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5 Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Baby’s First Week Home

While you can get an idea of what to expect in the early days and weeks of your baby’s life by taking a newborn care class, talking with your prenatal care provider, and chatting with friends and family who’ve been through it, no amount of preparation can match the experience itself. 

Still, preparing yourself as much as possible for your infant’s first week at home — a time marked by around-the-clock feedings, ongoing soothing needs, nursing troubles, and sleep deprivation — can help it go more smoothly for all involved. 

Adjusting to newborn care can be a challenge during these joyously exhausting early days, but our experienced team at Pediatric Practitioners of Oklahoma is here to let you know that most new parents have great instincts, learn quickly, and do just fine.

Here are our five top tips for making the most of your baby’s first week at home. 

1. Schedule a newborn visit

Within 24 to 48 hours of leaving the hospital with your newborn — typically when they’re 3 to 5 days old — your baby should have their first newborn care visit with our team. During this key appointment, we measure their growth, perform a physical, and observe their reflexes. 

We also cover a full scope of newborn care topics in detail, ranging from feeding and diaper change frequency to early sleep norms, nursing concerns, swaddling and soothing techniques, umbilical cord care, first bath timing, vitamin D supplementation, and car seat safety.   

2. Plan for sleep changes 

In the first few weeks of their life, you can expect your infant to sleep for up to 20 hours a day. But because they need frequent feedings, too, they can’t sleep for lengthy stretches — instead, they’ll snooze in short spurts that last anywhere between one and four hours at a time. 

Most new parents understand they’ll be getting less sleep in their baby’s first months, but many don’t make a “game plan” to help ensure they get as much rest as possible. If you’re someone who can sleep any time, we recommend power napping when your baby sleeps. 

 If you’re not wired to sleep in random, short stints, enlist the help of your partner or a close relative to care for the baby in shifts, so you can get regular stretches of uninterrupted sleep.   

3. Soothe responsively 

When your baby isn’t sleeping, they’ll be feeding, having a diaper change, or communicating their need for one or the other — or for comfort and soothing. Fresh from the warm, snuggled confines of the cozy womb, newborns crave constant holding and soothing.  

Most newborns are awake and require attention every two to three hours. During this time, as you get to know your baby’s hunger cues, restless movements, and cries, you’ll improve your ability to fulfill their needs quickly. 

When your baby’s basic needs (i.e., feeding, burping, diaper change) have been met but they’re still fussy, try soothing them by swaddling, swaying, shushing, holding them on their side, or letting them suck your finger. Individually or combined, these steps mimic the sensations of the womb and trigger a calming reflex in your newborn.  

Experiment to see what works for your baby; some parents find it helpful to cocoon their newborn in an infant wrap or carrier and head out for a walk.

4. Enlist a lactation expert

Your newborn will feed around the clock — every one to four hours, or up to 12 times a day — in their early weeks of life. If you plan to breastfeed your baby, it’s helpful to have ready access to expert lactation support. Why? As natural as nursing may be, it can be challenging, too.   

Although you’ll receive lactation support both at the hospital and during your newborn care visit with our team, it’s helpful to connect with a lactation expert soon after you arrive home from the hospital, before a problem arises. When a lactation specialist visits you at home, they can help you learn about latching, positioning, and milk supply — and give you confidence to navigate unexpected challenges successfully.   

If you don’t have access to a lactation expert but need breastfeeding support, you can also get help by calling the National Women’s Health and Breastfeeding Helpline

5. Get your partner involved

If you’re nursing or your partner doesn’t have much time off from work, it can be tricky to include them in your newborn care routine. Still, it’s important to remember that these first weeks are as much about bonding with your baby as they are about meeting your baby’s intensive needs — and you want your partner to dive right in with both whenever possible. 

If you’re the primary caregiver, encourage your partner to spend as much time as possible with the baby from the get-go, whether it’s in the form of diaper changes, bottle feeding, burping after nursing, soothing and swaddling, or umbilical cord care. 

Do you have questions about newborn care? We’re here to help. Call or click online to schedule an appointment at Pediatric Practitioners of Oklahoma in Claremore, Oklahoma, today.

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