Preparing for a Baby: Home, Body and Spirit

Chelsea Day

When you’re pregnant, you’re overwhelmed with information. You want to know everything about the baby, the pregnancy, and how to prepare for baby. But where do you even begin?

That’s why we created this baby preparation checklist – to help you get ready for your new little one. We’ve included everything from a baby essentials checklist to what to do after birth. And we’ve broken it down into simple steps so that it’s easy to follow.

Newborn Checklist: Get Ready for Baby!

What to Buy Before Baby Comes

There are so many unfamiliar needs that little ones inevitably need at 2am. That said, the list of “stuff” that babies require really isn’t that lengthy. Here’s how we break it down:

  • Clothing: think through what season you’ll be having your baby, and accessorize accordingly. You’ll also want lots of swaddles for sleep time, and diapers and wipes – whether you’re going with cloth or disposable! It’s also helpful to go ahead and buy baby detergent so there are no harsh chemicals causing potential outbreaks on their sensitive skin.
  • Feeding: Bibs, baby spoons, formula or breastfeeding accessories such as pumps, nipple guards and cream.
  • Medical necessities: Infant Tylenol, soothing gas drops, rash cream and a baby tummy vibrator came in handy for my colicky babies
  • A place to put baby: Strollers, car seats, baby loungers, a crib / bassinet / cosleeper, and eventual high chairs are helpful. I also liked baby swings and walkers to help them get some energy out!
  • Washing: Baby towels can be handy so you’re not constantly dirtying big adult towels for such a tiny body. Baby washcloths also tend to be softer than adult washcloths, and infant soaps cater to their new skin needs. A baby bathtub can come in handy to prop them up in the bathroom, although a lot of parents simply opt for kitchen sink baths in the early days.

Create a Birth Plan
If you don’t like the OBGYN that your medical care provider assigns you to, you are welcome to shop around! Make sure that you are aligned in terms of where the baby should be delivered, that they’re available (not going on vacation!) when the baby’s due, and that they’re in agreement with your approach to medications and birthing approach at the hospital.

It’s a good idea to ask about their rate of inductions and c-sections. Are they in favor of lots of medical interventions and monitoring, or does your doctor prefer a wait-and-see approach? Lots of this will vary based on your pregnancy, and whether or not your doctor tends to oversee a lot of complicated or high-risk births. You should also communicate about whether or not you want a midwife, doula, or another friend or family member there to help advocate for you.

Now is a good time to research vaccinations that are typically given to babies after birth, as well as things like timing of cord-cutting, placenta preservation, skin-to-skin time and other options where doctor and nurse approaches may vary. I personally liked having an explicit, printed birth plan to help communicate my needs during labor.

Home Preparedness
Not only is it critical to know what to have at home for the baby, but your house itself also needs to be prepared. You’ll want to place all small items up high so there’s no risk of baby choking on objects when they start grabbing stuff. It’s also a good idea to keep pet waste areas (such as a little box) far from baby so that there is no cross-contamination. Some essential items to have at home include:

  • Outlet covers
  • Door and cabinet bumpers
  • Toilet seat locks
  • Nursery monitoring systems
  • Baby fences / gates to protect them during the toddling phase

More Complicated Baby Stuff

A lot of people don’t think about the items below, since they tend to be “baby-adjacent” as opposed to completely focused on the baby’s needs. That said, it’s just as important to prepare yourself, your family and your coworkers for the inevitable shift that happens after a baby comes along.

Health Insurance
Does your employer provide health insurance during maternity leave? Shockingly, not all are required by law to continue health coverage. Prepare yourself for potential out-of-pocket expenses in terms of insurance payments. It’s also good to know if you should anticipate any copayments for your delivery, as well as figure out your medical provider’s expected post-delivery stay length and aftercare schedule.

I went into the hospital with no idea that they’d want to keep me for an extra couple of days due to some expected complications with my birth. I also didn’t know that my doctor would want to see me in her office 2-3 days after the birth, and every 2 weeks for a lengthy amount of time. It’s nice to know ahead of time, just to set your expectations and so you can arrange transportation in case you aren’t feeling up to driving yet.

Emotional Preparedness
Be ready for the potential “baby blues.” Now is a good time to seek out support groups and therapists who specialize in postpartum issues. There are a ton of amazing groups online, and you can even start early with maternity groups that naturally transition to postpartum groups based on folks who have close-together due dates!

Plan Family Leave
When I tell people to make a “plan” for baby, it’s mostly to help them prepare for the unexpected. It’s nice to open clear communication with friends and family members, and set healthy boundaries ahead of time. Some moms and dads want ALL the people around to support them, whereas some want more intimacy and privacy as they transition into their new roles. Some think they’ll feel one way about it, and then they wind up completely changing their mind.

Now is a good time to stock your freezer, get the house totally organized, and turn attention to your own mental health and well-being. Make loose plans in terms of highlights you want to capture during your baby’s first days. Go ahead and interview childcare centers and develop an idea of when (or if) you want to return to work, but also focus on flexibility.

Mom and Dad Friends
If you don’t have a lot of friends who have children, now is a good time to make those connections. Join parent groups, reconnect with old pals who have kids, and generally build your support system so that you don’t feel isolated when you inevitably have questions like, ‘is it normal for my baby to poop what looks like black tar?’ (answer: yes, yes it is).Bottom of Form

The biggest takeaway when it comes to preparing for a baby is that it’s a huge help to have your work, finances, healthcare, home life and relationships in order. Those are the biggest things that can be potential trip-ups when you have a baby. Beyond that? The little humans are the biggest bundle of joy you can imagine!

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Helping parents live simple and satisfying lives. Our homeschooling family loves to learn, and in our spare time (hah!) we RV travel and flip houses.

Boise, ID

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