This is a very exciting time for parents and especially first time parents but it can also be a little daunting heading into the great unknown. My advice to all parents is to enjoy every special moment, as your baby changes daily. No matter how many books you read, you may not be prepared for all of the emotions and feelings that come with the big arrival and bringing baby home. Obviously every family is different and my advice is to read the books, take a little (or a lot) from each of them and do what works for your baby and your lifestyle. Keep things practical and simple, having a baby does not have to be complicated and it should be enjoyed.
Before baby arrives it is a terrific idea to cook large batches of food and put them in the freezer. Lots of recipes allow for you to create a “base” which can easily be adapted into different meals by adding some simple ingredients and herbs when they are fully defrosted and re-heating. I don’t advise just one type of meal – not only will you get bored of eating it, you also need to ensure that you are eating nutritious and healthy food when you bring baby home. These pre-prepared meals will help you to remain organized and allow you to adjust to your new routine without worrying about preparation time for meals; it will also help to eliminate the temptation to order-in! Once the new baby arrives, if family and friends offer help with cooking, shopping or any errands ACCEPT IMMEDIATELY without any hesitation.
A new baby means lots of new equipment and it is better to make these purchases in advance when you have time to research and shop around for bargains. This can avoid dad and/or other family members frantically having to go shopping for baby items while you are in hospital. By having these items in advance you can learn how to use all of your newly purchased baby equipment before they arrive. Practice folding your buggy and putting the car seat in and out of the car. It can be a really good idea to set up your equipment before baby arrives too; for example, your sterilizer will be used so often that you may need to reorganize your kitchen counter appliances to find it a permanent spot. You may also wish to designate space in one of your kitchen cupboards (or another central location in your home) for all baby related items; this will give everyone a good base to store and find all baby related paraphernalia, especially if there is a first-time parent, emergency nappy changing event!
While in hospital and at home insist that family and friends call or text you to arrange a time to visit. As you may want to sleep when baby sleeps during the day, choose a time that works for you and your baby. During the first few days I would advise parents to have some time on their own with their newborn. Spend time looking and listening to your baby’s sounds and movements. This will help with your baby when they are crying or possibly in discomfort with wind.
Stay connected with the outside world, especially with family, friends, doctors and health visitors. Keep in touch with other parents that you may have met through your antenatal classes etc. Compare notes on your baby’s sleeping, eating and crying habits. Share your stories and mishaps – everyone has them.
Get out of the house at least once a day, even if it is just for a short walk. This can blow away the cob webs. Spending time in the house can cause stress levels to rise. Don’t be afraid to go out for lunch or a coffee, or to the supermarket, meet up with friends and family.
Demand feed for the first 2 – 4 weeks unless your baby has been born early or is on the small size. If you are bottle or breast feeding you can establish a good eating and sleeping routine. Always keep a baby diary to help you keep track. It doesn’t have to be very detailed, just quick notes and scribbles that you understand will be more than sufficient.
If you have a pet sometimes they can get a little jealous, as they may have been your best friend for a few years. If you have a dog, they will enjoy going out for a walk with you and your baby. Make a fuss of your dog or cat during the day. Before baby comes home it’s a good idea for you to send some of the baby’s dirty clothes home and leave them on the ground in a few places where your pet is allowed within your house. Your pet will smell these clothes and become accustomed to the scent of the new little person in your lives reducing the shock of the initial arrival home.
Finally, and most importantly enjoy every moment, take lots of photos and never be afraid to ask for help.