From choosing a baby name and setting up nursery décor to picking out the cutest nappies, there is a lot to be done before your baby arrives. It can feel overwhelming to figure out where to begin, and a good place to start is by reminding yourself it doesn’t all need to get done by delivery day.
That said, knowing how to prepare for a newborn ahead of time can only help to offset any pre-baby pressure you may be feeling. Below, find 10 recommendations to ready your body, mind, and spirit for welcoming your precious little one into the world.
#1 Create A Birth Plan
The first item on your baby checklist is to create a baby birth plan. Be sure to take plenty of time to consider how you want to deliver your little bundle, even if putting a birth plan in place doesn’t necessarily mean the birth will go exactly as planned.
While you’re imagining how you want delivery day to go, you may want to consider the following:
- Putting together a support network – Aside from your healthcare team, your support network plays an important role in your baby’s delivery. These are the people who will advocate for your best interests, make you feel safe, and help you breathe through the process.
- Taking a birthing class – While it’s certainly not a requirement for a successful labor and delivery, birthing classes can provide peace of mind and emotional, mental, and physical tools to help you through a laborious biological process. Some insurance plans even include birthing classes in their coverage that you can take advantage of.
- Seeking out knowledge resources – Whether you join an online forum or find a parent group that meets for coffee, talking to others who’ve gone through pregnancy gives you real-world knowledge to help you feel more prepared. Your local library can also be a valuable resource, giving you access to a vast selection of pregnancy and parenthood books. If you conduct research online, just be sure the information you’re getting comes from a credible source.
#2 Pack Your “Labor Day” Bag
A seemingly simple task like packing a bag can help alleviate any stress you may have as you’re approaching your due date. If you’re headed to the hospital for your delivery,this can be a subtle cue to your subconscious, telling you you’ll be ready to head to the hospital at any time.
Here’s a little cheat sheet of what to bring along in your hospital bag for when your baby arrives:
- Cozy robe and maternity pajamas
- Comfy socks and slippers
- A “going-home” outfit
- Swaddle and cap for baby
- Phone and charger
- Your favorite snacks
Even if you’re having your baby at home, be sure to surround yourself with some soothing self-care items that will make you feel at- ease and supported in stressful moments.
#3 Schedule In Self-Care
There’s a lot of hullabaloo that goes into preparing for a baby, but just as valuable is taking care of yourself. Not only will this help calm your mind and soothe your body, but it’s a way of supporting your baby’s health as well.1
Often, saving self-care practices for “when we have time” means they don’t happen at all. Try actively setting aside time in your agenda to focus on:
- Physical care – Whether you’re the one who is pregnant or supporting the person who is, it’s essential to prioritize physical self-care, listen to what your body needs, and trust your instincts. When you need rest, take that time for yourself. Massages, baths, and gentle exercise like yoga can support your body as it’s growing new life.
- Emotional care – Whether you’ve had a child before or this is your first time being pregnant, having a child is an enormous life change. Giving yourself outlets to explore your fears and concerns lets you express your feelings. Journaling, talking to a counselor, or even just talking with your partner or a close friend can encourage mindfulness and non-judgment as you prepare for your new baby.
#4 Set Up The Nursery
One of the most exciting parts of baby preparation is setting up the nursery. A nursery is a defined place for your baby and everything you need to care for them (bottles, wipes, diapers, clothes, toys, and more). If you have a dedicated room for your baby, decorating thenursery can be a cathartic way to help you prepare for their arrival. If your baby is sleeping in your room, you can dedicate a corner for where they will sleep and designate that space to keep all your items organized. And remember,f you don’t have everything set up perfectly before birth, don’t stress! Your newborn baby will probably be sleeping next to you for the first few months anyway.
Whether your little bundle will have their very own nursery or they’ll be getting cozy with you in your room, be sure to:
- Create a comfortable and safe sleep space
- Find simple, safe storage solutions for their wardrobe and toys
- Set up a designated changing and diaper disposal area
For a fun way to start the nesting process, try brainstorming nursery themes to help you visualize what life will be like after they’re born.
And if you're looking for fun ways to tell older siblings about pregnancy to get them involved and excited, include them in picking out baby items to put in the nursery.
#5 Prepare for Feeding and Diapering Routines
The rumors are true: sometimes it seems all infants do is sleep, eat, and “go”—which means you’ll be doing plenty of it too.
You can start preparing your body and home by:
- Preparing for feeding challenges – Whether you plan on breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or combo feeding, mealtime isn’t always simple with an infant. While you may not know which feeding solution is best for you until your baby arrives, you can prepare by learning about the different feeding methods and consulting your doctor about any challenges you may face when the time comes. . At the end of the day, there are many ways to feed your newborn to help them grow and develop a secure attachment to you.
- Stocking up for diaper duty – Having a diaper supply ready to go is a must for when you get home from delivery with your precious new addition. When you’re running on little sleep and you’re on feeding #3 of the night, the last thing you want is to make a drugstore run for more nappies!
#6 Pre-Order Infant Travel Gear
If you’re headed to the hospital for delivery day, don’t forget you’ll be bringing some precious cargo home with you!
Before they arrive and you buckle them into their car seat, it's a good idea to invest in a stroller with lots of storage for long walks, fresh air, and sunshine. Now is also a good time to pick out your new favorite do-it-all accessory: the diaper bag.
#7 Childcare And Medical Care
While they’re probably low on the list of fun things to do when preparing for a newborn, planning ahead is crucial for choosing a pediatrician and securing care. The hospital where your child is born will want to know where to send their paperwork, and your little one will likely make their first visit to the doctor soon after birth.
If you’ll need child care, do your best to start searching for daycare options early. Depending on your location, some services have very long waiting lists, and claiming a spot in advance may mean you won’t be scrambling when it’s time to return to work.
#8 Pick Out Their First Baby Clothes
Babies are messy and go through outfits much faster than you might think. With all the dribbles, drools, spit-ups, and blowouts, keeping a healthy supply of outfits on hand will keep you from stressing over last-minute laundry.
Some good items to have on hand include:
- Hats and mittens
Selecting some special outfits for your newborn to wear in their first days at home can help kindle excitement for meeting your little one. Whether it’s an animal print that makes you nostalgic or pajamas in your favorite color, pick out something that’ll help you visualize the emotional connection you have to the baby growing inside you. Additionally, it’s a great idea to have a range of clothing sizes, including a preemie outfit, a couple of newborn outfits, and an ages 0-3 outfit since you won’t know how big your baby will be.
#9 Stock Up on Other Baby Essentials
From cribs and cradles to strollers and high chairs, it’s easy to collect a lot of products and items to get your tiny bundle through their first year of life. That said, the list of suggested must-have items and baby essentials might be overwhelming to some parents—and you needn’t worry if you don’t have every item on hand before their birth.
Oftentimes, the baby product market will prompt you to make early-on purchases you may not need, especially depending on your family. As time progresses with your newborn, you’ll learn what products can serve dual purposes, which products you can succeed without, and which products will last you a long time.
For a baby budgeting option that’s less cost-prohibitive, check with second-hand stores or parents of older kids who are likely more than willing to pass along their gently used baby items.
#10 Plan For Postpartum
As a brand new parent, you’ll be consumed with caring for your newborn in the first few weeks after birth. A little help from a partner, family, or friends can go a long way to alleviate stress and anxiety as you navigate parenthood and learn how to be a confident parent.
On the other hand, there are times when you may feel crowded by your support network. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to set boundaries, like limiting visitation hours—you can always reach out for help again if you need it.
Ultimately, one of the most important things you can do in preparing for your baby is to take time to reflect on such a momentous transformation. Stress, excitement, and everything and between are a natural part of the transition. Take as much time as you need to process, and do your best to remind yourself that you don’t need to do it all on your own.
Pro-tip: Make and practice a daily affirmation for yourself that can help make you feel more prepared and confident as the baby provides. For example, you can say something along the lines of, “I am loved and supported. I can do this.” At the end of the day, a daily affirmation can provide a time and space to breathe and remind yourself of your capabilities.
Navigate Pre-Baby Parenthood With Slumberkins
Preparing for parenthood can be a daunting task, but readying yourself for this exciting new life stage can help reduce the stresses of bringing home your newborn so you can spend more time enjoying baby snuggles, early family bonding activities, and building a strong emotional bond.
At Slumberkins, we’re here to help you and your child by encouraging positive social and emotional learning and providing tools and resources that support caregivers.
For newborns, our story books and supersoft Snugglers are designed to help your little ones internalize feelings of love and connection. And as your child grows and you navigate connecting with kids, you can find creatures to help them through new ages and stages for cuddly friends that will last a lifetime.
- "Will stress during pregnancy affect my baby?" National Institutes of Health. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/preconceptioncare/conditioninfo/stress
- "Bringing Baby Home: How to Prepare for the Arrival of Your Newborn." American Academy of Pediatrics/Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/delivery-beyond/Pages/Bringing-Baby-Home.aspx
- "After The Baby Arrives." CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/after.html