First-time parents: A beginner’s guide

Among the tidal wave of new concerns associated with pregnancy comes the thought of life after pregnancy: being a parent. You’ve worked so hard to make sure Baby is happy and healthy in the womb, but what happens when she is free to crawl around the world? Parenting is the only job that comes with a lifetime contract and no manual, so every new mom and dad will approach it differently. However, all first time parents may have one experience in common–a silent panic after arriving home from the hospital acknowledging that they aren’t sure what to do from there.

Helpful resources

At times like these, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family members who have experience with newborns. You may think asking for help reflects poorly on your maternal instincts, but the truth is, everyone needs help. Maybe the women in your family have a tried and true method to to soothe a crying baby or your best friend has a great recommendation for a mobile to help get babies to sleep faster. Even in the hospital, nurses are an excellent resource for questions about breastfeeding, burping, and changing Baby.

Holding an infant

Infants are delicate in their physical and internal build–they don’t have the neck strength to support their own heads nor the immune system to reliably fight off infections. Anyone who holds your newborn should have clean hands and know how to support the head and neck well. Always ensure Baby is secure in a stroller, car seat, or carrier, since they lack the strength to shift their bodies if they slip. It is extremely important to remember that your infant is not ready for rough play, as tempting as it may be to toss them in the air or bounce them on your knee.

Connecting with baby

The first few days after delivery is a critical time for you and your partner to develop a physical and emotional bond with Baby. This truly paves the way for the unconditional love your child will feel throughout his or her life, so make sure you and your partner have plenty of time for skin-to-skin contact. Babies will respond positively to soft, playful noises as they get accustomed to your and your partner’s voice.

Diaper changes

We all know that infants are basically eating and pooping machines, so you should expect to visit the diaper changing station about 10 times a day. It won’t take long for you and your partner to get the hang of this process, but you should definitely learn how to secure a diaper for Baby’s comfort and less mess! Always have clean diapers, a trash bin, wipes, and rash ointment at your diaper changing station so that you don’t have to run out of the room and leave Baby unattended. Diaper rashes are common but mostly harmless, and they usually go away after a few days. They’re usually caused by friction with the diaper or overexposure to a moist environment, so feel free to let Baby roam around diaper-free for a little while.

Feeding and burping

There is no universal rule designating how often you should feed infants, simply because you should feed them whenever you get a sign that they’re hungry. This tends to be every 2-3 hours, but every baby grows at a different rate, so talk to your healthcare provider if Baby continuously fusses during feedings. When babies are nursing, they tend to suck in air, which requires burping a few times during and after feedings. This can be done in many positions, but make sure you don’t pat Baby’s back too aggressively.

The thought of managing an infant can be intimidating, but the best defense against harmful conditions is being careful and attentive. Childcare classes are a great way for you and your partner to learn the basics of attending to a newborn. The first few days will probably be the most terrifying, but you’ll get into a routine soon enough to create a safe and loving environment for your family.

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