As a new parent bringing home a newborn baby for the first time, there’s a lot to process and think about! And it’s comforting to have some solid tips on hand that will make life easier with your new little one, especially from people who have been through it.
With that in mind, we reached out to a number of parents in the Northern Virginia area for tips and home hacks for parents to try before and after bringing home a newborn for the first time. Try them out and let us know what worked well for you!
Do a Home Safety Check
Before the baby arrives, take an afternoon or two to go through your home and do an overall home safety check-up. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website offers a printable Home Safety Checklist to help you cover your bases, with steps that include testing and replacing batteries in smoke alarms and safety tips for cooking and electrical appliances.
Related tip: When you first bring your baby home, don’t pressure yourself to fully baby-proof your home right away (covering electrical outlets, putting soft padding on sharp corners, etc.) — that will come later when your kiddo starts crawling. Just focus on boosting your overall home safety and peace of mind by checking the basics.
Prepare Meals Ahead
When taking care of baby, Mom and Dad need to make sure they take care of themselves, too — and that includes eating healthy meals. It might become difficult to squeeze in time to cook in the first few weeks after you bring baby home, so pick out a few recipes to make and freeze ahead of time. Hello Glow blog has a great list of 80 freezer-friendly recipes (we’re particularly excited about the Banana Flax Freezer Waffles and the Parmesan Crusted Chicken Tenders) if you’re looking for inspiration!
Wrap Up Administrative Tasks
As much as you can, try to get your household and office tasks finished ahead of time (finances, household chores, any last work-related items) to make life as simple as possible when the baby arrives.
Hold Off on Complicated Projects
Whenever possible, don’t plan to take on any major projects around the time when your new baby will arrive. This includes home improvements, renovations or moving into a new home. That may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many parents try to take on too much at once!
Have Car Seat Assembled and Ready
Make sure the car seat is already assembled and installed in the car before heading to the hospital. This will save you the anxiety of frantically putting it together on the day you take your baby home.
Set Up a “Baby Corner” in Your Bedroom
This tip comes from Miriam Szubin, Director of the Parenting Center at the Edlavitch DCJCC: in addition to whatever you have set up for the baby’s room, establish a baby station in the corner of your own bedroom with diapers, wipes, a changing mat, a few clean onesies, a bassinet or other safe place to put the baby down, and any supplies you need for feeding. Middle-of-the-night feedings will be easier if you have all of those supplies in easy reach of your own bed, and it will help you remember to rest and take it easy.
Bonus tip: you might also want to try setting up a similar baby corner in one of your main living spaces (the living room, for example) to have these items in close reach elsewhere in your home.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family when and if you need help, at any time. Consider creating a list of common tasks (lawn care, weatherproofing, grocery shopping, etc.) to have on hand when people ask you how they can help out after the baby arrives.
Opt for Velcro Swaddles
In her blog The Cuban Maiden, local Northern Virginia mom Ifdy Perez swears by using swaddling blankets with velcro fastening like the Halo SleepSack Swaddle. You can read more of Ifdy’s recommendations on her recent post, 10 Practical and Cheap Gifts for the First-Time Mom.
Pop in a Red Lightbulb
To aid middle-of-the-night feedings, try replacing one of our bedside lights with a red lightbulb. Adults can see pretty clearly in this light but babies aren’t as sensitive to it, so it won’t cause them to become alert and wake up.
Try White Noise (or Not)
This one’s a bit contentious, actually. Some parents swear by using a white noise machine to help drown out external house to help the baby sleep better. Other parents advocate for making normal amounts of household noise (running the vacuum, turning on the television) to get the baby used to falling and staying asleep with typical noise. There’s no one right answer for every baby and every household, so do some research to determine which option will work best for you.
Take Naps When the Baby Naps
New parents often put themselves last when caring for a new baby, choosing to finish up household tasks while the baby sleeps instead of getting some much-needed sleep, themselves. Try to nap when the baby does, even if the house is a mess. Nobody expects perfection from your household at this time, do don’t put any unnecessary pressure on yourself. And as we said earlier, ask for help when you need it!
Establish a Consistent Bedtime Ritual and Bed Time
Consistency will help the baby fall asleep instinctually at the same hour every night, so that mom and dad can have their time together, too. Calming bedtime rituals include warm baths or reading bedtime stories. Get more ideas on What to Expect.
Have any additional tips for new parents with newborns? Tweet them at us and we’ll update this post with tips from our readers!