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Amazing Parenting Hacks We Wish We Knew the First Time Around

Photograph by Twenty20

What second-time parenting hacks are out there that first-timers need to know about? You know, not overarching sentiments like "Chill out," but specific, concrete and actionable tips.

For me, it's my dust buster. I use it every day, multiple times a day, on dried peas and beans, Cheerios, old Play-Doh bits, stray hairs, construction paper clippings, breadcrumbs, annoying choking hazard-sized Legos. Oh how satisfying it is to suck them up the nozzle, then watch as I crack open the dust bowl from the base and shake the crap into the garbage. That little moment of cleaning zen is therapeutic, even. Plus, by allowing me to strategically spot-clean, it saves me from having to break out the Swiffer. Bonus: Our 4-year-old will often ask to "clean" for me, entertaining herself with it until the charge runs out.

Sadly, I didn't have this dust buster for my first two years of parenting. It wasn't until baby No. 2 came along that, at my father's suggestion, I purchased one. It was the best $30 I ever spent.

What other things did practiced moms and dads wish they had known the first time around? Here's what I found—the first few and the last are mine, and the rest are from veteran parents.

RELATED: 5 Things I Wish I Had Known About Birth Injuries

1. Easy-to-clean silicone bibs

I can't believe how many of waterproof bibs I went through with No. 1. They get stinky and have to be thrown out every few months. But the silicone ones? They clean with just a splash of water, are durable, never smell and last forever.

2. Diaper blowout hack

You know those little envelope folds on the shoulders of onesies? They're actually there to help you take off the onesie from the top-down, in case Baby has a diaper blow out. That way you won't get poop all over her head.

RELATED: How to Remove a Dirty Onesie

These next few are from Victoria, a mom of three:

3. No one needs a wipe warmer when you can hold it in your hand for three seconds

4. Dimmer switches are a must

5. Keep different toys in bins

New day = new bin = new toys, instead of all of them out all the time

6. Keep Magic Erasers in stock

They didn't have those until my third baby, and Mommy is less stressed when clean-up is easier.

7. Short hair, don't care

"We have two daughters here. We let No. 1 grow her hair out, and it is a pain to deal with in the morning. With our second daughter, she has short hair until she can make a choice (and do it herself)." – Pete, dad of two

8. Two bins in the closet

"One for clothes they just grew out of (just toss them into place in long-term storage or donate later) and another for items that will fit them soon. This way their drawers aren't overcrowded, and you don't feel like you're constantly digging for something that actually fits." – Jenny, mom of one

9. Nurse lying down during overnight hours (I second this!)

"It's doable even if you aren't especially voluptuous, like me." – Jenny, mom of one

10. Step stools in multiple rooms

"That way, big sibling can reach a book or sippy cup without having to get Mommy, who is busy feeding or diapering the baby." – Jennifer, mom of four

11. Giving birth soon? Stock up on these items

"Have your house stocked with Tylenol, multiple sizes of diapers and chocolate for when you return from the hospital. Tylenol for the pain, multiple sizes of diapers in case your baby is bigger or smaller than expected, and chocolate for obvious reasons." – Kate, mom of two

12. It is WAY easier to continue diapering (even if you're beyond sick of it) than it is to attempt to potty train a kid who isn't really ready

"With No. 1, I tried to push it probably a little too early and just ended up extending the process over several months and creating a giant headache for myself. With No. 2, I've been super laid-back about it (as far as I'm concerned, she can continue to wear diapers into middle school), and ironically it seems to have had the effect of piquing her interest. Anyway, I know now it's better to start when they're READY and be done quickly than start too early and be done eight months later." – Jennifer, mom of two

13. Get two car seat bases for your infant car seat

That way you can bring the car seat in your spouse's car, a taxi/Uber, your parents' car, etc. – Cindy, mom of three

14. Go everywhere with the baby before they're mobile. Restaurants. Flights. Errands.

"Life is so easy in the infant pumpkin car seat or wrap … and when baby only needs milk. Life is so hard once the baby can move (and run down airplane aisles) and requires a children's menu that they throw on the floor." – Jonna, mom of three

15. Combo-feed

"I did combo-feeding (adding just one bottle of formula at bedtime) instead of exclusive, and it was SO much less stressful." – Sara, mom of two

16. Costco brand diapers are fine

"Don't pay $10 more for the box of Huggies." – Bianca, mom of two

17. Skip baby food and just mash up whatever you are eating

"Texture in food is good for babies!" – Andrea, mom of four

18. Ditch the sanitizers

"With the first, I sanitized everything. I hate to admit it, but even the public swing. Way overboard! This time around, I have not done that, and he is healthier, barely ever sick." – Jill, mom of two

RELATED: What a Lotus Birth Really Looks Like

19. If you're alone, feed them dinner in the bath

"This way you don't have dinner table messes to clean up, and you can avoid a pre-bath wipe down of Baby and everything she touches." – Rebecca, mom of two

20. Steam room hack

When baby's nose is stuffy, instead of waiting forever for the shower to run and steam up the bathroom (wasting gallons of water in the process), turn on the humidifier, sit down in front of it with baby in your lap, and drape a large towel over your and your little one's head, as well as the humidifier. The tented towel traps the steam and creates your own little instant steam room. Just be careful to keep the baby away from the direct line of steam, for safety reasons, and have a few books or toys nearby to distract her.

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