This post is your ultimate new baby checklist where you will learn how to prepare for a newborn so you’re completely ready when the baby arrives!
It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re in, what kind of home you have, if you’re having a baby alone or with a partner, or if you’re on your first baby or your third – having a new baby is a big deal!
Thinking about all the things that need to get done before your new baby makes its grand entrance is overwhelming, to say the least.
However, having a new baby is also one of the most exciting and special times you will ever have in your life. The last thing you want is stress, worry, and chaos to overshadow those precious yet fleeting newborn days.
So how can make sure those first couple of months with your new baby are the best they can possibly be?
Prepare, prepare, prepare!
When you are completely prepared in every way (or every way you can!) for your new baby’s arrival, you have the opportunity to really just enjoy bonding as a new family and soak up every newborn moment with the least amount of distractions as possible!
How to Prepare for a Newborn: Your Ultimate New Baby Checklist
When should you start preparing for your new baby’s arrival?
There are quite a few things that need to be done before your new baby arrives and you’re going to want as much time as possible to get everything ready.
My suggestion is to take it easy for the first 3-4 months of your pregnancy and then hit the ground running!
After you’ve entered the “safe zone” of your pregnancy around 14 weeks and you’ve made the exciting announcement to your family and friends, there’s no reason you can’t start crossing things off your new baby checklist.
How can you prepare your home for a newborn?
After you have a new baby you’re going to be spending most of your time at home and it’s really important to make sure your home is there to support you and not cause any added stress. Below is a list of the most important ways you can prepare your home for a newborn:
1. Prepare sleeping arrangements
Whether you decide to co-sleep or have your baby in a separate crib or room, those sleeping arrangements need to be decided upon and set up before the baby arrives. That will either mean setting up the co-sleeper or making sure the crib is set up with clean sheets. Consider having spare sets of sheets ready and waiting for both your bed and the baby’s crib, because with babies you should always expect a mess!
2. Meal prep and grocery shop
The last thing you want to do right after having a baby is to go to the grocery store or make a meal. Look into prepping some frozen meals a few weeks before your due date and fill your kitchen with all your favorite foods. That way no one has to do any last-minute shopping or cooking and instead that time can be spent with your new baby!
3. Declutter and organize
Make sure every room and closet in your home is clutter-free and organized. You want to bring your baby home to a clean and calm environment, not a crazy mess that causes everyone to be anxious. You can watch Get Organized on Netflix to get inspired!
4. Prepare the baby’s space
Whether your baby has their own room, shares a room with a sibling, or is moving into a corner of your room, make sure their space is all ready to go. That means setting up the changing table or creating a mobile baby changing station, washing and putting away all the baby clothes, putting together new baby gear or pulling the old stuff out of the garage and making sure it’s all clean, etc.
5. Don’t worry about babyproofing
In my opinion, one thing you shouldn’t do is worry about babyproofing. Until your baby is mobile there is really no need to baby proof your home and why add something unnecessary to your already long to-do list. As soon as your baby is able to explore your home, then babyproof your little heart out.
6. Consider your pets
There is a living, breathing part of your home that you definitely need to consider before the arrival of your new baby – your pets! This is really important if you’re on your first baby and your pet(s) think they are your actual first baby. Read up on how to prep your pet for a new baby.
How can mothers prepare themselves for a new baby?
Bringing a new baby into the family is a big deal for everyone, but let’s be honest here – it’s the hardest on the mother! Not only does she carry the baby for 40+ weeks and give birth, but the postpartum stage for new mothers is extremely hard both physically and mentally. Being sufficiently prepared for everything that happens after the baby is born can be very helpful. Here are a few things I think every mother should do to prepare themselves for a newborn baby:
1. Create a birth plan
One of the most important things to do before your baby arrives is to create your birth plan. However, I like to call it more of a birth outline. Because you can never really predict how a birth will go, I think it’s really important to keep an open mind and go with the flow. That being said, you should still have a few things decided on and prepared.
For example, where do you want to give birth? Hospital, birthing center, home? Who would you like in the room with you? Do you want to hire a photographer or have a family member or friend there to take photos? Do you want to make a music playlist? Check out this post on things to consider when writing a birth plan, if you need some help.
2. Prepare for breastfeeding
If you decide to breastfeed your new baby, you need to prepare yourself for the emotional and physical toll it can take on you. Breastfeeding can be really hard and if you’re not aware of that, like I wasn’t (you can read about my introduction to breastfeeding here) it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Read up on breastfeeding, ask friends and family about their experiences, take a class, learn how to use your breast pump, stock up on nursing bras and nursing pads, etc.
3. Get your postpartum essentials ready
Those first few weeks after giving birth are brutal on your body, whether you had a vaginal birth or c-section. I didn’t do much research about anything postpartum-related before I had my daughter and I really wish I did. There are so many things you can get or do to make sure those postpartum weeks are as comfortable as possible. Here is a post on must-have postpartum essentials that I think is really helpful if need some direction on how exactly to prepare.
4. Learn about the baby blues, postpartum depression, and anxiety
It’s so important to do research and prepare yourself for the possibility of baby blues during pregnancy and also postpartum depression and/or anxiety after giving birth. I had horrible postpartum anxiety after having my daughter and I didn’t even know that was a thing until several months later. Your doctor or midwife should talk to you about the risk of depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy, but I highly encourage you to do your own research. You will feel much less afraid and alone if you are aware of the signs and symptoms and know when to seek help.
How can fathers prepare for a newborn baby?
Because fathers are not the ones carrying the baby, it can be harder for them to know what to prepare for and how to be an active participant in their new baby’s life. Here are some general things fathers can do to prepare for a newborn baby:
1. Read about being a father
One of the best things a soon-to-be father can do to prepare for a newborn is lots and lots of reading. This is especially important for first-time fathers because there is so much information they are clueless about when it comes to pregnancy and newborns. Here are some great book recommendations for new fathers: Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad!, Dads Pregnant Too, and It’s a dad!
2. Take time off of work
Something that is really important for fathers to do is make sure they have an efficient amount of time to bond with their newborns. This one can be hard depending on what the father does for a living, but soon-to-be dads should take the maximum time off of work that is financially and logistically feasible.
3. Research breastfeeding
There are so many things fathers can help with like changing diapers and giving baths, but the one thing they can’t do is breastfeed their baby. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t support you through the process. If you have decided to breastfeed, your partner can do their own research and learn ways to help you through the breastfeeding process.
4. Decide on Daddy Jobs
As a mother who did it all, I can see how easy it would be to just wear all the hats and not leave any room for the father to play a role in the newborn life. In order to make sure you allow your partner to bond with your new baby and feel useful, decide on some jobs that are just daddy jobs. For example, daddy does nightly bath time or daddy does the diaper changes. Have a discussion with your partner about what they feel comfortable with and divide responsibilities accordingly.
What should you buy before the baby arrives?
One of the most obvious things you need to do before your newborn arrives is buy stuff for them. This is the part where many parents get overwhelmed, I know I was. This is because the list of things you need for a new baby can be very long and confusing. All this stuff can also be a big financial burden. My tip for expecting parents is to stick to the basics.
While you might have a long list of things you want to buy for your newborn, the list of things you will actually need to buy is much shorter. Take it from someone who is obsessed with all things baby gear, baby gadgets, and baby clothes…the world of baby products can suck you in real quick, and before you know it you’ve wasted money and space on things your baby didn’t actually need. Baby stuff is a huge post in and of itself, so I’ll briefly list the things I think you need to buy before the baby arrives:
1. Travel Gear
Before you welcome your new baby into the world you will need to make sure you can travel with them safely. A few baby travel items you will need:
- Car seat
- Diaper bag
- Backseat car mirror
2. Diapering products
First, you need to decide if you want to use natural diapers, regular diapers, or cloth diapers. Then, you are going to want to stock up on those diapers, plus a lot of wipes, and of course diaper cream. Diapers are one thing you can never have enough of and if you get too many of a certain size you can always return them if the box is unopened. Diapering products you will need:
- Diaper cream
- Diaper pail
3. Bathing Essentials
I wouldn’t stock up on any shampoos or lotion until you find out how your baby reacts to them. I had to switch my daughter’s skincare routine when she was about three months old and because of that, I had a bunch of products I could no longer use just lying around. Some things you will need for bath time:
- Baby bath
- Baby washcloths
My number one tip for parents expecting a new baby is to not go crazy on clothes until after they are 3-6 months old. Newborn clothes should be basic and comfortable. Stick to the basics:
- Comfy onesies
- Footie pajamas
- Kimono tees
5. Health products
There are probably so many health-related products you can get, but there are only a few things I think you truly need. The healthcare products you really need for a newborn include: saline nose drops, Nosefrida snot sucker, humidifier, gas passers, and a rectal thermometer.
- Saline nose drops or spray
- Nosefrida snot sucker
- Gad passers
- Rectal thermometer
6. Baby gear and accessories
There are literally hundreds of baby gear items and accessories you could buy and 99.9% of them are completely unnecessary. Sure a lot of them are fun and adding them to your baby registry is harmless, but I think there are only five things you really need in the first couple of months:
- Lots of receiving blankets
- Baby carrier/wrap
Check out this post on the 23 things you actually need for your newborn for specific recommendations and brands.
How can parents prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for a new baby?
Having a new baby is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. When you have a newborn it’s like you’ve never felt happier or more excited but also more exhausted in every way possible. Just knowing that as a fact and preparing yourself for all the ups and downs that come with a new baby is a step in the right direction. Below are some ways parents can prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for a new baby:
1. Get ready for sleepless nights
It’s pretty common knowledge that the second you say hello to your new baby you say goodbye to a decent night’s rest for the next 6 months to a year – or two if you decide to co-sleep as I do. So how can you prepare for sleepless nights?
Both parents should get lots of rest in the weeks leading up to the baby’s due date, make some energizing smoothies in batches and freeze them, stock up on your favorite caffeinated tea or coffee, stock up on these 27 foods that give you more energy!
2. Learn as much as you can about newborns
I honestly think the best way to mentally prepare for a new baby is to learn as much as you possibly can. Learn about different types of baby poop, what is normal baby behavior and what’s not, how much should they be eating and sleeping, etc. Read books, listen to podcasts, read articles, and watch youtube videos. After you have a baby you will instantly start to worry about every little thing and arming yourself with knowledge will help ease that worry a little bit.
3. Prepare for the unexpected
Sometimes when you bring your baby home unforeseen problems may arise. You have to mentally prepare for the unexpected in case something should happen out of the norm. For example, if your baby gets a temperature, is colicky, has a tongue-tie, etc. Basically, make sure you’re in the mindset of anything can happen and just take it as it comes the best you can.
4. Plan for changes in your relationship
One thing that is very important in preparing for a new baby, is being aware of the fact that your relationship with your partner is going to change. Since I didn’t personally have a partner when I had a baby, I feel out of my element on this one. However, this post on how to prepare your relationship for a baby tells you all the things that can go wrong and ways to avoid them.
5. Make plans for self-care
After you have a baby, your world and everyone in it will revolve around that new bundle of joy. That’s fine for the first couple of weeks, but as soon as the dust starts to settle it’s really important for you and your partner to make plans for self-care. Parents that neglect their wants and needs are not happy parents!
Self-care means nurturing your body and soul in some way that makes you feel happy and taken care of. For Dads, that might mean taking a couple of hours away to play a round of golf with the guys. For moms, check out this post on self-care tips for moms that make you a better mother.
6. Assemble your support system
It’s true what they say, it takes a village to raise children! That is never truer than when a new baby enters the family. Before your new baby arrives, make sure you have a support system assembled. If you have other children, who will help you watch them during the birth? Do you have someone you can ask to help you around the house during the first week or two? Anyone who can volunteer to make dinner? This is where Grandparents and your siblings really shine! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
How do you financially prepare for a new baby?
Did you know that parents spend up to $12,000 in their child’s first year of life? That’s insane. While there’s not a lot you can do to make that number smaller, there are some things that can be done before your baby is born to make that number hurt a little less or at the very least not get any bigger.
There are also some other finance-related topics that should be addressed before you welcome your expensive new addition, which you can learn all about in this post about financial must-dos to prepare for a new baby. Below is a shortlist of financially related preparations that can be completed before your baby arrives:
1. Plan for maternity/paternity leave
Make sure you understand how much maternity and paternity leave you and your partner qualify for and how much you will be paid during that time. Set your budget accordingly and save up during your pregnancy to make up the difference if need be.
2. Review health insurance and delivery costs
It is very important to make sure you understand the costs of labor and delivery and what exactly your insurance will cover. For example, with my insurance, I was told I would just have to pay my usual hospital stay co-pay and that would cover both my child and myself. Turns out that was not the case and I got slapped with a huge hospital bill for Lily after giving birth. That’s a specific example of what happened to me, but please make sure you are very clear about what your labor and delivery costs will be.
3. Create a recurring costs budget
Don’t forget to adjust your current monthly budget for recurring baby costs. These are things like diapers, wipes, formula, bigger clothes, childcare, etc. Look into diaper subscription services which can save you at least 5% monthly.
4. Start a savings account for your baby
You will never regret saving for your child’s future, so why not start as soon as possible. Look into how to open a savings account for a baby. Even if you open a savings account in your own name and start putting just $100 in there a month, you’ll have saved a minimum of $20,000 by the time your child is 18-years-old and that’s not even including interest, or if you start saving while you’re still pregnant!
What are some general things that need to get done before the baby arrives?
There are a few more general things that need to be done to prepare for a newborn that don’t really fit into a specific category but are still very important. Below is a list of a few general things you need to do to prepare for your new baby:
1. Install car seat
It’s generally recommended that you install your new baby’s car seat anytime between 35 and 37 weeks. I say the earlier, the better. This is because some car seats are very confusing to install and you don’t want to be trying to figure it out after you go into labor or in the hospital parking lot. Install the car seat when you are not in a hurry, not stressed, and really have time to learn how it works and do it correctly.
2. Find a pediatrician
Most of the time you are required to take your newborn to their pediatrician a day or two after you are discharged from the hospital. Make sure your newborn’s insurance is all ready and you’ve already picked out your pediatrician. I had to change my daughter’s insurance after she was born, which required me to change her pediatrician multiple times. I really wished I would have planned better and she could have been with the same pediatrician the whole time.
3. Take an infant CPR class
Consider taking an infant CPR class with your partner. This is one thing I didn’t do before my daughter was born and I still regret it to this day. As I mentioned earlier, I suffered from extreme postpartum anxiety. I honestly think had I taken a CPR class before she was born, I would’ve felt a little better knowing if something bad did happen that I had the skills and knowledge I needed to get me through the situation. Would it have taken away my anxiety completely? Probably not, but it would’ve helped and any little bit of help is worth it.
4. Pack your hospital bags
Here’s an obvious one that definitely needs to be done before your new baby arrives – pack your hospital bag! You should probably have your bags packed and ready between 34 and 36 weeks. Once again, your baby is going to come when they’re ready, even if you aren’t. So to avoid unnecessary last-minute stress, try to pack your bags earlier rather than later.
There are a million different opinions on what you should include inside your hospital bags, so do your research and bring only what makes you feel most comfortable. Here is a great post about what moms should pack in their hospital bags and another one about what support partners should pack in their hospital bags.
5. Decide how you’ll share the news of the baby’s arrival with family and friends
Another important thing to do before the baby arrives is to decide how you’ll share the news of their arrival with family and friends. Will you send group texts, call people one by one, set up a phone chain, designate a specific person to do the calling, etc. Who will you call when you go into labor and who will you call after the baby is born?
It may seem silly to figure out details like that, but during the chaos of giving birth, it’s so easy for things to slip through the cracks. Just make your lists and plans ahead of time and you’ll be grateful when no family member or friend gets accidentally forgotten.
6. Prepare for visitors
Another thing you’re going to want to figure out is when the baby meet and greets will start and who will be invited. Right after delivery mom, dad, and baby are going to be exhausted and it’s up to you to decide if/when people will be invited to the hospital or to the house to meet the new baby. If you wait until the baby is born it’s going to be hard to say no to eager and excited family and friends.
One thing I highly suggest is to make your plan ahead of time, really let it be known, and ask kindly for it to be respected. It’s okay to ask family and friends to wait a day or two to meet the baby and it’s also okay to invite everyone to the hospital (maybe just in shifts? lol). Just do what makes you feel most comfortable and don’t let anyone make you feel bad.
After you go through this post, I hope you have clarity on how to prepare for a newborn. If you still feel overwhelmed with everything you have to do, my tip for you is to check one thing off your new baby checklist at a time and start preparing early. Just take a deep breath, don’t stress, and check things off as you go. You got this!