There are few things more exciting—or frankly, more nerve-wracking—than bringing home your first baby from the hospital. Perhaps you’re trying to prepare for this special moment by stocking up on newborn essentials and loading your freezer with pre-made meals. And those are excellent first steps! But the truth is, those cute baby pajamas and frozen lasagnas aren’t nearly enough to prepare you for the first week with a newborn. What you really need to arm yourself with is knowledge. With that in mind, here is a glimpse of what you can expect during the first week with a newborn—plus, a few tips to help first-time parents feel less stressed and more confident with their new bundle of joy.
Bringing Baby Home from the Hospital: What New Parents Should Know
Once you bring your baby home from the hospital, you may feel a sudden rush of anxiety. At home, there are no nurses to teach you how to dress a newborn or lactation consultants to help you with breastfeeding. The daunting task of navigating the newborn period now rests squarely on you and your partner’s shoulders.
The first thing you need to do when you come home from the hospital? Take a deep breath and remind yourself of these facts:
- Fact #1: The nurses wouldn’t have let you leave the hospital if they thought you were incapable of handling your newborn. Seriously, you can do this!
- Fact #2: Your doctor has carefully examined your baby and deemed them healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital. All you need to do is maintain the routine that was established in the hospital.
- Fact #3: You don’t need to do this alone. Accept help from your partner and family members. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you have any questions. Remember, it takes a village!
The first week with a newborn can be extremely rough. Feeling overwhelmed, inadequate and frustrated beyond measure is completely normal.
Preparing for Baby
Already stressing about bringing your baby home from the hospital? Try to channel all of that nervous energy into planning and preparing for the baby. To help you stay calm while you wait, here is a simple checklist of things to do before your little one arrives:
- Prep the nursery. C’mon, we know that you’re excited to decorate the baby’s nursery! These days, there are so many cute and stimulating nursery designs that are sure to delight both you and your little one. No matter which nursery theme or design you choose, remember to stock up on diapers, wipes and baby clothes.
- Stock up on baby basics. You don’t need to buy every single item you see on popular baby articles. Stick with the basics and add to your list as you see fit. Some good items to stock up on include the following: bodysuits, sleepers, bibs, burp cloths, baby blankets, diapers and basic health supplies.
- Find a pediatrician. Your baby will need a newborn checkup within the first week of life. Why not use this time to look for a pediatrician? Once you find a pediatrician, let them know your due date so they’ll know when to anticipate your call.
- Consider your work life. If you haven’t figured out your work situation yet, now is a good time to figure it out. Does your company offer maternity leave? Are you planning to go back to work after your baby arrives? Talk to your boss about your options and start looking for childcare centers in advance.
- Take care of yourself. Putting off a dentist appointment? Need a yearly health checkup? Just feel like getting a massage? You’re going to be pressed for time once your little one comes, so consider scheduling those things before the baby arrives. You’ll be glad you did!
All About Diapering
Another thing you should expect? Lots and lots of diaper changes. The sheer number of diaper changes a newborn goes through in a single day (about 10 to 15 on average) can be overwhelming for new parents. It can also be super expensive if you’re using disposable diapers, which is one of the many reasons why we recommend using cloth diapers for your little one.
Don’t be intimidated by cloth diapers. While it’s true that cloth diapers are a little more work than disposables, they make perfect sense for many families. Cloth diapers are natural, sustainable and safe for your baby. They can also save you a bunch of money, especially during the first year of baby’s life! Once you get the hang of washing and folding cloth diapers, you’ll never look back.
Thinking about giving cloth diapers a try? Learn more about how to wash cloth diapers on the Gerber Childrenswear blog.STOCK UP ON CLOTH DIAPERS
Soothing and Bonding with Your Baby
If you think that your life has been turned upside down by your little one’s arrival, consider what it’s like from your baby’s perspective. Newborns crave lots of physical touch, particularly during that first week. This is a great opportunity to bond with your baby while responding to their desire to be touched. One effective way to bond with your little one is by using baby swaddling blankets to recreate the warm, comforting sensation of the womb. Just make sure that you’re swaddling your baby safely by following the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safety guidelines.
Here are a few additional ways to bond and soothe your infant:
- Skin-to-Skin Contact
- Gentle Baby Massage
- Humming or Singing Softly
- Taking the Baby for a Walk
It’s important to point out that babies under six months really can’t be spoiled. Crying is how newborns communicate their needs, so don’t worry about letting your baby “be the boss” for a while.
Baby’s First Bath
Giving a fragile newborn a bath can be a scary experience. And to make matters worse, your baby might not care for the experience much either. But don’t worry—it gets easier over time.
When bathing a newborn, make sure that you gather all of your supplies and have everything within arm’s reach. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Dry, Hooded Towel
- Clean Diaper
- Baby Soap
To prevent your baby from getting too cold, consider keeping them covered with one or two warm washcloths. It may also help to have the thermostat in your house turned up a little more after bathtime. Once the baby is out of the bath, you can wrap them up in a warm, hooded towel and dress them for bed.
Looking for more baby bath tips and advice? Check out our New Parents’ Guide to Baby’s Bath Time on the Gerber Childrenswear blog.
Dressing Your Newborn for Sleep
We probably don’t need to tell you that newborns spend a lot of time sleeping. On average, newborns should get 14 to 17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period, according to experts at Kids Health.
As your little one gets older, the amount of time they need to sleep will slowly decrease. But whether your baby is one week, one month or one year old, knowing how to dress them for sleep is key to maximizing your baby’s comfort and tranquility.
When dressing a newborn for sleep, always consider the season. For cold weather, you should keep your newborn’s arms, legs and feet covered. During the fall and winter, you can’t go wrong with a cute pair of footed pajamas! Footed pajamas have convenient snaps and zippers for quick and easy diaper changes. They’re also great for daytime play, which makes it a versatile garment for babies.
For warmer months, dress the baby in lightweight fabrics that will keep them covered yet cool. A short-sleeve bodysuit or footed pajamas in breathable cotton are both great options for babies.
Give Yourself Grace
The first week with a newborn is one of the toughest for new parents, so do yourself a big favor and let go of perfection. It’s OK for the dishes to pile up. It’s OK that your home is a total mess. Focus on bonding with your new bundle of joy and getting sleep whenever you can!