Must-do prep before the baby arrives? Talk amongst yourselves.

From Amie:

I have a little project I’m involved with now called "getting as much possible done BEFORE the baby comes." She’s due 12/16 so I’m not just doing the normal household stuff, but everything holiday-related too. I mostly feel like I have a handle on it (I’ve done it before, right?) but wondered what ideas your other readers might have. There are so many things to do to prepare, both big and little, that it would be easy to overlook something. There are the standards, like freezing meals ahead of time, and then there’s stuff that’s just nice if you think of it, like remembering to stock up on toilet paper so you don’t have to run to the store as often.

Off the top of my head:

  1. Have at least one family sleep-in pajama day before the baby arrives. PJs till noon (at least), fancy breakfast, etc. Nothing like some warm, cozy time together before the newborn excitement begins.
  2. Go out to at least one movie with your spouse, as date nights will be few and far between for a little while.
  3. Get the holiday cards out early if you can.

I’m sure you’re full of more good ideas, Parenthackers (hopefully more practical than mine!). Care to share them?

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  1. says

    Take out old baby pix of the big siblings and talk to them about when they were babies. Read books about babies.

    Get a gift for the big sibling from the new baby. Something they can do while you are busy nursing is good. New crayons and coloring books, playdough, new DVD or new books to read, puppets (great one-handed thing to play with older child while nursing!) or other quiet toys.

    Stock up on diapers for baby, wipes, etc. Don’t forget thick pads for mom. Get a bottle of witch hazel. Squirt some into the pads and then freeze them. Feels GREAT on a sore bottom post-partum AND helps with healing. Get some of those ThermaCare patches meant for menstrual pain. They stay warm for 12 hours and are great for afterpains. They saved me after my 3rd was born. (Sorry to tell you, but the afterpains get worse with each kid.)

    Use olive oil on baby’s bottom so that the meconium will not stick and baby will be easier to clean up. Put a piece of toilet paper or a gauze pad in the diaper to help you know for sure if baby wet early on when it’s not always easy to tell. Keep a flashlight or touch lamp near the changing area so you don’t have to turn all the lights on for night time changes. Or install a dimmer switch on the lamp.

    Have easy to grab snacks on hand for the new mom and big siblings. Have a shelf in the kitchen/fridge that is full of approved snacks that the big siblings can get for themselves. Make up a whole loaf of bread as PB&J and then store it in the bread bag in the fridge.

    Once baby comes, keep a list of things that need to be done on the fridge. When people ask how they can help, tell them you’ll appreciate anything on that list that they could cross off for you.

    When baby arrives, change the voice mail/answering machine to announce all baby’s stats. Then when people call to ask “is s/he here yet?” you can let the machine tell them while you rest and recover.

  2. says

    I’d either buy frozen foods or cook some food and freeze it so you don’t have to worry about it later. Also, buy paper plates and cups you can throw away (or hopefully recycle). You don’t want to worry about doing the dishes.

  3. Amy says

    For freezing meals, check out the Mega Menu Mailer at You can get like 2 weeks worth of meals made in 2 hours, or something crazy like that…

    I’m not affiliated with them, BTW. Just a happy customer.

    Also, get as much rest as you can, to gear up for the big event. You aren’t going to be sleeping much for a while.

    DELEGATE! Get other people to do as much of the above list as you can!

    Pre-address envelopes for thank you notes and announcements.

  4. says

    To handle the onslaught of people who want to visit, tell them the rules.
    1. Visits can only last 30 minutes.
    2. You can stay for 1 hour if you bring a meal.
    3. You can stay 2 hours if you help around the house (mostly for extended family).

    This was a half-serious, half-joking suggestion from one of the nurses on the recovery floor and it really made life better for us.

    Also, for visits to the hospital, do be afraid to ask your nurse to kick people out. Its a lot easier for them to say that they need to do something with mom or the baby and that people need to leave than it is for you to tell you mother or your best friend that she has out stayed her welcome.

  5. says

    Enjoy as much sleep as you possibly can.

    Beyond freezing meals, freeze some individually-sized things YOU like to eat since getting breakfast/lunch can sometimes be more challenging than dinner for the family.

    Find the older kid’s snowsuit, mittnens, etc. so you’re ready when it snows.

    Go to Trader Joe’s and stock up on easy, “heat and eat” types of stuff.

    One of the best ideas someone told me about was to set up a “nursing basket” for my older son. When I was nursing the baby, he got to take out his basket, which I had pre-filled with all new toys and activities. He was only allowed to play with it while I was nursing/feeding – which meant that he stayed interested, and I got to dedicate that time to the new babe.

    Good luck and enjoy!

  6. says

    A Dad’s suggestion: Every book and article out there recommends that Mom-to-be have her “hospital bag” packed and sitting by the door – ready to grab when it’s time… but they don’t mention that Dad-to-be should also have his bag packed and ready.

    I didn’t… and when our first was born, she decided to arrive a couple weeks early and surprise us completely. The labor was fairly long and the hospital was at least 45-minutes from home… long story short, it was nearly three days before things settled to the point that I could get home to get some fresh clothes.

    It’s not like you care all that much when you’ve just become a father for the first time… but that’s usually the suggestion I have for fathers with pending arrivals.

  7. Julie says

    first of all CONGRATULATIONS on the soon to be new arrival.
    -I took my 3 year old with me to sonograms so she could see baby. -She (my 3 year old) got a new babydoll to take care of so she mirrored what I did with baby (she still wanted to help too much but it did help focus her energies elsewhere)
    -frozen or chilled hemroidal(sp?) wipes help with postpartum swelling
    -stock up on gift certificates to local takeout (or preferably) delivery restaurants
    -don’t be afraid to ask friends/family for help
    -have a friend or family member take kids for a day or two after baby comes home (this was a lifesaver for me)
    -make sure kids know that they are loved and are not being replaced by new baby, make sure to get some one-on-one time with all kids.
    Most of all – ENJOY, they grow up all too fast

  8. Shelly says

    I couldn’t tell from the original post if you have other children already, but if you don’t – READ PARENTING BOOKS! and TALK TO YOUR SPOUSE! During those first weeks, you’re going to need to figure out which parent has baby duty when (I had to get up with the baby all night until 6am, but from 6 until 9am, I was to be completely left alone…yes, we had one of those babies who just didn’t sleep), You’ll have to decide together if you’re ever going to bring the baby into bed with you (I know it’s frowned on, but if you’re the type of person who doesn’t move around in their sleep a lot and isn’t taking narcotics, it’s actually lovely), etc.

    You also have to finalize decisions like circumcision and the middle name (that was tougher than we imagined!)

    I recommend buying and reading through a few parenting books so you at least have a good idea of what each book contains. It’s really nice, when the baby is going through another horrible bout of __insert issue here__, to be able to refer back to various books and get comforting advice.

    My own experience with parenting books is that every single one I’ve ever read is ‘a little’ helpful. The best books are very helpful, but even the ones that aren’t great are still shining beacons of brilliance when you’re sleep deprived and desperate for a calm, rational voice to remind you that you can be calm and rational too!

    And I think that getting your holiday cards out now is perfect, but if I were you, I’d keep the house decorating to the very minimum. Putting it up won’t be a problem, but taking it all down will be. I’d probably do a much smaller tree with fewer ornaments and only your _very most favorite_ decorations. I’d most definitely skip anything that requires a ladder. And sure, your husband could do those things, but we all know that you’re going to have 100 other things that you’ll need from him every day, especially during that first month with the baby. Taking down Christmas decorations will be at the very bottom of your priority lists. And then it will be July.

    It sounds to me like you’ve really got your act together, so good luck and congratulations! We’re all sending you positive energy for an easy birth and a happy baby!

  9. radmama says

    Buy extra underwear and socks for Everyone. Whatever laundry backup occurs post birth, the basics are taken care of.

    Get a robe you love and put it on when company comes over– even over your clothes in the first few weeks. They’ll expect less hostessing of you.

  10. duchess says

    *I made birth announcements ahead of time. So after the baby was born, while I was still in the hospital, my husband popped the name, weight, time, in, printed out, and we had annoucements ready to go. The envelopes were addressed and stamped ahead of time. As soon as we got photos (taken at the hospital) developed, stuff and mail. We got them all out within a week this way.

    *I stocked up on stamps ahead of time for those pesky bills that insist on arriving. I kept them in a pile by the door, and whoever left (us or visitors) knew to drop them off in the mail.

    *Obviously, have all holiday shopping and cards done. If anything needs to be mailed, see above tip.

    *I also looked ahead and got birthday gifts, cards, for people coming up in six weeks. Even though I was home, it wasn’t until at least that long that I even felt up to the thought of shopping in a store.

    *Identify basic groceries you will always need every week – milk, bread, cereal, etc. Have that as a separate list from any other grocery list. The shorter list is easier for someone who calls just before dropping by, and it’s easier for you to get stuff you must have rather than waiting for a big delivery.

  11. Rachel says

    As the mom of a little one who decided to arrive Christmas Eve, no one cares if you have the holiday stuff taken care of. Make sure you have some super comfy clothes that you feel alright recieving company in, I recommend black yoga pants for everything. Stock up on Dove chocolates, for some reason they seem to have more antioxidents and they are one thing that always made me stop wanting to cry, plus they look great in a candy dish for company. I think I lost my point, so that’s it.

  12. says


    If you do not have it, buy yourself some non-deodorant liquid bath soap. Sometimes postpartum bodies appreciate even the small comfort of a little extra gentleness, and those first showers really do a lot to help you feel back to normal.

    And strangely enough, it was always a little soothing to me that the bath soap smelled different from what I was used to. Kind of like a little reminder that this time in your life is amazing and also relatively short – soon you will have your own body back and a baby instead of an infant.

  13. says

    This thread is great, as I”m due number two on the 15th.

    One thing for us is that we live outside the US. So Amazon has been superhelpful for the holiday shopping (finished today!!). I’m giving up on holiday cards, and we’re just going to throw up a basic webpage annoucement or do a quick email to far-flung friends and family, and a text to the ones who want to be woken up in the middle of the night (cause we have ‘em all over the world). Make that list now.

    We’ve lucked out that my parents are coming over to visit and keep Son Number 1 amused and looked after, as well as we have friends who are all over us and willing to help (all in a good way!).

    The most important thing? Rest. if your feet look anything like mine…….

    OH! Diaper bag for heading home from hosp. I have our hosp bag packed, but realized today that the diaper bag isn’t.

  14. kt says

    Don’t sweat it. Baby came early and I didn’t have a bag packed yet. You know what, I didn’t miss it. It was a pain to get home, but my husband brought clothes. They weren’t the ones I would’ve picked but I couldn’t care. Maybe it was the NICU part of the stay that made it seem not to matter.

    What I wish I had done, and it’s probably late for that now, was dealt with the will I wanted done. Becuase doing it after the fact I had guilt until it was done and then it was finding a lawyer and scheduling appointments during nap time. A pain in the butt.

  15. says

    I had to laugh, as I was addressing my holiday cards today I was remembering when we combined the birth announcements of our twins with our New Year’s cards. I was thinking this was such a great idea – a time saver and a stamp saver. It’s not for everyone, but as a busy mom, giving birth during a super busy time of year, it worked for me!

  16. Amie says

    Thanks for all the responses. This is birth #2 for us, and you would think I would know a lot more by now. I’m getting some great ideas from reading your comments.

  17. hedra says

    What a cool idea! (The marker drawing of baby) Dang, wish I’d done that with the twins. And we’re done now, ah, well!

    The only thing I don’t see here that we really loved was a large format calendar. Something that you can write ‘fussy today’ and put little checkmarks on for medicine doses (did I already give him the antibiotic/zantac/fever reducer? too sleep deprived, can’t remember!).

    Also, since this is a second, get the book Siblings Without Rivalry, and start using it NOW. It is really easy to set up the competition between baby and older sib before baby is even here! Just how I framed things (‘ooh, the baby kicks me really hard when you squeal like that! The baby must LOVE hearing your voice!’ instead of ‘please stop screaming, the baby doesn’t like it!’) seemed to have an impact.

    We also had presents from baby to older sib(s), and pictures review of babyhood, and snacks (and drinks!) set up in the fridge for everyone, and daddy-bag packed.

    You could also pick up a nice box of goodies (teas, cocoa, coffees, chocolates, or spa goodies/hand lotions – things that ‘keep’) to bring for the nurses when you go in. While the nurses always took good care of us either way, there was just an extra bit of regard when we’d already been thoughtful of them.

  18. rotangus says

    A good haircut. The shorter/easier to care for, and closer to the actual birth date, the better.

    Not only will you feel better about looking like a gravid blob (but a well coiffed blob); but you’ll get one last pampering yourself; reduce your own daily maintenance time; and look great in the inevitable post-birth pix.

    Plus it’s fun to sit in the chair and when the stylist eyes you nervously and asks, “So. When’s the big day?” You can look at your watch, smile and say “Oh. Today. Why?”

  19. Sarah says

    This is a great list. I’m expecting #2 in April so I’m definitely going to print this out. One other thing I thought of was that in our house, I do all the day to day bill paying and budgeting. I’m anal about it (inputting everything into Quicken once a week at least) so I’m going to make sure my husband understands my system before the baby comes. Balancing the checking account is something I won’t be up for in those first weeks.

  20. Jill says

    Near the end of pregnancy, when I could no longer see my toes let alone get near enough to them to paint them, I went for a pedicure. What a treat! I figured my feet would be visible to lots of people at the delivery and this way I could feel pampered and look good too. Silly maybe, but oh, so nice.

  21. says

    This combines some of the comments…

    I was 2 weeks past due date with my son. So, my husband treated me to a full spa day a couple days after the unsuccessful eviction. The works. Hands, feet, hair, and all the in between as well.

    Great because I felt better about myself those first postpartum days, despite bags under the eyes and a still swollen belly.

  22. STL Mom says

    In regards to preventing sibling rivalry: almost every book for older siblings describes how angry and upset the older child will be. I thought, “why give her that idea before she even feels that way?” and searched for a book that was positive. “I’m A Big Sister Now” was the best book that I found (you can also get “I’m A Big Brother Now” if that fits your situation.) My daughter loved it, and still reads it once in a while (her brother is 3 1/2). I figured that if she got upset about her brother, we could get another book to address the problem.
    She had pretty positive feelings until her brother could move around and take her toys. This probably has more to do with her personality than any book or method I used. Her brother clings to his mama’s apron strings more than she ever did, and would probably throw a little sibling out the window. Good thing we’re stopping at two…

  23. Nicole says

    Someone mentioned earlier to soak pads with water and freeze them to help with postpardum sweeling. When I was in the hospital they used newborn diapers instead of pads. It was great! Just soak them in water and toss them in the freezer. They stay cold for a long time and it is so soothing. As soon as I got home that is one of the first things I did. It also helps a lot when people come to visit and you find that it hurts a lot to sit up for any long length of time.

    Another thing I did was scheduled visits from people. That way everyone wasn’t visiting and once and you don’t get overwhelmed.

  24. says

    Make a little registry or wish list of things you want on or something like it.

    This way, you won’t get 10,000 white onesies and you’ll get stuff that you absolutely know you must have!

  25. Jogr says

    These suggestions are fantastic. I delivered in September, and struggled with this very question. Here are a few things that others might find helpful:

    – Make a phone/email tree or family phone list for spreading the baby news. I asked 5 key people within different branches of our families to take responsibility for spreading the news to others. This was tricky, since we have divorces, people who don’t talk to each other, etc., but it saved us a big headache on the baby’s birth day to know that we could joyfully call a few people, and others would learn the details too.

    – Take time to exercise every day. Your delivery, recovery time, and state of mind will all be much better for it.

    – Pull out or buy (thrift shops are good for this) a variety of clothes in different sizes for you. I was very frustrated when none of the nursing bras or clothes that I had carefully pulled out actually fit — there’s no telling what size you’ll really be after delivery — and the last thing I wanted to do was go shopping.

    – If possible, line up relatives, trusted friends, a postpartum doula, or others with newborn experience to watch the baby for you. After a few days, I was desperate to get out of the house by myself for even 20 minutes, but could only do so with the help to watch the baby.

    – Enjoy the (perhaps limited, if you have other children) silence!

    Best of luck