The 3 Things All New Parents Need
By Erin Hanehan
Hint: It’s not a wipe warmer.
I am fortunate to be in community with a lot of folks who were growing their families at the same time my partner and I started ours. The opportunity to learn from each other as we become parents was invaluable. One of the things I chat about most often with my newly-pregnant friends is what you actually need as new parents. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of registries, online ads, product reviews and blog posts. But what do you really need to have ready—unboxed, assembled and prepared—when you bring your baby home?
Here is what I found to be true ... your baby will need some things. They will need to sleep safely, to eat, to be clean and dry, of course. But what your baby really needs is for you and your co-parent to have a few well-practiced strategies for navigating the postpartum period. Here are 3 practices that my partner and I found useful in those first few tender months:
But first, breathe.
Our breath is a powerful tool in self-regulation. Self-regulation as it relates to mindfulness and mindful parenting means noticing the needs of our nervous system and knowing how to react. Although our breath is a tool that we carry with us everywhere we go, it is not always easy to access, which is why practicing breath work is helpful. Start to incorporate deep, full breaths into everything you do. Try this simple technique before you wash your hands at any time during the day:
Take a calm, deep inhale and a long, slow exhale. Then wash your hands as you normally would. Before changing a diaper, before feeding your baby, or before picking your baby up, take a breath.
When your baby arrives, you’ll be in good practice!
2. Practice finding stillness.
Quiet and stillness may not be easy to find with a newborn, but a little bit goes a long way. Sitting with yourself for even a few minutes a day helps you to relate to your own body, feelings and emotions as well as to those of your baby and your partner. I offer this quick morning meditation as a practice:
When you wake up, lay flat for just a moment. Scan your body for tension and gently release what you can. Swing your legs off the bed. Push yourself up using your hands. Feel your feet meet the ground. Drop your chin to your chest and hold. Inhale. Roll your head up, drop your shoulders down. Close your eyes. Take three breaths. Blink your eyes open and begin your day.
3. Fine-tune communication.
Communicating with your co-parent during the postpartum period is not always easy (or gentle or kind or calm) but it is crucial. Practice helpful communication strategies before your baby arrives so you are a well-oiled machine! A tool that my partner and I find invaluable is our weekly Family Meeting. We set aside 30-60 minutes every week where we discuss our upcoming schedule, our grocery needs, an ongoing to-do list and our emotional state. We started this habit well before we got pregnant, at the recommendation of our therapist, and we're so grateful it was ingrained before our son arrived. Real talk—regular Family Meetings did not resume until our son was at least 2 months old.
You can begin these 3 practices anytime and before you know it, they’ll stick. And I promise they’ll be more useful than a wipe warmer.
And as it relates to those registry items and product reviews? I’ve created a few lists that you may find useful, because even though your emotional wellness and love are the most important things you can give your baby, they need a few things too.
Below you’ll find 3 lists: what you really need on your registry, when you bring baby home, and for postpartum care.
What you Really Need on Your Registry
Bottles - multi-pack - some 4-5 oz bottles, some 6-8 oz bottles
My Brest Friend
Size 1 diapers
Trash can or diaper pail
Bassinet or crib
Sleep sacks (3 - sized 3-6 months)
A take home outfit
Newborn clothes - just a few - 5 onesies - 3 leggings - 5 footies
0-3 month clothes - 5 onesies - 5 leggings - 7 footies
3-6 month clothes - short + long sleeve onesies, leggings, footies
Cloth drool bibs
On the Go:
Baby wearing item - wrap or Ergo baby with infant insert
Baby nail clippers
Baby First Aid supplies
Crib, crib mattress & dresser
Dirty clothes hamper
Consider registering for nursery art, a mobile, plants, shelving, etc. - whatever is important to you in making the space beautiful!
Baby bouncer or somewhere safe to place the baby so you can be hands free
Tiny Earth Toys subscription!
What you Really Need When you Bring Baby Home
Somewhere safe for the baby to sleep
Diapers, wipes, diaper cream
Clothes for the baby to wear (some NB, but most sized 0-3 months)
Nursing tops, nursing pillow, nursing bras, nipple butter
White noise machine
People who love you who can help and hold you
Food to nourish yourself
A sign for your door that says “Baby and Mom resting. Do not knock or ring bell!”
What you Really Need for Postpartum Care
Pads, disposable undies, inserts or adult diapers
Nursing tops and/or dresses and bras
High waisted underwear
Perineal ice packs
Prune Juice, Apple Juice, other beverages that you enjoy drinking
A giant water bottle
Healthy fats (cottage cheese, cheese, avocado, peanut butter, nuts, lean meats, protein bars)
Grains (whole wheat crackers, whole wheat bread, brown rice)
Fresh fruits, fresh veggies
Erin Hanehan is a Certified Kids Yoga Instructor and Drama Teaching Artist based in Durham, NC. She has a BA in Dramatic Arts from UNC Chapel Hill and completed her kids yoga and mindfulness certification with Growga. Erin has taught all kinds of things—from cooking classes to improv—to students of all ages, but she is most passionate about working with preK and early elementary students. Driven by a mission to help all children stand tall, find their own voice and feel confident in their bodies, Erin currently teaches in schools with Growga, online with Whole Mama Yoga and in-person with Raleigh Little Theater and Jewish for Good.
Erin shares her life with her son, Nathan, her partner, Matt, her dog, Olive, and her chickens, Chip & Jo.