Parenting is hard. Really, really hard. There’s no rulebook, no how-to guide and certainly no way of knowing if you’re messing up. (Spoiler alert: You can’t really mess up if you’re doing everything with love.)
To help parents — especially new ones — on the battlefield, we’ve compiled a pretty stellar list of brilliant hacks you should consider trying out. Shoutout to all the moms who contributed!
1. Get your baby used to room-temperature liquids
Whether breastfed or formula-fed, the task of warming up a bottle can be annoying when you’re traveling, out for the day or doing night feeds. Getting your baby used to room-temperature liquids will save you time and worry.
2. Break out the water hose
Don’t have a pool? No problem! During the hot summer months, just hand your kids a hose and let them go to town on your lawn. It really is the best toy.
3. Make a pitcher of formula
By making a day’s worth of formula in the morning, you don’t have to make bottles on demand for a hungry baby. It also gives time for the bubbles to settle and helps with gas.
4. Have treasure hunts when you’re out
Let’s say you’re going to the museum. Stop at the gift shop first and have the kids pick out some postcards. Then walk around and locate the art from the postcards like a real treasure hunt. Fun + no whining = winning!
5. Fake ‘em out
Use a Tylenol syringe filled with water — aka medicine — for a toddler faking a nighttime illness. (Make sure he’s really faking, of course!) If there’s a real illness, consider letting your toddler take a spoonful of honey (or something sweet) first so it coats the tongue and they can’t taste the medicine as much.
6. Layer bedding
In a crib or bed, layer mattress pad then sheet, then second mattress pad and second sheet. In the middle of the night, if they have any accidents, you only have to strip off the top sheet and mattress pad to reveal the clean duo underneath.
7. Another use for a breast pump cylinder
The mini-size cylinders are perfect formula holders. They fit exactly two scoops of powdered formula and can easily be taken on the go and while traveling. Just pour the powder into water that’s already in your bottle and you’re good!
8. Changing table shortcut
Instead of constantly changing the sheet cover, use under-pads as an extra level of protection. When you’re done with the diaper change, simply throw out the under-pad and your changing pad cover remains clean.
9. Doggie poop bags
For whatever reason (hello, marketing!) baby diaper baggies are much more expensive than doggie poop bags, and they’re basically the same thing. Keep a roll in your bag, your car, and on your changing table. They are the sole reason I don’t believe in diaper pails. Why do you need to keep dirty diapers in your child’s room? Pack them up in a poop bag and bring them to the garbage in your home. You empty the garbage often enough, right?
10. Carry laundry easily
When it’s laundry time, take off the crib’s fitted mattress sheet and empty out the hamper into the sheet. Fold up all the sides and carry all the dirty clothes to your laundry room like you’re Santa Claus.
11. Temporary tattoos
If you’re venturing out to a large public place, say Disney, temporary tattoos by Tottoos has a really smart thing going. The customized child-safety product increases the chances of a lost child being found. Use them for kids going on field trips, to alert others of an allergy they may have and whatever else you can think up.
Next Up: More brilliant new mom hacks