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First Few Weeks with Baby
by Rebecca Garland

 

A new baby is exciting and a lot of work. Many parents don’t realize exactly what they are up against until that baby is home away from the experienced nurses of the hospital and a far cry from a call button waiting just in case of question or emergency. New parents may feel overwhelmed, but the first few weeks of parenthood are one of the most precious times of your life – you just don’t realize it yet.

Coming Home
Coming home from the hospital is a momentous occasion. You’ve got the outfits and the welcoming banner and balloons. Hopefully loving arms are waiting to help with the baby and transition, but eventually you will be faced with parenting on your own. Things seem more complicated in the wide expanses of your home. Where should the baby sleep? How much formula should go in a bottle? Should you still be recording feedings and diapers?

First Things First
When you come home, the first things to worry about are the necessities.

Your baby doesn’t care if the nursery is finished or if the house is in pristine condition. She simply wants food, a clean diaper, love and place to sleep. So be ready to welcome her properly before you leave for the hospital.

Food
Buy and sterilize your bottles if you are bottle feeding, and be sure you have a comfortable place to sit for feedings. Have the right kind of nipples and liners on hand, and if you are formula feeding, be ready with a can of formula. The hospital most likely sent you home with samples, but plan on heading to the store in the first twenty-four hours to stock up with the brand of formula you’ve been using. Remember to get distilled water if you are using powdered formula. This is an excellent job for new fathers.

The first few weeks are a bit confusing for parents and baby as they figure out how much to eat at a sitting. Breastfeeding takes a few days or weeks to feel normal to everyone, so dad should be supportive and help mom feel comfortable and relaxed so she can focus on figuring it out. In a matter of weeks, feedings will be smooth sailing.

If you are formula feeding or pumping, make bottles with 2 ounces for each feeding. You can always add more if your baby is still hungry, but leftover milk can not be used again. Remember to throw out the leftovers after an hour.

Feedings are one of the most stressful things about the first few weeks at home. A newborn can start a new feeding every two hours around the clock, and take up to forty-five minutes in a sitting. Parents should sleep as much as possible day and night to stay somewhat caught up. Take turns napping or feeding if possible to avoid too much sleep deprivation. Eventually your baby will sleep a bit longer at night which will make nights more bearable.

Clean and Comfortable
It is imperative that you keep your baby clean and comfortable. That being said, your little one does not need a full wardrobe in the first few weeks. She can be very comfortable in a dry diaper, t-shirt and blanket.

Newborn attire is simple. The belly button should be exposed, so that limits wardrobe options to a shirt. Throw on some booties or socks, and your little one is dressed for the day. Then, after putting on a clean diaper, wrap her tightly in a blanket to swaddle her up and she should be quite content – at least until her next feeding.

Babies can go through up to twelve or fourteen diapers in a day, thanks to their frequent feedings and frequent bowel movements. That means the diapers the hospital sent home are not going to last more than a few days. If you didn’t buy a large pack of newborn diapers before delivery, dad or visiting relatives can pick up a pack in the first day or two.

And don’t forget the wipes. Newborn bottoms are very sensitive, so find the gentlest wipes you can and you might even opt for water and a washcloth to cut down on irritating soap. Grab some diaper ointment while you are out for the almost inevitable diaper rash from all those dirty diapers.

While you never want to run out of diapers, avoid stocking up too heavily on newborn and size 1 diapers. Babies grow so quickly it will only be a matter of days or weeks before they have outgrown those sizes, and you don’t want to be left with expensive diapers you can’t use.

Sleep
Newborns will spend the first few weeks sleeping almost around the clock. Encourage this by keeping them clean, dry and swaddled. Babies can be picky about their choice of bed. They prefer close quarters, so an expansive crib might be intimidating. Some babies sleep well laying on dad’s chest or in mom’s arms.

Enjoy this time, but be sure you also allow your little one to sleep in the bassinet or co-sleeper, too. Not only will it keep her safer while you are trying to rest, it will create the kind of good sleeping habits you’ll need when your little angel realizes she has some say about her treatment. And don’t worry – she will let you know her preferences about everything in good time.

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