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.

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Photo by Syrie Wongkaew

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!

  1. 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.

Helpful resources:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. Or, you can simply get started on creating your own baby registry now! 

The Tot Gear Picks

Transportation

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

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The award-winning Nuna Pipa Lite car seat provides the ultimate in comfort and safety in a stylish, sustainably produced package. Tough yet lightweight. Protective and portable, the Nuna Pipa Lite boasts a svelte new design, and weighs in less than every infant car seat—only 5.3 lbs. The smartly sourced elements are flame resistant and contain no added retardant chemicals while still exceeding all American Safety Standards.

Stroller

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Nuna’s Demi Grow Stroller is guaranteed to turn heads with its sleek, easy-to-use design. The Demi Grow Bassinet is sold separately It also easily converts from single to double stroller if you decide to grow your little family. We also adore the Bugaboo Cameleon3 which is more stylish, functional and versatile than ever before.

Carrier

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We love the ergonomically designed Ergobaby 360 Cool Air Carrier. Prefer a wrap carrier? Nothing beats the stretchy, lightweight Solly Baby New Standard Wrap Carrier.

Nursery

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

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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

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Made with sustainable New Zealand Pine Wood, the Babyletto Sprout 4-in-1 Convertible Crib has four adjustable mattress levels and hidden hardware construction and can easily be converted to a toddler or full size bed.

Crib bedding

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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.

Sleep Swaddle

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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

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Forget white noise – the Baby Shusher is a revolutionary product that helps your baby fall asleep with loud, rhythmic shushing noises.

Diapering

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

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Babyletto’s chic Sprout three drawer dresser with a removable changing tray, is made with sustainable New Zealand pine wood and CARB II compliant MDF. We love that this statement piece of furniture could look great in any room!

Change pad

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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

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The ubbi Diaper Pail not only locks in odors with its unique technology, it looks super-stylish too.

Diaper bag

Jem & Bea Margot Leather Diaper Bag in Black JemBeaJemimaGrey1

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Want a diaper bag that’s spacious, versatile and looks as good as a handbag? Look no further than the gorgeous bags and backpacks by Jem + Bea. For a unisex options for parents on the go, we love Jem + Bea’s newest Diaper Backpacks in Nylon and Denim. The backpacks come loaded with practical details both inside and out yet still maintain a sleek and minimalist look which has become synonymous with Jem + Bea.

Feeding

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

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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

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The Nook Sleep Systems Niche Organic Feeding Pillow made from 100 percent organic cotton and eucalyptus is non-toxic and earth-friendly.

Glass bottles 

Hevea Glass Bottle 2 pack

 

Hevea’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. We love Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter.

Milk storage bags

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Medela’s Milk Storage Bags are constructed from a durable, double layer material and built-in double zipper seal to keep your breast milk safely stored in the fridge or freezer. For added convenience, the bags are self-standing and come with a large write-on area so you can track the date and other important information.

Bibs

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Little Unicorn’s Cotton Classic Bibs 3 Pack feature adorable designs on three layers of 100 percent cotton muslin.

Burp cloths

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The EllieFunDay Organic Lovie Burp Cloth set is made from 100 percent GOTS-certified organic cotton and hand-stitched in India.

Nursing pads

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Kushies Organic Cotton Nursing Pads are environmentally friendly and breathable. Each pack includes six reusable pads.

Bath time

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 traveling to bathe children from birth to four years. The included newborn 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

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Your little one will feel safe and cozy after their bath in this adorable Hooded Wave towel by Cam Cam Copenhagen.

Baby wash

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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

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Made of sustainable bamboo that has natural absorbency, KyteBaby’s washcloths are soft and gentle to use on your baby’s delicate skin.

Mom & Baby Starter Tool Kit

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The Fridababy Bitty Bundle of Joy is the perfect starter collection of all-natural, safe and effective fuss-busters recommended by pediatricians and parents. It comes packaged in a convenient carry case to keep all of the tools in one place, making it the perfect gift for new parents and parents-to-be. The toolkit includes:

  • 1 NoseFrida the SnotSucker,
  • 24 NoseFrida Hygiene Filters
  • 10-pack Windi the GasPasser
  • 1 NailFrida the SnipperClipper set
  • 1 Fridet the MomWasher with waterproof Fridet pouch

 

Play time

Babies learn about the world through play. Enhance their play time with these high-quality toys and accessories.

Play mat

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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

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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. We also adore Lovevery’s Developmental Play Gym which has everything you need for your baby’s first year of play. The play gym features five development zones that reveal or conceal, to prevent over-stimulation, and promote everything from making sounds, learning to focus, hiding and finding, exploring colors and more!

Rattle

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Your baby will love this sweet Cheengoo Lion Rattle made from 100 percent viscose bamboo yarn.

Natural pacifier

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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.

Nightlight

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The Goodnight Light Pineapple Lamp is a stylish way to keep scary shadows at bay in your child’s nursery.

Baby clothes

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! For more advice on what to stock up on, read our article on Baby Clothes: What you really need. 

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 WoombieKyteBaby and Milkbarn 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Helpful resource:

  1. 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.