Bringing your new baby home is an exciting and often overwhelming time for new parents. For this reason, we made a list of 20 things to do after you bring your baby home.
You now have a brand new tiny human relying on you 24/7 and you are exhausted from your delivery and immediate postpartum recovery.
Your body is still going through a lot of physiologic changes as it returns to its pre-pregnancy state.
This list is from our personal experience as new parents. There are a few surprises on this list that you may have not thought of or even knew you needed to do.
There are some things you’ll want to do within the first few days and weeks of being home with your new baby.
The whole point is to make your recovery and first few weeks home with your new baby easier.
20 Things To Do After You Bring Your Baby Home:
1. Schedule your baby’s first appointment with the pediatrician.
Your baby’s pediatrician will want to see your baby within the first week after delivery.
Dress the baby in easy-to-remove clothes, bring any questions you have with you, bring your insurance card, and make sure you know where the office and entrance to the facility are located.
Bring your diaper bag with extra newborn outfits, diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, formula, and bottles if your formula feeding, and a snack for you.
You’ll want to bring two extra outfits (at least).
Some might say that’s overkill, but the law of newborn babies says “If you only have one extra outfit, you’ll need it, and then your baby will have an explosive all the way up the back blow out… and you won’t have another outfit.
Don’t let that be you. Learn from those of us who have lived through it. Better to be over-prepared than underprepared.
2. Line up and accept help from family and friends.
Ideally, you did this before the baby was born, but if not, be sure to line up help and accept it from family, friends, and colleagues.
They can help you cook, clean, and relax.
You need time to rest and recover.
You need time to snuggle that little bundle of joy and get acclimated to being a “Mom”.
Make sure you get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can increase your postpartum recovery time, decrease your milk supply, make anxiety, and depression symptoms worse.
2020 update: The new coronavirus has complicated being around family and friends and made postpartum recovery harder for new moms. You’ll want to keep up to date with the CDC’s latest guidance on COVID-19:
Based on what we know at this time, pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 may be at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth.
If you have someone you don’t live with coming in to help you make sure you all wear masks, wash hands, stay at least 6 feet apart, and if possible open windows and doors to increase airflow.
3. Make an emergency phone number/address list easily available.
Write down the pediatrician’s number, your OB/GYN’s number, the phone number of the closest 24-hour pharmacy, and know where the closest emergency room or urgent care facility is located.
You don’t want to be fumbling around at 3 in the morning trying to find phone numbers if you or your newborn gets sick.
Make sure your partner knows where to find these numbers too.
4. Schedule your 6 weeks postpartum doctor’s appointment.
You’ll want to schedule your 6-week follow-up visit with your doctor.
Some doctors book out pretty far, so call for an appointment as soon as possible.
Be sure to contact your doctor during those 6 weeks if you have any problems.
You don’t need to wait for your follow-up appointment to discuss any issues or questions you might have.
5. Write down questions for your doctor or for the pediatrician.
You will likely have lots and lots of questions for your baby’s doctor and your own.
Make sure you write them down as soon as you can.
It is easy to forget to ask the questions you wanted to when you are sleep deprived and rushed.
Your office often may want to see you before 6 weeks.
Make sure this is clear at the time you are discharged from the hospital.
6. Notify your health insurance company that you gave birth.
You’ll need to notify your health insurance company that you’ve had your baby.
They will add your baby to your policy and you will also be able to confirm that your delivery expenses will be covered.
This is very important. I failed to do this with my first child and ended up not having my delivery covered nor the hospital stay.
It was a real mess. The insurance company would not budge on this issue. It was a very expensive lesson.
7. Put together a “survival basket” to keep next to you.
Your survival basket should have diapers, wipes, tissues, hand sanitizers, an extra phone charger, and an extra charger for your tablet or computer.
Bring snacks that you can eat with one hand and drinks you love, a few books to read, and your phone and tablet.
You are going to be sore and wiped out when you get home.
Arrange things for when you arrive home, so you can focus on just resting and snuggling with your newborn as much as possible.
Have you ever wished your newborn came with an owner’s manual? Or the nurse handed you a book called “Best Ever Baby Hacks”? You are not alone. We all wish our new babies came with an instruction manual. Here is the secret all you really need to know are useful ways to save time during your baby’s first few months home.
8. Apply for your baby’s social security number.
You may have been given the option to apply for your child’s social security number while you were in the hospital.
If not, you will need a social security number for your baby in order to claim them on your taxes and add them to your health insurance policy.
It takes about 4 weeks to get the social security card so this is one task you’ll want to do right away if you didn’t do it at the hospital.
You should also have been given forms to get copies of your baby’s birth certificate while in the hospital.
You’ll need the birth certificate to prove their legal identity and age. It is the most important document you need to get.
Ultimately, the town hall is where your official birth certificate will remain forever.
The hospital certificate is not an official certificate you will need to get for any official paperwork.
The certificate in the Townhall is embossed and is the only form of your birth certificate that is admissible for use with any government documents such as a passport, motor vehicle license, etc.
9. Take lots of pictures (with you in them!).
Who doesn’t know someone who bought their first high tech camera or video camera with the birth of their first child?
There’s a reason for that…. having a child is a milestone event.
Having delivered many babies, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen parents at a delivery, disappointed because they did not come prepared to take many pictures.
This can happen simply because there are so many other pressing issues occurring around the time of delivery. Make this a priority as you cannot get this moment back.
Take pictures, lots and lots of pictures.
Make sure you are in some of them. Even if you hate how you look and feel, get in those pictures with your baby.
You’ll really cherish being able to look back on them when your kids are grown.
If you plan to have professional newborn photos taken, arrange that as soon as possible.
Depending on the time of year, photographers can be booked up for weeks.
Consider what you’d like your newborn photoshoot to be. Do you want it to be seasonal? Whimsical? Sports-themed? There are so many options to consider.
10. Watch for postpartum complications.
If you have been discharged home from either a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section, it means you have met the standard discharge criteria.
However, it is very important to listen closely to your discharge instructions and read through all the postpartum instructions you received from the hospital.
Though you are at home, there is still the possibility of complications.
Postpartum complications are not uncommon.
Postpartum infection and bleeding complications:
- Uterine Infection (endometritis)
- Breast Infection (Mastitis)
- Incision Infection
- Episiotomy Infection
- Vaginal Bleeding (Retained Tissue, Uterine Atony)
- Leg Veins (Phlebitis, Blood Clots)
So what symptoms should you look for with each condition: (This list is not an all-inclusive list.)
- Uterus: fever, uterine tenderness, increased vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge with odor.
- Breast: fever, tenderness, redness, discolored breast discharge, lump or mass that does not go away after breastfeeding (any lump that persists after pumping or breastfeeding must be evaluated to r/o cancer)
- Incision Infection: drainage, redness, fever, firmness around the incision (induration)
- Episiotomy Infection: increased pain, tenderness, drainage, redness, firmness
- Vaginal Bleeding: increased bleeding, active bleeding, passing clots
- Leg Veins: swelling, redness, calf tenderness
11. Jot things down in the baby book as soon as you can.
You’ll want to write things down in the baby book as soon as you can. You’ll forget if you don’t.
Write things down while they are fresh in your mind.
Things to include in your baby memory book can be special moments from the birth, the first time you held and fed your new baby, and the day you brought her home.
Include a photo and share your thoughts at the moment. You’ll love looking back at those first pictures when your children are grown.
The first few months after delivery go by in such a blur, it is very easy to forget things that happened.
Creating a memory book for your baby and writing things down as soon as you can will help ensure those first precious few months of new parenthood don’t get forgotten.
Share funny moments from the first few days and months as new parents. These will become cherished memories as your baby grows up.
12. Make sure your family pets are kept secure and not left alone with the baby.
Though everyone wants to think their pet is different and would never hurt anyone, especially newborns, the fact remains, dogs and cats are still animals that have a limited ability to understand and may react instinctively.
This can be a concern since animals, especially house pets, experience emotions and may act on them.
They are often jealous of the new member of the household and want attention as does any animal that has been the center of attention and then feels left out.
The best way to be sure your pet and the new baby will be lifelong friends is to prepare your dog, preferably before the baby comes. If you were not able to do that, don’t panic.
You can read our Ultimate Guide To Introducing Your Dog To Your Baby:
Bringing home a new baby is an exciting time. For many first time parents, arriving home will often include introducing your dog to a new baby. When I brought my son home as a newborn, I brought him into a house with 2 large german shepherds, 2 large rottweilers, and a 4 pound Maltese.
Household pets, that have not had time to become acclimated to a new baby, may harm the baby if they are poked or pulled at before they have had a chance to get to know your new baby.
These concerns apply to a new puppy or kitten as well as a well-behaved dog or cat.
When it comes to pets, there is one other concern in this day of social media.
It is the desire to post videos showing home pets interacting with babies.
Though the videos are cute, the pet has very likely been around the baby for a good deal of time.
Even in this situation, it is important once again to realize that pets are not always predictable.
13. Be gentle with yourself.
Let go of your expectations and perfectionism. You just had a baby, be gentle with yourself.
Your recovery may go slower than you expect, or your newborn may not sleep as much as the books say.
Don’t worry about the laundry or the dishes. Chores can wait. If it doesn’t have to be done, leave it for another time or for someone else to handle it.
You should focus on rest, recovery, and bonding with your newborn.
14. Limit visitors in the first few weeks.
The first few weeks home with a new baby are about two things adjusting and recovering.
Visitors can wait. If they are not coming to help you specifically, they can wait.
Labor, delivery, and the first few weeks home with a newborn are really tough, give yourself time to recover.
This is especially true during the cold and flu season.
There is nothing worse than having a brand new baby and a cold. Unless the baby gets sick too. Then that’s even worse.
So absolutely feel free to limit visitors until you have had a chance to recover for a few weeks.
If they come to visit, they should be coming to help you.
15. Stay alert to signs of postpartum depression.
Baby Blues differs from postpartum depression in the following ways:
- Limited to 2 weeks duration
- Does not interfere with daily activities
- Does not require medical treatment (This does not mean you should not be evaluated if you are concerned about having any symptoms associated with postpartum depression noted below).
Causes of Postpartum Depression:
New Moms: Due to increased stress
Hormonal: Hormones have many effects on mental status and can contribute to postpartum depression.
- History of depression or postpartum depression
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Traumatic delivery
- A traumatic event during the course of one’s pregnancy such as a death in the family.
- A poor postpartum support system in place
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:
- Decreased interest in activities: Food, Sex, Self-Care
- A difficulty with “bonding”
- Crying for no reason
- Despair and a feeling of hopelessness
- Poor focus, memory
Postpartum Depression Occurs In Dads Too:
Roughly 10% of dads get postpartum depression and up to 18% experience some form of an anxiety disorder.
*Make sure you get help if you have any of the concerns listed above. Have the emergency phone number readily available. (Get this number from your clinician’s office.)
16. Write about your birth story.
This is the one thing I wish I had done right away. There are so many little details that I just don’t remember.
Even if you never share your birth story anywhere, write it down for yourself.
You’ll appreciate it years later when you can look back on it and recall the little details that do become less easy to remember over time.
17. Don’t focus on losing the baby weight right away.
It is normal to want to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. The first weeks after delivery are a time of healing.
You need to rest and recover. Allow yourself the time to do that and to enjoy the foods you really love.
You’ll be sleep-deprived and if you breastfeed, you may be nursing a lot. You’ll need the calories for energy and milk production.
You can cut back and work on losing the weight after the first few weeks, but don’t give it a thought when you first get home.
18. Consider doing a “Sip and See” party for extended family/friends.
A “Sip and See” party is a great no-pressure way to let friends and extended family meet your new baby.
It is a simple concept, you provide light refreshments think easy cocktails like mimosas or punch, coffee, tea, and simple finger foods or desserts.
Think easy and simple. A sip and see is like an open house with set hours.
No pressure on you mom! Your guests may or may not bring gifts.
Some parents choose to do a Sip and See party instead of a baby shower. But you can do both.
It is a nice way to allow family and friends to see the new baby and catch up with you.
19. Set good boundaries with the grandparents.
Though grandparents may have good intentions, they can be intrusive if you have established how you want to care for your newborn.
They are not familiar with how many things have changed and you should feel comfortable setting down some boundaries to minimize stress, especially when you first arrive home.
This problem with grandparents will likely continue as your newborn becomes a toddler and beyond.
Grandparents are well-known for unintentionally spoiling their grandchildren and this is understandable.
What is difficult for the parents is the aftermath.
Many parents will tell you that it can be very difficult to get their child back into a routine after a day or weekend with Grammy and Grandpa.
So start early with setting boundaries, it will make your life a lot easier.
It may be difficult at first but can prove to be very helpful in the long run.
Grandparents are typically not offended by this.
They are not thinking about how this will disrupt your family when your children return so it is ultimately up to the parents to set limits on things such as treats., gifts., bedtime, etc.
Otherwise, you will find yourself starting at square one and having to discipline your child more than would have to if you had some limits in place.
20. Spend time with your partner.
Make sure to make time to spend with your partner. New partners can very often feel left out after the arrival of the new baby.
During the first few weeks, newborns sleep a lot, so try to spend some of that time hanging out together on the couch, order takeout, and binge on Netflix.
Give yourselves time to re-connect, now that you are not pregnant and you have a new baby in the house.
Let your partner know that you appreciate them and involve them as much as possible in the care of your newborn.