The early years of being a parent are some of the hardest to navigate. Everything is new. Your life is totally different. And you should take help when you can get it. So we put together a small collection of ways to hack parenting and make it a little easier for you.

Making homemade baby food is a great way to know exactly what goes into the food you’re feeding your precious little one, but it’s a hassle to do fresh every time. Make a big batch of food and then freeze it in ice cube trays. Store it in freezer bags in the fridge, and thaw a few cubes at a time when it’s time to eat.

Want to take your baby outside while you’re doing something, but don’t want them carried away by mosquitos? Take a fitted sheet from your child’s crib and put it over the top of your Pack ‘n Play. It keeps the bugs out and keeps your baby in the shade!

When you’re heading out, always bring backup clothes. Use big baggies to hold all the elements of the outfit (pants, socks, shirt, etc) together. When you need it, you can pull one item out. And then use the empty bag to store the soiled clothes.

A staple for a parent is a large collection of band-aids whenever you leave the house. They are for more than boo-boos. They can also be used for baby-proofing on the road. Place them over open outlets anywhere you are to protect your child.

Cut a pool noodle down one side and slide it on the edge of your door. Now the door has a bumper which will keep it from slamming shut on little fingers.

Whenever you’re baby proofing any location, make sure to get down on the child’s level. Crawl around on the floor and look around. You may notice challenges that you hadn’t from an adult perspective.

When your child can walk and possibly wander off, give them a simple craft bracelet made from beads you can get from any crafting store. Use beads with numbers to write out your phone number on the bracelet. That way if you are separated from your child, people can get a hold of you even if your child doesn’t know your phone number yet.

Don’t freak out if your child falls down. A parent reacting with a loud gasp or a panicked run over causes them to freak out as well. Children look to you on how to react. If you can tell they are not seriously hurt, a simple, “You’re good, buddy,” or “You’re all right,” can go a long way in having them get up and dust themselves off versus a crying meltdown.

If you have multiple children who use hand-me-downs, you can track which clothes belong to who by using dots on the tags. Put one dot for the original wearer. Each time the clothes get handed down, add another dot. Now sorting that mountain of laundry is a little easier.

Finally, got a mess that needs sweeping? Make it a game for your child to help. Use painter’s tape and make a square on the floor. Have your child sweep into the square, trying to get as much as they can in there. The child learns how to clean while having fun.

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