Bringing a new baby home is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience for every new parent! There’s no way to predict what it’s going to be like to be responsible for another little human being, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
But be reassured by the fact that hundreds of millions of others have done it before you, so you will get the hang of it! In the meantime, check out our 10 tips for new parents to get the head start.
Give yourself time to recover
The process of labour and giving birth can be a very tiring, exhausting experience, so don’t expect to bounce back straight away! Getting plenty of sleep in the first few days will help your body to recover and enable you to have the energy to meet your baby’s needs.
Sleep when your baby sleeps
Plenty of other mums will tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps, and it’s sage advice! Sleep deprivation is one of the toughest things to adapt to when you bring your new baby home, so take every opportunity you can to catch a few z’s. Newborns need around 16 hours of sleep a day, so you’ll have loads of opportunities to snooze while they’re asleep.
Enjoy skin-to-skin contact
Developing a strong connection with your little one is important for both mums and dads, as the bond that you develop early on can impact on your child’s health and development throughout their life. First thing in the morning or at bedtime, keep your top half naked and let your baby be naked [apart from a nappy], and enjoy a nice long cuddle! Another good time for skin-to-skin contact is bath time.
Become an expert swaddler
Young babies also like to be wrapped up tightly in blankets, a technique known as swaddling. It makes them feel safe and secure, and can be achieved with muslin wraps during the warmer months, and heavier baby blankets throughout winter. At the hospital, ask your midwife for tips and advice on how to swaddle properly.
Wash your hands frequently
It’s important to keep your hands clean and free of germs, as young babies haven’t built up a strong immune system yet, so they are more susceptible to infection. Wash your hands frequently or use a hand sanitiser before handling your newborn, and make sure everyone who handles the bub is also practicing safe hygiene. It might be an idea to buy a few hand sanitisers and keep one in each room.
Talk to your baby
Even though you might feel a little silly, it’s a good idea to start talking to your baby as soon as they arrive. Obviously, they can’t talk back, but the sound of your voice will become familiar and soothing to them — so it then becomes another tool in your bag of tricks to calm and reassure your little one when they’re upset.
Get used to tears
All babies cry — some more than others, but they all do it! It’s essentially the only way they can communicate with you, so without crying, it would be like you getting through an entire day without talking. Try not to become frustrated and remember that when your baby is little, all they need is nutrition, clean nappies, sleep and love. So, as long as you’re covering those four bases, you’re doing a great job!
Pat and shh
Having said that, it doesn’t mean you need to listen to your baby cry all day long! The soothing technique known as the “pat and shh technique” will save you from spending hours on end pacing the hallways and bouncing your bub. It works well for soothing newborn babies because it imitates the sounds and sensations they were used to hearing in the womb. Simply hold your baby on your shoulder and pat the centre of their back in firm, rhythmic motions. At the same time, whisper a long “shhhh” sound near their ear. After a few minutes, your little one should start to calm down.
Many first-time mums don’t want to leave the house too often, because they’re happy at home where they can more easily cope with the needs of their baby. You don’t want to isolate yourself and become bored or depressed, however, so make an effort to socialise with friends, other new mums and relatives.
Look after yourself and enjoy spending time with your new bundle of joy! It can be hard to find time for yourself when you bring your baby home, but try and set aside 30 minutes per day to do something for yourself — even if it’s just taking a bath, or reading a few pages of a trashy magazine. You also need to look after yourself physically, by getting as much sleep as you can and eating a healthy diet, especially if you’re breastfeeding.