Having a baby is one of the most exciting times of your life. But it can also be one of the most stressful! You may feel overwhelmed by the knowledge that your tiny newborn is totally dependent on you to meet all of his or her needs. But keep in mind that you and your baby will get through this challenging time together and in the process, you will build a special bond that will last for a lifetime. Here are some steps to get you started on the road to success as a new parent:
- Select a pediatrician with whom you feel comfortable. You and your pediatrician will work as a team to give your child a healthy start. Your pediatrician will also be there for you to answer your questions and address your concerns about your child's health.
Be sure you have your infant car seat car properly installed in your car. You will need this in order to take your baby home from the hospital. The hospital nursery staff can assist you if you are unsure how to install the base. Or you can ask for help at your local police station or fire department.
Do some research to decide whether you want to breastfeed or give your babies formula in a bottle. Some parents even do a combination of both. If you decide to breastfeed and your baby is having difficulty latching on, or is having other problems, check with the lactation consultant at your local hospital or call your local La Leche League.
Remember never to leave your newborn unattended on a changing table, couch or bed. Babies can move suddenly. It's a good idea to always keep a hand on your baby or strap him or her on a changing table right from the beginning.
Have plenty of diapers on hand, since some newborns can go through close to a dozen or more a day in the beginning. You will probably need the newborn size at first, but be prepared - some babies outgrow these quickly! Other diapering supplies you'll need include wipes for newborn sensitive skin, a diaper cream and a changing table, or changing pad. In the winter, you may want to also use a wipes warmer.
If your newborn was circumcised, check with your pediatrician on how best to care for the wound until it heals.
Also follow your pediatrician's advice for umbilical cord care. Some recommend cleaning it daily with alcohol, while others today prefer to let it dry out on its own. Either way, expect the stump to fall off within the first few weeks or so.
Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress that is covered by a tight-fitting sheet. You can use an infant sleep positioner to be sure that the baby stays in place. Be sure to remove all pillows, quilts and stuffed toys, since these can smother your baby. Sleeper blankets or sleep sacks are the safest options to use if you need to keep your baby warm.
Have a rectal thermometer ready in case your baby gets sick. If your newborn registers a rectal temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius, you should call your child's doctor right away.
Be prepared to do lots of laundry. Babies can easily go through three or four outfits in one day. You can buy special baby detergent for your baby's delicate skin. You may also need super strength baby stain remover to get out the spit up and leaky-diaper stains.
Try as early as possible to establish a routine. This will help your baby to know what to expect each day and will help establish a feeling of security.
In the process of caring for your newborn, don't forget to care for yourself, too. Sleep whenever you can, and don't be afraid to ask for help from family and friends when you need it. Many mothers suffer from the baby blues for several days after giving birth, but if you experience prolonged bouts of sadness or are feeling unable to cope, seek professional help as soon as possible.