Preparing for Your First Child
Your first child is a miracle unlike any other. It can be a wonderful experience. However, like any transition it can also be fraught with stress and fear. So, here are some ideas for combating those fears and relaxing enough to enjoy your miracle.
First, educate yourself about what to expect. Consider taking a childbirth class, most will also cover basic childcare. Read what the experts say. I found the book Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn to be particularly helpful. It walks you through every conceivable step of pregnancy and childbirth as well as what to expect from your newborn baby. There are also some websites that contain a lot of helpful advise, as well as being a community of parents who are going through the same things.
- The Baby Center will send emails updates about your pregnancy and what to expect from your child as they grow and develop. I still receive email updates for both my daughters. The emails also include notices about any product recalls.
- CafeMom is an online community similar to MySpace or Facebook except that it only includes mothers.
- Another good source of information are product sights like Gerber, Beech Nut, Earth's Best, Huggies and Pampers. The sites include tips on infant feeding, toilet training and a variety of other topics.
After you've done a bit of research on what to expect the whole process will seem less scary and more exciting.
The temptation to run right out and buy things for your new baby will be overwhelming. However, it is best to wait until after the baby shower. After you've inventoried the gifts from your friends and family then consider what you still need.
Do not by too many outfits in the newborn size. Babies grow very fast and it wont be long before your little one has outgrown the smaller sizes. Always keep a few of the next size up on hand. Your baby will be growing like a weed. Also, keep in mind that the sizes differ depending on the brand. In other words, your baby may be a size 6 months in one brand but still a 3 month in most of the other brands.
When choosing clothes, separates are usually best. A two piece outfit can be worn much longer than a single piece. It is also easier to dress a baby in a two piece outfit. Also, try to avoid outfits that button in the back. They are not comfortable for baby to lay on and they are difficult to fasten. Outfits with footies attached are nice because then you don't have to worry about trying to keep socks on your little bundle of joy. (I could never keep socks on either of my girls.)
People often say to stock up on diapers. And, while it is true that you will use an infinite number of diapers, it is best to wait before investing in large quantities of any one kind. This is because different diaper brands are made different ways. The brand you buy may not be the best fit for your baby. My first daughter fit best in Pampers, but my second daughter did better with Huggies. So, buy small packages of a few different brands until you find the brand that works best for you and your child.
One thing you can never have too many of is receiving blankets. They can be used for swaddling the baby as well as any number of other tasks. Receiving blankets can be used as spit up clothes. They can be rolled up and placed on either side of your baby in the car seat to keep baby's little head from bouncing around. Receiving blankets wrap easily around baby for outings in the cold.
If you have the time and the money it is nice to childproof your home before your baby arrives. However, if you don't get to it, don't panic. Your baby will not be actively exploring for some months after he or she is born. This also includes toys. For the first three months your baby will really only be interested in you, so you can wait to buy the toys. I bought newborn rattle mittens and socks for my first born. She never even noticed them--other than to kick off the socks. So save your money and buy your baby a nice toy when he or she is in the 3 to 6 month age range.
The most important thing you can do for yourself in preparing for your baby's arrival is to line up help for after he or she has arrived. Giving birth is a lot of work and your newborn is going to need a lot of attention those first few weeks.
Your friends and family will want to come meet the new member of your family and they will often want to stay and play with the baby. However, it would be more beneficial for you if they could bring dinner, help with the dishes or do some laundry. You don't want to have to think about chores when you are recovering from childbirth and adjusting to being a parent.
It is also a good idea to prepare some meals in advance and freeze them. Or spend a little extra money for the pre-prepared meals in the freezer section of your grocery store. It may not taste like homemade, but you will be very grateful you have it after a few sleepless nights.
The other thing I recommend you prepare ahead of time is a good list of babysitters. You will be surprised how quickly the time passes once a little one has entered your life. After a month or two you and your spouse will be needing a night away to reconnect. Find a quality babysitter now and when you need a break you wont end up settling for someone that a less sleep deprived person might not hire. While you are looking consider trading babysitting with a family member or friend who has also been blessed with a little one. Then you not only have a babysitter but also a playmate for your child.
One final suggestion: learn to take naps. Your baby won't sleep through the night until at least three months of age and sometimes not until nine months. So when your baby is napping take a nap. A short nap in the middle of the day will go a long way toward revitalizing you. Moreover, as you are responsible for the well-being of your new baby, your health is more important than the dust bunnies growing in your house.
Congratulations on your new little one. And remember you will have time to grow as a parent as your little one is growing.