I’m waiting. Sort-of patiently. I mean, I’ve done this before… I waited for my daughter for 42 and a half weeks of pregnancy. So I KNOW I won’t be pregnant forever, and all babies eventually come out. They do.
But by this point in my last pregnancy, I was… well… not pregnant anymore. I was cuddling my new little son.
So I’m kinda sorta more than ready. Let’s do this thing! I want my baby!
In the meantime… in case you’re in my shoes (super pregnant and wanting to make sure your organizational bases are covered before your baby arrives), here’s a little checklist of things to do before your baby comes.
7 Things to Organize Before Baby Arrives
1. Birth Prep
Discuss your birth plan with your partner and birthing team (doctor, midwife, doula, etc). Possibly have this on paper for reference and for anyone “new” (on call doctors or nurses, etc). Please, please limit this to ONE easy to read (bulleted, highlighted, whatever) printed page. Especially if you want anyone to read (or skim) it.
If you’re having your baby in a hospital or birthing center:
Make sure you’ve done any pre-admission paperwork they have available. This will make it a much smoother process to check in when you’re ready.
And be sure to pack your hospital/center bag OR make a list of things you want to bring, so that you don’t mind-blank and forget your favorite pillow or that special diaper you wanted baby to wear home, or mints. (Bring mints. If your labor goes really long, you’ll thank me.)
If you’re planning a home birth:
Make sure your midwife’s and doula’s phone numbers in your contacts AND in your husband’s or partner’s contacts.
Before your baby is “term,” make sure your birth kit is ordered & on hand, including pool & pool liner if you’re planning to labor or birth in water. As I learned, each baby has his or her own timeline and arrival date… just because you went “way late” with one baby doesn’t mean the next one won’t come “early” and with very little warning.
2. A Sleep Place
Where is your baby going to sleep? Make sure you have something ready.
If you’re planning to co-sleep or bed-share, read up on safe practices and remove any too-cushy mattress pads you might be used to using, get a bed rail or co-sleeper, or look up how to sidecar the crib so you’ll know how when you need to.
If your baby is going to sleep in an infant hammock or a crib, go ahead and assemble/install it so that it’s ready to go.
And if you haven’t decided on the “final” arrangement yet, that’s fine too. Just make sure you have someplace safe for baby right away. We are having some issues with installing our infant hammock due to the layout of our room and location of ceiling joists, but it’s fine because we have a Rock ‘n’ Play Sleeper the baby can use in the meantime.
3. Car Seat
It’s a pain in the butt to install a car seat when you’re super pregnant… I just did 3 of them so I get it. But it’d be more of a pain when you’re freshly postpartum. So do it.
Choose a seat that is intended for newborns – either an infant seat or a convertible seat with a low lower-weight-limit (often these have special inserts for newborns).
Read the manual front to back before installing your seat, and refer to the manual as you do it. If you’re not 100% sure you installed your seat properly and know how to use it safely, contact a CPST (child passenger safety technician – find one at SafeKids.org ) to check your installation and teach you about your seat.
If you’re using a used seat, make sure it is from someone you trust with your child’s life – even the tiniest accident can affect the internal structure of a car seat and render it useless for protecting a child a second time. Also check that the seat has not expired (there will be a sticker somewhere on the seat to let you know) for the same reason – internal materials can break down and cause the seat to be ineffective for protection. NEVER buy a used seat from a stranger.
4. Clothing, Blankets, Diapers
Wash these so they’re ready to go. Just newborn and 0-3m sizes. You don’t need to have everything ready to go for your child for the next 2 years of life. Just have the smallest stuff on hand, and the rest (if you have any) can stay packed up for now – organized by size is best though.
In fact, buying too far ahead is often wasteful since your child may grow more quickly or slowly than you anticipate, and you’ll end up with thick sweaters that fit in summertime and baby swim suits that only fit your child during the dead of winter.
As far as diapers go, if you’re using cloth, wash and prep them now. Just the smallest ones… you can do the bigger sizes as your baby grows. If you’re new to cloth diapering, ask a CD-ing friend to show you how to use them, and maybe even practice changing her child(ren)’s diapers a few times.
If you’re using disposables, go ahead and buy a package or two of diapers. You don’t need a bazillion before baby is born. The store will still be open (and Amazon and Target both deliver diapers and wipes, too). And kind of like with clothing, you want to beware of stocking up too much ahead of time. Your child might be sensitive to (or develop a sensitivity to) chemicals in a certain brand of diaper, and you may have to switch to something else unexpectedly.
How are you feeding your child?
If you’re breastfeeding:
Make sure you have someone you can call if you need help. An IBCLC (international board certified lactation consultant) phone number or two in your contacts, your local LLL (la leche league) leader, experienced nursing mama friends, and so on. Pediatricians and obstetricians often have less than a day worth of breastfeeding training, and they are NOT the people to ask for help when you need assistance.
If you already know you’ll be expressing milk for your baby, even part-time, prepare your pump parts and sterilize your bottles.
If you’ve decided to use infant formula:
Get the bottles ready, be sure your water is correct for formula (get a really good filter if you’re not sure), and have a couple of cans on hand – but don’t stock up! Your baby may negatively react to the ingredients in some formulations, and you don’t want to have a bunch to throw away in that case.
6. Food for Mama/Family
After your baby is born, you’ll still need to eat. And I don’t know about you, but breastfeeding makes me ravenous. Like pregnancy x300.
And if you’re the one who does the majority of the cooking in your house, you need to plan ahead for this.
Your solution might look like one of these:
- Sign up for a “meal train” with a group (church, parenting group, a circle of close friends, local family members, etc) you’re a member of – often people are really sweet and will prepare meals for your family for a week or two!
- Make doubles of your dinners for a while, and freeze the extra portion for later.
- Buy already-prepared frozen meals you’re okay with, to have on hand.
- Prepare a list of recipes your husband or partner is okay with cooking, or easy-to-grab things (like rotisserie chicken and a frozen bag of veggies), so that you’ll have help at home.
And whatever you do, be sure to have foods on hand (or a shopping list someone can easily pick up) that you can easily grab and eat one-handed over a baby’s head. I eat a lot of cut-up veggies and fruits, deli meat, and trail mix in those first postpartum weeks while snuggling and nursing my newborn.
7. Postpartum Care for Mama
Whatever you think will make you comfortable in the postpartum period, have it on hand before baby is born. You might like herbal-infused bath salts or sitz baths, nipple butter or lanolin, bottom spray or balm, comfy new nursing-friendly bras (or even just engorged-boob-friendly), a soft robe, and so on.
And there’s the other stuff like postpartum pads (think “period that lasts around 6 weeks” after birth) and breast pads (even if you don’t plan to nurse, your breasts plan to… and you’re likely to have some amount of leaking for a while no matter how you feed your baby).
I’ve bought myself a few goodies from Earth Mama Angel Baby – I love their products and they smell soooo good. And I always treat myself to new underwear after a long pregnancy has stretched out my current set.
Are you ready?
I am… whenever baby is!
Want to have 40% LESS housework to do when baby arrives?
The American Cleaning Institute says that eliminating the clutter in your home will reduce your housework load by 40%. And I’ve honestly experienced this.
It’s how, when I got sick AND my kids got sick AND my husband was out of town (for 2 weeks)… my house did not fall apart.
Not even a little.
If you’re pregnant, you’re probably already feeling the “nesting” urge. Take that feeling and run with it.
Join the 30 Day Clutter-Free Countdown – a FREE decluttering challenge I’ve designed for you, to help you jumpstart a huge change in your homemaking. It begins on the 1st of every month, so register now for the next challenge group. I’ll see you then!
I wish I had this before I had my first! She came 15 days early and as much as I thought we were prepared for it all, we weren’t. Great point about the food for family as well as for mom. We’re often so busy prepping for baby, that we forget ourselves in the process. This was a great reminder. Thanks for sharing, Emily! Glad I found you on Idea Box Thursday last week 🙂
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These are all such good ideas! The car seat was major – we didn’t even know how to put it in the car, I couldn’t image having to struggle with that AND just having the baby…glad that was all in order. Also, having clear expectations about breastfeeding/bottle feeding and formula feeding were very helpful for me as I planned to (and did) return to work eventually. I’ll share this with my pregnant friends! I found this on the From Dream to Reality link party!
Thanks for sharing this- I’m in the middle of my second pregnancy and I can’t believe how much I’ve forgotten from my first! Definitely some important things to think about 🙂 Pinning for later!
I stopped by from Hit Me With Your Best Shot
I wanted to add a journal or notebook. You’ll want to jot down notes from the doctors and nurses, feeding and changing times, and lots of other stuff.
[…] about what to prepare when you’re expecting a baby… I even just posted my own “7 Things to Organize Before Baby Arrives” on my […]