Bringing your newborn baby home from the hospital is a landmark moment in parenting. It feels like a victory: you managed to get pregnant, carry the baby, give birth, and now your precious little one is coming home for the first time. If the timing goes right, you get discharged on the same day and have the added bonus of leaving backless gowns and mediocre food behind! The baby goes into the pumpkin seat in your car, and then reality sets in.
I hope you followed my advice on 9 things to do before the baby comes. Because your newborn is now in charge.
For the first few months of life, babies eat every 2-4 hours. That’s around the clock, day and night. Sure, they sleep around 18 hours a day, but between the diaper change, feeding, and burping you’re looking at a few hours of sleep in between. Undoubtedly you are in for some sleep deprivation. Try to be patient with your spouse, and don’t make any important life decisions, until you can actually get some rest. Here are some tips for how to catch up.
Sleep Tips for Parents of Newborns
There are two main ways to handle the sleep deprivation a newborn bestows upon your home, and generally avoid becoming a walking zombie:
- When the baby sleeps, you sleep. You’ve probably heard this rule already but it’s easy to break… when the baby is asleep, it’s tempting to pick up around the house or watch TV or you know, shower. Keep this stuff on the back-burner (except perhaps the showering) and focus on grabbing an hour or two of sleep. You’re going to need it.
- Share the workload. Trading off with your spouse can make a big difference, especially at night. If you work out a schedule that lets each of you bag 5 hours of sleep, it can work wonders. If both of you get up every time, you can take turns with feeding, burping, diaper changing, and tucking back into bed while one of you dozes nearby.
Trying to find ways to keep up on sleep is essential in those first few months; disrupted sleep can cause maternal depression, marital discord, and all-around crabbiness. Snooze when you can and don’t feel bad about it.
Your newborn’s arrival may herald tough financial times ahead. Having a baby is expensive, and I’m not just talking about $20,000 hospital bills (one of the few times you’ll be glad to have expensive health insurance). I’ve heard the statistic that the average expense of raising a child from birth to age 18 is approximately $1 million. When your newborn arrives, you’ll soon understand why. Here are some things to save for:
- Big-ticket items like cribs, strollers, car seats, and baby furniture, and other baby gear. You may receive some of these from family, friends, or co-workers, and that can save you a nice chunk of change.
- Diapers and wipes. Figure on 10 diapers a day at the newborn stage. At $0.25 per diaper, you’re looking at $75 per month and that doesn’t even account for the cost of wipes, which run about $0.02 each. As your baby grows, you’ll have fewer diaper changes per day (good) but they are bigger and therefore have a higher price tag. There’s no escape.
- Infant formula. If you supplement with formula, you’ll quickly understand why it’s the “liquid gold” of baby care. Sure, it provides everything your newborn needs and more, it’s convenient, but it’s also pricey… especially as your baby grows and starts taking 4, 6, or 8 ounces at a time! Try not to think about the cost of each little scoop; it’ll drive you mad!
Money Saving Tips
By the time you’re reading this, it may be too late for me to advise that you save, save, save, before the baby comes. Having some money tucked away will help you avoid that second mortgage. But here are some ways to reduce the cost of all those things a newborn needs:
- For big-ticket items, complete your baby registry early and don’t be shy about it. When people ask if there’s anything you need, give them the registry. The more you receive as gifts, the less you have to spend on your own.
- Buy baby gear second-hand. Craigslist is usually a good place to find swings, strollers, cribs, and other things at less than half of the price. Just make sure the products have all of the pieces and aren’t under recall.
- Buy diapers and wipes in bulk. We signed up for Amazon Mom and use the Subscribe & Save to get free shipping. We also buy at the big-box stores when there’s a good deal.
- Generic forms of infant formula are available and usually less expensive, especially when bought in bulk. These are almost identical to the big brands (Similac, Enfamil) and you can even find the specialized kinds (e.g. sensitive). The most important thing is finding one whose taste your newborn likes, and sticking with it. Also, get as much formula free from the hospital as you can… at the NICU they gave us a few containers, one of the many reasons that we love the NICU.
The Newborn Time Is Short
Enjoy these sweet, short months with your newborn. Before you know it your baby will be rolling, crawling, walking, and asking for the car keys. It seems hard now, I know. It might seem like hardest thing you’ve ever done. But in a few months you’ll look back and miss these precious moments with your little baby when he or she is still a newborn.