Prepare for your baby's homecoming
Few things are as scary as taking a new baby home from the hospital for the first time, especially if it's your first... Here's how to prepare for your newborn's homecoming.

Facing up to the fact that as her parents you are now alone with this small creature who depends on you for her very survival can be overwhelming. Suddenly, all the preparation of the last nine months seems to fly out the window.

Preparing for coming home is a work in progress. It begins in the months during which you learn everything you can about looking after a newborn baby, and continues while you are in hospital surrounded by nurses, midwives and doctors you can turn to for advice. Glean all the information you can while you have them at your fingertips. Ask questions, make notes, write lists and practise doing as you can for your baby while there is someone there to tell you what to do, how and when.

Before leaving for the hospital

  • In the few weeks before your due date when you pack your suitcase for hospital, prepare for your homecoming by setting aside the clothes you want to wear home from the hospital, as well as baby’s first few outfits
  • Put the car seat in the car before you leave for the hospital.
  • Once you get home you won’t have much time or energy for housework, so try and make sure the house is in order, that there is food in the freezer for quick, easy meals between feeds and that you have no urgent, outstanding items on your to-do list.

Homecoming checklist: before leaving the clinic

Make sure that time-consuming paper-work, blood tests and brag-pics are done by the hospital (most offer these services), or get your partner or a friend to help you before you leave the hospital.

  • Your baby’s registration for a birth certificate – otherwise done at Home Affairs. You will need a “proof of birth” document from the hospital for this
  • Completed and signed unemployment documents
  • Medical aid registration for your baby
  • Hospital bills taken care of or all your medical aid details
  • Immunisation card with details of first inoculation
  • Details of nearest baby clinic
  • Your baby’s blood group (this is a useful option)
  • “Footprint” or hospital card with birth details
  • Blood tests for jaundice (SBR) and thyroid hormones (TSH)
  • Hearing test for your baby (not essential for most, but very important for at-risk babies)
  • Date booked for first post-natal appointment with doctor, gynaecologist or midwife
  • Record your baby’s weight when leaving the hospital.

At home

  • The best way to cope with your new baby is to be practical and flexible. It will take at least 6 weeks to work out a routine that works for your family.
  • Keep a schedule on the fridge for important reminders – even obvious things like “sterilise bottles” can be forgotten in a welter of new tasks.
  • You may be worried out of your mind that you won’t wake up when your baby cries at night. But never fear. Your mothering instincts have been sharpened by pregnancy and the slightest murmur will have you up in seconds.
  • Learn to work with a dim night-light so that your baby’s melatonin levels kick in and programme him to sleep when it’s dark.
  • Sleep when your baby sleeps. Get friends and family to do your shopping or bring you a home-cooked meal.

Most of all, enjoy your first few weeks with your new baby – they pass so quickly, in such a blur of new things to do and learn that only afterwards will you long to remember each precious moment.

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