Congratulations on the birth of your first child. There is nothing more special than bringing a baby home from the hospital. And there can be nothing more terrifying when you and your partner realize that you have no idea how to care for the new baby. Don’t worry, even if things look hard at the moment, you’ll get settled in and have a daily routine for your newborn. Here are some tips to help you survive the first few weeks and months with your baby:
Bonding Doesn’t Happen Right Away
Don’t worry if there isn’t an instantaneous bond with your newborn. Dr. Samuel J. Meisels, President of the Board of Zero to Three, a national organization for infants, toddlers, children and families, says bonding doesn’t always happen immediately, especially if there has been a difficult delivery or mother and baby have been separated following the birth. “Don’t worry if there isn’t that ecstatic moment after birth,” he says. “You will still attach to your child and develop a loving relationship.”
Don’t Worry about Perfection
Don’t stress too much about a perfect mom. It’s natural that you will be cranky, tired, and a little irritated at times. You’ve just had a baby and things are slowly starting to fall into place. It will take time to ‘feel’ like a parent, so remember that by getting things done, you will allow yourself to grow into your routine at your own pace.
Have a Good Support System
It’s vital to have someone provide not only emotional support when you first come home, but also help with looking after your infant, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and errands. This person could be someone like your spouse, mother, sister, or even a housekeeper. Don’t be afraid to let people take care of your newborn for an hour or two while you take a nap.
Don’t feel the need to pick up newborns whenever they cry
Babies cry for lots of reasons, from needing a diaper change to wanting to be held. They need to develop a sense of trust and security by allowing parents to respond to their needs.
Accomplish What You Can
Don’t try to accomplish too much in a day. Caring for a newborn requires a lot of time and energy, so don’t fret over doing the dishes or other chores. Allow yourself to cut corners or order in dinner.
Start a Bedtime Routine
Put your baby down to sleep while they are drowsy but still awake, so they can begin to learn what it’s like to drift off to sleep by themselves. Don’t insist that everyone whisper and walk around on their tiptoes, either. Babies need to learn to fall asleep with some normal background noise such as the TV playing in a nearby room.
Swaddle your Baby
Swaddling reminds your newborn of being in the womb and will help them sleep better. Each baby is different and some will prefer their arms to be free, while others might prefer to be tightly swaddled.
Follow your Gut
You need to trust your instincts. If you try a new parenting method and it doesn’t feel right, go with your gut and move on. Only you know what is best.
Forget the Clock
Don’t put your newborn on a schedule right away. Let them determine their own eating pattern, and wait until they’re older to put them on a schedule. Many babies have a more organized eating and sleeping schedule by six months, but some won’t until around nine months.