Preparing yourself for childbirth is important, but what about when you first leave the hospital with your newborn? With pregnancy taking a full nine months, expectant parents need all the time they can to prepare themselves for the big event. However, in the rush to paint the nursery and buy baby furniture, you may have overlooked some of the essentials of bringing your newborn baby home. There is no official instruction manual for becoming a parent, but with help from your pediatrician, you can ensure continual health throughout your child’s lifetime.
Leaving the Hospital
Often, moms-to-be will pack clothes for the trip home before even going to the hospital. Plan to bring loose-fitting clothing for yourself, because you most likely won’t fit in your pre-pregnancy clothes. Babies are frequently overdressed for their first trip home. In warm weather, it is practical to dress your baby in a t-shirt and diaper and to wrap him or her in a baby blanket. Hats are not necessary, but they can be a cute finishing touch, especially for the first picture in the hospital.
If it is cold, add a snowsuit and an extra blanket for your baby. Chances are much better that you will bring home a calm, contented baby if you do not spend too much time at the hospital trying to dress your newborn in a complicated outfit that requires pushing and pulling your baby’s arms and legs. If you have not already made arrangements with your baby’s pediatrician, make sure to ask when the baby’s first checkup should be scheduled before you leave the hospital.
The Car Ride Home
The most important item for the tip home with your newborn is a proper child safety seat (car seat). Every state requires parents to have a safety seat before leaving the hospital because it is one of the best ways to protect your baby. Even for a short trip, it is never safe for one of you to hold your baby in your arms while the other drives. Your baby could be pulled from your arms and thrown against the dashboard by a quick stop.
Infant-only seats are designed for rear-facing use only and fit infants better than convertible seats. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants and toddlers ride in rear-facing seats until they are 2-years-old or until they have reached the maximum weight and height limits recommended by the manufacturer. Never put a rear-facing infant or convertible seat in the front seat of your car – always use the rear seat.
If your child becomes ill shortly after you bring them home from the hospital, you want to have a good working relationship with a doctor you trust and respect. You have nine months to plan, so come in and talk to us! Opening a dialogue with your new pediatrician is the best way to start what will be a long relationship based in keeping your child healthy and happy.
With your baby at home, watch for these signs that it is time to call your pediatrician:
- Breathing faster or irregular
- Notice blueness or a darkness on the lips or face
- Newborn has a fever
- Newborn’s body temperature has dropped
- See signs of dehydration
- Baby’s belly button or circumcision area looks infected
Although most babies remain perfectly healthy after they are discharged from the hospital, it is important to watch for any signs of illness and take your child to your pediatrician for evaluation within a day or two of leaving the hospital.