By the end of the third trimester, your body has already gone through a lot of crazy changes -- from wacky hormones to a bulging belly. You’re tired, and ready to meet your new baby. Those last weeks seem to serve only to highlight the things you haven’t gotten accomplished yet. It can be hard to muster up the energy to get ready for your quickly approaching due date, although you can expect a burst of energy in the week or two before you go into labor. Here are some important tasks to check off your honey-do list before welcoming your newborn into your family and your home.
Create a Space for Baby to Sleep
Whether you are using a bassinet or a crib, it is time to assemble your baby’s bead. Learn to use all of its features, from attached mobiles to how to raise it up and down. If you’re using a crib, consider a water resistant mattress, and wash any bedding you will use. Remember, until at least 12 months, your baby shouldn’t have anything but a fitted sheet in the crib -- no pillows, stuffed animals, or big blankets. Store sheets and receiving blankets in an easily accessible place for any late night spit ups or explosions. Remember to assemble your crib in the room where it will be used; they are often too big to fit through doorways.
Paint and Decorate the Nursery
If you aren’t happy with the color of your nursery walls, it’s a good idea to have someone else paint for you to avoid paint fumes. If this isn’t an option, keep the windows open, take frequent breaks from painting, wear a mask, and put a fan in the window. Remember to put any shelves, pictures, or other decorations up high, out of the reach of little grasping fingers. Don’t forget all the essentials for your changing area: a changing pad, diapers, wipes, and rash cream.
Get a Car Seat
It’s a good idea to get a car seat well before your due date -- babies have a habit of arriving on their own time. Read the manual and be sure you understand how it works. You should also make sure to install it a few weeks before labor, in the center of the back seat, facing the rear of the car. If you or want some help your local fire department or hospital may host car seat installation days a few times a month. Additionally, most hospitals have you bring in the carrier portion when you deliver to ensure you know how to properly install your baby.
Purchase Major Accessories
Major accessories like strollers and play pens can be a real pain. If you plan to use any, get them put together in advance, and learn about any safety or convenience features from the owner's manual. Many of these collapse into much smaller segments for easy storage in a trunk or closet. Assembling even smaller, less involved toys, like a playmat, can be trickier than it looks.
Get Clothes and Other Necessities Together
While it’s a good idea to have a substantial stock of diapers and wipes, be wary of buying too many packages of the same brand, in case your baby’s bottom is sensitive to certain diapers. Additionally, he/she won’t be in the newborn size for long, so don’t go crazy stocking up on one size. Expect to go through at least two outfits a day (newborns are messy, and they puke a lot) -- but again, clothes are going to be outgrown fast. Last minute essentials for your shopping list include:
- Baby soap and/or shampoo
- Burp clothes
- Receiving blankets
- Soft washcloths and towels
- Socks, hats, and cotton mittens
- Infant nail trimmers
- Breast pump
Pack a Hospital Bag
Start a list of items you want to include in your hospital bag, and plan to have it packed and ready by about month 8. Include items like comfortable pajamas, a bring home outfit for the baby (and yourself), music, a book, formula (if you plan to formula feed), your breast pump (so a lactation consultant can show you how it works), and anything else you or your partner might need for the couple of days while your in the hospital.