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Whether your baby comes home from the hospital right away, arrives later (perhaps after a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit), or comes through an adoption agency, the homecoming of your little one is a major event you’ve probably often imagined. Here’s how to be prepared.

Leaving the Hospital

Moms-to-be sometimes pack clothes for the trip home before even going to the hospital — or they may wait to see what the weather brings and have their partner bring clothing for both themselves and the baby. Plan to bring loose-fitting clothing for yourself with a drawstring or elastic waist because you most likely won’t fit into your pre-pregnancy outfits yet.

Babies are often overdressed for the first trip home. Dress your baby as you would dress yourself. So, if you’d be too warm in a knitted hat during the summer, your baby probably will be, too.

In warm weather, dress your baby in a T-shirt and light cotton pants or a baby blanket over bare legs. If it’s cold, put footie pajamas, a hat, and warm blanket over your baby. But be sure to keep all blankets far from your baby’s face to avoid suffocation.

Chances are much better that you’ll bring home a calm, contented baby if you don’t spend a lot of time at the hospital trying to dress your newborn in a complicated outfit that requires pushing and pulling your baby’s arms and legs.

If you haven’t already made the arrangements with your baby’s health care provider, make sure to ask when the baby’s first checkup should be scheduled before you leave the hospital. Depending on the circumstances, some premature babies also go home with a special monitor for checking breathing and heart rate, and you may be taught infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

But whether your baby is full-term or premature, don’t feel rushed out the door — have your questions answered before you leave the hospital. And if you find yourself wondering about anything — from bathing to breastfeeding to burping — ask your nurse, lactation consultant, or your baby’s doctor.

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