We're pregnant! I need a checklist.
December 15, 2019 10:58 AM   Subscribe

My wife is pregnant. I want to make the most of these nine months to get things ready for Little Whatstheirname. Where can I find a checklist of what needs to be done so I can organize a "programme of work"?

Yesterday, we discovered my wife is pregnant. Huzzah!

This is not something we'd thought a lot about in concrete terms. We'd more or less decided to have a kid, but were waiting for it to happen whenever it did, so it has.

We are a couple who like everything organized, pre-arranged, stocked supplies of extra stuff in the pantry, clean the air conditioner filters regularly scheduled on Google Calendar. I realize having a kid is going to throw us into a chaotic maelstrom the likes of which we can scarcely imagine.

In the meantime, however, I would like to put our obsessively organized nature to good use. Is there anything in terms of a checklist of things we need to get done in the next nine months? Something so we can start scheduling, buying, organizing? I'm thinking less in terms of doctor's appointments, which I imagine will more or less take care of themselves, and more in terms of child-proofing the house, buying baby furniture...
posted by LingeringMoon to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
You might like Expecting 411.
(You don’t have to baby proof until Baby can move. You have several months. You’ve got lots of time.)
posted by kerf at 11:13 AM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


You need far less than you think - a car seat, stroller, crib, diapers, changing mat and clothes in a couple of sizes are plenty for the first few months. Things like a sling, breast pump, toys etc are nice to have but genuinely not essential in the first few weeks.

We didn’t babyproof until our son was mobile, which was well after his first birthday (YMMV on that, but few babies can get far on their own in the first six months). And people like to buy toys and clothes, so wait and see what you are given first. Everybody will say you need “thousands of muslins”, we were given about 12 and used about 4. Our baby just wasn’t much of a vomiter.
posted by tinkletown at 11:17 AM on December 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: In the early days of pregnancy I would actually focus those efforts on two things: financial health, this is the time for life insurance, wills, and savings, and home maintenance as renovating or things like furnace breakdowns are hard with babies and toddlers. We bought our youngest a new HVAC system and our oldest a roof, best baby gifts ever. :) congrats!
posted by warriorqueen at 11:34 AM on December 15, 2019 [16 favorites]

Get on top of your immunizations now.
posted by corey flood at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Congratulations!
Sleep -- the one thing you cannot buy.
But you can outsource, so get some babysitting vouchers from friends and relatives. Check with your social and professional circles about day care centers, babysitting services, teens with good references, and people who will care for children who are sniffling and cranky. You will need downtime from time to time. These resources will change, but it gives you an idea of what to expect.

Baby/toddler gear and clothing.
Everybody gives newborn stuff. Give some people the heads up about things for the nine-month and one-year stages. Drool over the cute and the whimsical, but you will probably get tons of stuff. You may need some organization, like a designated closet or corner of the garage so that you can find the X-Large onesies and the sippy cups when you child is ready for them. Never underestimate the value of Sterilite boxes and content labels on the sides where you can see them.

Seconding warriorqueen on getting legal and financial ducks in order.

Really, the little cuddlebug will be their own special person, and babies tend to be pretty chill about things. Now the teen years... by that time, you've managed to get through, so just tie a knot in your patience and hang on.

Red and Blue Rule: if no one is bleeding or turning blue, it's not a crisis.
posted by TrishaU at 12:46 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you will need childcare at some point, now is the time to get on those daycare waiting lists (YMMV based on the kind of area you're living in but definitely time to start thinking about it).
posted by peacheater at 1:57 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I just did this, and now my kid is 2 months old. Here are things I am glad I did in advance:

- Buy and assemble all the furniture we needed (we moved apartments a year ago and hadn't quite done everything yet.) This involved stuff like replacing our bed (which we wanted to do anyway) so we had one that was at a good height to work with a bedside bassinet.

- Get an air mattress so that I (the father) could sleep well at night outside the room where mom and baby were sleeping.

- Finish all outstanding bureaucratic tasks. Make car be in a good state. Make computer be in a good state. Make appliances be in a good state. Make your body be in a good state.

- Get stroller, car seat, etc. I was glad to have already done the part where we shopped for "optional" stuff that we knew we wanted like a sling and breast pump and so on. It's mentally draining to have to think about which stuff to buy when you are busy with your new baby, and it's harder then to drive around and look for things in person.

- Find sources of information I more or less trust which you can consult for good opinions when you wonder something. For me this was a combination of Emily Oster's books (eccentric, accurate, limited to the most important stuff) and Murkoff's What To Expect book (comprehensive, represents conventional wisdom about everything.) I also reached out to other parents in my social circle so that they knew I was having a kid and I might ask them a lot of questions. Many humans have strong, loud opinions about parenting even though they have very little evidence, so you will want to prepare strong memetic defenses and consider carefully the strategy by which you decide what is true.

- Wrap up optional stuff going on in my life temporarily; shut down regular events and hobbies, etc. My mentality is that I would come to a complete stop, have a kid, focus on surviving with a kid, and then slowly start adding things back as I feel up to it.

- If you are on paternity leave, having a baby is odd, because you will have a lot of time which is in one sense like "free time" but during which you are on call, in the sense that you have to be home and your baby might need you at a moment's notice. Babies sleep for like 16-20 hours a day! There will be things to do around the house for a lot of that time, but not all of it. So think to yourself what you might like to do in that time. Books? Games? Music? Writing? Studying math? Researching baby things that you are curious about? Talking a lot to your friends and family on the phone? Prepare yourself to do these things. I bought a Nintendo Switch.

- Later in pregnancy, find a pediatrician you will like, and sign up for classes at your local hospital. The classes we attended were surprisingly good, way better than we expected. They were run by very smart nurses who had kids of their own as well as a huge amount of experience caring for kids and told us a lot of practical advice.

- If you have the financial ability to afford child care, definitely figure out how to find child care you like and do so. Every hour someone else can be responsible for the baby will be a nice relief for you and your wife and worth its weight in dollars. I didn't do this but right now we sure are wishing some child care would magically appear.

You should be prepared to really step up and do as much of this stuff as possible yourself, because it's very possible that your wife will basically be miserable and tired and sick for a lot of the next 9 months. (And possibly some subsequent months.) Pregnancy is hard, so try to be really considerate.

It's pretty cool to have a kid, so congratulations!
posted by value of information at 2:25 PM on December 15, 2019 [7 favorites]

(Regarding deciding how to think about parenting and finding true information, I also recommend you read Judith Harris's The Nurture Assumption. A lot of parents seem to get extremely anxious about making the perfect choices for their kids, and suffer a lot if they find it circumstantially impossible to make said perfect choices, so you should try to find some mental "antibodies" for this that will make you not be super stressed out all the time.)
posted by value of information at 2:31 PM on December 15, 2019

I liked Lucie's list for a list of essential shopping items.

I liked the Heading Home with your Newborn book from the American Academy of Pediatrics for a good standard medical advice book covering everything you need to know for newborns.

My personal list of things I tell expecting parents is:
- Buy a waterproof mattress cover now. Between amniotic fluid, flood amounts of leaking breast milk, night sweats, leaky diapers, spit up and weakened pelvic floor muscles, there's going to be some bodily fluid you don't want in your mattress.
- Watch the Happiest Baby on the Block video with your partner. I just got it out of the library; you don't need to own it.
- Research a lactation consultant so you know who to call if needed because breastfeeding is often more difficult than you'd expect. Also do some research on how to check if your baby is latching correctly, specifically if it hurts or if the nipple is not perfectly round after nursing, it's not right; the baby is not getting milk and Mom is getting hurt. I know a bunch of Moms who've left the hospital with bleeding nipples which just makes everything harder.
-If you have a choice of when to leave the hospital, choose right after a meal so you don't have to figure out food as soon as you get home.

My kid just turned two so I went through this pretty recently. Good luck!
posted by carolr at 3:28 PM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Today is the day to put your baby on daycare wait lists.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:31 PM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Today is the day to put your baby on daycare wait lists.

Yes -- if you haven't already.
posted by slidell at 10:46 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! Your wife might want to start thinking about items that will help her feel comfortable during birth and during the postpartum period. I did not need anything other than chapstick and a coming home outfit at the hospital, but I wanted a lot of special supplies at home. I highly recommend organizing the bathroom so that everything your wife might want is easily assessible. We bought a new bathroom storage cabinet that I filled with depends and maxi pads, and now that cabinet holds baby bathing supplies. Also, during the "fourth trimester" I found it really nice to have high-waisted and supportive underwear. During pregnancy, my stomach muscles stretched out a lot and I felt like a windsock for the first few weeks after delivery --- it was very nice to have supportive undergarmets.

Also, while it is nice to look at lists and learn from other people's experiences, I recommend creating your own lists based on what you want your life as a family of three to look like. For instance, my husband and I really enjoy walking and we knew that we would want to go on lots of outdoor adventures with our baby. So we brainstormed what a baby might need on such excursions: some way to be carried, a way to get warm food, etc... And then we researched the best carriers, the best way to warm bottles on the go, etc... This helped us come up with items that would be useful for us and work with our lifestyle.

To get started on your own lists, it might be useful to consider who is going to be caring for the baby. Do you need to find daycare? Does the daycare have any specific rules about supplies? (For example, our daycare requires glass bottles to be in silicone sleeves.) Do you need to get supplies for a family member/friend to set up a comfortable home-away-from-home for the baby?

Then it might be useful to think through how you want to feed the baby. For instance, we wanted to exclusively bottle feed, so we decided to buy a Baby Brezza formula dispenser and we knew that we would need to buy a lot of bottles. (Keep in mind, though, that babies often have strong preferences when it comes to bottle nipples. It might be wise to see what your baby likes before investing in too many of one type of bottle. I bought and sanitized a bunch of Comotomo silicone bottles that just did not work for our baby---a very costly mistake.)

It will also be useful to think about sleeping arrangments for baby and parents, and to determine if there is anything that you could invest in now that would make sleep better later. For instance, if one parent is going to sleep in the guest room, would it be useful to put a sound machine in there? To buy a new mattress? If everyone is going to sleep in the same room, would it be helpful to buy earplugs for the parent who is not planning to get up with the baby that night?

These decisions will greatly impact what items you and your family find helpful. And keep in mind that right now you are mostly thinking about supplies that will help you and your wife as parents. When your baby comes along, your baby will have his/her/their own preferences, and I recommend waiting to buy items for them until you get to know them. Again, some babies have strong preferences on pacifiers, bottle nipples, clothing material, etc... It is best not to get too invested in those things until you have tried a couple and determined what works for your baby.

And, really, I think that it is best not to get too attached to any one way of parenting or any specific parenting supplies until you try it and see that it works for your family. In other words, I suggest buying the minimum possible now and purchasing more stuff as you realize that you/your baby need it. To give you yet another example, I bought/registered for a lot of swaddles, and my baby hated being swaddled. I wish that I had gotten one to try and then ordered more if my baby liked them. Parenting seems to be a lot of experimentation! Good luck!
posted by ASlackerPestersMums at 5:56 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Get the biggest water bottle your wife can lift with one hand. If she is breastfeeding she will drink more water than you ever thought possible.

Things we bought while I was pregnant: a car, a glider/rocking chair, a new mattress for us. A crib, a bassinet, a car seat.

Things we did to prepare: found a doula, took some classes, went for lots of walks. I did prenatal yoga and massage once a week, and had been doing strength training for a while before (I stopped when I really got tired, about 10 weeks in - but it was great to do while I was still up to it.)

I like the advice about financial planning and wills. Especially if you are a spreadsheet type, it's useful stuff to be organized about.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:58 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here is an idiosyncratic list based on things that happened to me and my partner. Our kiddo is nineteen months old.

If you could do it, you'd be fine with having 22 hours a day now in order to have 26 when the baby comes. Time doesn't work that way, but you can get close by filling your freezer. (We did this... and then someone, not naming any names, left the freezer open in a sleep-deprived haze about three weeks after the baby was born.)

If there's work you want to have done on the house get it done before the baby comes. The room that is currently my daughter's bedroom was my partner's office/crafting room, and we converted the attic for that. My baby was born at the end of April. I called contractors in January and the guy we found couldn't start until late March -- but then we had to do some foundation work -- the first month of her life ended up being her, me, my partner, and a couple contractors. Fortunately my daughter couldn't hear much and slept through most of it...

On another house-related note - after the birth she may not want to climb stairs for a while. If it is at all possible to arrange things so that that's not an issue, do so.

We're at nineteen months and still haven't done much babyproofing. They really can't move much on their own until at least six months. (Sometimes I miss when I could leave her somewhere and she'd still be there when I got back.) Don't worry about this now.

Find a pediatrician ahead of time. We met pediatricians the week before she was born, up to the point where I dropped my partner off at the hospital to get induced and then drove to a pediatrician's office from there. We are happy with our choice but wish we made it sooner.

Even if your wife plans to breastfeed, be ready to bottle feed - things don't always go how you expect. At three days I was standing in the formula aisle at CVS having no idea how either formula or the bottles to put it in worked and knowing I had a hungry baby at home, which was terrifying. Have a can of formula and bottles to feed from.

E-books are good for reading with one hand while feeding with the other, or for while the baby has decided to nap on you. Get a good e-reader.

Finally, Amazon Prime can basically have you any baby product in 48 hours. There aren't too many things that can't wait that long.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:50 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Today is the day to put your baby on daycare wait lists.

Yes -- if you haven't already.

I want to emphasize that this is true even if you don't live in a sitcom taking place in NYC. I live in a large Midwestern city and the daycare we wanted (due to location and rating) had close to a year wait.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:26 AM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Here are some thoughts.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:53 AM on December 16, 2019

Here are some topics that might help you begin brainstorming to-do/to-buy lists:
1) General Life Stuff: Is my own life in order? Financially? Household improvements/chores? Health appointments and exercise opportunities? Career-related tasks/plans?
2) Pregnancy/Birth: What does my wife need/want her pregnancy to be like? When does she want to tell people? What about delivery? Who might she want at the birth? Or nearby during the birth? Post-partum care concerns?
2) Childcare: Childcare for baby? Any specific limitations or rules that impact other choices (i.e. immunizations, types of bottles/food, etc...)
3) Medical Care for Baby: Baby's healthcare? Pediatrician? Insurance?
4) Food: What is my ideal way of feeding my child? What alternatives would I be happy with? How do I plan to feed myself after baby arrives (friends to organize a meal train, frozen meals, take-out, etc...)
5) Sleep: Where do I want all of the members of my family to sleep?
6) Transportation: How do I plan to transport baby? Car seat? Stroller? Carriers?
7) Clothing/Diapering: How do I want to dress baby? What types of diapers would I like to try? What other diapering options would I be happy with? Where would I like to diaper baby? What supplies would be useful to keep in that space? How do I want to dispose of/clean soiled diapers? Would new clothes for myself or my wife make parenting easier/more convenient (i.e. wrinkle-free work clothes, nursing tops, easier to clean clothes, etc...)
8) Fun/Life Satisfaction: What would I like my family and I to do for fun? What would make it easier/more convenient for us to do those things?
posted by ASlackerPestersMums at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Pretty much everything you'd possibly need for a baby or a toddler is available used, probably for free, or at least very cheap. Let it be known that you're expecting and find some folks with older babies who will give you stuff. Get on your neighborhood social media, especially Buy Nothing.

Kids are expensive - they want to do robotics camp or whatever - but babies can be cheaper.

Nthing everyone about getting on childcare waitlists NOW.
posted by k8t at 9:48 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lucies list. The ultimate baby buying checklist.

PS. Mazel tov!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:28 PM on December 16, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the answers! Very helpful! Now, to work...!
posted by LingeringMoon at 2:50 PM on December 22, 2019

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