Susan Austin is a family research specialist, a mother of three and small business owner in Texas, Austin spends her days juggling work and family life — sometimes expertly, sometimes not.
It is an exciting time, but it’s a lot of work too. Just as you’re completing the marathon of pregnancy, there’s a seemingly endless list of tasks that have to be done so you’ll be ready for your baby to come home.
But, don’t stress. Really, all you need are diapers, a safe place for your baby to sleep, and a handful of clothes. If you ask other mums what they found essential in those first hazy days they’ll probably say a sleeping or breast feeding pillow (there are so many to choose from but if you can find a multi purpose one you can use it as a sleep aid when you are pregnant, for breastfeeding comfort and support, and also as an aid to help your baby when he/she first begins to sit up alone), nipple cream for sore nipples if you intend to breast feed and muslin cloths which can be used for all manner of things from swaddling babies to mopping up messes.
Anything else are really just extras. But, the extras can come in handy if you’d like to be ready. The suggestions below will help you to make sure your home is prepared for your little one to be safe and comfortable from day one.
Your time and energy will suddenly disappear as soon as you bring home your baby so it’s helpful to get ahead with cooking, cleaning, and preparing for visitors. And give yourself some time to rest up ahead of your baby’s birth, because you’ll certainly need it!
Clothes should be washed before your baby wears them, so it’s a good idea to prep at least some of your baby’s clothes so they’ll be ready to go as soon as you come home.
What type of clothes? It’s all about comfort and ease those first few weeks. Both for you and for the baby. Comfortable clothes include baby-grows (all-in-ones), and nothing that’s too tight around the waist. You might also want to avoid zippers, buttons, and anything that can dig into the baby when they sleep. You want things to be easy to get on and off since you’ll constantly be changing your baby.
Make sure you have a dedicated nappy changing area where you can always find clean diapers, wipes, bottom cream and a spare change of clothes in case of accidents.
Create a safe sleeping area. The safest place for your baby to sleep is on his or her back on a flat mattress. You should make sure their bed is free of blankets, pillows, toys, and any other items that could become a suffocation hazard. There should also be good airflow throughout their sleeping area so they always have fresh air to breath as they are sleeping.
You may have family and friends bring you meals, but it’s helpful to do some meal planning of your own. Freeze some easy to prepare meals ahead of time so you can just pull them out of the freezer and eat even when you’re busy. Make sure to buy healthy snacks so you can resist the temptation to binge on unhealthy junk food. You’re going to be very hungry if you’re breastfeeding and with lack of sleep, it’s a lot easier to eat poorly!
Manage clutter and give your home a good cleaning. You won’t have much time for cleaning once your baby arrives, but visitors may want to come see your baby, and you’ll want a clean home to bring home your baby, anyway. Remember that you may be walking around your home a lot with your baby in your arms, and clutter on the floor can be a tripping hazard. Get ahead of the mess by cutting back on clutter and giving everything in your home a good wipe down.
And of course, prioritise your own rest and relaxation. Pregnancy is a marathon, and you need your energy now for your health, delivery, and you newborn baby. Give yourself time to rest, prioritise sleep, and make sure your sleep environment is comfortable and inviting for rest.
Convenience is one thing, but safety is essential, so make sure you’re taking care of safety issues before anything else. While your baby won’t be mobile right when they come home, they get there fast, and trust us, you’ll be so busy it will sneak up on you. Better to take care of it all before they come home and start getting into anything.
Furniture should be secured as well. When babies start pulling up on furniture, it can be hazardous. Use safety straps on your furniture and make sure you’ve resolved any tripping hazards. Cover electric sockets and put safety latches on your cabinets.
Think about what hazards might be accessible to your baby, such as cleaning products in a lower cabinet, medications, or small items they could easily reach. Put any hazards out of reach and be prepared with baby gates so you can keep them out of any areas that can’t be easily baby-proofed.
Finally, make your whole house safer by double checking all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You might be surprised to find out that detectors expire every 10 years, and their batteries do run out. Check the date to make sure yours hasn’t expired, and add some fresh batteries. It’s a good idea to set a reminder on your calendar each month to test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and find out if they or their batteries need replacing.