Let’s be honest. The title of this post is ridiculous. Nothing could ever totally help you with preparing for baby. But, should you find yourself expecting a baby (or hoping for, adopting, or fostering a baby), there are a few things that might make the transition to mommy life just a tad bit easier.
1. Find a provider
Obviously, you’ll need to find an OB or midwife of some sort. At some point, you’ll also need a pediatrician for the little one. You can call your insurance network or go on their website and search to see who is “in network.” (Here are the 10 questions you need to ask your insurance provider.)
After this 4th baby arrives, we’ll have used 5 providers in 3 cities in 3 hospitals. I used a certified nurse midwife with our first, both a home birth midwife and an OB with our second (long story), a different OB with our 3rd (because I didn’t like my previous), and yet a different OB with our 4th (because the one I liked retired).
The best way I know to find a good provider is to ask people you know locally who they liked. Personally, I like an OB who:
- tries to deliver his/her own patients.
- will spend time answering your questions, especially if this is your first baby.
- seems to actually listen to your preferences, concerns, etc.
- has an office that runs on time.
You’ll typically go to your first prenatal appointment around 8 weeks along. They’ll help determine the estimated due date of your child & possibly give you some information to research about creating a birth plan.
2. Start a baby budget sinking fund
A sinking fund is a category in your budget that adds up from month to month and only occasionally gets spent out of.
- First, make an estimated list of expenses using my free budgeting-for-baby worksheet. (Learn more & get a copy of my free budgeting for baby worksheet in this post!)
- Then, divide your estimated amount by the total number of months you have to save up (probably 6-10 months ish). That’s your monthly budgeted savings amount.
- Be disciplined & only spend money out of this fund for things on the list!
Preparing for baby pro tip: Look on Facebook buy-sell-trade sites, craigslist, and local kids resale stores for basic, popular baby items. Make sure you take things off your registry if you find them used. For example, I recently bought a little infant sound machine for $6 – it retails for $25.
Don’t forget to factor in saving for the actual cost of giving birth, which can vary a lot depending on your insurance (hence #1 in this post).
This post has all the details about how much to budget when preparing for baby.
3. Discuss General Parenting Things With Your Spouse
You may or may not have been ‘surprised’ by the little one that’s entering your life. Whether or not you were planning on getting pregnant, there are TONS of things that you and your husband will discover about each other as parents that will totally rock your world!
Mostly, you guys will learn on the fly, but here are are some ideas for questions to discuss.
Just know, your general opinions may change a bit AFTER your dear offspring actually arrives… because, ya know… we’re all the world’s best parents until we become parents. 🙂
- How were you raised? What are things you liked and didn’t like about the way your parents handled things?
- Do you think mom will want to go back to work? Full time? Part time? (I know SOOOO many women who love their jobs, swear they could never stay home, and when baby arrives, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. Just sayin’…)
- If you’re going from 2 incomes to 1, are you planning ahead for this?
- What do you think might change about our daily routines after baby is born? What is important to us to keep the same? Is there anything we think we’ll have to give up or let go of after baby is born? (i.e. your 5:00 am exercise regimen, 3 weeknight commitments each week, etc…)
- Potential babysitters?
- A mentor is someone who is a season ahead and doing what you want to be doing well. Who do we know that we think we want to parent like? Anyone we can ask to formally or informally mentor us as new parents?
- SLEEP TRAINING!! (See next point)
4. Sleep Train/ Get Baby on a Routine
We had 4 kids in 5 years… from our experience, I recommend starting to get your baby on a feeding & sleep schedule or routine your baby sooner than later. I have a guide that outlines our method for starting an eating and sleeping routine from the very beginning!! It works for almost everyone who starts with their newborn.
You can have your baby on a predictable daily schedule & sleeping through the night by about 12-15 weeks old (if you start right away.)
My short & simple guide addresses daily routines, feeding schedules, how to know if baby is tired or hungry, and what to do when it’s not working!
All 4 of our kids with various personalities slept through the night (10-12 hours) by 12-16 weeks old! So I wrote a short ebook about our method. You can grab it here.
5. Stay away from the forums
You will want to search everything online. The first several links will be forums on pregnancy sites that haven’t been updated since 2011. Please resist the urge to read them.
Also please note, this is a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black… Because I have read all the forums!!! 🙂
Which is why I know they’re all a useless waste of time.
You’d be much better off asking your mom, a friend, your doctor, or even a blogger whose parenting philosophies jive with yours. For the love, just don’t read the forums.
6. Other Books to Read
There are a gazillion parenting books out there. Plenty are good, but that doesn’t mean you have to read them all. The ones I would recommend to any new parent (and the ones I regularly gift to new parents in our lives) are:
- Parenting by the Book (John Rosemond)*
- Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full (Gloria Furman)
- Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family (Paul Tripp)
- Surprised by Motherhood (Lisa Jo Baker)
- Goodnight Baby: A Practical Guide to Sleep Training Your Newborn (me!)
*John Rosemond has written several great parenting books, many of which are specific to a certain issue or age group. He has one for “terrific twos,” “discipline that really works,” teenage years, etc… Keep those in mind for the future.
7. Baby Gear
The whole marketing world has figured out that expecting mothers are an AMAZING target. Because if you tell moms-to-be that they NEED this one thing for their baby, they are likely to believe you.
So, don’t fall for every little social media ad or beautifully styled Target end-cap.
You are stronger than that! haha 🙂
A few thoughts on how to decide what to buy and what to skip:
- The first few years go REALLY fast. Even if you have multiple babies. You do not need ALL THE THINGS, because you will be getting rid of it all in about 5 minutes (cue the preggo hormone tears from this momma who’s on her last pregnancy of 4, Lord willing!)
- Sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes not. Those darn Aden + Anais blankets ARE softer than cheaper muslin swaddle blankets. I don’t know why or how, but they are worth the $$. Onesies, on the other hand, are onesies… they will probably end up with poop stains, and the ones from Target will do just fine.
- Secondhand stores are amazing. With so many people only having 1 or 2 kids, you can find practically new items for 20% of the cost. Find a local kids resale store or active kids stuff buy sell trade group on FB.*
- Wait on purchasing diapers and most of the big gear things… If you buy a swing when you’re 4 months pregnant, and your baby hates it 7 months later, you’ll be stuck with it. (Another reason you can find great deals on never-been-used secondhand items. Some babies end up being sensitive to certain brands of diapers. It’d stink to stock up on Huggies only to find out you need Pampers. They go on sale every 4-6 weeks, so just grab 1 giant newborn box and a size 1 box around week 35-38.
*Note: The only thing I don’t buy secondhand is car seats! After trying out a ton of different car seats, our favorite infant carrier carseat is this one and our favorite convertible car seat (5 pounds to 90 pounds) is this one. That second one is the only one you’ll ever need if you don’t want the convenience of the baby carrier one.
My friend Julie also has a great list of basics for baby gear that you’ll need.
What your baby really needs is love. And milk. And a carseat. (It’s the one item you have to have to leave the hospital.) And eventually a name, I suppose. You can basically learn everything else on the fly. People have been giving birth and raising babies since dear old Eve, and you can do this too. You’re in good company.