That’s a good question. As parents, we’re often so caught up in preparation for the baby, the tremendous excitement and anticipation, that we forget to stop and ask ourselves what we practically need to prepare for once we’re home with our bundle of love. Take a few minutes to read this guide on what to expect in your newborn’s first few weeks at home.
You have a little feeding machine.
Yes, your sweet little love eats almost non-stop. This is when you establish breastfeeding, formula, or combination feeding. Remember, your baby has been fed in the placenta all this time so they are learning to feed. Don’t be surprised when you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Breastfeeding is a skill that both you and your baby need to learn.
If you’re nursing, ask your partner or family member to help. Create a space where you can easily reach a glass of water, book, or magazine while your baby is nursing. Your nipples will be sore during those first couple of weeks. Facts! Invest in nipple cream or shields.
Your baby must typically feed every two to three hours, so be prepared for frequent feeding sessions. If you are breastfeeding, read about the various positions. Importantly, ask for help. There are exceptional lactation specialists and groups that offer assistance. As your milk “comes in”, your breasts may become engorged and tender. Try a warm compress.
When bottle-feeding, make sure to use the correct formula and sterilise the bottles and teats.
Bathing every other day.
Newborns do not need to be bathed every day. Bathing them too often can dry out their delicate skin. Mayo Clinic cites that a sponge or gentle bath two or three times a week is sufficient until your baby becomes more mobile. Ensure the water is warm but not hot (use the elbow test or a thermometer until you get the hang of it), and use mild baby soap and shampoo.
Sleep, wherefore art thou sleep?
Believe it or not, your newborn will sleep for around 16 to 17 hours a day, but be aware that it will not be for long periods. You will be woken up every few hours to feed and soothe your baby. Take turns with your partner. They may not be able to breastfeed, but they can do nappy change shifts and put the baby to sleep once you have fed them. You will not be getting a whole night’s sleep. The sooner you accept this, the better. You will adapt, and eventually, when your baby’s body is ready, they will sleep longer.
As the National Institute of Health highlights, your baby’s sleep position is critical. Always place them on their back to sleep (you can use sleep aids that prevent them from rolling onto their tummies). Ensure the crib or bassinet is free from loose items like blankets or toys. Consider using a swaddle to keep your baby snug and comfortable. Your baby should also be rooming and sleeping in their crib in your bedroom for the first six to twelve months to reduce any incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Diaper duties in the bag.
Let it henceforth be known that you will become a nappy-changing machine. Newborns go through mountains of nappies. Expect your newborn to go through approximately 8 to 12 nappies per day. If you’re nursing, get your partner to take on the nappy changes. Always clean your baby’s bottom with wipes or a damp cloth and apply bum cream if needed. The nappy should fit snuggly and comfortably and shouldn’t be too tight.
It’s critical to keep your baby safe and healthy. They need regular check-ups with a paediatrician and to be kept up-to-date with vaccinations. Ensure your baby’s crib or bassinet meets safety standards, and never leave your baby unattended on a raised surface like a changing table. Always wash your hands before handling your baby, and ensure visitors do the same.
You can say NO to kisses. Friends and family will understand when they know the risks. Adults can be carriers of Hepatitis B and yet have no symptoms – a dangerous virus for babies that could leave them hospitalised.
Soothing and bonding: the sweet reward of parenthood.
Bonding with your baby is essential for their emotional development. There is no such thing as holding your baby “too much” in those first few months. Hold your baby often, sing to them, talk to them, and make eye contact. Skin-to-skin contact is also beneficial and can help regulate your baby’s temperature and breathing.
Swaddle them often in the first few weeks as this mimics the womb and has a calming effect on a fussy baby. Bring on the music and white noise, as gentle music and white noise are excellent for soothing your little one.
So much will change once your baby is home. While experts, family, and friends are giving you advice, take everything in your stride and trust your gut.
*These views are based on the experiences and research of MamaMagic content writers, and as always, it’s imperative to consult your healthcare provider before and after your baby arrives.