Preparing Your Home, Yourself and Family to Bring Your Baby Home

What can ​you expect when ​you bring your premature infant home?

As your baby grows in the intermediate care nursery, you will have a lot to do to get ready to bring him/her home. It can be overwhelming at times. Go slowly, but don’t procrastinate. Preparation gives you a chance to use some of your anxious energy to make a difference in your child’s future.

Housecleaning

Many parents feel they must “sterilize” their home with industrial-type cleaning products to eliminate germs and dust before their baby’s homecoming. You may feel fhe family pet​ needs to be permanently banished outdoors or given to a new owner. Although the intent behind these precautions is admirable, they often are not necessary and are usually impossible to keep up. Few families can maintain such high standards of cleanliness while giving baby care and normal living the priorities they must have. Rely on common sense as you prepare—and maintain—your home. A thorough cleaning is enough. Harsh cleaning solutions and insecticidal sprays can leave residual odors that may irritate or even harm your baby.

Tobacco Smoke

Babies—especially those who have had or are having breathing difficulties—are at risk for a number of problems from exposure to tobacco smoke. No one should smoke in the home or in the car, around your baby, or anyplace where your baby spends time.

The AAP Committee on Environmental Health has identified these problems with secondhand smoke exposure: decreased lung growth, decreased lung function, and increased frequency of lower respiratory tract infections and respiratory symptoms. Research also clearly shows that exposure to smoke can cause ear infections and related hearing problems, increased incidence of hospitalization related to bronchitis or pneumonia, and increased risk for SIDS. If you need more information or literature—for example, to convince family or close friends of the dangers of secondhand smoke to your baby—contact the American Lung Association.

If the stress of bringing you baby home has caused you to relapse and start smoking again we can help by referring you to the Tobacco Quit Line.  

Pets

Pets are important members of the family. Banishing a beloved pet to remain outside may cause resentment. Instead, prepare your pet for your baby’s arrival. Bring home clothing or a blanket with your baby’s scent on it before your baby is discharged. Siblings can help by spending extra time with the pet. Be alert for signs of aggression or jealousy when your baby comes home, and never leave your dog or cat unsupervised near your new baby.

Extra attention and discipline will solve most problems. Keeping your pet out of your baby’s sleeping area may help reduce the risk of fur or dander irritating the baby’s breathing. When your baby is developmentally mature enough to lie outside the crib, place a clean blanket or mat under the baby to keep fur, dander, dust, and carpet fibers from irritating the baby’s airway during playtime. Carefully assess all of the factors involved in having a pet, and talk with your health care provider as you decide on a reasonable approach.

Siblings

Prepare your older children for what life may be like when their baby brother or sister comes home. Plan to spend special time alone with each of your other children a short time after your baby comes home and repeat this time daily, this will show them you continue to have time for them. Encourage and allow them to talk about their feelings. This should reduce episodes of acting out.

 

Visitors

You’ll need a plan for visitors. Start thinking about this before your baby’s discharge, and set up a visiting schedule. Don’t turn down offers of help, but use your calendar to keep track of who is planning to visit. Place limits on the number of visitors to your home, too many visitors will stress you and your new baby. Your needs deserve top priority, and entertaining others is probably not at the top of your list right now. Let friends and extended family know that you’ll need some time to adjust to this new baby at home and that you’ll let them know when you’re ready for visitors. Caring family and friends will respect your need for privacy.  Limit the time and visitors that have contact with your new baby.  Do not allow visitors who appear ill to hold or touch your premature baby.