It doesn't really sink in that you're in charge of someone day and night until you leave the hospital with your new baby. When you're still being attended to by an army of medical professionals and getting your meals delivered to you, taking care of your baby often doesn't seem all that challenging. But when you head home, reality sets in. If you're wondering how to survive your first night with baby, don't panic.
I can pretty much guarantee that one of your first thoughts on arriving home from the hospital with your bundle of joy will be "now what?". Almost every new mom or dad I've ever talked to has told me they experienced some version of panics and confusion. But the good thing is, as demanding as babies are, they're also relatively simply. Assuming your baby doesn't have any health issues or unique needs, chances are you'll be able to figure out them out pretty quickly. The first night will be intimidating, but it'll pass by in a blur and before you know it you'll be an old pro at the whole raising kids things.
Here are seven tips to get through that first night without losing your mind in the process.
1. Figure Out Why They're Crying
One of my biggest fears about bringing my daughter home was that she would cry constantly and I wouldn't know what to do. Luckily, I soon realized that babies almost cry for the same handful of reasons. Is your baby crying because they're hungry? According to Baby Center, your little one might want to eat every two hours or even less. If they're not hungry, they may need a diaper change or even just a cuddle. One of these three things will almost always be the reason your baby is crying in my experience.
2. Sleep When You Can
Your baby is probably going to spend the majority of his or her first night at home sleeping, although they'll likely wake up every hour or two. It'll be exhausting, but you can make it more bearable by making sure you're sleeping when the baby sleeps, according to the Mayo Clinic. You may be nervous and want to watch your baby like a hawk, but it's better and safer for both of you to be as well rested as you can.
3. Give Co-Sleeping A Shot
My daughter slept just a few feet away from me in her bassinet her first night home from the hospital, and for several months after that. Kelly Mom noted that co-sleeping with your baby can make your night wake ups so much easier. It's also a great way to soothe your nerves. I loved being able to sit up and check on my daughter as she slept and then lay right back down.
4. Keep Up Skin-To-Skin Contact
According to Fit Pregnancy, skin-to-skin contact has several amazing benefits for your baby and you, so it's worth continuing once you head home. It can help your baby stay warm and stabilize their heart rate, and it can help boost milk supply. It can also help calm your baby down if they're in the middle of a crying jag.
5. Don't Boycott The Pacifier
If your baby is crying non-stop, a pacifier may help soothe both of you. Some moms hold off introducing a pacifier because they fear nipple confusion with breastfeeding, but Baby Center noted that there are no conclusive studies proving it's an issue.
6. Wrap Them Up
Your baby spends roughly nine months snuggled up tightly in your womb. When they're born, they may miss that sensation. Swaddling your baby can help them feel secure and relaxed, and even help them sleep better as well according to the Baby Sleep Site. Ask a nurse for a swaddling tutorial before you leave the hospital so that you're comfortable doing it at home.
7. Don't Panic
You may find yourself utterly terrified at the thought of taking care of a brand new baby, but rest assured: pretty much every wonderful parent you know felt this exact same way at some point. They managed, and you will too.