1. The Book to Read
If you can only read one book, read this one. Or don't even read it: there's even a video version you can watch (which I haven't seen, but I liked the book. Its an easy read, and then you have it for reference.) Happiest Baby on the Block is about as close to a newborn how-to manual as you will ever get. I can't encourage this read enough. If you follow the 5 S's explained in the book, you will know what to do when your newborn cries and be able to quickly soothe them. There was maybe only one time in the first 6 months of my son's life that I couldn't stop his crying in less than 5 minutes. And within the first 2 months of his life, he was sleeping an average of 6-7 hours straight per night. Both my own mother and my mother-in-law said they wish they'd had this book when they had kids. It makes so much sense and gives you the knowledge and confidence that you know what to do when your newborn cries.
2. The Multi-Purpose Yoga Ball
This is an item I already had before becoming pregnant, but if I hadn't had it, I would definitely have gotten. This serves great purposes before and after the baby is born.
As you near the end of your 9+ months of pregnancy, being comfortable in your own body can be challenging. With the yoga ball, you can stretch your hips and back in baby-safe positions. It distributes your weight differently across your hips when you are sitting, and can ease some pressure discomfort. I would sit on it in the living room while watching TV in the evenings.
But the best advice I got: near the end of your pregnancy, sit on the ball and bounce slightly for a few minutes a day. This will introduce the motion to your baby in the womb. Then, once they are born, you can hold them and sit on the ball and bounce in the same way, and it will have a calming effect on them, as it will simulate the womb experience which will comfort them (see above book). And this will be something anyone holding the baby can do, so dad or grandma can provide the same comfort to baby. And trust me, your knees will thank you.
3. The Swaddle Transitioner
If you read the book above, or pay any attention to how the nurses wrap your newborn in the hospital, you will know that swaddling is very comforting to a newborn. But they don't need the confines of a tightly wrapped blanket forever. My son could not sleep without being tightly swaddled for the first 4+ months of his life. But then he started to want more freedom to move, but hadn't completely grown out of the moro reflex (again, read the book above) that caused him to start in his sleep and wake himself up. A friend of mine who had already gone through this with her sons, told me about these sacks called the Zipadee-zip. It looks pretty funny-- like a starfish. The ladies at my son's daycare had never seen anything like them, and laughed--but the length of my son's naps increased when he slept in these, which he did for a couple months until he didn't need them any longer. They come in cute patters, in warm fleece fabric and cooler cotton fabric. I got one of each fabric: cotton for day naps, fleece at night.
Hope one or all of these items help you in this new adventure. Remember to enjoy it, because time goes SO fast!
What are some unusual items that have helped you with your newborns?