So you’ve brought your newborn baby from the hospital and now it’s time for the real fun to start. You’ve put the car seat down, unpacked all the bags and sat down on the sofa. Okay, so now what do we do? It can be a scary moment for first time parents knowing that you have a little person living with you that you are now completely responsible for. Hopefully I can provide a few tips to make the experience a little less daunting.
Accept any help that is offered to you
You may feel like you are putting people out by accepting their help. The truth is you need support at this challenging time. If friends and family want to cook meals for you or offer to take some of your washing then accept them immediately! The last thing you want to be doing when you have a newborn baby is constantly filling the washing machine or slaving round an oven all evening. A lot of family members will feel like they need to be doing something to help so that they don’t feel useless, so let them help. We even hired a cleaner to come round a few days after we got home. It’s amazing how much better you feel once your living space is looking brand new.
I can’t stress this point enough. Obviously this will be a little more difficult for single parents but if both mum and dad are present, it is so important that you work together. If you are reading this as a first time dad, make sure you get involved as much as possible. Your partner will have just been through a very traumatic labour process and she is going to need all the help she can get.
For the first few weeks you will need to work as a team, especially when it comes to the night time routine. You are both going to be tired and stressed out, so share out the parenting duties. One person change the nappy, the other do the feed. Whilst dad’s are on paternity you may as well use them! It’s also important that you let each other rest. Take it in turns to have the baby whilst the other goes for a couple of hours sleep.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to parent your child
It’s fine to take advice from professionals and seek guidance from family members. However when it comes to making decisions about your child, you have to do what you think is best. Nobody will know your child like you do. If you want to give them a dummy from birth, then do it. If you want to bottle feed them instead of breastfeed, then do it. The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay to make mistakes.
There isn’t a first time parent anywhere that will be perfect at everything straight away. You will probably end up with shit all over you the first time you change a nappy, or get covered in sick the first time you burp your baby, but that’s okay. Just means you are going to have a mountain of dirty laundry. We decided that we were going to use a Tommee Tippee machine to make up our bottles. Even against the advice from the hospital who told us that they were unsafe and potentially harmful for a baby. It’s all down to preference, and what’s right for one family may not be right for another. There is no evidence to prove that Tommee Tippee machines are harmful, so if you want to use them, then use them.
Get as much sleep as possible
The lack of sleep is arguably the most challenging part of the early stages of parenting. Your baby will be waking up every couple of hours throughout the night for a feed so be prepared for some sleepless nights in the first few weeks. The best advice I can give is to sleep when the baby sleeps. When the baby is asleep and settled, take a nap and try and refresh. Make the most of any time you can get because once they wake up, it’ll be back to work!
For the baby, we were given a Finnish baby box. These are highly recommended for newborns to sleep in for the first 6 months. It’s basically just a big cardboard box with a mattress but they are great for putting at the side of your bed and research suggests that they have lowered the rates of infant deaths, so they must be worth a try.
The first few weeks of parenting is all about learning, both for you as the parent and for your baby. A large amount of patience is required. Your baby will still be working out how to feed, how to burp and how to take a shit in their nappies, which takes some practice. To make things easier for yourself, try to learn the different cues that your baby will show when they want something. When they are hungry, they will usually try and chew their own hands off, it’s pretty difficult to miss that one. The others I’m afraid are a little less obvious and will require some working out.
Enjoy every second
They won’t stay small for long, which I will be finding out for myself in the next few months, so enjoy every second whilst you can. Take as many pictures as humanly possible and cuddle and kiss your child as much as you can. A newborn baby can never be shown enough love. Secretly they will be cursing you for being so soppy but they will love you for it. Before you know it they will be crawling around and answering you back. Enjoy this time you have when they are small and relatively quiet.
Have I missed anything? Leave your comments below if there’s any more advice you can give. I’m always looking to improve my parenting skills so help a new dad out.