No matter how many books you read or how much advice you hear, the day you bring your baby home will change your life in ways that you could never predict. Your capacity for love will stretch bigger than you ever imagined, but with this increase in emotion will come unexpected anxieties and new worries.
It doesn’t matter if this is your 1st, 3rd or even your 8th baby, each newborn arrives with a brand new set of issues to address and mistakes to be made. As a parent, you will never stop learning, and the number 1 lesson to remember is that no matter how you are feeling in those early hours with your baby, you are doing an amazing job.
This 5 point guide to bringing home your new bundle is full of answers and advice to help you to feel calm and confident through those 1st bleary-eyed hours, no matter how little you manage to sleep.
1/ Take the time to bond
As a new parent, your priority will be to bond with your new child. Babies are surprisingly resilient, so focus on loving them instead of worrying about keeping them alive. Remember that bonding is a process, not an action, that develops over time that you spend together. There are simple ways to encourage bonding between you and your baby: skin-to-skin, frequent eye contact and by talking to your baby – they should already recognise your voice from the womb.
Before your bundle of joy arrives, start to carry a comforter or soft toy around with you so that it starts to smell like you. The comforter will therefore not only soothe your baby, but also encourage bonding between the two of you as they associate your scent with feelings of comfort and calm.
2/ Don’t overthink their routine
During your 1st few weeks together, any ideas you had during pregnancy about sleep schedules and feeding times will most likely go out the window. Instead, take cues from your newborn: as they adapt to life outside of the womb, your little one will tell you what they want or need, and when. As the weeks progress, you can start to introduce some structure to their days, but until then, stay in your newborn cocoon for as long as necessary.
When it comes to crying, stay calm. Babies and children cry because that is the most natural way for them to communicate, even when they are too little to know what it is that they want you to know. Crying does not equal suffering and could actually mean anything from “I’m hungry” to “I’m bored” or “cuddle me”. Most importantly, a crying baby does not mean that you are a bad parent!
3/ Be careful with cleanliness
In those early days, you can keep your new arrival clean with regular wipes, especially for their face, hands and genitals. Until your newborn’s umbilical cord has healed, you should stick to sponge bathing; however after 2-3 days at home, it’s tub time!
During this 1st bath, ensure you have one hand on the baby at all times and focus on supporting their head and neck at all times. Use products formulated especially for sensitive baby skin and wrap your newborn up warm in a blanket or robe after you have carefully patted them dry with a towel. Above all, never rush to have this 1st wash, benefits to delaying the 1st bath by a few days can include: better temperature control and more time for skin-to-skin bonding. There is plenty of time for that addictive newborn smell to appear!
4/ Dress the part
For their 1st trip home, new parents are often tempted to dress their new baby up in a special outfit, designed to look cuter than it feels. Don’t worry, the wonder of newborns is that they look adorable whatever they wear, and comfort should always be key.
When babies enter the world, they leave the warmth of the womb to enter the big, cold world outside. Newborns are unable to regulate their own body temperature so they can easily become either too hot or too cold. While your baby is sure to bring you plenty of joy, avoid bundling them up in thick clothing and opt instead for light layers. Choose a breathable sleepsuit, lightweight blankets or breezy muslins that you can easily wrap up and remove to keep your new arrival healthy and happy.
5/ Nevermind milestones
Those 1st few days of parenthood will soon blur into weeks and before you know it, months will have passed. As you emerge from the cocoon of newborn cuddles, you might find yourself worrying more and more about your little one’s development. As with all things in life, comparison is the thief of joy and a trap that you should avoid wherever possible. Each baby will hit different milestones in their own time and there should be no cause for concern if they appear to be a little smaller or a little slower than other babies their age.
To support this early development, limit their exposure to bright colours and choose nursery decor and toys in neutral or monochrome colours. This will avoid over-stimulation and help their little brains with cognitive, spatial and fine motor skills development. Keep track of their little achievements, take regular photos and above all, treasure this time. Before you know it, your baby will be a toddler or even off on their 1st day of school and you will find yourself wondering how they grew up so quickly!
But above all, keep calm & carry on…
The most important thing to know as a 1st time parent is that this will not always feel fun. For the 1st few days at home together, your little family will experience a strange mixture of euphoria and exhaustion.
As time passes, fatigue and fear may take over and you may find yourself feeling more lethargic and listless than you do loving. You may feel the baby blues start to creep in as parents and baby alike undergo a huge adjustment. Ignore the ‘shoulds’, be patient and show yourself the same care and concern that you do for your new little infant.
At My 1st Years, there is nothing we love more than to see pictures of your beautiful little newborns. Tag us on Instagram @My1stYears and we will share your sweet celebrations!
My 1st Years x