Having a baby requires a lot of preparation, and thanks to that nesting instinct, you might want to get a lot of it done in the third trimester. So what all needs to get done? These are 25 things you will want to do before baby arrives.
1. Have a Place for Baby to Sleep - This isn't as black and white as it might seem. There are a lot of options for baby's sleep: crib, bassinet, Moses basket, co-sleeper, bedsharing, pack-n-play, rock-n-play and more. You may want to use different objects at different ages, but when you get home from the hospital, you will need a place for baby to sleep.
2. Wash the Baby's Clothes and Bedding - You will want to have everything washed and ready to use. Baby items should be washed in a baby detergent or a free and clear detergent to protect baby's sensitive skin.
3. Pack a Hospital Bag - You will want a bag, packed and ready to go when it's time to go to the hospital. For those everyday use items you can write them down on a sticky note and stick it to the bag so you don't forget them at the last moment. Click here for our hospital bag packing guide.
4. Pre-Register at the Hospital - Most hospitals will allow you to fill out the necessary registration paperwork before you're in active labor (or scheduled for your c-section.) This saves valuable time and who wants to fill out paperwork mid-contraction?
5. Install the car seat - You will need a car seat to get baby home from the hospital. Read your car seat's manual, and your car manual thoroughly to install it and then have it checked by a certified car seat tech.
6. Send all Thank You Cards - Make sure you get out all the thank you cards for people who gave you gifts at your baby shower or otherwise. You won't want to be doing this with a newborn to care for.
7. Go on a Date - Take advantage of the time you have now, because soon it will be consumed by a tiny tyrant (a cute tyrant!) Go on a date, take a "babymoon", spend time bonding with your significant other.
8. Have a Birth Plan in Place - A birth plan could be as simple as saying "I want to leave the hospital healthy, with a healthy baby." And that's really the ultimate goal here. But if you have an idea of how you want to give birth, whether that's medication free, laboring in a tub, listening to a labor playlist, have that all prepared ahead of time and discuss it with your doctor.
9. Prepare Freezer Meals - The last thing you want to do when you're recovering from having a baby and adjusting to life with a newborn, is to be cooking. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to prepare meals that can be frozen and reheat easily to save yourself the hassle later.
10. Decide if Being a Stay-at-Home Parent is for You - One of the things you will have to decide as a parent of a newborn is if one parent will be staying at home or both parents will be working. There is no right or wrong answer, but you will have to sit down and take a hard look at your finances and budget to make this decision.
Click here to read our handy guide: How to Decide Between Being a Stay-At-Home Mom or Going Back to Work.
11. Find a Child Care Provider - If both parents are going to continue to work, you will need to find child care. You may choose a daycare, a nanny, a family member, but whatever you do, you should start looking well in advance. Good daycares often have waiting lists, which you will want to get on as soon as possible. Even if you are going to be a stay at home parent, you may want to find a babysitter for times you want to go on dates or simply need a break.
12. Select a Pediatrician - You will need to choose a pediatrician for your child, ideally ahead of time. The hospital will have some on staff if you have not yet chosen. However, choosing before your baby is born has it's benefits. You may want to interview pediatricians to find one that aligns with your parenting style.
13. Tour the Hospital - You may want to take a tour of the hospital you will be giving birth at to see what kind of facilities they have and what their policies are. You will want to know things like, how many people are allowed in the delivery room, what visiting hours are, what the NICU facility is like, the hospitals policy on nurseries or rooming in and more.
14. Do a Hospital Test Run - You can do this on your way to the hospital tour, but you may want to do this other times as well. You'll want to know how long it takes to get there, the fastest route, alternate routes in the event of an accident or traffic, and where to park once you get there.
15. Prepare to Feed Your Baby - If you're breastfeeding you may want to take a breastfeeding class or do some research on your own. You may want nursing bras, tanks, bottles, nipple cream. Check to see if your insurance covers a breast pump and how to get it. If you're formula feeding you will want to get bottles, formula, find out what kind of formula the hospital provides.
16. Get Some Diapers - You will want to decide if you're cloth or disposable diapering. Stock up on diapers and wipes of your choice. Don't overbuy newborn size diapers and keep at least one pack of the next size handy for when baby needs to go up a size (it will happen overnight!)
17. Stock up on Household Necessities - In order to avoid unnecessary trips with a newborn, stock up on the basic necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies and pantry staples ahead of time.
18. Deep Clean the House - Nothing is better than bringing your newborn home to a nice clean house. A dirty house causes unnecessary stress with a baby while recovering from giving birth. So get to scrubbing, or better yet, hire someone else to do it for you.
19. Get a Hair Cut - You'll probably be taking a lot of pictures once that sweet little bundle of joy is in your arms, and you won't have a whole lot of 'me' time after that bundle is here. Take the time now to get your hair cut (you don't have to get a mom cut) and maybe get a wax, a mani/pedi and even a prenatal massage!
20. Get a Baby Book - It's a lot easier to keep up with a baby book than it is to try to remember everything later. If you bring your baby book to the hospital the nurses should be able to do the footprint stamps right there for you.
21. Find a Birth and/or Newborn Photographer - You will want memories of your little one when they are so itty bitty, because they do grow fast. You will want to decided if you want pictures of the actual birth, newborn pictures, or both. Take a look at different photographer's portfolios and book one that you like.
22. Make Plans for your Older Children and Pets - If you have older children or pets, you will need to have a plan in place for when you go into labor. Perhaps a family member or friend will take them, stay with them, or stop by to feed them while you're in the hospital. Also, have a plan in place if you end up having to stay at the hospital longer than anticipated
23. Make a List of People to Contact Once the Baby is Born - You probably already have well-meaning people pestering you with "is there a baby yet?" questions. If you want to notify them of baby's arrival more personally than a Facebook post, you can make a list of their phone numbers to send a picture or give a phone call once the baby does arrive.
24. Get Out Postpartum Clothing - After having a baby, you will most likely still look several months pregnant. You may want to have out some transitional loose clothing that you will be comfortable in after having your baby as well as nursing clothing.
25. Lay Down Ground Rules for Family and Friends - After you have a baby, everyone you know is going to want to come over and see your new squish. It's best to lay down your ground rules before the baby comes. Will you allow visitors in the hospital? Will you allow visitors in your home? Do you want every visitor to have their flu shot or DTAP? Figure out what you will be comfortable with and share this information with them beforehand so there aren't any hurt feelings afterwards.