Are you wondering how to prepare for a baby? If you’re an expectant parent, this question might be on your mind day and night! But preparing for a baby isn’t just about getting your home in order—it also means preparing for labor and making a list of fun things to do before having a baby, which can support the end of your pregnancy journey. Read on for our top recommendations of what to do before your little one arrives!
How to Prepare for Labor
When you’re preparing for your baby, much of your timeline and many tasks will focus on getting ready for labor and birth. Check out our master list so that you know how to prepare for birth.
1. Take a Childbirth Class
Whether you’re a first-time parent or a seasoned pro, it’s a good idea to take a childbirth class. Taking a class can support you with preparing for labor physically and emotionally—learn about breathing techniques, pain relief strategies, and how your body prepares for labor with practice contractions, known as Braxton Hicks.
Further, childbirth classes can help you understand what to anticipate in labor, how your healthcare provider will support you, and what happens after delivery, so take advantage of this resource!
2. Create a Birth Plan
For some, crafting a birth plan is essential to preparing for labor. Though childbirth can be unpredictable, and you may need to deviate from the plan, it helps to have a written record of your preferences and best to provide a copy to your partner, family, and healthcare provider. You’ll thank yourself later when everyone’s on the same page while you’re amid labor!
Photo by Ana Ramalho
3. Pack Your Hospital Bag
Although this is a relatively easy task, don’t put it off until the last minute! Only 5 percent of babies are actually born on their due date, so packing your hospital bag in advance may very well save the day! We have a handy hospital bag checklist you can use to make sure you don’t forget the essentials.
4. Talk With Your Birthing Partner
A birthing partner (or labor coach) might be your partner, but a parent, sibling, or friend could also take on this role. Not everyone chooses to have a birthing partner, but if you do, it helps to make sure you’re in sync and supported while preparing for labor and during labor.
5. Follow a Healthy Diet
It's likely that you’ve been paying attention to what you eat and following a healthy pregnancy diet. If not, now’s the time to start! Eating well helps keep you and your little one healthy, promotes steady growth, and supplies the energy you need for childbirth and motherhood—so it’s a crucial component of how to prepare for a baby.
Photo by Ana Ramalho
6. Try to Get Daily Exercise
In addition to eating well, exercising every day can help your body prepare for labor. Exercising while pregnant can help strengthen the muscles that you’ll use when giving birth. Experts recommended about 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
7. Practice Relaxation Techniques
If you're taking a childbirth education class, you’ll likely learn several relaxation techniques that can help in preparing for labor. Prenatal yoga, meditation, and deep breathing have been known to reduce labor pains and can help you minimize those common anxieties and worries about giving birth and the big changes that lie ahead.
8. Plan Your Birth Announcement
Once your new addition arrives, you may want to send out birth announcements. Whether you plan to post on social media or send out a card, you can prepare the basic announcement ahead of time and add details like time and date of birth and your baby’s name after delivery. (I offer birth announcements with my newborn session packages!).
Photo by Ana Ramalho
How to Prepare for a Baby
The next step in the process is preparing your home. What to prepare for your baby and how to get ready for their arrival can include numerous tasks. These can range from stocking up on baby essentials to getting some chores done in advance (like shopping for household staples or preparing and freezing meals), so you can focus on baby care and rest.
9. Get All Those Baby Essentials
How to prepare for your baby’s arrival also includes assembling those newborn baby essentials! Many parents wonder what to bring their baby home in and what that first week will be like with a newborn. These are very common questions, and gathering equipment and items like a car seat, diapers, baby clothes, and feeding supplies will help you feel prepared and put your mind at ease.
10. Make and Freeze Meals
Getting ready for a baby can include preparing for those first few weeks as new parents when you’d rather not worry about shopping and cooking. One helpful strategy is making and freezing some meals for you and your family. Having a few options that you can simply stick in the oven or microwave can make a world of difference.
11. Stock Up on Necessities
As you plan ahead for those first few weeks, do a quick inventory of your household essentials and stock up where needed. Eliminate last-minute trips to the store by purchasing extras of necessities like toilet paper, medication, cleaning supplies, pet food, etc.
12. Prepare Siblings
Bringing a tiny newborn home from the hospital means a big change for everyone in the family. If you have other children, they might also need a little preparation. Introducing your newborn to their siblings is a special moment that you’ll likely cherish forever. To help your older children adjust, doing some prep—such as setting up the baby’s room and moving older kids to other rooms in plenty of time or letting siblings visit the baby in the hospital—can go a long way.
Photo by Ana Ramalho
13. Prepare Pets
It’s not just the older siblings that need help preparing for a baby—your furry family members will also need to adjust! Things like putting up gates to keep dogs and cats out of certain rooms and slowly introducing your pets to your new arrival with gentle interactions will help those first weeks at home with a newborn go more smoothly.
14. Babyproof Your Home
You might be wondering when to start preparing for your baby’s arrival—and when that preparation ends. When it comes to babyproofing your home, the process doesn't really end! It’s best to start babyproofing early when you have the energy and can move around easily (in other words, before that baby bump of yours gets too big). But as your baby grows and starts to crawl and walk, more babyproofing is needed. Get a start now and prepare for what you’ll need to do in the future.
15. Choose Your Baby’s Healthcare Provider
One of the more important tasks is choosing your baby’s healthcare provider. You’ll want to choose one in plenty of time so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute. Your baby’s first official appointment will be a few days after birth, and the provider will have advice to share and answer any questions. You’ll continue to see them through the first weeks and months of your little one’s life, such as your baby’s 1-month health check.
Fun Things to Do Before the Baby Arrives
There’s a lot that goes into preparing for a newborn, and it begins way before labor and your baby’s arrival. It's a good idea to work in some fun things to do before your baby arrives! Enjoying yourself toward the end of your pregnancy journey can help you feel refreshed and ready to welcome your little one into their new world.
Photo by Ana Ramalho
16. Book a newborn photographer
The ideal time to book your newborn photographer is during your 2nd trimester. You’ve made it over the hump of the 1st trimester with its elevated risks, and it’s time to start really preparing for this baby’s arrival. I recommend securing your photographer in your 2nd trimester so that you can cross it off your “To Do” list and not even have to think about it again until the baby arrives. You can absolutely book later, but the risk with waiting until the 3rd trimester (or after the baby arrives!) is that the photographer you really want may be completely booked and unable to accommodate you. I personally will take as many last-minute newborn bookings as I can manage with my schedule, but sometimes it’s tough to be able to squeeze someone in. I can’t speak for all newborn photographers, but I know that many of us have a similar procedure when it comes to booking for newborns. When you book with me, a reservation fee is paid and a tentative date of 10 days after your due date is added to my calendar. Once your baby is born, you will let me know as soon as possible so then I can change it my schedule if necessary. There’s no need to worry if baby comes very early or very late. I'm pretty accustomed to their unpredictable nature!
17. Take a Babymoon
Going on a babymoon has become more popular than ever before, and why not take this opportunity to travel before giving birth? Think of it as one last hurrah before your little one arrives. Of course, consult your healthcare provider about when it’s OK to travel and whether traveling while pregnant is right for you.
18. Pamper Yourself
All those pregnancy aches and pains can take a toll on your body, and it’s important to care for yourself. A pregnancy massage, pedicure, relaxing bath, or even a nap are great ways to pamper yourself. Consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.
19. Decorate the Nursery
Check out some nursery themes and, after settling on something you like, start decorating! Preparing the nursery might satisfy the urge to nest during pregnancy. Nesting is a fairly common phenomenon that can keep you occupied and distracted if you feel nervous.
Photo by Ana Ramalho
20. Find Your Parenting Community
Perhaps your friend group already consists of a bunch of parents, but if not, you may want to find a parenting group that you can lean on as you navigate those first weeks (and years)! You can find these communities online or in your town or city.
21. Have a Date Night
One thing you might want to do before your baby arrives is a date night with your partner. Your lives are about to get busy, and you may enjoy time alone, whether that means going to your favorite restaurant or staying in for a cozy night at home.
22. Attend Your Baby Shower
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with preparing for your baby’s impending arrival, remember that you don’t have to plan the baby shower and can simply enjoy being the guest of honor! Even if you help with the guest list or choose the venue, a close friend, family member, or loved one will do the bulk of the planning. Just relax and have fun.