When you’re expecting a new bundle of joy and experiencing the flurry of excitement that comes with it, there are bound to also be a whole lot of questions running through your mind. “What do I need to do to prepare for the arrival of my new baby?” is often one of the key ones, and how it is answered will vary from person to person. Still, there are a few key things that can be helpful across a wide range of parents as you start constructing your personal newborn-baby-needs checklist – whether it’s your first baby or a new sibling joining the family. The time immediately after the arrival of your new bub will likely be busy and exhausting. Here you can find a range of ideas to help you prepare as best you can before that day arrives to help with your transition to parenthood.
First, and one you’ve probably already thought of, is preparing all those major items you’ve bought for your baby – and if you don’t have them yet, you can start having a look around for them! Cots and bassinets can be assembled before they’re needed. Having the car seat installed properly in advance is vital, especially as your baby’s arrival day can’t be predicted with 100% certainty. In addition, it’s highly recommended that you have the seat installation either done or checked by a trained child restraint technician. Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency provides a list of certified child restraint technicians throughout New Zealand, which can be found here.
Decorating what will be the baby’s new room can be a fun activity for some (especially if you’ve got that nesting instinct!), while being an enjoyable way to get some bonding time in with your partner while you’re waiting. Alternatively, you can organise a working bee with friends and family to get it done in one go. What your space looks like will depend on your preferences, but a crucial thing to remember, especially to help with your stress levels, is that babies don’t need a whole lot of things. They don’t care if you haven’t quite got the shade of yellow you were after. What is important is to make sure you’ve got a clean, warm environment for your new arrival to sleep safely in while keeping clutter to a minimum. You should be able to move easily through the room while holding a newborn without worrying about tripping over assorted toys and furniture. If you already have children, finding a spot that can just be for the new baby, at least for those first few months, can be difficult. If you’re able to, though, having a space to quietly sit and cuddle with your baby while feeding or changing can be something of an oasis, giving you time to build that bond.
Those first few weeks of having a newborn is often a period of time we are too busy – or just too tired – to want to worry about cooking meals each night. Getting a supply of pre-made meals in the freezer in the weeks leading up to the birth means that on those nights when it all seems a bit much, you can thank your past self for looking after you so well as you pop a delicious, nutritious pre-made meal in the microwave or oven to enjoy. If that preparation seems a bit difficult at the time (late pregnancy has its own variety of tired, after all!), then an option to help can be to make a double portion of your regular meals – half to freeze, and half to enjoy on the day you make it. And don’t forget to say yes if someone offers to provide food for you – it’s much easier to say yes when the help is offered than it is to ask later! Being in the habit of preparing food in advance also has the advantage of letting you continue even after your baby arrives, both for yourselves and bubs.
Getting together all the bits and pieces that go with a new baby can be overwhelming, but discussing what you need is something that can be done with your partner, friends, family, and lead maternity carer in the months leading up to the birth. In addition to those things mentioned above, a non-exhaustive list can include things like:
- Nappy rash/barrier creams
- Clothes and hats
- Breast pumps & bottles
- Nursing bras
- Baby carriers/slings
As mentioned in this list, pumps and bottles are something you might need to organise, but there's a whole range of breastfeeding tools that can be prepared in advance. Milk Storage Bags are one, but another thing you might find useful is Haakaa's Silicone Colostrum Collector. This world-first design will let you not only collect, but store colostrum then feed it to your baby once they arrive! Easy to clean, easy to sterilise and easy to use, this Collector is used in place of traditional plastic syringes and is made of 100% medical-grade silicone - so there's no risk of plastic toxins leaching into your colostrum. If you think this is something you could need, make sure to discuss it with your LMC!
What your list will look like will depend on your circumstances. At the same time, planning your baby list is the perfect chance to gather those things you need, as well. For example, if you have medications you take, making sure you’ve got your prescriptions filled early means you won’t have to rush out with a newborn. Likewise, things like toilet paper and tissues can be readily stocked up on, as can personal care products like soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent. While you’re getting all those daily bits and pieces together, you can pack your hospital bag – include items such as newborn nappies and maternity pads, clothes for both yourself and the baby, shampoo, a toothbrush, and any other necessities for your particular circumstances.
If you already have children, they can be part of the excitement as well! Including them in the preparations and letting them know about the upcoming changes can help them feel more settled. Letting them help out – maybe by choosing a special job that’s just for them to do – can make them feel important and more secure. It’s often also helpful to let them know what will be happening – for example, making sure they know mum will be away for a short while if you’re planning a hospital birth, or that their new sibling will be too little to play with at first. Teaming up with friends and family to find time for special, one-on-one time with older siblings is another thing that is worth considering – it can be as big a change for older siblings as it can be for you. These are all things people like your LMC, friends and family will be able to help with advice about as well, so don’t be afraid to ask!