My husband turned a sheet of white the first time we stepped into BabiesRus. Overwhelmed too, I thought “how much can one little person really need?”
The fact is, babies need a lot when it comes to our attention and although they create an explosion of laundry and sleepless nights often, they don’t need nearly as much as we think. So here’s my personal baby preparation list embedded with things I wish I had known when I was dealing with morning sickness (that lasts all day—who knew!), doing the pregnancy waddle and heading to the washroom 4x a night. My hope is that it may help in a small way to make the entry of your own small bundle that much smoother.
Enjoy the journey of parenthood—a world in which you start seeing pregnant bellies and strollers everywhere!
- Make a midwife appointment! If you live in certain places in the world (my Canadian province of British Columbia just happens to be one of them) midwives are completely covered by the medical system actually costing tax payers less money, while providing superior care. They are worth their weight in gold, even if you have to pay! Had I any idea the extra amount of care I would receive (especially during that first month after the birth of my son), making my midwife appointment would have been the very first thing I would have done after showing my husband those two lines on the little blue pee stick confirming my pregnancy. My husband worried that this would mean a home birth, was concerned that it would mean less safety, but now he says, he wouldn’t do it again without one! So, if you haven’t done so already, call a local midwife and remember that there is no obligation until after your first meeting.
- Consider hiring a doula. Even if you have a midwife (and a bit of extra cash) a doula can be a real blessing. Although, it means extra cash I can’t believe the help she provided. We liked ours so much that we also hired her for the first six weeks after the birth (3x/week). I could ask her to help with basic cleaning, doing errands (like getting a new nursing bra), and even rocking our baby so I could get a few extra hours of sleep which enabled me to better handle being a 24 hour milk buffet! Plus, she made certain we ate well. As many new moms don’t have supportive family and friends to help 24/7, I am convinced that post-doula’s prevent much post-natal depression as they give moms greater opportunity to sleep and to ensure our basic needs (like eating!) are covered, so we can better nourish your new babe. Plus, you can ask them to do things you might not ask a family member to do (like cleaning the toilet for example).
- Sign up for that birth preparation class.
- Sign up for your hospital orientation.
- Get pregnancy and new born baby sleeping books. My favorite pregnancy books were the ones with pictures of the baby from week to week. “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy” was also fun and provided much humor. Remember to also pick up a few books on parenting itself and the first year as the birth is generally only 1 day (3 days tops!). Some of my favorites baby and baby sleep books include: “The Baby Whisperer” and “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby” and “What to Expect During the First Year” (note I don’t recommend “What to Expect During Pregnancy” as it is chalk full of many unlikely complications that can increase a new mom’s blood pressure worrying about what can happen, rather than focusing on what is happening!).
The maternity clothing mantra should be “borrow and buy the basics as you go!” as your belly will change and keep on changing.
You will be amazed at the heap of maternity clothes that might find there way to you, if you put out the word. Often there are dozens of women within your extended social circle who are dying to unload you with their maternity clothing (frankly, those moms who don’t want more children, rarely want to see or wear there mat clothes again!). Also, consider delving into the world of ebay or craigslist in which you can purchase a load of maternity items at a fraction of the cost.
Then spend the saved money on a few great maternity items you love. Consider buying that dreaded pregnancy bathing suit, as towards the end of your pregnancy floating might be one of the small pleasures you can really enjoy. I myself loved the 3 in 1 pant which grew with me through my entire pregnancy and I continued to wear while I got my post-pregnancy shape back.
Baby and New Mom Essentials
E-bay has great “lots” of newborn and 3-6 month old baby clothes you can purchase for a steal. Visit garage sales and church bazaars that focus on kids and babies. With all the cute clothes out there remember that babies grow out of clothes quickly and you will likely receive many clothes as gifts. One smart girlfriend of mine exchanged many of the newborn clothes she was given for a slightly bigger size as a little big is much better than too small.
If you are not a fashion diva, your baby wardrobe will likely be fairly simply considering the amount of time babies sleep throughout the day.
Sleeping gowns are fabulous at the very beginning as they allow you to easily and quickly change that diaper (often up to 10X day). Also my personal favorites are sleepers that have zippers (hannaanderson.com has some great ones in organic cotton) as snaps take a long time and it seems that when the snaps were snapped up by my husband (especially in the middle of the night) they were often badly mismatched.
When choosing baby clothes, one great tip given to me by my grandmother (mother of 7!) is to find ones that feel good on the inside (that will be next to babies skin). Consider 100% cotton (better yet organic cotton) as some babies develop rashes if their skin doesn’t breathe.
If you love shopping and are a mother of a son, you may be disappointed by the boy selection as they to not be nearly as cute as baby girl clothes. On the bright side you will save money! My favorite clothing shop is hannaanderson.com where they have great girl and great boy clothes too.
Baby clothing list
- 4-8 100% cotton (or organic cotton) Onsies/Undershirts (snaps in the front are often easiest) newborn size-3mos (short or long sleeve depending upon time of year)
- 4-8 100% cotton (or organic cotton) sleepers newborn size-3 mos (I especially like the ones with zippers as doing the over dozen snaps in the middle of the night can be a real nightmare)
- 4-8 100% cotton (or organic cotton) Onsies 3-6mos
– 4-8 100% cotton (or organic cotton) sleepers 3-6mos
- cute newborn and 3 month size outfit (you never know if you will get a big baby) going home from hospital outfit with a great hat (as there will likely be pictures)
- 2 hats
- 1 pair of scratch mitts (used only in first 2 weeks)
- 3 pairs of socks or slippers that stay on (not as important if your babe is born in summer)
- 2-3 sweaters (depending upon season) or simply use blankets
- 8 extra large receiving blankets (these are fabulous for wiping up spit and for swaddling which a lot of babies and parents LOVE at the very beginning because if you snug them real tight they often calm right down as it simulates the womb!)
- 2 blankets
- 2 sleeping sacks (or 2 sets of bedding) which are like sleeping bags for babies and used all over Europe and are fabulous!!!! I am SO happy we went the sleep sac route as it prevents you from constantly worrying about their bedding being wrapped around your baby’s head or wondering if they are cold after they have kicked off the blankets. Also, it can be a huge deterrent in climbing over the crib later on (as it makes it impossible to climb over the crib) which is always a very good thing! Generally, you will start to use these sleep sacs once they are about 6-12 weeks and start moving around more and no longer can be swaddled. My little guy, 3 years old, still uses and loves his sleep sac and has never attempted to get out of his crib as he simply can’t.
- 1-2 soaker pads or all wool pads (protects mattress which features cloth on one side and plastic on the other)* Note, this can also be used under your side of the bed before baby comes in case your water breaks in the middle of the night. Also, if you are breast feeding in bed you might want to use one to prevent stains you’re your leaking breasts. Then you can use it later on in the crib.
- 2 hooded towels (although you can always use the normal ones you’ve got at home)
- 2-3 sets fitted crib sheets (personally, I love the organic cotton ones)
Nursery list and toys
Keep in mind, that your baby will only care about whether or not you are there to feed, change, and cuddle them. They will not notice your decorating job for a long, LONG time. Therefore, any décor choices are for you and you only (that is until they are around two and start developing a love for planes, Dora, Winnie the Pooh or jungle animals say).
- Crib – Note: Used cribs are fine if they are built after 1992 as they will be up to safety standards. Consider saving money here by borrowing a friends or purchasing a used one (always purchase a new firm mattress however) and make certain the side easily slides down (on at least one side) to make it easier getting baby in and out. You can also use a bassinet or nothing if you are your partner are committed to the family bed (Note: Bumpers and lots of bedding which every baby shop seems to display is not recommended by many and is thought to be one cause of SIDS).
- Change pad on bathroom counter top, dresser (simple and efficient and the dresser can be used throughout their childhood) or change table if you are given one or really like the look. Note: do not waste money on a change pad cover as your baby will likely christen this pad many times over and will provide just one more thing to wash. The plastic cover allows you to easily clean it. Purchase a simple change pad and make a changing station in your bathroom or simply put on top of a low dresser where you can neatly store all their diapers, wipes and sleepers.
- Baby monitor – Keep in mind that for thousands of years, parents did not use a monitor. So if your home is not big, you may not need a monitor although they are a nice comfort at first. We often used ours while on vacation and even have managed to sit by the beach or on the patio while he sleeps.
- *Mobile – Consider using one only over the change table, until your baby is sleeping well as it can provide too much stimulus that actually keeps them awake.
- Play mat with mobile – This can be useful for when their vision begins to improve and can give you the opportunity to get a quick bite or even have a shower or bath while you have your baby entertained on mat right beside you.
- *Dimmer switch and black out curtains – This can be a life savor, especially in the summer and during afternoon naps as it can help to alert your baby that it is time for sleep (especially as they get to about 3 months of age and more). The dimmer switch can also help you change your babe in the middle of the night without having to throw on the normal light (which seems like a glaring spot light in those wee hours) which can make them think it is time to get up and play with you.
- Bouncy chair – If your baby is heading down to sleep or fussy this can be a real blessing. Swaddle them and lightly bounce them and watch how they calm down.
- *Snuggli, Baby Bjorn, Sling and warm cover– I purchased mine at a mothers of multiples sale and ended up buying two (1 for my husband and 1 for me, so we didn’t have to keep adjusting the straps as we there is 100lbs and 1 foot difference between us!). Do buy used as you can save a mint here or ask for one in your baby registry. Also I received a special baby carrying fleece cover that was perfectly fit over carrier and baby and was held in place by an elastic strap. I LOVED it because I didn’t have to put another layer on my baby or keep holding a blanket in place (which inevitably fall 10X during a simple walk). Plus, it means you can be completely hands free! BTW the snuggli was much easier on my back that the Bjorn and sling so try as many as you can out and see what is most comfortable.
- Pack and Play (optional) – This is basically a mobile play pen which we used as his bed (with his sleep sac and covered it with a dark sheet to simulate a dark room) when traveling. Many hotels have one that you can use (although, some hotels like the Bellagio in Las Vegas actually charge $35.00/night to use their crib!!!).
- Bath tub (optional) – Inclined is best with a baby tube, but my husband and I found that we enjoyed alternating nights and we just got right into the tub with our baby and simply held him. Note: some of his favorite bath toys are the funnel from the kitchen and a water bottle in which we pour water in and out.
- Pacifier (Optional as some babies like them, others don’t) – My babe isn’t a soother guy but I know a lot of parents LOVE that soother.
Taking Care of Mom and Baby
- Baby brush
- Baby nail clippers (I found if I cut them while nursing or while he was sleeping 1x/day it wasn’t so bad –if not he often cut up his face as his nails grew so fast)
- Baby wipes (cloth or disposable)
- Nasal aspirator (optional as many moms are never comfortable using them)
- Baby aspirin
- Tylenol for mom
Great Toys for After 3 Months of Age
- Jolly jumper (don’t know a babe yet, who doesn’t like these)
- Exersaucer (which allowed me to make dinner etc)
- Fabric baby books (as they eat everything!) and then later baby books made of board (some of our favorite baby books became Sandra Boyton books and touch and feel animal books)
Baby and Nursery Important Splurges/Large Purchases
- Glider/Rocker – At one time, you may have thought lazy-boys were only for your grandparents. Well, guess again! Feeding a baby (especially breast feeding) can be a 10-12 hour process in the beginning. You want to be comfortable and a cushie glider/rocker allows you to do just this. I highly recommend one that reclines so you can catch a few winks when necessary. Also, a plane pillow can help to insure you don’t get kinks in your neck especially during those night feeds. Some moms always feed in bed, but I love my rocker and we use it at least 1x/day now for stories.
- Stroller – This is your babe’s wheels and you will likely use it for a few years to come. Get one that works with your lifestyle and your vehicle and find one that includes a great rain cover and sun cover. Big things to consider are: how light is your stroller, do you want one that turns from bassinet (which allows them a great place to sleep in the beginning), do you want one that allows baby to face you and/or face out, are you going to be running with your stroller (then you will need an athletic one like the Mountain buggy) etc. We went with the Bugaboo for a couple of reasons (you can either have baby facing towards you, which all new parents want to do, or away from you once baby gets older and will want to see out. Plus, it came with a bassinet attachment that we used as his first bed). There are many new ones out there so ask good questions.
- New car seat – In many places, your baby won’t be allowed to go home without having a car seat installed in your vehicle! Personally we like the Britax marathon (as it is especially safe and can be used from infancy through to toddler and preschooler age). Their cowmooflauge cover is a hit with us. Note, that if you buy an infant car seat you will need to purchase another one once they are about 20 lbs or around 1 years of age. BTW don’t buy those little head cushions for them as you simply can use a rolled up swaddling blanket to keep their head snug. Also, make certain your car seat is properly installed (most are installed incorrectly) and that you know how to install it yourself. You may also want to pick up a car seat mirror and perhaps a car window shade while you are getting the car seat.
- Car seat protector (optional) – If you are want to keep your backseat looking new, you may want to get one of these.
- *Natural Latex or Wool Crib Mattress (optional) – If you are big into the environment and your child’s health, I highly recommend this as the fire retardants used on most baby crib mattress are toxic. We really liked our Natura Crib Mattress.
Tips to Save Your Breasts and Sanity When Breast Feeding
If you are going to breast feed learn as much as you can ahead of time and plan for support.
The key is support, patience and a commitment to stick with it through the learning curve and possible discomfort. Commit to at least 1 month (before giving up) as it takes time for both you and baby to learn.
Horror stories of cracked nipples, engorgement (that make you look like you’ve had breast implants) can be alleviated by learning a proper latch (i.e. never put a baby just on your nipple), frequent feeding during the first two weeks, and an old home remedy that many moms swear by—chilled cabbage leaves. Yes, sounds weird I know but can work wonders for engorgement! My husband still shares stories of cutting up and chilling a multitude of cabbage leaves for me during that first little while that I put directly into my nursing bra after each feed.
- Breast pump (optional) (great if you are planning on spending some time away from baby, want your partner to be more involved in feeding and can also help with engorgement in the early days your milk comes in). There are hand and electric. Note: you can rent electric pumps if needed.
- 1-2 nursing bras (wait until last month of pregnancy to purchase these and purchase 1 size too big. Then buy more after you know the size of your breasts once milk comes in)
- Milk storage bags (so you can freeze and stockpile your milk) (optional)
- 4 – 4oz glass bottles and 2-8 oz bottles for expressed milk (optional if you think you are going to go with breast feeding at first)
- Nipples for bottles that are slow flowing for newborns (optional again if you think you are going to go with breast feeding at first)
- (may also want to have a few different nipples on hand to see which baby likes best)
- Bottle and nipple cleaning brush and sterilization plan
- Dishwasher basket or drying rack for bottles and nipples
- Nipple guard (optional) – just ask health nurse or doula for one if needed
- Breast pads – yes, you will likely leak and I found that the disposable ones stuck to my breasts when I put lanolin on! Consider 100% cotton washable ones.
- Diaper pail only if you are using cloth diapers
- Cloth diapers, diaper wraps and diapers (and service set up if you are going to use one) – BTW it’s easier than many think especially with the rice paper liners and velcro used on the diaper wraps and diapers.
- Diaper bag which includes: portable change pad, travel size lanolin, supply of diapers, travel-size diaper wipes or damp washcloths in small resealable bag, diaper ointment, camera, bottle, snacks and water for you, 2 receiving blankets). BTW normal bags and back packs work great.
- Diaper bum cream with no scent (many babies are sensitive to scent)
- Mild detergent for washing baby clothes
- Diapers – disposable, cloth or both! We are a hybrid family and use fantastic Velcro cloth diapers (with great velco covers from Hip Baby in Vancouver) and use disposables at nighttime (don’t have to do nightly change so often then) and while we are on the road.
- Baby nappy rash cream (I got a great aromatherapy one I love) but you get to choose what you best like.
After Birth Taking Care of You
- Nipple cream (brand Lanolin is good) for your breasts as mentioned before
- Talk to your hubby/partner about having visitor hours that implement suggestions such as 30 mins stays and a request for healthy snacks or food that can freeze and be reheated or to help while there (taking out the garbage, or do a load of laundry etc.). Another good tip is to wear your robe when visitors come. They just don’t stay as long when they see you in a robe.
- Food that is prepared for at least the first 4 weeks
- Most absorbent sanitary pads (not tampons) you can find as you will be using these for up to 6 weeks afterwards
- Water bottle as you need even more water when breast feeding
- Hemorrhoid care kit (if needed) which includes remoistened wipes, witch hazel, cotton balls and a hemorrhoid cushion (doughnut-shaped pillow to sit on)
- Cleaner or post-doula if you can at all budget for it (and don’t have a mom who you really want to have around and will really help you)
- Pantry full of your favorite easy to make foods
- Breast feeding pillow
- Quiet space to nurse
- Nursing shirts that have easy access to your breasts!
- Put up sticky notes all over the house that state, “Sleep, When the Baby Sleeps!” and do it to the best of your ability as you will need it.
Note: your milk production comes in most when you sleep. So sleep when the baby sleeps as much as possible!
Birth Prep Extras: Things to Consider
- Make a baby registry (as you won’t believe how many presents you will receive and a lot of people do want to get you things you truly need!)
- 3d pictures of your baby
- Belly shots of you
- Romantic dates away with your husband/partner (do them now!!!!)
- Read up on how to get baby to sleep (my favorite is “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby” by Dr. Weissenbluth)
- Get that list of baby names ready
- Make a decision re: circumcision if you are having a boy or don’t know what you are having
- Your baby shower thank you cards and thank you cards ready
- Pre-addressed birth announcements or emails ready
- Any birthday or holiday presents that will be needed around the time of your birth bought in advance.
- Gift for nurses, doula or midwife.
- Pregnancy back support belt
- Body pillows and more pillows!
- Infant/child hangers for clothes (they won’t fit on yours!)
- If you have pets plan to introduce your newborn to them through smells of baby blanket, diapers etc. ahead of time and ensure your pet leans to give your baby space especially at first.