Tips and advice for how to prepare for a new baby when you have no clue what to do first.
Baby, baby, baby. So much to do, so little time. Here are 26 things you need to do when considering how to prepare for a baby.
Now that it has officially sunk in that you are having a baby, there are many things you may want to do, but it is important to remember the things you have to do to prepare for a baby and the next stage do your life: becoming a mom.
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Tips to Prepare for Baby
1. Create a Birth Plan that helps you set the tone for your labor and delivery. Go over it with your partner, OB/midwife, as well as anyone who may help you post-partum. (You can grab a copy of my printable birth plan checklist here.)
2. Work with your partner on how you plan to parent. Are you in a multilingual or multicultural household? Do you have family who live nearby? Will you have visitors early on? What expectations of help do you have of them?
These are all important items to discuss (but not set in stone) now so that the issues have at least been discussed when they arrive. You can change your mind, just work together so that you are on the same page. Sometimes, it may seem like you’re reading different books, so discussing parenting ideals is important.
3. Set up your baby registry. Talk to your friends and find out what they have that seems to work. Is there anything they wished they had and anything they bought that ended up being useless? Ask others what their must-have items are and use this information to set up your amazon registry. Don’t miss items like safety latches that actually work!
4. Buy postpartum care items. From pads and underwear to nipple creams and peri care bottles, having these items ready to go will make the transition to motherhood that much easier. Loose clothing will feel best, but some swear by postpartum waist trainers. (If you have a cesarean clear the use of that with your OB.)
5. Order your breast pump. Did you know that most (if not all) insurance companies will provide you with a free breast pump? All you need to do is contact your insurance company and ask them how to get yours. When I got my free pump I was given a list of approved websites to choose from and then 7ish days later, my new pump arrived.
Even if you don’t plan on breastfeeding or pumping I highly recommend you have a breast pump at home, ready to use when you bring your new baby home from the hospital. Plans and circumstances can change quickly and knowing you have a pump available will be a stress reliever. If you don’t end up using it you can always pass it along to a friend.
6. Purchase the baby’s going home from the hospital outfit. From trendy to practical, there are so many adorable options. Personalized onesies and swaddle blankets make for great photo ops, but don’t forget how sweet babies look in footie pj’s. Comfort for your baby is always the best option and luckily you can easily find that in both options.
7. Start cooking! Yes, having a stocked freezer of easy meals will make those first few weeks and months a breeze. Take and bake is much easier when you know it is a food you enjoy!
8. Plan for childcare if you are headed back to work. Some places have waitlists that practically begin at conception. If you’re considering live-in care, do you want an au pair or a standard nanny? Do you want daycare or preschool-oriented care?
9. Speaking of postpartum, knowing the normal emotions after birth is important. When exploring the changes that come with birth and hormones we are also faced with realizing someone is dependent on you, which is a big thing. With normal feelings of change, be prepared with information and warning signs of postpartum depression. There will be ups and downs, but being honest about how you are feeling will help you, your baby, and all your loved ones.
10. Purchase items you know you need and don’t want others to buy, such as a car seat and nursing bras. A car seat may be okay on a baby registry (more on that later) but it is not just the look it needs to actually fit into your vehicle well! There are websites that can help!
The CDC discusses how a baby car seat fits both your baby AND your vehicle. Once that is determined, have it installed by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Usually, different vehicles have different fits. A high percentage are installed incorrectly so this is a safety issue around preparing for baby!
11. Know the nearby clinics and hospitals that are good for non-emergent care. While you will have many visits with your pediatrician, sometimes you will need a visit a bit more urgently. If you call the nurse line for your pediatrician (don’t forget to pick one that you trust!) they may say to go to urgent care. Unfortunately, not all urgent cares have experience with pediatrics, so having that list set will be one less thing to worry about when it is needed.
12. Prepare financially for baby! Besides the cost of pregnancy and delivery, expenses add up quickly! How much time off can you and your partner afford to take from work? Will you use cloth diapers or hope for hundreds of diapers at a baby shower? Do you have money set aside in case more time away from work is needed? Will you begin a college fund at birth to capitalize on the interest and tax savings?
13. Get your hospital bag ready to go so you don’t need to think about what you need for your hospital stay while you are in labor.
14. Make an appointment for a bikini wax so you don’t have to even attempt shaving.
15. Make yourself a master list of all the things you need to (or would like to) do before your baby arrives. Having a ‘preparing for baby checklist’ that you can add to and cross things off will be incredibly helpful…especially if you suffer from pregnancy brain like I did!
You can download your blue preparing for baby checklist or the pink checklist by clicking the links, and print out as many copies as you need. I decided to keep the list blank since the items I’ve included on this list will not be relevant to everyone.
16. Designate who will be with you for birth and if you want visitors at the hospital. This is a very personal and individual choice and it’s easy to get railroaded by family and friends who want to be part of this very special time. It’s important that everyone knows your choices before you go into labor. The last thing you want is well-intentioned friends and family going against your wishes and stressing you out during an already stressful time.
17. Have the first month planned so that you have little to worry about except recovery and caring for baby. Consider birth photography, lactation consultant (consider a visit to La Leche League while pregnant if you plan to breastfeed), meal plans (or a meal train), as well as a plan for a housekeeper if you can splurge for one if it isn’t something you usually have. Many people will ask how they can help, so prepare to be honest, and get help!
18. Take a birth class. Don’t have the time or energy to take a class in person? No problem! There are tons of online options available. You can prepare for your new baby from the comfort of your couch.
19. Take a breastfeeding class. If you are planning on nursing your baby, taking a class ahead of time will help prepare you for your breastfeeding journey. Stacey, a certified Lactation Educator at Milkology, offers the Ultimate Breastfeeding Class that will show you the most effective nursing positions, how to ensure your baby is getting enough milk, and so much more. This 90-minute online class will ensure that you will feel confident and supported while breastfeeding your new baby.
If you plan on exclusively pumping, Stacey also offers an amazing class to help you navigate pumping. I highly recommend it as I was an exclusive pumper with my third child, and having the right info from a professional will make that journey so much easier! As I discovered on my own, not all lactation consultants are well-versed when it comes to exclusive pumping.
Putting the wrong info into action can really hurt your supply and your pumping journey. I also recommend finding an exclusive pumping support group on Facebook to help you when you need real-time answers and support.
20. Download a contraction tracker for your phone. This will accurately keep track of the frequency and duration of contractions so you don’t have to. There are plenty of different trackers to choose from, but Babylist recommends the Full Term App, which is FREE and available for both IOS and Android.
21. Choose your Pediatrician. This can be really tough for a first-time mom, so the best thing to do is to ask local moms for their recommendations. What do they like or dislike about their Pediatrician? How easy is it to get sick appointments and is there a long wait for well-child visits? Do they feel rushed during their appointments and do they feel like their doctor really listens to their concerns? How do they feel about the nurses and office staff of the office?
This is a really important factor to consider because you will often spend a lot of time talking with nurses and admin staff and you don’t want to be dealing with rude and unfriendly people. This is an office you will be in a lot during the first year and you want to be in a happy and friendly environment. If you are new to the area, join local mom groups on Facebook and see who they recommend.
22. Plan a Baby Moon. A babymoon is a chance to focus on you and your relationship with your partner before the baby arrives. Pampering yourself is perfectly warranted! Get that massage and a day or two of relaxation!
23. Call your hospital or birthing center and arrange for a tour. This way you will find out exactly where you need to go when the time comes. For example, if you’re going to a hospital in the middle of the night, you may need to enter through the emergency room instead of through labor and delivery. Also, find out how far apart your contractions should be before they want you to come in.
24. Take some time for yourself and your aching back, and schedule a prenatal massage…or a few! Pregnancy is hard on your body, so find a massage therapist that you trust and let yourself relax for an hour.
25. Make an appointment to get your hair done a few weeks before your due date…you have no idea how long it may be until your next visit.
26. Learn to do everything one-handed. Well, not truly, but yeah, that may come in handy! But, it is important to prepare for motherhood by setting appropriate expectations. Nicole from Organized Chaos Blog has some great (and 100% realistic) tips on staying productive with a newborn. It’s not always easy, but it is possible!
So, having a mindset that helps you understand life’s changes when you have a baby will better prepare you. The motherhood mindset matters, no matter your planned parenting style.
How To Prepare For Baby: Check These Items Off Your List
Now that you have your “preparing for baby checklist list” complete, it is time to consider preschools and whether your home is zoned for a school you’ll love in 5 years. Oh wait… yes, welcome to motherhood, just when you get one thing set, life will throw more at you. It is best to get used to the constant change now.
Congratulations on your new baby!