Taking Care of You
When you come home from the hospital you want everything to be perfect, but unfortunately, new parents find themselves sleep-deprived and emotionally spent at a time when they want and need to be vigilant. It is incredibly important that you share responsibilities and plan for rest, eating, sleeping, and taking care of the baby.
If you are so fortunate as to have a relative or friend help out in the first weeks, then take all the help you can get, and divide the work so you can all get some rest.
Taking Care of Baby
For the most part, babies need food, sleep, a dry diaper, and someone to talk quietly and lovingly to them. It's not so much to do; it's the timing that is troublesome. That's why parents of newborns often find themselves highly stressed. If the baby is screaming, the phone is ringing, the pot is boiling, the laundry basket is full, the refrigerator died, and you are on your last nerve: take a moment to decompress. Make sure the baby is safe, the pot is off, and find a place to relax.
Life can wait 10 minutes for you. Do not lose your cool with the baby.
Besides the stress of the new family structure, the baby is not likely to get into much trouble. Accidental smothering (crib death/SIDS) is rare, but here are some guidelines that may help prevent it.
- Dress the baby for sleep only in a one-piece and diaper (long legs and arms in the winter).
- Put all newborns to sleep on their backs.
- Keep the crib free of all other items besides the baby; showcase stuffed animals and throw pillows elsewhere.
- Do not bundle a newborn in too many blankets. If the room is comfortable for you, it is comfortable for your baby as well.
- Do not leave a baby unattended on an elevated surface - couch, chair, changing table, your bed, etc. Even sleeping newborns can wiggle or scoot off and onto the floor.
- The safest place to change diapers is on the floor with a changing mat.
- Do not co-sleep with your newborn. It can be tempting to sleep after feeding your baby, or to hold him until he is asleep after a particularly rough colic event at 2 am, but the risk outweighs the benefits.
Contributing to this page was Dr. James C. Montgomery MD FAAP.