Toolkit: Easing Your Baby’s Transition from Hospital to Home
Transitions can be hard, even for an infant. Do your best to make the transition from the hospital to your home a smooth one for your new baby and you. Here are a few tips:
A Restful Environment
Your baby will need a restful, healthy environment to make a smooth transition to the home environment.
- Keep lights dim and avoid placing your baby under bright lighting.
- Avoid putting your baby in extra noisy areas of the house.
- Though you want to avoid loud noises and bright lights, your baby has been exposed to lots of stimulation in the hospital. So he or she may sleep better at first with some sound and light, such as a nightlight and soft music.
- Try to avoid enclosed and crowded places, such as shopping malls and grocery stores. This will help minimize exposure to illnesses.
- Minimize visitors, especially young children or anyone with a cold/illness.
Bedding and Bed Space
Your baby will spend a lot of time in his or her “nest.” Make it a safe, welcoming place.
- Remember to have your baby sleep on his or her back and keep all loose bedding or blankets away from your baby. This decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Minimize any extras in the crib, including stuffed animals.
- Hang a mobile above the crib or put a crib toy (mirrors are great) on the side of the crib. This will give your baby something to look at when awake.
Tummy Time for Play
Tummy time during play is important in helping your baby develop core muscles and improve strength. Try this:
- Lie on your back with your baby on your chest. Talk and encourage your baby to lift his or her head to see you.
- Put a blanket on the floor and place your baby on his or her tummy. You can use a feeding and infant support pillow, such as a Boppy. Place baby’s chest on the Boppy to help decrease the effects of gravity while your little one learns to lift his or her head.
- To increase enjoyment, talk and sing to your baby during tummy time.
- Make this a positive experience, and end tummy time when your baby becomes fussy. This may be one minute or longer, depending on your child’s tolerance level.
Tips for the Caregivers
Here are a few extra tips to make the transition to home the best it can be for your infant and you:
- Talk to your baby gently and slowly.
- During alert times, play face-face games. Allow your baby to gaze at your face. Don’t be surprised if your little one looks away frequently. This is her way of regulating herself.
- Give your baby frequent rests and breaks from play and interaction.
- Space out care giving activities to decrease overstimulation. These are signs of overstimulation:
- Looking tired, pale, or weak
- Extending arms and splaying fingers
- Watch your baby’s cues and notice when he or she is telling you, “I need a break!”
- Allow your baby to wake on his own for feedings. This will help him develop his own routine around sleep and feedings.
Enjoy your little bundle!
Kenner, C. and McGrath, J, eds. (2004) Developmental Care of Newborns and Infants. Philadelphia: Elsevier.
The website of the American Academy of Pediatrics