Every baby is different and so is every parent! Try not to compare yourself, or your baby, with others. What works for one baby may not for another. The most important thing is getting to know what works for your baby, and your family.
Skin to skin contact helps your baby to adjust to life outside the womb. It supports mums to start breastfeeding and helps parents to develop a close, loving relationship with their baby.
Spend time holding your baby so you get to know each other.
- Keep your baby close to you – most babies want to be held a lot as they get used to being out in the big world and establish feeding patterns. Enjoy these cuddles you will not ‘spoil’ your baby. Knowing you are close by and respond to their needs will help them learn they can rely on you. It will help your baby feel safe and secure.
- Have their Moses basket / crib / pram close to you. This is an important part of safer sleep advice too.
It’s great to have visitors and to show off your new baby. Remember it’s ok to ask people to come for a short time or not at all. You need time to settle into being a parent and that’s difficult to do if your house is always full of other people.
Just as you need to learn about your baby, they need to learn about you. They may be wide awake sometimes and seem really interested and then fall asleep quite quickly. Talk to your baby about what you think they might be feeling. Say things like:
- ‘Are you really tired?’
- ‘Are you getting cross?’
- ‘Are you hungry?’
- ‘Are you happy’
It doesn’t matter if you get it wrong or feel silly, your baby will feel better by you being there and talking to them.
Some families are keen to get out and about with their baby straight away. Others feel more comfortable at home. There is no right or wrong on this, and your choices will depend on lots of things. Do what feels right for you and your family.
- Get prepared before you leave the house – write a checklist of things your baby may need whilst out and remember to refill it before your next outing.
- If you do feel a bit anxious the first few times you are going out with baby, stay local for a short time and build up. Ask someone to go with you, or meet you. Remember you can always turn round and go back home if it feels too much, or your baby has had enough – try again another day.
It is good to get a balance. Spending some time at home getting to know each other and having times when you get some fresh air and/or see some friends or family.
Having a small baby is tiring. The lack of sleep and settling in to family life can be exhausting. It is important to take care of yourselves.
- Rest when you can. Your baby will probably sleep more in the day to begin with so trying to take some naps in the day can help the nights feel more manageable.
- If daytime naps are not possible or you have an older child, try and build ‘quiet times’ into the day where you look at books / watch TV together.
- Getting gentle exercise and eating regularly meals is important. A varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, can also help your energy levels. *Click here* for more information about healthy lifestyles.
- Ask friends and family to help out if you can. Even the odd hour to yourself can help you get through the tiring early days.
You don’t need to juggle everything yourself. If you live with a partner, work out how you are going to support each other to get time with the baby and also get some rest. If you are parenting alone speak to friends and family to see if they can support you.
For times when you are on your own get organised so you have all you need to hand.
- Have a box/ bag with nappies, wipes and breast pads in the rooms you spend most time in.
- Make sandwiches, snacks and drinks to keep in the fridge that you can grab – ask your partner, or a friend ‘restock’ this when they can.
- If you have an older child, have a box of things they might need to hand too - like drinks, snacks, toys and books.
Friends and family may offer to help too - accept offers. People like to feel involved. Think about what would be most useful;
- A cooked meal
- Clothes washed or the washing up done
- Time to play with your older child or even take a bath.
Remember your most important ‘job’ at the moment is getting to know your baby. Your home doesn’t need to be perfect. Focus on the basics; keeping your kitchen and bathroom clean and making sure there is no clutter you could trip over when you are carrying the baby.
Talk to people about how you are feeling too. Some days may be hard – talking to friends and family who have been here before can help. Your midwife, health visitor and the health professionals at Just One Number are there to talk through any worries too.
Who Can Help?
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.
Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.
See, Hear, Respond - Best Beginnings and Barnado's are providing free support to pregnant families and new parents struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.