Being a parent for the first time is an exhilarating, joyful, complicated, and often messy experience. You may feel a little lost and confused, but holding and nurturing your child makes it all worth it. As you watch your newborn grow and interact with the world around them, there are a few things to prepare for as a new parent. Here’s what first-time parents need to know; be the best dad you can be with these tips.
Bringing Home Baby
The first few weeks are chaotic. You’re on the baby’s schedule now; you sleep when they sleep. If the little one needs a bottle or a diaper change, they will let you know—and loudly. If there were complications at birth, like breech positioning or hip dysplasia, your baby may need extra care. Stay in contact with those who delivered the baby, whether that’s the hospital obstetrician or the doula or midwife who assisted at a home birth. Their specialized knowledge will lend you support during those first weeks and months.
Keeping Them Clean
For the first month, give your baby sponge baths in the sink two or three times a week (everyday baths can dry out their delicate skin). Use gentle soap specially formulated for baby skin and hair. Continue with sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off and the navel completely heals. If you had your little one circumcised, make sure it has completely healed as well before transitioning to tub baths.
Bonding and Nurturing
Your baby needs lots of love and affection; babies who don’t receive adequate cuddles in their first two years of life can develop attachment issues later on. Take care to support their head and neck when you hold them, and always wash your hands first. Many parents find skin-to-skin contact with their baby particularly powerful in bonding. And make sure to talk and sing to them often! Babies love gentle, soothing sounds. Talking to your baby also aids in their development—get them used to hearing words.
Parenthood is a monumental undertaking, and doing it for the first time comes with a learning curve. You’ll need extra support from your community and your little one’s doctor; don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Remember: your baby is also new to all of this, so you’re having these experiences together. These reminders are just a taste of what first-time parents need to know, but keep these basics in mind as you bond with your little one.