Nothing compares to the moment when you first bring a new baby home. The sweet, tiny clothes just waiting to be worn; the nursery set up in all its adorable glory; the unused baby gear ready to be put to the test. It’s all very exciting—and then reality sets in.
You’re at home. With a newborn baby. And no medical professionals in sight.
For the first day or two of life with your new baby at the hospital you can relax a bit. The staff closely monitors mother and baby. Everything from how long they ate, to how long they slept, to how many wet diapers they had was documented meticulously. A nurse came in every once in a while to check the baby’s vitals. You had help, you had guidance, and you had reassurance.
Now, at home, you have none of that. What if something happens? What if your baby needs help, and you don’t know how to help them?
It’s no wonder that many new parents struggle with anxiety after bringing their baby home. This anxiety can negatively impact new parents’ sleep, mental health, and overall well-being. That’s why it’s important for parents to do everything they can (hopefully before the baby comes) to be prepared for the transition.
Here are some helpful things that any parent can do to prepare for the big day (and gain a little peace of mind in the process) .
Around the house
Some of the best things new parents can do to find some peace of mind are small changes they can make around the house.
Do some initial babyproofing.
When your newborn is still a newborn, they aren’t going to be in much danger around your house—at least not in terms of bumping into sharp corners or sticking their fingers into the electrical sockets. That said, doing some initial babyproofing can help bring new parents some peace of mind.
This is especially true if you have another child (particularly a toddler) in the house. You don’t want to be worried about what your toddler might be getting into while you’re feeding the baby. Plus, babyproofing now means not having to do it again when your newborn gets a little more mobile. It’s a win-win.
Here are the babyproofing things you should think about doing now:
- Locking cabinet doors
- Moving breakable items up and out of reach
- Keeping cords from blinds or window treatments out of reach (or look into new window treatments)
- Hide electrical cords
- Cover electrical outlets
- Consider using a baby gate at the top and bottom of the stairs
Most importantly, babyproofing is a mindset that parents will have to adopt for any of their babies and toddlers. Here’s a deeper look at how to babyproof your home.
Think about home security.
When you become a parent, and you’re holding that little bundle of joy who seems so helpless, the worst case scenarios suddenly feel front and center. Someone breaking into your house, for example, becomes an even more terrifying prospect when you have a new baby to protect.
The truth is, there’s nothing any of us can do to make our homes 100% safe without fail. But we can do everything we can to be prepared in case of emergencies.
When working to make your home a safer place in general, consider installing a home security system. Many parents sleep much easier knowing their home (and their family) is being protected at all times. These days, there’s a wide variety of security systems available—everything from simple door and window alarms to more high-tech cameras and motion detectors.
One of the most important features of a good security system is that getting the help you need can be a lot easier (and faster) by providing direct connection to emergency services. Find the option that brings you the most peace of mind.
Along these same lines, make your home safe by being prepared in case of fire. Install smoke detectors in every room of the house, and make sure to change the batteries regularly. Keep a couple fire extinguishers in the house (particularly in hotspots like the kitchen). Most importantly, have an emergency escape plan ready to use in case of fire. Every bedroom in the house should have two exit points. Make sure to keep a collapsible ladder in the room if it is on a second story.
Taking precautionary measures like these can help you feel more secure at home, which can ease some of the anxiety of new parenthood.
Practice hand washing.
Health is one of the primary concerns new parents have for their newborns. At the hospital, hand sanitizer is everywhere, and nurses are constantly washing their hands and reminding visitors to do the same. Since hand washing is the most effective thing you can do to prevent the spreading of germs, practice strict hand washing policies in your home.
Make sure you have hand soap at every sink, and get a few bottles of hand sanitizer (we really like this one we’ve seen used in hospitals) to keep in various places around the house. Remind visitors to wash their hands when they first get to your house, and especially before touching or interacting with the baby.
The first few days and weeks of a baby’s life can be a scary time in terms of illness. Set your house up for success by making hand washing a standard practice.
In an age where almost all parents struggle with newborn-stage anxiety, there are thankfully many baby products available that can help.
Current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics state that a baby should be placed on his/her back to sleep, without any loose bedding or soft toys in the bed with them (which could present suffocation hazards). Because of the risks like SIDS, many parents worry especially when it comes to baby’s sleep.
A “wearable blanket,” such as the Halo SleepSack, can help bring parents a little relief. These are designed to replace loose blankets in the crib, without danger of suffocation. They also help the baby stay warm, but are made with materials that won’t cause overheating. With sizes that will work for newborns up to older toddlers, this is one product that can help you rest easy (literally) through every stage of early parenting.
For more tips about creating a safe sleep environment for baby, read this post.
Owlet baby monitor
One ingenious product to hit the market in recent years is a wearable monitor called the Owlet. This “smart sock” is worn on your baby’s foot, tracks their heart rate and oxygen levels, and alerts you (via app) if anything is wrong.
Many parents are unable to sleep because they constantly check to make sure the baby’s breathing (that’s right, you’re not the only one!). This product can bring parents peace of mind knowing their vital information is being monitored at all times. This is especially useful for parents whose baby has certain health concerns.
Parenting practices and preparation
While attending to our homes and investing in the latest products can help, there’s nothing that will ease your mind more than being personally prepared—armed with the knowledge you need to recognize and respond in any parenting situation.
Learn what you can.
Knowledge is power. That holds true for many areas of life, including parenting. Taking in as much information as possible about what it is like to have a newborn will help you feel more comfortable as you try to figure out what’s normal, what isn’t, and when you should be concerned.
One note here: many baby books will tell you (truthfully) that “every baby is different.” Only time, practice, and experience will tell you for sure what is normal for your baby. Use books, online articles, or classes as a starting point, but realize that your baby is an individual with individual needs. Your baby might not “fit the mold” every time, and that’s okay!
Take care of yourself.
Postpartum mental health is no joke—no matter what gender the new parents are. Lack of sleep and/or nutrition, constant worrying, and other stressors can aggravate those already tender feelings. Sometimes, those feelings are mild and temporary; other times, they are debilitating and lasting, possibly even leaving you in the depths of anxiety, depression, or other postpartum syndromes.
No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on, it’s important to take care of yourself, even from the earliest stages of parenting. Know the symptoms of baby blues, postpartum depression (and anxiety, OCD, and psychosis), and have a plan in place, ahead of time, for what you can do if those symptoms are arising.
Things to try if you’re struggling with your mental health include:
- Talking to your doctor about medication options
- Finding a therapist
- Talking to other parents about their struggles and experiences (in person or even online)
- Joining a new parent support group
- Regular exercise
- Focus on nutritious eating
- Finding a way to get enough sleep on a regular basis
- Finding something that relaxes you, whether it’s a hobby, Netflix, meditation, or long drives
When you take care of yourself and keep yourself mentally healthy, you’ll be able to handle the challenges of parenting with a more peaceful mind.
Get certified in CPR for infants.
When infants or young children need CPR, they need it right away. Precious seconds can be wasted waiting for an ambulance to arrive. That’s why every parent should know how to perform CPR on their infant.
CPR for infants is different from CPR for children and adults, in significant ways. Learning how to do CPR on your baby can make all the difference in the outcome of an emergency situation. Plus, even if an emergency never arises (and we hope it doesn’t!), you’ll have some peace of mind knowing you could handle the situation if it did.
Infant CPR offers convenient, online CPR certification courses for parents, grandparents, caregivers, and anyone else who might be responsible for caring for infants or young children. Our courses cover the basics of CPR and choking relief, with the most up-to-date information available to you at all times. In less than an hour, you can be more confident in your ability to respond quickly and appropriately to an emergency situation.
Here’s a review of our checklist for peace of mind with new babies:
- Do some initial babyproofing.
- Think about home security.
- Practice hand washing.
- Find products (like wearable blankets or monitors) to put your mind at ease.
- Learn what you can.
- Take care of yourself.
- Get certified in CPR for infants.
You don’t have to suffer in the first few days and weeks at home with a newborn. Check off these items and discover more confidence and peace in your parenting, so all you have to worry about is enjoying this precious time with your little one.