Congratulations – you’re expecting!  What a wonderful feeling.  You’re about to embark on the craziest, and most rewarding, journey of your life.  To help make sure you’re prepared and confident about the arrival of your little one, we’ve put together a list of the top ten things you should do to prepare for your baby coming home.  (Some of our other articles will go into these topics in greater detail).

While there will most certainly be changes in your life which need to be made, this list – like all of my material – is designed to help you have the best quality start for your child’s life.  After all, that’s our job as parents, right?

Once you’ve mastered this list of top 10 things, be sure to check out my second article: What You REALLY Need to Do Before Baby Arrives. And congrats again on your pregnancy!

1. Have a Support System

Both parents deserve to have a supportive group of people who can help with everything from Mommy’s Day Off, to cooking meals when the baby first comes home, to being a shoulder to cry on when you get to a breaking point (and don’t worry, every parent feels that way at least once!).  Pull from your closest relatives, friends, coworkers and fellow churchgoers so that on the day you need it, you know exactly who to call.  And don’t be shy about asking for help!

2. Make Child Care Decisions

We made lots of sacrifices when we got preggo with Baby 2 to afford for me to be a stay-at-home mom, but for a lot of families that just isn’t possible.  Start looking now into rates of childcare systems, or ask a few trusted loved ones if they could care for your baby once you have to go back to work.  Remember to ask your pediatrician and parent friends for recommendations, take time to tour the prospective child care centers, and look into your insurance to see if they have plans to help you pay for it! I’ll post my daycare interview checklist soon too.

Top 10 Things to Do Before Baby Arrives - RealSimpleMama

3. Choose a Pediatrician

Make sure that you have a pediatrician lined up before the birth of your child, if possible.  They will be one of your biggest resources and advocates through all of the late-night scares and “Is this normal?!” phone calls.  Read our article called “The Perfect Pediatrician” for more information and for a free downloadable interview form!

4. Get the Necessary Products

There’s a fine line here of balancing what your baby actually needs in the first few weeks of life, and getting sucked into the marketing frenzy for new parents.  Your baby needs a car safety seat, a safe place to sleep, basic soft clothing, first aid materials, and items for feeding (whether breastfeeding, formula feeding, or both).  That’s it!  Everything else is secondary.  You can look at my reviews if you’d like to see what I got.

5. Get Informed

For us, this meant taking every hospital class we could – Breast Feeding, Car Seat Safety, Child Birth, and Newborn Care.  (We felt they were really helpful and are so glad we did!).  If that’s not an option for you, there are lots of great websites like that for the American Academy of Pediatrics that have educational videos on everything from a good latch in breastfeeding to safe sleep for your baby.  While it’s impossible to know everything, it helps new parents so much to get that “A-ha, so THAT’S how you do it!” feeling. I have other links at Links I Love for you to peruse.

6. Car Seat Research

I know we mentioned car seats already, but this is so important.  When you learn that 97% of all car seat-related accidents are due to improper installation, it really drives home the fact that you need to be sure that it’s installed correctly.  Be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of getting a convertible vs infant carseat, get the highest quality one you can afford, and get it installed by a licensed person (like the RN who teaches your car seat safety class).  Most local firefighters and/or policemen can help you too – you just have to ask!  Read reviews at Consumer Reports too.

7. Train Your Pet

In our house, our pets are our furry babies.  To help you and your four-legged friends adjust to life after baby comes home, talk to your veterinarian about how to prepare your pet now.  There might be very little you need to do (just getting the pets accustomed to the sounds and smells once your little one comes home), or you might have bigger training needs ahead.  Think about where your pets sleep, how they are around food, their cleanliness, and other habits.  Are they fully vaccinated? Do they sleep where Baby will be sleeping? Should they be spayed/neutered, or get groomed? Doing this now will help all of your residents get along and be safe.

8. Be Prepared for an Emergency

Look up all emergency numbers and have copies by every phone in your home – make sure that you, your significant other and any other caretaker also have them in their cell phone’s contacts.  This includes the Poison Control Hotline, your pediatrician’s number(s), the local emergency room, etc. – have addresses too just in case someone has to make an emergency trip.  Everyone who will be helping care for Baby also needs to be familiar with SIDS and its signs (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

9. Baby-Proof Your Home

Your baby won’t be crawling and walking from Day 1, but it’s best to start looking into these things before you have that little bundle at home to worry about – because trust us, your hands will be full!  Some things to think about: baby gates for restricted areas, especially stairs; turning down the temperature of your water heater to no hotter than 110; locks on all cabinets and drawers, especially if they house cleaning chemicals or other dangers; bumpers on any sharp countertops, table corners, etc.; getting into a cleaning regimen especially for floors; and having an easily accessed location for all emergency and first aid supplies.

10. Decide How You Will Feed Baby

Yep, more research.  If possible, you really should at least try to breastfeed – but of course you already knew that. The World Health Organization recommends exclusively nursing for six months, and continuing to breastfeed (along with solids) for a year or more, as long as Baby and Mama are happy.

Please make sure that you are well-read on the issues of breastfeeding and formula feeding before you make a decision – again, the goal is for your baby to get the best quality nutrition that they can!

As a bonus, check out my video below for some tips and insights into various newborn clothes, and how to dress them!

If you haven’t already, check out my eBook series called Real Simple Motherhood: The Fourth Trimester. I have affordable, thoroughly researched, easy to read books on topics from “how to feed baby” to “baby sleep” to “should I use disposables or cloth?”

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Funny story? Lemme know below!