The process of becoming a new parent can be quite hectic but also very fulfilling. During the nine months of pregnancy, most of time and effort goes into Preparing for Bringing a Baby Home as parents want everything to be in place to help them take care of that little one. This also applies to parents who adopt babies as well, they have to prepare for the arrival of the baby or toddler and it is just as exciting and equally nerve-racking. Below we discuss what are the things you should expect and how you can prepare for the unexpected in regards to different areas, such as how the baby sleeps, cries, baby care and even self-care.
A newborn baby does not sleep for long periods of time. The fall asleep for a few hours at a time and then they have to wake up to it. This is because their tummy is very tiny and so they need to eat regularly. However, a newborn could sleep about 16 to 18 hours each day. It’s a good idea to track when and where your baby sleeps the first few days or weeks so you can identify patterns, and have an idea what works best and understand their rhythm better. The truth is, most newborns can fall asleep anywhere, they could fall asleep in the car seat, on the baby carrier, in the stroller, and of course in your arms. Also babies love being swaddled as it mimics the feeling they had when they were in the womb. You can swaddle your baby to help them sleep longer as swaddling protects their arms and legs from giving that reflexive jerk like they are falling which then wakes them up. When your baby sleeps be sure to have them in the right environment. Remove all loose blankets, pillows, and toys from the crib as these items can cause sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) through suffocation. Also always put the baby on a crib to sleep as opposed to a bed or a couch as they can roll off, fall, and hurt themselves. If they are in such a surface that has no protection, make sure you are there and you have your eyes on them at all times.
New moms sometimes always panic and always check to see if their baby is breathing properly. Personally as an aunt whenever I babysit my baby nephews or nieces I always every now and then, while they are asleep, check to see if they are breathing properly. Newborns have a breathing habit called periodic breathing where they breathe quickly, pause for a few seconds and then start breathing again. This can be quite unnerving but it is normal.
When watching your baby, watch for the following signs in their breathing which are not considered normal. If you notice any of these, call your baby’s doctor or pediatrician immediately.
- Flaring of the nostrils
- Chest retractions (sucking in the skin above the collarbone, between the ribs, or below the ribs)
- Breathing that’s consistently fast
- Wheezing from the chest (rather than her nose or throat, which is a sign of garden-variety congestion and stuffiness)
- Heavy, noisy breathing (audible wheezes, whistling sounds, or crackly sounds during inhalation and exhalation)
- Pausing more than 10 to 15 seconds between breaths
Newborns will cry and there’s no getting around it. How often or how long a newborn cries varies from baby to baby. SOme babies are relatively calm and don’t cry often while some will take it upon themselves as their only hobby to continue to cry and wail all the time. For the first few days, newborns are usually quiet and sleepy little-drunk humans, as they age and add more days to their time on earth, they will start to cry more. Usually, crying starts around 2 weeks old to 6 weeks and then the constant crying might wane off. When your baby is crying, go through he usually checks to see why they are crying. The usuals are, hunger, soiled diaper, discomfort, or feeling sleepy. There will be times when your baby will cry for no reason and all you can do is give them as much tender loving care to soothe them. Hold them, rock them, play some music, talk to them and just shower them with attention and affection.
For a newborn baby, you don’t really need a lot of variety in there clothes. What you need is soft and comfortable clothes in good quantity as you will be changing them often. For newborns, a combination of bodysuits, T-shirts, and footed pyjamas and onesies will. You’ll also need swaddling blankets, sleep sacks, blankets, towels, soft crib sheets and other clothing and accessories you will need to keep the bay warm and comfortable.
You can get onesies of different styles such as kimono style onesies that help you keep away from the umbilical cord till it’s healed. Make sure you always check the temperature of the house or the room your baby is in to make sure it’s not too hot or too cold. A good way is to wear your baby the number of layers you have on plus one more layer. And when they are asleep, put a light blanket over the baby and a hat if needed. Keep this list below in mind as a guide to how many clothing items you should get when preparing to bring the baby home. You can get more but these should be the minimum —
- Four sleeping outfits or one-piece sleepers with attached feet
- Six side-snap T-shirts
- Four to six one-piece undershirts or onesies that snap around the crotch
- A small baby cap
- Six pairs of socks
- Two to three soft, comfortable daytime outfits. Try to only purchase a few newborn sizes and then focus on 6 month clothing and up. You will be amazed how quickly your baby will grow into the bigger sizes
- Cotton sweater or light jacket
Changes to Your body
After having a baby, your body will go through some major changes as it starts to adjust to breastfeeding and also going back to its normal non-pregnant state. About 72 hours after giving birth, your breast milk will come in. Often, this coincides with your first day at home. Until now you’ve been producing the coveted, antibody-rich colostrum, which is usually yellower than breast milk. Many people mistake it for breastmilk but it is different and crucial to the development of your baby as it adapts to the outside world during the first few days. You’ll know when the real deal comes in because your breasts become noticeably fuller, firmer, and heavier. This is when engorgement can happen. While many people assume breastfeeding comes naturally, it’s not uncommon to hit some bumps in the road – especially early on.
For more information on preparing for bringing a baby home, you can read the book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting as well as other similar books.