Mother And Baby Source
The Best Ways to Prepare for Baby’s Arrival and First Year
Becoming a new mom can be both exciting and confusing. You may be looking forward to the birth of your baby, yet at the same time, confused about how you will care for him in the weeks and months after his birth. Understanding what to expect will help you to better prepare for your life with your new baby.
Preparing to Bring Baby Home
Preparing to bring your baby home at the end of your pregnancy will be a flurry of activity. You will want to prepare to have everything on hand that you will need for the first few weeks. This includes a complete layette of blankets, towels, diapers feeding and bathing supplies. You will also need a place for the baby to sleep, so cribs, bassinets or baskets are helpful to have on hand. For bottle feeding, a set of bottles, brushes and nipples are essential. You may also want to stock up on optional items like strollers, high chairs and swings. Most hospitals require you to have an installed car seat before you bring baby home, so be sure to have this done in advance.
Caring for a Newborn
Caring for a newborn is one of the most important parenting skills you will use in the weeks and months following the birth of your new baby. Your baby will likely spend most of his time sleeping and eating, so you will have to get used to his schedule. Rememeber that your baby will sleep and eat on his own schedule, so don’t be surprised if he only sleeps for one to two hours at a time. Typically babies wake up when their stomachs are empty, so this may mean frequent feedings and waking throughout the night. Your baby will start to sleep for longer stretches of time when he is able to eat more as his stomach grows.
Feeding Your Newborn
Regardless of what other people may tell you, whichever way you decide to feed your baby is best. Some mothers breastfeed exclusively, others bottle feed exclusively and still others use a combination of the two. As long as your baby is gaining the proper amount of weight and is healthy, there is no right or wrong way to feed him. If you are planning to buy a set of supplies prior to the baby’s birth, it may help to buy a breast pump, a set of bottles and nursing bras and pads to help in feeding your new baby.
Diapering Your Newborn
Babies use up a lot of diapers. Newborns use up to 10 per day, regardless of how they are fed. You can choose to use either disposable or cloth diapers or a combination of both. Cloth diapers are often more comfortable on baby’s skin, but require extensive cleaning and washing. You will also have to change them as soon as the baby soils them, which will be time consuming as well. Disposable diapers are convenient for changing the baby on the go, but are less environmentally-friendly than cloth diapers.
Bonding With Your Newborn
In addition to the basic care of your baby, you will spend time bonding with your newborn. Talk to your baby, read to her, sing to her and play with her. Babies are intensely attached to their mothers in the first weeks after their birth, as they have been used to hearing her voice for nine months while they were in the womb. Even though your baby can’t talk back to you just yet, talking to your baby helps her to develop and build language skills later in life. Sometimes just sitting and holding your baby, enjoying skin-to-skin contact, is the best way to bond with her.
Newborn Gear You Will Need
The basics of what you will need is feeding, bathing and sleeping gear. There are some items, however, that make life with baby easier. A baby carrier will allow you to attach the baby to your body and carry him around while you work around the house or take a walk with the dog. You may want to buy a swing to help to soothe him to sleep or entertain him while you are working. Many babies love to nap in swings. Diaper pails, bottle sterilizers, bottle warmers and walkers are all great items that will make it easier for you to raise your infant.
High chairs will make feeding easier when your baby is older. Some moms buy a jogging stroller to use for exercise in addition to their regular stroller system. Baby bathtubs and showers are all the rage, and many parents swear by them when caring for their little ones. Baby monitors are helpful for families with babies who sleep in a separate room from their parents. Other parents use a co-sleeping crib that allows their babies to sleep close to the side of their bed.
Feeding Babies Solid Food
At around five to six months, your baby may be ready to eat solid food. The first step in feeding your baby solid food is to feed him thinned out infant cereal. Your pediatrician will tell you when it is time for your baby to start with cereal. In the beginning, you will be feeding your baby a diet of mostly milk and a small amount of cereal. Gradually, you will add more cereal and less milk until baby is eating solid cereal.
After the cereal stage, baby will start to eat solid pureed vegetables and fruits. You may choose to buy pre-prepared foods or make them yourself with a food processor. Finally, your baby will progress to solid foods that he can chew. Don’t rush through the stages of introducing foods. Introducing solid foods too soon can result in digestive problems and even sleep regression.
By the time your baby is about two years old, he will be eating a full diet of solid foods. Parents should always avoid feeding babies any small food that he can choke on like popcorn, grapes and nuts.
Baby Proofing Your Home
Around the baby’s first birthday, she will start to try to crawl and walk. When the baby is about six months old, start to prepare your home to be safe for the crawling baby. Remove anything small from the floor that can be a choking hazard. Cover outlets, place fences around stairs and raise all cords so baby can’t pull things down on his head. Crawl around on the floor and scope out all of the hazards in your home from the baby’s vantage point.
Habits to Avoid With Newborns
Always put your baby to sleep on his back to make sure he is safe while sleeping. Pediatricians warn against putting extra items like pillows, blankets and toys in baby’s crib. Avoid using crib bumpers as the baby could turn over and bury his head in them. Instead of a blanket, use pajamas or a baby sleeping bag to keep baby warm.
Some people suggest that parents should let babies cry instead of comforting them. They suggest that this will teach the baby to self-soothe. Pediatricians warn against this practice, as this causes the baby to become frustrated and mistrust his parents. Pediatricians encourage parents to soothe their babies and respond to their cries immediately. Babies often cry because they want to be held. This is normal and it encourages bonding with the parents.
When it comes to bringing a new baby into the family, there are many steps you can take to ensure a healthy baby, from prepregnancy to toddler-hood. By planning for baby’s birth, buying the right gear and preparing for his first year of life, you can enjoy raising your newborn and enjoying years of memories with him.