Checklist: What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Are you an expecting mama whose due date is quickly approaching? You may be one of the many expecting moms out there: August and September are the most popular birth months in the United States! Your little one will be here before you know it, and it may feel like you have a lot left on your to-do list. We’re here to remind you about an important thing you shouldn’t forget in your third trimester: getting your hospital bag ready. If you’re not sure where to start or what essentials you need to include, our hospital bag checklist can help.

What to pack for yourself

This mini checklist is for Mom. If you’d rather split these items into two bags, we suggest using one hospital bag for labor and another hospital bag for recovery/postpartum.

Labor bag items

  • Photo ID, insurance information, hospital paperwork, and birth plan, if you have one. Copies of your birth plan come in handy in case the medical team needs to refer to it.
  • A robe and socks, for walking around during or after labor
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Deodorant
    • Lip balm
    • Hairbrush and hair ties
    • Regular or dry shampoo
    • Cleansing wipes
    • Body lotion
  • Eyeglasses if you wear them. If you wear contacts, bring a case and contact solution so you can remove them if necessary.
  • Your phone and phone charger
  • Snacks, drinks, or change for vending machines
  • Entertainment to help you relax. Books, a tablet, or an MP3 player can help you pass the time.
  • Extra comfort items like a favorite pillow, slippers, or a sleep mask

Recovery bag items

After the delivery, you’ll need the following items:

  • A going home outfit. You’ll need loose, comfy clothes in 6-month maternity sizes since your uterus needs time to heal and get back to its pre-pregnancy size.
  • Maternity bra and nursing pads. Even if you don’t plan to nurse, they can help with support and leak protection
  • A few pairs of comfortable, breathable underwear

You may not need these items, but they can be nice to have:

  • Nursing pillow
  • Breast pump
  • Nipple shields and nipple cream
  • Bath towel

What to pack for your partner

Since your birth partner will spend a lot of time with you in the maternity ward, don’t forget to pack some essentials for them, too.

  • Phone and charger
  • An extra change of clothes
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Deodorant
    • Lip balm
    • Hairbrush and accessories
    • Regular or dry shampoo
    • Contact lens case and solution
  • Pillow in case they need to spend the night
  • Snacks, drinks, or change for the vending machines
  • Entertainment like books, magazines, computer, tablet, or music player
  • Camera, memory card, charger, and batteries. If you’re using a camera rather than a phone to take photos, make sure you bring it and all the accessories you need.
  • List of people to text or call once Mom is in labor!

What to pack for baby

Hospitals will provide you with onesies and a baby blanket or two for swaddling your newborn. Plus, they’ll give you diapers, wipes, and other care items you’ll need, so leave a little room in your bags to take everything home.

  • Approved infant car seat. You’ll need one before leaving the hospital, so make sure the base is installed in your car safely.
  • A coming-home outfit. Remember to make it seasonally appropriate, and bring a few different sizes just in case.
  • Warm blankets for the ride home
  • Your pediatrician’s contact info

Final thoughts

Keep your length of stay in mind when you’re packing your hospital bag. You might also ask your hospital what they provide for mothers so you can remove those items from your list. Some common items they provide for moms include maternity pads, disposable underwear, hospital gowns, and non-skid socks. 

Once your bag is packed, you’re all set! Keep your hospital bag in your car or near the front door, and you’ll be more than ready for your new baby’s arrival.

Read more

Quick Tips for Finding Zen as a Parent

Some days, it seems like you’re so busy that one mishap can derail your entire schedule. If you wake up just 10 minutes late, you feel like you’re playing catch up for the rest of the day.

On those days, it can often feel like things are spinning out of control. You may feel like you’re powerless to get your day back on track. We feel you. During tough days like this, finding a short moment of zen can work wonders. And the best part is, you don’t need a lot of time to recharge and feel better. Read our ideas for how busy moms can find zen and hit their reset button in a snap.

Take 5 to 10 minutes to meditate

Meditation doesn’t have to be a complicated practice, nor does it have to be a long one. In fact, meditation app Headspace notes that meditating frequently is more beneficial than meditating for long periods of time. When you practice meditation, you’ll reduce feelings of stress and anxiousness. For parents, fitting meditation into your schedule can seem like a chore. Start by doing it once a day when you have a moment of calm. You’ll quickly see that it’s worth making meditation a habit.

The act itself is easy. Get into a comfortable sitting position and focus on your breaths in and out. Notice where your thoughts go, then bring them back to your breath. If you’re brand new to the practice, try this one-minute mini meditation for guidance. When you’re ready for something longer, try a 5-minute mindful breathing meditation. Once you’ve begun making meditation a habit, you can find 10-minute guided practices on YouTube or through apps like Headspace.

Enjoy nature with a walk outside

When you can, take your meditation practice outside for an extra dose of endorphins from nature. Or if you want to kick some sluggishness or relieve stress, go on a quick walk outside. A walk can loosen any tension built up in your muscles, and it’ll help you get out of your head. Are you waiting for your kids to get released from school? Park your car and stroll outside for a few minutes. After dinner and the kids’ bedtime, take a longer walk around your neighborhood if you can. It’s a nice way to put some distance between you and anything that’s causing you stress. During your walk, focus on how the sun, air, breeze, or night sky feels. Take deep, nourishing breaths. We guarantee you’ll feel ready to tackle what’s next. 

Get your heart pumping with a quick workout

Need a more intense stress-relieving activity, but don’t have time for a full workout class? Get your heart pumping with a quick high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. You’ll push your body hard and fast through a series of 12 bodyweight exercises in just 7 minutes. A typical workout takes you through 30 seconds of an exercise like push ups, squats, or jumping jacks, with 10 seconds of rest in between. After 12 exercises, you’re done. 

Mamas looking for short and fiery workouts they can do at home can give one of these HIIT workout videos a try. Remember to do each exercise safely and drink plenty of water, especially if you’re new to HIIT.

Escape by reading, writing, or listening to music

When you have a moment of quiet to yourself, fight the urge to check your emails or get lost in your phone. Escape into a book that you’ve been wanting to read. (You can even work your way through a book of poems, essays, or short stories if they are easier to digest in short periods.) Write down your thoughts in a journal, or reorganize your thoughts by making a to-do list in your planner. Find your center again by popping on some headphones and listening to music. Close your eyes and let yourself get lost in the music. After a few minutes of any of these activities, you’ll start to feel better.

Treat yourself

Find yourself dwelling on your to-do list? Sometimes treating yourself is one of the best things you can do to boost your mood. And treating yourself means letting yourself do something you enjoy. Get a pedicure, enjoy a face mask, have that bar of chocolate you’re craving, buy a new house plant, take a nap, or brew an extra cup of coffee or tea. Make it your own, and don’t feel guilty about it!

If you’re curious about sleep training but feel that it’s more of a luxury, think of it as a way to treat yourself and your family to a night of deep, restful sleep. A baby who is struggling with sleep can exhaust parents and other family members. With help from Sleep by Rachelle, a customized sleep training program, you’re sure to find your zen when you need it most.

Read more

How to Swaddle Your Baby Safely

Swaddling your baby is a simple way to keep your baby warm and secure by using a snugly fastened blanket. It can also be a source of comfort to your baby, since it mimics the familiar feeling of being inside the womb. However, when not done properly, swaddling can be unsafe. That’s why it’s important for parents to know how to swaddle their baby safely. Follow our guidelines for swaddling safely so you can soothe your baby or help lull them to sleep.

Choose a swaddle blanket

A ready-made swaddle blanket is a little more sophisticated than a simple thin blanket, but both can be used for swaddling. If you want something that will take the guesswork out of swaddling, choose one that fastens with Velcro, zippers, or hook and loop closures. Some highly-rated favorite swaddle blankets include the Halo Sleepsack and the SwaddleMe Original Swaddle

If you’re comfortable with swaddling your little one in a blanket, you can take some home with you from the hospital: they’re free! Or, try a cotton muslin blanket by popular brand aden + anais. They come in all sorts of adorable patterns, and they’re versatile enough to work as more than just swaddle blankets. You can use them as stroller blankets, nursing covers, or burp cloths in a pinch. 

Once you have your swaddle blanket picked out, you’re ready to swaddle your baby.

Lay the blanket in a diamond shape, and fold the top corner down

Arrange your blanket on a flat surface into a diamond shape. Then, fold the top corner down towards the center. The top of the blanket should now form a straight line.

Place baby face-up on the blanket

Place your baby face-up on the blanket. His neck should rest along the top edge of the corner that you folded down. Gently place his right arm (your left) alongside his body, leaving it slightly bent.

Pull the swaddle securely across your baby’s chest and arm 

Take that same side of the swaddle and pull it across your baby’s right arm and chest. Tuck the end of the fabric under baby, leaving his left arm (your right) free. 

Fold the bottom of the swaddle up and over baby’s feet

Next, fold the bottom of the swaddle up and over your baby’s feet. Tuck the end of the fabric into the top of the swaddle. Your baby’s legs and right arm should be covered at this point. While his right arm should be snug to discourage wriggling out of the swaddle, his legs and feet should be able to move around.

Pull and secure the other corner of the blanket to finish swaddling

Then, gently straighten your baby’s left arm, and pull the remaining corner of the blanket snugly across his body. Tuck the end of the fabric underneath him to secure the swaddle. Make sure the swaddle is nice and tight, but leaves enough room for the legs and feet to move.

Safety tips for swaddling

  • Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, especially when swaddling. 
  • Make sure that your swaddle can’t come loose, which can smother your baby.
  • When your baby learns how to roll onto his stomach, stop swaddling. Your baby may also begin to fuss or fight the swaddle, signaling that it may be time to stop swaddling. This often happens between two and six months.
  • Babies’ legs need room to bend up and out at the hips, so don’t force your baby’s legs to extend or make that section too tight. Restricting movement can lead to developmental dysplasia of the hip
  • Not all babies enjoy being swaddled. It’s common for babies to fuss at first when being introduced to swaddling, but if yours seems happier without it, then that’s okay!

Swaddling can work wonders for soothing a fussy baby or encouraging sleep. If you need more guidance on sleep training methods or soothing techniques, Sleep by Rachelle is here to help! Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle method or reach out to us with your questions now.

Read more

What Does a Sleep Coach Do?

For new parents, settling your baby into a decent sleep schedule can be exhausting. And if you turn to friends, parent groups, baby books, or your pediatrician for advice, it may seem like they all have something different to say. What can you do?

If you’re considering hiring a sleep specialist to help you and your baby, but you’re not sure what you’re actually hiring them to do, read on.

What is a sleep coach?

A baby sleep coach may have other names: sleep specialist, sleep consultant, or sleep training expert. Whatever their title may be, a sleep specialist typically works with families to help their baby fall asleep and stay asleep. The sleep training method may vary depending on the sleep specialist. Some will examine your baby’s sleep habits and health history. Others will analyze your baby’s feeding schedule and nutrition. A sleep coach’s methods may depend on their past experience with other clients, their own children, or their education and training.

To get the best help for you and your baby, you want a sleep specialist who has a lot of experience working with many families, not just someone who has worked with her own family or a handful of others. Each baby is different, which is why experience is so important!

What is working with a sleep coach like?

Every sleep coach is different, especially since there are many different methods of sleep training out there. When you first contact a baby sleep consultant, in some cases they may ask you to do a sleep study with your baby in a pediatric sleep office, which may rule out sleep disorders. However, most baby sleep consultants will work with you in your home where the family is most comfortable.

Many sleep coaches will ask you to answer questions about your baby and family before visiting your home. Then, they’ll create a feeding and sleep schedule for you to implement. With Sleep by Rachelle, your baby’s sleep cycles are used to create a customized sleep program. Rachelle also looks at your baby’s digestive system and nervous system in order to create a comprehensive sleep plan, which not all sleep coaches do. She also takes your family’s individual needs and habits into account. Most importantly, Rachelle knows that it’s not easy listening to your baby cry: Sleep by Rachelle’s sleep training method is gentle for both baby and parents. Giving a voice to your baby to help clear up the confusion around night wakes.

Interested? Schedule a complimentary sleep assessment.

How do I know it’s time to hire a sleep coach?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already considering hiring one. Some other signs you’re ready for a sleep coach include:

  • You and your partner have experienced so many sleepless nights that it’s affecting your daytime routine. You feel like a zombie.
  • Your baby is at least 4 months old and doesn’t show any signs of a health condition related to sleeping (that you should bring up with your pediatrician.)
  • You’ve tried working through your baby’s sleep struggles, but you can’t seem to get past it.
  • You’re overwhelmed by all the conflicting opinions about sleep training methods.
  • You’re not sure how your baby’s feeding habits are affecting their sleep schedule.
  • You’ve tried one sleep training method before, but you didn’t like it.
  • You’re ready to try one approach and stick with it, but you’re not sure which to choose.

Do some of these signs sound familiar? If so, you’re ready for an experienced sleep coach to help ease your stress. Get in touch with Sleep by Rachelle to learn more about your customized sleep program. We’re here for you.

Read more

Introducing Sleep by Rachelle

Hi parents and families! We’re so excited to introduce you to Sleep by Rachelle!

I’m Rachelle: infant sleep and development expert, author of Creating Sweet Dreams, mother of four, and founder of Maternal Instincts and Sleep by Rachelle. Sleep by Rachelle is a customizable sleep training program that works toward pinpointing and reversing what keeps your baby (and you) awake at night.


Why work with me?

I have 17 years of experience working with families in their homes. That’s what sets Sleep by Rachelle apart from other sleep training programs. Frustrated parents looking for help can rest more easily when they know they’re working with a trained, experienced sleep expert rather than someone relying just on her own experience. By working with families and babies of all kinds I’ve learned techniques and approaches that you can’t get from working with one family alone. Being a mother of four has taught me a lot, but having the opportunity to work with other parents and their babies has been invaluable.

In addition to my years of experience, I have a degree in Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Services from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Food and digestion plays an important part in your baby’s sleep schedule, so every customized Sleep by Rachelle plan takes your baby’s nutrition into account too.  

Parents, you might think this period of sleepless nights with your fussy baby is just a phase that you “get through.” I understand that point of view. However, treating it like a phase means neither you, your spouse, your baby, nor your other family members are getting the rest they need. You CAN work through it now so your family can find peaceful sleep.
Learn more about the Sleep by Rachelle program or reach out with your questions during a complimentary sleep assessment. We’re ready to help.

Read more

European Baby Formula- Major Sleep Regressions in the First Year

– When you think of sleep in the first year so many things will come to mind. When will your baby start sleeping through the night is usually the first one. This is followed by my baby was sleeping through the night and no longer is….regressions ….WHY? To when should my baby be napping? Does my baby nap enough? Finally we are to no more questions and simply making statements……My baby is overtired because they don’t sleep day or night…..They can’t sleep…..My baby is broken….and so am I!!

All jokes aside, this is a tough thing for the majority of parents during the first year. Baby Created Sleep was built to give parents a better understanding of sleep development in the first year and tools on how to approach both daytime and night time sleep.

I am breaking down the biggest milestones in sleep, the famous “ SLEEP REGRESSIONS”.

So why would a baby go from sleeping extended hours in the night to waking up every 1-3 hours again?

Read more