25 THINGS TO DO BEFORE BABY

It's Baby Month here! I have almost none of these items done, but I have made a list - that's the first step right? This is my last week of work and then I'm off to cross these things off. Fair warning, this list is long and thorough, but I like to feel prepared! If you're eager to be ready like me, grab some coffee (I won't tell) put your feet up, and start making your list!

1 ) FINISH BABY REGISTRY - (wait for completion discount; you must check out my hints!)
I believe most every store you sign up with has a baby registry completion discount. I have registered with Target, PBK, and Amazon and all of them have a 10-15% discount they've offered me to complete my registry. The terms and dates differ on these, but watch for the discount before you finish your registry! For instance, Amazon didn't offer me the discount until my 9th month, so I've been waiting to finish my list. Target, on the other hand, sent me (5 ) 15% off coupons in the mail to use on my registry. HINT 1: The Target coupons say you can only use one of the coupons for yourself and the rest are to give to your family and friends, but I've been using them all myself! Plus, they don't expire until 6 months after baby is due, so I'm saving a few back for future things baby will need. HINT 2: On two of my registries I have added things that don't pertain to baby (AT ALL) and they've given me the discount on those items anyway! When I checked out at Target, she just gave me the discount on everything in my cart, even things for around my home and clearly not for baby! (HOORAY!) This may or may not happen for you, but it's worth asking. While shopping online at PBK, they let me add things for my teen's room and get the discount on those items too. Sadly, it didn't work for Amazon. Make sure to sign up to be an Amazon Mom and you'll get a 15% discount instead of 10%. 

2 ) FINISH THE NURSERY (or not; the only things you'll need for baby)
If you have a lot of time on your hands, go ahead and finish everything around the nursery. But if you're coming down to the finish line and it feels like nothing is done, forget the nursery! Put your feet up, relax, nap, and take in every moment of your final month. When you get down to it, all baby REALLY needs is a few necessities to get through the first month or two. Would it be nice to have all of the extra luxuries? ABSOLUTELY! But you and baby will live without them. Here's my baby gear necessity list for the first month or two; get to the nursery later when you're not so exhausted. Of course obvious things like sleepers, diapers, medicines, hygiene, and nursing/bottle feeding items are needed too.

MY FIRST MONTH NECESSITIES

3 ) WATCH FOR DIAPER SALES (See where I buy & how much to pay per diaper!)
If you're trying to get diapers on the cheap, watch those drug store ads. I LOVE the app called Flipp; it shows me all of my favorite local stores' ads in one place! I can also "clip" the items I want to purchase that week and it will store them for me to refer to when I'm shopping. HINT 1: Don't pay more than 15 cents per diaper, and 1-2 cents per wipe. HINT 2: If you don't have time to shop the sales, LUVS on Amazon is a great deal at 12 cents per diaper when you subscribe, and you can unsubscribe at any time. I've got my first 6 weeks of diapers ready to go for just $52.78 this way. And here's how I got my first month of wipes: Pampers Sensitive Wipes.

4 ) PLAN A FREEZER DAY! 
I know that for the first several months, long after I stop receiving meals from family & friends, the last thing I will feel like doing is cooking. (not to mention grocery shopping) So I'm planning to have several meals made up and ready to pop into the oven for dinner time. Just add some fresh sides like bread and veggies, and mama's got dinner covered! Making meals to freeze can seem complicated, but really it's not. I'm no freezing expert, so please do some research on your own. From what I've gathered, the best things to freeze are: breads, soups, and casseroles. If the meal has crunchy items in it, it most likely won't come out of the freezer crunchy. You can freeze items one of a few ways: when you're cooking through the week, double your recipe and freeze the extra for later, OR you can just plan a freezer day like I plan to do! 

Here's a great cookbook with all the information and recipes you could want to get started!
Not your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook

SOME GREAT STARTER MEALS:

  • Lasagna
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Chicken / Beef Enchiladas
  • Vegetable Beef Soup
  • Creamy Potato Soup
  • Chili


5 ) SCHEDULE MATERNITY & NEWBORN SHOOTS (see my photographer-selecting tips!)
If you're a local, (heck even non-local, I love to travel) I might know someone who can help you out in this department ; ). Maternity sessions are best scheduled for the 7th-8th month. That cuts down the chances for missing it due to early labor, plus you're feeling a little less uncomfortable than when you're in your 9th month. Most photographers schedule newborn sessions during the first 7-10 days of life, and many would like for you to schedule that in advance to be sure they can get you in. When you're on the hunt for a newborn photographer, here's my tips on what to look for:

Does their style line up with yours? Most photographers either fall into the sleepy newborn, posed category OR the in-home, natural, lifestyle category. And some do a little of both, so research their style and make sure it lines up with your vision. For extra confidence, ask your photographer if you can see a full gallery from one of their recent newborn sessions, that way you have a really good idea on what to expect from your session.

I highly recommend looking for photographers who specialize in newborn photography. It's kind of a field of it's own, and just because the photographer is a fabulous wedding or family photographer - does not mean they will be the best choice for your newborn shoot. There is a lot of time, research, experience, and equipment that is required for newborn photography that isn't required for any other type of photography. 

If you are pro-vaccine, is your photographer of choice vaccinated? I choose to be up to date on all of my vaccines. And because I am around newborns a lot, I chose to get the whooping cough vaccine. If you're not familiar with this, do some research on the topic because it is really scary for newborns and babies to catch. 

Does your newborn photographer practice safe baby handling? When I used to only shoot the sleepy, posed, newborn sessions, I always had an extra person with me to assist during the shoot. Baby's safety should be your photographer's number one concern, not getting a perfect shot. Now that I do mostly in-home sessions, I don't do nearly the amount of tricky poses I used to do and feel very confident in doing it myself. Go ahead and ask how your photographer practices safety during the shoot. 

6 ) STOCKPILE. STOCKPILE. STOCKPILE
Think about all of the things your home needs to function, and stock up! I believe in the savings of Sam's or Costco - and I love that I can make less trips for those mundane household things. I'm planning a large trip a few weeks before baby and most of the items should last me 2-3 months after baby is born. Additionally, we invested in a deep freeze not too long ago and I plan to stock it full of things like bread, waffles, frozen pizzas, and my freezer meals. Do we regularly eat those things? No, I love cooking and try to give my family as much fresh foods as I can. But these items will help us survive the first few months when I can't go grocery shopping every week.

7 ) GO DISPOSABLE 
If you're one of my amazing green friends, plug your ears for this one! La La La La La La .... Okay, we are those people who put out the most recycle items on the block, and I kind of cringe every time I throw something away thinking about how long it's going to sit in a landfill. I really do care about those things, BUT soon I won't be able to run a load of dishes a day like I do now. So to keep my home sane and help out my family, we will be using mostly disposable for the first month. I'll look for items that are bio-degradable, deal? 

8 ) PRIME-IT
Have you signed up for Prime yet? If not, HOW DO YOU SURVIVE?!?! I'm not even exaggerating, I would not have the same quality of life without some Amazon Prime in my life. And now Amazon has rolled out a subscription service and a little thing called Prime Pantry. So not only can you get most anything you want or need for free within 2 days, you can subscribe to things you regularly need and they'll show up on your doorstep every month. This includes necessities like diapers and wipes! Amazon Pantry has a lot of household items you regularly use like food, hygiene products, and cleaning and pet supplies. Plus, most of the Amazon Pantry items are below local prices, so instead of sending family to the store, order it from your phone and let it come to you! (no, I'm not payed to plug Amazon, wish I was)

9 ) LAUNDRY DUTY (get out of the laundry pile rut + start washing baby's items)
Raise your hand if you've got a laundry pile. (ME!!) I could probably count the number of times that I've been completely caught up on laundry on my fingers. So now that laundry duty is about to get even more daunting, I'm starting a system that I believe will help me stay a little more on track. It won't be magical, only a fairy godmother could fix all of my laundry problems, but it's a step in the right direction. First, I'm ordering two of these: Laundry Sorters. I'll be labeling the bags and instead of all the laundry piling up on the floor, it will be sorted into these bags. I like washing loads in categories - kids laundry, mine, towels, etc. That way when they're ready to be put away you have one place to go instead of all over the house. You can also use it to sort out your whites right away. When the clothes are finished, every person and household area has it's own labeled laundry basket. So when the clothes are done, they go into their coordinating basket: my clothes go into my basket, kitchen towels go into their basket, etc. And the kids are helping me fold what's in those baskets and put them away. (hooray for older kids!!) I also purchased a drying rack for baby's clothes because I don't plan to dry them. 

Secondly, wash a few of baby's clothes, her bedding, blankets, and anything else she'll have constant contact with in a baby-safe detergent like Dreft. Do it before she comes home, so you have nothing to worry about except snuggling when she's here. I'm making my own baby detergent and you can get the recipe HERE! I'm using this BABY CASTILLE SOAP in the linked recipe. Don't get carried away on the washing though, leave your tags on a lot of her clothing because chances are she'll grow out of it before she gets to wear it. Hopefully you can return/exchange what she doesn't get to wear!

10 ) CAR SEAT INSTALLATION I haven't even started thinking about this! Does it go in the middle? Does it go on the side? Can I put those newborn neck pillows or car seat covers in, and it still be safe? It's a priority to get it installed correctly and get your questions answered, so don't put it off! (like me!)

11 ) PACK THAT HOSPITAL BAG You'll want to check out this post on what to pack in your bag, if you haven't already! 

12 ) SCHEDULE YOUR MATERNITY LEAVE I'm sure you've already thought of this, but if you work from home, like me, you might be putting it off. I'm starting to think about when I'll officially take my time off, and when I'd like to plan to get back in the swing of things. Whether you work from home or out of the office, it's good to turn your email vacation settings on with a friendly message so that everyone understands why you'll be a little slower to respond.

13 ) GET THOSE APPOINTMENTS OUT OF THE WAY (+ what vaccines you should have for baby) The dog needs his shots updated, your son needs a haircut, your daughter needs to see the orthodontist, and the list goes on... Don't procrastinate, get every single appointment scheduled and finished before baby so you have less to worry about later. If you have any regular appointments your children or pets need to attend, schedule some help to take them for you the first month. IMPORTANT: If you are pro-vaccine, make sure everyone in your family are up to date with their vaccines, and have a conversation with your doctor about it. An important one to ask about is the DTaP vaccine which includes the whooping cough vaccination. You might also want to get everyone vaccinated with the flu vaccine if it's that time of year. IMPORTANT #2: Get a list of pediatricians your friends, family, and OBGYN recommend and start calling around to see what you need to do to become a patient, and when you need to schedule with them. You'll be in their office before you know it to cry with baby when they get their shots! 

14 ) PEDI/CUT/WAX Pamper yourself before baby comes, because you won't have much time (or maybe desire to) post-baby. If you schedule these appointments in your 9th month, they should tide you over for 1-2 months after baby's born, which is when you'll start feeling more like yourself and want to get scheduled again. Perfect!

15 ) GET YOUR MAILBOX READY: THANK YOU'S, STAMPS, BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS Get an assortment of stamps and thank you's before baby's born so you'll be ready to send out your gratitude with any final gifts you receive. You'll also want to send your thanks to any family and friends that help you out when baby arrives. While you're thinking of greetings, plan your birth announcements so you can be ready to send those out the first month too. 

16 ) "SPRING CLEAN" (come home to a clean, uncluttered home) It will be winter here, but I'm going to get some spring cleaning done early! I have things around here that are driving me crazy, and I can't wait to take a day or two to tackle them. I know it will help me relax and feel like I can enjoy baby when she's finally here. Think of things like washing your sheets before you go to the hospital, cleaning out the fridge and microwave, storing away seasonal items you don't need, etc. You'll love coming home to a house that is clean and un-cluttered. If you can, hire a cleaning service to assist you in your deep cleaning, and then continue to keep them on for the first few months so that you can spend your time with baby instead of the vacuum.

17 ) RECRUIT HELP (paid or unpaid) Plan ahead for what you and your family will need as far as help goes the first few months. Start scheduling friends, family, and possibly hired help to make your transition go more smoothly. Since I'm having a c-section, I know to plan for help for at least the first 2 weeks. I will not be able to manage all of the regular things I do now, so knowing my family can be here to take over for a bit will be such a relief. Unless you want it, don't ask people to simply come hold the baby - ask people to come who you know will roll up their sleeves and get things done around the house. Or people who will take children to school and appointments and help them with their homework. You will need your rest and time to bond with baby.

18 ) MAKE SOME LISTS (kids chores, easy meals & ingredients, grocery lists, etc)  This is an important one for me, as I'm sure it is for most mom's who already have children and a household to run. Your partner, or anyone coming to help, might not be as familiar with the the in's and out's of keeping your household running smoothly. Make lists for them that will be easy to read and find in one spot - then they don't have to feel like they're bothering you and you don't have to worry about things not getting done.

MY LISTS

  • Chore/Homework Charts for the kids that they need to complete every day after school

  • A Grocery & Supply List in order of the isles at the stores I regularly shop at

  • A Simple Meal List / Freezer Meal list for helpers to choose meals from the freezer or choose to make a simple meal our family will eat

  • A list of tasks helpers can choose from to complete when they come (a load of laundry, walk the dog, sweep the kitchen, water plants, take out the trash, dishes, etc)

  • A list of places we would order take-out from if needed, including their phone and our items of choice from the menu

  • A Calendar of Events for month one, including anything important to remember for the kids, new baby, work, etc. 

  • Make a playlist! Yes, this counts as a list : ) I will be making a playlist for the hospital, for June's awake time, and a workout one for me to get my rear back in gear! Music can do wonders for your mood, so if you're feeling down, have a playlist ready to lift you out of your ick. 

19 ) COME HOME TO SOMETHING NICE (make a pamper kit) We all think ahead and plan for our hospital stay, but really that's a blur and it will be over before you know it. I'm thinking ahead this time to what I want to come home to. I know I want to come home to fresh sheets, a clean home, and a few items that will make me happy. So far, I have a new pair of comfy pajamas and socks, new lotion, a new bar of soap, and I plan to purchase a new outfit that I hope will fit me! What would lift your mood to come home to? Even if it's as simple as a new candle, go out and get it and have something simple, yet special to look forward to. 

20 ) UPGRADE YOUR PHONE STORAGE This is one of the few things I have crossed off my list! Recently, I upgraded my phone storage from 16GB to a whopping 128GB, just in times for June's arrival! I know I will want to capture every second of her life through video and photo, and 16GB isn't going to cut it for me. June will be one well-documented girl! 

21 ) DOWNLOAD THE BABY APPS I have not looked into what baby app I'll be using yet, but here's a list I'll be starting with to find out. I know I will want a baby schedule app that I can easily track her sleeping and eating schedule with. I will also be downloading a white noise app, and probably some kind of photography / documenting app. There are so many available to you, so start doing some research on what will simplify your new-baby life. 

22 ) SNACK TIME (See my yummy snack list!) Especially if you're nursing, plan ahead for some nutritional snacks you can enjoy at the hospital and when you get home. I love having some healthy snacks at arm's reach when I need to re-fuel. (I get cranky when I'm hungry!) I'm starting a little stockpile of snacks that are non-perishable right now - and I'll get some perishables when I get home from the hospital. What's in my snack stockpile? Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn (FAV!), dried fruit, nuts & seeds, granola bars, honey, cereals, OatFit Oatmeal (2nd FAV!), graham crackers, the Laughing Cow skinny cream cheese, and I'll pop some dark chocolate squares in the freezer. 

23 ) MAKE A SICK BOX (What's in my sick box?) When someone is sick in our house, mama's on it! But if someone happens to get sick over the next few months, I want to make sure we already have on hand the important comforts and cures they'll need. I have created a sick box that has all new items I've purchased as I've seen them go on sale. My box includes an assortment of: medicines, vitamins, chapstick, kleenex, Vicks rub, cough drops, pudding, chicken noodle soup, oatmeal, crackers, sprite, etc. Especially since I'm having a winter baby, I want to know my family will feel taken care of during sick season. 

24 ) BUY ALL THE BATTERIES One of my pet peeves is not having batteries when I need them! By now, you probably have a lot of baby gear that requires batteries, so make a list of the quantity and sizes you need and make a shopping run for them. If you're feeling extra motivated, put all the batteries in the items that need them so you can be extra prepared.

25 ) GET EDUCATED If this is your first baby, you probably know everything there is to know about how baby's developing in the womb, and what you should/shouldn't be eating, and the early signs of labor, etc. But have you thought about all the things you need to know for when baby's finally here? How will you breastfeed and go back to work, what nursing supplies do you need, and how much and when should baby be eating? How many diapers should you be stockpiling and how do you get baby on a sleeping & feeding schedule? There are a bazillion more questions you probably need answered, and thankfully there is so much helpful information available to you in books and online. So take your final month of relaxing, and read up on what to expect when baby is here. 

WOW! If you made it through this list, you are already on your way to being an A-MAZING mommy (or dad!)  ; ) Please do chime in with your baby-to-do's! I'd love to hear what's on your list too! 

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