Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bringing baby home: 10 tips for new moms

Right now, a good friend is waiting on the word to bring her baby home from the hospital. I know she is eager to have her second daughter at home and to stop going back and forth to the hospital for merely a visit!

I am blessed, lucky and proud to have been able to bring two babies into our home -- my first son, now four, and my second, now 16 months old. Following advice I had read in the Baby Whisperer book, I gave each son a tour of our home (once they were awake!). I was excited to show them the bedrooms my husband and I had set up for them!

There are other things I wanted to do for them to make them as comfortable, happy and healthy as possible. Here are some of those ideas for new moms.

1. Nesting. Before each boy was born, I had an urge to clean the house. Heck, I even dusted the blinds. Curtains were washed. Dust bunnies were evicted from under the beds. Cat fur was abolished. Baby clothes were washed and settled into drawers lined with fresh paper. Then I felt better about bringing my baby home to less dust and other junk in the air. Every mom has a different urge about what has to be cleaned. Follow those instincts!

2. Laundry. In addition to the regular load of laundry for my husband and me, each day I also washed the baby's things. If a blanket fell on the floor, it went into the hamper. (I don't know about you, but I received so many blankets as gifts that I felt, Why should I put a dirty blanket on my baby?!) I also washed a load of cloth diapers at the end of each day. That's a lot of laundry! Be ready for it with plenty of hampers and/or laundry baskets so you can sort the loads.

3. Cloth diapers. I mentioned washing cloth diapers ... it's not really a big deal. There are so many different kinds of cloth diapers to choose from. If you want to try it out, no matter which kind you use, you will have to wash them (unless you use a diaper service). What I did was to keep a large bucket with soapy water in the laundry room. As I changed diapers, they went into the bucket. This way, they could soak. Then at the end of the day, I poured the bucket into the washing machine. I used an extra rinse cycle on them. Then they were dried, and I folded and stacked them next to the changing pad for the next day.

4. Clean toys. Just like the blankets, we had been given more than enough toys for a newborn -- so I didn't bother giving either son a toy that had dropped on the floor. Hey, we have cats. Cats walk into their litter box. Then they walk across our floor. Enough said. Hard toys can be washed in warm soapy water, or wiped or sprayed with disinfectant. Soft cloth toys can usually go in the laundry. It's a good idea to clean all new toys, too, before giving them to the baby. They are new but still germy!

5. Visitors. When visitors came to see the baby for the first time, we asked them to wash their hands first. We also kept a large pump bottle of hand sanitizer in a convenient place. People got the hint! And definitely no sick people or those who lived with family members who were sick were allowed. Set your rules about what you feel comfortable with, and stick with it! If you don't want visitors for three weeks, say so and be firm about it. If you're OK with having a party at the hospital or your home afterward, then that's fine too. (But tell people if they show up, you will put them to work! Heh!)

6. Clean bottles. I breastfed both babies. But I had to go back to the hospital a few days after my first son was born, and because of tests done on me, I couldn't nurse him for four days. I remember shopping for baby bottles and a steam cleaner just for sanitizing them. Sure, boiling works, and I know lots of folks who just use the dishwasher. The steamer was fast, though, so it's good to have if your baby drinks from a bottle.

7. Clothes. As a new mom, I had underestimated how many times I would change my baby's clothes. Who knew a newborn could poop vertically?! I ended up buying more basic bodysuits and pajamas after my first son was born. I think it also helps to try out a few different kinds of clothes, like pajamas, to see which you like. The pajamas that zip? Snap? A sleep sack? The kind with the elastic at the bottom? Then you will know what works best for you for any middle-of-the-night diaper changes. Because you may end up doing it in the dark -- or in your sleep!

8. Pets. We have two cats. Many people are allergic to cats. My husband and I knew that the babies were going to get plenty of cat fur on them, just because. So in the early days, we tried to keep the cats away from them. Oh, we knew the cats would want to give each baby the all-important kitty sniff test, and that was all right. But we didn't want the cats sleeping next to the baby or playing with his toys. Or, gah! sitting in the baby seat (which did happen, and which I promptly cleaned).

9. Hands. Washing hands was very important to me when the boys were newborns. It still is now ... but especially then. Experts say you need to rub soap on your hands for 20 seconds before rinsing for maximum germ-killing effect. I washed my hands so much in the early days! Get a bottle of nice hand lotion ready!

10. Maintenance. After the baby comes home, it's a good idea to stay on top of cleaning in the rooms he sleeps and plays in the most. I changed the crib sheets frequently, and the changing pad cover and Boppy pillow cover too. Dusting and vacuuming help get rid of dust, of course, and once you have a "system," it won't take a lot of time.

I think keeping a newborn comfortable and happy starts with tender loving care and a clean, safe environment. Follow your maternal instincts, keep things clean for your baby, and welcome a newborn into her new world.

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I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Lysol® Wee Wisdom blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.