Preparing for a new baby can make you feel like your head is spinning. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, the to-do lists can pile up and it can be hard for expecting parents to know what to focus on and what to leave out.
Here are 5 practical ways to prepare for a new baby to save your sanity and help you enjoy the last few months of pregnancy! Plus, we’ve included a FREE printable checklist to help you plan and prepare.
1. Stock up on essentials
Household essentials can get missed when you’re buying for a new baby. Our minds go to stocking up on things the baby will need like diapers and wipes (get those, too, of course!) but I highly recommend stocking up on the things your household uses daily. If you have space, you’ll want to get an extra package or two of: toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and cleaning supplies. This will save a frantic trip to Target when you’re still recovering from delivery!
*When I was prepping for my second baby, I even grabbed an extra set of my toiletry items so that I knew I wouldn’t run out of things like my favorite shampoo and have a nervous breakdown.
Give common areas of your home a deep clean so that when you get home with baby you can focus on healing, resting, and bonding with your baby. If you’re able to, hire a cleaning company for a one-time deep clean or devote a couple Saturdays to knocking this out. Focus on your most-used areas like bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, and living rooms.
If you have any extra time on your hands before baby comes, schedule a re-organizing day. Look at areas like your pantry, laundry room, cleaning closets, and bathroom storage. Giving everything a quick tidy up will feel so good later on.
3. Prep freezer meals
When you are expecting a new baby, carving out a day (about a month before your due date) to make freezer meals is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself. You prep all of your ingredients and place them in a Ziploc bag to freeze. Later, when you’re ready for that meal, you’ll just pull it out and cook! All of the prep (and even some of the cooking) is done ahead of time so your day-of effort is minimal. This is so essential when you are in the throes of newborn life, especially if you have older children!
Passionate Penny Pincher has the perfect freezer meal recipe box to eliminate any guesswork for you! Find it here.
If you have family or friends nearby who can come over for the day to help prep and/or watch older kids, I highly recommend enlisting that help so you can maximize your time in the kitchen!
4. Set up special spaces
Once you bring baby home, there will be a couple of important spaces you’ll end up spending a lot of your time and energy. A little bit of preparation for these areas will give you peace of mind and save some headache later.
Giving birth is a magical and messy experience. Set up a basket for your bathroom that has all the supplies you’ll need in the first couple of weeks.
A lot of these items you can bring home from the hospital, but it is good to be prepared with extras: Tucks pads, pain relief spray, Peri bottle, extra undies, heavy duty pads, and I’d recommend some hemorrhoid cream, just in case. Such a magical time.
The amount of time you’ll spend sitting down and feeding your baby in the first few months is kind of mind-boggling! If your space is prepped, you’ll be able to enjoy the time a bit more and be able to really settle in for feedings.
Make sure you have within arms reach: water (staying hydrated is HUGE for postpartum recovery and breastmilk supply), phone charger, chapstick, snacks (you will likely be ravenous for a couple of months!), nipple cream, hand sanitizer, and burp rags.
If you are pumping, set up your pump in a convenient-for-you spot so you can easily sit down and begin. You’ll want similar supplies as you’ll have in your nursing basket by your pump, and add coconut oil (this acts as a lubricant for pumping and is a lifesaver), and pumping bra.
*Don’t forget to sanitize all of your breast pump parts first!*
While the nursery does not need to be a huge focus ahead of time, there are some aspects that I feel are essential to make your life easier when baby comes. Newborns go through so much clothes because of various spit up and diaper catastrophes. The last thing you need in the middle of an up-the-back diaper leak is to realize you never washed the clothes or they’re packed away somewhere. I recommend washing everything ahead of time and putting it away in baby’s dresser so it’s easy to pull out and use. Having a changing table or convenient changing area is vital to have set up ahead of time as well.
5. Prepare older siblings
If you have older children, preparing them emotionally is so helpful to ease the transition. Parenting Pros Big Little Feelings have some great advice on prep talk for siblings. My oldest was 2.5 when we had her little sister and we spent months talking about what it would be like when the baby came. We talked about all the fun things and the not-so-fun things. We let her know that the baby might be loud, that mom & dad would spend a lot of time caring for her, and that she might not like having a sister sometimes – and that’s all okay! We read lots of books about older siblings so she knew she’d have some helper jobs she could do, but we didn’t push her into helping because, well, toddlers.
A very helpful piece of advice I received is to tell the baby some of the things you’re having to tell your toddler. It is unavoidable that you’ll have to tell your toddler or preschooler “hold on, I'm changing the baby” or “I can’t right now, I have to hold/feed/rock the baby.”. To help them feel a little more equal, if you’re doing something with your toddler and the baby starts fussing you can say to the baby (but in an obvious way), “Hold on, baby, I’m helping big sister with her shoes” or “Thanks for waiting, baby, I’ll come pick you up when I’m done making breakfast for your brother.”
One HUGE helpful tip – set up a basket with some new toys, games, and activities for the older siblings to play with when you are sitting down to feed the baby. When mommy is nursing the baby and busy, it can definitely trigger big emotions for older siblings. Having a special basket to look forward to during that time helps tremendously. The key is to put the basket up when you’re done nursing (prep talk is big here – “We’ll be done in 5 minutes…we’re going to put the basket up in 2 minutes…alright, let’s put your special basket up now and we’ll get it back down in a couple of hours!”). The basket does not have to be extravagant and should be things your child can do all by themselves without needing you to intervene or play together.
There you have it! Practical, specific ways to prepare for your baby and calm your nerves. Congratulations, mama!