapers every half hour is nothing but a pain.
Fun Fact: Until the late 1980’s changing stations in public restrooms simply did not exist. It was not unusual to plan your shopping trip around when you were most likely to have to change a diaper because there was nowhere to do it outside the home. Can you imagine going out today and not having anywhere to change a diaper?
Top Tip: Have a few basic changing baskets at strategic places around the house. You can use a simple dollar store basket with a small pack of wipes, a couple of spare diapers, and a plastic bag with which to dispose of the used item. This way you can change your wriggly bundle wherever you happen to be.
Does It Work?: I cannot stress enough how great this tip is. Having all of the changing things you need to hand is a lifesaver.
1 Theme Toys For Reinforcement
Once your baby becomes a little more interactive and aware of what is going on around them, you have all the fun of choosing toys.
Until they begin to show a preference for a particular kind of item you have the luxury of choosing what you think is fun, and more importantly, where and when to play with them.
Fun Fact: In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, children played with dolls made of wax or terracotta, sticks, bows and arrows, and yo-yos. When Greek children, especially girls, came of age, at around 14 years, it was customary for them to sacrifice the toys of their childhood to the gods on the eve of their wedding.
Top Tip: Keep different sets of toys for different times of the day. For instance, have diaper changing time toys, tummy time toys, and sitting in your highchair while I try to make dinner toys.
Does It Work?: Yes, and the reason is simple. Until around the six-month mark, babies do not have what’s called object permanence, that is they do not understand that when something is not in their sight, it still exists. Having different toys for specific places and activities not only maintains their interest in ‘nw’ toys, but it reinforces distinctions between activities.
References: WebMD.com, factretriever.com, health-foundations.com, medlineplus.gov, popsci.com, health.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, babybottle-museum.co.uk, relicrecord.com, sun-sentinel.com, smithsonianmag.com,