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Bringing a Newborn Home: A New Parent Checklist

It doesn't matter how much you prepare during pregnancy — once your little bundle of joy has arrived, you'll probably still end up feeling totally overwhelmed. Welcome to parenthood! Having a baby is a life-changing experience, but it can be difficult to anticipate exactly how your life will change until you actually bring your newborn home. Here's a checklist to help you prepare for your new arrival.

Find a Pediatrician

Since it's important to visit a pediatrician shortly after bringing a newborn home, don't wait until the last minute to find one. Make an appointment while you're still pregnant. It will give you and the doctor an opportunity to get to know each other, and it will give you a chance to learn about your baby's care and ask any questions you may have. Your pediatrician is someone you should respect and trust so you feel supported if your child becomes ill.

Check Your Baby's Crib and Other Items

Sure, it's OK to accept hand-me-down baby items from family and friends. But remember that some products may be unsafe if they've been recalled, are worn out, or have loose or missing parts. For hand-me-down items, check with the U.S. Consumer Product Information Safety Commission for information and recalls. Most new items are safe, but be sure to check the current government safety standards to confirm.

Conduct a Safety Check of Your Home

Your baby won't be crawling quite yet, but it's never too soon to check your home for potential safety hazards. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests storing cleaning products and medications out of sight and out of reach. Additionally, check to make sure all smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors in your home are working, and place at least one smoke detector on each level of your home. In addition, have an escape route planned in the event of a fire.

Post a List of Important Phone Numbers

Make a list of important phone numbers — such as poison control, your baby's pediatrician, and your doctor — and post it in a visible location. It can also be a good idea to save these numbers as contacts in your cell phone. That way, you won't have to waste time looking them up in an emergency.

Prepare Meals

Once you bring a newborn home, there isn't a lot of time to spend cooking. Takeout is an option, but it can be pricey. Instead, plan ahead. Prepare some meals you can throw in the freezer, or make larger portions of upcoming meals so you can freeze some to eat later. Future you will be thankful to have those quick, homemade meals on hand.

Stock Up on the Essentials

You'll want to have all the essentials ready to go once your baby comes home so you can focus on bonding with your little one. Here's a list of items to have on hand:

  • Diapers
  • Burp rags
  • Swaddling blankets
  • Extra nightgowns and onesies
  • Breast pads and nipple ointment, if breastfeeding
  • Bottles and formula, if not breastfeeding
  • Baby monitors
  • Comfort items for yourself, like a bathrobe or a special pillow
  • A notebook for recording feedings, bowel movements, or "firsts"
  • A camera or smartphone for capturing special moments

Enjoy the Ride

When you're overwhelmed with caring for a new baby, it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself. But you'll be better able to respond to your baby's needs if you're feeling well. Here are a few suggestions on how to strike that balance:

  • Take naps when your baby is sleeping. While it may be hard to ignore the chores piling up, you'll find that getting rest is invaluable in those early weeks.
  • Shower and get dressed every day. Just five minutes alone in the shower can do wonders for your self-esteem and energy level.
  • Try to get out at least once a day. Even a walk around the block can be invigorating, and it's a great way to calm a fussy baby.
  • Adapt activities that you enjoy — like day hikes, outdoor recreation, and travel — so you can include your baby.
  • Join a new parents' group. It can be comforting to share your thoughts and feelings with other new parents.

Most importantly, try to relax and enjoy your baby. As you begin to learn your baby's cues and eventually settle into a schedule, you will feel more confident as a parent. Bringing a newborn home can be daunting, but before long, you'll be the one giving advice to other new parents.

For more guidance during this exciting time, check out the My Baby pregnancy app.

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