Countdown to bringing baby home
You’ve known your due date for ages, but your doctor probably told you that this date isn’t written in stone—newborns aren’t always on schedule. But here are the top 10 things you need to accomplish before your baby arrives.
10: Decide on baby and nursery needs
Several months before your due date, talk with friends and family about the nursery items they found most useful. Make a list of what you need and whether you’ll buy them new or used. Prioritize the list and go shopping. You may want to place a few things on a wish list if someone is giving you a baby shower.
Often you can find serviceable used items at yard sales or secondhand stores. Here are some hints if you’d like to buy used items:
- Excellent buys: Used dressers, changing tables, nursery-theme lamps and wall hangings, baby bathtubs, and even a bassinet.
- Good buys: A used crib can be a good purchase, but examine it carefully for safety factors. The crib should not have corner posts higher than the railing, and the slats should be no farther than 2 3/8 inches apart. Another good buy is a used stroller, but be sure the brakes work well and that the safety belt is in good condition. The shopping basket also should be low on the back—just over the rear wheels.
- Problem buys: Avoid secondhand crib bumpers and mattresses. They probably have been too "used" by the last baby to give good support. Car safety seats are not a wise secondhand purchase. You won’t know whether the seat meets current federal safety standards.
9: Set up the nursery
Three to four weeks ahead of your due date is a good time to set up the nursery. Keep these pointers in mind:
- Place the crib or bassinet away from windows, heaters, and lamps.
- Make sure radiators are enclosed.
- Avoid drapes and mini blinds that have cords or purchase and use cord minders. Buy window guards for when your baby starts to crawl.
- Make sure your baby’s dresser is wide and deep rather than tall and tipsy.
- Put safety caps in all electrical outlets and put furniture in front of or cover electrical outlets that have cords constantly plugged in.
- Purchase door and stair gates and install them when your baby starts to crawl.
8: Start cooking (and freezing meals)
About two months before your due date is a good time to freeze some meals for later. This job doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just make double portions of the dinners you’re cooking now. After your baby arrives you’ll be glad you have these ready-made meals.
7: Zap germs
Wash all the baby furniture with a germ-killing soap. Sanitize the kitchen and bath. Have Dad-to-be help you vacuum all corners in each room (ceiling and floor), the rugs, and any upholstered furniture.
6: Prepare your after-baby wardrobe
After your baby arrives you’ll be lots thinner—but not as thin as you were when you conceived. You’ll need an in-between wardrobe until you get your figure back. Select pants and skirts with elastic waistbands, pull out your big sweaters or tops, and look over the maternity outfits you wore early in your pregnancy. Try to find enough clothing to get you through six to eight weeks.
5: Plan for your baby’s nutrition
Read as much as you can about breastfeeding and look into formula-feeding. Discuss your baby’s nutrition with your health care provider and Dad before you decide.
If you choose to nurse your baby—as most experts advise—you may need to purchase nursing bras and possibly rent or purchase a breastpump. If you decide to formula feed, you’ll need to purchase bottles and formula.
4: Get the kids ready
Your older children will have an easier time adjusting to the new baby if you allow them to share in the preparations. Encourage them to select a little gift for the newborn or help decorate the nursery.
More about introducing siblings to your baby and involving siblings in baby care.
3: Put together a team
Arrange backup help with friends and family. Get two or three go-to team members whom you can call if you and Dad become too exhausted. Arrange for sitters to be on call for older children when you go into labor and for a backup driver/coach if Dad’s likely not to be available when you go into labor.
2: Pack your bag
Pack a bag for you and your baby as well as one for your labor coach. Do it ahead of time so there’s one less thing to worry about when delivery time rolls around.
1: Get some rest (and relax!)
Stay home and rest during the last two weeks before your due date. Nap in the afternoon, doze in the evening, and try to sleep soundly at night. Dad will also need some extra sleep reserves to help get him through the nights ahead.