When you were at the hospital, doctors and nurses were
constantly checking over your baby, monitoring and recording
everything that went in and out of them. When you were
ready to be discharged home, a nurse probably gave you
a ton of paperwork and had a lecture type discussion about
several things. It was a lot to take in. You loaded baby
into their car seat and headed home.
All the extra hands, monitoring and attention is no
When you first come home, it’s not unusual to
have a baby who wants to do nothing more than sleep.
The nurses at the hospital were probably adamantly concerned
that your baby eats every several hours. It’s
also not unusual to have to wake your baby up to feed
them and several times during the “meal.”
If you’re breastfeeding, frequent feedings are
important to help encourage your milk supply.
A general guideline is that formula fed infants eat
every three to four hours and breastfed babies eat about
every two to three. This is just a general guideline
as each baby has their own needs. If it’s during
the day and your baby has gone more than five hours
without eating, they need to be woken up and fed. Allowing
your baby to have extended sleep periods without eating
greatly increases his chance of dehydration.
A hard concept for many parents to get accustomed to
is being noisy during the day, especially when their
baby is sleeping. It’s very important for you
to carrying on about your tasks regardless of what your
baby is doing. It’s ok to run the vacuum, have
the T.V. on, play music etc. Your baby has to get used
to sleeping with a noisy surrounding. This helps teach
your baby that day time is busy time, and night time
is quiet time. This also helps your baby sleep when
there is activity going on. If you make your house completely
quiet during the day, afraid you’re going to wake
your child, every noise is going to disrupt their naps.
The first few days, even weeks, are usually pretty
uneventful. Depending on the season, you’ll probably
only need diapers, wipes, a safe place for baby to sleep
and several changes of clothes. Babies have a habit
of having bowel movements either during a feed or directly
afterwards. Those first couple BM’s may take you
by surprise also. Meconium stools may still be present,
that thick, black, mucusy stool. Depending on what you’re
feeding your baby will influence their stools. You could
expect thinner, yellow “seedy” stools from
a breastfed baby and darker, thicker stools from formula.
Your baby’s digestive tract is still maturing.
Although your grandmother might have done it with all
her kids, you should never give your newborn anything
but formula or breast milk. They don’t need water
or juice and they don’t need solid food. Feeding
a child this young could cause them to aspirate or even
choke. Their brains are developing at an extremely rapid
rate. They need all the fluids and nutrition given to
them from breast milk or formula. They do not need extra
For the first few weeks, you’ll find that all
your baby is going to do is eat, sleep, spit up and
mess diapers. They are totally dependent on you for
all their needs. Since they can’t speak, when
they need something, they will cry. At first, you’re
not going to have any idea what they need. Most parents
find that they try several things each time their baby
cries. Your baby might cry because they are hungry,
are cold or too warm, messed their diaper, have a stomach
ache, are over stimulated or possibly just want held.
It is impossible to spoil a newborn. As new as being
a new parent is to you, being a baby is a new experience
to your child. They were just in a nice snug warm environment
and now everything is bright and loud.
*If at any point you become frustrated due to your
child, it is ok to place him safe in their crib and
walk away for a few minutes until you’re more
relaxed. Newborns and babies have fragile neck structures
that cannot withstand being shaken. Doing so could cause
severe damage, even death to your child.*
After your baby’s umbilical cord falls off, you
can then give your baby their first bath. If you would
like photos of this milestone, make sure someone else
is there with you. You won’t be able to hold a
wet slippery baby and take pictures. Until the cord
falls off, you should clean the umbilical site with
every diaper change. Cleaning the site is easy. You
can use cotton balls wetted with rubbing alcohol or
alcohol wipes provided from the hospital.
Apart from not knowing what your crying baby is crying
for, the hardest part about bringing a new baby home
is taking care of yourself. You’ve probably heard
many times that you should sleep when your baby sleeps.
It can be weeks, even months, before your baby starts
sleeping through the night. Many moms feel as if they
have to be like “Superwoman.” They worry
about making sure the home and everyone else is taken
care of and forget about themselves. Taking naps while
your baby is napping will help compensate for the lack
of continuous rest at night.
Remember when everyone was offering to help? Don’t
be afraid to ask for some. Have someone come over and
watch your baby while you sleep. Call a family to help
with dinner or maybe do some light cleaning. Discuss
with your significant other about dividing up the night
duty. Even if you’re breastfeeding, your partner
can get up and bring the baby to you.
Keep in mind that life is not always going to be like
this. Sleepless nights won’t last forever. If
you don’t have outside help, it’s ok to
let the house get dusty and let the laundry pile up.
You need rest and nutrition. A run down mom is no good
As hard as it sounds to leave your baby in someone
else’s care, planning personal time is just as
important and is part of taking care of yourself. Having
your own “Mommy time” gives you something
to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be elaborate.
You could plan for 30min-1 hr trip to the library or
shopping. Maybe just mommy time allotted to allow you
a nice long quite soak in the tub without interruptions.
You need a break from your baby and it allows your baby
some bonding time with someone else.
When it comes to bringing your new baby home, try and
take it easy. Take care of yourself and enjoy your new
child. They don’t stay small and so dependent
Rebecca Pillar 2008