New parents often feel like they will never be ready for the impending arrival of their baby. How do you prepare for bringing home your baby? And how do you prepare for the baby without wasting time and money on things that don’t matter? We’ll share our advice as well as why these tips can save you a lot of time, trouble and frustration. Here are 11 tips for new parents about to bring home their first child.
Tip 1: Set up the essentials in advance.
Set up the car seat well before you need to drive to the hospital to get Mom and baby. This gives you time to figure out how to secure it, and it gives you the opportunity to have it inspected by a police department or EMS. Set up the crib in advance so you don’t have to worry about figuring it out while you’re struggling to figure out how to change a crying baby.
Tip 2: Set up things up in systems.
One way to preserve your sanity is to set up systems. The classic example is the kitchen workflow. You go from fridge to stove to countertop when preparing food. Anything that interrupts this smooth triangular flow is a hindrance. Set up a similar “system”, a smooth flow from crib to changing table to the rocking chair. Furthermore, set up the changing table so that all the changing supplies are in easy reach and hard to mess up. After all, you’re going to be doing this at 2 in the morning.
Tip 3: Keep the gadgets to the minimum.
Think of the diaper changing area and other areas you’ll spend a lot of time with the baby as being similar to your bathroom sink. When you have a lot of gadgets piled up on every flat surface, they’re an annoyance, not a convenience. This makes all-in-one items a priority. Have a baby wipe warmer but only if it replaces the open box of wipes sitting on the changing table. You can have a bottle warmer, but only if it doesn’t take up too much space. Don’t worry about having half a dozen devices around the child, since this doesn’t matter to them and may become a problem for you. Do buy a baby swing or bassinet, but don’t worry about buying a baby bouncer yet.
Tip 4: Learn the essentials before you come home with baby.
Learn the essentials before you bring the baby home. For example, know how to change a poopy diaper before you bring your baby home. Know how to make a bottle for your child. More importantly, know the right way to sterilize a bottle after use, clean your child’s bottom, sterilize pacifiers and minimize the chance your child gets sick.
Tip 5: Be forgiving.
You may have a perfectly planned regimen and schedule. However, your child knows nothing about that and will not understand it. Don’t berate yourself for not sticking to a strict schedule for the child. Don’t punish yourself for not following your old exercise regimen or diet, either. It will take time to develop new routines that suit your whole family.
Tip 6: Get your house in order.
The best time to do a thorough house cleaning is before you bring the baby home. You don’t have to baby-proof right now. However, you need to clear the hallways and living areas. After all, you don’t want to trip on something stored in the hallway while carrying a crying baby to the kitchen at 4 AM. Go ahead and get rid of things you won’t be using or don’t really want anymore. If you really need to scrub that bathroom or clean out the fridge, do it before you bring the baby home. Dust and vacuum before the baby come home since you don’t yet have to worry about waking a sleeping child.
Tip 7: Get your financial house in order.
One of the biggest causes of fights between couples is finances. Before you bring the baby home, create a budget you can live with. Determine how you’re going to pay for the delivery. Figure out how you’re going to afford your new addition to the family. Start determining childcare arrangements and how you’ll pay for it. Consider selling junk around the house to raise money for an emergency fund so that you don’t have financial stress on top of general worry if the baby gets sick.
Tip 8: Stock up on essentials.
Mom may not be able to drive for weeks after having the baby. This may make it impossible for her to get to the store, and she probably won’t want to walk to the store with a newborn in tow. You can’t afford to order dinner out every night. This means you want to stock up on diapers, wipes, and baby formula before you bring the baby home. Stock up on frozen dinners, canned soup and pasta, and healthy snacks, too.
Tip 9: Practice what you want to do when the baby comes home.
Are you planning on carrying the baby in a sling? Figure out how to put it on and put a child in it, though you could use a stuffed animal before you have a live baby to practice with. Figure out how to use the diaper pail or diaper genie before your home will stink if you mess it up. Practice opening up and collapsing your stroller. Get good at these things before you have to do it with a baby in tow. And if you can’t figure out that baby travel system despite repeated attempts, you certainly want to replace it before you try to bring your son or daughter home.
Tip 10: Take pets into account.
Do you have pets? Think about how you’ll introduce them to the baby. You may want to have the pets staying with someone else while you’re in labor. Wait until you’re ready to introduce a dog or cat to the baby. Then you’re alert and ready if the dog decides it doesn’t like your newborn. If the pets will remain at the house, plan on who will walk the dogs or clean up after the cats so you don’t have to do this while recovering from delivery. However, you do want to get the pets used to baby stuff like the crib and stuffed animals before you bring your child home. Then you can train them not to chew on stuffed animals or get in the crib before it becomes a health hazard to your child.
Tip 11: Build your support network.
It doesn’t take a village to raise a child, but having a tribe ready to help you with the baby can go a long way. Determine in advance who could drive Mom and baby to a doctor’s appointment or run to the store for you. Talk to friends and family about who could watch the child while Mom takes a nap or runs errands. Ask who is willing to help you clean house when you’re recovering or give advice on breastfeeding and taking care of your new baby before you’re at wit’s end.
We’ve provided our top eleven tips for new and future parents. Follow our advice, and you’ll avoid many of the frustrations that create unnecessary stress for parents when they bring their baby home.
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