What to do with infants
Those first days at home
When you are at home alone for the first time with your infant it can seems overwhelming. Everyone has left, family has returned home, your spouse (if there is one) has returned to work and now it is just you and your baby or babies!
For me those first days where fun. We had beds to put together, gifts to put away and of course diaper and feedings which were frequent. I preferred to talk to my babies even though they were young. Research shows talking to babies helps them develop their understanding of language. Although they were only a few weeks old I would tell them everything I was doing and what I was doing it for. As I would walk into their room before I even entered I described how we were going to go down the hall into their room so I could put their cribs together. While we were all in their room I would pull out my tool and show it to them and allow them to touch it and then describe how I was going to use the allen wrench. It was summer so if I heard a bird singing I would say something about how the bird was singing etc.
Those first few days when as I said above but then after a while regular life begins. After all the new clothes,toys and beds are put up and away then it is just you and them. As a good friends told me, the days go by slow and they years fast. Those days can feel like an eternity when you are all alone with babies who do not speak. Daily I would call my mother for conversation. I needed someone to talk to other than them. My friends whose children were older would also call to say hello but mostly it was my mother who would talk to me and keep me from babbling myself.
When I could in between feedings I would go for walks. We lived in Albany, NY so I understood that those walks were not going to be available during the winter. I would walk them down to the pizza shop, grab a bite and return home for another feeding. When at all possible I would put myself in a place where I could have a conversation with other people. When we were at home I would get on floor with the kids. It is important for physical development that they infants have tummy time. My daughter was not a fan of tummy time and would scream. Their pediatrician recommended a pillow for her to lay on for a few minutes at at time until she adjusted to using her stomach muscles. After about a week of taking time and working with her she was able to stay on her tummy for long periods of time. Throughout the day I would rotate them from area to area. I had our living room set up with different stations and in each room I either had a bed or bounce seat for them.
After a few more weeks we had a routine. I would suggest sleep training your children as soon as possible, This can assist in creating a routine which is healthy for both parent and baby. Waking up and getting the baby and yourself ready for the day is a good way to start the day. Pick a task to do everyday. Be prepared for the feedings and diaper changes that need to occur while either at home or while you are out. Set a morning and and afternoon routine so that both you and the babies have something to look forward to everyday. Sometimes that outing my be getting some groceries, but at least it gets you and the baby out of the house and socializing with others. As infants play dates are not as important for the baby as they are for the parent. Find a parent who has they same parenting style as you and stick with them. At first it might be only once a week you get together but as the kids become more active that will change. I not that finding someone who has the same type of parenting style is important to creating a community for yourself. If you believe in nap time & bed time it would not work for you to hang out with someone who will be wanting to do things when you are trying to leave the play ground and get ready for nap.
At home take time to rest. This will b hard for you when there is a ton of laundry, dinner to fix, and a house to clean but rest in vital for you. Even when my babies did not really nap as infants I would take time off and rest even if it was for ten or fifteen minutes. Those minutes of just sitting still would get me prepared for when they woke and would need attention. Do not be afraid to let your baby cry. Running to them the instant they fuss will teach them they will get your attention immediately, always. This is humanly impossible. There will be a time when you are not able to get to them immediately and it is better for them to know you will get there and take care of their needs instead of experiencing horrible panic on that one day you could not get to them in seconds.
I would suggest writing or reading if that is something you find interesting. Daily do an activity for you. As the kids play on the floor read a few pages in your book, get some crafts together for sewing later, look for a special recipe you want to make the next day, etc.
Things to remember:
- Establish a routine
- get out of the house
- set up play area for baby
- find a friend/community of like minded parents
- talk to someone daily
- rest when baby is resting- work will always be there
Tummy Time & Play Stations
When creating tummy time play time remember to find toys the baby seems to enjoy. Then put one very close where she/he does not have to move in order to reach the toy. Then continue to put other favorite toys just our of reach. Let them move to get to those toys. There will be some fussing, grunting and heavy breathing as they are working very hard to control and move their bodies.
Finding play structures is easy, especially if you have the money to run out and buy one. Most people receive at least one as a gift. Honestly I believe these are more important than a swing. If you can purchase or register for one look at them to make sure you can remove what it on there and replace it with other toys. For instance the safari one in the picture has keys hanging from it. I changed out the hanging safari toy for another toy we had. The other sit and spin would also allow for a puppet to be removed and changed out. As you will find with most baby items these are really only used for a short time. If you have friends, family or a used store you can find these types of things I would encourage you to get them for free or minimal cost. My kids were both walking before the age of 12 months. My son could crawl out of both play stations on his own which meant for safety reasons we could not longer use them. So unless money is of no concern be thrifty with the items purchased, gathered for that first year of life.
Do not forget to relax
When you decide to have a baby you immediately get bombarded with facts about how to prepare you child to get accepted into the best Pre-K, the best private school, Harvard and Yale. Remember that although stimulation is good sometimes just a little chill is good too. Children, as adults need time to relax and unplug from all the noise, sights and pleasures the world brings them. Set up the day so that your baby receives time for stimulating toys which have a goal in having them learn how to use fine or gross motor skills but also have them just sit and look at books, a blanket can be their afternoon exploration or just sitting looking out the window and observing nature and all of its wonders is enough stimulation in a world where all of us, even the babies are plugged in to something most of the time.
Time to Cook
If you like to cook, do not forget your baby! They love being in the kitchen watching you work and enjoying the smells. Give them a utensil and maybe a food item that are safe. Let them babble to you as you are telling them what is going on with all those pots and pans. Spending time in every day life helps children learn what else happens in their environment. It clues them into the life they are becoming part of on a daily basis. Never think that it is too early to expose your children to everyday life.