There are a million things you need to do to get ready to welcome a baby home. The first, and most difficult, is to stop freaking out. Gazillions of others have gone through this very same thing. We wouldn’t survive as a species if this weren’t doable. Truth.
I’m obviously not going to list all one million (give or take) preparations you need to make. Quite frankly I just don’t have the time. I welcomed my own baby home two years ago, and am currently home on sick toddler duty.
Some things need to be done before baby comes home, others do – and should – not be done until later. And, here’s the kicker: YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN BABY WILL DECIDE TO SHOW UP. Due date, schmue date. Don’t let your little one catch you unawares and unprepared.
FYI – this article was inspired by the arrival of early bird Aili, who surprised our very own Clayton by debuting a month early. You go, girl! Keeping your dad on his toes from day one…
To Do Before Baby Arrives
Make some space. Whether your baby will sleep in your bedroom, or his own, make sure you make some room. You may need to rearrange furniture, donate it or, if you really think you need to keep it, put it into storage. Babies come with lots of stuff, so you’ll need ample space for it all. Make sure to paint and do any other stuff you don’t want your child exposed to well in advance of the due date.
Get the crib/bassinet/co-sleeper ready. Assemble that bad boy! Wash a few sets of sheets and put one on the bed. Even if your little one isn’t in his own bed full time, you’ll want a clean, safe place to put him down sometimes when you need your hands free. I say wash a few sets of sheets because you’ll be surprised how many you’ll go through via diaper leaks and spit ups.
Buy a car seat. Have it installed. You can go to your local fire department to have someone who’s well trained install your car seat for you. It’s kind of a pain in the backside, so let them do it for you, but take notes for when it’s your turn.
Get baby’s food ready. Make sure you have a small (until you know baby’s tastes and needs) stock of formula on hand. If you’re nursing, make sure you have all the accoutrements ready: lanolin, pump, storage supplies, bottles, etc. sterilized and ready to go. Babies are hungry little critters and aren’t quiet about it.
Get your own food ready. Keep some quick and easy meals stocked. I promise you those first days will keep you so busy and exhausted you’ll not be thinking of cooking. Have some fresh fruit and veggies that you can just grab and eat. I also ate lots of cereal and soups. Cheese and crackers or hummus and pita are awesome and fast snacks. See if your family, friends and neighbors will help by taking turns bringing over dinners.
Finish any projects around the house. You’re not going to have time to do anything but tend baby and try to sleep for several weeks at least, so don’t leave anything undone to “work on while on leave.” It won’t happen.
To Do After Baby Arrives
Stock up on diapers. Don’t overbuy before you know which size/brand/type will work for your baby. Mine was 9.5 pounds out the door, so newborn diapers were out of the question. You may also have to try a few brands before you find the ones that don’t leak. Every baby is shaped differently, and so are diapers. Finding the right diaper is an actual crapshoot, so only buy a small amount before the big day.
Rip off all the tags and wash those adorable onesies (in dye & fragrance free detergent, of course). Again, newborn stuff didn’t fit my dude. You never really know what you’re going to get until lay eyes on your child. Don’t end up with a heap of clothes you’ll never use and can’t exchange.
Get out. This is actually good advice for before the big reveal, too. But, especially in the very early days after, go out into the world. Take a walk around the neighborhood, join a new moms group, sip tea at a coffee shop, whatever. Just make sure you keep some semblance of your normal life. You’ll be in the midst of the most physically and emotionally demanding time you’ve had, and you’ll need sane and well-rested people around you to keep you moving.
Baby proof. It’s only a few months before your child will be mobile. Get ahead of the game and start making your home safe right away. Put everything small enough to fit through a paper towel tube up and out of reach. Put those outlet covers in.
I’m literally typing this with one hand as my feverish little boy is sleeping on my other one. So, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some useful tips. Please share your knowledge and experience in the comments!