You'll never forget the moment when you first bring your new baby home. As soon as you enter the house, a new phase of your life begins, and the more prepared you are, the less stressful the transition. If you take the time to ready your home for the new baby during pregnancy, you can relax and enjoy bonding with your child. “Parents Magazine” suggests that a mother-to-be create a things to do checklist and spend her third trimester completing the list before baby comes home.
Get the Gear
You don't have to buy baby swings and exercise saucers before baby comes home, but you will need a few essential items for those first few weeks. One of the most important pieces of equipment you need to acquire is a car seat; you can't drive baby home from the hospital without one. Install the car seat before your due date. The National Association of Childcare Resources and Referral Agencies suggest asking your local fire department or AAA office to help you properly install the car seat. You also need to prepare a crib or another sleeping area before baby arrives home. Finally, you need to purchase or borrow a sling carrier so you can keep baby close while still remaining active. More likely than not, you will also want to acquire a stroller.
Stock Up on Clothing and Care Items
Stocking up on essentials such as diapers and wipes, and on an assortment of onsies, sleepers and seasonally appropriate outerwear will keep you from worrying about what baby will wear once you bring her home. If you're using disposable diapers, purchase newborn sizes and the next size up in preparation for baby’s growth. If you're opting for cloth diapers, choose a variety of styles to try out during the first few weeks. Before you bring baby home, practice fastening prefolds and flat diapers. While stocking up on diapers and clothing basics, purchase receiving blankets, crib blankets and two to three sets of crib sheets to have on hand.
Make the Home Safe
The most important items to check for child safety are the crib and the car seat. Make sure the crib adheres to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards, which mandate that spaces between crib rails must not exceed 2 3/8 inches, rail height must reach at least 26 inches, and a crib's paint contain no lead. If using an old or hand-me-down crib, check for recalls at the CPSC website. Remove stuffed animals, pillows and blankets from the crib, as these items may cause baby to suffocate. Inspect the car seat before baby's first ride home. Only use a second-hand seat if you have the instructions and can confirm no pieces are missing. Avoid car seats with visible cracks and confirm the seat has no recalls posted on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in both baby’s room and throughout the house. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests you also place a list of emergency numbers near the phone in case of emergency. On the exterior of your home, make sure your house or apartment number is not obstructed from view so the fire department or EMT service can easily find you if needed.
Find a Pediatrician
Not long after you bring baby home, you'll need to visit the doctor for routine immunizations and checkups. If you begin your search several weeks before you deliver, you won't have to scramble to find a doctor after she arrives. The Association of Childcare Resource and Referral Services suggests you ask your physician and your friends for recommendations, and once you've compiled a list of potential candidates, schedule an appointment with each. A visit will allow you to see how the pediatrician interacts with her patients and you can ask any questions you might have.
- The Association for Childcare Resources and Referral Services: Child Care Aware: Bringing Home Your New Baby: Making Your Transition a Smooth One
- United States Department of Health and Human Services: Womens Health: Making Your Home Safe For Baby: Getting Ready For Baby
- Parents: Third Trimester To-Do List
- Healthychildren.org: Car Seats: Information for Families for 2013