How to Prepare for Baby: Your Complete Guide
So, you’re going to be a parent. Congratulations, this is an incredibly exciting time! Whether you’re beginning this new chapter with a partner or on your own, it’s normal to feel a little apprehensive and overwhelmed. We’ll let you in on a secret: most parents-to-be do. The good news is that the more you prepare for baby now, the easier things will be once your child arrives. If you’re wondering what to tackle first and when to start, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive in!
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When to start preparing for a baby
There is really no right or wrong way to go about this. Our only tip? Leave yourself enough time! When you’re preparing for a newborn, it’s a good idea to have everything in place about a month away from your due date. It’s not that you need everything, but you don’t want to be running around buying baby gear once your newborn is here. Start with the must-haves and then you can add items later.
Ten things to do to prepare for baby
If you’ve decided that it’s time to prepare for baby, you might be wondering where to start. It can certainly feel like there is a never-ending list of things to prepare for a baby. Here are our recommendations:
Baby-proof your home
Baby-proofing the home can take some time, especially if you’re expecting your first child. So, start thinking about this as early as possible. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re thinking about everything to prepare for baby. Make a list of all of the hazards you’ll need to address and divide up the work over a few weeks or months. Make sure you wrap up the process several weeks before baby’s due to arrive.
Design and stock your nursery
No matter the size of the space, you’ll spend a lot of special moments here with your baby. Take your time with the design, so it feels peaceful and comfortable for both you and your little one. Make sure it’s stocked with all the diapering essentials you’ll need for the first few weeks, like diapers, wipes, diaper cream, swaddles, burp cloths and enough baby clothing to avoid having to do several loads of laundry a day. The last thing you’ll want to do once you’re settled at home is go to the store, because you’ve run out of supplies.
Brainstorm baby names
A name isn’t necessarily one of the things to prepare before delivery, but many new parents have a few name options picked out before their baby is born. Spend a bit of time thinking of some baby names with your partner. You can even ask family and friends to contribute to the brainstorming process!
Prepare (or buy!) some frozen meals
Many new parents get so caught up thinking about how to prepare for baby that they forget to put a plan in place for themselves. Prepping (or buying) some delicious meals you can pop in the oven, when you’re tired and busy, will help. Do it now and thank us later!
Make a birth or adoption plan
Whether you are pregnant, you have a surrogate or you’re meeting your adopted child for the first time, a plan is crucial. How will labor and/or the first few hours with your baby go? How can you prepare and make sure you have everything you need on hand, so that you can focus on enjoying those first few moments with your baby?
Split up responsibilities
It’s no secret that the first few months of parenthood are an adjustment, which can take a toll on any relationship. Communicate with your partner about how you’ll share responsibilities, before the baby arrives, so that everyone feels supported.
Make a plan for visitors
It’s an exciting time for friends and family and they will be eager to meet your little one. For some first-time parents, visits can be a little overwhelming. So, as you and your partner prepare for baby, have a few conversations as a couple about how you want to handle visits. Set some ground rules around visitors in the first few months that you can both agree on.
Spend time with your partner
If you’re welcoming your baby with a partner, take some time to enjoy one another’s company. Reminisce about the past, talk about the future, go out with friends and enjoy some quiet time together at home. This will be the last few months you have alone together as a couple, so embrace every moment. You may even want to book a babymoon, so you can spend some interrupted quality time together and get some good rest, before your little one arrives.
Pack Your Hospital Bag
When it comes to labor, you need to put yourself first. Your body will have to do some incredible things, so ensure you have everything you need to make the process as comfortable as possible. Here’s our hospital bag checklist for mom:
- Everyday essentials. When you go into labor, sometimes even the most obvious things can fall to the wayside. Make sure you have a list of things you need to grab and add to your hospital bag, before you head out the door.
- Comfortable clothes. Pack your softest, coziest clothes, tops that make for easy breastfeeding, a nursing bra or two nursing pads.
- Comfortable footwear. Bring some comfortable footwear that’s easy to slip on and off for short walks around your room or down hospital hallways.
- Adult diapers. Many moms find that adult diapers are more secure and comfortable than what the hospital has available, so put a few pairs in your bag.
- Toiletries. For overnight stays, you’ll want to have toiletries in your hospital bag. If you wear contact lenses, don’t forget your case and solution.
- Nipple cream. If you plan on breastfeeding, pack some nipple cream now and thank us later!
- Drinks. Staying hydrated during labor is important. Bring a water bottle and your favorite drink. While some moms stick to water, others like to bring Gatorade, electrolyte powders or coconut water along as well.
- Cellphone charger. You’ll want to keep in touch with loved ones, so bring a cellphone charger along.
Now that you’ve packed everything you need for yourself, put together a few essentials for your little one as well. Here are some things to prepare for a baby:
- Contact information. Make sure you have your pediatrician’s contact information stored in your cell phone, in case you need to reach them at any point during or after your labor.
- Car seat. It’s a good idea to get it installed and ready in your car ahead of time. One less thing to worry about!
- Going home outfit. When it’s time for your little one to leave the hospital, you’ll want soft and cozy clothing to take them home in. A romper is a great outfit for the ride. If you live in a colder climate, don’t forget a cozy hat as well!
- Don’t worry about diapers and wipes. The hospital will have plenty on hand, so save the space in your hospital bag for something else!
- Swaddle. Bring along the swaddle you will be using at home. This is a great opportunity to get some tutorials from the nurses who have likely been swaddling babies for years!
If you’ve come to the end of this list and you’ve checked off all the other boxes, it’s time to take a deep breath, pause for a moment and take it all in. You’re about to become a parent and start a brand new chapter in your life. Don’t get so caught up in the busyness, as you prepare for baby, that you forget to embrace and enjoy this monumental moment.
Frequently Asked Questions
From setting up the nursery to picking a name, there are lots of things to think about as you prepare for baby. The truth is, there really no right or wrong way to prepare for their arrival and every parent tackles things differently; but, when it comes to packing your hospital bag, it’s good to get a head start. Here’s what we recommend:
If you have a high-risk pregnancy or you have reason to believe you might go into labor early, make sure your bag is ready to go by the 35th week of your pregnancy.
Generally, make sure your bag is packed by the 37th - 38th week of your pregnancy
Here are a few things you can do in the final few weeks of your pregnancy, as you anxiously await the arrival of your little one:
Pack your hospital bag, if you haven’t already
Rest as much as possible
Spend some alone time with your partner
Clean your house and stock up on household essentials like cleaning products, paper towels and toilet paper
Prepare some frozen meals you can easily heat up, when you’re tired or busy with your newborn
Brainstorm baby names
Reflect on this new chapter in your life
There is no right or wrong way to spend your time together as a couple, before your baby arrives. You and your spouse should do what feels right for you and this will look a little different for every partnership. Whatever you do, make sure that in addition to checking things off your to-do list, you’re also finding time to spend with your significant other. Enjoy one another’s company and your last few months alone before your little one arrives.
If you’re welcoming a baby into the world, you are probably knee deep in to-do lists. Remember, focus on the basics, so you don’t get too overwhelmed and you can supplement additional items later. Here are the top 10 items you need for a baby:
Bassinet or crib
Like so many things in parenthood, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The amount of money you should save, before you have a baby, depends on each family’s unique financial situation. To get some clarity on financial planning for your baby, work on a budget and set up a meeting with a financial advisor at your bank. You can also talk to friends or family members with children about the expenses they cover as parents to get a sense of what you can expect.