Bringing home baby for the first time is a big moment. It’s totally normal to feel a huge mix of emotions. You might be excited, scared, joyful, overwhelmed—or maybe everything all at once.
You probably have lots of questions about what this next phase of your life will bring. And the first of these might be:
What happens in the first week at home with a newborn? What can I expect?
So, knowing that no two mama-baby combos are exactly the same, here’s a snapshot of what life with a newborn is like in those first few days at home.
In this article: 📝
- Bringing your newborn home from the hospital
- What do you do when you first bring your baby home?
- What do you do in the first few days with a newborn?
- Self-care after bringing your newborn home
Bringing your newborn home from the hospital
After giving birth, you’ll likely stay in the hospital for one to four days.
The length of stay will depend on what kind of delivery you’ve had and how your recovery is going.
It’ll usually be a maximum stay of 48 hours if you’ve had a vaginal delivery.
If you’ve had a c-section, you might have to stay for another day or two.
Before you leave the hospital, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Get advice from the medical staff, so you feel confident you have the intel you need to care for your new baby.
Here are some tips for a safe and smooth transition for bringing a newborn home from hospital.
How to prepare for bringing home a baby
At the hospital:
- Check the date and location for your baby’s first check-up, so you can get it in the diary.
- Ask who is best to contact if you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s health.
- Put on loose-fitting, comfortable clothes for the journey home. You’ll still have your pregnancy shape at this point, so your maternity clothes are probably ideal.
- Think about the weather when you choose your baby’s going-home outfit. If it’s a blazing hot day, that cute knitted cardigan you were given at your baby shower may have to wait.
- Have a car seat ready to go. Make sure your little one is securely strapped in before you leave. You can find more tips on car seat safety from the NHTSA here. You might find it useful to practice using your car seat before the baby arrives.
What do you do when you first bring your baby home?
It’s finally time to use all those baby essentials you’ve been collecting.
And if you find you’ve forgotten something, breathe. It’s going to be okay.
There’s no such thing as doing this perfectly.
Why not call a friend or family member to run to the store for you?
Then you can focus on getting your baby settled in.
Introducing your newborn to siblings, pets, and visitors
If there are siblings waiting to greet your little one, one of your first tasks might be to make the big introduction.
Be prepared for the excitement levels to be on high.
Know that it may also take a little time for everyone to adjust to having a new addition to the family.
Ask older siblings to get involved and help with the baby, but try to give them some one-on-one time, too, so they know you’re still there for them.
(We know. This can be a lot when you’re busy caring for a newborn. Be kind to yourself.)
As for any furry friends you might have at home, we’ve got some handy safety tips if you’re introducing your new baby to your dog.
Spoiler alert: this could be the beginning of an adorable friendship.
When it comes to visitors, don’t feel pressured to invite hordes of people to meet the baby before you’re ready.
Take time to rest and get into your new routine.
Another thing to consider is that newborns don’t have a highly developed immune system, and they can easily pick up germs from people.
Ask visitors to wash their hands before holding the baby. And anyone who is sick should wait until they’re better before they drop in.
What do you do in the first few days with a newborn?
Those early days at home with a newborn make up a pretty unique chapter, while you get used to providing the care that a tiny baby needs.
Remember that it’s okay not to be an “expert” at this all at once.
You’re just getting to know your baby—and they’re finding their own way in the outside world for the first time!
Here is our quick guide to what you can expect from a newborn during their first couple of weeks at home:
You might be surprised by how quiet and sleepy your baby is for the first few days.
But by two weeks, they’ll be making up for this by crying for about two hours a day (on average).
This is their way of communicating with you—to tell you they’re hungry, overtired, or need changing, for example.
After a while, you’ll become a pro at decoding these cries and learning what to do to calm your baby.
But these things take time, so be kind to yourself if soothing your newborn seems difficult at first.
Because newborn babies have such tiny stomachs, they need to eat little bits, very often.
We’re talking a feed every two to three hours.
You’ll soon start to recognize the signs that your baby is hungry.
Common signs include crying, smacking their lips, or sucking their hands.
If your baby seems fussy or uncomfortable during a feed, that could mean they need to be burped. Have a burp cloth ready to catch spit-ups.
If you’ve chosen to breastfeed, and you’re struggling in any way, make sure you reach out to your healthcare provider.
There are lots of breastfeeding mamas on Peanut going through similar experiences, so why not join the conversation there?
You don’t have to go through this alone.
Newborns sleep for short windows between feeds.
But these naps will add up to about 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day in total!
This will reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
You can place the crib in your bedroom, so you can easily go to them at night.
Or they can sleep in their own room with a baby monitor, allowing you to hear when they cry.
When it comes to how much your newborn will pee and poop, there’s a huge amount of variation within the “normal” range.
The most important thing is to work out what’s normal for your baby and take note if anything changes.
Breastfed newborns also tend to poop more often than formula-fed newborns, because formula takes longer to digest.
Your newborn will still have their umbilical cord stump during their first few days at home.
Until it falls off (at about one to two weeks), the best way to wash your baby is to give them a sponge bath.
That way, you can avoid submerging the stump in water.
Once the stump is gone, you can enjoy the cuteness of a proper baby bathtime.
Your newborn’s health
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your baby’s health during these first few weeks.
In particular, give them a call if you notice any of these symptoms:
- A fever (a temperature of 100.4°F or over)
- Blood in their vomit or diaper
- Vomiting all the time or not keeping fluids down
- Severe diarrhea (more than eight times in eight hours)
- Breathing that’s quick or uneven
- Dehydration (symptoms include: a dry mouth, sunken eyes, not as many wet diapers as usual, a sunken soft spot on their head)
- Not responding with some of their senses, such as sight or hearing
If your baby seems seriously unwell, call 911 or head to the emergency room.
Self-care after bringing your newborn home
Bringing your newborn home is a big adjustment.
So it’s really important to give yourself time to get used to this “new normal.”
As well as coping with all that newborn care involves, you’re still healing from the birth, riding waves of fluctuating hormones, and dealing with lack of sleep.
So be gentle with yourself.
After giving birth, many women experience the “baby blues”, so it’s natural to get tearful and feel sad at times.
But this usually passes after about two weeks.
But if you have more severe negative feelings, you might have a mental health condition called postpartum depression.
In this case, it’s crucial to tell your healthcare provider, so you can get the treatment you need to recover.
Finally, through all of it, remember that you’ve just done an amazing thing.
And to your baby, you’re already the best mama ever.
Wishing you all the best.
💡 More from The 411:
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