Disclosure: I've teamed up with Babies "R" Us and P&G for this post.
1.) Talk to veteran moms. Having a baby can be exciting, but a little scary at the same time. Your fellow moms prove that it can be done and they can alleviate some of your fears. Whether you're nervous about the labor and delivery experience or about what kind of baby gear you need, moms who have "been there and done that" can help.
2.) Bring a veteran mom with you when you register at a trusted store. There are a LOT of baby products on the market and choosing which items are right for your family can be extremely overwhelming. It's a good idea to start with a trusted store, like Babies "R" Us, that will give you a lot of information and recommendations on the most popular categories and brands of baby items. They even provide you with a handy checklist to make sure you have all the bases covered. It's also a good idea to bring a friend or family member with you that's a veteran mom. They can tell you what you really need and what you can do without. I registered at Babies "R" Us and brought along my best friend and had a great experience; everything was just so easy.
3.) Prepare the baby's room and wash all of baby's clothing and layette. I think this has to do a lot with the "nesting" phase of pregnancy, but I wanted to make sure I had every possible thing done before baby arrived. This included washing all of those adorable newborn outfits, swaddles, and cradle sheets with a gentle detergent like Dreft. Also, try to assemble any baby furniture or pieces of baby gear before baby arrives. It's a lot easier to do those things before you have a newborn and are sleep deprived.
4.) Install the car seat early and have it checked by a CPST. You know I'm all about car seat safety and believe me when I tell you that I knew nothing about car seats before I started reviewing them and reading more about safety regulations. You don't want to be left scrambling with car seat installation at the last minute, so take your car seat to your local CPST early (I'd recommend calling and making an appointment) so they can help you with proper installation. It's estimated that 75% of car seats are not properly installed, so don't take any risks with your most precious cargo.
5.) Pack a bag and have it ready. That moment when labor starts - the last thing you want to worry about is gathering all of the things you need for the hospital. Pack a bag early and leave it within eyesight (or in your car) so you're sure to grab it on your way out the door. Also, be sure to have a list of your emergency contacts in your bag, in case your partner is not with you when you go into labor, and have all of your insurance info and a birth plan if you have one.
6.) Seek out and interview pediatricians early. I didn't realize how important finding a good pediatrician truly is. You're already a bit stressed when you're a new parent, and feeling uncertain about your child's health care provider only adds to your anxiety. Ask for recommendations from other parents you know and go ahead and call pediatricians for an appointment to sit and chat with them. Consider it an interview. You want to find someone that has similar views on breastfeeding (if you're planning on it), when to start solids, vaccinations, antibiotic usage, homeopathy, and things such as this.
7.) Going back to work after baby is born? Arrange for childcare early because many centers have wait lists. Maternity leave will fly by, so start checking out reputable childcare centers early. You might find that the most desirable locations have a wait-list that you can put your name on before baby is even born. Another thing to think about, even though it might seem far off, is preschool! In our area, it's not uncommon for people to put their children's name on the wait-list at the best preschools in their first few months of life for 18 month admission.
8.) Attend childbirth, newborn, and breastfeeding classes before baby arrives. Your local hospital might have a wealth of information to share with you - you just need to sign up for the classes. In some cases they're free and others charge a small fee. You can learn about labor and delivery, what you can expect from that certain facility, and some locations even have newborn care classes that can teach the very basics (Never changed a diaper? No problem! They can help.) Also, seek out local breastfeeding support groups and La Leche League meetings if you're planning to breastfeed your baby. A good support system can make all the difference in your success.
9.) Prepare meals ahead of time, or (if you feel comfortable enough) ask your friends to establish a meal delivery schedule for you. No one told me how much physical discomfort I'd be in after my first baby. I was sore and just didn't feel up to preparing meals. I LOVED anyone that would bring us a meal in those first few weeks (extra points if they brought it in a container I didn't have to wash and give back to them). For this next baby, I'm going to prepare freezer meals that I can throw in the crock-pot, but I know some of our friends will likely bring us meals too. There are great websites like Meal Train where your friends can get together and plan a schedule to plan meals for you and your family.
Ready for some additional tips from nationally recognized brands and some expert bloggers?
Here are some the Top 10 Tips for the First 100 Days with Baby!
Do you have any tips for preparing for a new baby?
I'd love to hear them!
Disclosure: I've teamed up with Babies "R" Us and P&G for this post. I received a promotional item for participating. All opinions expressed are my own.