bringing home baby: clothes, car seats and cuddles
Now that baby has made their grand entrance and the midwives have happily signed you both off, it's time to take your little one home. Your hospital bag is packed, your bundle is tucked snugly into your arms and your carriage awaits.
However, we know that when you take baby out into the world for the first time, you might feel like you have a to-do list as long as your arm. That's why it's worth planning ahead to make sure everything is ready for your new family member's first few hours on the outside.
newborn style: that first outdoor outfit
When you and your family head out of those hospital doors, your little traveller needs to be dressed for the occasion. It's good to start with a soft all-in-one vest over the nappy, then a sleepsuit with soft feet to keep those toes cosy.
An outside garment on top of this – like an all-in-one fleece – will keep your baby snuggly, and a little hat is a must. Mittens can be a bit fiddly, so try scratch mitts if it’s a cold day.
the journey home
Remember Prince William’s famous “phew” gesture when he successfully fitted baby George’s carry cot in front of the world’s media? We all know that feeling! Practising clicking your chosen system in and out of the car before the birth is a surefire way to calm those nerves. You may feel a bit silly, but strapping a child-sized teddy bear into the seat a few times is also excellent practice for the big day.
Your chosen chauffeur will then drive you slowly and carefully home. You'll soon get used to having your little back-seat passenger on board, but this first trip is always a little tentative.
meet the family
If baby has an older sibling waiting for them, this could be their first proper meeting. When you come home to see your other little one, it's best to make sure someone else is carrying your newborn so you can have both arms free to wrap your child in a big hug.
Some newborns 'bring' presents for their sibling, which works wonders with potentially envious toddlers. Then there’ll be excited new grandparents, aunties and other family members to meet!
While it can be really helpful to have a loving support network around you, this special time is meant to be all about you and your immediate family. Try to spread out initial visits to keep things manageable, especially as you and baby settle into your new routine.
meet the four-footed family
If 'family' also includes an animal or two, it's good to make sure they don't feel left out due to the new arrival. Your cat or dog is used to being the petted 'baby' of the household, so continue to give them plenty of love and attention.
Your dog or cat will be interested in this new little person, so carefully show them your baby: they’ll feel less threatened if they’ve had a look and a sniff. However, always make sure someone stays with baby when there's an animal in the room, even if they seem to like each other.
the first night
Sorry folks, but it’s pretty unlikely that you and your partner will get much sleep! Your newborn’s tiny tummy needs constant little top-ups, which means feeds every two to three hours.
Even when your little one's asleep, your nerves will probably keep you awake and constantly checking on them. Keep their bed close to yours, so they can be reassured by your presence (after all, they’ve been attached to you for a whole nine months!). Since they won't be keeping regular hours for the first few weeks, it's good to catch some shut eye whenever you can. When baby sleeps, you should try and sleep too.
the first week
Your community midwife will come round regularly to check you and your new little one. They'll weigh your baby and can help provide some extra advice on feeding. After ten days, all being well, the midwife hands you and your baby over to the health visitor, who continues with your postnatal care.
If you feel overwhelmed at any point, your midwife or health visitor are there to help: the 'baby blues' are perfectly common, and far easier to overcome with some expert support.