Whether you’re expecting, about to give birth for the first time, or just needing to brush up on some “know-hows” for your second or third child, these tips are helpful for any expectant parent or caregiver.
The first two weeks with a new baby can be exciting, exhausting and overwhelming all at once. So, a few tips to stay ahead are a must.
Even though this isn’t my first baby, I’ve learned a few things with my third-born recently that didn’t really phase me during my first and second round of postpartum.
Here are a few helpful newborn tips for baby’s first days at home:
1. Start breastfeeding immediately
I’m almost certain that if you haven’t specified how you’ll be feeding baby with your doctor and birthing team, then they will automatically assume you’ll breastfeed right after birth. After all, there are so many benefits to breastfeeding your newborn and if it’s something you choose to do, then you’ll want to get started immediately after baby is born.
This is important because within the first hour of giving birth (also known as the Golden Hour), your body will naturally produce colostrum which is highly rich in nutrients and helps your newborn’s immunity.
Plus, early breastfeeding increases the likelihood that you and baby will want to continue beyond the first three months of life.
2. Practice Skin To Skin
Skin to skin is super beneficial for both you and baby. It’s essential for moms because the first contact with baby can help produce the milk necessary for feedings. It’s also important for baby in establishing a strong bond, along with regulating the baby’s body temperature and breathing.
3. Take Advantage Of The Nursery
This is something I personally used with my first-born. I didn’t expect the exhaustion that came with childbirth and when I had an opportunity to let him rest while I got my own, I used it!
I know you may be anxious and after all, you’ve waited ten long months to meet your new baby and you don’t want baby out of your sight – but don’t feel bad for using what was made specifically for you.
Once you and baby are home, there will be very short periods of rest you can actually get, so take advantage of the opportunity while you have it.
4. Talk To Your Lactation Consultant Before Leaving The Hospital
The third time around, I was adamant about breastfeeding for the long haul and I wanted to know as much as possible before leaving the hospital. This is super important!
If you decide to breastfeed, please talk to your lactation consultant before leaving the hospital. This will avoid some of the frustrations and concerns later on.
You want to check for things like baby latching properly, how long a feeding should last, signs of fullness, concerns about cluster feeding and more.
5. Be Sure To Grab The Hospital Goodies And Take Them Home
Some expectant moms are all about being overly prepared for the big day and even have a huge checklist for their hospital bag – but in all honestly, you don’t really need one.
Most hospitals today supply you with everything you need for your stay, including postpartum must-haves. They stock each room before you and your newborn arrive and there will be plenty leftover when it’s time to leave. Take those things with you!
6. Make Sure You Have The Right Car Seat
You can only imagine how tiny your new infant will be, so you want to make sure you prepare to have the right sized car seat ready when it’s time to depart from the hospital. Some hospitals even have someone who can make sure your car seat is secured properly before leaving, but that may be something you want to ask during your hospital stay or tour.
If baby is even smaller than you expected, be sure to grab an insert for added cushion for baby’s head and neck.
7. Learn Baby’s Hunger Cues
You may be surprised to know this, but crying and fussing are usually the LAST signs of your baby communicating hunger. While baby is awake, look for signs like lip-smacking, baby sucking on his/her hands, or moving their head from side to side.
8. Set Feeding Alarms
During the first few weeks, there will be lots of adjusting. To make feeding your newborn easier, set an alarm for every hour baby needs to feed. That way, you won’t forget, and you can ensure baby is getting enough nutrients throughout the day.
If you’re breastfeeding, creating a good flow of milk starts with a consistent routine. Setting an alarm for every two hours can help you produce more milk throughout the first few weeks and beyond. I literally set an alarm for every two hours the first few weeks after my newborn was born. It was exhausting for sure, but well worth it when it came to establishing a good flow of milk for the later months.
9. Collect Your Leaking Breastmilk
During the day, your body is constantly producing milk. I’m sure I can speak for all of us when I say, we don’t want that precious milk to go to waste. You can use milk-savers that easily slide into your nursing bra.
These are not to be confused with the breastmilk pads that help keep you dry throughout the day. You can use the milk-savers along with your pads, but you don’t want your milk to soak the pads because that would be a waste.
10. Keep Your Feeding Must-Haves Nearby
During the first few weeks your body is still healing, and you will spend a ton of time sitting or lying down while you feed your newborn baby. It’s super helpful to have all of you and baby’s needs nearby.
Stock a cart, or a diaper caddy with things like diapers, breast pads, wipes, burp cloths, clean onesies, a heating pad, breast pump, water and snacks. You can also store any medication nearby that you and baby may need.
11. Keep A Heating Pad
I was sitting uncomfortable for a few days until I realized I needed to order a heating pad from Amazon ASAP to help with soreness. This one thing helped me recover more smoothly and also doubled as a sleeping hack for the newborn.
Newborns usually cry when you put them down after falling asleep due to the change in temperature from your arms and chest to wherever you lay them next. To help with the transition, try placing your heating pad wherever you decide to lay baby next, so that this warms their spot. This was a life-changer for me!
12. Swaddle Your Baby
Speaking of warmth and comfort, most babies sleep longer when they’re swaddled because it mimics the womb.
13. Use A Baby Sling
To continue the womb feeling throughout the day, you may want to invest into a baby sling. These help keep baby close to you while you move around hands-free. They’re also great support while breastfeeding and create a warm and snuggly environment for baby to relax and sleep in. These are especially helpful for babies who won’t settle down in a swing or bouncer.
14. Create A Calm Environment With White Noise
I can’t stress this enough! I used white noise up until my kids were five years of age! White noise machines help block out household noise such as older siblings, pets and constant chatter. This one is a great one to use because you can set the times of day in which the machine turns on and off, control it from your phone and even use it for older siblings.
It’s also great for late-night diaper changes with it’s light that comes on with a simple tap.
15. Set Up A Pack N’ Play
When I gave birth to my firstborn, I swore by pack n’ plays! These portable playpens come complete with a bassinet and changing table that attach to the very top. Plus, they come with ample storage for things like diapers, wipes, extra onsies, blankets and bibs.
It’s especially great for moms who delivered via c-section because everything, including the baby, is right by your bedside, just like at the hospital.
16. Use Shea Butter And Coconut Oil
This may sound a bit crazy, but both of these natural oils work! Raw shea butter is great for moisturizing and clears up diaper rashes within hours! You can also use raw shea butter for your own skin as it heals and beyond. Shae butter is great for reducing the appearance of stretch marks and provides relief for itchy and peeling skin.
Organic, raw coconut oil is great too. I use this on my newborn as a daily moisturizer and never had to touch a baby lotion, ever! Coconut oil was extremely helpful removing cradle cap as well. Plus, it’s great for breastfeeding moms to relieve dryness around your areola.
17. Layer The Crib
Another newborn hack would be to layer the crib with sheets. Start with one water-proof mattress, then a sheet, then another mattress pad, topped with one more sheet. That way, if baby has an accident in the middle of the night, you can easily take the top layer off and you can both go right back to sleep.
18. Pull The Onesie Down During A Blowout
Did you know the flaps around baby’s shoulders on their onesies were meant specifically for blowouts? Instead of pulling the onesie over baby’s heads, pull the onesie down to avoid further messes.
19. Use A Diaper Genie
I didn’t use one with my first two, but I was gifted one with my youngest and let me tell you – it’s a game changer! I don’t know how I survived two infants, thirteen months apart, without one.
I simply line the diaper pail, throw the diapers away and never have to look back. This thing is truly magical. I never have to deal with smelly diapers again. My biggest tip would be to stock up on refills. You can buy a 3-pack to keep from forgetting.
20. Use An Infant Sink Tub
For whatever reason, we all go for the biggest, most luxurious baby tub there is when adding it to our baby registry, but here’s the thing – you do not want to have to bend over the first few weeks to bathe your baby.
Instead, opt for an infant bath pillow instead. These baths fit in a sink, saving your back and healing lower abdomen. You can easily wash baby standing up. Plus, the bath pillows add warmth and can be used in the tub as baby grows and your body heals.
21. Use Moisturizing Oils During Bath Time
Baby’s skin is so delicate that it can easily dry out the more baths baby takes. You only want to bathe your newborn a few times a week, for the first few weeks.
To keep baby’s delicate skin soft and moisturized, try adding a few drops of coconut oil in the bath water. This can save you time after the bath as well, because baby will be moisturized already.
22. Use A Cup During Bath Time
Before you put baby in the tub, or sink, pre-fill a rinse cup with warm water. Once baby is in the sink, pour the warm water over baby’s body before you start giving them a bath to keep them warm. This cup also helps to gently rinse the baby after bathing.
23. Have Multiple Changing Stations Throughout Your Home
After the first few days back home, you’ll be moving around the home and it’s super helpful to have multiple changing stations for when a blowout occurs.
Stuff a basket in the living room with a few diapers and wipes, along with your home office, or any other area you may frequent with baby. I even make sure the car is stocked with extra baby wipes and diapers as well.
24. Keep Your Baby Bag Ready To Go
This may sound like a no-brainer, but seriously – stock the baby bag for on-the-go ONLY! Once you’re home, restock what was used and put the bag away for the next trip.
This ensures that you have everything you need while on the go. The last thing you’ll want to worry about when it’s time to go is if you have everything you need.
25. Keep The Car Stocked
I talked about this a few steps back, but I want to emphasize how important it is to keep a separate stash in the car as well. This includes extra clothes for baby, extra clothes for yourself, diapers, wipes, a first aid kit, breast pads, bottles, pump accessories, formula and pacifiers if you use them.
This diaper caddy for the car helps!
26. Use A Car Mirror
I wasn’t satisfied until I got one of these. Although I have older kids, it was so unsettling to hear my baby cry without being able to see him from the driver’s seat. Although you still can’t be there to help while you’re driving, it does provide some clarity when you’re able to look back through a mirror to actually see what’s going with baby.
27. Have Several Places To Sit Baby Throughout The Home
So you have your diaper stations everywhere, but where will baby go? Set yourself up for success by keeping a baby swing, or bouncer in the areas you spend the most time. This can be the kitchen, the living room, your home office and even your bathroom!
28. Sleep When Baby Sleeps!
This one is so important. You’re already sleep-deprived, so be sure to catch a few snoozes throughout the day when baby decides to settle down. You’re no good to anyone, including your baby, with adequate rest!
29. Prepare Freezer Meals Ahead Of Time
Right before baby arrives, try your hand at preparing meals ahead of time. Dishes like casseroles and soups freeze really well. Trying to cook with a newborn can be nearly impossible, so get creative before baby arrives!
30. Learn To Accept Help!
This one is huge during the postpartum period. The first few days with baby can be completely overwhelming! You want to make sure you’re getting enough rest, your baby is getting enough to eat and you may have other kids who need attention as well.
There’s so much to do and so much to be accountable for that you may not have the bandwith to deal with it all. Get some help!
Ask your partner help and communicate your needs to them as much as possible. Don’t think they can assume what you need. Instead, ask them and set reminders.
If you have older kids, maybe this is the time to consider allocating chores so that the burden of cleaning and maintaining the home doesn’t fall on you.
Call your mom, or dad to help throughout the day. Or hire a postpartum doula! They are trained to help with your needs as well as baby’s needs. Some even help with meals and watching over your older children.
31. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
As moms, we tend to “think” everything is on us and we have to be the one who does it all, but please understand you just gave life to a precious being who needs you the most. The house can wait. The laundry can wait. So don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, hold your newborn tight and get as many cuddles as you can while they’re still tiny. They won’t be that size forever. Enjoy this new phase in both you and baby’s lives.
With all of that being said, please take some time enjoy the newborn phase. It goes by really quickly. The newborn cuddles, the warmth, the baby smell and the way they just lay on you for comfort , will all change within the next year or so, so cherish the moments!