10 practical ways to prep for a new baby
Don’t know where to start when it comes to your pregnancy to-do list? From health insurance to baby gear, we have all the bases covered.
Preparing for the arrival of a baby can cause even the most zen mamas-to-be to break into a nervous sweat. Take a deep breath and remember that the key to staying calm as your belly expands is careful planning. Our easy step-by-step guide takes all the guesswork out of prepping for parenthood. You’ve got this!
- Check your health insurance coverage
Wondering how much it will cost you to bring your baby into the world? Under the current Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”), qualified health plans are required to cover pregnancy and childbirth costs as well as a range of counseling and screening tests for pregnant women and newborns.
But if you had your insurance plan before the introduction of Obamacare in 2010, it might be “grandfathered” and won’t necessarily cover your antenatal or childbirth costs. The best way to find out what your plan covers is to call your insurance company with a list of questions and take detailed notes.
This is also a good time to enquire about adding your baby to your plan. Your newborn should be covered by your insurance for the first month or two of life, but after that they will need to be added on as a separate person.
- Choose a healthcare provider
As soon as you see those two pink lines appear, it’s time to start shopping around for an OBGYN or a midwife depending on the type of birth experience you’re hoping to have. A midwife can help you have a more personalized and natural birth with fewer medical interventions, while an OBGYN is your best choice if you have a serious medical condition or plan on having a C-section.
Other factors you should take into consideration are recommendations from friends, your personal connection with the provider, and whether your health insurance covers their services. For more tips, read How to choose an OBGYN.
- Plan your family leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act entitles certain employees to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave when they have a baby. Your employer may also offer a certain number of weeks of paid maternity leave and your partner may be entitled to paid paternity leave. Depending on your workplace, you may be able to fill in any gaps with sick days and vacation days. Enquire about your options early so you have time to plan and fill out the necessary forms. For more information as to the eligibility criteria, review the United States Department of Labor site for more information.
- Do some financial planning
It’s no secret that children are expensive! It’s a good idea to map out a budget not only for the first year of your baby’s life, but also for more long-term expenses such as education and extracurricular activities.
Consider setting up a savings account or a 529 College Savings Plan for your little one. You can then make monthly contributions and ask grandparents or other close family members to chip in. The good news is 529 plans come with tax benefits, so don’t forget to look into those offered in your state.
- Create a birth plan
C-section or water birth? In a hospital or at home? Epidural or all-natural? There are so many decisions to be made when it comes to your ideal childbirth scenario, so it’s best to write down all your preferences and discuss them with your OBGYN or midwife. Not sure where to start? Read How to write a birth plan.
- Plan your baby gear & set up your Baby Registry
The vast array of available baby products can be overwhelming. To help you in your decision-making process, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite products, which have all passed the Tot Test for safety, innovation, quality and style. It’s a good idea to set up and install essential gear such as the car seat and crib several weeks before your due date in case your little one decides to turn up early! For tips on planning your Baby Registry, take a look at our Founder, Nasiba Adilova’s definitive guide to baby gear. To talk to someone about setting up a Tot Baby Registry, contact our Registry Concierge team for more information.
The Tot Gear Picks
Choosing a car seat and a stroller are two of the most important decisions you’ll make because you have to consider a range of factors including safety and your family’s specific needs. To help you decide, we’ve put together guides on picking the right car seat and stroller. Here are our top picks:
- Car seat: The award-winning Nuna PIPA car seat provides the ultimate in comfort and safety in a stylish, sustainably produced package.
- Stroller: Nuna’s MIXX 2 Stroller is guaranteed to turn heads with its sleek, easy-to-use design.
- Carrier: We love the ergonomically designed Ergobaby 360 Cool Air Carrier. Prefer a wrap carrier? Nothing beats the stretchy, lightweight Solly Baby.
Safe sleeping is the most important factor when choosing nursery and sleep gear. But that doesn’t mean it can’t look fab too!
- Crib: The Oeuf Classic Crib in Walnut will make a statement in your nursery. Made from solid birch and eco-MDF, it‘s easy to assemble and has three adjustable mattress heights.
- Bassinet: The HALO Bassinet Swivel Sleeper rotates 360 degrees and has a sidewall that lowers to allow you to tend to your baby without getting out of bed.
- Crib bedding: Little Unicorn’s super-soft cotton muslin crib sheet and organic quilt set will send your baby off to la-la land in no time.
- Mattress protector: PUREgrace’s mattress protector is made from 100 percent TENCEL, an amazing fiber which is eco-friendly, chemical-free, hypoallergenic and moisture-wicking.
- Swaddle: Swaddles not only provide a safe alternative to crib blankets that can cover little faces, but they’ll help your baby sleep better too. Try HALO’s Organic SleepSack Swaddle for a swaddle that turns into a sleep sack or Woombie’s Organic Vintage Linen Swaddle which allows babies to stretch like they did in the womb.
- Baby Shusher: Forget white noise – the Baby Shusher is a revolutionary product that helps your baby fall asleep with loud, rhythmic shushing noises.
There’s nothing worse than running out of supplies in the middle of the night, so stock up on diapers, a natural diapering balm, and chemical-free wipes such as Water Wipes before baby arrives. You’ll also need these diapering essentials on hand.
- Change table/dresser: Nursery Works’ stunning oak veneer Novella Dresser features five drawers and a removable changing tray. We love that this statement piece of furniture could look great in any room!
- Change pad: The Nook Sleep Systems Pebble Change Pad has a non-toxic foam core and an all-natural eucalyptus cover that’s waterproof and stain-resistant.
- Diaper pail: The ubbi Diaper Pail not only locks in odors with its unique technology, it looks super-stylish too.
- Diaper bag: Want a diaper bag that’s spacious, versatile and looks as good as a handbag? Look no further than the quilted Cam Cam Copenhagen or Jem & Bea’s Jemima Bag.
At times, it will feel like your little bundle of joy does nothing but guzzle milk 24/7. Having the right feeding products will make your life so much easier.
- Pump: Medela’s Freestyle double electric breast pump set has everything you need to pump breastmilk quickly and efficiently at home and on the go.
- Feeding pillow: The Nook Sleep Systems Niche Organic Feeding Pillow made from 100 percent organic cotton and eucalyptus is non-toxic and earth-friendly.
- Glass bottles: Natursutten’s Glass Baby Bottles are safer than plastic bottles because they’re free of harmful chemicals.
- Nipple cream: It’s so important to look after your nipples, especially when breastfeeding. Use one that’s free of nasties and made from natural ingredients.
- Sterilizer: Steam sterilize your bottles and other feeding items quickly and safely with Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottler Sterilizer.
- Milk storage bags: Dr. Brown’s Breastmilk Storage Bags will keep your precious breastmilk safe with their leak-proof double zipper seals and self-standing feature.
- Bibs: Little Unicorn’s Cotton Classic Bibs 3 Pack feature adorable designs on three layers of 100 percent cotton muslin.
- Burp cloths: The EllieFunDay Organic Lovie Burp Cloth set is made from 100 percent GOTS-certified organic cotton and hand-stitched in India.
- Nursing pads: Kushies Organic Cotton Nursing Pads are environmentally friendly and breathable. Each pack includes six reusable pads.
What better way to help your baby relax and unwind before bedtime than with a soothing bath?
- Bath: The lightweight Stokke Flexibath can be used at home or while travelling to bathe children from birth to four years. The Flexibath Support provides the support newborns need to bathe safely and freely. Use it to store toys in once you no longer use it as a bath.
- Hooded towel: Your little one will feel safe and cozy after their bath in this Milkbarn Hooded Towel featuring a sweet hummingbird print.
- Baby wash: Free from artificial fragrances and chemicals, Erbaviva’s Baby Body Wash will soothe and calm your baby with its light chamomile and mandarin scent.
- Washcloths: Made of sustainable bamboo that has natural absorbency, KyteBaby’s washcloths are soft and gentle to use on your baby’s delicate skin.
- Nose cleaner: When your little one has a cold, keep their nose snot-free with the amazing fridababy NoseFrida.
- Nail clippers: The curved, overlapping blades of Nailfrida’s nail clipper snippers allow for safe, smooth and silent snipping.
Babies learn about the world through play. Enhance their play time with these high-quality toys and accessories.
- Play mat: Made from eucalyptus, organic cotton and zinc, Nook Sleep Systems’ LilyPad Playmat is ideal for tummy time and play time at home and on the go.
- Play gym: These stunning Finn & Emma Play Gyms are made from birch-wood and finished with non-toxic stains and lacquers. The soft toys are GOTS-certified organic cotton.
- Rattle: Your baby will love this sweet Cam Cam Copenhagen Swan Rattle made from 100 percent organic cotton and natural wood.
- Natural pacifier: Should you use a pacifier for your little one? This article can help you weigh up the pros and cons. Hevea’s Orthodontic Pacifiers are made from natural rubber latex and are free from PVC, BPA, phthalates and artificial colors.
- Mobile: The gorgeous organic cotton Cam Cam Copenhagen Rainbow Mobile will keep your wee one entertained for hours.
- Nightlight: The Goodnight Light Pineapple Lamp is a stylish way to keep scary shadows at bay in your child’s nursery.
While you might be really excited to race out and buy lots of cute little outfits for your baby, just remember that for now, you really only need the basics to begin with. Now that doesn’t mean the basics can’t be super cute!
- Footies: We love Oeuf, 12|12 and Milkbarn. Just remember to choose soft, organic fabrics that are free of nasties like harmful dyes.
- Bodysuits/ Onesies: Your baby will live in these so have plenty on hand. Our picks are Woombie, KyteBaby and Colored Organics for their clever kimono-style snap closure.
- Long sleeve tees & leggings: 12|12 does a range of great tees and pants for tots. Stock up on plenty of their crew long sleeve tees and super cute leggings.
- Take childbirth and infant-care classes
Contractions and breastfeeding and swaddling, oh my! A childbirth education class will teach you everything you need to know about labor and childbirth and help you approach the big day with confidence. Infant care classes cover everything from breastfeeding and bathing to swaddling and settling. You might also want to take an infant CPR class. Ask your doctor or do an online search for classes near you.
- Do essential home repairs
Patching holes in the wall and replacing lightbulbs? Who has time for that with a newborn! Get all those home repairs and minor renovations done before baby arrives. If you and your partner aren’t handy, consider hiring a handyman. Airtasker is a great place to get competitive quotes for any job you need done. If you plan on having any painting done, remember to do your research on safer, Low VOC paints in order to protect you, your growing baby and the rest of your family. Here is a great resource on Non-toxic paint vendors.
- Plan your childcare
If you’re planning on going back to work, you’ll need to plan your childcare sooner rather than later. Options include daycare centers, home daycares, nannies and care provided by family members. If you’re unsure what’s best for you, ask friends and other parents in your area for recommendations.
- Find a pediatrician
With all your attention focused on your pregnancy and delivery, it can be easy to forget about finding a doctor to care for your little one once they’ve made their grand entrance into the world. Recommendations from friends and family are always your best bet, or try the American Academy of Pediatrics’ online search tool for a pediatrician in your area.
By Sabrina Rogers-Anderson