You glance at the back seat for the tenth time as you pull out of the hospital parking lot. Is she strapped in tight enough? Is the seat latched correctly? Is she warm enough? Your heart and mind race as the reality sinks in… you are actually bringing baby home!
You are bringing baby home to YOUR house. You are bringing baby home to care for BY YOURSELF. You are bringing baby home to be part of YOUR family. It’s both one of the most exciting and one of the most terrifying moments of your life.
When we brought our first daughter home we had a steep learning curve. We had to learn how to manage her needs and somehow keep ourselves alive and functional enough to do so! We were quickly thankful for anything that we had prepared prior to her birth to help ease the stress of those first weeks and months at home. However, we also quickly realized that there were many things that we didn’t prepare well to ease the stress of bringing baby home.
So, if you are a first time expecting momma and are trying to think through how to best prepare at home prior to your baby’s arrival, here’s a list of some of the things we did to prepare for our second baby that made the weeks and months right after bringing baby home much less stressful for us. (We did do some of these things the first time, but definitely not all of them!)
If you are expecting a child that isn’t your first, then maybe these items will just help to jog your memory or inspire you with ideas you might have forgotten as you also prepare to bring baby home!
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9 Ways To Prepare For Bringing Baby Home:
1. Make Freezer Meals
With our first baby I was so preoccupied with trying to survive the pregnancy and birth that I did not think through the day to day responsibilities that I would need to maintain after our baby’s arrival. I knew a meal train was being put together for us for the first couple of weeks so I didn’t give any thought to worrying about meals.
This was a HUGE regret! We had a few meals delivered over the first couple of weeks after bringing baby home, but they weren’t every night and after two weeks we were on our own for dinner! At two weeks postpartum I was still hardly moving from the couch after a hard labor and delivery with our first daughter, so planning for and making dinners at that point was still a very overwhelming task.
If your health allows it in the last couple months of your pregnancy, I highly recommend stocking your freezer with as many meals as you can! I did this before the birth of our second baby and I had meals to simply thaw and microwave for over a month and a half postpartum. (I also made individual portion pre-cooked freezer meals as soon as we expected the pregnancy since I get very very sick for 4-5 months when expecting.)
You can read more details about how I make my freezer meals and find some of the recipes I have used by visiting 6 Pre-Cook Freezer Meal Recipes.
2. Stock Up On Paper Supplies
This is also a tip that I did not think through before our first baby! However, one very easy way to eliminate some unneeded stress after bringing baby home is to simply stock up on some paper plates, bowls, and cups as well as some plastic forks and spoons. Using paper supplies to eat for a month or two means you don’t have to worry about washing dishes! This is huge when it hurts to move more than a few feet across the room and all you want to do with your time is sleep.
We got a good price on paper supplies before the birth of our second daughter by buying it in bulk at one of our local wholesale warehouses.
3. Set-up The Nursery
You probably already have nursery set-up on your to-do list before your baby’s arrival. However, I would emphasize how helpful it is to have certain pieces of organization in place. When you are up overnight for the third time with your baby having little things on hand and ready will make everything easier to manage for your foggy and overtired brain.
For example, I find it helpful to have several extra outfits in newborn size stashed in the drawer under my changing table as well as an extra swaddle. This way when baby has a middle of the night poop blow-out I have everything on hand to deal with it quickly without needing to run downstairs or search frantically through the closet. I also find it helpful to keep a drawer full of newborn diapers, to have a pack of wipes out next to the changing table, and have a few spare packs of wipes tucked in the top drawer under the table.
Before the birth of our second child it was also helpful to have the video monitor already installed over her crib. When we were ready to transition her into her crib we simply had to turn on the mobile end of the monitor and we were good to go. We didn’t need to run in and out of her room trying to readjust the camera multiple times and disrupt her sleep. I also had the white noise machine plugged in and ready to go and a clean sheet on her crib. These were all little things that I didn’t have to worry about later – and every little stress relief counts!
4. Stock Up On Diapers
If you are expecting your first baby you probably received some diapers at your baby shower or from family or friends. However, I highly recommend having at least a couple big boxes of newborn diapers and 1-2 boxes of size one diapers on hand before you find yourself bringing baby home. The reason? Newborns go through diapers FAST! And as your body recovers after birth you may find it a stressful ordeal to try to venture out of the house and drive all the way to the store just to buy more diapers.
We bought most of our diapers through a subscription on Amazon and made sure we had several boxes of the early sizes on hand before our second daughter even arrived. Or if you don’t buy them ahead of time, it could be helpful to order diapers online so they can be delivered right to your door! Be sure to order before you completely run out, however, if you need to give them a few days to be delivered.
5. Create A Downstairs Changing Station
This probably isn’t something that works with every home’s decor, but it alleviated a lot of initial stress for us to have a changing table set-up in our living room. Because we spend the bulk of our time in our living room, having an easy place to keep and change diapers there is wonderful! There’s simply something easier about not needing to kneel down on the floor every time a diaper change is needed – especially when you are changing many of them just after bringing baby home!
In between the birth of our daughters I bought a used white changing table with shelves and painted it dark brown to coordinate with our living room. On the shelves we keep several clear plastic bins. Two of the bins we keep stocked with diapers in the appropriate size for each daughter. We also throw common toiletries for the girls into one of the diaper bins (toothpaste, diaper cream, nail clippers, hair brushes, etc.). In the other four bins we keep clothing for each girl so that it’s easy to clothe them both right in the living room.
6. Wash And Organize Infant Clothes
If you are anticipating the birth of your baby soon, then you’ve probably been given or purchased a lot of infant clothing! With the sensitivity of our first daughter’s skin (which is common for babies) we needed to wash all of her clothing in a special newborn detergent, like Dreft for the first couple months of her life. It alleviated a lot of stress in our initial days of bringing baby home to have all of baby’s clothing pre-washed with baby-safe detergent! It also makes it easy to quickly grab for correct size outfits if you are able to organize the clothing you receive into bins, drawers, or bags by size. You won’t have to dig through your clothing in the middle of a poop blow-out from your little one!
7. Prepare For Your Physical Postpartum Needs
When our first daughter was born I did not fully anticipate the amount of pain I would experience postpartum or how it would affect my mobility and ability to care for my new baby. To lower the stress associated with postpartum pain, for our second baby I stocked up on Earth Mama Bottom Spray and made several homemade padsicles (you can read about how I made those here). I also had a pack of large maxi pads and a peri bottle ready and waiting in the bathroom before our second baby arrived. (If you don’t already have a peri bottle, your hospital will probably give you one for recovery!)
8. Stock-Up On & Organize Nursing Attire
When we brought our first daughter home from the hospital I suddenly realized that I had no convenient attire to wear while nursing her! I found myself making a run to the store in the first week home with her (while still in A LOT of pain) to grab some nursing tank tops and bras. If you are planning to nurse after bringing baby home you will save yourself a lot of stress by having some nursing attire on hand and organized so that it’s easy to grab!
Before the birth of our second daughter I purchased some of these nursing tanks on Amazon as well as some of these nursing bras. I also pulled out a lot of the nursing-friendly clothing I owned that I expected to fit me postpartum and made sure it was all clean and convenient to quickly grab in my sleep-deprived state after bringing baby home.
9. Set-Up Your Bedroom For Baby (If Needed)
If you expect to have your little one near your bedside at all after you make the adjustment back home with them, then I also highly recommend setting up everything you will need to do that before they arrive! Before our second daughter was born we anticipated that we would keep her in our room for the first couple of weeks while I recovered before moving her into the crib in her nursery. Therefore, we set-up our pack n play (that includes a diaper changing station) in the corner of the room. We also stocked it with several newborn diapers, a pack of wipes, a few spare outfits, and an extra swaddle (in case of a middle of the night poop blow-out). This gave us an easy place to try to lay our new baby down to sleep and to easily change her diaper and care for her needs overnight. We also ended up moving a folding chair into the room after we brought her home since it was easier for me to nurse her sitting in a chair than trying to prop myself up in bed.
Every family’s needs and home are different, but if you are expecting and preparing for the excitement of bringing baby home then it is my hope that learning some of the things that helped us may also help you to prepare! If you’ve already welcomed a baby home, please comment below with any tips of your own!