Getting Ready for Baby — Bringing Baby Home

With all the many preparations you need to make to get ready for a new baby, nine months might not seem nearly enough time. One of the major things you'll need to prepare is your home. Bringing baby home will be one of the most memorable experiences you'll have — one that you'll likely look back on for years to come. Preparing to bring a new baby home isn't quite as intensive as babyproofing (which will come later), but still is necessary to make the smooth transition from a family of two to three (or more!).

Clean House

Get your home clean from top to bottom. Your extreme nesting instincts may take care of this, and you may be compelled to rid your house of all dust bunnies, organize your linen closet and clean your mini blinds. You may even find it necessary to organize your Christmas decorations. However, in most cases, pregnant women by this time are just too tired for heavy cleaning. Enlist the help of a willing husband, family members, or hire a cleaning person to help you get your house ready for bringing baby home. You'll appreciate a clean house for the exhausting weeks ahead, and your baby will appreciate a fresh, sanitary home.

Stock Up

Get your pantry in order. Stock up on necessities, and cook a few freezer meals for those nights that you don't feel like cooking with a newborn. Collect takeout menus from your favorite restaurants. If he doesn't already know how to cook, instruct your husband on the finer points of mac and cheese and scrambled eggs so you can rest. While you're shopping for food, stock up on household necessities such as toilet paper, laundry detergent and shampoo, so you're not running out with a new baby.

Practice Makes Perfect

Test out your car seat (which you should've purchased weeks in advance) and stroller to be sure they fit in your car. Practice putting the seat in and taking it out. This mom learned the hard way that removing a baby seat — complete with newborn baby — from its base for the first time in freezing weather is a recipe for a screaming baby and panicked new parents.

Be Prepared

Arrange a friend or family member to take care of your house while you're in the hospital having your baby — especially if you have a pet or other children. If you live in an area prone to snow, planning ahead to have the driveway and front walk shoveled prior to bringing baby home can avert a slip and fall with a new baby in tow.

Check your schedule and cancel any ongoing obligations you may have, such as carpool, playdates, book club, etc.

Nursery

Set up your nursery, starting with the crib. If all you've prepared for bringing baby home is the crib and bedding, at least she will have a place to sleep. Many an expectant couple has brought a baby home a little earlier than expected to a beautifully decorated nursery with an unassembled crib still neatly packed in its box.

Wash all the baby's clothes in a gentle detergent a few weeks before your due date. If you've received enough clothes to outfit a wee little army, wash only a few onsies, socks, sleepers, etc. You may find that your baby outgrows her clothes before wearing all of her cute outfits, and unless she is a diva in training, pare down to a few essentials and let her wear her clothes more than once. For extras, keep the tags on them and exchange them if you can, save for the next baby, or keep for the purpose of regifting.

Have diapers and all the other baby accoutrements at the ready for bringing baby home. You can go as fancy as a special changing table complete with drawers or cubbies, or a simple changing pad for the floor with a tote stocked with diapers, diaper cream and wipes. Your new baby won't care either way — as long as he's clean, safe and dry.

Make your nest comfy. Set up your bedroom or family room to accommodate hours of nursing and rocking with a comfy place to sit, slippers, a warm blanket, reading materials and access to a phone and TV.

Make Room

Find a place for all that baby paraphernalia! Bringing baby home means bringing a lot of extra stuff into your home. Decide where you'll put the baby swing, portable play yard, changing table, nursing pillow, rocking chair, etc. You may have to move stuff around to make room — it may be time to finally move the unused treadmill from your bedroom to the basement. Babies take up a lot of space, so make bringing baby home less stressful by planning ahead.

While there are many other preparations you will make to bring home a new baby, starting with a few basics can take the stress out of trying to make everything perfect.

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