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Preparing for Your Baby's Arrival

by Jeri Carr

Here are some ideas to help prepare for the arrival of your baby.

1. Prepare a safe place for your baby to sleep such as in a crib or cradle beside your bed, a co-sleeper, or a crib arranged in the side-car fashion–this is done by taking one side off of baby's crib and pushing it flush against your bed. Or you may simply want to bring your baby to bed with you.

Many moms find that having a bedroom all decorated and ready for their new baby to be unnecessary. Babies often prefer sleeping near their mommy. Even if you don’t believe in the sleeping with your baby, you might be surprised at how your feelings change when you hold your sweet little baby in your arms. . . perhaps a baby that is only content while touching you. Babies need to nurse many times throughout the night and many moms find that co-sleeping provides the most convenient and easy way for all to get a good night’s sleep.

Be sure to take certain precautions wherever you decide you want your baby to sleep. Baby is safest sleeping on a firm, flat mattress, and avoid putting quilts, pillows, or other soft bedding near your baby and put him to sleep on his back. Also, make sure you can fit no more than two fingers between the mattress and the headboard or footboard--if you are co-sleeping--or between the mattress and the bars of the crib. For more safety tips, please see my article Is the Family Bed Dangerous?.

2. Have some basic clothes such as t-shirts, gowns, and one-piece stretch outfits with feet ready for your baby to wear. Your baby will probably outgrow his newborn clothes quickly–perhaps in a week or less!–or you may end up having a big baby, so you probably won’t need a lot of newborn-sized clothes. Be sure to wash them in a gentle detergent and put them away in the dresser so they will stay clean and be ready to wear when needed.

Have on hand at least four to six baby t-shirts. At first you might be afraid to pull your baby’s t-shirt over his very wobbly head, so you might feel more comfortable using t-shirts that snap on the side instead of the pull-over style. These can be especially nice for the first month until their neck gets a little stronger. If you do use the pull-over style, to make it easier to pull the shirt over your little baby’s head, try pulling the shirt over the back of his head first, and then pull the front down. This works best because a baby’s head is bigger in the back than the front.

Consider buying some onesies. Some come with snaps in the front, and are very easy to put on, but some you have to pull over your baby’s head. Get the kind you think will be easiest to put on. They are great to help keep your baby’s tummy warm, and you don’t have to worry about the t-shirt creeping up, which can be very annoying.

Also nice to have on hand are one piece stretchy outfits with feet, probably about four to six of them. With our first child, we preferred these outfits because we dreaded pulling anything over our baby’s wobbly head. Also, one piece outfits with feet don’t climb up baby’s legs like pants can and are good for when you need to take baby somewhere in his carseat or when you don’t want to deal with booties or socks.

Have about four to six baby kimonos or gowns on hand. Kimonos open all the way up and fasten in the front, so they don’t have to pulled over your baby’s head. This makes them very easy to put on. Gowns and kimonos are very convenient for newborns because they make diaper changes so much easier–and you will probably be doing a lot of diaper changes at first, and you don’t have to deal with a lot of snaps. The gowns are quite long, and will fit baby for a longer period of time than the newborn outfits with feet.

Gowns with elastic are preferred over gowns with drawstrings at the bottom because you don’t have to worry about baby getting tangled up in the strings, though you can take the strings out. The gowns with elastic are especially nice to help keep baby’s legs covered.

3. Make sure you have enough diapers and/or perhaps buy the book Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living by Laurie Boucke. If you are going to use cloth diapers, either contact a diaper service company and have some diapers delivered to your house before your baby’s birth, or have on hand about three to four dozen diapers. Newborn-size diapers, of course, will be less bulky on a newborn than regular size diapers, and when your baby grows, they can be used as diaper doublers, but many cloth-diapering mothers find that newborn-size diapers are unnecessary.

If you are going to use disposable diapers, have a good supply of diapers on hand–six dozen is suggested for a one week supply, but don't go overboard and buy too many newborn sized diapers because your baby will probably grow out that size very quickly.

4. Get your house clean and organized. Since you won't have much time for cleaning for a while after baby is born, try to simplify things beforehand. Get rid of as much clutter as you can. Get baskets to put things in so you (or a helper) can pick up a room quickly. Make sure you have essentials on hand such as toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, etc., so you’ll have less to worry about at home.

Thank goodness for the nesting instinct. That helps many houses get far cleaner and organized than they have been in a while (or perhaps more than they ever have been before!). But don’t worry about sanitizing everything or getting every little thing clean. It was a relief for me to find out that for the most part my baby was used to the household germs that I was used to, and I didn’t have to be paranoid about keeping things clean.

5. Prepare at least a week’s worth of meals and freeze them. One way to do that is to, before the baby is born, to cook twice as much for supper and freeze the extra amount. Try to stock up on your pantry items. And have a lot of healthy snacks on hand. The fewer trips needed to the store, the easier it will be on you and your family.

6. If you plan on breastfeeding, be sure to have the numbers of some people who can help give you info and support. A La Leche League leader, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a friend who has breastfed. . . all these people can offer help and support. Consider attending La Leche League meetings before your baby’s birth and afterwards. At these meetings you can meet other breastfeeding mothers and exchange ideas and get helpful support.

A couple breastfeeding books you may find helpful to have on hand are La Leche League’s book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning by Martha Sears R.N., William Sears M.D.

This article was first published on Suite101.com.


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