September 10, 2008 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Going from zero to parents in a couple of weeks. Or less. Yikes!

My partner and I have been trying to adopt a baby for a while. We just heard YESTERDAY that we've been chosen by an expectant mother who is due in about 6 weeks. But she's having contractions now! She's not in labor yet, and she's being closely monitored, but the baby could come literally at any time.

Of course, there is always a chance that she will decide to parent. But what would you do to get ready for an infant if you had somewhere between two hours and six weeks to do it?

(Asked anonymously because we haven't been able to tell all of the in laws yet.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Besides getting a place ready for the infant to sleep, I wouldn't worry too much. I would say definitely tell the in-laws (as long as they are supportive). Ours have been awesome with helping prep (re: buy us things that we needed) for the upcoming change.

IANAD, but I would think that a 6-week premature baby would not be coming home to parents immediately after birth. I'd think it would stay in the hospital a bit.

We have a 3-month old and she is absolutely the best thing that ever happened to us, even with the lack of sleep and complete change in lifestyle. Congrats!
posted by Big_B at 2:01 PM on September 10, 2008

Congrats to you all. What great news.

First, call a children's medical office that your insurance covers and get a pediatrician and tell him/her what is going on. You may want to ask some friends for a recommendation.

I'm pregnant and have been researching, preparing, etc. for the past 7 months. Here's what I'd do, gear-wise:

If money is a issue, go to your local Craig's List and try to find someone who is getting rid of all of their baby stuff and buy it. This is fast and easy and cheap. Seriously, all this stuff is on there daily.

If money isn't an issue (or you don't want used stuff), go to, or and do the same. Or go to your local Target or whatever.

- A car seat (don't get this used). You'll need this to get home from the hospital. Get it installed now so that you won't have to stress at the hospital.

- A set of bottles, since you'll likely be bottle feeding. There are a million brands. A lot of people like Dr. Browns.

- Formula. Here's one brand, again, there are a million brands.

- Blankets. Here's some. There are many.

- Swaddler

- If you're co-sleeping get an Arm's Reach CoSleeper. The mini size is easier for a newborn.

- If you're not co-sleeping, a bassinette.

- A swing. I like this one.

- A bouncy/vibrating chair. Like this.

- Burp cloths. Diapers work well for this.

- A sling. I like the Moby.

- 10 onesies. People will buy you clothes for the future. Try to find friends to get hand-me-downs from. Get these in size 0-3 months.

- 5 sleepers, 0-3 months. People will buy you more.

Personally, I like having the time to shop around. But this stuff will get you through the first few weeks at least.
posted by k8t at 2:08 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]

Really? That's SO COOL. Here's what you need. A place to sleep: crib, cot, or between you in an infant pillow. PBA free bottles, an assortment of infant formulas until you settle on one. A car seat. A sling, you may have to try more than one to find one that works for you. The "Happiest Baby" DVD or see if a friend has it.

The main thing is to prep for time off from work. The rest of the stuff (and believe me, there's A LOT of it) will come as you see what you really need and as you guys get to know each other.

Congrats! And Congrats Big_B!
posted by pomegranate at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Get some frozen dinners and pizzas in the freezer.

Put together any gift registries you might want to have together

Get a diaper service in ready (we started using cotton diapers except at night once the cord fell off). The cotton diapers were nice to have around anyway to clean up spitup.

Fruit is great to have around the house.

Are you going to try to breastfeed? Probably not, but if so, you probably need to start the meds now

Get a flickr or similar site together for baby pictures

Get a exercise ball for bouncing the baby to sleep
Get an ergo carrier or equiv with infant insert

Are you co-sleeping? If so, get a sleep wedge or a co-sleeper now before the baby comes

Strollers and things like that can come later (after a few weeks)
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:33 PM on September 10, 2008

Congratulations! I hope it works out for you.

I have really recent experience with this. After waiting 18 months to adopt domestically, we were matched in July with a situation involving twins. They were due August 11 (but were actually born August 4), giving us only a couple of weeks to prepare. Since we'd been waiting a long time, we did already have a crib and a pack-and-play (we knew it was likely we'd have to stay in a hotel until interstate compact paperwork was approved), but we were not at all prepared for twins.

We did not buy diapers or formula until after they were discharged - the hospital sent us home with lots of samples and preemie diapers (plus we wanted to see what kind of formula they had been eating at the hospital). We bought bottles (Dr. Brown's glass), bottle brush, baby wipes, infant car seats (Graco SnugRide), Snap-N-Go stroller, bouncer, newborn sized onesies and sleepers, receiving blankets, crib sheets, mattress cover, diaper bag, Moby Wrap, first aid/grooming kit, diaper rash cream, and two dozen cloth diapers (to use as burpers). SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS. Even if the placement goes through, you may decide that you don't want/need something that you bought ahead of time.

A note on sizes - our kids are now five and a half weeks old, and are just transitioning from newborn-sized clothes to 0-3 months (and both were well over 5 pounds at birth).

One other thing we bought, since we were meeting the birthmother at the hospital - a photo album for her to store the pictures and letters we'll be sending. Our agency thought this was nice and not coercive (some states are very strict, particularly if the gift is being given before the birthparents sign paperwork - so check with your agency or attorney).

Feel free to MeFi Mail me if you have any other questions.
posted by candyland at 3:06 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

You need, now:

A car seat so you can bring the baby home from the hospital

bottles, nipples, and formula (you may want/need to try a few different types)

diapers (again, you may need to try a few different types/brands -- every brand of diaper (whether disposable or reusable) fits somewhat differently)

onesies and sleepers (babies don't need fancy clothing)

somewhere for the baby to sleep, and blankets for swaddling (single layer cotton flannel blankets are useful for many many things)

a sling isn't necessary, but sure is handy for doing things with Baby

All else is commentary. Make sure that Mom gets time away from the baby every day -- doesn't have to be long, but it's amazing what a difference 30 minutes of "mom time" can make to her day. You've got time to worry about strollers/packs/babyproofing.
posted by jlkr at 3:07 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Congrats (I didn't say that before)

Have you taken a new born parenting class?

It's probably been hammered to you multiple times already in books and classes but remember the idea of "Back to Sleep" and that babies are expected to sleep on their backs to help prevent SIDS.

I just dredged up an email I sent to a friend before their birth and they said it helped them:

We did disposable for the first few weeks. We got the pampers “swaddlers” with cut for umbilical cord. They were pretty easy, and the nice thing is that infant poop doesn’t smell at all.
We starting using cotton diapers from a diaper service after the cord fell off, though we use a disposible over night (from 11pm till the early am). Cotton was easier than I expected.
You do have to change the baby more with cotton, pretty much after every feeding there is a pee, but I think it’s probably better for the baby / you to do that. YMMV
The first week (and beyond) is filled with checking the color of the baby’s poop. At first black and then turning yellow / curry like. It will likely go back and forth and you will be crying freaking out, it all works out in the end.
Get a yoga ball, it will save your first week or two of sanity
We are using a “sleep wedge” for the baby and it’s worked out nicely for us, but she’s gotten large enough that we are going to put her in the co-sleeper/crib at night now

The baby pretty much lived in onsies and diaper/blanket for the first 4 weeks. Not we are dressing him a bit more since it got colder
The family liked reading things on twitter/flickr and they were trivial to update from my cellphone for the first couple of weeks since I prepped before hand

A rocking / swivvle ezboy we got was a great use of cash (once it outgassed it’s nasty newcarsmell) since I spent many nights sleeping it with the baby to get him to sleep
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:46 PM on September 10, 2008

Nth what's posted, generally (I am not sure why you'd freak out over the poop transition? and I would read through here before dropping cash on a 'co-sleeper' bassinet). Don't use formula with DHA. Make your own, or buy the cheapest or one that does not outrage the 'Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes'. See also: adoptive breastfeeding at La Leche League and

We didn't swaddle and never had a lot of use for those little baby blankets. We did get (still are getting, over a year later) tremendous use out of the fifty face cloths we bought to use as wipes, spit-up blot cloths, etc.

I view a sling or other soft carrier as an essential. The Maya Wrap and Ergo carrier are great.

Best of luck to you.
posted by kmennie at 5:09 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Been there! We matched, the baby was due in four weeks but was born the next day. Whew!

Fortunately, our first child, a biological kid, was born 3 weeks early, and I'd been so sick throughout the pregnancy we weren't ready at all. We owned some outfits, thanks to our baby shower, and a package of diapers. From this we learned that you actually need very little to bring home a baby. He slept in a Rubbermaid tub with a folded towel in the bottom of it for weeks! From this we learned that you don't actually have to be ready for a baby, and it all works out.

With an adopted baby, you will want the list jlkr gave you. It's one trip to Target. Anything you discover you need once you get the baby home, you have someone get for you. "Yes, you can come visit the baby...and on your way, can you pick up a package of newborn size Huggies? Thanks." The good news is, based on my experience of having both given birth and adopted, that you will likely have more energy than a mom who has given birth and this will help if additional trips to the store are needed.

Congratulations! And good luck. We had one fall-through on our way to adopting and it was hard, even though we knew it was a strong possibility. I will keep my fingers crossed for you.
posted by not that girl at 5:10 PM on September 10, 2008

Washcloths. You can usually find a stack of 25 at Wal-Mart or Target for about five bucks--get a couple of these. You'll use them for everything: burp cloths, baths, cleaning up after messy diaper changes. . .you won't believe how many you'll go through.

I recommend getting a CostCo membership if there's one in your area. You'll save some money buying diapers by the case, and their formula is way cheaper--like half the price you'll pay at other stores.
posted by EarBucket at 5:20 PM on September 10, 2008

If it were me-nothing. I'd make a list that I'd plan on handing to someone at the last minute, or doing myself at the last minute. I'm awfully suspicious of getting excited about stuff though.

Here's the list. I'll throw in brands we use because I found having to research all this stuff really tedious so maybe you would too. This is stuff I think you'd want to get through the first week or two that would allow you to hit the ground running.

5 cans of formula (Good Start 'Comfort Proteins', our kid is three months old and growing well and doesn't scream all the time, so I think she likes it.) They also make some prepared stuff, already in bottles, that's expensive but when you're freaked out because you have a new infant in the house, it's a nice shortcut and I think it was worth the extra expense the first week or two. After that you'll switch to powder, because it's cheaper, but the emphasis is on just getting through the first few weeks because honestly it's one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

70 or 80 diapers (one big box of the newborn size) We use 'Swaddlers'. I can't remember if it's Huggies or Pampers but you can't miss them.
10 Receiving blankets
6 newborn onesies
6 three month onesies
6 newborn footie pajamas
6 three month footie pajamas
6 bottles of Dr. Browns glass 7 oz. bottles
One set of cloth diapers, which make the world's greatest burp cloths
1 car seat. We bought the Graco Snugride, which got high safety marks from Consumer Reports.
Pick out a crib, but you don't 100% have to hit the ground running with one. A lot of babies like to sleep in car seats. You're not supposed to let them, but lots of people do. (We let the baby sleep in a boppy, which is this c-shaped spongy thing usually used for breastfeeding. You're not supposed to let them do that, either. There is a HUGE list of things you're 'not supposed to do'.)

A source of white noise is nice. You don't have to worry about bathing them right away, they've had enough to get used to. I found a little nail clipper helpful. I thought it was a silly purchase, but it's easier with one of those than a grown up one. And their little nails are like razors.

Hope it works out for you!
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:28 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

- Learn how to swaddle.
- Remember that there is no such thing as 'too much butt cream'!!!
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 5:31 PM on September 10, 2008

Buy this book :

Read up on SIDS.

Regarding equipment, you need less than you imagine.
Organise your change table, cot and bath.

Find out how to teach your child to sleep.
Get the sleeping and feeding sorted and everything else is magnitudes easier.

Cloth nappies are easier and cheaper then you might think.

It's really hard to prep for being a new parent, it a huge rush full of highs and lows.
Listen to your instincts.
posted by matholio at 7:28 PM on September 10, 2008

Instead of an old fashioned baby book, get a 16 month calendar (since it's September) with big squares for each day to write in. Then you have an easy place to write down "first bath" "first trip to the zoo" etc, plus the weight after doctor's visit, etc. Baby books have lots of space for things you don't need and are missing room for things you actually want to remember. And as crazy as it seems, you will forget a lot. I guess it's lack of sleep. If you write it down, you'll be able to read and remember more. "Oh yeah! Remember when the baby threw up all over me at that restaurant!"
I have two older kids and now a newborn, and they LOVE to hear about that crazy thing they did that time. (Peed in the bathtub, whatever, they want way too many details for my poor brain.) If I hadn't written everything down and taken two million pictures, I'd be totally lost. I haven't written down things about third baby, and I'm already getting hazy on some details. (She is four weeks old.)

Also, if you want to use a pacifier, get a few different kinds (Target seems to have the biggest selection) - if the baby hates one, he/she might like a different one. They are very good for the car and for when baby is no longer hungry, but not yet asleep. If you find a good one, get a lot. (My sister only liked the paci that a friend bought her in SPAIN. Convenient.)
posted by artychoke at 7:40 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Agree with all of kmennie's advice above EXCEPT the link to a site recommending you feed your baby raw (unpasteurized) milk. Check with your pediatrician for advice on what to feed.
posted by dudeman at 2:13 PM on September 11, 2008

Yeah I was a little short sighted. The list of "stuff" you need is long, but I think of it like this: There are only three things that baby is going to do: eat, pee/poop, and sleep. Eat: bottles/formula/burp cloths. P/P: diapers, ointment, lots of clothes - onesies primarily for a few weeks. Sleep: crib/bassinet, blankets. Lots of smallish soft blankets. Learn how to swaddle. Highly recommend Happiest Baby on the Block. Also Baby Wise.

The main thing the baby will need from you: Love.
posted by Big_B at 4:26 PM on September 11, 2008

Nthing the cloth diapers as burp rags. They are big enough that you can fold them over a spot of urp-age and have a fresh clean surface on the outside. Personally I don't think a washcloth would be as good at that. Also they are quite absorbant and less fumbly to fold compared to flannel blankets.

In the cloth-vs-disposable diaper decision, I was initially drawn to cloth because of the persuasive stuff I had read. Well, it didn't work out. My daughter's poop *always* leaked out onto the diaper covers (and I had a very inconvenient laundry situation), and I didn't like fumbling with pins. In hindsight I wish I had switched to Huggies much sooner. They were worlds and worlds better.

If the baby is going to be sleeping in your bed with you, you probably want to get a waterproof cover for your mattress.

Good luck, I hope everything works out for you!
posted by marble at 2:04 PM on September 13, 2008

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