Connie Simpson is affectionately known among her clients as “Nanny Connie.” The live-in nanny has a pretty golden client list: Jessica Biel says Simpson was her postpartum “lifeline,” Jessica Alba brought in Simpson to help with her first baby, and Matt Damon calls her a member of his family. Over a career of more than 30 years spent taking care of more than 250 babies, Simpson has learned a thing or two about newborns. She shares her hard-earned wisdom in her book, The Nanny Connie Way, where she takes expectant parents from pregnancy to birth to the first four months of parenthood with her signature sass and no-nonsense approach. Sprinkled throughout her chapters are stories from her clients about how real being a new mom or dad can be (like Lucy Damon joking about bubble-wrapping her kids with Matt Damon to keep them safe). Here, Simpson shares her best tips for tackling those tough early weeks.
1. Follow a set routine for ideal sleep
Emily Blunt swears by Simpson’s sleep style and wrote in her book, “This woman—no joke—could soothe a baby to sleep during a tsunami!” Simpson follows this simple routine with all of her babies and it hasn’t failed her yet. While she preps the bath, she places the baby under a mobile in her crib. “Your baby has spent nine months in amniotic fluid, which is the same temperature as your body, so she will relax in warm water,” she says. Simpson suggests a temp that is warm enough that the water will be lukewarm at the end of the bath. Post-bath, she dims the lights in the nursery, plays soothing music (without vocals), gives a gentle massage and reads a storybook. Next comes a feeding—whether on the bottle or breast—swaddling and a pacifier (reserved only for sleep), a simple good night and then lights out. Once you do this regularly, your baby will learn to fall asleep with ease. Babies thrive on routine, and Simpson swears that your baby will nod off easily if you stick to this routine.
2. Don’t forget to feed yourself
Simpson has spent many nights sitting with celebrities while they struggled to breastfeed. The mere act of feeding can be exhausting enough, so Simpson recommends a few tools to keep things calm. “Before the baby gets there, make sure that you set up your feeding station with a snack for yourself and a bottle of water,” says Simpson. Keep a journal of feedings so you’ll know what breast you fed on last, when your baby last ate and how long feedings went because your baby brain will never remember.
For moms who are breastfeeding, Simpson shares her best tips for maximum milk making. “Breastfeeding is truly an amazing thing, but it takes a lot out of you,” she says. “Eating right will give you some energy.” She recommends avocado toast with olive oil and a pinch of salt for a good amount of carbs and fat. To boost breastmilk production, Simpson preps meals with loads of butter in them and offers her clients a little bit of dark beer. “What I learned from Nanny Connie is that there’s no such thing as too much butter when breastfeeding!” says Jessica Biel. “Butter in oatmeal, butter in rice, butter on steak, butter on skillet toast, butter in coffee. Butter apparently cures. Turns out, it’s also a crucial part of a child’s brain development.”
3. Set up a relaxing bathtime routine for you and your baby
Nothing can be more unnerving than bathing your newborn for the first time. Even John Krasinski filmed Simpson while she bathed his first daughter, Hazel, to master her techniques. (She likes to bath babies in front of a mirror so that they can turn and look at themselves and be transfixed as they get older.) While prepping the bath water, get out all your tools: a soft washcloth, a clean diaper, a towel and pyjamas. Simpson adores baby bathtubs with built-in slings and hammocks. “Thank the good Lord for whoever invented them because now you can move their little bodies, wash their bodies and scrub their heads without fear of dropping them,” says Simpson. She washes a baby’s face first, gently cleaning out tear ducts with a soft washcloth. Next, she throughly cleans a baby’s hands and butt. If your baby has hair, cradle your baby’s head, apply a small amount of unscented shampoo on a baby brush and rub gently in circular motions. Gently clean the genitals and then swaddle your baby in a towel. Right after bathtime, massage your baby’s skin with shea butter while her skin is still damp to lock in the most moisture.
If you’re feeling nervous, take a deep breath and calm yourself. “Bathtime is very important because baths teach your child how to relax and be OK,” says Simpson. The more relaxing bathtime can be, the easier your sleep ritual can become, too.
4. Before heading out, stock your diaper bag and car with essential supplies
As new parents, you might feel the urge to pack every baby item you own in your diaper bag, but Simpson suggests keeping it light. “Your diaper bag shouldn’t put you in the hospital because you throw out a disc in your back from it being so heavy,” she says. Simpson recommends packing a “survivor’s kit” in your car or the bottom of your stroller with a large water bottle, snacks, an extra change of baby clothes and any other essentials. Be sure to restock and switch items out as your baby grows. “Put a picture or a list of what goes in the kit so that you and your partner can restock it,” she says. That way, your diaper bag only has diapers, wipes, diaper cream and a portable changing pad. Pack your diaper bag the night before a doctor’s appointment or any other big outing so that you have it ready when you head out the door.