Baby’s Here! Now What?
From the first contraction until the time you blissfully leave the hospital with your new bundle in your arms, the process of bringing a new life into the world is truly one of a kind. During your stay the hospital goes from a place of delivery to an intense tutorial in diaper changing and feeding with all kinds of nurses and lactation consultants on hand to discuss issues and offer suggestions for taking care of the little one.
Loading the baby into the car for the trip home, however, begins a new chapter of parenthood – one that must be completed without skilled on-call help or a well-staffed nursery down the hall.
For many new parents, the first true parenting lesson occurs as they walk through the front door. Armfuls of baby stuff, along with the baby, come in and then, suddenly, you are alone with your little one for the first time. What do you do now?
For the first few days, the baby will probably sleep far more than you think possible. This is the ideal time for parents to relax as much as possible and Mom to heal. Baby simply needs a safe place to sleep, nourishment, and loving arms during this time. Hospital freebies will keep you going for the first day or two, but then it will be time to take stock of your pre-delivery planning efforts.
While a registry had literally hundreds of items necessary for your little one, only a few will be required for the first week or two.
Diapers – Newborns go through quite a few diapers every day. Every two, three or four hours when baby is fed, he gets a new diaper. With up to twelve feedings a day, a newborn pack of diapers doesn’t last very long. Also, don’t be surprised if certain brands of diapers work better for your baby than others.
Wipes - Often newborns have a bowel movement during or after most feedings as the meconium clears the system. Even after the first movements are gone, breast milk and formula digests quickly. These diaper changes require as sensitive of wipes as possible. The tender skin of a newborn is highly susceptible to the soap on many wipes, so for many little ones, warm water may be the best clean up method to avoid little red bottoms.
Blankets and Burp Clothes – Some babies have a harder time keeping food down than others. Every baby has a bit of milk come back up occasionally and burp clothes are especially designed to catch these little “urps.” Blankets can serve a dual purpose of catching any spit-up as well as wrapping baby up tight, or swaddling, which has been shown to help little ones sleep better and feel more comfortable.
Easy Clothing – With all the liquids leaving your baby on a frequent basis, you want to be able to change outfits frequently and easily.
Complete outfits are often overkill at this early age, so many parents realize simple nightgowns, one-piece suits, or even pajamas are the easiest items to get on (and off) baby throughout the day and night.
Feeding Supplies – Even if you are planning to breastfeed, there may still be necessary equipment to have on hand. Breastfeeding moms may need pumps, storage bags and possibly bottles if they are pumping exclusively. Parents using formula for all feedings or as a supplement will need bottles, nipples, cleaning equipment and the formula itself. All feeding items (as well as pacifiers) must be sterilized before any use. For many moms, this task might be undertaken before heading to the hospital to avoid making a hungry baby wait five to ten minutes for water to boil.
Bedding – Newborns need to sleep and they don’t really care where. While cribs are standard, many parents opt for alternative bedding. Bassinets are popular, but are not useful for more than a few months. Portable cribs often have bassinet attachments which are great for early on and then can be removed later. Even a co-sleeper on a parent’s bed can be a safe place to sleep assuming the baby is under supervision. Moses baskets, bouncers, swings and even infant car seats are other sleep possibilities.
Every new parent needs help from time to time. A trusted manual from the pediatrician or from a respected author can help with questions that pop up about diaper rash, thrush or feeding schedules. Online communities and articles can offer almost instantaneous advice from parents who have been there before and can help get you through any tough spot.
Society does everything it can for new parents, so never be afraid to reach out to friends, family, professionals and others for as much help as you need. After all, it takes a village to raise a child, and if you don’t have one readily available, you might just need to make your own.
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