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New parents question everything. Do we need to be totally quiet while the baby sleeps? Can I watch TV while feeding the baby? Should we play music for her? Are pacifiers a good idea? When can I shower? How should I deal with visitors? There are no hard-and-fast rules for things like this – the answers depend on you, your family, and your baby.
Should I keep the house quiet?
Many new parents try to keep household noise to a minimum, especially when the baby's falling asleep, but it's hardly vital. Most newborns can sleep through quite a bit, and in fact, some babies do better with white noise, particularly the hum of appliances like dishwashers, washer-dryers, or blow-dryers. And in homes where there are older siblings, total silence isn't possible, anyway.
To make life easier on yourself, help your baby distinguish between day and night right from the start. You can do this by saving bright lights, louder noises, and play time for the daylight hours and making nighttime wakefulness more subdued.
Can I watch TV while nursing?
Many a new mom has fired up the DVR or Netflix during late-night nursing sessions. There's no problem with catching up on your favorite show or playing on your phone while you nurse. When your baby's older, these things may distract her from nursing, but that's not a risk at this early stage.
But if it's the middle of the night, keep the volume low and the lights off so the room remains dark and calm. This way, you'll reinforce the difference between night and day for your newborn, says pediatrician Jennifer Shu, coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality.
Should we play music for the baby?
Music can be enjoyable and soothing. As long as it doesn't seem to bother your baby, go ahead and cue up that playlist. (After all, your baby probably heard most of your favorite tunes while she was in the womb.) Just don't expect much of a reaction – your newborn may grow into a music lover, but right now the music is more for you.
Should I give my baby a pacifier?
While some pass up the pacifier in the hopes that their baby will find other ways to self-soothe (a thumb, for example), there is some evidence that pacifiers can help cut the risk of SIDS. To avoid nipple confusion, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your baby is a proficient nurser – around 1 month old is their guideline – before introducing the paci.
If you choose to use a pacifier, look for a model that's got a soft nipple and is sized for a newborn. It's a good idea to offer the binky only between or after feedings, since you don't want it to replace or delay meals.
How can I shower if I'm alone with my baby?
If you're alone but need a shower, it's okay to put your baby in a safe place and take one. Some moms put a bouncy seat on the floor of the bathroom, or wait until their baby's napping and bring the baby monitor into the bathroom. It may not be your most relaxing shower ever, but it can still help you recharge.
What should I do about visitors and well-wishers?
Everyone loves a new baby, but in your first days home, too many visitors can be overwhelming. Ask your partner, a family member, or trusted friend to help ensure that you don't have too many guests. You may want to limit visitors to folks who are coming to bring groceries and supplies, prepare meals, or tidy up, rather than those who want to sit and chat (or, worse, those who expect to be entertained or catered to).
To share your good news with a wider circle, you can update your social networking sites, send a text or email, or leave a birth announcement on your outgoing phone message. Leave a "Shhh! Baby sleeping. Quiet, please!" note on the front door to deter unscheduled rings.
See more cute ways to announce your baby's birth.