How to Prepare for Your First Night at Home as Parents
Understandably, that first night at home as parents can be exciting, overwhelming and even a little daunting. You are filled with questions about what to expect and how to cope with the events that are about to occur. The best way to make the experience a pleasant one is to prepare for your first night ahead of time.
Once you’ve left the hospital your baby will rely entirely on you for all of its needs, whether it is the closeness of cuddles or the fulfilment of a good feed – it is down to you to provide all of these for them.
What to expect
Feeding – on average a new-born baby will need feeding every few hours, and this is because their stomachs are so tiny that they can only hold small amounts of milk (around 1 – 3oz on average). So, your first night at home as parents will involve regular feeding.
Napping – your baby will want to sleep a lot because they have had an enormous shock having entered the world and they do all of their growing and developing during their sleep. It is important to let them sleep during this time (and try to catch up on that much needed rest yourself).
Expect to want closeness – your baby has been tucked up safe and warm inside your womb for 9 months and is used to that safe, warm and snug bubble. Having been thrust into the world it is natural that they will need warm, soft cuddles with you and they will recognise your scent, the sound of your voice and the rhythm of your heart. That first night at home as parents is vital in establishing your baby’s feeling of security.
Pooping – there will be wet or soiled nappies regularly (at least 5 or 6 a day). However, your baby might not poop more than once or twice a day. You should expect a whole range of colours and consistencies ranging from greenish, light browns, yellow and wholegrain mustard seed-ish.
Crying – yes. It is going to happen. But just know that your baby will cry because they are trying to tell you something. A wet nappy? Hungry? Tired? Too warm? OR – perhaps they just want to be held. Be prepared for crying that first night at home, and that it is OK.
Every baby is different, and so there is no set rules as to how to go about your first night at home as parents. There’s no step by step flow chart about how to tackle those first 24 hours, but there are ways you can prepare ahead of time.
Stock up: Ensure that during your pregnancy you have collected new-born nappies, cotton wool, nappy bags, nappy cream for new-borns and any feeding equipment you’ll need. Baby wipes aren’t a bad idea, but I would stick to using warm water to clean them in the early days.
Respond: Give your baby as much love and attention as they need (and you can manage) in those early days. You CANNOT spoil a new-born. They are not cognitively able to manipulate you and cry for the sake of it; if they are crying then they need something.
Stay close: Keep your baby near to you so that you can hear and see how they are. Remember that your baby should sleep in a moses basket in your room, so you can attend them quickly and effectively whilst ensuring they are safe. It is also comforting if your baby can hear you as they find this reassuring.
Distinguish Night and Day: Even though it is the first night, show your baby how it is different to the day time. Lights off or low; noise to a minimum and during the night attend to them and feed them in the room you sleep in, so that temperature and light changes don’t confuse or stimulate them to being fully awake. It is important that you start as you mean to go on, as routine and consistency helps your baby to feel secure and settled. You will also find that swaddling your baby helps to settle them – getting a nice swaddle blanket ahead of time would help prepare you for that first night at home.
Most importantly… enjoy your new-born. That first night at home as parents is so special and a moment that you will only have once with your baby. Cuddle them, enjoy looking at them, and document this special milestone with a photo or two, because soon enough the moment will have passed.