Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.
There are few life-changing moments as transformative as having your first child. Even though the pregnancy, labor, and delivery are all over, you have the monumental task of learning how to be a parent ahead of you. When considering all the many demands a child has of you, it’s easy to be nervous, even a little petrified. But here are a few tips that are going to help you get through this exciting yet scary time.
Preparing the home for baby
Before you welcome them home, it’s a good idea to make sure you have all you need prepared. If you don’t quite get all the essentials in time, you can pick them up at any time. You can do a little research on newborn wishlists and see the kind of items other parents are picking out. Most would agree that the primary essentials are a holdall bag, a bouncer seat, a crib, a snug/sling to feed them in, and a stroller at the very least. However, there are plenty of other little extras that can be plenty helpful, too.
Holding your child
Some people are very nervous about holding a young baby, because of how delicate they are. However, you can practice holding them with any lifesize doll or object that’s roughly the same size. Make sure you always wash your hands thoroughly before handling a baby, and when holding them, you want to support their head and neck above all else. While they’re still very young and unable to support themselves, avoid being too boisterous in place, such as bouncing them on your knee or throwing them up into the air.
Feeding your child
In many cases, you may get plenty of help while still in the hospital when it comes to feeding and burping your baby. However, you may still have questions, such as how often do you feed them? Babies should be fed every 2 hours, or whenever they demand it, whether by crying, making sucking noises, or trying to latch on their own hand or other parts of your body. Learning how to properly burp a baby is important, too, so make sure you keep them upright, head on your shoulder, and support their head and back while lightly patting their back.
Whether you get cloth or disposable diapers, this is going to be one of the most frequent and initially challenging tasks of all. However, you soon get used to the somewhat unpleasant aspect of it since you will be doing it around 10 times a day. It’s best to follow a Step-by-step Diaper Changing video to get a good idea of the best method to follow. Making sure that the baby is thoroughly wiped and avoiding diaper rash are essential, so pay attention to each step.
Bathing your baby
For the first four weeks or so, until the navel heals entirely, sponge baths are best for baby. After this, there are guides like How to Bathe a Newborn: 10 Simple Steps that can show you from beginning to end the safest and best way to make sure your baby is fresh and clean. To ensure the safest bathing, never, ever leave the baby alone in the bath for even a moment, and wrap them in a towel to bring them with you if you need to step out. Be sure to wrap them up as soon as they’re done bathing, too. Baby temperatures change quickly and you don’t want them getting too cold.
Safe sleeping practices
For a while, your baby may be asleep for as many as 15 hours or more a day, usually sleeping from 3-4 hours per session. Most babies do not sleep through the night until around 3 months of age, though it’s not a terrible thing if they don’t develop at the same pace. It’s important to wake your baby for a feed if it has been 4 hours since the last feeding and to lay them on their back. Similarly, young babies should not have blankets, quilts, pillows, stuffed animals and the like as they can be a suffocation hazard.
Bonding with your baby
One of the most treasured parts of living with a baby is the opportunity to do little activities that build your bond and help soothe them. There are many more detailed guides such as 30 Little Ways to Bond With Baby that can help you find new and fun ways to build that all-important connection. For most parents, infant massage, speaking aloud to them, singing, and swaddling the baby are the most reliable options for soothing them.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. You don’t suddenly develop all the know-how you need when first having a baby, and sometimes those first few months can be pretty overwhelming. If friends or relatives offer help, be willing to accept it. Look for baby nurses near you who might be able to offer some help, too, if you need it.
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The baby naturally comes first and you will feel that way for some time. However, those first few months can be a very tough emotional moment for both mothers and fathers. Post-natal depression has become a lot more widely acknowledged as of late, and more doctors are better prepared to help mothers get through it than ever. If you need help and you feel like you’re not coping, it’s important to speak up rather than to try and power through it. Follow guides like 5 Self-Care Tips For New Moms to help yourself get on an even keel.
You might feel like you don’t know the first thing about babies, and there’s nothing wrong with getting tips. It won’t be too long before you start to feel a lot more comfortable, a lot more competent, and a lot more equipped to handle the practical things. The question of how to raise a child will remain pretty tough for a long time to come, however.