As you get ready to welcome a new baby into your family, you’ll begin to look at your home through fresh eyes. You’ll want to get rid of unnecessary clutter and rearrange spaces. You’ll ask questions like, “Is that safe?” and “Should we set this up a different way?” and “What do we really need for the nursery?”
For most soon-to-be parents, the process of preparing a home for a baby is both exhilarating and a little overwhelming. But don’t panic; it’s not as complicated as it seems. Follow these basic guidelines, and your home will be well-equipped for your new arrival in no time.
It’s a good idea to clear out some space in your home before your baby arrives. Do you have a designated room or area for the nursery? What does that space need to be tidy and functional? What small changes can you make to improve it?
Take an inventory of the items in each room of your home. Look for spaces that are overcrowded, possessions that are rarely or never used, and junk that tends to collect.
Once you’ve found the problem areas, go on a de-cluttering spree — taking out trash and delivering unwanted goods to a secondhand store. Figure out which surfaces tend to attract miscellaneous items, like papers, keys, and devices, and add a small basket or box to sweep them into.
Set Up Storage
For being so tiny, babies come with a lot of gear. To avoid rooting through a chaotic pile of stuff in the middle of the night, implement a nursery storage system in advance.
Prioritize simplicity and visibility so you can easily find what you need (preferably one-handed). Here are a few ideas that might help:
- Buy hanging organizers and stackable baskets and bins.
- Install shelves, hooks, or cube bookcases that hold items of various sizes.
- Arrange baby clothes by age, with newborn outfits at the front of the closet or dresser and larger sizes toward the back.
Plan for Guests
You may have some visitors coming by to make your life easier by cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, running errands, and generally being useful after you bring the baby home. They won’t expect you to roll out the red carpet for them, but they will need a place to sleep and basic amenities, so prepare your guest space before your baby arrives by putting clean sheets on the bed and leaving out fresh towels and toiletries.
Start with the Nursery Necessities
Resist the urge to buy everything you think you need, and focus first on the essentials. Ask trustworthy friends with babies which purchases they use the most and which they could do without. Invest in these pieces for sure:
- A sturdy crib manufactured after June of 2011 so it’s compliant with current federal safety standards
- A crib mattress that fits the crib snugly and a fitted sheet (other items like pillows or quilts can be choking hazards)
If you have the budget and the bandwidth, you can also buy a few nice-to-have items:
- A comfortable rocking chair or glider
- A humidifier or vaporizer
- A clothes hamper
Prep the Changing Table
There’s one rule you can count on as a new parent: you’ll spend many hours changing diapers in the coming months. Do yourself a favor and prepare for that task long before you bring your new baby home.
Most baby stores will have a good variety of changing table options to choose from, or you can easily create a DIY changing station with a few basic tools and materials. Whichever route you go, stockpile the changing station with newborn diapers, wipes, and diaper cream. Keep a bin of other small items handy as well, including hand sanitizer, washcloths, facial tissues, and baby nail clippers.
Do a Safety Check
For the first few months, your main concern will be keeping an eye on your baby when you’re not in the nursery. Research baby monitors and choose one that offers capabilities that give you peace of mind, like night vision video and two-way audio communication.
Plan ahead for when your baby starts crawling too because that milestone will arrive before you know it. Walk around your home and make note of all the areas that will be within reach of a curious infant or toddler so you can put safety precautions in place:
- Kitchens and bathrooms — Put hazardous items up in a high location if possible. Install child safety locks on drawers, cabinets, and toilets.
- Main rooms and bedrooms — Anchor heavy furniture to prevent tipping. Replace any window coverings with cords that are a strangulation hazard. Cover low electrical outlets.
- Halls and walkways — Use doorknob covers for rooms like the cleaning closet or the bathroom. Position baby gates in front of stairs or rooms you want to limit access to.
Stock and Organize the Kitchen
In the first few weeks of your baby’s life, you may luck out and end up with a fridge full of casseroles delivered by thoughtful friends. But after those first weeks, you could find yourself with a dwindling food supply and no energy to go shopping.
Head to the store to stock up on pantry or freezer staples that you can easily turn into a meal: frozen and canned vegetables, pasta, soup, peanut butter, bread, etc. If you have extra time, cook a large batch of a hearty meal like chili, lasagna, or stew, and freeze it in small containers. In addition, don’t neglect the organizational element of things — carefully planning where you’ll store everything from formula to granola bars will make those 3a.m. feedings easier on both you and your bundle of joy. Speaking of late night feedings, it’s wise to stock a bin by your own bed with a spare bottle, diapers, wipes, and other quick baby essentials for those who plan on co-sleeping with their newborn. It’ll also be a good idea to keep a few similar bins throughout the house (in any bedroom and by the sofa). Depending on how the birth goes, some new mommies opt for spending a few days to a few weeks in the living room if their home is multi-level, rather than going upstairs to avoid straining their healing body.
Once you’ve gone through this whole list, your home will be clean, organized, and well-furnished, and fully-stocked so you can relax and get excited to meet your bundle of joy.