Having a baby is a life-changing event, especially if you aren’t familiar with these tiny creatures. My husband and I were clueless about all aspects of babies: feeding, burping, and even changing a diaper. I had a mild phobia of babies after being told by a friend several years ago that I wasn’t holding her child correctly.
During my pregnancy, I attempted to embark on a lot of information-gathering, talking to friends with babies, and referring to the pregnant woman’s bible, aka, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
But then my preparation changed. After I discovered I was having a girl, diaper pails, humidifiers, and burp cloths did not seem high priority. Instead, I started fantasizing about a Burberry raincoat or faux fur-lined booties. That seemed like a good way to bond with the baby. While my husband meticulously created a spreadsheet of all the things we needed to do and the practical items we needed to buy, my focus had shifted the necessary (a crib!) to outfits and fuzzy, cozy things for the nursery (a wooly sheep foot stool!).
I eventually realized that having a baby goes beyond buying cute things. After all, those fuzzy booties aren’t much help when your infant is wailing in the middle of the night. But there are things you should consider before your little bundle arrives:
1. Take a baby care class. If you don’t know anything about babies, these classes provide hands-on practice with diapering, swaddling, taking a temperature, and bathing. You also get to meet other new parents. Your local hospital is a great resource for these classes.
2. Choose a pediatrician. We received referrals from friends for a great doctor, so we didn’t meet our practioner until after our daughter had been delivered. If you don’t know the doctor, it’s a standard practice to meet and greet the pediatrician beforehand. You should feel comfortable with the doctor–you’ll be in the office a lot the first year for routine wellness visits. Most practices are happy to set up time for new parents to meet with the doctor; take the chance to ask any and all questions. Do a little research online in your local neighborhood forums and see what parents are saying. Find out how long the wait is in the doctor’s office (on average), how helpful the support staff are, and whether or not they have a separate waiting room for contagious patients.
3. Install the car seat. Most hospitals escort you to your car to ensure that you have a car seat. We lived a 10-minute walk away from the hospital so decided to push our newborn home in a stroller, but the real reason we opted not to drive was because we neglected to install the car seat. The second time around, we scheduled an appointment with AAA to put it in the car, but your local fire station can also do it.
4. Purchase or register for the essentials. The nursery may look fantastic, but don’t forget to stock up on important baby gear like a thermometer, wipes, diapers, burb cloths, bibs, nipples, formula, and bottles. Diapers.com and Amazon have free two-day shipping, so if you’re in a pinch for baby supplies, you can order online for quick delivery.
5. Pack your bag. You don’t want to be caught off-guard and unprepared when you go to the hospital. I went to triage with only The New York Times for what was supposed to be a quick check-in, but left the hospital a week later…with the baby.
6. Enjoy your time alone. Meet friends for lunch, read books, watch movies, and get lots of sleep. Your life won’t be the same after the baby. By this point, you’ve heard this a million times, and it’s true: This will be the only time you’ll have for yourself for a long time.