You’re leaving the hospital with your baby. Everything is wonderful. You have this beautiful little angel in your arms that warms your heart so much that the near freezing temperatures outside hardly phase you.
The hospital valet is approaching with your car and your partner starts to gather herself to her feet. The nurse congratulates you, rolls the discharge mandated wheelchair back inside, and the valet opens the back door.
But, wait a second… The straps on the car seat are misaligned, the seat is too loose, and the baby just spit up on him/herself and you don’t have anything immediately on hand to clean them up.
You take a few minutes to fix the car seat, then another few after your partner tells you it still doesn’t look right, then remove your sweatshirt to put over the baby so they’re not so cold in the now wet onesie.
You drive home as carefully as ever, park the car, and head inside.
You put the car seat with the baby down on the couch, look at their adorable little napping faces, and contemplate a nap yourself. Maybe you have a minute if you just put them in the bassinet on the side of the bed?
But that didn’t get to the house until the morning her water broke. Hmm… What now?
How about a bite to eat? Maybe a pizza?
Nah, you’ve hardly eaten the last few days and were feeling something with some actual nutritional value.
Oh no, the fridge is empty and you only have frozen meat in the freezer.
Looks like pizza it is.
Now, that probably all seems silly, but it is a reality far too many people face when they’re having a baby. Especially their first.
Preparation is key.
Put yourself in any of the positions I mentioned above. Now imagine what the real thing is like.
Being prepared for your baby to come home isn’t just about looking yourself in the mirror and calling yourself “daddy”.
Being prepared means being prepared.
When our families found out we were expecting our first, we were immediately overrun with baby clothes, toys, teethers, and anything else you could think to need for a child. Without him even being there, our house was already quickly reaching capacity just with baby stuff.
Considering our roommate had recently moved out due to the baby announcement, we, thankfully, already had a room dedicated to his arrival. While that room may have been fairly large to begin with, you’d be surprised how quickly 12 by 14 feet of space can turn into a 2 by 3 tote corridor to the closet.
The first thing we did, at least two months in advance, was wash and put away all the clothes. This was especially tedious because, unlike your regular clothes, newborn clothes need to be washed with Dreft. Baby skin is way more sensitive than adult skin and Dreft takes that into account by using less abrasive detergents. That doesn’t mean you can’t snuggle your little one on your sweater washed with Tide, it’s just important to note that they can develop skin rashes and irritation should they have to wear clothes washed in Tide all day.
Thankfully, this period does not last forever. After about 6-8 months, you can start using Tide Free & Clear. This is a big plus. Given it’s a gentler form of Tide, you can wash both your and the baby’s clothes at the same time – no more extra baby washes.
After we washed all the clothes, my father and brother in law came from the East Coast and helped me set up the baby’s room. From the shelf on the wall to the crib, we set up everything.
Something we had that a lot of people opt against, though, was a bassinet.
While this, technically, is optional, it was a huge plus for us. When our son was born, we were living in a 880 square foot apartment. It sounds like a lot more space than it was once you take into account the 2 and a quarter people that were going to be living there.
We had dressers that were spilling over, overly full closets, a small kitchen for a few people that loved to cook, and a cat litter box taking up half the laundry room. It was a little space.
We opted to go in the direction of a Moses Basket for ease of access to our son, versatility of the basket after our son was done with it, and cost. Compared to most other bassinets or cribs, this one ranges from $60-$120 depending on the seller. The Moses Basket does require a stand, but it fit perfectly on our bedside and would eventually house some of our son’s favorite toys for easy storage and travel. Studying up on what goes into your house or baby room is imperative when it comes to preparation. We definitely recommend checking that out if you enjoy the idea of a 10 inch walk to the baby for the middle of the night feedings over a walk across your house to the crib.
“But what about the car seat?” You might ask. Well, hours of research will probably go into this one. Car seats are changing all the time. Their safety ratings, shape, size capabilities no longer translate from one type to the next, and the car seat your parents brought you home in is now known for spontaneously combusting when left in the sun too long.
A car seat isn’t a decision you make on the spot. Take a few days, at least a few hours if you can’t afford the extended period, and really research what you’re looking for. It’s also important to note that not all car seats fit into all cars. We went with a Britax car seat because, while it had great safety ratings, it had anchor bases we could buy for multiple cars, and it easily attached to the matching stroller. Taking our son out was a quick pop in to either device every time.
The part of the story that is 100% the least considered, probably every time, is food. And I don’t mean baby food, though I will touch on homemade baby food in the future, I’m talking about adult food. Or, just regular food. Whatever wording you want to use.
As a new parent, now having to work between your job, your fleeting moments of sleep, feedings, a crying baby, and a partner that also needs at least some attention, it becomes kind of hard to manage your own sustenance.
The best thing my fiancee and I did, which we plan to do with our next child, is meal plan. Meal planning doesn’t just have to be for people watching their weight or fitness fanatics, though it’s hard to argue that parenting doesn’t fall into those categories.
Meal planning, with the right food, is actually pretty easy. We found a few recipes online, and made some up ourselves. The best thing about it, is that as long as you have enough freezer space, before the baby comes you can spend a few days cooking, properly storing meals in oven safe tin trays, and storing them for at least 4-6 months before they’re inedible.
If you are choosing to breastfeed, though, a great investment we made was in a deep freezer. Ours was on sale at Costco at the time for $150 and it has made its way now into our house at least four years later.
The deep freezer didn’t just store our rainy day meals, it was also great for excess milk that we could just run under some warm water for middle of the night feedings, making oatmeal, and mixing into any other food our son may have required milk to make.
And don’t even get me started on how good that stuff is in coffee.
Just kidding. Probably. But you’ll never really know that.
This has been a longer post than usual, with a pretty obvious point to relate, but I can’t stress the importance of preparation enough. One second, you’re young and full of energy, the next you’re holding someone’s hair back for them to shout at you between morning sickness vomiting, and then you’re not so full of energy giving a small clone of yourself a bottle at 2:28 in the morning.
Life changes a lot faster than you think and pregnancy is such a short lived experience. Make the most out of it and prepare for the first few weeks, months, and if you can, years by being ready ahead of time. The less time you have to spend putting stuff together last minute, the more time you can spend building a bond with your special little one.
Is there anything I missed? Anything you wished I’d brought up in regards to preparation? Or any recipes you would like to know about for your meal prep? Let me know in the comment section!