• parents with newborn baby

    Photo from barnesjewish.org

    After all the preparation and anticipation, it’s now time to bring Baby home - and you realize you’ve no clue what to do. If this sounds like you, don’t panic. When the reality sets in that another human being is now completely dependent upon you, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and worried. Use this guide to help get you through the first night with Baby.

    Bringing Baby Home
    If you’re riding home in your own car, make sure that the car seat is installed and ready to go well before you set foot outside the hospital. It’s best to practice setting up the seat over and over with your partner while you’re still pregnant. That way, amidst the panic of getting to the hospital, it’ll be one less thing to worry about since it will be second nature to set it all up.

    Ensure that the baby’s head is supported during the entire ride home. Baby might fall asleep on the way (newborns tend to love movement!), and it might tempt you to take the whole carseat-with-baby into the house, but most experts advise against it, claiming that sleeping upright may increase your newborn’s risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Take Baby out of the carseat and lay him/her on the bed or crib.

     

    Sleeping
    Your baby can sleep up to 20 hours in a day, but not for long periods of time - usually only 1-4 hours at a time. You may already be anticipating sleepless nights, but it’s important to find time to sleep and care for yourself, too. It’s best to sleep when your baby sleeps, and it will be helpful to coordinate with someone- a partner, a grandparent, or a trusted yaya - to help watch the baby while you nap. Take advantage of your free time to get much-needed rest and finish doing things around the house.

    Ensure that the room temperature is neither too hot nor too cold, Most experts agree that it’s best to designate a place for the baby to sleep and stick to it, whether it’s on a bed, in a crib, co-sleeper, or Moses basket. This will train your child so he/she knows that when he or she is in that space, it’s time to sleep.

     

    Crying
    You’re exhausted and probably feeling weak, and now your baby is constantly crying. Don’t let the frustration get the best of you. Crying happens when your child is hungry, needs changing, or isn’t feeling well and needs to get your attention. Through process of elimination you should be able to pinpoint the problem. If you suspect that there’s something wrong with the baby, seek help immediately. That being said, however, it’s a good idea to check for signs that indicate an emergency, such as fever or blood in the baby’s poo.

    They love to be swaddled, as it replicates the cozy environment in your belly. However, there’s no “best” way to soothe a crying baby- you’ll have to experiment with different things to see what works for him/her: swaying back and forth, taking a walk, letting the baby suck on your finger, etc. Keep trying and your diligence will pay off once you realize what triggers your baby’s relaxation.

    Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself - make sure to discuss a schedule with your partner and relatives to help with taking care of the baby as well. If you’re breastfeeding, your partner or another relative can take over during non-feeding times. It’s a good idea to take the baby away from the room and only return when he or she is asleep. This allows you or your partner to get some uninterrupted zzz’s, and allows for a separate bonding time between parent and baby.

     

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    Feeding
    Typically, your baby feeds about every 1-4 hours, counting the time at the start of each feeding. It’s best to listen to baby rather than force-feed him at exact intervals. If you’re breastfeeding, feeding on demand will help alleviate engorged breasts. Expect each feeding to take up to 45 minutes, but on average, a baby will spend 10-20 min on each breast, or go through several ounces of formula, whichever the case may be. However, there will be times when you’ll find yourself stuck in a rocker, couch, or chair for more than 45 minutes. Thus, it’s important to get comfortable, and have some water and healthy snacks handy, along with a book, magazine, TV remote, and telephone nearby.

    If you choose to bottle-feed, don’t forget to take into consideration the time it takes to warm the bottles and prepare the milk. Familiarize yourself with the warmer ahead of time so that you’re not caught with a hungry baby in one hand and a milk-warmer manual on the other.

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