Congrats! If you are reading this, it’s probably because you are preparing for a new baby in your life! I’m sure you are feeling a whole lot of things. People about to welcome a new life into their world might be feeling elated, fearful, overwhelmed, or unsure. While I can’t unpack all of those feelings with you, let me help you with the overwhelm! I’ve compiled this extensive list of things you will want to think about, do, or purchase before your baby arrives.
While it may seem like a lot, I’ve broken it down into different categories, so you can feel certain that you have everything ready. If this is your first baby, you’ll want to be sure to carefully comb through the list. However, if this is not your first child, feel free to skim.
Things to Schedule Before Baby Comes
Although you don’t know exactly when your precious baby will make their entrance, there are some things you can schedule before the time comes. It’s a good idea to have most of these things done at least one month before your due date, maybe even earlier if you have a risk of going into labor early (something your doctor or midwife may discuss with you).
Have a Baby Shower
Hopefully, you are lucky enough to be surrounded by family members and/or friends that will throw a baby shower. It’s such a delight to get to celebrate with people you love and the people that will love your new baby!
You can have a big ‘ol baby shower, or a few smaller ones, or a single baby shower with the people closest to you. The size and style really depend on you (or the kind, generous person planning one for you).
Most people plan the baby shower before the baby’s arrival, but it’s becoming more popular to have a little party AFTER your baby comes so that everyone can meet your precious little one. Either way, it’s a good idea to get something on the calendar so the planning can begin.
As far as when to have a baby shower-it’s a good idea to have it at least a month before baby is scheduled to arrive, just in case! It’s also fun to do it late enough in your pregnancy that people can enjoy your ever-growing baby pump! People love a good baby bump!
In addition to picking a date, you also want to start a baby registry so guests can choose from things you want and need. I used Amazon Baby Registry because it makes it super easy for friends and family to pick out and send you gifts. Amazon also has SO MANY options.
You can also check out my post about my favorite baby items and the things you don’t need for your registry.
Local Hospital Tour
If you (or a loved one) is pregnant, you will definitely need to establish care so that you have an OB or Midwife to do regular checkups and help you bring this baby into the world when the time comes.
Once you’ve chosen who will help you with prenatal care and labor and delivery, you need to figure out where you will be giving birth. Most people plan to give birth at a hospital, but others may choose a birthing center or even home birth.
Know your options and then be sure to tour whatever place you plan to give birth. This can help ease the anxiety when the big day arrives! Knowing a bit about the facility can help you feel prepared.
If you’re a first-time mom (or you are helping a first-time mom prepare for a new baby) I highly recommend taking a prenatal class. For my husband and me, it was extremely helpful to walk through some of the logistics.
They walk you through all sorts of things like helpful birthing techniques, birthing partner roles, and newborn care. It can be very insightful for expecting parents!
Check with your hospital first, because many hospitals offer a free childbirth class. Some classes are focused on labor and delivery, some are about breastfeeding, and others cover newborn care.
If your hospital doesn’t offer free classes, check with your health insurance, because they may be able to cover the classes as well.
If this is your first baby (or even if it’s not) your life is about to change in a big way! You are going to have more lovin’ from your baby, but less time for your boo!
I think it’s very worthwhile to set aside some time to go on plenty of dates with your partner. The more you can fit it, the better! It’s a great way to connect with your partner before baby arrives.
Even if you have older kids and don’t feel like you can get away as easily, spending some quality time together before your newest addition arrives won’t be something you regret.
I love that Baby Moons have become more common. If you can swing it, a Baby Moon is the best way to get lots of quality time in with your partner before the big day.
In case you don’t know, a Baby Moon is a trip with your significant other before your baby arrives. It can be short, long, far away, or close by. It’s really up to you!
You should probably avoid going too late in your third trimester because traveling later in pregnancy can be risky and less comfortable. The best time to go is during your second trimester because you often feel your best during this time period.
This might seem silly to plan your birth announcements BEFORE you have your baby, but you will thank yourself later!
If you plan to send out physical announcements in the mail, you’ll want to make sure you have all of your friends and families’ addresses up to date. You can also start shopping around for your favorite baby announcements to share the good news. There are plenty of good options!
If you only plan to post to social media about that baby being born, no need to do much planning in advance.
Figure Out Maternity Leave
Tell your employer that you are expecting and discuss maternity leave options. Most employees in the US have access to 12 weeks of maternity leave.
Talk to your boss and discuss a plan for after your precious babe arrives.
Check in to parental leave as well, since more and more companies are implementing options for dads to stay home, too!
Getting the Nursery Ready
Getting your nursery ready can be one of the best parts before becoming a new parent.
I loved decorating mine and setting up all the new baby things (even though I’m not usually much of a decorator)! It’s fun to imagine your new baby laying in the crib you put together or wearing their tiny baby clothes.
Decide Where Baby Will Sleep
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s best for your baby to sleep in your room for the first 6 months of life, or longer. This will give you peace of mind because you can hear your baby and attend to them quickly if they need help.
That being said, you’ll need to choose where your baby will sleep.
You can choose from a number of great bassinets that can fit next to your bed. Check out my guide to bassinets here. If your room is big enough, you could put a crib in your room as well.
As we prepared for each of our babies, we got the bassinet and the crib ready, so we could transition as soon as we were ready.
Stock Up on Diapers
You will definitely want some diapers on hand before your baby’s birth. Typically getting several boxes of size one and a box of size two should be sufficient for the first while.
Purchase Baby Clothes
How cute are baby clothes? Gosh, each time I look at those newborn clothes, I just can’t believe something so sweet and small will fit into something so tiny!
Hopefully, you will get some of your baby’s clothes from a baby shower. But you can also get them yourself, of course!
Here are a few things to consider when you buy clothes (or register for them). Your baby will be sleeping A LOT when they are first born. We mostly put our kids in sleepers (the onesies with long legs and arms) all day every day. Of course, you may want a few super cute outfits, but no need to go crazy.
Something else to consider-check into getting things secondhand. Baby clothes can get surprisingly expensive, and they grow out of them so quickly!
Maybe a friend or family member would let you borrow some of their used clothes, or you could find stores or garage sales for great second-hand stuff!
Decide on Baby Sleepwear
There are SO MANY different things your baby can wear for sleep time. You can take a real deep dive into figuring out which kind you like best.
The important thing is, that to keep your baby safe, you should not put a blanket in their bed. Instead, there are a variety of sleep clothes designed to keep your baby warm and safe.
My favorite (the product I’ve used for all three of my little ones) is the Halo Sleep Sack. It comes in different sizes and can adjust as your baby develops. The sleep sack comes in different materials and patterns.
Decorating your baby’s nursery is such a fun task! There are tons of fun themes to choose from! You can go crazy and cover every nook and cranny with adorable baby things or keep it low-key. It’s really up to you!
You’ll want to start this task with plenty of time before baby comes because it can take time to collect enough things to decorate.
Prepare a Diaper Changing Area
It’s a good idea to have a little area designated for diaper changes in baby’s room.
All you really need is a flat surface to put a diaper changing pad on and some space for baby essentials. You’ll want a basket of some sort with diapers, wipes, a trash can, and diaper cream.
Get a Rocking Chair
I think there is great value in a good rocking chair for your nursery. You will be up late with your baby, and having a cozy spot is helpful! Each person wants different things in a rocking chair, but there is plenty to choose from!
Consider a Sound Machine
If you read up on baby sleep, one of the big components is having white noise so the baby can fall asleep and stay asleep. In those first few months after your baby is born, one of the most important things is figuring out sleep!
We love this sound machine because it has different sounds, a timer setting, and an option to use it as a night light.
Think About Lighting
You will have to be up with your sweet baby in the middle of the night, and turning on bright lights at 3 a.m. can be jarring for both of you. So consider a lamp, a light-dimming switch, or even a night light to make it all more tolerable.
Readying The Rest of Your Life for Baby
Set Up ANOTHER Diaper Changing Station
Once you bring baby home, you will be changing A LOT of diapers! One of my favorite pieces of advice to give to new moms is to make a diaper-changing station somewhere outside of the nursery.
You will likely spend a lot of time outside of the nursery, and it’s nice not to have to go all the way back to the baby’s room.
Get a Bouncer or Baby Sleeper
Babies sleep a lot, especially when they are firstborn. It can be really nice to have some sort of portable sleeper that can be in different parts of the house.
My favorite one, for all three of my babies, is the Snuggle Me. It’s a special little pillow, specifically designed for your precious little baby to catch some sleep. You can put it on a carpeted floor, the couch, or wherever works for you.
You can also get a sleeper/bouncer that your little one can play in or sleep in.
Take Basic Safety Measures
A few things to consider-make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep. Although you might get a lot of blankets or stuffies for your sweet little one, keep them out of the crib. They are not safe for babies to sleep with until they are at least one year old.
Make sure all of the baby gear you set up is assembled correctly so that it doesn’t pose a safety risk – no small objects, no loose screws, nothing that could pose a threat.
Find a Show to Binge or a Book to Devour
This might sound silly, but you are likely going to spend a lot of time feeding your baby and soothing them. It will benefit you to find something to do during all this time you have with baby.
With each one of my kids, I found a show to binge-watch, and it made those late nights more bearable. I like “comfort TV” for this scenario because you will likely be sleep-deprived and unable to follow crazy twists in the plot. Feel free to find an old favorite (for me “Parks and Rec” or “The Office”) or find something new that looks exciting.
Whether you are first-time expectant parents, or you already have several kids, it’s really nice to have a few essential items on hand.
Stock up on toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, and maybe some frozen pizza or other easy foods you can just throw together.
Make Freezer Meals
If you have enough time, it’s so great to be able to make some freezer meals. There are tons of options all over the internet for make-ahead meals.
Your late stages of pregnancy are the perfect time to try to make some extra food. Once baby comes, you will thank yourself!
Choose a Baby Carrier
Baby Carriers are so insanely helpful if you ask me! Sometimes you need to get a little bit done, and you want to be with your baby, so the PERFECT answer is baby-wearing!
As with most baby products, there are so many options! But my personal favorite is the Lille Baby. It offers back support and a secure hold for newborns, up to young toddlers. The baby carrier is easy to figure out and comfy for all!
Buy and Install a Car Seat
In order to leave the hospital, you are required to have a car seat in your car. After I had all three of my babies, they even came to check that you had installed the car seat correctly.
If you plan to go on walks or use a stroller much, I think a travel system is probably best. A travel system comes with a car seat, a base that goes in your car, and a stroller.
I have a whole review on the Graco Jogger and Car Seat. Check it out here!
You will need to talk to your insurance company to figure out what is covered for your prenatal and post-natal care.
You will also want to make sure you know how to get your baby on your insurance.
Preparing for Breastfeeding
If you are hoping to breastfeed, there are a few specific things you want to have figured out before your baby comes.
If you aren’t planning to breastfeed, then just skip this section.
Get a Breast Pump
Having a breast pump is necessary if you plan to feed your baby once you go back to work. Even if you won’t be working outside of the home, it’s nice to have a breast pump so your baby can take a bottle when necessary (or just when you want your husband to wake up with the baby instead of you!).
Check with your health insurance before you go out and buy one on your own, because sometimes it is covered. At the hospital where I delivered, I could go pick up my breast pump in the lobby after I delivered my baby. It was so convenient!
Get a Nursing Cover
If you plan to nurse, it’s nice to have a nursing cover. Obviously, some women choose to not cover up at all, and that’s totally fine!
For me, there were some instances where I preferred the cover, so it’s nice to have one.
My VERY favorite cover is the one I give to all my friends if they plan to nurse. It’s so easy and light, and it covers up you and baby!
Know How to Access a Lactation Consultant
Breastfeeding is truly such a wonderful, intimate time to be with your baby. But that does not mean it’s without complications.
Make sure you know how to access a lactation consultant. Sometimes, there are lactation consultants on staff in the hospital where you deliver. There are also pediatric offices that include lactation consultants.
Basically, if you have any troubles or questions with nursing, these people know what to do!
If you are really wanting to learn about nursing before your baby arrives, consider a breastfeeding class. These will be comprehensive and helpful once you start feeding your baby.
Get Breastpads and Nursing-Friendly Bras
If breastfeeding is part of the plan, you might want nursing-friendly bras. These bras come in a pack of three and are great for nursing. These bras have some support and come with special straps that unclip easily so you can feed your baby.
You will also want to get some breast pads that can be inserted into your bra. This helps to absorb leakage and keeps you from staining your shirt. There are disposable options and washable.
Preparing for the Big Day
Most of the things on my to-do list so far can be done anytime between the first trimester and the last. Nine months really is a lot of time to prepare, but getting started on some of these things will help you feel ready and excited for your sweet baby.
The rest of the list has to do with the big day.
Game Plan for Older Children
If there are any older siblings in your family, you will want to have a plan for where they will be when you are in the hospital with your baby.
Hopefully, you have friends or family you can ask about watching your kids. If that’s not an option, there might be a trusted babysitter in your life who already knows your kids.
You will want to make sure you have the essentials for you, your partner, and your new babe all packed up in advance, so it’s not a last-minute mess! I would try having your bag packed about four weeks before your due date, and even earlier if your pregnancy is high risk.
There are plenty of exhaustive lists online to make sure you have everything you need!
My best advice is to be sure you bring things to make you comfortable: clothing, favorite movies, and music you like. Make the experience as relaxing as you can!
A birth plan is just an outline of what you hope will happen during your labor and delivery. It’s good to research your options well in advance.
Talk to your doctor so you know what options you have and what sounds best to you.
A few things you should consider: pain medication, who will be in the room, comfort measures, and baby care.
If you’re interested in a natural birth, check out my blog post about how I prepared and birthed three babies without pain medication.
Pick a Baby Name
Some people have had a name picked out for their baby since they were 12. If that’s you, you can skip this section. But for the rest of you, picking a baby name can be kind of hard!
Everyone has different methods for how they decide, but finding an expansive list of baby names or looking at your family tree are some common ways to get some ideas.
You’re Almost There
Let me end by saying, congrats! Being a mama (or papa) is one of the best gifts and honors! There may be a lot to do, but there is such great purpose in all of it!
Try not to get too overwhelmed and be sure to enjoy this exciting time!