The Ultimate list of practical and fun things to do before baby arrives
Are you expecting your first baby? Are you not sure what you should do when to prepare for your baby’s arrival? Then this is the post for you. I have written a complete checklist of all the things to do before baby arrives.
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The time when you are pregnant with your first baby might be one of the most exciting times of your life (I know it was for me), but it is also daunting and there is a lot to get ready and I am sure you will feel that there are lots of things to do before baby arrives. Here I am breaking down what is really important.
After all this time in your life isn’t all about being practical it is also about enjoying your time before baby arrives. Don’t panic your life won’t be over once you have baby, but it will be different at least in the short term so some of the things to do before baby arrives are definitely about having fun.
There are no rules about when you have these things to do before baby arrives need to be done, but take it from one who has carried 4 babies, you don’t want to leave everything to the last minute as you are likely to feel very heavy, uncomfortable and tired by the very end of your pregnancy. Personally, I found the start of the 3rd Trimester a great time to begin with all the things to do before baby arrives.
What would I have done differently in the 3rd trimester?
Looking back on my first pregnancy (now almost 10 years ago) I am not sure I would have done anything differently. I actually loved that time (well until we had a mini heat wave and my feet swelled up like balloons). I dealt with most of my things to do before baby arrives list to when I went on maternity leave as this felt sensible to me – as I say no rules you do what works for you.
I spent those final weeks before baby arrived preparing the house, meeting with friends, relaxing in the sunshine and organising all of the mounds of stuff I had bought for the baby.
One thing I would do if I could go back in time would be to relax more…. Spend more time just doing whatever I wanted, pottering about in shops perhaps and generally just doing what I wanted when I wanted. Once baby arrives you can still make time for yourself, but you are on someone else’s timetable so I would definitely make the most of being as selfish as possible whilst you can.
What things to do before baby arrives are essential?
Head to the shops or online and get all the baby stuff
Make sure you have all of the baby stuff you need. If you are not sure what you need and what is nice to have don’t forget to check out The complete list of newborn essentials you NEED
The first-time round, I won’t lie I literally bought everything there was to buy! I went crazy convinced that I would need all of it; I didn’t! My house looked like the inside of a Mothercare shop. I did go on to have twins a few years later so it didn’t all get wasted as then I needed so much more, but I definitely went overboard so I say start off with the essentials and then add to the collection as and when you need to.
With a newborn once you have a car seat, a buggy, nappies, wipes, baby grows, a bed and bedding there is really very little else that you could deem 100% essential so there is no need to freak if you realise you have forgotten something last minute.
Most things that you need for baby you can get very easily so you don’t need to panic buy, but things like cots and buggies can have a lead time so even just for peace of mind I would order those in good time or least start the research so you know what those lead times are. Having said that, one thing you will want to get ahead of time is one of the Top baby car seats, as you will need to have one of these before your baby arrives. Even if you aren’t planning on leaving the hospital in a car you still have to have a car seat and when it comes to car seats it is all about safety. So do your research and pick one that will last and fulfil your needs.
Unpack stuff and put in together
Before baby arrives unpack and put together all of the baby essentials that you have bought. Believe me you don’t want a crying baby whilst you are trying to put together their bouncer. You also don’t want to be dealing with disposing of boxes and packaging or discovering a missing screw when baby arrives.
Learn how to use everything
It is a good idea when you are thinking about things to do before baby arrives to include having a go at using all of the baby essentials and paraphernalia that you have purchased.
My top tip here is to make sure you can collapse the buggy! Read the instructions and check out you tube as there tend to be videos of the leading brands. With our first pram I didn’t do this. I had seen them do it in the shop and was like ‘that looks easy’ … not so much when I was trying to do it for the first time with a screaming newborn in the car seat part.
That brings me onto car seats… It is a good idea to practice getting it in and out of the car. Once you have got it this is usually really simple, but until that point it can be so frustrating. Being irritated by not being able to get the car seat out is way less irritating when there is no baby in it so practice in advance is a fab plan.
Organise all the stuff
It is a great idea to think about where you are going to keep all of the baby essentials and gear that you have accumulated.
So, one of the things to do before baby arrives should be clearing space for the baby to join you. I don’t mean the nursery (that is the fun bit and I will talk about that later) I mean the rest of the house.
If you are reading this thinking well all the baby stuff will stay in the nursery so I am going to skip this bit then I hate to burst your bubble, but baby stuff gets everywhere. You need it to be everywhere as you don’t want to have to keep going up and down stairs to get things. It is exhausting and once baby starts crawling leaving them to nip up and get something just becomes a mission.
If you want to keep things organised, I recommend having some of these baskets. They can still look really stylish in your home, but also give you a place to put away all the gubbins once baby is in bed.
I also recommend thinking about where you will keep your pram or buggy. We have a large hallway so I could just leave it there, but I know other people keep them in car boots or in under the stairs cupboards. Just something to think about as you will need it accessible, but don’t want to be falling over it all the time.
You may also want to think about clearing out some space in a kitchen cupboard for the baby. Right now it will seem like age away that they will be weaning, but it will fly round and so you will need space for their dishes, snacks etc… and if you end up doing any bottle feeding you will need space to store the bottles. If you are breastfeeding and plan to pump this cupboard can be a great place to keep the pumping kit.
Wash the baby clothes and get them ready
I think it is a good idea to wash all of the clothes that you have bought for baby before they arrive. I don’t know if this is just me, but I just like to wash the shop/ packaging off the clothes before they are worn.
Even if you don’t want to wash everything before baby wears it you might want to think about taking off any tags, taking babygros out of packets and sorting it all into drawers so it is ready to go
Set up the Nappy Changing Station
It is a really good idea to have a nappy changing station that you can stand up at to change the baby as it does start to hurt your back after a while. I kept our baby changing unit upstairs in our room to start with and then in the nursery once baby got older.
However, I do also recommend having a changing mat, nappies and a basket of wipes handy downstairs so you don’t have to keep going up and down all day long when you don’t want to.
Top tip: You can put the changing mat onto a table when you use it to raise the height and make it more comfortable for you, but I wouldn’t recommend this once baby can roll.
For that same reason I suggest having two nappy bins. Not only does this reduce the effort required for nappy changing, but also can help to reduce any smells as you won’t be tempted to put a nappy loose in the normal bin.
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If you are using washable nappies I would equally have two nappy buckets on the go; one upstairs and one downstairs
Do any small DIY jobs
Now ladies when you are in your last trimester DIY may be the last thing you feel like doing, but if there are some little jobs that need doing which you can do it can be a great idea to get this done before baby arrives.
I remember painting all of the woodwork in the house before our first baby arrived as I knew once the baby was here, I wouldn’t have time and also, I didn’t want baby to be breathing in all the paint fumes.
Another option, if you have the funds, could be writing a list of all the things that need to be done and organising workmen to come in and get that list ticked off before baby arrives.
Decorate the nursery
You may chose to employ someone to do the actual decorating, but deciding and choosing how you want your baby’s nursery to look is so exciting that this almost didn’t make it on to the practical list, but instead nearly got added to the fun list until I remembered that having a cot really is a practical matter and not just about design or aesthetic beauty.
One of the things that I recommend is choosing furniture for your baby nursery that goes beyond the first year or so. You don’t want to have to rebuy everything as it is too small or too babyish.
I am a huge fan of MoKee for this very reason (Full disclosure: I have worked with Mokee in the past and was gifted many of the items in our nursery). The cot beds we have go from baby right up to at least 6 years old. My girls are 6 and are still in them.
It can also be a good idea to keep the nursery as neutral as possible so that as your little one grows you don’t have to redecorate. Things like decals, bedding, lampshades and framed pictures can be a great way to add a bit of personality to the room, but personality that is easy to change as your baby starts to grow up.
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In my twin’s nursery we went for grey and white walls, but have added rainbow and butterfly decals to the walls, sweet star toy baskets and a butterfly lampshade. We kept the furniture white and so when they tell me that this room is too babyish for them, I will just be able to change the lampshades and remove the decals to create a more grown-up feeling space for them.
Pack that hospital bag
I have a great post all about this so you can check off all the items you need to have ready to go before baby arrives.
You can leave this until quite close to go time, but do bear in mind that babies don’t get the memo about their due date they come when they are ready and you don’t want to be scrambling about for clean PJs when you are in labour.
Personally, I have found it best to have one hospital bag for me and one for baby. That way I can keep everything organised.
TOP TIP: Don’t forget the snacks… Labour can be long; hospital food can be a bit rubbish and in the middle of the night when you are breastfeeding you will be hungry so snacks are really an essential in that hospital bag
Plan that hospital route
We only live about 10 minutes’ walk to the hospital where I gave birth so this wasn’t really an issue for us, but if it isn’t that close think about how you are going to get there when you go into labour.
If you are planning to drive, make sure there is petrol in the car, make sure you know the best route and that your partner has driven it and knows the way. You may not feel like giving directions when you are mid contraction.
If you are going to be getting a taxi or an uber then make sure you have the apps or numbers you need to hand and that your partner knows what they are too.
Get ready for what happens next; after baby arrives
Before baby arrives think about what you need for when you bring baby home. I don’t mean stuff for the baby, but the things you need for you. This is about self care in advance…
Your future self will thank you if you have stocked up on maternity pads, waterproof bed mats, breast pads, comfy clothes that are loose around your stomach and groin area, arnica, cool compresses, a feeding cushion.
Do a big shop
Get stocked up on cupboard essentials such as pasta, loo roll, rice, quick meals or ready meals for the freezer, healthy snacks for those middle of the night feeds.
You might be getting the impression that I am snack obsessed and frankly you would be right when it comes to the post-partum period. Breastfeeding and not sleeping as much as you would like is hungry work let me tell you. Having easy and healthy snacks is so helpful. I may have eaten a few too many unhealthy snacks when I was in that post-partum period.
Cook meals in advance
This is another thing that you can do before baby arrives to make your life easier in those first few weeks when you will be tired and you will just want to be with your baby not cooking.
It is a good idea to cook some meals for the freezer to at least take you through the first week or so after having your baby. Some recipes that work brilliantly for this are: Bolognese, Chicken Curry, Lasagne, Cottage Pie and fish pie. They can all be made in bulk and then frozen in portions for one or two. Then you just have to defrost and reheat when it is time to eat.
These silicone bags and individual portion pots are perfect for this job as you can freeze in the small portions and then store in the bags and just defrost what you need when you need it. The best bit is that they are then super useful once you are weaning your baby.
The stasher bags are more expensive than some other brands, but I have tried a few now and they are by far the best. They last perfectly in the dishwasher and don’t stain etc… I have had mine for 3 years now and they are still going strong.
TOP TIP: Buy some fresh pasta with a good shelf-life date on it and have that ready to go as well so that when you are making Bolognese you can have the pasta done in just a couple of mins. I also recommend making pesto (or buying a jar of it) as this makes such a quick meal.
Plan your middle of the night TV viewing
No I am not kidding… This would also be on my things to do before baby arrives list as whilst it is lovely and it does feel very bonding to sit and breastfeed your baby at 3am it can wear thin and feel a little lonely. I found having something fun to watch on the TV was great for keeping me awake when I was very tired and also kept me company. Amazon Prime is a great option for some good old fashioned binge watching…
TOP TIP: Invest in some wireless headphones so you can always switch on the TV or listen to a podcast without disturbing or distracting your feeding baby.
What are the ‘fun’ things to do before baby arrives?
Go on a babymoon
Spending some time away on a trip with your partner is a lovely way to close out this period in your lives where you will go from being a two to a three. You may not want to go too close to your due date though in case baby decides to make an early appearance.
TOP TIP: Book into somewhere with a spa so that you can get properly pampered before you become mummy. I would also go somewhere that is adults only – you have the next 18 years to be around kids right?!
Treat yourself to a facial and getting your roots done
If you can then try to go and get some beauty treatments before baby arrives as this will be the last thing on your mind once you have your little one, but people there will be lots of photos taken of this time in your life and you don’t want to be feeling bleurgh because your roots need doing.
I know this is terribly vain and if you don’t care about such things then good for you and see the next point, but if you do then trust me book in those treatments before baby arrives.
TOP TIP: Don’t bother getting a pedicure or a manicure right before baby arrives as if you should end up needing a c section (like I did) then they will need to remove the nail varnish as they need to be able to see the blood flow under the nails. I was very gutted about that as I had only had mine done the day before
Hang out with your friends who don’t have kids
Don’t panic I am not suggesting you will never see them again or anything. Having a baby is not a jail sentence, but if you have friends who don’t have babies and are not likely to anytime soon you may find it harder to meet up with them for a while as your schedules are bound to be quite different.
This doesn’t have to be the end of friendships of course, but the reality is you may not be able to pop out for a last-minute drink on a Thursday night anymore…
Before you start to feel miserable, I should say you will still be able to go for a planned drink a week on Thursday though… but when baby arrives you are very unlikely to want to for a while. So, whilst looking after you is your main priority try to catch up with your friends, go for meals and suggest those last-minute drinks albeit that yours will be a water.
Have long lunches or dinners
Why not plan to have some lazy weekends with your partner filled with long lunches or fancy dinners in a nice restaurant; somewhere that isn’t in the least bit family friendly
Take long baths and have lie ins
Luxuriate in the time that you have to yourself to do whatever you want. So if you want to lie in a bath for an hour; do it, if you want to lie in bed until noon then do it…
Organise the baby’s clothes in the nursery
This may have been my favourite part of getting ready before baby arrived each time. Just getting all the baby clothes ready and having them all folded into drawers was just so exciting so set aside a bit of time to really enjoy the process of preparing for baby. This may not sound so fun to you and you may prefer to see this on the practical list, but arranging everything in the nursery really was a highlight for me.
Enjoy this time before baby arrives. Life is about to change in the most amazing and spectacular way so this is your time to enjoy life the way it is now and celebrate the upcoming change by relishing this period in your life.