Between prenatal appointments, paperwork and everything in between, there are plenty of things to do before your baby arrives. At times, it may seem like your to-do list just keeps growing along with the size of your belly! But getting ready for baby doesn't have to be a stressful thing. With a little organization and planning, you'll be well-prepared for your little one. Let this baby nesting checklist be your guide to feeling ready, willing, and able to welcome your newborn.
1. Decorate the nursery
This one's a fun task. Assemble the crib, hang decorations, set up the changing station, and otherwise make the room ready for your baby. One often overlooked detail is lighting, so check to see if the light bulbs may be too bright for those 2 a.m. feedings—and change them if so.
2. Stock up on baby supplies
Newborns run through diapers and wipes faster than you may imagine, so be sure to have backup on hand. You'll also want feeding essentials such as bottles, a breast pump, and/or formula. And of course, don't forget clothing, pacifiers, burp cloths, and gentle baby lotion.
3. Stock up on grown-up supplies, too
Trust us, you don't want to run out of toilet paper when you're busy taking care of a two-day-old. Think of the items you use every day, from paper towels to dish soap, and have a little extra so you don't have to run to the store.
4. Pack for your due date
The best time to pack your hospital bag is not the day before your baby is due. Instead, gather your essential items a few weeks beforehand. Having this done will help you feel confident that you're ready to go, even if your baby decides to make an early debut.
5. Prepare for postpartum
If you give birth at a hospital, you'll go home with supplies to help your postpartum recovery. (Hello, mesh underpants!) But it's wise to have some items at home, too, like overnight maxi pads or disposable underwear; a squirt bottle; pain medicine; witch hazel pads; and/or ice packs.
6. Cook ahead of time
Do some large-batch cooking of dinners you can freeze, such as casseroles and stews. That way, you won't have to even think about preparing meals while your newborn naps. Your future self will be incredibly grateful.
7. Get prepared for the hospital
If you're giving birth at a hospital, take a hospital tour (IRL or virtual) and find out if you'll need to pre-register. Now's also the time to ask about hospital visitor policies, health insurance, and other boring-but-necessary issues.
8. Create a birth plan
Although you can't predict exactly how labor and delivery will go, a birth plan can provide a helpful guide to your hopes and preferences. Learn how to create a birth plan so you'll feel more confident during your labor.
9. Take a prenatal class
Whether in person or online, prenatal and parenting classes are extremely beneficial. Consider classes on childbirth, newborn care, breastfeeding, and/or infant CPR.
10. Purchase (some) gear
You won't need certain baby registry items, like a high chair, until your baby is at least a few months old. Other items are necessary from day one. Make sure you have a safe place for your baby to sleep, a car seat, a stroller, and a baby carrier.
11. Research pediatricians
Now's the time to find your baby's doctor. Online reviews, word of mouth, and a recommendation from your OB/GYN can all help you find a pediatrician. Don't forget to contact them to see if they're accepting new patients!
12. Choose a doula or midwife
If you'd like to have the support of a doula or midwife during childbirth, start interviewing people as soon as the first trimester—schedules fill up fast!
13. Think about child care
At some point, whether for work or date night, you're going to need child care. Think about what kind of support you might need (full time? part time? occasional?), the resources available to you, and what your budget allows.
14. Go on a date
Having a baby doesn't mean giving up romance, but—real talk—going on a date is easier when it's just you and your partner. Savor sweet moments together before your baby arrives. Taking a walk, splurging on a wonderful meal, or enjoying a babymoon will help you load up on couple time while your schedule is more flexible.
15. Make appointments
Before your baby is born, take care of any appointments you can. For example, schedule a dental checkup, an eye exam, or a haircut. Again, it's easier to cross these items from your to-do list when it's just you!
16. Smile for the camera
If you're planning to have a maternity photo shoot, the second or third trimester is a great time. While you're at it, think about whether you'll have a photographer do a newborn session; if so, book ahead of time.
17. Install the car seat
Before your baby comes home, hospitals will check to confirm that your car has an infant seat installed. About a month before your due date, install the car seat (or, better yet, have someone do it for you). It's also wise to make sure the car seat is installed correctly; free car seat inspections are often offered through fire houses and police stations, so check to see what's available near you.
18. Order birth announcements
If you plan to mail paper birth announcements, choose your design and order stamps ahead of time. You can slot in the photo and order the announcements when your baby is here.
19. Brainstorm baby names
Daydreaming about names is one of the most fun things to do before your baby comes. Whether you choose a moniker before the due date, or just want to have some ideas in mind, jot down some names that appeal to you.
20. Download apps
A contraction-timer app and baby tracking app will make it easy to keep track of small but important moments during your labor and baby's first months. Install them now so you have time to set them up. While you're at it, check your phone's memory to make sure you'll have plenty of space for endless baby photos.
21. Find online support
Every mother needs a community, and a local Facebook parenting group can help you find yours. Joining a group gives you access not only to logistical resources, but also to your future mom crew.
22. Wash baby clothes and linens
Before your baby comes home, you'll want to have laundered sheets, burp cloths, and outfits ready for them to use. Sterilize pacifiers and bottles ahead of time, too, so they'll be ready when you need them.
23. Establish guidelines for visitors
You aren't the only one eagerly awaiting your baby's arrival—family and friends also can't wait to meet them! Think about whether you'd like visitors right away or you'd prefer a little more time.
24. Discuss labor-day logistics
Nobody's a mind reader, so it's smart for you and your partner to talk about how you'd like to handle labor, delivery, and coming home. Similarly, make a checklist of things to finalize before rushing off to the hospital. (For instance, who will feed your fur-baby while you're away?) Having a plan means less last-minute rushing—and more sanity.
25. Take care of paperwork
When your baby is born, they'll need health insurance; find out what you'll need to do in order to sign them up. While you're at it, look into life insurance and a will. Exciting stuff? Hardly. But you'll be glad to have it taken care of.
26. Iron out parental leave
Will you be taking parental leave? If so, decide how long you'll take leave, whether your partner will join you, and creative solutions for maximizing time with your newborn. For example, you may want to stagger parental leave with your partner, or you may wish to space out your leave in an unusual way.
27. Write thank-you notes
If your baby has been showered with gifts, jot off those thank-you notes (or emails) now.
28. Set up your baby bag
Be prepared for on-the-go changes and feedings with a fully stocked baby bag. Load it with necessities such as diapers, wipes, a changing pad, an outfit change for the baby, bottles, formula, pacifiers, burp cloths, and even an extra shirt for you—because spit-up happens.
There's plenty to do before your baby arrives but remember: You have nine months to prepare! Don't forget to set aside time to relax, rest, and take care of yourself—because mama matters, too.
Now that you’re prepared for your baby’s arrival, learn how to take care of a newborn.