The idea of bringing baby home, of the absolute unknown, of all the ways that your life is about to change in perhaps the biggest way to date, can be overwhelming. Does that feel like the understatement of the year? We hear you. For first-time parents, the idea of being solely responsible for the tiny human you’ve just created isn’t just daunting, it’s incredibly, monumentally scary. And once you sign those exit papers at the hospital, there’s no turning back. Aside from your village, you guys really are entirely on your own.
But here are all the reasons you’ve got nothing to fear. Consider, first, that people have been doing this for a very, very long time (the real understatement of the year). You’re not the first, and you’re certainly not the last, to face the daunting first night home with baby. More importantly, even if you aren’t perfect (and nobody is), we can assure you that you’re not the worst. Just the simple fact that you’re reading this means something, so you’re already way ahead of the game. And to help you ease into things, here are a few pointers.
first thing’s first: home base
So much of what goes into leaving the hospital actually comes before you even step foot inside the hospital. Preparing in advance for your newborn’s first day at home will make the transition smoother for both you and baby. Baby needs a place to sleep as well as a place for you to change their clothes and dirty diapers.
Ensure your changing station is well-equipped with diapers, wipes and a soft and sturdy changing pad cover. And before you can even think about transporting baby anywhere, they will also need a car seat. If your due date is approaching, make sure that your home is baby-proofed ahead of time and that you have all of your essentials on-hand before bringing home baby. For sleep-deprived nights and days that seem to have no end, make sure you’re prepared.
leaving the hospital
Many hospitals require that you pass a car seat test before you and your baby can be discharged. While this is just to make sure your little one doesn’t have any issues while seated in it, it can feel like an inquisition as you fiddle and fumble with the belt clips. Try to familiarize yourself with your car seat before the pressure’s one. Also remember to make sure that baby has proper clothes to leave the hospital in. Dress them comfortably and appropriately for the weather and time of year. Plus, it’s always good to keep a change of clothes, extra swaddles and receiving + baby blanketson hand in case of any messes or unexpected weather changes.
first night at home
The first night home with your newborn will seem scary, but come morning you’ll be saying “we made it” replete with high-five’s and sighs of relief. That may be due, in part, to the fact that there won’t be much sleeping. Baby’s schedule will take time to develop, but because your schedule is very well-developed, it’s a massive adjustment. It may be frustrating, but don’t be overly alarmed if you find your newborn baby crying all night. And because it’s an around-the-clock affair, one in which is lights off for the rest of the world and the rest of your household too, invest in a good night light that allows you to see when everyone else is sleeping (we’ve got just the thing for that).
To aid in that first night at home and make your best effort at a chance of sleep, make sure you also have a swaddle – and a good grasp on how to do it properly. Babies can wake themselves up with what’s known as the Moro reflex, an involuntarily response to a feeling of falling. When done right, swaddling can help decrease these startling movements and spontaneous awakenings while encouraging longer periods of sleep.
Your first night home with baby will be difficult, there’s no doubt. But you – like everyone before you – will be fine. And these tips? Well, they’re here to make things easier, even if only a little.