What to do when: Bringing the baby home

The first days after you bring your newborn home are very exciting – and a little daunting. Here’s what you need to know.

When your partner and newborn arrive home from the hospital, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed. After all, babies don’t come with instruction manuals and your partner is likely to be on an emotional roller coaster. There are some things you can do to make the first few weeks a whole lot easier.

Make sure the house is clean
Before you bring your partner and baby home, ensure that your home is clean, tidy and welcoming. The last thing she needs is a home full of takeaway pizza boxes and dirty dishes. It’s also a good idea to have your fridge stocked and a few meals in the freezer ready for the first few days.

Get to grips with the car seat
Understanding how the car seat works before you bring your baby home will make your life a lot easier. Car seats can be very confusing, and you don’t want to be standing for hours trying to figure out how the seat works, with your partner and baby waiting in the hospital car park!

Be kind to your partner
Your partner is likely to be sore, exhausted and emotionally fragile. She may only have eyes for her new baby – try not to be offended by this. As much as possible, try to be understanding and patient with her, especially during the first few weeks. Each new Mom responds to motherhood in a different way, and she may need a lot of extra support. Listen to her fears and remind her that you’re in this together.

Arrange for extra help
If you don’t have household help, arrange for someone to assist with the household chores and cleaning for the first few weeks. It’s also a good idea to accept any help from friends and family – they want to help, and may know what it’s like to have a newborn in the house. If someone offers to help, ask if they can drop off dinner or pick up some supplies from the shops. Even small favours can make a big difference.

Manage visitors
Limit the numbers of visitors you have each day. It’s exhausting for both your partner and your baby. When you do have visitors, see them in and out and help with making tea or entertaining them. Try to keep the visit short, man the phone and take messages for her. These first few weeks at home together are so precious, you don’t want to spend them constantly surrounded by people.

Get involved
Have the confidence to get involved with caring for your baby from the start. The only thing you can’t do is breastfeed! Perhaps take over the task of bathing your baby – this can be your special bonding time. If your partner is not breastfeeding, you can offer to do some night feeds to allow her to catch up on sleep. Learn to change nappies, swaddle and put your baby to sleep – these are all ways that new Dads can get involved.

The first few weeks of your baby’s life may be bewildering and a little chaotic. But it’s all part of the rollercoaster ride of having children. Remember that these weeks will never return – your baby will never be quite so small and helpless again. Enjoy it!  What’s the best tip you’ve heard for new Dads?

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