Welcome to Parenthood, A Family Guide

Welcome to parenthood! The day you have been waiting for has arrived. You have so much to look forward to! Right now, you might have lots of questions:

  • What Will My Baby Be Like?
  • How Will My Baby Fit Into My Family?
  • Can I Take Care Of My Baby And Do Everything Else I Have To Do?
  • Will I Be A Good Parent?
  • Will My Baby Love Me?

REMEMBER, Being A Parent Is Fun. It Is Also Hard Work. Everyone needs help and advice to be a good parent.

Welcome to Parenthood: A Family Guide is a special book written just for you. Inside, there are good tips about how to manage life with a new baby. You'll find information about:

Bringing Your Baby Home From The Hospital:

A Checklist

Coming home is a big event. It helps to have things ready before you leave the hospital. Here are some of the things you'll need:

 A Safe Place For Your Baby To Sleep
Make sure that the space between crib bars is no wider than 2-3/8 inches so that the baby's head won't get caught. If you are using an older painted crib, beware of lead paint. Call your local health department for more information.

 A Safe Infant Car Seat
You can't take your baby home in a car without one. Many agencies loan infant car seats for free and provide important information on how to properly install and use the seat. Ask your doctor or nurse about how to get a car seat.

 Baby Clothes
Your baby needs cotton t-shirts, warm sleepers, some stretch suits, a sweater, and booties or socks.

 Lots Of Supplies
Have plenty of diapers, mild soap, baby shampoo, Q-tips, ointment, and a thermometer on hand.

If you need help getting things for your baby, BE SURE TO ASK!

BEFORE YOU GO HOME, ask your doctor and nurses any questions you have about:

  • Breastfeeding Or Bottlefeeding
  • Diapering, Bathing And Dressing Your Baby
  • How To Hold Your Baby
  • How To Lay Your Baby Down In A Crib
    Put your baby on his or her back to sleep to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • How To Tell If Your Baby Is Sick
  • What To Do And Who To Call When Your Baby Does Get Sick


This is a very exciting time. You have a lot to learn about your baby and about yourself. As your baby grows, so will you!

You may have different feelings:

  • Relief: Pregnancy and birth are over. You have a new baby to love.
  • Exhaustion: You are very tired right now. All new parents are.
  • Happiness: Having a baby can make you very happy. But if you aren't jumping for joy, relax! Soon you'll start to feel better and more like yourself.
  • Worry: You want to be a good parent. You are not sure that you will be. Don't worry! All new parents feel shaky at first.

All of these feelings are normal. It's fun to be a parent. But, it's a big job to raise a child. All parents need help and support to be good parents. Babies are born into many kinds of families. Moms and Dads may live together - or they may not. Some babies live close to their grandparents, aunts and uncles. Others live far away from relatives. Some babies have parents that work and some have a parent at home. Babies can do well in all of these families. So can parents. But whatever your family is like, you will need help.

Think about the people you can count on to help you. Your own parents can lend a hand with baby care. The baby's grandparents can often make great babysitters and caregivers. So can aunts, uncles, and close friends whom you trust. Do you need someone to talk to? Friends and neighbors who know what it's like to be a new parent can be good listeners.

Write down some names and phone numbers. Keep this list close at hand, so you know where to find them.

When I Need Someone To Take Care Of The Baby, I Can Call:

(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________

(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________

When I Need Someone To Talk To, I Can Call:

(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________

(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________

When I Have Questions About Baby Care, I Can Call:


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(many hospitals have a "warm" line to get parents through the first few nights at home)

(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(911, Poison Control Center)

(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________

You may feel very lonely right now. Staying home all the time can make you feel that way... with or without a baby! Remember, there are lots of places you can go and things you can do with a new baby. Try to find other parents to talk to. If you went to prenatal or childbirth classes, the friends you made there can be wonderful supporters. Look for a parent support group in your neighborhood, town, or city.

Start by calling your public library. Ask for someone in Children's Services. Many public libraries have programs for parents and children. Libraries have wonderful books. Best of all - the books are free.

Call your County Cooperative Extension Office. Every county has one. Cooperative Extension Offices have lots of programs and materials for parents. Or call your local health department, community health center or daycare provider.

Write down the phone numbers of places to call in your community:

When I Need Support, I Can Call:


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


(Name:)_____________________________    (Phone:)_____________________________


Learning To Love Your Baby

The first job for parents and babies is to learn to love each other. Many parents think they will love their babies "at first sight." It may take time. Don't be upset if you have mixed feelings at first.


Getting to know your baby is the first step to loving your baby. Up to now, you could only imagine what your baby would be like. Now you know! Your baby may be a surprise to you. For instance, your baby may look differently than you thought. Many babies have different-shaped heads, bow legs, no hair or lots of hair.

No two babies are alike! Your baby may act differently than you thought:

  • Some babies are "active" babies. They move a lot. They wiggle. They wave their arms and kick their legs. Other babies are "quiet." They are calm. They sleep a lot.
  • Some babies sleep and eat about the same time every day. Some don't.
  • Some babies like new places, people, and toys. Other babies only like what they know. It takes time for them to warm up to new people and things.
  • Some babies don't like too much light or noise. They get upset when they are wet, too cold, or too hot.
  • Some babies can pay attention for a long time. Other babies get bored quickly.
  • Some babies can calm down by themselves. Other babies need to be held or talked to.
  • Some babies are cuddlers and some are squirmers.

Finding out everything about your baby is one of the first joys of parenting!

Baby Care: A Labor Of Love

The daily chores of feeding, diapering, bathing, and dressing your baby are good ways to learn about each other. You might be worried that you won't know what your baby needs. Don't be!

Babies let you know what they need by crying. It is the best way they can tell you if they are sleepy, lonely, hungry, scared, too hot, too cold, colicky, in pain, or sick.

At first, you might have to try a few things to make your baby happy. In a short time, you will be able to tell a "hungry cry" from a "sleepy cry."

Cries can also let you know when your baby is sick. Does your baby's cry sound strange? Has your baby been crying longer and louder than usual? Call the baby's doctor or health clinic. They can tell you what to do.

Sometimes babies cry when they don't "need" anything. Just like you, babies have to get rid of pent-up energy. Babies do this by crying. Many babies have "fussy periods" every day. Often, these fussy times come at the end of the day.

A crying baby who won't stop crying can be upsetting! Try to stay calm. Babies can tell when you are upset. This makes them cry louder and harder. And here is an IMPORTANT WARNING FOR ALL PARENTS — NO MATTER HOW IMPATIENT OR ANGRY YOU FEEL, NEVER SHAKE OR HIT YOUR BABY! Hard shaking can cause brain damage, blindness, hearing loss, learning problems, seizures, cerebral palsy, paralysis or even death. Never hold or pick up a baby when you feel angry. Be sure to tell everyone who takes care of your baby that they should NEVER SHAKE OR HIT your baby for any reason.

Here are some tips to sooth a crying baby:

  • Gently rock your baby.
  • Sing or talk to your baby.
  • Play a record or turn on the radio. Music can calm a baby.
  • Take your baby for a walk in the stroller.
  • Lay your baby on his or her back and gently rub the baby's stomach. This may help your baby feel better.

Have you tried all these tricks? Are you sure your baby isn't sick? The only thing you can do now is wait it out. If you start to feel upset, take a break! Don't lose your temper — that won't help you or the baby. INSTEAD:

  • — Put The Baby Down For A While In A Safe Place. Have a cup of tea or something hot to drink (but do not drink hot beverages while holding your baby).
  • — Think About How Sweet Your Baby Is When She Or He Isn'T Crying. Remember the things you like best about your baby.
  • — Call Someone You Trust To Help. Let that person take care of the baby while you relax.

If your baby has been crying for a very long time, call the baby's doctor or health clinic. It's the only way to be sure your baby isn't sick.

Important Safety Tips!

Some parents don't worry about safety until their babies are older. Injuries can happen at any age. To keep your baby safe, remember:

  • Always use a rear-facing infant car seat that is properly secured in the middle of the back seat when transporting your baby.
  • Set the hot water thermostat at less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit or, if you can't lower the temperature, use an anti-scald device.
  • Test the water temperature with your open hand and swish it around to make sure it is not too hot before bathing the baby.
  • Put cleaning products and other poisonous materials out of reach and in childproof cabinets and containers.
  • Do not leave your baby alone in a tub of water or on a changing table, bed, sofa or chair. Always keep one hand on the baby.
  • Only use a crib that has slats that are less than 2-3/8 inches apart. Use a firm mattress that fits snugly to the crib. Do not put the baby to sleep on a soft surface, such as a waterbed, couch or pillow.
  • Put the baby to sleep on his or her back.
  • Do not feed your baby chunks of food, such as grapes or hot dog. Keep small toy parts out of reach, they can pose a choking hazard.
  • Do not smoke or drink hot liquids while holding your baby.
  • Install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
  • Never leave baby alone with a young brother or sister, or pet.

The Joy Of Playing

Take some time each day to play with your baby. Hold your baby. Some babies love to snuggle up close. Others like to be held gently in your arms or across your lap. Holding your baby will make you feel good — and make your baby feel loved.

Playtime is important and fun for both of you. Games teach babies to:

  • Use their bodies.
  • Make sounds.
  • Think.
  • Feel good about themselves.
  • Get along with people.
  • Feel good about the person taking care of them.

You are your baby's best toy! Try some of these simple games together:

  • Talk to your baby. Listen to the sounds your baby makes. If your baby gurgles — gurgle back!
  • Hold your fingers out for your baby to grab. Babies love to practice grabbing.
  • Look into your baby's eyes. Sing, talk, or make cooing sounds. Move your head slowly from side to side in front of your baby. Babies love to look at faces and follow the sound of a voice — especially yours.

Games help your baby learn who you are. Keep at it. Soon, your baby will reward you with a great big smile.