58 Important Things To Do Before Baby Arrives — The Ultimate Checklist!
Prepare your home with this unrivaled checklist of things to do before you bring baby home.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! This is such an exciting time in your life as you look to add a new member to your family.
As your due date approaches, it’s only natural for anxiety and nerves to rise — we’ve been there, and we get it! It just feels like there is SO much to do before baby arrives.
That’s where we come in!
We’ve partnered with Peanut, the app that helps you meet, chat and learn from like-minded moms, moms-to-be, and women trying to conceive, to create the ultimate list of things to do to prepare before baby arrives.
So now you won’t have to stress that you’re “missing” something, or will be left saying, “I should have done that!”.
With our list, you’ll be more than prepared to welcome your sweet little bundle of joy, and will have time to soak in those precious newborn cuddles, without having a million things to do.
So let’s get to it!
PIN for when you need to see if you’ve done #allthethings:
find your support system
We love that you get the chance to meet other women in your area who are at a similar life stage (think dating app, but for finding new mom friends!), and have access to a community that is there to listen, share information and offer valuable advice.
There are groups for everything, from pregnancy to breastfeeding, the app is a great way to connect with women like you.
Now is the perfect time to download Peanut and set it up on your device so you can start meeting moms with similar due dates, and jumping into the community to ask all those pressing questions.
get your home organized + ready
Set-Up your Nursery
We often spend more time worrying about the theme and décor of the nursery then making sure it’s filled with the right things to make your life easier (and baby’s life more comfortable)!
Our biggest tip would be to have everything set-up and ready to go at least 6 weeks before your due date. Babies have a way of surprising us when we least expect it, so don’t get stuck rushing to do this at the last minute, or having to have your family/friends take care of it for you while you’re in the hospital!
Make sure you have:
- A Crib + Crib Mattress: While you won’t need this right away, you don’t want to deal with arranging a delivery and having to set it up with a newborn at home.
- Glider/Rocker: Over the course of your motherhood you will be spending hours upon hours in this chair, so make sure it’s comfortable! Set-up a side table to keep things like burp cloths within an arm’s reach.
- Changing Station: We always suggest using a regular dresser with a changing table topper so it can transition as your baby grows. Keep a caddy with diapers, wipes, rash cream, hand sanitizer, etc. ready to go.
- Video Baby Monitor: While these may cost a little more than your standard non-video monitor, the investment is completely worthwhile, and it will save you from having to get-up out of bed many-a-night to check on your child. Set it up and do a test run to make sure it works.
- Black-out Curtains: This one isn’t a “must have”, but definitely helps give your baby the right cue that it’s time for sleep. And as they grow, it helps them sleep-in later (especially in summer months when it gets light early!)
Stock Your Nursery
Once your nursery is set-up, stock it with the necessities:
- Diapers & Wipes: Have some newborn size diapers for the first few weeks, but also have some size 1 ready – if you have a bigger baby, or a fast-grower, you’ll need these sooner than later, and will be glad to have some ready to go. If you plan on doing cloth diapers, have a variety of sizes and styles to try.
- Onesies: Have at least a week’s worth in newborn size + the next size-up.
Buy onesies that have an envelope neck – these can be pulled open so you can take it off by pulling it down their body…which is very important if they have a blow-out, you won’t have to try and navigate it over their head!
- Footie PJs: Try and resist all the cute newborn outfits you want to buy – trust us, your baby will live in onesies and footed pajamas. We highly suggest getting ones with a zipper. You won’t want to fiddle around trying to snap together 10+ tiny buttons after each diaper change (sometimes in the middle of the night darkness!).
- Swaddle Blankets: Soft and stretchy are best. We love those by Copper Pearl.
- Sleep Sack: There are so many different ones, and you’ll end up trying quite a few before you find the one that works best for your baby’s age and stage.
- Nursing Supplies: If you plan on breastfeeding, make a small basket with some essentials to keep by your glider/rocker including: pads, nipple cream, burp cloths, and water to drink!
- Put Away Clothes: Wash all of those itty-bitty clothes (in fact, anything that will touch their skin – blankets, sleep sacks, etc.) in a detergent free and clear of all dyes and perfumes, and then fold or hang them so they are ready to wear.
Set-up the Rest of Your House Too!
Don’t stop at the nursery – make sure the rest of your house is stocked and ready for bringing baby home:
- Have Changing Supplies on Each Floor: Make an extra caddy (or two!) stocked with diapers, wipes, diaper cream, extra clothes, etc. and keep them in the rooms where you’ll be spending a lot of time (most likely your family room and your bedroom). That way you don’t have to run up and down stairs, or go far to have everything you need.
- Nursing Supplies Too: Same goes for your nursing supplies. We’ve found it helpful to have 2 nursing pillows (1 upstairs, 1 downstairs) and burp clothes EVERYWHERE!
Prepare for Postpartum
We tend to spend a lot of time learning all about labor and how to take care of a newborn, but we often forget to research what to expect during our postpartum recovery. We suggest going onto the Peanut app to get feedback and advice from real moms. They have lots of helpful and supportive threads for all things postpartum. Make yourself a little postpartum kit with all the things you’ll need: pads, peri bottle, Tucks, etc. Leave it in the bathroom by the toilet – you’ll be glad you did!
Stock Up on Household Products
Grab extras of your household essentials like paper towel, toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, etc. Load up on hand sanitizer too – everyone will want to hold that brand new baby, so it’s nice to have some in your common spaces so it’s easy for people to use.
Peek into Your Medicine Cabinet
Take a look at all your over-the-counter medicine to ensure you have fresh supplies of headache fighters, cough/cold remedies, bandaids, and more. See if your Doctor will allow you to get an extra month’s supply of any prescriptions so won’t have to worry about running to the pharmacy.
Complete Any Household Projects
“Nesting” is real and usually kicks in hard during your 3rd trimester. Don’t go overboard and burn yourself out (this is the time to catch up on rest and relaxation after all!), but consider finishing any small projects you’ve had on your To Do list for a long time – as chances are, you won’t get to it until months (or years) postpartum!
Clean Your Carpets/Rugs
This is something often overlooked by expecting moms, because you simply don’t realize the amount of time you (and your baby) will be spending on the floor – from tummy time, to diaper changes, to playing on an activity mat, these down-low activities will get you up close and personal with your carpet and rugs. So give them a good clean before baby arrives by calling in the professionals, or renting a heavy-duty carpet cleaning machine from your local hardware store.
Do a Safety Check
While not 100% necessary to do before baby arrives, you’ll be glad you did once your baby is mobile and you’re sleep deprived! Make sure anything in your lower cabinets (especially the ones under the sink) doesn’t contain anything toxic (those dishwasher pods are particularly inviting to kids), or install a child lock. Check or install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and buy and install outlet covers.
Prep for After-Baby Guests
Will your mom or other family members be coming to stay with you to help after the baby is born? If so, prep your guest room now – change the sheets, stock clean towels, and tidy up. This is the last thing you’ll feel like doing once you’re home from the hospital.
Stock your Pantry/Fridge
Have a good stash of healthy, easy-to-grab foods for you (and any kiddos) like nuts, veggies, fruit, cheese sticks and granola bars. Set-up a snack basket in your pantry or a lower bin in your fridge so your kids can easily help themselves to a snack if you’re with the baby and can’t get up right away.
Stock your Freezer!
This is a MUST!! You will be in a newborn haze for the first few months, and that’s a long time to rely on take-out. Start stocking your freezer now with easy-to-reheat meals. Making lasagna? Double the recipe and freeze a portion that can become a delicious homecooked dinner on those “I’ve had a day” type of days. Keep doubling your meal-making now, and it will pay off BIG TIME down the road.
Purchase and Test-Out Gear
This probably goes without saying, but you should make all your big “gear” purchases like a stroller, car seat and baby carrier long before baby comes. However, these purchases can often sit unopened. Don’t leave it until baby is home to take them out of the packaging, put them together, and give them a test run. The last thing you want is to find out you have a defective stroller and have to somehow return it…then wait for a new one. Do the testing now, so you can deal with any potential issues before you have a newborn in tow.
Take a Hospital Tour
Arrange to have a tour of the hospital where you’ll be delivering. It can be extremely beneficial to familiarize yourself with where to go (when you arrive in labor, you’ll be thankful you already know the lay of the land!), and it can also give you a better picture of the rooms where you’ll be giving birth and recovering. This will not only help you plan what to bring, but will help you feel more mentally prepared.
Take a Prenatal /Baby Class
If this is your first pregnancy, you may want to take a Prenatal Class where you learn what to expect during labor and delivery – everything from contractions, to breathing, to pushing techniques. While it’s certainly not necessary, you’ll be less anxious and nervous the more you know. Many hospitals will offer free baby classes for expectant parents with helpful information like how to give a baby a bath, breastfeeding tips, how to swaddle, change a diaper, and more.
Choose a Pediatrician
When it comes to choosing a pediatrician, we recommend asking other moms in your area for referrals. Peanut is a great way to get in touch with your local community and ask for recommendations. Then book a prenatal consultation with your top choices. You want to find someone who fits your overall philosophy, and who you feel comfortable with. As a new mom, you’ll have countless questions, so it’s very important that you get a sense that they’ll give you the time you’ll need to vet them, and not just be rushed along or dismissed.
Choose a Doula/Mid-Wife
If you want to explore hiring a Doula or Mid-Wife, ask your Doctor or other moms for a recommendation (again, the Peanut app can be an invaluable tool for such questions). Meet with them to see if you’ll be a good match – you’re ultimately looking for someone with lots of experience who can calm and guide you.
Update Your Will (or make one!)
If you already have a will in place, add your baby-to-be to your existing one (many people think you need their name before you do this, but that is not the case, so don’t delay!). While deciding who will care for them should anything happen to you is not something we ever want to think about, it’s necessary to cover, and much better to do it now while you have a clear head.
Talk to your HR Department
Once you’re out of the first trimester, you’ll want to break the news to your co-workers and sit down with your HR Department to discuss your maternity leave. Make sure you’re clear on how much time you get, and cover topics like adding your child to any health insurance you receive through the company.
Pre-Register at your Hospital/Birth Center
No one wants to be filling out paperwork while in labor! Talk with your Doctor or call the hospital directly to see if it’s an option to pre-register.
Make a Labor Plan
If you have older kids or pets, who will take care of them when you go into labor and are at the hospital? Remember this could happen in the middle of the night! Do you have a family member or neighbor to call? Ask them and make sure everyone knows their role.
Organize Information for Caretakers
Make an essential list of information for whoever will be taking care of your kids and/or pets. Include things like doctor numbers, vet info, and your cell phone numbers. Make a daily schedule that includes things like nap time, school hours and activities. Make sure caretakers have been cleared to get kids off the school bus or pick them up from daycare or school.
Discuss Hospital Visitors
Labor is not the time to tell your mom you don’t want her in the room while you give birth. Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to who is where. It’s your birth — make sure it’s how you envision it.
Talk to family/friends and let them know if you plan on having visitors at the hospital, or if you’d prefer to have them visit you once you’re back home.
Putting together a Birth Plan is a great exercise to go through, and you can share it with your nurse/doctor once you’re admitted. It can include things like how you envision your labor, who you want in the room, how you want to manage pain, if you want to breastfeed after baby is born, etc. Just remember that a birth plan is the ideal situation, and things don’t always go to plan!
Meet/See Other Doctors in your OBGYN Practice
If your doctor is part of a bigger practice, they will have a rotation at the hospital for deliveries – this means that you might not have your doctor when you deliver. For this reason, we recommend asking to at least meet a few of the other doctors, or schedule your next appointment with one (many doctor offices will suggest this as you near your delivery date). Then the likelihood of you having a familiar face show up when it’s time to push is much greater!
Start Thinking About a Baptism
If you plan on baptizing your child, take it from us: it is SO much easier baptizing a newborn! Discuss with your Church and try to get a date on the calendar for a few weeks after your due date. Think about who you want to be the Godparents so you can clear the date with them as well.
Think About Child Care/Daycare
When you have to start thinking about signing up for a daycare or looking for a nanny varies greatly depending on where you live. In more suburban or rural areas, the demand won’t be as high, so you’ll have more of a chance to get settled before figuring out your child care situation. However, in urban cities, if you don’t start your search the moment you find out you’re pregnant, you run the risk of being shut out.
To get a better sense of when you need to contact child care providers in your area, we recommend asking your local community via apps like Peanut. This will give you invaluable advice from moms who have already gone through the process.
If you’re hoping that a family member will help, have those conversations now so everyone is on the same page.
Schedule Your Last Appointments
Fit in as many appointments as possible during your 2nd trimester when you’re feeling your best. See your dentist, dermatologist, optometrist, etc. so you don’t have to drag your newborn to an appointment in their first months of life.
the fun stuff
You’ve probably heard this many times by now, but once baby arrives, life as you know it will drastically change! For first-time parents, that means a lot less freedom and time to yourself. It’s hard to appreciate the freedom until it’s gone, but we promise that you’ll never regret doing these things to pamper yourself and celebrate this special time in your life:
Plan a Date Night
Fit in as many date nights as you can (see below for some recommendations of things to do), as once baby arrives it will become substantially more difficult to spend time alone with your partner!
Spend Special Time with Older Kids
Once you have a newborn at home, all the attention will be shifted, which can often be difficult for older kids. To offset this harsh reality, carve out some time with them now to do something that you won’t be able to do once you have a newborn in the house – take them on a special outing to the zoo, camping trip or simply go out to your local ice cream parlor for a special treat.
Visit the Hair & Nail Salon
A salon is one of those places where it’s just hard to bring a baby. While we’re not saying it can’t be done, between the blowing of cut hair and the nail polish fumes, we recommend avoiding it at all costs. Get a good haircut (go a little shorter than usual to make it last!) and a long-lasting manicure so you don’t have to visit again for a few months. Plus, looking and feeling your best in the delivery room is never a bad thing!
Organize a Weekend Away/Babymoon
Take a mini-vacation before baby arrives. Bonus points if it’s a place where you get to relax!! This is it mama – you likely won’t travel again as a couple for years…and certainly not guilt-free! That won’t happen again until all your kids are in college…retirement maybe?! So make the most of the time you have now and book a long weekend away.
Indulge in a Prenatal Massage
Arrange to have a prenatal massage (or 2!) during your last trimester when your body is tired and sore. The massage can work out any kinks you have and can revitalize you for the home stretch.
Arrange for some Alone Time
You’ll soon be saying, “Alone time? What’s that?!” as you care for your newborn around-the-clock. You’ll wish you had taken advantage of it more while you could – so pick up that book you’ve wanted to finish, start a pregnancy journal, or just put your feet up and watch TV. Be mindful of the quiet time you have, and you’ll appreciate it that much more once it’s no longer so readily available!
Head to the Movie Theater
Spending 2+ hours in an enclosed room where you’re supposed to be quiet, will not be so easy once baby is in the picture. See all the new releases you want now, then say goodbye to the theater for a while!
Catch a Concert
Whether it’s at a small bar or a large stadium venue, listening to live music with loud sounds and large crowds won’t be so easy once you have a baby to take with you. Check out the schedules for upcoming tours of your favorite artists so you can see if you can squeeze in a concert now.
Eat at a Fancier Restaurant
Choose a restaurant for your next Date Night that may not be so kid-friendly – if it has no highchairs, tight quarters, and no kids’ menu, that’s the place for you to enjoy now!!
Have a Girls’ Night
Arrange a girls’ night with your besties or newfound friends from Peanut. It may be a while before you have the chance to do it again, and it always feels good to spend time with good friends.
Arrange Maternity Photos
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to schedule a maternity photoshoot, we say “do it!”. You will NEVER regret having these photos from this special time in your life…and they’re not something that can be recreated after-the-fact!
Decide on a Newborn Photographer
We feel the same about hiring a newborn photographer to capture those first precious moments with your baby – whether you want those super cute sleeping-baby-wrapped-in-a-blanket shots, or more candid photos taken in your nursery, these will be images that you treasure for the rest of your life.
Hate to say it, but we have to say it: the amount of sleep you’ll get for the unforeseen future will be significantly less than what you’re used to. So whenever you can, ditch the alarm clock and just sleep until your body naturally wakes up. It is truly a luxury that you don’t quite appreciate until it’s gone!
the last weeks
In the 3–4 weeks leading up to your due date, do your best to tackle the following list:
Clean Out Your Fridge/Freezer
Once you have the baby, friends and family will often drop off meals to lighten your load (we were always forever grateful!), so you’ll want to make sure you have space to store them. You may also need some freezer space for breast milk if you decide to pump. And it always feels good to throw out expired condiments, wipe down the shelves and have it fresh and organized.
Have Hospital and Doctor’s Phone #s Handy
Program them into your phone, so when you go into labor, you don’t have to go searching!
Wash All The Parts
Give your bottles, pacis, and pump parts a wash in hot soapy water so they are ready to go.
Install Your Car Seat
You’ll need an infant car seat in order to leave the hospital, but you’ll want to install the base at home before baby arrives. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation – it should be rear-facing in the back seat.
Note: the hospital will not be checking your installation, but most will have you put your baby in the car seat to make sure they’re buckled correctly. Make sure the straps are in their lowest setting so you don’t have to mess around with them at the hospital.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 80% of car seats are incorrectly installed, so it’s never a bad idea to have yours inspected. Call 1–866-SEAT-CHECK or go to seatcheck.org to find a seat checking location.
Have a Full Tank of Gas
The last thing you’ll want to do is stop for gas on your way to the hospital!
Keep a Towel/Waterproof Mat in Your Car
Be prepared. If your water breaks while enroute you’ll be glad you did!
Place a Waterproof Pad Under Your Sheets
Similarly, put a waterproof bed pad under your sheets where you sleep so you don’t ruin your mattress if your water breaks in the middle of the night
Download Helpful Apps
Peanut: If you haven’t already, download Peanut to connect with other moms-to-be just like you. You’ll be able build friendships with moms nearby who are at a similar stage in life, and join their community of women who are there to listen, share information and offer valuable advice. It’s a must have!
Contractions Tracking App: These apps help with timing contractions so you know when to call the doctor, and when to go to hospital. It will come in handy during early labor, but once contractions are closer together, you won’t need it anymore (hopefully you’ll be at the hospital by then!)
Newborn Tracking App: Find an app that helps you track feedings, diaper changes, amount of sleep, and more. You’ll be glad you have an easy way to capture this information in your newborn haze.
Charge Your Electronics
Change/charge batteries for everything you’ll want to bring with you to the hospital, including your phone, camera, video camera, and/or computer.
Clear Out Storage on Your Phone
Check your storage limits on your phone to ensure you have enough room for lots and lots and LOTS of new videos and photos!
Auto-Pay or Pre-Pay Bills
Set-up as many of your existing monthly bills on auto-pay as you can – the less you have to remember, the better.
Get Your Addresses, Stamps & Thank You Cards Ready
If you plan on sending out a Birth Announcement, get your addresses organized now. Make it super easy for yourself by creating a Word document with a label template – simply copy and paste your addresses, then you can print them onto sticky labels, ready to peel off onto your envelopes once they arrive.
You’ll also want to make sure you have a stash of stamps and Thank You cards so you can send off a quick note whenever you receive a new baby gift.
Finalize Options for a Baby Name
Some couples have a name picked out before they get pregnant, others need to wait until they meet their baby to decide on the name – whatever you prefer, make sure you’re both on the same page, and have at least narrowed down to a few options you can both live with. Things can be stressful enough at the hospital after having a baby, you don’t want to add any additional worries or frustrations!
Take Some Belly Selfies
Even if you’ve had a professional maternity shoot, you’ll be thankful you took a few final shots of your belly at its largest before your deliver. Your kids will love looking at these when they’re older, and you can use them to compare how you carried for future pregnancies.
Pack Your Hospital Bag
Get that hospital bag ready and waiting in the car (don’t put it by the door, because it can still easily be forgotten in the heat of the moment!).
Congratulations mama, you have done all you can to prepare for your baby’s arrival. You are going to do amazing! We wish you a short and easy labor, and of course, the safe arrival of your sweet baby. Enjoy those newborn snuggles, because they don’t last forever!