Having a baby is a major life-altering event, therefore it’s no wonder that most pregnant mamas temporarily go insane developing a things to do before baby arrives checklist.
We nest like crazy and feel the need to do more cleaning than we’ve ever done before in such a short period of time.
But now that I’m on the other side, I see how getting all the things done BEFORE baby arrives is SO SMART. Yes, babies sleep a lot. But you’re going to be exhausted. And when I say exhausted, I don’t mean the exhaustion that you experience now as a not-yet mom. The kind of exhaustion that my childless friends complain about CANNOT compare.
So yes. Make that third trimester checklist. Make it a mile long if you want. Because you know what? Wanting to do everything right now isn’t crazy. It’s NORMAL. According to science, nesting and checklist-ing is our way of protecting and preparing for our baby.
I knew that my life was going to change in a HUGE way. I am also a type A person who loves to be prepared, and I knew that labor, delivery and newborn life was absolutely unpredictable. Therefore, I made sure to have everything that I COULD control under control.
So let’s get to it. This list contains everything you need to do before baby arrives.
And if you’d like a printable checklist of everything in this post, you can find it at the bottom of this page.
This post contains affiliate links.
Pick A Name
If you haven’t finalized a name yet, I suggest that you start working on it. Give yourself and your partner time to think over the names that you have come up with. Names can take some time to grow on a person. With my first child, I was so set on her name. It was the name that I had envisioned my baby having for YEARS. My husband, however, didn’t like it. Somehow I didn’t freak out, I didn’t demand that she be named that every single day, I just waited calmly brought it up every so often. One day, my husband started referring to her with that name. He had grown to love it. Three years later, the same thing would happen, but with the name that he had chosen.
Anytime that you have to make a huge decision that you and another human being have to agree on, it becomes increasingly difficult. You BOTH have to find a name that you don’t despise.
And while some parents wait until the baby is born to choose a name, I would suggest still talking it over A LOT first.
Check out my friend Caitlin’s many posts on baby names if you’re still in the beginning stages.
This list of vintage boy names is also so helpful.
Install The Car Seat
While you might be VERY tempted to have your husband take care of this task, I suggest at least watching the process. Believe it or not, it’s easier to learn how to install your specific car seat now rather than later. There will inevitably be a time when you will have to remove the carseat and then potentially reinstall it when your husband is not around.
Every car seat has different installation methods, so be sure to read your instruction manual carefully. If you have only one child, you will want to install the seat in the middle of the backseat, as that’s the safest spot for your baby.
Once you have finished installing your car seat, get your seat checked for proper installation by a Child Passenger Safety Technician.
Pack Your Hospital Bag
If you’re anything like me, you probably haven’t packed your hospital bag yet. For me, packing my hospital bag was so final, and I just wasn’t yet ready to say, “Okay, my hospital bag is packed, labor can happen anytime!” There were so many things that I wanted to finish before my baby arrived, therefore I put off packing my hospital bag.
Until I was in labor.
It’s admittedly not the best-case scenario. Chances are that you will have time to pack some things before you go into full-blown labor, but who wants to pack a bag when you’re feeling pain, excitement, nervousness, and freak out-y.
Pack your bag NOW and make a short list (that you store in your bag) of the last minute things that you need to throw into your bag.
Pick Out Your Baby’s Going Home Outfit
Of course you want your baby to cross over the threshold of your home in style, but try to keep in mind that comfort is key. It is much easier to dress a baby in comfortable, stretchy clothing and more comfy for baby too.
Dress your baby in an all-in-one outfit that he can stay in all day, even once you get home. If you can manage to avoid any blowout or spit-up situations.
If you buy a super fancy baby outfit, your baby might not even be able to fit in it.
There are a lot of super cute, everyday options that your baby will get a lot of use out of.
Stock The Freezer
Having meals that you can simply throw into the oven for the first few weeks is the biggest life saver. Making freezer meals doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply use these recipes, and make two instead of one over the next few weeks. You can eat one for dinner tonight and freeze the other for the future.
Finish The Nursery
Here’s the thing about the nursery. It is recommended that you room share for the first six months. After that, who knows, you might still want to keep your baby close and you might not even use the nursery.
But here are my thoughts. There are only so many chances for you to have control over your child’s room before she grows up and starts to have her own opinions. And shockingly, those opinions might greatly differ from yours.
Design your nursery so that it can convert into a toddler room easily, without having to change the decor.
Check out how to design the nursery of your dreams!
Prewash And Organize Baby Clothes
You will want to prewash your baby’s clothes with a safe detergent so that you don’t irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. You can use Dreft, or simply buy a free and clear detergent that you can use for the whole family’s clothes. It’s cheaper and just as safe. I always used Tide Free And Clear, and actually still do for my children.
For organizing your baby’s clothes, I use and love these hanging storage organizers in my kid’s closets. They’re really versatile and I use another one for my daughter’s picture books. They hold a ton of baby clothes and keep the clothes super visible and easy to grab. Closet dividers are also super helpful for the clothes that you don’t want to fold, and would rather hang.
Prep Your Older Child(ren)
Not only is having a new baby a big adjustment for you, it’s also a big adjustment for your children.
I didn’t tell my 2 year old right away about her little sister, because I didn’t want to overwhelm her by hearing about the baby ALL the time. Once I did tell her, I made sure to include her. I allowed her to help me pick out clothes, toys and nursery items. I also encouraged her to talk to her baby sister.
The most helpful thing was probably reading books on the t0pic. It helped her to see that becoming a big sister is something that a lot of kids experience. I also liked that these books introduced the not-so enjoyable things too, such as the crying that comes with having a new baby.
God Gave Us Two is probably my favorite because it covers possible questions that might arise such as “Why do we need a new baby?” and “Will you forget me when the baby comes?”
Go Out On A Date
The truth is, it might be a while before you get to go out on a real date with your husband again. This is one of the biggest priorities.
Go to your favorite spot, or try something new.
Another option is to go on a Babymoon! This does NOT have to be elaborate, expensive or long. You can simply take a day trip or stay overnight somewhere local.
Prepare For Birth
Going into birth uneducated is a bad idea. Why? Just think about the birth stories that you have heard from well-meaning friends and family. Did they make you want to run for the hills? Cross your legs and will your baby to never come out?
Relying on the stories and advice of others is not helpful. For some reason, we don’t like to talk about your births in a positive light. It’s more like a competition to see who suffered more and who had longer labors. Because dammit, we pushed a watermelon-sized head out of our hooha and we deserve some sort of recognition!
I was determined to have an unmedicated childbirth, something that no one I knew was going to encourage me to do. At the mere mention of “no epidural”, gasps, dirty looks, laughter and stories about how truly awful the pain is will abound.
Unfortunately, for my first baby, I didn’t educate myself. And I listened to the laughs, and the gasps, and the horror stories and when it came time to face childbirth medication-free, I chickened out.
For my second birth, I educated myself and did it epidural-free. My favorite natural childbirth course was created by a super cool chick named Leisel. She’s a labor and delivery nurse and it’s her passion to educate women and empower them to achieve the natural childbirth of their dreams.
Oh, and even though Leisel’s birth course is the most affordable online birth course out there, she’s also giving Paper Heart Family reader’s 10% off. Just use the code BRENDA10. Click here to check out everything that’s included in this amazing course.
You can also check out all of my suggestions for classes for first time parents.
This free birth preparation workshop will also teach you SO MUCH.
Prepare For Breastfeeding
FYI: Breastfeeding does not come naturally. So many of the reasons that women quit breastfeeding are simply due to not being properly educated on breastfeeding. Because BELIEVE me. There is SO much to learn.
From the various phases that breastfed baby’s go through (some of which might drive you crazy), to latching issues, oversupply, pumping and storing breast milk, developing the right pumping schedule, maintaining your milk supply, navigating growth spurts, and SO much more.
If you really want to make breastfeeding work, then get the facts. Milkology has a super affordable online breastfeeding course that will absolutely help you to be informed, to have the facts and most importantly, to be SUCCESSFUL.
Stock Up On Postpartum Care Products
I feel like we put a ton of emphasis and thought (okay, more like a ton of worrying) into childbirth. But what about the aftermath? Well, it’s not pretty, that’s for sure.
You will want to make yourself as comfortable as possible after birth. You will also want to HEAL as quickly as possible.
Navigating everything that comes with life with a new baby is tough, and you also are going to be dealing with major soreness, swelling and possibly tearing.
Here are the things that you will absolutely NEED:
- Always Maxi Pads– They’re not super bulky, but they will give you a lot of extra protection. They have wings and are made for a very heavy flow (and believe me, this is like no other flow that you’ve experienced before).
- Postpartum Undies– Are the stylish? Of course not. But you NEED them, believe me. Your everyday panties are going to die a horrible death if you try to use them postpartum. You will probably get some from your hospital, but they will need to be changed frequently (postpartum is gross!!) so having more on hand is necessary.
- Tucks Medicated Healing Pads– These, which you can place right on top of your maxi pads, are going to help soothe the pain, itchiness and burning.
- The Fridet- The hospital very well might give you a peri bottle for squirting down there (because you will NOT want to wipe– I just winced at the thought). However, the hospital one is really the worst. You will likely end up spraying everywhere but where you need to spray. It’s specifically designed to be held upside down, and has 10 tiny holes versus one that the traditional peri bottle has. This is the difference between a gentle spray and a harsh squirt. Go check out the reviews, they’re amazing.
- Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray– Again, you will likely get some sort of numbing spray at the hospital. The numbing sensation always felt weird to me, and the bottle didn’t last me very long. When I switched over to Earth Mama, I instantly fell in love. Instead of numbing, it provides a cooling sensation that really soothes. I also love that it has a super pleasant cucumber scent and that it’s made of all-natural ingredients.
Figure Out A Safe Room-Sharing Arrangement
The AAP recommends that baby’s share a room with their parents (but not a bed) for the first 6 months, and ideally throughout the first year in order to prevent SIDS.
For me, room sharing with my babies wasn’t just about SIDS prevention, it was also about convenience. It was so easy and reassuring having my baby within arms-reach. I was able to sleep better, knowing that I would wake up if there was a problem (even if you are a heavy sleeper, you will be amazed at how in-tune your body becomes to your baby).
I absolutely loved the Arms-Reach Co-Sleeper. It attaches to your bed so baby literally is only an arms-reach away. It also gives you the feeling of sharing a bed with your baby, without actually sharing a bed.
You could also check out this post on more co-sleeper options.
Write Thank You Cards
Writing your thank you cards is NOT something that you’re going to want to do once your baby arrives. Or once you go into labor, like I did *cringe*.
Have Your Baby Shower
I like to think of the baby shower as the last time anyone is going to buy you things. Enjoy it!
Clean Your Carpets
I must say this was not something that I did, but as I was researching for this post, EVERYONE was talking about shampooing their carpets.
I suggest paying for someone to do it for you if you can. If not, feel free to do it or skip it.
Spend An Entire Day Doing Whatever You Want To Do
As a mom of two who has no idea what to do with free time (seriously, without little people demanding your attention every five seconds, you’ll be lost), this one is SO IMPORTANT.
I don’t care how many things are on your to-do list still, or how much you really want to finish nesting. Take one day for yourself. Go get a pedicure, eat ice cream out of the container for dinner, binge-watch your favorite show, WHATEVER. This day is all about you.
I’m not kidding when I say that you won’t have a day like this again for a VERY long time.
Take Maternity Photos
With my first pregnancy, I thought maternity photos were unnecessary. But then, I gave birth and kind of, sort-of, in a weird way missed being pregnant. I wished I had some beautiful photos to look back at.
With my second child, I did get maternity photos and I don’t regret it for a second. I love that my daughter was included and I love looking back at those photos. Because even though I didn’t feel beautiful at the time, now I look at those photos and realize what a beautiful miracle it all is.
Pick A Birth Announcement
What’s nice about this one, is that with the Internet, you don’t need to spend anything on your birth announcement. You could of course go the traditional route, but you could also do something really tasteful and sweet through email or social media.
Take Advantage Of Nesting
If you have started to experience some pregnancy nesting, take advantage!
When else in your life are you just dying to clean?! Ummm… never! Make sure to utilize all of the weird third trimester energy and drive that you have to get stuff done.
Choose A Pediatrician
Choosing a Pediatrician is so important, and something that can easily be overlooked.
If you’re going to be breastfeeding, you want to make sure that your choosing a breastfeeding-friendly Pediatrician. Most importantly, you need to LIKE the person that your going to be trusting for the medical needs of your baby.
Take A Nap
Like everyday. From now until the day that you go into labor.
Consider Buying A Postpartum Belly Band
Okay, mama. I NEVER purchased a postpartum belly band. And there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t look at the sad skin on my stomach and question that decision.
Don’t be like me. Just get one.
Forget About Looking Perfect On Push Day
I blame social media. We see these women looking perfectly coifed after giving freaking birth and we think that we need a beautiful photo to plaster on Facebook too. But all we’re really doing is just causing other moms to feel inadequate or like they need to look uber-beautiful too.
Unfortunately, I was one of those moms influenced by the desire for delivery room perfection.
Before heading to the hospital, I did my makeup real nice because dammit I wanted that photo. Look at me world, I just pushed a baby out of my body and I look amazing!
So what happened? I looked like I had been punched in the face because hell0? Labor is sweaty, and painful and really, really difficult. My mascara ran all over my face, my face looked puffy and red and REAL. After some sadness, I came to my senses and proudly plastered that photo on Facebook because that’s what real labor looks like.
Have A Special Mommy And Me Day With Existing Child(ren)
Your life is going to drastically change very soon, but so is the entire dynamic of your family. Taking the time out to spend some real quality time with your child now is a memory that you will carry with you forever.
Create Diaper Stations And Nursing Stations
Stations are going to make your life SO much easier postpartum.
Create a few diaper stations for each of the main areas of your house. This way, when baby has a blowout (inevitable!) you should have all the necessary diapering products very close by. In each diaper station, you should keep diapers, wipes and diaper cream.
If you are considering a diaper pail, check out the two that I recommend: The Ubbi vs Diaper Genie.
A few nursing stations are also a lifesaver. I would definitely have one on each level of your home, one where you and baby will be sleeping and one in the living room. Your nursing station should contain nipple cream, a Haakaa, nursing pads, the remote, a book and a nursing pillow.
Stock Up On Pantry And Household Items
Or you could always Amazon Prime whatever you need if you’re unorganized like me.
Buy Some Nursing Bras
Nursing bras are pretty much a necessity. You will stretch out your normal bra, and it will be really awkward and uncomfortable trying to get your baby to nurse with a regular bra in the way. Not that I know this from experience or anything.
There are many nursing bras out there and the perfect one for you depends on your situation. You could get a sleep nursing bra which will be super comfortable or you could get a more structured nursing bra if you’ll be returning to work.
Tour The Hospital And Register
Taking some time to tour the hospital ahead of time is going to help you to relax a little bit. You will know a little more about what to expect when you go into labor, and you will also be able to get a feel of the hospital. Registering ahead of time is also a must and is required by most hospitals.
Schedule Your Newborn Photography Session
If you are planning to have some newborn photos taken, it’s definitely a time sensitive thing. Newborn photographers will want to photograph your baby within the first two weeks of her life. Newborns are simply easier to photograph during this time because they’re so sleepy.
Get Your Free Breast Pump
Call your insurance company to inquire about getting your breast pump for free. It’s a huge savings! Before calling, make sure that you have a good idea of which breast pumps you prefer if you are given a choice.
Document Your Feelings… Right Now
I’m sure pregnancy has you feeling 100 different emotions, sometimes all at once. Take a few minutes right now to write a little letter to .your baby. It’s a keepsake that you could give to your child in the future, and will show your child exactly how you felt in that moment.
If you’d like to document even more about your pregnancy, my Pregnancy Journal is the perfect way to document it all.
Download A Contraction Timer App
When your contractions start and your mind is worrying about a million different things, the last thing you’re gonna want to do it watch the clock and do math. Seriously! With the push of a button, a contraction timer can tell you exactly how far apart your contractions are and will show you on a graph if they are consistent or not.
Finalize Your Birth Plan
The most important thing to do is to be confident in your birth plan. Want birth without the epidural? Want immediate skin-to-skin? Delayed cord clamping? Great! Just make sure to be confident in your body’s ability to do whatever you plan to do.
Have A Girl’s Night Out
Unless your amazingly skilled at avoiding mom guilt, you probably won’t be going out with the girls after your baby for a while. Unless it’s a mommy and me type thing.
Get Ready For Your First Post-Baby Poop
As if there wasn’t even know to think about already, here’s another! Make sure to have some stool softener and prunes on hand to make that first poop a little less uncomfortable.
Decide On Your First Post-Baby Meal
Most important decision right here! Okay, I’m joking. But really, am I? When the contractions got really bad, it wasn’t really the breathing that helped me through it. It was visions of sushi dancing in my head.
Pack Your Husband’s Hospital Bag
Okay, scratch that. Have your husband pack his own damn hospital bag.
Pack A Bag For Your Other Children
Will your children be staying overnight with grandma? Don’t leave their packing until the last minute either. Unless you want to force hubby to pack at the last minute, then by all means, wait.
Vacuum Your Car
And because your baby isn’t going to be eating in the car for a while, it should stay pretty clean!
Sanitize Bottles And/Or Pump Parts
Stock Up On Infant Tylenol And Gas Drops
You never know when your sweet baby might develop a fever so having some Infant Tylenol on hand is a must. And the gas drops? Did you know that infants are gassy? Well now you do. SO. GASSY. And they kind of don’t know what to do with gas, which can lead to a terribly fussy baby. Get the gas drops.
Get A Haircut
Take A Last Minute Bump Pic
This would be a fun one to save until you’re leaving for the hospital!
Clear Phone Memory
You might think that you take a lot of pictures now, but just wait. You are going to be snapping photos more than ever before once your baby arrives. Think one sleeping baby photo is enough? Nope. You’ll have hundreds.
Assemble The Baby Gear
Pack The Diaper Bag
Make A List Of Toddler Activities
If you have a toddler, it’s a great idea to brainstorm a list of activities that your toddler can do independently. This list will be something that you can turn to when you need a few minutes to care for the baby without your toddler.
Hire A Professional Cleaner
If you can afford to hire someone to come and clean your house, then do it! You might also want to consider saving this one for after the baby’s born. It’s hard to clean when you have a baby attached to you 24/7!
Most of all, remember that relaxing and enjoying this time is the most important thing. Your pregnancy will soon be over (even though it may not feel like it) and with the birth of your baby you’ll enter a new phase of exhaustion.