I’m a Type A person. (According to Wikipedia, that means I’m “rigidly organized… impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management.”) I feel one of the best ways I can help my readers is to lay out exactly how I plan and organize mama- and baby-related stuff. So today’s post is all about how to prepare your home and life for a new baby.
As you know by now, I’m currently preparing for the arrival of our second child. I like to think that my experience is a great advantage for writing this article. I’ve been around the block once with my 2-year-old, and I know how I like to prepare. That said, this list on how to prepare for a new baby will suit you whether you are having your first baby or your second (or third, fourth…).
So for all you Type As out there, this one’s for you! Make yourself a perfect cup of coffee and let’s start planning and organizing!
How to prepare your home for a new baby
Set up your space for baby
Setting up baby equipment at home is part of the fun of nesting! You don’t need ALL THE THINGS, but you should definitely set up a minimum of baby items.
Here’s how I like to set up my space for baby:
Install a baby bed—Bassinet, crib, or sidecar arrangement? Think about the sleeping situation you want to make for baby before you bring her home. (P.S. If you are going the sidecar route, I suggest setting up the bed as late as you can, because when you are very pregnant it can be quite difficult to maneuver getting in and out of your bed!)
Install your baby car seat—Unless you live within walking distance of your hospital or birthing center, you’ll have already purchased a car seat for your baby. But don’t stop there. I urge you to install it in your car before you are 37 weeks pregnant. Both parents should learn how it works and how to manipulate it. There is nothing worse than learning to do this on the fly when you’ve got a screaming baby in your arms.
Set up a diaper station (or 2)—Buy all the diapering accessories you need and figure out a way to make them accessible. You don’t need a diaper station per se, even a diaper caddy would be great! Since our house has 2 floors, I found it extremely useful to set up a diaper station upstairs and downstairs, with everything I need for a diaper change at my fingertips.
Set up a baby bath—Again, you don’t necessarily need to purchase a baby bathtub, especially if space is limited in your home. A clean sink will do at first. I found a great combo changing table/baby bath station (not affiliated) and I loved it. I mention setting up your baby bath situation in particular because I found bathing my newborn surprisingly physically exhausting after my C section. It was extremely helpful to have a bathtub at my standing level with all the necessities at arm’s reach: soap, towel, cotton swabs, etc.
Make a baby car kit—Yes, you’ll have your diaper bag (see below) with you. But how many times did I run out of diapers and clean clothes from my diaper bag? Countless. It’s always a great idea to have a few more essential items packed in your car for emergencies: extra diapers, a clean change of clothes, a bottle, and hand sanitizer are ideal.
Wash and organize newborn clothes—You’ll already have your stock of baby clothes, whether you have purchased them or received them as gifts from family and friends. But remember to wash them all first! Not only will you get rid of toxins in the fabric, but you’ll also get all your baby’s clothes smelling the same. The smell of your own laundry detergent will become a familiar one to your baby and might help to soothe her.
One last tip: The main thing to remember as you are setting up your baby equipment is to learn how to use them before your baby arrives. Learning how to care for the most basic needs of a newborn is already a learning curve in itself. Save yourself the headache of having to fiddle around with baby equipment by familiarizing yourself ahead of time with everything you’ve bought.
Prepare for your hospital stay
Free up space on your phone—Trust me, you will take A TON of photos and videos of your newborn. If you have lots of digital clutter on your hard drive or in your cloud, free up some of that space ahead of time. You’ll also need space to…
Download songs, TV shows, and movies to your devices—Longer hospital stays can get boring at times. Why not download some of your favorite feel-good music? Some of it you might use for birthing. I remember enjoying watching the shows I had downloaded (SNL was a favorite) so that I didn’t have to purchase TV in my hospital room or rely on streaming with hospital wifi.
Pack your maternity suitcase—A no-brainer! Assemble everything you’ll need for your hospital stay. I recommend having this done for week 34 (no later than week 37). Leave your suitcase near your front door so you can just grab and go when it’s time to leave for the hospital.
Create a diaper bag—Any sturdy fabric bag will do, no need to purchase a “diaper bag.” Much like your emergency car kit, pack diapers, a change of clothes or two, some receiving blankets, a small changing pad, and anything you need as a mama (I stashed breast pads in my baby’s diaper bag, for example).
Get essential baby-related admin tasks out of the way
No one loves doing admin work (not even this Type A mama!), but we all have to do it.
Of particular importance, you need to:
Understand your health insurance coverage—Your health insurance coverage will obviously differ from country to country and job to job, but you should familiarize yourself with the real cost of having a baby. How will you pay for prenatal care and your hospital stay? What is covered by insurance, and what is not? Knowing these things in advance will help you plan a budget and maybe even help you decide to purchase additional insurance.
Work out maternity leave benefits and parental leave—You will also need to know from your job if you can receive any payments for time you take off during your pregnancy and as a parent (mama and/or papa). Knowing your access to benefits like these will help you plan for the time you can take off and how it will fit in your budget.
Book childcare—I mention this now because it seems that most mamas around me book their childcare when they are still pregnant. It’s not what I did, but hey, if it makes you feel better, then go for it. Certainly a minimum would be to check out childcare options in your area and their cost. You can always decide and book later.
Bonus: More nesting stuff to prepare your home and your life for a new baby
More Type-A things I highly recommend to do to prepare for baby are:
Prepare freezer meals—Seriously, freezer meals saved me when I became a mama. I probably made 10 or 12 meals for 4-6 people each and they lasted me weeks when I was too tired, ran out of time, or had nothing in the pantry. For freshness, I recommend preparing your freezer meals around 34 weeks. Don’t forget to label what’s inside and instructions for reheating!
Stock up on non-baby items—You’ll probably be so obsessed with stocking up on baby items that you’ll forget everything else. What do you use on a regular basis that you could stock up on? Detergent, toilet paper, tissues, soap… think cleaning items and personal care. Having a stockpile of these will lessen your mental load when baby arrives. You’ll probably have to make last-minute emergency trips to the store when you run out of diapers… don’t do it for random everyday bits and bobs like tissues. Get all that stuff ahead of time for peace of mind.
Postpartum-proof your bed—There will be various bodily fluids from you and your baby leaking everywhere postpartum. Sorry if that’s gross but it’s the hard truth. Protect your bed ahead of time! Purchase a waterproof mattress protector and/or Chux pads (also called puppy pads… disposable absorbent pads) and set them up on your bed. Make sure you have maternity pads and breast pads next to your bed, too. Make your bed with a set of old bedsheets and have a change of sheets ready to go.
Read about pregnancy and parenting—This is probably the most important thing you can do to prepare for baby’s arrival. Read. Learn. From books, not from Dr. Google. Enjoy the journey of pregnancy and start thinking about what kind of parent you want to be to your baby. It’s never too early!
And finally… be a badass mama
Use pregnancy (and your nesting instinct!) to prepare for the arrival of your new baby. When you come home, everything will have been bought and set up. You can then focus on caring for your newborn and getting as much sleep as possible! You got this.
Need more in-depth advice about what to buy for your new baby? Check out my other articles here on Mamas Café Society:
Jessica is an American expat living the dream in Normandy. She is wife to a French hubby and mama to a Franco-American daughter, born in 2018, and one whippet. Passionate about all stages of writing, this Francophile created her blog in 2020 to help others navigate motherhood with a focus on conscious parenting and bilingual parenting. Bonne lecture !
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