As a parent-to-be, you are probably feeling overwhelmed as you prepare for your new bundle of joy. You may be reading advice books and articles, taking classes, and asking friends and family members for suggestions. However you do it, making sure you safely prepare ahead of time for your new family member is a must. In honor of Baby Safety Month, coming up in September, consider the following ways you can make bringing home baby a little easier and safer.
Many new parents may think they can wait until after the baby is born to make certain decisions, but they don’t realize how busy and tired they’ll be with a crying, hungry baby who needs attention. Doing research and making decisions prior to the little one’s birth can put your mind at ease. Here are a few decisions you can make in advance:
• Select a pediatrician - Your friends and family can be very helpful resources for this decision. Ask around and set up an interview with the pediatrician. Many offer open houses for parents-to-be. Consider features such as after-hour appointment times and a 24/7 phone number.
• Choose your daycare or babysitter - Researching your daycare before your baby is born can help alleviate stress prior to returning to work. Many daycares also require you to put your names on a waiting list. Again ask friends and family for recommendations. Many cities also offer resources to identify licensed daycares in the area, something very important for the safety of your baby.
• Take classes - Outside of your typical childbirth preparation class, other classes such as infant CPR instruction or advice about introducing your dog to the baby can help you prepare for any unexpected situations that may arise. There are many variations available to make you (nearly) an expert on newborns.
• Purchase and assemble baby’s crib - Sometimes choosing the crib is one of the most daunting tasks new parents face. Ensuring your crib and/or bassinet is in the house and ready to go prior to bringing your baby home will help immensely. Make sure it is certified by the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association to ensure your baby’s safety.
• Buy a car seat and learn how to use it - Car seats can be tricky. In addition to ensuring the car seat meets all of the safety guidelines, you must learn how to correctly install it in your car. Many fire departments will install the car seat for you if you bring it to them. Please know that hospitals are not responsible for ensuring your car seat is installed correctly. This is something you must do prior to delivery so that you can safely bring baby home.
• Make your list of emergency contacts - Having a list of emergency contacts easily available will make a world of difference in a stressful situation. Poison control is an incredibly important number to have on hand. Once your baby starts crawling around, he or she may come into contact with dangerous liquids, cleaners, and more.
• Ensure you have a working smoke detector - Check all of the smoke detectors in your house and make sure their batteries are working. And when you hear that beep, indicating one of them needs a new battery, don’t delay. Smoke detectors save lives in the event of a fire.
• Inspect the house for choking hazards - Some items to look out for are button batteries (like in a remote), loose change, and magnets. Some stores and websites offer a “small objects choke tester” to help evaluate the size of objects.
• Set the hot water gauge back a little - A newborn’s skin is sensitive. This alleviates the risk of burns.
• Purchase cabinet latches and outlet covers - They may be pesky for you, but they can save your child’s life!
• Set up your baby monitors - Many now have video capabilities and two-way radios that make watching baby even easier.
• Get your thermometer - You’ll need a digital thermometer. It’s best to have a rectal or armpit thermometer for your baby’s first few months.
• Pick out your stroller - Make sure you can pick it up, fold it easily, and that it fits into your vehicle.
• Shop for clothes, diapers, etc. - You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of clothing, diapers and wipes, and swaddling blankets on hand for your child. Did I mention you’ll need a lot of diapers?
It seems overwhelming, but bringing your baby home is one of the most magnificent moments in life. You may think you’re prepared, but a baby is always full of surprises. Luckily, there are many resources, including preparatory classes, available to help you. Good luck in your parenting journey!
Carol Hilton, L.P.N., worked in Chesapeake Regional Healthcare’s BirthPlace before running Chesapeake Regional’s Moms Mobile for more than 20 years. She is now retired and working as a consultant and instructor of Chesapeake Regional’s newborn parenting classes.
For a list of available classes and upcoming event or to schedule a tour of Chesapeake Regional’s BirthPlace, visit www.chesapeakeregional.com or call 757-312-6508.