Thinking of things to do before the baby arrives? Here’s your ultimate checklist before baby is born (includes a shopping list!).
Whether you’re in your seventh week of pregnancy or weeks away from your due date, it can feel like there’s still so much to do and not enough time to do them.
Every expecting mom has felt overwhelmed, not knowing what the right steps are—nor the timing to do them—to prepare for the baby. No wonder many of us want a good pregnancy checklist so we don’t miss a beat or let things slip through the cracks.
I hear you, friend.
As organized as I can be, preparing for a baby was still a big challenge. There seems to be so many tasks, each with its own ideal time to tackle it. From baby things to buy before birth to dealing with insurance, you’re always doing something (all while dealing with pregnancy symptoms, no less).
Table of Contents
The ultimate checklist before baby is born
I want to share what helped me with each of my pregnancies (including one with twins!). By checking things off your list of things to do throughout your whole pregnancy, you can stay more organized and less overwhelmed.
We’ll talk about which items to buy for baby and yourself and paperwork you might need to turn in. I’ll also share tips if this is your second (or subsequent) baby, and last-minute tasks to tie up before the big day.
Take a look at this checklist before your baby is born:
1. Get the essentials
Your baby will need a few things, but don’t worry about getting everything right away. Here are a few essential baby gear to grab. Many of these can be placed on your baby registry for others to gift you at your baby shower:
- Diapers: Grab boxes of newborn and size 1.
- Wipes: Get just a few packets in case you don’t like the brand.
- Crib or bassinet: Your little one will eventually need a crib, but you can also get a bassinet for now, especially if you plan to sleep in the same room. Don’t forget a crib mattress as well.
- Changing table: Considering how often you’ll be changing diapers, a changing table is a must, especially if you don’t want to injure your back. Portable changing pads are convenient around the house, but a table is a lifesaver.
- Car seat: You won’t be able to take the baby home from the hospital without one properly secured in your vehicle.
- Stroller: This is a must if you want to be mobile with the baby and still have use of your arms.
- Wrap or baby carrier: These will allow you to hold the baby and even put him to sleep.
- Onesies: Aim for about 7-10 onesies. Depending on the weather your baby will be born in, consider long-sleeve onesies, too. Add other outfits like pants and shorts, socks, and sweaters.
- Blankets: Use thin ones for swaddling, burp cloths, nursing covers, and light draping over the stroller. Thick ones are great for holding the baby and to pad the floor for tummy time.
- Sleep sack: Instead of a blanket, use a sleep sack to safely keep baby warm.
- Breastfeeding supplies or formula: Buy or rent a breast pump, or get a few formula samples to see which one baby likes.
- Shampoo and soap: You’ll need gentle soap to bathe baby.
- Baby laundry detergent: Similarly, baby’s sensitive skin will need a gentle detergent.
Free printables: Need a checklist of all the things to get done before the baby is born? Join my newsletter and grab your printable checklist below—at no cost to you:
2. Prepare for maternity leave
Having all your work sorted before you go on maternity leave will give you peace of mind and help your coworkers along the way.
To start, make sure that you speak with HR about the time off you can take. Learn about your maternity leave rights and the laws to guarantee them. See what paperwork you need to turn in, to whom, and by when. For instance, you might need to submit paperwork to your work’s short-term disability company.
Then, organize your work, whether digitally or in physical folders, to make finding tasks easier on your coworkers. Delegate and explain any of them now while you’re still here to answer their questions. And of course, organize your work space so to make finding items simple.
And finally, talk to HR about health insurance for your baby, in case you want to put him under your medical coverage. See how many days you have to add him to your plan.
Most of this preparation happens toward the end of your pregnancy, but you can meet with your boss or HR early to learn more about your time off.
3. Take a hospital tour
Visit the hospital you’ll be giving birth so that you’re familiar with their protocols. The last thing you want is to feel unfamiliar with the place or wonder where you’re supposed to go right when you’re about to give birth.
Schedule a tour to find out when you should head to the hospital, where you should check in, and which rooms you’ll be staying. Find out about their visitor policies (for instance, can you bring your mom, or can your kids visit?).
This is also a good time to start thinking about your birth plan and asking the hospital questions you might have about their policies. And lastly, see if you can pre-register your information with the hospital ahead of time. That way, they already have all the info they need and can check you in right away.
4. Find a pediatrician
Your baby’s pediatrician will be the one to examine her at the hospital and confirm that she’s ready to go home. That’s why finding a pediatrician is a key step to take now, before your little one is born.
The first place to start is with your insurance network. Avoid costly expenses by choosing someone that your insurance will cover.
You can also ask your OB-GYN for recommendations, especially since the people she recommends will likely be in your network. Then, research potential pediatricians, not only to see if they’re covered, but if they meet your criteria. While no one is perfect, you can at least narrow it down to a select few.
Once you do, schedule meet-and-greet appointments with them so you can visit their office and get a feel for how they run their practice.
5. Get your hospital bag ready
Since you don’t know exactly when you’ll head to the hospital, having your bag ready to go is important. You’ll want to pack a bag for yourself, the baby, and your partner.
And if you have older children, encourage your sitter to come prepared with their bag as well. They may have to come to your house in the middle of the night with no warning, so having their bag ready will make that transition smoother.
So, what exactly do you pack in your hospital bag?
- Flip-flops or shoes
- Nursing tops
- Yoga pants or leggings
- Comfortable dress
- Outerwear or sweater
- Lip balm
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Eyeglasses, contact lens case, and saline solution
- Facial products
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Rubber band or hair clip
- Soothing balm
- Two outfits for the baby
- A blanket and burp cloths
- Your purse
6. Prepare meals
Those weeks and months after the baby is born won’t make it easy to cook meals for you and your family. Instead, plan ahead and prepare meals now while you can.
Freezer meals are a fantastic option because you’ll have homemade food ready to go. You can find recipes specifically for freezer meals and store right away. Or you can double what you’re currently making for yourself, and set aside the other half in the freezer.
Either way, make sure that the meals are conducive to freezing. A tuna casserole or chicken noodle soup freeze well, while green leafy salads don’t. And since even freezer meals don’t last forever, prepare these meals about a month before your due date to ensure their freshness.
Another option besides freezing your meals is to simply stock up on pantry staples. Basics like pasta, chicken broth, rice and beans, and tomato sauce store well and make for quick meals.
7. Prepare your older kids
Many parents share the good news of a new sibling once they’re finally showing a belly bump. This is a great time to talk to your older kids about what they might expect and look forward to, as well as ways they can help the family.
You might read children’s books about a new baby to help them understand this new change in their lives. You can also spend one-on-one time with them and perhaps even turn it into a tradition they can look forward to.
If you need to use their crib for the baby, start transitioning them into their own big bed. You might also consider enrolling them in preschool now so that they’re not facing too many big changes in their lives at once.
Lastly, talk about how they’ll be with a sitter while you’re in the hospital, and set expectations about when you’ll likely be back home with the baby.
8. Get feeding and postpartum items
Are you planning on breastfeeding the baby? Come prepared with essential supplies from day one. You’ll want to get a good pump (and its pump parts) to increase your milk supply right away. You’ll also likely need comfort items like nursing pads, nursing bras, and lanolin cream.
If you plan to bottle feed, grab a few baby formula samples and bottles (along with a bottle drying rack). And don’t forget about your postpartum essentials. You’ll need sanitary pads and numbing spray as your body heals.
9. Stock up on household items
With all the focus on the baby, don’t forget your household needs. After all, the rest of the family still needs to eat, clean, and use the bathroom, regardless of the baby. A few weeks before your due date, stock up on household items to free up your time after the baby arrives.
Gather cleaning supplies, bathing and sanitary needs, pantry staples, and freezer meals. From laundry detergent to toilet paper, make sure your inventory isn’t running low.
10. Do pre-baby fun things
With all this baby prep, don’t forget to use this time to do fun things, too! Many couples take a “baby moon” or a mini vacation while they still don’t have baby duties to think about. Consider going on a date night, or pampering yourself with a prenatal massage.
Fun things can also mean making crafts for the baby, from handmade baby announcements to knitting a blanket. You can also visit museums, bookstores, and restaurants before putting a temporary hold on these favorite spots.
Hopefully you now have a better sense of what to do before the baby is born. Get baby essentials you’ll need for the big arrival. Talk to your work about your time off during maternity leave. Take a hospital tour so you’re familiar with the place and their protocols.
Find a pediatrician for your baby, and get your hospital bag ready for the big day. Prepare and freeze meals now so you’ll have homemade food in the freezer. Prepare your older kids for what they can expect when you come home from the hospital.
Get feeding and postpartum items as well as household items for the family. And lastly, don’t forget to use this time to do fun things for yourself as well, before the baby takes up most of your time.
While it always seems like there’s not enough time to get everything done, you can prepare as much as you can—whether you’re in week seven or thirty-seven.
Get more tips:
- Top Baby Stuff for Dads He’ll Actually Use
- What to Stock Up on Before Baby Arrives
- How Many Clothes to Buy Before Baby Is Born
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab your printable checklist below: