13 Lifesaving Life Hacks for First-Time Parents

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You're sleep-deprived, covered in someone else's bodily fluids, and having the time of your life. Welcome to parenting! Here are a bundle of hacks for bringing up baby brilliantly (while holding on to some semblance of sanity).

1. Going out? Pack your diaper bag with a few leak-proof dog housetraining pads for quicker, cleaner visits to the public changing table.  

2. When a knife just won’t cut it, quickly slice solid food for older babies with a pizza cutter.  

3. Sick babies hate medicine droppers, so give them what the doctor ordered by cutting a larger slit in an open pacifier and then dropping the liquid inside.

4. Spit-up stains are no match for good old-fashioned baking soda. If your baby’s made a mess on your upholstery, wipe off what liquid you can, then apply a paste of baking soda and water. Let it sit overnight, and then vacuum it up in the morning. 

5. Hang a canvas shoe caddy on the back of your car seat, then use the pockets to store any supplies you may need on the go. When your kid gets a bit older, use the space for books, toys, and other treats that will keep them occupied on car trips. 

6.  Why should standing babies have all the fun? Take two or all four legs off a play table and place it flat or at an angle on the floor. The legs will fit right back on when your baby's older.  

7. Spit (and worse) happens. Always pack an extra shirt for yourself in the diaper bag. Even better, choose a one-size-fits-all garment that can save the day for mom, dad, or the babysitter. 

8. When baby's number two is all over his onesie, use the folds on top to pull the clothing down over the shoulders and off the body, instead of removing it over the head. 

9. Everyone loves a bounce house. Skip the playpen and use an inflatable pool to make a safe play area for older babies and toddlers. 

10. Diaper rash cream is water-resistant, and thus, really hard to wash off your hands. Save your mitts and apply it with just your ring or pinky fingers. 

11. Protect rubber duckies and other bath toys from mold and mildew by plugging up the holes in the bottom with a hot glue gun. 

12. If your little one is teething, spread applesauce on a clean cloth, then roll it up and freeze it. The result: a soothing (and tasty) distraction from her gum pain. 

13. Dimmer switches—which are surprisingly easy to install—will help keep lights low and sleep-conducive during late-night feedings and diaper changes.