First times with your newborn

As a new mum, there are a lot of exciting ‘firsts’ to experience. Here’s how to tackle– and enjoy – those early adventures with your little one

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  • First night at home

    Taking your tiny, brand-new baby back home from the hospital can often be accompanied by the dawning realisation that you’re now totally responsible for him, 24 hours a day. Don’t fret!

    How to tackle it

    “Newborn babies sleep a lot overall, but some can be very wakeful and cry every two hours for food: their tummies are tiny (not much bigger in size than a walnut) and need to expand slowly, which means that they need frequent feeds,” says Jenny Smith, senior midwife and author of Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth. “Keep your baby close to you and if he’s unsettled, try skin-to-skin contact (either you or your partner can do this) and rock him back and forth. If you’re both missing sleep, play some relaxing music, watch a bit of TV or just sit quietly and have a rest. Your calmness will help keep everyone calm.”

  • First bath

    Giving your baby his first wash in a tub isn’t always so easy, and the fear of dropping a wriggly, slippery newborn is something nearly all new parents will admit to.

    How to tackle it

    “Bear in mind that some babies will love having a bath from the start, but others won’t,” says Jenny. Also, remember that you don’t have to do the first bath on your own: “Often couples do the first bath together,” adds Jenny.

    “Get everything you need to hand before you start,” she continues. “Make sure that the room is warm (around 21°C) and the bath water is warm, but not hot – comfortable if you put your elbow in. Talk to your baby to make this a fun time. And, remember, never leave your baby alone in the bath.”

    Mum’s story

    “I was very nervous about bathing Harry for the first time. He was about three weeks old, as I’d waited for most of the cord stump to go, but he was still such a delicate little thing. My mum wanted to do the first bath, but I thought it should be my husband and me. I shouldn’t have been worried, as it really wasn’t too difficult. I used a bath support to help hold Harry and he really enjoyed it.”

    Charmaine Faulds, 36, from Woking, mum to Harry, 22 months

  • First visitors

    You may have always loved to catch up with friends and family before, but now having visitors over when you’ve got a newborn to care for can feel a little bit overwhelming.
     
    How to tackle it

    “Visitors can forget how long it would be appropriate to stay, as they may not take into account that you’re probably feeling tired and emotional,” says Jenny. “So set boundaries – for example, tell them they can pop in for half an hour. If you want to go up to sleep, do so, and leave your partner to deal with guests.” Remember too that visitors can help. “Ask them to bring food, or a cooked meal, or to pick up anything you might need from the shops,” suggests Jenny.

  • First time on public transport

    A simple ride on the bus or train can take on epic proportions in your mind once you have a newborn. “Remember that you have just as much right to be out and about as anyone else,” says Suzie Hayman, parenting educator and spokesperson for charity Parentline Plus. “And it’s not your fault that public transport design can be so bad!”

    How to tackle it

    “It’s important to think about how you will manage things before the event,” says Suzie. “For example, what kind of bag will you take, and how will you manage it with the buggy? Once you’re out and about, make eye contact with people – you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help if you give them a chance.” Don’t be afraid to ask transport staff to help, too. “That’s what they’re there for!” says Suzie.

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  • First time at the supermarket

    “Entering this familiar environment as a different person – a mum – can lead to thoughts like, ‘Will I be able to do it the same way as I did before?’” says Angharad Rudkin, clinical psychologist. “Aside from the practical issues of getting up and out of the house and putting your baby in the trolley when you get there, there can be the anxiety that your baby will scream while you’re in the shop.”

    How to tackle it

    “There’s no pressure to do a shop any sooner than you feel able to,” says Angharad. “In the meantime, trips to local shops or Internet shopping will do the trick. If you find that you’re actively avoiding the supermarket, ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen. Then work out a way you can gradually get back to shopping as you did before – perhaps start by taking someone with you who you trust.”

    Mum’s story

    “I was terrified the first time I took Daisy to Asda. She was in her sling, but I struggled getting around the store as I was afraid of bumping her. Next time, I had husband and car in tow, and we used a trolley with a baby seat!”

    Louise Harris, 32, from Guildford, Surrey, mum to Daisy, 21 months

  • First night out

    Part of you is desperate for a night out, but another part can’t bear to tear yourself away from your baby. “The idea of leaving your baby with someone else will weigh heavily,” says Suzie. “That’s totally normal, but it’s important to make yourself go out. It’s good for your baby to get used to not always being with you. It’s also very important to maintain your relationship as a couple. If the only bridge between you is your child, then eventually you’ll become disconnected.”

    How to tackle it

    Make your night out a date – you could go to your local, or for a meal to your favourite restaurant or to watch a film, whatever you enjoy doing. Choose a day when you don’t have anything else on and then make plans, starting with finding a babysitter you trust. Ideally, ask a family member or a good friend who has children herself. “When you’re out, recognise your anxieties,” says Suzie. “You’re likely to be a bit distracted, possibly gnawing each other’s fingernails and wanting to call home every minute to check everything’s OK!

    Go somewhere near enough to home that you could go back easily enough if you had to, but try to resist the urge to nip home because you want to check up on your baby,” she adds.

    Mum’s story

    “The first night I went out without Jack, he was meant to stay at my mum’s house. But when I got in at 2am, I burst into tears and went to fetch him! I’ve since realised that I worried too much. They cry when you go, but the minute you’re out of sight, they forget.”

    Laura Head, 21, from Bury St Edmunds, mum to Jack, 2, and Lola, 9 months

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