Are you getting ready to give birth to your first child? Or maybe you’re adopting or fostering a baby. Either way, you are probably wondering what it is you really need. This Preparing for a Baby Checklist will help you to make sure you have your most important bases covered.
There is something so magical about preparing for your baby–something so surreal about the idea that soon you will be holding that baby in your arms. If you are pregnant, it’s strange to think that there is a person growing inside of you for nine months and you love them SO much, but you have no idea who they are! They are a little stranger. You don’t even know what they look like.
What Do Babies Really Need?
Thankfully, babies need a lot less than many people think they do. We all know they need diapers, milk/formula, clothes…but what else?
Maybe you have heard that you don’t end up using all the baby stuff you buy or receive. If you’re on a budget, that is a big deal. You don’t want to be buying up a bunch of unnecessary stuff!
There is also more to preparing for a baby than getting specific items. You need to think about preparing your home, your lifestyle, and your finances.
Remember that you don’t need to purchase every item you will need in the first year right away. I am a strong believer in seeing how your baby fits in to your life first before you make major purchases on non-essentials.
You might be convinced you need certain things only to find out you never use them. Alternatively, you may wish that you HAD splurged on something extra for the baby, but you already spent so much money on other things that you weren’t sure if you could justify buying more stuff.
My advice is to start with the essentials. If people purchase you fun gifts, that’s wonderful! But you do not need every single baby item on the market, and some people need certain things that other families don’t. It all depends on your lifestyle.
An example of this is a baby monitor. Maybe you are planning on room sharing for the entire first year, and then when they move to their own room it is right next door to yours. You may not really find much use for a monitor.
On the other hand, if you will not be room sharing very long (or at all), or if your nursery is far enough away you’re worried about hearing your baby, then a monitor is a good purchase for your family to make.
Maybe you’re just the type of parent that likes to check on their baby to see if they’re “sleep crying” or “real crying”, or to see if they are standing up in their crib. If that is you, you would probably prefer a video monitor over an audio monitor.
Another example is a swing. I did not buy a swing for my first baby. I was trying to save money and we had a Rock ‘n Play, so it didn’t seem necessary. Well, he used the swing at daycare and LOVED it so much. It made me wish I had splurged.
Then when I got pregnant with my second child, I said to myself, “Ok, we are getting a swing this time!” and I bought a Mamaroo on an Amazon Deal of the Day. Guess who hated it?
All that aside, I’m going to give my best recommendations based on my own experiences with my children. This will include getting specific items, but it will also include information to help you to prepare your mind and lifestyle for your coming arrival.
- Establish care with a doctor or midwife and follow their medical recommendations and appointment schedules.
- Study the pregnancy “dos and don’ts” and discuss them with your medical provider.
- Consider setting aside a certain amount of money each month to save for baby expenses. If you will be using disposable diapers and formula, that can be a blow to your budget if you’re not prepared. Start adjusting to the expense now by setting the money aside–I suggest $50-$100 a month.
- Even if you plan on breastfeeding and using cloth diapers, there are expenses associated with those things, too. Cloth diapers are an upfront investment, and breastfeeding moms often want certain things for comfort along with supply boosting supplements.
- Meet with a couple pediatric practices to decide on a doctor for your baby
- Create a baby registry (even if you don’t think you’ll have someone throw a baby shower. Most registry places will give a “completion coupon” after your due date. You will want to take advantage of that).
- If you want to have a decorated nursery, start planning that out.
- Start to consider your parenting style.
- Breastfeeding or formula?
- Cloth diapers or disposable diapers?
- Do you want to baby wear?
- How do you want to handle sleep issues? (I’m sorry to say, but you will probably endure some at one point or another)
- Co-sleeping or SIDS preventative sleep practices?
I recommend thinking through your parenting style during mid-pregnancy because these are things that can take a lot of research for many people. Or maybe your parenting style is, “Let’s just wing it.” That’s okay, too. 🙂
But if you feel very strongly about exclusively breastfeeding, using cloth diapers, etc. then you will want to arm yourself with information. If you are armed with information, you are much more likely to stick things out if you encounter an issue.
You do not have to put yourself in a box with a parenting style. I have a pretty diversified style, myself. I might identify as a “crunchy” or attachment parent in some areas, and be more mainstream in others. That’s okay. You just need to do what you believe in and not worry about fitting perfectly in a label.
- Finalize your name choices so your little one is not like I was as a baby and nameless for awhile. 😉
- Install car seats and check to make sure they are installed properly.
- Designate a sleeping space for your baby that is safe and follows SIDS preventative guidelines.
- Wash newborn and 0-3 month clothes, crib sheets, bassinet/pack and play sheets, swaddles & receiving blankets.
- Prep cloth diapers (if using). Wash synthetic fibers (microfiber, microsuede, microfleece, minky, PUL/TPU covers) once. Wash natural fibers (cotton, bamboo, hemp) 5-6 times to prepare the absorbency levels.
- Wash (and sterilize if you feel it necessary) bottles, nipples, & pacifiers.
- Prepare a diaper changing area–doesn’t necessarily have to be a special table. Stock it with diapers, wipes, and rash creams.
- Talk to your insurance company to learn if they cover a breast pump (most do) and what process you need to follow to get one.
- If you get your insurance through an employer, ask about the proper process for getting your baby added promptly so claims aren’t denied. If you do not receive insurance through your employer, ask your insurance company how to get him/her added.
- Assemble and swings, bouncers, Pack and Plays, Rock ‘n Plays, strollers, etc. Don’t worry about assembling things you won’t need for several months (like jumpers) and focus on what will really benefit you the first couple months.
- Make freezer meals, or stock up on healthy foods you can easily freeze and cook quickly
Like I said earlier, there are so many baby items that one family finds essential while another family has no use for them at all. It depends entirely on your lifestyle. I also tend to be more of a minimalist (or maybe essentialist is the right word) when it comes to baby items. If you’re looking for a list that has everything you could ever want on it, this isn’t the list. I’m not going to recommend 5 different items that all do the same thing.
That said, there are many items that most families will appreciate. Here they are.
- Clothing (babies go through a lot of outfit changes in a day the first couple months! Think about having plenty of onesies and baby pants on hand)
- Diapers (if you’re interested in cloth diapers, check out my Cloth Diapering 101 series.
- Wipes (I personally love cloth wipes, but natural disposable wipes are great, too. Avoid typical wipes–there is so much junk in those wipe solutions you don’t want on your baby)
- Diaper cream (see here for cloth diaper safe rash creams)
- Bottles (even if you plan to stay at home and want to breast feed, having a few on hand will be essential)
- A few different brands of pacifiers (many babies have a preference)
- Swaddles and/or receiving blankets
- Something for napping that can easily be brought room to room in your home. The Rock ‘n Play is my personal favorite, but you can get many other things for this, too. Some people like to use a swing for this.
- Crib for night sleeping (even if you don’t want to use the crib right away, it may come in handy more than you know)
- An audio or video monitor, especially if you will have a nursery
- A baby wrap and/or carrier (some people collect these, but I never really felt the need for more than one. It might be some experimenting to find the style you like, though)
- Car seats
- A diaper bag or backpack (doesn’t need to be fancy–can easily be a bag you already have around the house)
- Crib sheets (At least 2-3 sets)
- Waterproof pads for the crib mattress (having 2 on hand is good)
- Baby Soap
- Baby Lotion
Babies Don’t Need Much!
Despite how much work babies are, they probably have fewer essentials than older kids. Just food, clothes, diapers, a place to sleep…everything else can be figured out over time. Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you need to be prepared for everything under the sun.
If you don’t already have an Amazon Prime subscription, it would be an awesome thing to get if you’re expecting a baby. A newborn can exhaust you and throw off your schedule. While some moms look for any excuse to get out of the house with their new baby to prevent themselves from going stir crazy, other moms don’t feel as comfortable with that.
An Amazon Prime subscription can really help you out when semi-immediate needs pop up. Alternatively, signing up for Shipt or Instacart if they are available in your area would be a good idea, too.
Are you feeling ready for your new baby? What else do you think needs to be on this list? Let me know in the comments!