Congratulations, you have just had a baby. This will be the most emotional and amazing day of your life. But, really, things are just getting started. If you think it has been hard so far, well, strap in because now the real fun begins.
Don’t worry: Billions of people have done this before and you will do just fine. But in order to start preparing your baby for its best possible future, you should start working immediately in a few essential areas.
By adhering to the following six recommendations in the first seven days, you will be setting up your child for a wonderful life ahead.
1. Rest and Recover
Every newborn needs love, comfort, and nutrition as soon as he or she exits the womb. These early days are critical, say some development experts, but don’t forget about mom. In order to care for a baby properly — not just today, but throughout the entire first year — the mother needs to also be at her best. The first few days after birth will be taxing on the body, so be sure to get plenty of sleep, steer clear of physically strenuous tasks, and try to keep stress levels to a minimum.
2. Meet a Lactation Consultant
Especially if it is your first child, breastfeeding will be hard. But while newborns often have trouble properly latching on in the first days of life — and there will be some pain — drastic cases require expert advice. Talk with a professional before you begin no matter what and don’t hesitate to contact them again if any feeding problems arise that could deprive the baby of nutrients during this first year when they need it most.
3. Begin Cord Blood Banking
Even in the past few years, medical science has advanced dramatically, and many innovations allow infants to be healthier than ever. There is a reason that cord blood banking is growing in popularity. The benefits of taking this step immediately after birth — by preserving the invaluable stem cells stored in umbilical cord blood, cord tissue, and placenta tissue — can help protect a child’s health in the future. Start planning before birth so that you understand the process fully when the time comes.
4. Monitor but Don’t Panic
New parents are understandably terrified about their delicate creation, and there are many complications that can turn the first week of a baby’s life into a time of constant worry. But many issues are quite normal, such as fever, abdominal distention, excessive coughing, and even jaundice. Be vigilant to any issues — and seek medical help if necessary — but try not to immediately jump to worst-case scenarios. These first days are important to long-term development, and everybody will be better off if the parents aren’t filled with unnecessary anxiety.
5. Keep Reading
Though most parents-to-be spend untold hours learning the ropes before having their first child, there is always more to know. And beyond education, reading after the birth can be therapeutic. It helps you understand the thrilling and frightening emotions you are experiencing. One tip is to toss the “How-To Manuals” in favor of something that offers more human experience and humor, but don’t hesitate to begin thinking about longer-term parenting plans as well. Once the baby arrives, all of this info will hit you in a new way — and, besides, you don’t have much to do besides relax, feed, and read.
6. Start a College Fund
While even the first week may feel like an eternity, eventually you will feel like the years are flying by. So there is no reason to delay starting a college fund for the wee one now. Really, you can do this before the birth occurs, but set day seven as the final deadline to put some money aside. Compound interest is a powerful force — but you have to start early.
While thinking about the long term should begin immediately, the above recommendations are just a guideline. The real key is staying relaxed and adjusting to your new life.
After all, the biggest factor in any child’s life is their parents. So more than checking any one specific item off a check list, all moms and dads should prioritize staying sane, creating stability in their life, and providing as much love as possible to their beautiful new baby.