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Preparing for a New Baby – 8 Tips for an Easier Transition

Are you pregnant with your first child, and a bit nervous about everything you need to do to prepare for a new baby?

If so, you’re not alone. From 2012-2013, there were a reported 383,822 pregnancies reported in Canada, according to Statistics Canada. I can almost guarantee that a large percentage of those pregnancies are of first-time parents that are scared to death of “doing it all wrong” and being completely overwhelmed with how their lives are about to change.

Preparing for a New Baby

Don’t be scared. The best thing you can do when preparing for baby, is to learn the basics of bringing home an infant. Don’t try to learn too much – because, really, there is only so much you can actually do to prepare for a child. Parenting is much more a “learn as you go” type of gig.

To help get you started, here are just a few things that you can do to prepare for a new baby…

1. Learn about the birthing process

Read books, talk to other mom’s, check out websites such as Baby Center and Pregnancy. Talk to your doctor. Learn all there is to know about giving birth, so that you are mentally (and physically) prepared when the time comes.

Even if you are not planning on having a c-section, I strongly suggest that you read up on that as well. From my own personal experience, I can tell you that sometimes, things don’t go as planned. There’s not much scarier than expecting to delivery your baby the “normal” way, and then being told that you have to go into surgery so that doctors can deliver your baby for you.

Don’t forget to sign up for a childbirth class. Most hospitals offer them free of charge. Even if there is a fee involved, it’s well worth it to know exactly how the birthing process goes.

2. Pre-register

The last thing that you want to worry about when you’re in labour, is registering at the hospital. If you are having your baby at a hospital (as opposed to a home birth), one of the best things you can do for yourself is to pre-register.

Once you get that taken care of, you can easily walk into the hospital when you’re in labour, give them your name, and you will go straight to a room to have your baby.

You do not want to be doing paperwork when you’re labouring. Make sure you pre-register!

Baby C Section

3. Decide on a pediatrician

If you want your child to have a pediatrician instead of just going to your family doctor, make sure you seek on out in advance. Ask your friends, family, neighbours and colleges for recommendations, but don’t just take their word for it.

Do your own research, too, and look up pediatricians online. Find reviews. Look up the reviews of your recommended doctors. If you can, set up a meeting to talk with some pediatrician before you give birth to see who you “vibe” with the best.

When you find that perfect doctor, make sure you “sign up” with them, so they are ready and waiting for you to bring in your new bundle of joy.

4. Line up daycare

If you’re planning to go back to work soon after your baby is born, make sure you line up daycare for your child as soon as possible. Many daycare centers fill up very fast and it’s hard to get your child in, especially an infant – so sign up your child as soon as you can.

Don’t just complete this task and then cross it off your list. Make sure you call your daycare provider once your baby has been born to confirm your spot and a few times throughout your maternity leave. Make sure they don’t forget about you!

5. Purchase needed baby items

Make a list of what you think your baby needs when they are born. Then, eliminate about 50% of the items from your list – because, really, babies don’t actually need that much stuff.

Here are actual baby necessities:

  • Somewhere to sleep
  • Car seat
  • Stroller (for some)
  • 7 Onesies
  • 7 Sleepers
  • 10 Diapers per day for the first few months
  • High Chair
  • Breast Pump (if you’re breast feeding)
  • Bottles & Bottle Brush
  • 2-3 Pairs Stretchy Pants
  • 8-10 Swaddling Blankets
  • Snowsuit (for Winter babies)
  • Sun Hat (for summer babies)
  • 2-3 Pairs Socks

Don’t pay any attention to the people that tell you that you have to buy a change table and a wipes warmer and a Diaper Genie. You don’t. I’ve had 2 kids of my own and I promise – you don’t need that stuff.

6. Prep baby clothes

Wash, sort, fold and store all of your baby’s clothing, as well as their blankets and anything else you think needs washing. To make finding what you need easier once baby comes, try to store all of your baby’s clothing in one area.

Take a look at what you already have for your baby. Do you need anything else? If so, make a list and get to the store to do some shopping. Pick up what you need and then that’s it – don’t buy anymore. Even if it’s “so cute”. Don’t buy more than you need!

7. Pack your diaper bag

About a month before your due date, start putting together your diaper bag so that it’s ready for you when you need to go to the hospital. It’s essential to keep this bag packed and in an easily accessible spot of your home so that you can easily just grab it and go when the big moment arrives.

Some things you may want to include in your diaper bag are:

  • 2-4 Baby Outfits
  • 2-3 Mommy Outfits
  • Diapers & Wipes
  • Changing Pad
  • 2-3 Swaddling Blankets
  • Socks for Mommy
  • Toiletries & Personal Items
  • Camera
  • Diaper Rash Cream
  • Breast Pump (if breastfeeding) + Nursing Pads
  • 1-2 Pairs Socks for Baby

Don’t leave this task until the last minute or, I promise you, you will not be very happy when you realize you’re in labour and don’t have anything packed! Get it done and this will be one less thing to worry about when you’re working through contractions.

Preparing for a Baby

8. Set up the crib

Whether it’s in a crib, a Pack N Play, or in bed with you – make sure that your baby’s sleeping quarters are ready for their arrival. Keep blankets and sheets near by. Include a lamp, as well, for late-night feedings and diaper changes. If your baby is sleeping in a different room than you, a baby monitor may be a good idea, as well.

If your baby is sleeping in a crib, remember to never buy this item used. It’s against the law because it’s dangerous for your child. The same goes for crib mattresses as well.

Remember not to add any “fluff” to your baby’s bed, either, such as crib bumpers and pillows. Soft materials pose a suffocation hazard for your child, so don’t use them at all.

Bringing a child into the world can be scary, so the more you prepare yourself, the better off you will be.

At the same time, don’t try to learn everything (mostly because that’s impossible, but also because it will start to drive you crazy). Being a parent is something you learn over time – not something you can learn by reading a few books or websites.

If you’re having your first child, what are your fears? If you’ve already had a child, what are some tips you can offer soon-to-be parents?


  1. Kate

    I would say that burp cloths/receiving blankets are a necessity too! My kid is a big spitter-upper!

    • Heather R

      Yes, we went though a lot of receiving blankets/burp cloths too as well as a ton of bibs. Thankfully Dollarama has all of those things and they’re very nice. So much easier to change a bib than an outfit and saved us money on clothes.

  2. Stacey

    There’s nothing illegal about purchasing a crib secondhand. You just have to make sure that you inspect the hardware and that if you do purchase a drop side crib, that everything is up to code. Anything before 1986 is considered dangerous but otherwise, second hand cribs are a great way to save some money on baby.

    Car seats, however, are far more strictly regulated. It would be this item that I would say to never buy second hand.

    • Kyleen

      To elaborate a bit on the carseat comment, as some may wonder why it is unsafe to buy a used carseat.

      Carseats are GARBAGE once in ANY accident, regardless of if the child was in the seat or not. Fender bender or roll over, both can cause hairline fractures in a seat that may cause it to shatter next accident. Carseats are a one time use item.

      Carseat straps cannot be washed with anything but water or maybe baby shampoo if needed. Chemicals, lysol wipes, even baby wipes can break down the fibers and cause britle seats.

      After market covers, pillows, harness straps are all not crash tested and not safe to use. Big snow suits, bundle mes, and ANYTHING that goes between your child and their seat or their straps is unsafe. All of this compresses in an accident and can cause your child to be projected from their seat.

  3. Shannon

    Drop side cribs have been banned and are illegal in Canada. Some people are still using these cribs and some are even adding screws to prevent the side from dropping. It is NOT ILLEGAL to buy any crib second hand therefore I recommend a revision to your article.

  4. Michele

    Gas drops, baby Tylenol and laxatives! You don’t want wait until the moment you need it and have to run to store or send your honey while your baby waits in pain. Have that stuff READY

  5. Mommy of 2

    I agree with the gas drops, and burp cloths. But also I would suggest packing more clothes or a secondary bag just in case, like you said things don’t go as planned. With my second I packed a couple outfits for him and for me, but we ended up having to stay in the hospital for 5 days. We ran out of clothes quickly and my mother-in-law had to take our stuff home and wash it for us bc we lived in a different town so it’s not like someone could just quickly go to our house for us and get more. Oh and pacifiers! Hospitals will have these but sometimes it’s not the kind your baby wants.

  6. Elizabeth

    I just found out that I’m pregnant with my first child, so all of this birth preparation is kind of a shocker to me, but I guess I have to learn about it some time. I’ll just take it all as it comes and learn as I go! Thanks for the info 🙂

  7. kate

    I was happy to read that you’re fist suggestion was to prepare for childbirth! I’d like to suggest 2 adds to this list (I may be a little biased) but a birth or postpartum doula can do wonders for the transition into motherhood. We (birth doulas) lower Cesarean rates by 38%, and nicu admissions by 14% so even if you are broke it’s worth it to look for a doula in training who would only charge for their costs, than to go without one at all. The second suggestion I have is to find your local breastfeeding support. There are drop ins, La Leche League meeting etc for moms who wan to breastfeed. Not only will it help a new mother become mentally prepared for challenges but it will also help new moms connect with other moms. For hose of you who do not want to breastfeed, find a mommy and me group, a mom and baby fitness class etc It helps, I promise.

    • Cassie Howard

      Those are great additions, Kate! I’ve always regretted not having a doula for both pregnancies.

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