First Two Weeks Home
He was all yours for the whole pregnancy. You couldn’t wait to feel him in your arms instead of in your belly, but at the same time, maybe you weren’t quite ready to share. Maybe you’re not sure how to protect him now that he’s here. Newborns smell like heaven and they represent the very best in life. But they’re slippery, and mysterious. Here are some tips to get you started. The first two weeks are a time to begin routines that will serve as the foundation to your baby’s life, and yours as well.
It’s important to establish proper weight gain in the first two weeks of life. Feed on demand during this time, but don’t let the baby go more than three hours between feedings. Your well-meaning mother-in-law may insist that you should never wake a sleeping baby, but, if you want him to learn to sleep at night (and you do), wake him during the day to feed him.
We give babies cues as to what’s going on throughout the day. With purposeful routines, we teach them what we expect from them. To help establish circadian rhythms, make sure the day time is bright and full of exciting (baby appropriate) stimulus, while night time is dark (pitch black if possible).
Use white noise! Your baby is used to a constant din of soothing sounds in your womb, so white noise used during naps and night time sleep forms a healthy, familiar sleep association.
Swaddle your baby for sleep whenever possible. The proper way to do this is to secure the baby’s arms down to the side and to always place him on his back to sleep. Swaddling helps babies to feel secure. Without the swaddle, babies become spontaneously startled, which often wakes them abruptly.
Ensure that your baby sleeps in an environment made for infant sleep. The crib is best for establishing an ongoing routine, and a car seat is suitable for one nap/day if you are on-the-go. Rock n’ Plays, and swings, however, are not suitable environments for infant sleep. As convenient as those devices may seem, they pose risks to your newborn bundle.
If you are nursing your newborn, it’s best to hold off on bottles and pacifiers for the first two weeks due to the possibility that he may be confused by the variety of nipples to which he is exposed. After that point, latch is generally well-established, and your milk supply should be fine. Maybe you could catch a nap, or a shower, right?
This last tip may seem obvious, unless you are in that fog known as “mom brain”. Be sure that all visitors are healthy, and that they wash their hands. This is especially important now that we are entering Fall/Winter.
In those precious first weeks, take it slow and drink in that baby smell. While you’re forming that unending bond with your newest love, remember that these days set the tone for your family’s new way of life going forward. Be sure you give your family the best possible start by valuing healthy sleeping and eating routines and safe practices.