Welcoming a new baby into your family is a wonderful and exciting thing. And, like many other wonderful and exciting things, it’s also absolutely terrifying.
Whether you’re becoming a parent for the first time, or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of a new baby. After all, you’re about to be responsible for an entire human life. No pressure, right?
Luckily for you, people have been bringing new babies home for a long time. And while all parents have their own unique parenting methods and styles, there are a few universally-accepted things that should be done as you’re preparing for a new baby.
1. Prepare a safe sleeping area.
Safety is your top priority as a new parent—but sleeping will likely be a close second. All jokes aside, safe sleeping is extremely important for parents to know about, as sleeping babies are very vulnerable to their environment and to any potential safety hazards.
To prepare a safe sleeping environment, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- A firm sleeping surface, such as a firm crib mattress or bassinet
- A tight fitting sheet as the only bedding in the sleep area; there should be no blankets, comforters, or pillows in the bed with the baby.
- Crib bumpers should also be avoided.
- Removing soft or plush toys from the sleeping area
- Having the baby sleep in the parents’ room (though not in the parents’ bed) for 6 months to a year.
- Offering a pacifier to the baby at night
- Avoiding sleep wedges or other positioning devices
- Avoiding baby’s exposure to smoke and alcohol
- Not sleeping with the baby in your arms.
- If you fall asleep holding the baby, move the baby to his/her safe sleeping area as soon as you wake up.
These guidelines are meant to help reduce the risk of suffocation, strangulation, overheating, and SIDS. By adhering to them, your baby will be more likely to be safe while sleeping (which will hopefully help you sleep a little more soundly, too!).
2. Be aware of other safety hazards.
The sleeping area is more important than the rest of the house when it comes to newborn babies. After all, newborns aren’t going to try to climb the stairs or pull things off of shelves (at least, we really hope not—for your sake). That said, you should be aware of what a “babyproof-ed” house looks like before you bring your new child home, and take any babyproofing steps that will help you feel more comfortable and prepared.
Common safety hazards around the house include:
Heavy, breakable, or sharp items within reach (table lamps, floor lamps, books, glass dishes, large plants, knives, etc.)
Cords hanging from window treatments
Visible electric cords (may inspire pulling)
Sharp corners on furniture
Heavy or tall furniture that is not anchored to the walls
Access to dangerous substances, such as cleaning supplies, detergents, or pesticides
Choking hazards within reach (small office supplies, coins, decorative objects, etc.)
While many of these things won’t necessarily pose a direct threat to your newborn baby, they will definitely be dangerous for a crawler or a toddler, and it may bring you more peace of mind to take care of some of these things right away. Also remember that life is going to get a lot busier once that new bundle of joy arrives, and now may be your best opportunity to make sure all hazards get taken care of properly.
In addition, make sure standard safety precautions are taken around the house, including properly functioning locks, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and a well-stocked first aid kit.
3. Stock up on…everything.
As the first few days and weeks of parenting pass by in a blur, you’re going to start to understand why they sell diapers in such big boxes: (a) because babies use a lot of diapers, and (b) because going out to buy diapers at 11 pm because you ran out isn’t fun for anyone.
Pre-baby is a great time to stock up on the essentials: diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, bottles, burp cloths, formula if you’re formula feeding, and extra sheets and baby clothes (because all it takes is one blowout to ruin a onesie forever).
Besides baby items, however, it would also help to stock up on things that will keep your house running smoothly as well: freezer meals, snacks, laundry detergent, hand soap/sanitizer, and so on. Especially in the early days when you don’t want to leave the house, it will help to have everything you need on hand and in plentiful supply.
4. Deep clean the house.
Coming home to a clean house is much more pleasant than coming home to a messy one. Once you’ve got that new baby in your arms, the housework is going to take a backseat to feeding, diapering, changing, burping, and (hopefully) cuddling. So take some time to deep clean your house before the baby’s arrival. You can either put that nesting instinct to good use, or pay a professional to come take care of it for you. Either way, you’ll feel much better if you’re able to focus on your new baby rather than on scrubbing the showers.
5. Choose a pediatrician.
Your baby is going to need to have his or her first pediatrician visit in the first week of life. Since you’ll have plenty of things on your mind during that time, it will be better for you if you already have a pediatrician selected before your baby is born.
If you aren’t sure how to find a good pediatrician, you can ask friends or neighbors, search online, ask your own doctor, or even ask the local hospital for their suggestions. Some pediatricians may allow you to come to the office and meet them before your baby arrives, so you can see whether or not it would be a good fit. No matter how you go about it, having a pediatrician picked out ahead of time will definitely be useful.
6. Be ready for all the emotions.
No matter how your new baby is welcomed into your home, a wave of emotions is going to come with it. Of course this happens for moms who have just given birth (and have the hormones to prove it), but it also applies to fathers, partners, and adoptive parents as well. A new baby is going to introduce stress, anxiety, worry, and frustration—along with all the love, of course.
It’s hard to say exactly how your new baby will impact the emotional dynamics of your home, but it’s safe to say that there will be an impact. Have a toolkit ready to go of things that will help you handle your emotions when the going gets tough. This could include:
Going for a walk
- Leaving the baby with a sitter
- Taking the baby for a drive
- Watching your favorite show
Having this “emergency list” of things to try when you’re feeling stressed will help you take care of yourself as well as your baby.
Additionally, if postpartum hormones are part of the equation, then don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about possible solutions. Anything from medication to support groups can help you navigate difficult, new-parent emotions in a healthy way.
7. Get CPR training.
One thing that parents often overlook is getting trained on how to help their baby should a life or death situation arise. While no parent wants to consider the possibility of this happening to their child, it is smart to be prepared by getting trained in CPR and choking relief.
Even if you know how to do CPR on an adult, you should still be trained separately in CPR for infants and in CPR for children
, as the methods are different and correctness is vital.
Because we know how busy new parents are, we’ve created comprehensive CPR and choking relief training courses that can be taken at your convenience. Our courses give you unlimited, lifetime access to class materials, so you can refresh your knowledge at any time.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use your CPR training. But it will give you peace of mind knowing you could help your baby at a time when they need it most.
Becoming a parent is just as wonderful as it is terrifying (we promise!). And, once you follow these tips to help you prepare your home and yourself for your new baby, you’ll be more ready than you realize. You’ve got this!