So, here are my top 10 tips for preparing for your new baby's arrival!
1. Talk to other recent Mamas! Everyone will want to put their two cents in, but some people have no idea what they are talking about or their parenting methods are completely different from the ways you wish to raise your child. Speak with other like-minded parents and ask them their opinions, what they considered essentials, what was unexpected, etc. Ask how they recommend setting up the nursery, what room they spent the most time in, etc. This is much more helpful than any book.
2. Make a List Essentials & Check It Twice! Go through items you know you will need (diapers, wipes, bassinet, breast pump, baby wash, clothing, etc.) and make sure those things are purchased first. The rest is fun to buy, but not always needed at first. You may really want to have a crib, but if you are going to use a bassinet, it isn't essential. Also, people love to buy toys, but for the first bit, baby is really too small to play with much. You only need a few play toys.
3. Decorating the Nursery. I love decorating the nursery, but it's tough sometimes because you may use the same room for different children over the years. You don't want to paint it pink and then have a boy a year later. (Well, maybe you do, but not me!) If you do paint, make sure you do it properly, aerate the room, and give it time to dry long before baby is brought home. We don't paint our walls, but we do buy wall decals that easily stick onto the wall and can be personalized for each baby, making their nursery special and just for them.
4. Keep a journal! This time will go by so quickly and, as you will learn, baby brain is, indeed, real! Keep a journal to write down important thoughts and occurrences along the way. Not only will it help you keep up with your thoughts and schedule, but it will be a fun keepsake for later on.
5. Breastfeeding? Go LLLI! If you are planning to breastfeed, there is no such thing as being overly prepared! I highly recommend finding La Leche meetings near you so you can not only meet other breastfeeding mamas, but also ask questions, and have a wonderful group of ladies to help you in case you have any breastfeeding issues down the road (latching, sucking, etc.). I didn't do this with my first and was so overwhelmed. La Leche is the way to go! Also ask them about other essentials that aid breastfeeding, such as pillows (My Breast Friend), chairs (a rocker), their favorite breast pump, nipple-simulated bottles, etc. This can really help you set up the nursery and house with items you will definitely need, too.
6. Talk To Your Children. I cannot express enough how important it is to include your older children in the pregnancy. You don't want them already resenting the baby because this will make the transition even more difficult once baby is born. There are many great children's books available about bringing home baby. I have been taking my children to my check-ups and Josiah has even seen several of my ultrasounds. Teach them how to treat babies, how fragile they are, and how much patience they will need.
7. Baby-Proof The Entire Home! Don't just baby-proof the nursery. Oh no, you want the entire home to be safe for not only your baby, but for the other children. I noticed Josiah was getting into everything when Liam was brought him, so I had to go back through and put locks on all cabinets later one. This was something that should have already been done. It's such a hassle once baby is home and you have your hands full.
8. Find a baby carrier! Speaking of having your hands full, I highly recommend finding a baby carrier. There are many out there on the market, but each are different in their own way. Test out a few and decide which one is best for you and your needs. We love our Belle Baby, have used it with Liam and will continue to use it with baby #3! This is a great way to not only have hands free for giving other children attention, cooking and cleaning, but the baby will love being so close to Mama. You may think a baby carrier is used when out and around town or hiking, but it's used for much more than that. I swear I'd never get laundry done with a baby if it wasn't for my carrier!!
9. Never Be Afraid To Ask For Help! When you get home you will be exhausted, overwhelmed, and wanting to spend every second with the baby. Before having baby, talk to close friends and family. Many will be more than willing to help. It's nice to have some extra hands when at home. We actually had several offer to make/bring us food, which was wonderful! Maybe someone would like to stay with you for a few days, like your own Mom, to help out, let you rest, recover, and to enjoy the new grandbaby.
10. Go all-natural & non-toxic! Last, but most importantly, make the switch to organics and non-toxic products. It's so much safer with children around and they work just as well, if not better, than any others we've used. We always use Seventh Generation products now and love them. From household cleaners and trash bags to laundry detergent and diapers, Seventh Generation offers a full line of all-natural, non-toxic products for the home. You and baby shouldn't be breathing in chemicals, you should be breathing in unscented cleaners by Seventh Generation or, my favorite, Lemongrass & Thyme scented disinfecting multi-surface cleaner (a must-have, imo).
Being pregnant, the anticipation of bring baby home, and finally being together as a family- it's all such an exciting and wonderful time. Enjoy every second of it and try not to stress if things don't go as planned. They never go as planned and you won't get every little thing "right". The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and be the best parents we can be. Don't let anyone discourage you or make you think you don't know what's best for baby. You do! Trust your instincts and be prepared for anything and everything! I'm so ready to experience all of these joys again!
As I mentioned before, Seventh Generation offers a great variety of all-natural, non-toxic products, including their line of Free & Clear baby-care products! They have diapers, wipes and baby liquid laundry detergent. Seventh Generation Free & Clear diapers are free of chlorine, latex, fragrances and petroleum-based lotions and are available in size newborn to stage 6. We absolutely love these diapers! Also part of the Free & Clear like are the Seventh Generation Baby Wipes, which are free of alcohol, synthetic dyes and fragrances, and are whitened without harsh chemicals containing chlorine. We all want the best for our babies and so does Seventh Generation!
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.