Your Nesting Nature

As your due date draws near, the nesting instincts you’ve been feeling throughout your pregnancy may be stronger than ever. These powerful urges can tempt expectant moms to do anything from painting the nursery to cleaning  gutters, washing drapes, and stocking up on diapers and onesies. It's important to focus on only what you are truly capable of doing without exhausting yourself, so you can save your energy to care or your new baby.

What is nesting?

The urge to clean and organize your home (and everything in it) before bringing your baby home is a primal instinct that many animals, from birds to dogs, have during pregnancy. Though it’s unclear why these urges occur in humans, one theory is that they may be remnants from a time when physical preparation was necessary for women to have a safer childbirth. Nesting may begin months before your due date, but it is usually strongest just before delivery.

While using these nesting instincts can be a wonderful way to prepare your home for your new baby, or to tackle projects you haven’t had time to do before becoming a new mom, it’s important to make the most of your urges safely and not overdo it.

Nesting tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you bring your baby home:

  • Make a to-do list: Ready to defrost the fridge, wipe down the windows, and sweep out the garage right now? Instead, make a list of everything you’re looking to accomplish to keep your mind from wandering, and to avoid feeling overwhelmed with too many projects. Plus, you’ll feel satisfied crossing things off your list as you finish them up.

  • Set some priorities: Use that checklist to tackle the “must-do” projects like packing your hospital bag, installing the car seat, readying the diapers, and washing a week’s worth of newborn outfits. This process will help you focus on things you really need to have done before having your new baby.

  • Prep some food: If you’re really feeling ambitious, plan out a few weeks’ worth of meals, cook them up, and freeze them. You'll be all set for those days when taking a shower seems impossible, let alone putting dinner on the table.

  • Don’t push it: Carve out some time for a little self pampering, like a do-it-yourself manicure or deep conditioning treatment, and make sure to take breaks if you find yourself getting run-down as you clean. Be sure to keep yourself safe, too, by steering clear of ladders or any project that involves heights, heavy objects, or toxins -- that’s what your partner, friends, and family are for!

Try not to be discouraged if you don’t tackle everything you’d like to before you bring your baby home. Your new baby won’t mind if the bookshelves haven’t been organized in the nursery, or if her newborn outfits aren’t folded perfectly. All she wants to do is bond with you!

Baby Development: Bathing Tips

I’d always imagined a baby’s bath time to be a joyful experience, full of laughter, splashing, and bubbles. But as it turns out, this particular element of baby development can be rather nerve-wracking and scary! Isabel, my firstborn, seemed pretty hefty at birth (she was 8 pounds and 9 ounces), but at her first baby bath, she looked scrawny, small, and very slippery.

However, we both got the hang of bath time after some practice, and it became something we looked forward to. Here are my top tips for a successful soak.

Prep Ahead
I wouldn’t start washing Isabel until I had every item right by my side, including shampoo, soap, a washcloth, a cup for rinsing, towels, and at least one fun squeaky toy. I organized it all before she went into the tub. This way, I wouldn’t have to look away for even one second during the baby bath.

Consider the Tub
After Isabel’s umbilical cord fell off, she was ready to move from sponge baths to actual baby baths where she was submerged in water. But because the big tub in our bathroom was cavernous, I used a little blue one designed for babies under 12 pounds, and propped her rubber ducky on the edge. Then, I filled it with the recommended two to three inches of water.

Stay Warm
For safety during this baby development, I always made sure to hold Isabel securely while she bathed. The plastic tub served to prop her up so her head didn’t wobble, but it also meant that some of her body was out of the water. To prevent her from getting too cold, I carefully poured the warm bath water over her upper body throughout the duration of the soak.

Get Cozy
The best part of our baby bath time was the après bath snuggle. Being tucked inside the towel and cradled in my arms was calming for Isabel. In fact, it was so soothing that a bath quickly became part of our bedtime routine. She learned to associate the end of the bath with sleepy time -- making the nights easier for both of us.

Your baby’s first baths may seem tricky, but stick with it (putting safety first, of course). With a little practice, you’ll also find that an evening soak makes for a great bonding activity for you and your new baby.

New Baby Tips for Dads

Entering fatherhood is a lot like learning to swim: You breathe and kick, hoping to make it to the other side of the pool without gulping too much water. Cradling a fragile infant in your arms, struggling to place her flailing limbs in her shirtsleeves, or calming a sobbing newborn in the middle of the night can seem daunting, if not impossible, for a new dad. But there’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s what I wish I had known back then:

Thanks to my wife, my girls had all kinds of coordinated outfits with matching knit caps. But, every ensemble I came up with was just a bit, well, off. My tip to all new dads: Don’t worry about it! Ignore the stares from strangers as you push your kid through the supermarket in her Halloween costume. Turns out, new babies don’t know red from blue, or flowers from paisley, so as long as your little one is dressed warmly and comfortably, she’ll be fine.

Newborn crying can be hard to take, and not only because the screeches can bring on a headache; they can also make you doubt your fatherhood skills. But keep in mind that crying is how new babies communicate -- and it’s not necessarily a reflection of how good a new dad you are -- so try to take it in stride. I practiced different calming techniques, like swinging my daughters gently from side to side or using a pacifier. Believe me: You’ll eventually find one that works.

Napping is not only allowed when you have a new baby; it’s strongly encouraged! Late-night feedings, endless diaper changes, and hours of patting your baby to bring up a burp can be exhausting. Lie down -- it’s okay! I aimed to sneak in some sleep when I put my daughters down for a nap. We all woke up in a better mood.

When your new baby is wailing beyond belief, don’t hesitate to make a call to the pediatrician, especially when nothing seems to soothe her or you notice a rash that you swear wasn’t there an hour ago. Your doctor expects to hear from new dads and moms, and talking to an expert will put your mind at ease.

Sure, life is forever altered once your new baby arrives, but not everything has to be tossed out the window. Tiny babies are a pretty adaptable bunch and tend to enjoy being held as you watch hockey, go out for brunch, or just lounge around and read the Sunday papers. So enjoy your time as a new dad!