Likely, you have nested to epic proportions by now, especially if you are in the first time mom club. Or maybe your dreams are flooded with all things “preparing for baby” and checklist after checklist. If this is you, hear me out: preparing for your newborn baby around the home DOES end. If you are diligent, you will come to a point where everything is done before the baby gets here. I’m serious!
And it will be ah-mazing…
I remember distinctly telling my husband that I was SUPER anxious to have our baby. “There’s SO much to do to get ready for her and you know what? I don’t think I’ll be any less nervous when everything is done.”
The WONDERFUL about that moment: I was very wrong.
After we had the nursery done, all the necessities put together, the hospital bags packed, the car seat installed, the prenatal classes taken and our bedroom prepped (bassinet, changing station and all), A GIGANTIC weight lifted off of my shoulders. I seriously felt like I could breathe again. I was ready.
And you can be too. I’ve created a complete list below to walk you through finalizing everything around your home. My goal here is to allow you to finally sleep easy, actually feel READY to have your baby and be at peace with every single thing that you need to do. So, let’s take a look!
How To Prepare Your Home For A Newborn: The Only checklist You’ll Need To Prepare For Baby
1. Kitchen prep – food
I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it is to have a freezer full of food after your baby is born. We had this particular “to-do” scheduled for the week before our little one was expected. My mom was flying in and I thought it would be perfect.
I went into labor before she even boarded the plane.
Prep your freezer meals at least a month ahead of time. I love the Living Well Spending Less freezer meal plan. Find it here. I am a little picky about healthy foods, so I found a couple other things helpful:
- Preparing bags of 100% whole wheat pancake mix (just add milk and an egg)!
- Cooking a couple batches of whole grain french toast to add to the freezer. Just pop them into the toaster!
- Whip up a quick batch of spaghetti sauce (I like adding protein like turkey or low-fat hamburger) and freeze it. Then just throw it into the crockpot on one of those tired mornings and boil some noodles that evening for dinner.
- Soups are a great meal-prep idea, are healthy and can go into the crockpot like vegetable beef, white bean chicken chili, minestrone and chicken noodle. We like doing a quick 100% whole wheat garlic bread with some soups by throwing a few pieces of bread into the toaster then adding extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic salt.
- Other great QUICK freezer meals we’ve loved best: taco meat, slow cooker BBQ chicken, skinny beef enchiladas, and healthy chicken and broccoli casserole.
- Hefty Slider Freezer Bags – The freezer bags we’ve liked the most. This amount is good as well for baby prep.
Jokari Baggy Rack Storage Bag Holder, 3 Pack – Anybody who’s done freezer meal prep will recommend these. It can be annoying to have someone hold the bag open while you scrape the food into the bag without making a gigantic mess. If you have help, this may not be super essential. I thought they were a little silly to buy but I was tackling this project solo and they are AMAZING.
Size Deep Foil Steam Pans with Lids 10 Pack – These are a life saver for throwing casseroles, bakes and other oven-type food prep meals. They do take up more room than freezer bags but it’s SO nice to take one out of the freezer and just pop it into the oven.
White and Red 1 x 2 Inch Freezer Labels, Set of 100 – These are awesome. When you are writing labels or instructions on tons of freezer meals, it can be annoying to try diffferent pens or have your marker go out. I like simly making this as quick, easy and streamlined as possible, so I buy these. You can use ANY pen or marker on them and it’s clear and legible. Unlike the plastic freezer bags.
Crock-Pot Slow Cooker – This one is kind of a basic necessity for freezer meals. I love our Crock-Pot. We use it ALL the time and we’ve had it for over six years.
2. The whole home – stockpile basic bottom-line home essentials
When you’re recovering, not sleeping and figuring out how to exist that first week or so, likely even the thought of going out in public will send you back under the covers in sweatpants. The idea of taking a trip to get weekly groceries wouldn’t have even been funny (in my opinion)…
Here’s another live and learn circumstance I WISH I would have done and will not mess up this second time around now that we are awaiting the arrival of baby #2. Do your future self a giant favor and grab these household necessities a few weeks, at least, before your due date.
Also, having a delivery service ready to ship things to our door within 48 hours was…a breath of fresh air. We were able to order anything from food to diapers and have it at our doorstep without leaving the house. Thank you, Amazon. Auto-order for things like wipes and diapers while saving money is fantastic too. Check out Amazon Prime here.
3. Your bathroom – postpartum bathroom survival prep
Preparing a postpartum care kit for your bathroom (and purse when you’re out!) is essential for a quick and healthy recovery after labor and delivery. Stock up on a few items and check out 10 Unbelievable Postpartum Recovery Tips For Healing After A Vaginal Birth for more helpful tips and a more in-depth look at the necessities. Below are 10 basic necessities for recovery after a vaginal delivery. Trust me, you don’t want to be running to the store after you’ve had a baby for more pads or Dermoplast.
Prepare your kit at least in your third trimester. Here are 9 absolutely necessary items:
- Very quickly, you will run out of those giant pads from the hospital. You also (like me) may not have been madly in love with them. Stock up on Always Maxi (overnight extra heavy flow with wings). They are not as bulky and the wings provide extra space for any leakage.
- You will also run out of those guazy, ugly as heck but amazing disposable underwear the hospital gives you. Or they may give you none. Save yourself the trouble and buy your own postpartum maternity (post-surgical) disposable underwear just like the hospital has.
- Also, the hospital provided Tucks Medicated Healing Pads to place directly on the maxi pad for relief. They are little round (3″) pads with witch hazel and I cannot tell you how much they relieved the burning and itching. Ah-mazing.
- When you want to graduate into actual underwear (and ditch the diaper feel) I would advise having a pack of ridiculously comfortable underwear on hand like these boy short boxer brief panties. Postpartum, I was thanking God that I had those boy short underwear. I liked how they didn’t ride up and they were super comfortable.
- Make sure to add a good panty liner like Always thin dailies as you transition to normalcy. I personally, liked Always liners the best because they were comfortable and effective.
- First off, I know those DIY “padsickles” are like all the rage but I’ve been there, done that and they were TERRIBLE (in my personal experience). If I wanted to freezer burn my painfully injured vagina then padsicles would definitely be the way to go. On the other hand, when I wanted actual pain relief and comfort, these medicated cooling pads (like they have at the hospital) were MUCH better!
- The hospital also gives you this cheapo little bottle to squirt warm water down there every single time you go to the bathroom called a peri bottle. It sucks and it’s not an option. However, there is a MUCH better alternative. Fridababy makes a peri-bottle called the Fridet with a nozzle specifically designed to be held upside down, giving you much more control with each use.
- When you leave the hospital, chances are you will receive Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray and you will be thankful as heck. The nurse told me, “Never forget to use this each and every time you go to the bathroom.” The problem is, that’s a lot of spraying so we had to go out and find two additional cans. Save yourself the hassle and have it ready beforehand! I can’t stress this enough. Another similar spray gaining momentum is Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray. It’s a more natural product and I’ve heard raving reviews.
- Prepare to have sitz baths. They are SUPER healing and fantastic for postpartum recovery. Buy a simple plastic cover that sits neatly over your toilet like this top Amazon sitz bath by Yunga Tart and use a high-quality Epsom salt made specifically for these types of baths like Epsoak Epsom Salt (which is Amazon’s #1 choice). I linked the large bag because sitz baths are usually recommended 2-3 times a day! That’s a lot of Epsom salt.
4. Prepare YOU – learn the basics of first-week at-home newborn care
The most important thing to do is to prepare you for bringing your baby home. Having a fresh, brand new tiny human’s life in your hands can be SERIOUSLY daunting. You’ll need to know a lot of basics. I highly recommend taking a prenatal class. This way, you can have a game plan and be as ready as possible for bringing your baby home.
If you haven’t taken a prenatal class, register for Hilary Erickson’s classes here. She’s an RN with over 16 years experience in labor and delivery. Best of all, you can take Hilary’s classes at your own pace, within your own schedule. Hospital classes fill up FAST, you may have to take work off and sit for eight hours at a time. Skip all that inconvenience and check out her fantastic courses.
And on that note, download these checklists to help you prepare what you need each trimester:
5. Your bedroom
Prepare the OPTIMAL sleep environment in your home for you and your baby. That first week, sleep may be a word you remember distantly using in another lifetime. Because of this fact, every SECOND of sleep is precious, precious gold.
Basic must-haves for your bedroom:
- Something for your baby to sleep in. I LOVE this crib by MiClassic. We purchased it via Amazon for a little over $50, it’s classy, PORTABLE (fantastic for travel), comfortable for baby and large so our baby can use it until she starts trying to climb out (probably until a year old or so). One reviewer says she has a Halo Bassinet and likes this one WAY better.
- Swaddle. The 3-pack of Aden + Anais swaddle blankets are ALL a mommy needs for swaddling. That’s it. We would never have used these swaddle blankets if my wonderful aunt had not purchased them for our baby shower with a note saying, “These are AMAZING. I swear by these.” Now, I do too. Before our baby, I Googled: “how many swaddle blankets do I need?!” and bought a few other brands that collected dust. Here’s your answer: Buy ONE pack of 3 Aden + Anais swaddle blankets. They are stretchy, super high-quality and ridiculously better than other brands.
- Night time sleep clothes. It’s important to dress your newborn so they aren’t too warm but not too cold! We purchased basic Gerber short sleeved white onesies, long sleeve onesies, 2 cotton footsie pjs and 2 fleece footsie pjs. You can find these on the Amazon Idea List here. Also, don’t forget socks and mittens.
- Newborn hat. Newborns have trouble regulating their temperature. This is why a nurse will stick a hat on a newborn right when they are born. We used a hat like this one (be sure to buy newborn sized hats and not 0-3 months) for about four weeks after birth and used them again when it was cold!
- Pacifier (after 4 weeks). The NUK pacifier brand was highly recommended to me and online I found many who swore by them. After we started using them (4 weeks after birth to avoid nipple confusion), we loved them too! Again, this was one category, I found others having difficulty in as they tried many different brands. I understand every baby is different and in our case, NUK Pacifiers always worked amazingly.
- White noise machine. The Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural Sound Machine is the best!!!
- Cool mist humidifier. Your pediatrician will recommend a cool mist humidifier for the nursery. It helps clear their airways and ease any congestion. This is especially important in the early days because newborn babies don’t breath through their nose! For safety, cool mist humidifiers are recommended way above warm mist humidifiers. I love the White Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier. It’s easy to use, has a beautiful design and works wonders.
- Baby monitor pre-set up over bassinet OR crib. You likely will not need the monitor until about week 7 or 8 when you begin to establish regular naps but it’s a life saver to have it set-up early. We started with it set-up by the bassinet and then moved it into her nursery at month 3. We love the Infant Optics brand. Check it out here: Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor. It’s got a crazy amount of awesome reviews on Amazon.
- Blackout curtains. I wished we had purchased blackout curtains right away when our first was born. I just purchased some for our bedroom for the arrival of baby #2. They help little ones sleep so much better. It also helps your baby adjust to day and night (especially when it’s like 8 pm and still light outside!).
Related: Make sure to check out The Ultimate Newborn Sleep Schedule, Must-Know Week By Week Tips to understand your new little one’s sleep schedule and to aid your own sleep!
6. Nursing & changing station
A nearby changing & feeding station is vital. I’m a solid, quick-sleeper who can deal with almost no sleep and I STILL found myself half-delirious during many of those night-time feedings. Having a nearby place where you can rock, change and feed your baby is absolutely necessary.
You can try having this in your bedroom if your significant other is up with you or maybe you both are trading off. We did at first and then moved this whole station (rocking chair & changing table) right outside our bedroom door when my husband had to go back to work so I wouldn’t wake him.
I transitioned our little one to the crib at 3 months, so it didn’t stay out there for long and it was nice to have it accessible to the rest of our house. You can also have this station in your living room or in the nursery. Wherever is most convenient for you.
Nursing & changing station essentials:
- A quality, low-cost changing pad that is the perfect size. The summer infant contoured changing pad has over 9 THOUSAND reviews on Amazon and close to five solid stars. That’s amazing. It’s a fantastic changing pad, especially for its cost!
- Changing pad cover. I splurged on the changing pad cover + crib sheet set that matched from Iviebaby but we also bought a backup set from Amazon. Amazon pretty much has every style you’ll want! You’ll need at least 2.
- Waterproof pad. Munchkin Waterproof Changing Pad Liners, 3 Count are the bomb.com. These were featured in my blog post: 8 Baby Registry Items Most Overlooked. It’s a giant pain to change the pad cover all the time so add one of these and a burp cloth folded over it. This way, you are only changing the burp cloth most of the time and the liner about once or twice a week. Be SURE to wash these on cold and don’t throw them in the dryer.
- Burp cloths that you will use ALL THE TIME. These are my TOP used item: Gerber Birdseye 3-Ply Prefold Cloth Diapers, White, Pack of 10. I bought three sets of these for burp cloths. Do not use them for cloth diapers, they are too thin! When I was reading what other people recommended with burp clothes, most said it depended on your baby. But, every baby burps up and will have spit! I use these prefolds folded on top of my changing pad ( I hate changing the cover all the time!), I bring one along when we are out to wipe up food mess now that Mae is well into solids, I use them to wipe up her teething spit and other burp ups and I fold one under her chin when I give her a bottle because she drips down into the folds of her neck. I literally use them all the time!
- Boppy. I actually chose the nursing pillow called My Brest Friend for our baby registry. It had a ton of positive five star reviews on Amazon. Thomas was gifted the Bobby from a client at work. I used the Brest Friend for tiny newborn baby Mae and it was nice in the rocking chair because it had a pocket and I could adjust it tightly with the strap to sit high on my torso. But as Mae got bigger, the bobby was just way easier and more comfortable. No strapping in, it had more padding and was much more durable. If I was to choose one, I would definitely go with the Bobby!
- Soft light (lamp). We added a soft lamp to our changing & breastfeeding station for those late night wakings.
- A place to put stinky diapers. The Diaper Genie (and refills + filters) is great or if your doing cloth, your’s need a great cloth diaper pale liner + a good trash can.
We used cloth diapers because they were SUPER easy and ridiculously cost efficient. Modern cloth diapers are just like disposables (velcro and all). The only differences: they don’t smell near as badly, your baby won’t get diaper rashes and you have to wash them.
If you are interested in cloth diapers, check out Cloth Diapers 101, The Complete Guide For Beginners.
- The baby clothes you will USE (we folded these into a cute little basket next to the changing pad)
“Nice-to-haves” for your nursing station:
- A comfortable rocking chair
- End table next to chair with:
- Phone charger
- A place to dock your phone
- Headphones just in case (I used this breastfeeding app EVERY time I sat in that chair)
- Healthy snack bars. This may sound silly but it’s common to get dizzy or lightheaded while breastfeeding. I did. Eating something quick and nutritious really helps, plus drink that water! You are recovering from a major medical event.
- Bottle of water
7. Prepare your living room or where you spend the most time
Much of our time those first couple months with a new baby, was spent in the living room. We did tummy time, read books, played with toys and mommy got some rest in on the couch (or some Netflix in!) while baby was sleeping. You can also have your changing and feeding station here or close by.
Living room essentials:
- Safety. Your living room will likely be the first place baby is reaching for dangerous things. There are AH-mazing and innovative safety products out there. At the very basic, you’ll want outlet covers, sharp cover protectors and quick cabinet locks. I also really like this power strip cover.
- Tummy time station. We love Skip Hop’s “activity gyms”. They are absolutely fantastic for tummy time and look great in the living room. Our little one LOVED it!
- Breastfeeding and changing station. This could start off in your bedroom or you can have a similar set-up in your living room. See the “Nearby changing & feeding station” bullet point above.
- Books & toys specifically for newborn and 0-3 months. High contrast black and white books are most impactful for newborns and help with visual stimulus. Find the best books and toys on this list: Top 12 Best Baby Toys For Baby’s First Year.
- Babywearing. Around the home and out, you’ll LOVE having a baby wrap or carrier. We did! We received four different baby carriers from different people. Four! So, I really got to try them all out and see which I liked the best. Hands down, The Moby Wrap was the best. It was the easiest to use, held up the best and was BY FAR the most comfortable. I read that it is among the most widely used and popular baby slings on the market. Which makes sense. It is super versatile, comfortable, quick to put on and easy. Unlike any other carriers we used!
8. Bath set-up
One of the things I was most nervous about with a newborn was bathing them correctly! Have a bath set-up with everything you need. This way, you are all ready to bathe your little one and have all the things. Having this set-up helped tremendously.
Baby bathing essentials:
- Baby bathtub. I recommend the Summer Infant Comfort Height Bath Tub. Even though this tub doesn’t have a thousand reviews on Amazon, I love it. We received it secondhand from a friend and it still looks brand new after a few kids! I love how it sits higher in the bath for easy reach, there is a plug that drains quickly, it compacts well for storage under our sink and the infant insert is angled nicely so our little one has fit comfortably in it from birth.
- Baby washcloths. You can use regular wash clothes to wash your little one but if you’d like super soft wash clothes stored in your bathroom specifically for baby, they are really nice to have.
- Soap specifically for baby skin. When using bath soap on your new little one (for hair and body) you do need a baby-specific bath wash. Babies have extremly sensitive skin and you’ll need a soap that is tear-free and washes out instantly. I love Baby Dove Tip To Toe Wash for sensitive skin.
- Baby bath towel. At first I thought baby specific bath towels were silly. Did we REALLY need them? The answer is not technically but they are very nice to have and it’s all due to the hood. It’s awesome to cover their head, especially when it’s chilly and helps so much when drying their hair! Amazon has these super cute animal specific hooded baby bath towels by Hudson. Right now they are marked as “Best Sellers”.
- Knee life savor (kneeling pad). We loved the Aquatopia Deluxe Safety Easy Bath Kneeler, Blue. We received this bath kneeler for our baby shower and it has been awesome. What a thoughtful gift! When bathing your little one, your knees can get pretty uncomfortable on the floor. This seems silly but the struggle is real. I also like how there are compartments for things like soap and rags. I stow things in there that I don’t want our little one to grab while she’s bathing.
9. Car essentials
I’ve included car essentials in the “how to prepare your home for a newborn” category because even though it’s technically outside the home, it’s still a very important step for prepping your home-space.
Basic car essentials:
- Carseat (preferably one that “clicks” out very easily into a stroller). I spent countless hours looking into strollers and car seats. We wanted the easiest and SAFEST system out there. I found that buying a car seat + stroller was best for me because then I could just click my little sleeping baby into the stroller, out of the car and back in again. So easy! I chose the Jogger edition because I like hitting up the trails. It is a little heavier and bulkier than the regular edition, but for me it wasn’t too heavy or too bulky. We can fit it snuggly in the trunk of our Chevy Malibu! Check out the regular edition if you are not a runner.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: at about a year old (or when your baby is an inch below the top of this car seat) you will need to look for a bigger seat. I scoured reviews, Amazon, Target, Walmart and Pinterest blog posts. I landed on the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, Matrix. It gives you 10 years of use because it includes a rear-facing baby car seat, a forward facing toddler seat and a booster seat with two positioning modes for the weight of you child as they grow. I also love how this seat is super locked in. So, why not purchase this one from birth? You can BUT you would have to wake your new baby up every single time you take them out of the car. In addition, you would need a carrier. I like how the Click Connect (pictured above) simply snapped out so I could carry the bassinet part or add it to the stroller!
- Quality seat-belt pads that aren’t too big but are perfectly padded. Every time I strapped our little one into the car seat, she would end up with bright red strap marks! When one of those marks stayed for a couple days and looked painful, I ordered strap covers. I did not use them right when she was born because they seemed just too big but a month in, I added them as soon as I could. Now, the seat belts don’t dig into her skin and leave marks! These JJ Cole Strap Covers are reversible and have a nice fuzzy side.
- Car seat cover. In my book, car seats (specifically car seats you carry around with you) need covers. This helps shelter your little one from the weather and keeps them warm or cool. I didn’t like those tight “nursing cover duos” because they were a hassle to uncover. I love the canopy cover like this beautiful cover by MHJY.
- Safe car seat mirror. Your baby will be in a rear-facing car seat and consequently, you will have no way to check on him or her (or even see them) without a mirror. If you don’t have a mirror, when you need to check on them, you will have to wait to find a safe place to park, get out and then get back on the road! Now, there are some unsubstantiated claims that baby car mirrors are dangerous in the event of an accident. So, buy a quality mirror like this awesome brand on Amazon (which has amazing reviews and has been crash tested) and make sure, when installed, it is very secure. Then, the pros will far outweigh the cons.
10. The nursery
You likely won’t even use the nursery until month 3 or 4 (maybe even longer!) with your baby except to store some clothes unless this is where you’ve placed your feeding and changing station (opposed to your bedroom or another high traffic living space like the living room). You really can go all out with a nursery! But I will include some basic minimalistic, cost-effective necessities we used.
- A beautiful crib for $80. Cribs are expensive. I would suggest hopping on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and finding a newer (due to meeting safety regulations) gently used crib. Also, check Walmart’s Clearance & Rollback page here. Make sure to hit the checkbox on the left for your price range. I found a 3 in 1 (converts to daybed and toddler bed) crib which is currently $187, for $80! You can find brand new, beautiful cribs for great deals at Walmart.
- A comfortable, waterproof, quality and low-cost mattress. While we were at Walmart, we found this mattress also: Kolcraft Pediatric 800 Toddler and Crib Mattress Owl. It has great reviews and I feel like it is the perfect balance between bouncy and firm. I had absolutely no worries that Mae’s little face would sink into the mattress (and she did sleep right on her face sometimes!) yet it has a nice overall give that seemed very comfortable.
- Beautiful crib sheets & a changing pad cover. There are only a few things I splurged on when it came to the nursery: Iviebaby Crib Sheets and matching changing pad cover. They are absolutely beautiful. I also purchased a lower cost (and still super cute) alternative sheet set off of Amazon when I needed to change the sheets
- A dresser instead of a changing table. I opted for a dresser instead of a changing table so we could use it to store clothes and keep it for a longer period of time. We purchased our little one’s cute little white dresser off of Craigslist actually. It’s extremely elegant and unique with beautiful gold handles. I also purchased these drawer dividers which are AMAZING. Especially for organizing all those tiny baby things.
- A quality, low-cost changing pad that is the perfect size. The summer infant contoured changing pad is the way to go here. Mentioned above in #6: Nursing & Changing Station.
- Burp cloths that you will use ALL THE TIME (mentioned above). Gerber Birdseye 3-Ply Prefold Cloth Diapers, White, Pack of 10.
- Baby monitor (you can just transfer the one from your bedroom here or start putting your little one for naps in the crib instead of her bassinet). This baby monitor has over 14,000 reviews on Amazon. That’s the most I’ve ever seen. And yet it’s got close to five solid stars. The cost isn’t astronomical, the quality is great and the customer service is awesome. I highly recommend this brand! We have the older version but are buying this new one for our baby #2.
- Baby clothes. I wouldn’t go all out for newborn and 0-3 month clothes. You may bring home a baby too small or big for the newborn size. I found out the hard way that the “newborn” size was very different from “0-3 months”! Take the tags off of a few and wash them but I would avoid de-tagging everything and prepping. You’ll only know what your baby needs to wear when she comes home!
RELATED: See my complete list of ALL THE THINGS you will need for baby here: Must Have Baby Essentials (For Your Registry).
Preparing for your baby, at home, does not have to be stressful. In fact, it can be an incredibly exciting time for you and your significant other. If you’re like me and need everything ready to go from the nursery to the bedside sleeper in order to sleep easy, then you’ve got this.
Start by the third trimester, if you can, and move room by room. I found an Amazon checklist to be helpful. Once you’ve tackled the nursery, taken a solid prenatal class, prepped your bedroom, stocked your home with basic necessities and added a few things to your living space, breathe easy, mommy. You’re ready and now all you have to do is wait for your precious newborn to arrive.
I’ve put together an in-depth list on Amazon of everything in this post. Check it out here: