Soon-to-be mamas, this one’s for you! The experts at Mommy Academy put our heads together, drawing on both our professional training and our lived new-mama experiences. The result? An all-encompassing, no-stone-left-unturned preparing for baby checklist that walks you through everything you need to do and know before meeting your little one in a matter of months (or weeks!).
Other checklists? They’re cute. They cover maybe one element of baby prep, like the go-bag OR the nursery OR the nursing/pumping situation. Or, they cover a bunch of things, but not in Mommy Academy detail.
If you’re the kind of woman who likes to be overly prepared– actually, scratch that– the kind of woman that doesn’t even believe in overly prepared, you are home! Like you, we prefer to know EVERYTHING. We’re learners, readers, researchers. We like deep-dives, notes, plans, and organization.
A pamphlet of info? Nice try.
An Instagram post? Sweet.
Here, we cover all. the. things, so grab a cup of tea and maybe a notepad, and get reading what is quite literally the only preparing for baby checklist you’ll ever need!
(P.S. We also turned all of this information into a free, downloadable checklist so that you can keep yourself on track as you work your way through the things in this post in real life!)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
How To Pack An A+ Go-Bag
No preparing for baby checklist is complete without a go-bag packing tutorial!
Minimal moms, be warned. We haven’t left anything out of this list! Here’s everything you could possibly need for the big day.
- Paperwork. You’ll need all the things at the hospital: ID, insurance card, any medical records, etc.
- Birth plan. Printed copies are helpful for if/when people have questions in the heat of the moment.
- Toiletries. Anything that makes you feel comfortable, clean, and a little more human! Some you might not have considered: dry shampoo, makeup wipes, and a nice lotion. Don’t forget lip balm and contact solution (if you use it!).
- Slippers and socks. Keep your feet warm & cozy as you pace the hospital. Also, grab some flip-flops for the shower (ones you aren’t particularly attached to!)
- Nursing bra and nursing pads. Just save yourself the trouble of dealing with underwires and check out this comfy, wireless nursing bra.
- Phone & charger. You’ll want to stay distracted during labour, snap about a million pictures, and stay in touch with loved ones!
- Snacks. Birth is physical. Hospital food is terrible. Need we say more?
- Your comfies. Again, why oh why would you punish yourself with uncomfortable clothing after birth? You deserve to lounge in your favs. Silky, flannel, oversized. Cute sets, old college tees, your partner’s pj bottoms. You do you! Or this easy access, comfy shirt is just the best!
- A favorite pillow. Name of the game: comfort.
- Do yourself a favor and just grab the best nipple cream EVER on this earth. I’ve tried them all so you don’t have to. Motherlove Nipple Cream.
- Pads and/or diapers. You don’t have to bring this– the hospital will supply you with a few things– but it can be nice to have your own tried and true protection with you. Or this Frida Mom kit is divine!
- Granny panties. Dig those laundry-day undies out of your drawer, because this is not the time for anything cute! You’re going to want something big enough to support post-birth pads, and comfy enough that you don’t have to fuss with them. Grab a pair of these beauties!
- Entertainment. Labour can take a while. Don’t be afraid to pack a book or download a season of a show off Netflix on your phone! Distractions will be so welcome.
- Clothes. Some mamas like to have a few comfy outfits on hand for while they’re in the hospital (and for the way home).
For Your Partner:
- Phone and charger. This is KEY! As the partner, odds are you’re on alert-the-loved-ones duty, picture-taking duty, plus possibly music and entertainment duty. DO NOT forget your phone and chargers, partners.
- Clothes. Lots can happen during labour! Prepare for a few different situations, including multiple overnight stays.
- Toiletries. Partners can sometimes also use a post-labour shower! If you’re not up for using hospital toiletries, pack your own. (Don’t forget contact solution if you use it!)
- Snacks and water. You need to eat, too.
- Small pillow/comfy things. You’ll be able to better support your partner if you’re comfy, rested, and happy.
- Going Home Outfits. Fun part alert! Pick out, at the very least, a onesie and anything weather-appropriate that your baby might need.
- Car Seat. Essential if you’d like to come home!
- Footwear and warm items. Socks, booties, hats, and little mittens can all help your newborn stay warm.
Blanket. There are hospital blankets available, but it’s really nice to have your own– especially if you already have one that will be a favourite.
New Mom Training
We’ll keep this section short and sweet: there are a few courses and trainings we recommend completing before baby arrives. Cross these 3 onling trainings off your preparing for baby checklist ASAP in order to feel prepared, confident, and ready to handle any situation that arises.
#1 Infant CPR
There’s no peace of mind like knowing Infant CPR. You hope you’ll never need to use it, but if you do, you’ll be so glad you have it. Use code MOMMYACADEMY10 for 10% off.
Lactation Link’s online course, Milk Drunk 101: Top 3 Secrets to Creating a GREAT Milk Supply, is a FREE milk supply masterclass taught by Lindsey Shipley, IBCLC. It covers need-to-know milk supply info, like how many mom’s sabotage their milk supply, and how to fix it! It’ll leave you with a unique plan for breastfeeding success that you will be SO glad you have.
#3 Remarkable Infants (AKA: Motherhood 101)
Remarkable Infants is your expert-led, one-stop-shop that teaches you everything you need to know about baby’s first year of life, and your first year of motherhood. Beyond the caregiving basics, it teaches you how to help your child thrive across the 5 key areas of development that baby goes through in year one: speech and language development, cognition and early literacy, sleep, motor development and meaningful play and starting solids.
The 3-Tiered Nursing/Pumping/Diapering Cart Dreams Are Made Of
The early days with your new baby will revolve around feeding, nursing, pumping, maybe a little sleep, and lots and lots of diapers changes, which is why we had to include this handy-dandy cart in our preparing for baby checklist. Do yourself a favor and put together a three-tiered nursing/diaper cart on wheels!
With a handy little cart stocked up and ready to use, you’ll know you have everything you need, for baby and yourself, no matter what room of the house you’re in. (Trust us, it’s really nice to be able to be a part of the family and move from room to room as wanted!)
Here’s what to include in your cart (AKA the things that are about to make your life so much easier!):
Top Tier: For Mama
Include the book you’re reading, your baby journal/tracker, a few essential oils, hair ties, hand creams, nursing pads, nipple cream, and LOTS of water!
Middle Tier: For Nursing & Pumping
For pumping, include your pump, pump parts, storage bags, and a sharpie.
For nursing/feeding, include burp cloths, bibs, and snacks for you! We like kind bars, nuts, lactation cookies/bites, coconut water, and dried fruit.
Lower Tier: For Diapering
Include diapers, wipes, diaper cream, changing pad, baggies, onesies, socks, and a baby teether or a distraction toy.
The Baby Gear Essentials & Expert Recommendations
Baby gear gets out of hand fast! (We probably could have made an entire ‘Preparing For Baby Checklist’ just for the gear!) But truth is, you don’t need half the things the baby industry will try to sell you.
This is a minimalist list of tried-and-true baby gear, put together by child development specialists– the necessary stuff without all the fluff!
You definitely need a diaper bag! Here are some we like:
- Ju-Ju-Be B.F.F. Diaper Bag: Can be worn like a backpack or over the shoulder!
- Abundance Boxy Backpack: The real MVP in this bag is the fold-out changing table.
- SkipHop MainFrame Bag: Super stylish with tons of pockets, we love it in dusty rose!
- Vera Bradely Diaper Bags: Cute quilted material and tons of prints to choose from.
- Fawn Convertible Diaper Bag: Backpack or over the shoulder, lots of pockets and totally chic
Infant Car Seat
Another one we probably don’t need to sell you on! Some awesome options:
- Graco SnugRide: A solid, affordable choice.
- Chicco KeyFit 30: Super simple to use.
- Nuna Pipa: Top of the line safety features.
- UppaBaby Mesa: It’s UppaBaby– need we say more?
Important– but only if you ever want to leave the house! [ 😉 ] Our favs:
- Baby Jogger City Mini GT: Easy to use, maneuver, and fold up.
- Baby Jogger City Select: A “level-up” from the mini, this stroller is as versatile as the UppaBaby but at a lower price.
- UppaBaby Vista: A bit of a splurge, but because it’s transitional, we say it’s worth it.
- Chicco Bravo Travel System: This is what it says it is: a whole system. Stroller plus car seat, all in one.
There are a few different options for baby carrying and wearing. Here are our top picks for each different type:
Best Allround: Ergobaby360
We like it because it:
- Has four carrying positions
- Holds 12-33 pounds
- Is easily adjustable
- Keeps baby in a comfortable, ergonomic position that protects their spine & hips
Best Wrap: Solly Baby
We like it because it:
- Is one single piece of fabric
- Is soft, light modal
- Can be used with even the tiniest of babies, up to 25 pounds
- Is great for skin-to-skin contact
Best Ring Sling: Sakura Bloom
We like it because it:
- Uses soft linen– great for all seasons
- Keeps baby close
- Is super simple to use
- Offers lots of carrying positions
Best Wrap Carrier: Mobi Fit Hybrid
We like it because it:
- Combines the versatility of a wrap with the adjustable features of a sling plus the security of a carrier into one!
- Uses soft material
- Offers 2 carrying positions
Within the essentials of “play equipment” there’s room to choose what works for you! Opt for mats, a playpen, a play gym, and/or a bouncer. Just do you!
Why we like it:
Lovevery Play Gym
Why we like it:
- Designed for a full year of play
- Back play, tummy play
- Promotes fine and gross motor development
- Brain stimulating activities from day one
Pack n’ Play
Why we like it:
- Easily portable
- Breathable mesh sides
- Dual levels
- Promotes free, unrestricted movement & play
Baby Bjorn Bouncer
Why we like it:
- Ergonomic design
- Uses baby’s own weight & movement to create bounce
Honourable mentions go to:
- Boppy Original Newborn Lounger
- Pop & Play Hex Play Yard
- Video Monitors
Freezer Meals You’ll Thank Yourself For Prepping
One thing you can cross of your preparing for baby checklist weeks before the baby comes is to prep some yummy, comfort food for the freezer. Trust us, it makes those sleepless, foggy newborn days so much easier! There’s nothing better than knowing that you have a warm, delicious dinner already prepped and ready to pop in the crockpot or oven. Especially if you have a complicated birth or just need extra time to heal, you’ll be thanking yourself SO hard (PRAISE HANDS!).
Here are some ideas:
- Enchilada Casserole
- Shepherd’s Pie
Crock Pot Meals:
- Pot Roast
- Veggie Chili
- Chicken Curry
- Breakfast Burritos
- Egg Muffins
Before You Prep…
Just make sure you have some space in your freezer, and stock up on some great, reusable containers. And, if you don’t have one yet, consider grabbing a slow cooker!
Baby Clothes & Baby Laundry
First and foremost, look for pesticide-free and flame retardant sleepwear. (Crazy that we have to think about it but, here we are!)
For sleep, the rule of thumb is that your baby needs one layer more than what they wear during the day. During warmer months, that could mean a onesie, sleep sack, or lightweight swaddle. During cooler months, it would be something warmer or weightier, like a long-sleeved onesie, a heavy sleep sack, or a nice, cozy swaddle.
This handy little chart is originally from SlumberSafe.com.
Our Favorite Organic Sleepwear
- Baby Soy
- Burt’s Bees Baby
- KicKee Pants
- Finn & Emma
- Hanna Anderson
- Milk Barn
Baby Clothing FAQs
Q: How many newborn outfits do you need?
According to LiveAbout.com, Babies only wear newborn clothing until they get to about 8 lbs (in other words, not very long!). Some babies are born weighing more than that! This is why many families decide to skip the newborn size and go straight to 0-3 months.
Q: How much baby clothing do you need overall?
Babylist.com recommends the following:
- 7 onesies
- 3-5 pairs of pants
- 2 hats
- 5 pairs of socks
- 2-3 swaddles
- 4 sleepers
- 2 sweaters
- 2 pairs of mittens
- 1 winter coat
- 2 pairs of slippers/booties
- 2 lightweight blankets
- 1 sun hat
- 1 trendy or special item
Q: What’s the best way to wash newborn clothes?
The best way to wash newborn and baby clothing is gently. Always wash newborn clothes before your baby wears them, because baby clothes can be exposed to harmful chemicals that need to be disinfected and washed away. And, be sure to get all stickers and tags off before you wash.
Baby Laundry Tips
Here are some tips from our resident experts/veteran mamas:
- Use non-toxic detergent (more on this below!).
- Skip the fabric softeners and heavily scented dryer sheets.
- Do a “Baby Only” load so their things don’t get contaminated by other clothing.
- Use the Gentle Cycle, and look for special instructions on sleepwear and clothes.
- Treat milk, poop or spit up stains with lemon, sunshine, or Branch Basics before washing.
- Put tiny socks and other little items in a mesh bag, so you don’t lose them.
- Fasten velcro on bibs so they don’t snag everything else.
- Put baby’s things into the dryer with all-natural wool dryer balls.
- If you can, dry baby’s things in the sun. It’s amazing! (But not always possible.)
Swaddles are ah-mazing! They are so soothing to baby, and they support a great sleep. The idea with a swaddle is to wrap your little babe up so tightly that they can’t move too much, which is actually very relaxing and comforting to them. To swaddle your baby, you’ll want to use either a baby swaddle blanket or a swaddle sack/pouch.
In our opinion, the best swaddles for a newborn baby are:
How to Swaddle a Newborn Baby
LittleOnes (Mommy Academy’s sleep experts!) have a fantastic ‘How-To Swaddle Your Baby’ video, walking you through the steps to completing a perfect swaddle using 4 different types of swaddling materials.
Easy Non-Toxic Swaps You Haven’t Thought Of
Going non-toxic can seem overwhelming at first. It’s hard to know where to start. And, even though we all want the best for our babies, we also want products that work!
If you’re just starting out, look for products that are free from toxins, parabens, sulfates, preservatives, BPA, artificial colors, and fragrances. Or, skip all the label reading and just reach for our favorites!
- Hello Bello
- Earth’s Best Chlorine-Free Diapers
- Abby & Finn
- Badger Zinc Oxide Cream
- California Baby
- Honest Diaper Cream
- Earth Mama Diaper Cream
- Honest Shampoo
- Tubby Todd
- Tubby Todd
- Badger Baby Balm
- California Baby
- Molly Suds
- Branch Basics
- Charlie’s Soap
Sunscreens (only for babies over 6 months of age):
- California Baby
- Badger Mineral Sunscreen
The Perfect Nursery: Nesting FAQs
Okay, nursery set up might be the most fun part of the preparing the baby checklist — well, that and baby clothes! Here’s everything that Mommy Academy recommends when it comes to setting up the perfect nursery for baby, plus answers to the most common questions we get asked.
Q: Where should newborns sleep?
A: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies sleep on their backs for every sleep until they turn one. They also say babies should sleep on a firm surface “covered by a fitted sheet with no other bedding or soft objects.” They should never sleep on other objects or surfaces, like couches, chairs, or in sitting devices.
TLDR: Your baby should sleep on a firm mattress, on their back, with no soft bedding.
Q: What’s the best bed set up for a newborn baby?
A: Another recommendation from the AAP is that babies share a room with their parents for at least the first 6 months of life (up to a year if possible). To make this easier on parents, Very Well Family recommends choosing a Consumer Product Safety Commission certified bassinet. They have some great, well-researched options in their blog post!
Q: What white noise machine should I get for my newborn?
A: We have a few favs that we can recommend!
- YogaSleep Dohm Uno Elite
- Hatch Rest
- YogaSleep Hush Portable
- Skip Hop Moonlight
- Cloud B Sleep Sheep Sound Machine
Q: Why do babies need books?
A: Some people struggle with reading to babies because it’s not something that you’re going to see pay off right away. Reading books with your baby everyday is an investment in your child’s future. It’s the small consistent action that you take everyday that will add up to be something really, really incredible in the years to come!
Q: What are the benefits of reading to babies?
A: A school-aged child that has been read to from day one is much more likely to ease naturally into literacy, be a confident learner, thrive in school, be a great communicator, have a greater sense of social emotional awareness, have stronger relationships with you and the people surrounding them! (Pretty cool, huh?)
Q: What are the best first books for a newborn baby?
A: You’ll want high-contrast books, interactive books, repeat and rhyming books, and a few of the classics. Save yourself some time with our free book list download (featuring shoppable links!).
Diapers & Changing
Q: How many newborn diapers should I buy?
A: According to Munchkin, you should have:
- Newborn: 10-12 diapers/day
- 1 – 5 months: 8-10 diapers/day
- 5 months +: 8 diapers/day
Q: What if I’m using cloth diapers?
A: What To Expect recommends 30-36 diapers in your baby’s size, plus 6 waterproof covers.
Q: Is it okay to give a newborn a pacifier?
A: For breastfeeding babies, we usually want to wait 3-4 weeks to introduce a pacifier. After that, you can use them freely until about 6 months old. It’s good to keep in mind that over time, pacifiers can have negative effects on speech and tooth development. So, eventually, you’ll want to wean your child off the pacifier.
Q: How many bottles do you need for a newborn?
A: What To Expect recommends the following:
- 5-10 bottles
- 5-10 nipples
- A dishwasher basket
- 1 bottle and nipple brush
- 1 bottle drying rack
Q: What do you need for breastfeeding?
A: Oh, we can tell you exactly what you need:
- Nursing Pads
- Motherlover Nipple Cream
- Nursing Bra
- Nursing Cover
- Haaka Breast Shells (great for catching let down on the other side)
…plus a breastfeeding pillow and a nice, comfy chair!
You can also check our Amazon store to shop our favorites!
Q: What do you need for pumping?
A: Here the things you will definitely need:
- A pump! Pick the best pump for you. We like:
- Medela Sonata
- Medela Pump In Style
- Spectra S2
- Willow or Elvie Hands-Free Pumps
- Haaka Hand Pump
- Hands-free nursing bra
- Storage bags
- Milk storage container or a holder
Check our Amazon store to shop our favorites!
Also, here are a few great pumping tips from BreastFeedingConfidential!
A Day In The Life: Your Newborn’s Daily Routine
When you think about preparing for baby’s first few weeks and months, you’re probably thinking about sleeping, feeding, pooping, and changing, right? And yes, you will do a lot of all four of those things! But, those things don’t take up the whole day either– especially as your baby gets older and their wake times increase.
So, what does a day in the life look like (ish) with a newborn? Of course, it’ll be slightly different for each baby and each family, but overall, you can expect your days to look something like this:
Breastfeeding on demand! You’ll be trying to get in full feedings, and trying to keep your baby awake during feedings. You can do this by undressing them, tickling their feet or changing their diaper in between sides. If you’re not breastfeeding, expect to bottle feed every 2-3 hours.
Snoozing will happen every 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.
The biggest question most new parents have when it comes to sleep: “How do I get my baby to sleep better?!” The reason why: sleep deprivation is no joke.
We talk all about sleep schedules, nap transitions, daytime routines, sleep regressions, creating dreamy sleep environments, self-settling, and how to help your baby to sleep through the night in Remarkable Infants.
Did we get your attention with that? Good, because we have something you’ll love over here. The Mommy Academy Guide To Your Baby’s Sleep During Year One is downloadable and totally FREE! Sleep has never been easier to get.
Walks in the carrier or stroller will likely be a big part of your routine. Getting outside and moving around will be life giving for you, and it’s great for baby, too!
Play & Motor Skill Development
Play is so important for babies, but it’s not something we necessarily think about when we think of that newborn (or even first year) stage. Playing with a newborn looks a lot like:
- Tummy time on mommy or daddy’s chest
- A gentle infant massage
- Singing face-to-face
- Following the noise
- Reciting nursery rhymes
- Reading books
- Looking at high contrast books
- Looking in the mirror
- Talking together (verbal routines are great if you don’t know what to say!)
Here are some things we recommend for engaging and stimulating play time:
- Lovevery Play Mat
- High-Contrast Books
- Toki Mat
- Crinkle Toy
Check our Amazon store to shop our favorites!
Want more ideas? Check out these simple & easy baby play ideas.
Talking & Connecting
Bonding happens with lots of snuggling, talking, and singing. This is when you’ll be bonding, nurturing, introducing your baby to the world, and introducing the world to your baby.
Did you know? Babies begin absorbing words from the first day of their life, as long as they’re able to hear. They notice patterns, repeated words, and the tone of your voice. Their brains are making new neural connections when they hear people speaking. (So much for the argument that talking to babies doesn’t matter because they don’t understand us anyway!)
Want to learn how to talk with your baby and encourage language development? We got you.
Does reading to a newborn baby sound a little crazy to you? I get it! It seems odd to read to a child who’s so young, right?
But here’s the thing about reading to your baby:
If you put in the time now, consistently, your child will reap the benefits for years and years to come. The diligent effort you put in now is going to save you money, time and many frustrations (for you and your child) in the future, during those school-aged years. All this is to say that reading to your child is a fantastic, worthwhile investment.
Your Free, Downloadable Preparing For Baby Checklist!
Wowza! If you made it all the way to the end of this extensive preparing for baby checklist post in one sitting, then you are one dedicated mama-to-be! (You’re also in good company– we’re read-all-the-way-to-the-end moms, too!).
There’s no test on this or anything, nothing you’ll need to recite in front of the class. But chances are you will want to refer to this material again!
This handy-dandy, downloadable preparing for baby checklist has an abbreviated version of everything you’ll want to know, remember, and buy as you prepare for your new little love!
Grab your copy, save it for later, and keep in touch! We can’t wait to see you as a mama.