Life with a newborn is a wonderful mix of love and joy, and intensity and fatigue! Let this list of postpartum essentials for the whole family bring more comfort and ease into the newborn season.
Baby Josiah is now four weeks old.
Which means four weeks of little sleep, too much mess, too few showers, and a whole lot of adjusting to life with a newborn– for kids and parents alike. Can you say hormones, tantrums, and funny smells?
But it also means four weeks of listening to the soft inhale and exhale of a newborn while he naps on your chest. Four weeks of watching his siblings dote on him and be stretched to help in new ways. Four weeks of wondering if your heart will burst with the strength of your love. And four weeks of rejoicing in God’s lovingkindness and how He faithfully provides everything we need.
Honestly, I’ve recently needed reminders about the second set often as I have been overwhelmed by the first set. So I’m not going to tell you that the postpartum period isn’t hard. Because it totally is.
But as this is my fourth time bringing a newborn home, I have learned a few things that make the postpartum period easier– not just for mom, but for the whole family.
Everyone needs a little TLC after baby is born! Let this list help you prepare for a more enjoyable postpartum period!
Postpartum Essentials for the Whole Family
Comfortable at-home uniform. The first few weeks are largely spent at home while mom recovers and baby is spared the exposure to extra germs. So having comfortable clothes to wear around the house is essential! Nursing sleep bras and nursing tank tops are my go-to’s for everyday lounging. They make it super easy to nurse baby and they are comfortable enough to be worn all day (and night!).
Here’s a tank without a built-in bra, a tank with a built-in bra, and comfy nursing sleep bras.
Along with nursing tanks and bras on top, I am living in lightweight cotton shorts with a drawstring (instead of tight elastic) around the waist. I love these, especially since they have pockets for a pacie and my iPod.
Comfortable pretty robe. Are you sensing a pattern yet? Comfort is key when you’re tired and tired and sore all over. This is the first time I have treated myself to a new robe for the postpartum period, but I am so glad I did. Having something pretty to pull on (when everything else you’re wearing is function over form) is a treat. It’s also perfect for middle of the night wakings and giving easy access to breastfeed. Here’s the one I have.
Ring sling. (Or other baby carrier). I’ve tried a variety of baby carriers, and the ring sling is my first choice. Less bulky than a Moby or even an backpack-type carrier, ring slings are easy to carry around and easy to use. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Ergo backpack carrier too, but I appreciate that I can use the ring sling from newborn to toddler without needing any additional inserts or pieces. I used a Sakura Bloom in the past, but this time around I treated myself to a new ring sling in a fresh color. I’m excited to see how I like using the little pocket that the LILLEbaby slings come with too.
Nipple cream. I don’t need to say much here, except that those first couple of weeks can feel downright brutal, and nipple cream can be such a relief. I love this one that doubles as help for mom and a diaper cream for baby.
Outfits that make you feel nice. I have plenty of loungewear for days around the house. But I also invested a small amount of money in a few pieces of clothing in a couple sizes up for going out. Being able to pull on clothing that makes me feel put together and yet still keeps me comfortable has been a boon to my spirit when I feel more in need of a shower and nap than an outing with my kids.
I’ve been living in a handful of new t-shirts from Target and Old Navy, and these skinny jeans a few sizes up I found at Goodwill.
Swaddle blankets. It took me a couple of children before I found out this trick for having adorable swaddle/receiving blankets in just the right size. Go to a fabric store and pick out flannel or another soft cotton fabrics and ask them to cut 1.25 yards from each bolt. A yard and a quarter is the perfect size for swaddling, draping as a quick nursing cover, placing on the floor for baby to play, and more. Once your fabric is cut, simply finish the edges with a serger or a zigzag stitch (this takes about five minutes) or ask someone else to do it for you!
Zipper pajamas. Zippers over snaps every time. When baby is fussy and hates having his diaper changed, or when it’s 2am and you are barely awake to put his clothes back on, pulling a zipper is infinitely easier than trying to align snaps on a pair of pajamas. Zipper pajamas are gold in our house.
Gas drops. You never know if your baby is going to react to something you ate, or simply generally struggle with gas and reflux. Gas drops are great to have on hand just in case. Keep one bottle in reach at home and one in your diaper bag.
Bouncer seat. Any portable seat you can carry around and safely set baby down in is essential. Whether it vibrates or has a toy bar isn’t as important to me the first several weeks as how easy it is to tote around for myself and my children. Our bouncer seat moves around the house all day from the table top to the kitchen to the backyard and so on. Baby isn’t in it all day, of course, but it certainly can be a lifesaver when you need free hands for a while.
Catching some zzz’s and some vitamin D.
New toys. While we don’t want to overwhelm our kids (or our house) with toys, giving kids something new to occupy their attention that first week or two while mom’s main job is recovery and bonding with new baby is a good idea. Think of something that will engage your kids for multiple play times, and if you have multiple siblings, consider something that could be played with together.
Boppy pillow. I choose not to use a boppy pillow for nursing, but our boppy is invaluable in our house just the same. My kids use the boppy any time they want to hold their little brother. It gives them the support they need and reassures mom and dad that baby is held safely. (My husband also loves the boppy for the long periods of time he’s holding baby while I rest).
Audiobooks. I have mentioned my love for audiobooks on here before, but I really love them during this newborn season! When my mind is mush or I simply do not feel like reading, we can turn on an audiobook and still listen to great stories. It makes me feel better for not having picked up a chapter book to read to them consistently in a while… Audiobooks can also be a lifesaver for keeping siblings occupied during in-car nursing sessions.
(Check out Audible if you’ve never tried audiobooks before. You can start a free trial and get two books for free!)
A plan to help mom. This one is new for us, but it has made a big difference. I look forward to my husband taking over at a certain time each morning so I can get in a couple more hours of sleep. Facing sleepless nights knowing that you will get a respite at a certain time can be so helpful. Whatever your plan is, work together and communicate honestly about what you each need to make it through the postpartum days.
Creature comforts. Dad being comfortable is less about elastic waists and nursing attire. But his comfort is still important too! To prepare for this postpartum period, I tried to focus what would make his long days and nights more comfortable and enjoyable. I bought a fly fishing book he wanted, charged his Kindle (another essential for late nights!), and had the opportunity to pick out an item for him from Uncommon Goods.
I love the selection UG has for gifts for men (dad or brothers or guy friends!). Knowing my husband’s love for pottery and his preference for handmade mugs, I picked out this beautiful handmade beer stein. When we received it in the mail, we were very pleased with the quality. Since then, his mug has been used for beer, iced tea, and coffee. According to him, this large mug is essential because he can fit half a pot of coffee in it– which lets him sit on the couch early in the morning and not have to risk waking baby for for a refill!
Need a few more creature comfort ideas for dad? Uncommon Goods has a lot! How about something cozy to rest with while snuggling a newborn? Or a special print to serve as a beautiful reminder of your love? (You know I love intentional decorating in our home!)
Time to recharge. Often, the mother is the one who receives most of the attention when we talk about needing a break or time to recharge. And with good reason, I know. But dad’s need to recharge too, and accepting this has been incredibly helpful for my heart and my marriage. Freeing my husband up to do what he loves means he comes home less stressed and more ready to take on life with a newborn. It truly is a win-win, and an essential during the postpartum period!
If you are in the postpartum period now, or will be again soon, I hope this list helps to give you fresh ideas for making the season more comfortable and enjoyable.
One essential I did not list, but is more important than all of these, is grace. Heaps and heaps of grace. For you, for your kids, for your spouse. This season is hard. Don’t expect it to be otherwise. Simply focus on loving your baby, bearing with one another with patience, and creating moments to truly enjoy each other!
What are some of your postpartum essentials?