You’re probably expecting your first week home with your newborn baby to be nothing short of magical. Magical, it will be, but you’ll also be feeling a lot of other emotions as well. Many new parents feel scared and even unprepared when they come home with their tiny, extremely delicate little newborn. Rest assured, you can do this. New parents are instinctually hard-wired to protect their newborn infants. Intuition combined with the right amount of preparation will help set you up for success in your first week home with your new baby. Here are a few safety tips to help you transition into life as a new parent.
Have a safe area to set your baby down
One of the most important ways to prepare your home for your new baby is to be sure that there is a safe place to lay your baby down. Although you will spend most of your days holding, snuggling, and feeding your little newborn, there will be times when you have to set them down. Have a bassinet, playpen, or soft mat where you can lay your baby down and ensure that they are out of harm’s way.
Keep your baby safe at night
Be sure to have a safe place for your new born baby to sleep at night. This is an important plan to discuss with your partner prior to your baby’s arrival. Will your baby be sleeping next to your bed in a bassinet or in their own room? Or do you plan to try co-sleeping? Every family will do things in their own unique way and safety should always be your first concern. No matter where your baby sleeps, they should always be laid down to sleep on their back, only be covered by a lightweight blanket, and they should never have anything covering their face.
Tips for safe co-sleeping
Some parents opt to try co-sleeping and have great success with it. This can be helpful especially if you’re breastfeeding because it prevents you from having to get up out of bed for every nursing session. Here are some important safety tips for co-sleeping:
- Be aware of extra pillows on your bed and be sure your baby is kept away from loose pillows that could potentially fall on top of them while sleeping.
- You should never share a bed with your infant if you or your partner have been drinking alcohol or taking prescription medications. These substances can cause you to be less aware of your infant and put them in danger.
- Ensure that all sheets fit snugly around your bed. Any loose or extra sheets could pose a potential suffocation risk.
- Babies should always sleep on a firm surface. Check the firmness of your mattress and if you’re unsure, you could purchase a co-sleeping pillow which offers a safe place for your baby to lay when in your bed.
Tips for safe bassinet and crib sleeping
Co-sleeping offers some benefits but it isn’t for everyone. You may choose to have your baby sleep separately from you in a crib or bassinet. Here are some bassinet and crib sleep safety tips:
- Be sure that your baby’s crib mattress is firm and sheets are well-fitted.
- Wrap your baby in a swaddle blanket rather than laying them to rest with a loose blanket covering them.
- If your baby’s crib or bassinet is located in a separate room, be sure to use a baby monitor so you can hear your baby if they cry out for you at night.
- Some newborns can accidentally scratch themselves at night, covering their hands with mittens can help prevent this.
Babywearing is a great way to keep your baby safe while remaining hands-free. With a high-quality baby carrier, you can easily strap your baby in and soothe them while you walk around your home and do other things. Although, you probably should be resting in your first week home after having a baby, you will start to feel a bit confined to your couch or nursing spot. Having a baby carrier at hand is one of the many ways to help keep you sane during this uniquely isolating time of transition in your life.
Get out of the house when you can
It’s definitely easier said than done to get out of the house with a newborn, but seize the opportunity at any chance that you can. Although many new parents are concerned with keeping their newborn inside and away from other people in their first few days or week home, it is really important for your mental health to try to get outside every once in a while. This may mean just sitting outside in your yard (if you have one) or going to a park and sitting with your baby on a bench. You can also strap your baby into their stroller and take a walk around the neighborhood.
Expect some hiccups when it comes to breastfeeding
...and we aren’t referring to acid reflux (although that can be an issue as well). Nursing can often present some road bumps, but according to the CDC, many women stop breastfeeding too soon due to a lack of support. Be sure to ask for help if you need it and utilize any local lactation support resources that are available to you.
Your hospital should offer a visit from a lactation consultant before you are discharged home, try to get the contact information of the lactation consultant in case you think of other questions when you get home. There are also local lactation support groups such as La Leche League and super helpful websites such as kellymom.com. Utilize the hospital resources to the best of your ability and be sure to ask any breastfeeding questions you have before going home.
Prepare a part of your home as your nursing station — such as the couch or a comfy chair — to help you feel comfortable during long nursing sessions. Set up your area with some books, water bottles, and snacks so that you can have what you need within reach, since you’ll definitely be spending many hours of your day nursing your newborn.
Remember, you can do this
You were built for this baby and vice versa. It may be scary, but you’ve got this! Do plenty of research and preparation prior to your baby’s arrival, but remember you can’t prepare for everything. Moments of uncertainty are inevitable, and you will learn many things as you go. Just remember, it’s all a part of the process.
The Pop N’ Go playpen is a spacious and safe spot to lay your baby that will follow them from the newborn days into toddlerhood.