You probably don't need to be told to baby-proof your home if you are adopting a baby. Chances are you have already done it. However, for parents adopting toddlers and even older kiddos who are three and four, don't discount the value of a child-proofed home. If your new family member has spent most of his or her life in an orphanage, your home will offer a lot of new things to explore -- and a lot of new dangers.
While you can probably trust that your biological four year old knows better than to stick something in an outlet because you've been telling her not to do that for almost four years, do not assume that your soon-to-be little will have that same knowledge. Look around and make a list of potential dangers, or better yet, ask a friend with a young toddler to bring her child over for a few well-supervised hours. There's no better way to find hidden dangers than to (very carefully) watch a little one find them for you!
Once you know your travel dates, do not forget to call your pediatrician to book a homecoming appointment for your new baby or child. This is particularly important if you have knowledge that he is in an orphanage where parasites or other illnesses are common. Children often come home with respiratory viruses or infections or other (usually minor) health issues. Knowing that you will be able to bring him in to your health care professional as soon as you're home, even though you will be tired, will give you peace of mind.
While this may sound a little pessimistic, it is not meant to be negative. A lot of adoptive parents who have not had easy transitions will say it. The point is to use this time to prepare yourself for difficulties you might face once your new child joins you, whether they are sleep issues, stress or health concerns. If you keep an open mind and expect that anything is possible, you'll probably find that things are a little easier than you anticipated once you welcome home our new addition.
If this is your first child, you are anxious to bring her home and rightfully so. However, don't forget that life as you know it will change, and while it will change for the better, your days of free time, opportunities to sleep, and dates with your spouse are about to end…or at least become very, very rare. Do a few of the things you won't be able to easily do once you're officially a parent. See a movie, take a quick weekend trip or sleep in on Saturday. It sounds clichéd and everyone says it, but it is so true: everything changes once you have kids.
If you already have children, spend quality time with them doing family activities and making them feel special. Talk to them about their new sibling and reassure them that even though you will be a little busier than usual with the new baby, things will get back to normal eventually. Give them a little extra time and attention while you have it.
Above all, you are very close to either becoming a parent or adding a new member to your family. The excitement, hopes and dreams are becoming a reality. Use the time you have left to prepare for your new addition. Congratulations!
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