Published on 14 January, 2020
The day will come when you enter your home for the first time as a family who just became a tiny bit larger. Soon—not too soon, we promise—your home will morph into a playground, an art studio, an afterschool study hall, and more. But let’s stick to the immediate future.
Let’s prepare for that very first day home.
Babies require a lot of preparation. From organizing the nursery and decluttering your space, to knowing how to change a diaper, there are a lot of boxes to check before your baby is born. To make sure you don’t miss anything leading up to the birth, we have created a pregnancy checklist of all the things to do before your baby comes and parenting begins.
Step 1 – Prepping The Home
Setting up the nursery can be such a rewarding experience for any mom or dad, especially first-timers. This is why it’s essential to make this as fun and stress-free as possible.
The most important rule: Get started early.
As soon as you bring home your baby, your life is going to become hectic, and you will not have time to focus on home-improvements, nonetheless nursery-improvements. If you take the time to prepare everything before the big day, you will be removing unnecessary future stress from your life. And your future self will be grateful… if not slightly dazed, confused, and tired.
While how much you put into a nursery is up to you, here are a few basic recommendations.
- Crib or bassinet with mattress, protector, sheets, and mobile
- Baby changing table with cover and mat, ideally somewhere convenient. Don’t forget to have a trashcan nearby (one that closes completely please!)
- Dresser to store your baby’s clothes
- Basket to put toys and gifts
- Chair for breastfeeding
- Nightlight (this will be useful when it’s pitch-black and your baby is crying)
Once you have your basics down, consider some flare pieces:
- Cabinet or a storage bin to hold Costco-sized packages of diapers, baby wipes, baby powder, for everything on hand
- Large play pad for tummy time, and later for learning how to crawl, roll, and play
- Baby monitor to check in on the little bean
And don’t forget about the nursery mural! If you’re unsure what color to paint the nursery walls, it might be time to take a gender prediction test.
Learn Your Baby’s Gender
For many soon-to-be parents, knowing your baby’s gender is critical in designing the nursery, for others, it is less important. Either way, you may feel more prepared if you figure out your baby’s gender as soon as possible.
An early gender blood test—like the one offered by SneakPeek—enables expecting parents to learn their baby’s gender as early as eight weeks into pregnancy. You can even collect your sample from the comfort of your home and get the results back in just three days.
This will enable you to get everything from the baby’s room to the wardrobe organized well in advance and be ready to go from day one!
Make Your Home a Safe Space
While your little one may be a few months from crawling their way into trouble, it’s important to be prepared with a safe space and a safe home. Time really does fly by, after all.
Here’s a quick checklist for ensuring your baby will always be out of harm’s way:
- Check that there are no exposed cords or wiring anywhere in the house
- Cover all unused power sockets with safety covers
- Baby-proof sharp corners or objects around the house
- Secure items that could be pulled over like bookshelves, dressers, or tall lamps with furniture straps
- Tie up blind cords if you have them so they could not be reached by an infant
- Lock away cleaners or heavy chemicals with cabinet locks
- Lower your water heater so that it isn’t possible to burn your baby (below 120 degrees)
- Make sure that your pool or hot tub cannot be accessed with a secure pool gate
- Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detector is functioning correctly
Don’t forget: life will become crazy; sleep will soon be a commodity; you will have philosophical debates between cleaning the dishes versus cleaning yourself; your sense of memory and time will be distorted. Preparing months in advance will allow for a smooth transition from crawling to walking to exploring. For a more detailed list, see our tips for getting ready for a baby.
Get Your Kitchen Ready
Just like the rest of your life, your kitchen will surely change when you have a baby. So, it’s best to be prepared.
First, empty a shelf in the fridge and freezer because you are going to need them. It will start with extra breast milk or ready-made formula. Within 4-6 months it will slowly transform into a baby food buffet—carrots and peas and sweet potatoes, oh my!
It will also be a good idea to organize your kitchen more generally prior to bringing your baby home. Try to store things that you will probably not use on a regular basis, as the clutter is bound to increase tenfold. For a twist to Marie Kondo’s proverb “Does it spark joy,” ask yourself, “Will I use this when I’m sleep-deprived?”
That’s sayonara for you, bread maker.
Finally, whether you’re breastfeeding or using formula, take care to have an area dedicated to sanitation, bottle drying, and storage.
Step 2 – Prepping The Parents
Now let’s switch topics from the physical home to the metaphorical home—that’s you, mom and dad. Home is where the heart is, after all.
Who’s Hungry? | Much Ado About Breastfeeding and Formula
Women walk different paths at this stage. Whether breastfeeding or formula, one thing is certain—baby’s gotta eat! For those preparing for breastfeeding, here are a few items you will need to start:
- A breast pump
- Nursing bra
- Breastfeeding pillow
- Bottles for storing breastmilk and rubber nipples
- Breastmilk storage bags and freezing trays
- Supplies for sore nipples and breasts (creams, pads, washes, breast shells, warming, and cooling pads)
- Sanitation washes
- Brushes to wash baby bottles and rubber nipples
- Cleaning supplies
And for those using formula, you’ll still need many of the items above. Here is a list of items to consider when using formula:
- Baby bottles and rubber nipples
- Sanitation washes
- Brushes to wash bottles and rubber nipples
- Cleaning supplies
The Art of Breastfeeding
If preparing for breastfeeding, it might help to know that every woman has a unique story. Breastfeeding is an intricate and delicate process that, while it won’t be detailed out in length here, can be better understood with some starting pointers:
- Knowledge is power – A cliched sentiment that holds true in this circumstance. The art (and science) behind breastfeeding is extensive, and the more information you can get your hands on, the better. For some resources:
- Breastfeeding classes do exist – Many hospitals, clinics, and birth centers offer breastfeeding classes for new and expecting mothers, at low or no cost.
- When in doubt, seek a lactation consultation – Many women try to push through problems alone, and it can be isolating when issues arise. But you’re not alone, and there’s a whole profession of lactation consultants to prove it! These are experts who know all the tricks, and the earlier they’re engaged, the less frustration you may experience, and the more enjoyable you can make this time in your life.
Some hospitals offer this service free, and many group classes invite lactation consultants to give advice to a circle of moms.
Clothing and Laundry
A new baby means a whole new wardrobe, and in effect, a whole lot more laundry. For newborn clothing tips:
- Avoid the buttons, zip-up onesies only – Because who wants to be unbuttoning and buttoning at 3am?
- Bring multiple sizes of onesies to the hospital – Not even your OBGYN can predict what size your baby will be at birth. Rather than squeezing your baby like a sausage into clothing that’s too small, you may want to bring multiple sizes.
- Cute Instagrammable onesies – For those perfect social media posts, don’t forget to buy some adorable onesies with quirky phrases: “Party at my crib” or “I still live with my parents.”
- Month marker clothing – For when your baby is 0 months old, 1 month old, etc., having month-marker clothing makes for amazing photo albums worth sharing with the whole family. (We recommend sticking with beanies and socks for now, because who knows what size your little one will be at what month.)
All those wardrobes will make for full loads of laundry. Be sure to have baby-sensitive detergent and fabric softener to wash baby clothes before bringing your little bean home.
Additionally, you might invest in an additional laundry basket for your baby’s room. It would be wise to keep your laundry separate from your baby’s until they are a little older, as their skin will be much more sensitive to irritants.
Enjoy Some Free Time
Don’t forget to enjoy some free time before your baby arrives home, especially if you are a first-time parent.
Spend some time alone, as you will not get much of it for the next couple of years. Watch a scary movie or raunchy comedy. You will be exclusively on Disney movies for the foreseeable future. As for your sense of independence, let it go! Let it go!
Get Some Sleep and Spend Time with Your Significant Other
It’s no secret that new parents don’t get much sleep. So, be sure to take advantage of the quiet in your house before the baby comes and sleep as much as you can. Of course, it’s not the worst idea to get accustomed to sleep deprivation beforehand…
Or maybe it is.
Enjoy the time you have while you still can. Sleep and spend time with your significant other. Many soon-to-be’s will go on a babymoon—the honeymoon-equivalent before the baby arrives.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just take time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. It could be as simple as spending a night at that luxury hotel you’ve always wanted to stay at. Or travel to a national park to see some natural beauty. Or you could go all out and create an entire weekend agenda full of spa treatments, fine dining, and some much-needed quality time before you begin your journey of motherhood.
Preparing for Day Zero
Lastly, be prepared for the big day—Day Zero. Have your go-bag on hand at least a couple weeks before your due date in case your baby comes ahead of schedule. Some things to include in your childbirth bag are:
- Birth plan and specific instructions for medical professionals
- Birthing ball
- T-shirt or nightgown to wear during the birthing process
- Shoes and socks
- Extra pillow
- Snacks and drinks (Although, be aware, most hospitals won’t let moms eat in case they need to have anesthesia administered)
- Entertainment (labor can be a long process)
Additionally, you should be prepared for the two days post-birth that you’re likely to stay in the hospital.
- Laptop and phone to communicate with family and friends after birth
- Camera to take a ton of pictures of the first days!
- Entertainment (again)
- Extra underwear
- Breastfeeding supplies such as a breastfeeding pillow and shirt
- Baby clothes (two or three outfits in case of accidents)
- Changing supplies or bag
Finally, when it’s time to leave the hospital to return home, there are a few extra items that will be handy.
- Car seat
- Comfy clothes
If you have family staying with you after the baby is born, it’s always a good idea to have their sleeping arrangements in your home prepared in advance. While family and friends should be there to help out, you can never be too organized!
Your first day as a parent will be filled with excitement, fear, happiness, stress, and most of all love. It is a day that you will remember for the rest of your life. Should you still be nervous, may you depart with one final bit of wisdom: Nobody knows exactly how to prepare for your baby. Parenting books and classes and advice from friends and family certainly helps with postpartum care. Our Pregnancy Tips for First-Time Moms is another excellent resource for you. But keep in mind, the ultimate How-To will never be written for your little one—and that’s okay. It comes with the territory of being a parent.
Be sure to choose a pediatrician that you trust also, so you can ensure your newborn is always in good hands.
So prepare your home, prepare yourselves, prepare all that you can prepare as you approach your first steps into motherhood…
Finally, prepare to be unprepared.
Apartment Therapy. Back to Basics: What Do You Really Need In A Nursery? https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/back-to-basics-what-do-you-really-need-in-a-nursery-225458
Baby Centre. What to pack in your hospital bag: your complete checklist. https://www.babycentre.co.uk/what-to-pack-in-your-hospital-bag
New Mother New Baby. Breastfeeding Checklist. https://newmothernewbaby.com/pages/checklist.html
Parents. 9 Things to Do to Get Your House in Order Before Baby Comes. https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-life/preparing-for-baby/9-things-to-do-to-get-your-house-in-order-before-baby-comes/
Tiny Love. 10 Things to Do Before Baby is Born. https://www.tinylove.com/pregnancy/things-to-do-before-baby-is-born/#.Xe63vJNKhsM
Office on Women’s Health. Preparing to breastfeed. https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/learning-breastfeed/preparing-breastfeed
What to Expect. Bottle-Gear Checklist. https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/bottle-gear-checklist