You’ve been waiting for the day when you could bring home your sweet baby. It’s an exciting time, but you may feel nervous about what to expect. Even if you read lots of books and watch many videos on newborns, your experience will be unique.
Just remember, adoptive parents have been bringing home their newborns for decades. They’ve successfully adjusted to this season and raised a healthy, well-adjusted child who feels loved and you can too!
Here are 15 helpful tips to make the most of those early days when you first arrive home with your newborn:
1. Bond with your baby
Studies have shown that babies have a natural capacity to “bond” to ensure their survival. To enhance the bonding experience, be sure to respond to your baby’s cries as soon as possible. Quickly responding builds their sense of trust and helps them know you’re there for them. Consistent nurturing creates a calm atmosphere for the baby and you. A hug and a smile at your newborn reassure them of your care for them.
2. Use a breastfeeding hold
Newborns have instinctive feeding behaviors. They suck, root, and cry for food to get their parent’s attention.
When you’re feeding your newborn, hold them to mimic breastfeeding to create a natural, peaceful feeding experience. Cradle your baby to your chest to mimic breastfeeding. Switch arms while feeding them just as you would if breastfeeding them.
3. Learn your baby’s signals
Babies communicate their needs through facial expressions, crying, and body movements. As you learn your newborn’s signals and respond to them, your baby grows to trust you. When they see you, they’ll give you a big smile because they understand you’re the one who is taking care of them.
4. Be patient
Your baby is adjusting to a whole new world; they are experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells. They may be fussy or refuse to sleep. Your baby may want to eat all the time for comfort.
This type of behavior is common, and it has nothing to do with your parenting skills. It’s all part of the new adjustments for them and you. Be patient with them. When you’re in these situations, it can feel like an eternity. But, try to remember that in a few weeks, things will feel more normal, and you’ll be able to have a little more of a routine. It’s all part of your journey.
5. Talk, talk, talk
Your newborn will love hearing your voice. As you talk to them, they will identify you as the person who feeds them and makes them feel secure and safe.
Everyday activities like diaper changing, feeding, bathing, and bedtimes are opportunities for you to talk to your baby. Laugh, sing or just tell them how much they’re loved. They’ll get excited when they hear you speak. Before you know it, they’ll be laughing and giggling at the sound of your voice.
6. Make eye contact
Eye contact with your newborn boosts your bonding experience. Researchers say that eye contact can sync your brainwaves with your baby and help them develop communication skills. Eye contact releases oxytocin, a brain chemical that improves a baby’s mood and builds a bond between you and your baby.
Newborns can’t see past eight to 12 inches in front of them, but you can still lean in and gaze into their eyes. The distance they can see is perfect for when you’re feeding your baby. So resist the temptation to look at your phone while they’re eating. Instead, make this time when you’re making eye contact with your sweet, little newborn.
7. Read aloud
Even though your newborn can’t understand what you’re reading, they love hearing their parent’s voice. Reading aloud creates a cadence and rhythm that babies love to hear. It’s a calming experience for both you and your baby. Plus, it’s a wonderful habit to continue as your child grows.
8. Get outside with your baby
Many parents worry about taking a newborn outside. If your baby is healthy, there is nothing wrong with taking them outdoors. If it’s chilly outside, bundle them up.
It’s a great change of scenery for both of you after being cooped up inside the house. A short walk around your neighborhood or a stroll around a lake can renew and refresh you.
9. Give an infant massage
Babies love a soothing back rub or arm massage. Like adults, it’s thought that when you give your baby a massage, it helps them relax and destress. In addition, studies have found that infant massage strengthens the social and emotional relationships between babies and adults.
Using baby lotion, gently massage it into your baby’s skin on their back, tummy, legs, and arms. Be careful to use a soft touch. The massage will relax your baby, helping them be less fussy and sleep better.
10. Give lots of cuddles
Newborns need lots of cuddling. Hold your newborn when sitting, standing, or walking around your house. Years ago, parents were told that holding their baby too much would “spoil” the baby. This is a myth. You can’t spoil a baby. In fact, staying close and in tune with your baby helps them feel emotionally safe and secure. Cuddling can help a newborn stay calmer and less fussy. It enhances the bond between you.
11. Create a routine
After a few weeks, I suggest trying to create a loose routine for your baby. Allow your newborn to eat whenever they’re hungry, typically about every two to three hours. So, keep track of feedings to establish a general routine to know when your newborn needs to be fed. Of course, when they go through a growth spurt, they may eat more often.
You’ll also see patterns emerge for napping and bedtime. Early on, your baby will sleep as much as 14 to 17 hours a day. You may need to wake them up to feed them.
12. Take care of yourself
Amid your busy life with a newborn, take time for yourself. There will be many sleepless nights and tiring days as you care for your baby.
Some parents feel guilty about leaving their baby even for a short time. This isn’t healthy. You need time away to get recharged and refreshed. Small bits of personal time to get a cup of coffee with a friend or go to the gym help you be a better parent.
13. Find support
Some of your days may feel overwhelming and isolating. Be sure to surround yourself with supportive people during this season. The support of friends and family will help you get through. They can pray for you, babysit, bring meals, or just sit with you during those long hours of exhaustion.
Be honest with these folks about where you need help. Don’t be proud trying to soldier through by yourself. It’s not healthy. Plus, people will want to help. Come up with a list of what you need to be done each day. Then, allow people to serve you. Here are some ideas:
- Walking your dog
- Cleaning your bathroom
- Grocery shopping
- Running errands for you
- Vacuuming or mopping
- Doing the laundry, folding clothes
- Loading or unloading the dishwasher
14. Trust God
Bringing home an adopted newborn will be a wonderful, frightening, exhausting experience. You’ll need God’s strength and faith to get through.
Be sure to set aside daily time for praying and reading scripture. Even if your scripture reading time is short, a psalm or short passage of scripture can inspire you to keep going. Maybe you’ll simply say a quick prayer or sing a little praise song. That’s okay. God wants to help you in this season. He will give you the strength and grace you need each day as you look to him for help.
15. Enjoy the newborn stage
As a new adoptive parent, you have a lot going on. It’s easy to get caught up in practical stuff that needs to be done. But don’t forget to enjoy the moment.
Your baby won’t be a newborn forever. Before you know it, they’ll be in a new stage, and the newborn days will be gone forever. So every day, even though you’re tired and feeling stressed, stop and look at your sweet baby. Enjoy their sweet smiles and even their fussiness because it won’t last long.
Online Course for New Adoptive Parents
New Parents Academy is a course developed by Valerie Trumbower, a DONA certified postpartum doula, a certified lactation counselor, and a mother of three.
She created this course especially for new adoptive parents. There are many good books and courses out there for parents of newborns, but she geared this information, especially for you, as an adoptive parent.
Valerie shares strategies for bonding with your newborn, what gear you’ll need those first few months, and what it’s like to meet your baby for the first time. Her theory is that when you know what to expect and how to handle different situations, things go a lot smoother for everyone. With Expecting 101…You’re Adopting, you have access to information created specifically for you! To find out more about the course, click here.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”