When you’re a new parent, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what to do before and after the baby is born, since you will not find user instructions or an owner’s manual. Your nurses will be helpful, as well as friends and family, but people sometimes forget what it’s actually like to be a new parent and so may take for granted much-needed advice.
Because you have many things on your mind when you’re trying to buckle-in baby for the first ride home, it’s wise to handle major preparations in advance. Here are some key points to remember:
- Install and inspect the car seat. Before going into labor, consider installing the car seat for baby’s first ride home, perhaps delegating this task to your partner. If you can, have your rear-facing infant car seat installation inspected in advance; many local fire stations and hospitals offer this service. Car seats can be tricky to install, so by having the installation done beforehand you’ll have one less worry upon departure for baby’s “first ride home.”
- Pack an overnight bag with clothes for you and baby. Selecting baby’s first homecoming outfit is one of the joys of planning his or her arrival, but it’s not about fashion. Make sure the clothes you select are comfortable, easy to put on baby and suitable for the predicted weather. Poufy dresses, matching hats and booties, and handmade cardigans can be precious, but not if ruffles or too many layers of clothing make the car-seat harness hard to fasten or cause baby to sweat. Winter weather calls for plenty of insulation, but avoid chills at other times of year it might be best to have one comfortable layer and a receiving blanket.
- Don’t leave the hospital before a feeding and diaper change. Newborns typically eat frequently and need to have their diapers changed frequently. Plan your ride home accordingly, when baby is full, clean and sleepy. That way, both you and baby can take a nap while your partner drives home.
- Revel in the moment. You can’t prepare for all aspects of baby’s first ride home. For example, some babies do not like being in a car, for a variety of reasons. What you can do is to feel as prepared as possible so that you can truly enjoy the moment.
- Select someone to drive and someone to sit in the backseat with baby. You’ll likely feel better if you can keep an eye on your little one and easily address any fussing, or can turn to see why things are so “quiet” back there. Maybe it’s the first car-induced nap!
- Ask for help. If your preparations were less than perfect or you’re just feeling unsure, seek help from family members or friends who are also parents. They’ve been in your shoes before and they want you to gain confidence, so don’t be shy, ask for help.
- Reserve judgment about different ways of doing things. You and your partner or family members will approach the new baby differently. The “first ride home” with baby will be just the first of many experiences during which you’ll learn that you and your loved ones may have different parenting styles, so try not to judge each other’s actions. Just embrace the excitement you’re each feeling.
Baby will have many joyous firsts, whether filled with coos or spit-up, so don’t aim for perfection. You’re learning! Enjoy every second of baby’s first ride home. You’re beginning an incredible family journey and there is no instruction manual. This day will be yours to experience your way, so relax and enjoy.
Looking for further insights to prepare you for baby’s first ride home? Check out this SlideShare deck.