Ready or Not, Here Comes Baby

It’s a rare parent-to-be who feels truly ready when their newborn makes a grand entrance. The rest of us feel like we’re forgetting things we shouldn’t and fighting off being overwhelmed by responsibility. You’ve been staring at that due date circled on your calendar for months, and now as your belly grows, so does your anxiety. To help lower your stress level during this last stretch, check out our list of last-minute to-dos we’ve gathered from pros and parents who’ve been in your shoes.

We’ve organized the list of 42 tips into three categories to make it easier to work your way through and go back later if you need to.

To-Dos For The Baby
  1. Have the most important baby items ready for use: newborn diapers, onesies, baby gown/sleep sack, footie pajamas, and baby bum ointment.
  2. Wash, fold, or hang all the baby clothes you’ll be using when you first bring home your new addition. Don’t focus on the cute coming home outfit. You’ll be going through onesies because leaks and spit ups happen–a lot. No new parent wants to be stuck doing loads of laundry right away when you just want to bond with your baby. Or SLEEP. Pro-parent tip: Hang baby clothes by their actual size, not by the age on the tag. Sizes vary by brand, and what is labeled for a 6 month may actually fit your 3-month-old.
  3. Wash and sanitize the bottles, nipples, teethers, and pacifiers. This applies even if you’re planning to breastfeed or trying to hold off on introducing the paci. You’ll want to be ready in case things don’t go as you’d planned (and don’t they always?)
  4. Stash the feeding and soothing supplies from #3 in a handy basket in the kitchen to keep them handy for you and any helpers to access.
  5. Have extra pacifiers so you can put one in the diaper bag and another in your purse. Keep one by the changing table or in the room you’ll be spending a lot of time with your bundle of joy.
  6. If you’re going to breastfeed, wash all of the breast pump parts. Learn how to use the breast pump before you bring baby home.
  7. Get the car seat installed. If you can, find a local car-seat technician to check that you’ve properly placed and secured it in your car. You don’t want to be rushing frantically the first day you have your Baby on Board.
  8. Assemble all the baby gear and test it out. You’ll want to go through a trial run, so you know how it works. The last thing you want is to be exhausted with a crying infant in your arms, while you try and figure out how to open the stroller.
To-Dos Around The House
  1. Clean. That’s a no-brainer. But we’re not talking about the normal wiping down countertops, vacuuming, and mopping. Get low, low, low. Inspect the nooks and crannies. See what’s hiding under the big pieces of furniture you rarely move, like the sofa, bookcase, bed, dresser, and so on. You want to see your home from your baby’s perspective. You’ll be spending lots of time on the floor with your cutie on their playmat, and doing tummy-time on a blankie. Before you know it, your tiny wonder will be rolling over and could end up in spots you didn’t think they could reach.
  2. Go through your cleaning supplies and replace them with baby-safe cleaning products. You don’t have to worry about LO getting into the cabinets just yet, but making sure you’re cleaning surfaces with products safe for kids from the get-go will give you peace of mind.
  3. Clear out the fridge, cabinets, and closets. Take advantage of those nesting instincts and de-clutter to your heart’s content.
  4. Stock up on the basics like toilet paper, tissues, toiletries, non-perishables, paper towels. These are must-haves for you and anyone in the home. You don’t want to have to do an “emergency” run to the store in those first days of parenthood.
  5. Get the carpets cleaned, and well enough in advance of your due date so they have time to dry out. Trust us, you don’t want carpet cleaners coming through your home once LO has arrived, and you’re trying to put them down to sleep.
  6. Have the crib or bassinet put together, in place, made up, and waiting for your tiny dreamer.
  7. Choose the place you’ll plan on feeding your little hungry one. Have a spot for nursing supplies such as a nursing pillow, breast pads, and nipple lotion. (Yep, you may not want to imagine it, but having that lotion handy is a good thing.) You can also have extra burp cloths or blankies in your feeding place waiting for anyone who may be taking a turn.
  8. Get a jump start on babyproofing. For example, installing electrical outlet plugs, securing furniture, tying up window blind cords are all easy things you can do ahead of time.
  9. Get the guest room ready. You’re going to appreciate the help, so if your mom, M-I-L, or other relatives are coming to stay, have their space ready to go.
  10. Organize info for your caretakers. While you’re busy having a baby, and recovering at home, your helpers need to know how to carry on your routines for pets and older children. Put together a folder of important contact numbers, schedules, and how-to’s so that anyone offering help feels more comfortable stepping in and doesn’t have to come to you as often with questions.
Practical and Pampering To-Dos

With all the focus on baby, mom-to-be can get overlooked. So take it from the parents before you, it’s important to add yourself to the last-minute to-do list. Checking off things that help you get organized offers relief. Planning some personal time to do things you’ll have less time for as a new mom, is something you’ll enjoy now and appreciate later.

  1. Write out your birth plan, which should include: where you prefer to deliver, who you want to deliver baby, what pain meds you do or don’t want, if you want an epidural or not, designate who you want in the delivery room, who to personally assist you during labor and delivery. Note whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
  2. Choose your pediatrician. Get referrals from trusted parents of young children, or from your OB-GYN. Many offer a meet and greet, so you can get a feel for the doctor and decide if they’re a good match for your family. It’s important to have your pediatrician selected, so you can inform the hospital. Babies have their first check-up within the first 48 hours, and if you’re delivering in the hospital, the pediatrician may come there to perform the first exam.
  3. Prep your phone. Remove apps you don’t use anymore to free up space and de-clutter that home screen. Add a few new apps that you’ve discovered for parents-to-be. Clear out photos. Organize albums, transfer them to safe storage and have lots of space ready in your phone or on your separate memory card for your camera, because you’re about to blow up your phone with the most adorable baby pics.
  4. Cook and freeze meals to pull out later when you’re all exhausted and need to just get dinner on the table.
  5. Consider a grocery delivery service. Set up your shopping list that you can go back to week after week.
  6. Choose a sound machine app – not for baby, but for you. This is to help you relax during labor. And make a playlist of other types of music to listen to during labor.
  7. If you have pets, get help lined up to make sure you’re not worried about the fur kids as you’re settling into momhood. Remember their world is about to get rocked too. Routines and the attention they’re used to getting are all about to change, and they’ll need help adjusting.
  8. Keep the car filled with a full tank of gas.
  9. Besides having your “go” bag ready, plan your route to the hospital or birthing center and test it out. Create a backup route, just in case.
  10. For home birth, make sure you have all supplies on hand, sterilized, stored in an easily accessible spot, and talk with your doula, midwife, or birthing expert about when you need to call her on the big day. Know what Plan B is if things have to change at the last minute.
  11. Invest in a waterproof bed pad (again, not for baby, but YOU). If you’re sleeping when your water breaks, this soft pad on your side of the bed will protect your mattress. Have another waterproof pad or towel in the car for the same reason to protect the upholstery and give you peace of mind.
  12. Pick out the birth announcements and make your list of recipients with their addresses.
  13. Do your thank you notes for gifts you’ve received so far. Keep extras ready for the gifts that come after baby’s arrival.
  14. Schedule one-on-one time or special “playdates” for you and your older children to squeeze in that QT before their little sibling takes center stage. Consider buying them a special gift so they don’t feel forgotten when LO is stealing the show.
  15. Catch up on other appointments, like your with your dentist, and hair stylist. Get prescriptions filled.
Last-Minute Play For You
  1. Catch some live music. Let’s face it. Most music venues are not exactly baby-friendly, and neither is loud noise. Take advantage of the chance to get out and enjoy live entertainment while your little side-kick’s not in the mix.
  2. Treat yourself to a mani/pedi.
  3. Schedule a prenatal massage.
  4. Do a night out. You may not be dancing on tabletops just before your due date, but laughing with friends out on the town is good for the soul, and will be hard to come by when you’re too tired to go out or don’t want to leave the babe with a sitter.
  5. Go on a date night with your partner. (Same reason as #37 applies.)
  6. Claim some alone time. Watch your favorite movie, binge a TV series, read a book (a fun fiction, not another “How to” parenting source), take a walk, do NOTHING that resembles adulting.
  7. If you enjoy going to the movies, get out now because the movies you’ll be going to soon will all be rated G and probably animated.
  8. Like to wear jewelry? Maybe your rings don’t fit too well right now (puffy fingers), but you can rock those dangly earrings or a chunky necklace and go out to dinner. When baby arrives, jewelry can get caught up in those tiny but mighty fingers or sucked up in their slobbery mouth.
  9. Take a babymoon. This is your last chance for a kid-free vacay for who knows how long. If your OB-GYN recommends you stick close to home, or your own comfort level keeps you from venturing too far, you can plan a staycation at a local hotel, or block a couple of days at home with no daily duties. This doesn’t have to be your last hurrah, but it’s probably going to be a while before you have the energy and freedom to play and pamper yourself like this.
Even though you’ve probably been getting a ton of advice along the way, whether you asked for it or not, these tips are meant to give you options some parents wish they’d known before they welcomed their mini-me. So cheers to foresight and parenting less complicated! Congrats to you for taking on the best and most important job in the world.