Preparing for a new baby is exciting, expensive, and exasperating all at the same time. Every square inch of your home needs to be transformed into a baby-proof bunker in a matter of months. From nursery interior design ideas to making space for baby storage, here are some home improvements to make before baby arrives.
Things to do Before Baby Arrives Checklist
- Declutter your home – Take items to storage to make room for all the baby stuff you’ll need.
- Set up baby’s crib with a mattress and waterproof fitted sheet
- Get changing table area ready
- Stock up on diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream
- Prewash everything that will touch baby (clothes, burp rags, blankets, etc.) with perfume and dye-free laundry detergent
- Set up and learn how to use your baby monitor
- Stock up on feeding essentials: bottles, bottle-warmer, breast pump, etc.
- Pack a hospital bag – Check out this guide for what to pack in your hospital bag from The Bump.
- Choose a pediatrician
- Deep clean the house including the carpet and furniture
- Make a couple weeks’ worth of freezer meals
- Attend a prenatal class – Your hospital should have classes available for you to sign up for.
- Write out your birth plan
- Get a folder to organize all the important documents you receive at the hospital
- Choose a newborn photographer
- Arrange for someone to take care of your children and pets while you are at the hospital
- Install the car seat and make sure you know how to adjust all the straps
- Figure out your insurance coverage and what to expect from hospital bills
- Spend quality time with your significant other – Date nights and mornings spent sleeping in are about to become a thing of the past.
In addition to all the regular cleaning tasks around the house, there are a few deep-cleaning projects to tackle before baby comes. You want to have a safe environment to bring your delicate little newborn home to, so check out these cleaning ideas below.
Vacuuming regularly is not enough to keep your carpet free from pet dandruff, dirt, and other debris. You’ll want to take the time to thoroughly deep clean your carpet before baby arrives. Experts recommend skipping the shampoo and other chemicals, and opting for water extraction or steam cleaning. You can do this yourself by renting a machine or hire professionals to do it for you.
Professional Carpet Cleaning
Having professionals clean your carpet will cost anywhere from $100 to $400 (average 2018 price) depending on the size of your home and how much carpet you need cleaned. You can save money by only getting “high traffic” areas of your carpet cleaned. This means all of your big furniture items will stay put and cleaners will just clean around them.
DIY Carpet Cleaning
Because hiring professional carpet cleaners is so expensive, many people opt to do it themselves. You can rent a carpet cleaner for as little as $30 a day (average 2018 price) from the Home Depot. Not only will you save money, but your carpet will be dry and ready to use much sooner if you do it yourself.
Light Fixtures, Air Vents, and Fans
Newborns are especially sensitive to household dust, so you’ll want to give every inch of your house a good dusting before your little one comes home. In addition to the usual culprits—baseboards, ceilings, and electronics—there are a few other places hoarding dust and debris. Pay extra attention to every light fixture, ceiling fan, and air vent in your home. It can take a day’s worth of work to clean it all properly, but it’s worth protecting those precious new lungs.
Cleaning your upholstered furniture in preparation for a new baby is essential, especially if it has been exposed to smoke. Once again, experts recommend steam cleaning to avoid any leftover chemical residue. If anyone in your home currently smokes, be sure to enforce the no-smoking rule after you’ve thoroughly cleaned everything.
Interior Design for the Baby Nursery
Bright colors and Disney characters have been replaced by clean lines and soft woods in nurseries today. Cutesy is out, and simplicity and functionality are in. When you begin decorating your baby’s soon-to-be room, choose items that can be washed easily and will grow with your child. For example, you might choose a diaper box that can be used as a toy box later on, or a crib that will transition into a toddler bed. Don’t forget to include plenty of storage for easy clean-up and lots of floor space for your little one to play.
Here are some of the best 2018 baby nursery interior design trends:
Woodland-themed nurseries complete with pine tree crib sheets and mountain wall decals have been popular for years; however, little furry woodland friends are starting to pop up in more modern nursery styles. Foxes, raccoons, and bears are making waves as standalone characters in many nursery designs, showing up on crib sheets, walls, and blankets. Make bears the star of your little man’s nursery with some fun bear-printed swaddles and storage bins.
Flamingos and Swans
These graceful birds are showing up in nursery wall prints, crib mobiles, and shelf decorations. Use flamingo art prints to add a pop of pink to your nursery, or create a swan mobile to give the room a subtle story-book feel.
Cacti are pushing flowers out of the way as the most popular plant-based pattern. Succulents are so versatile and add a touch of playfulness to stiff modern lines. Get cactus crib sheets, wall decals, and mobiles to give your little one’s nursery a trendy twist.
Be on the lookout for velvet rockers and curtains to add texture to your baby’s space. Velvet is 2018’s favorite new material, so you’ll be seeing a lot of gray, pink, and navy velvet show up in nurseries.
That adorable wrinkly bundle of joy isn’t going to stay small for long. Pretty soon your newborn will be a 1½-foot-tall babyzilla tearing through your house at light speed. It’s all a matter of firsts—first time rolling over, first time crawling, first steps—from here on out, so you want to be prepared to protect your baby before she becomes mobile.
Protecting Baby from Household Cleaning Supplies
Household chemical poisonings are common, especially in children. In 2016 alone, U.S. poison control reported over 2 million household poisoning incidents. Babies learn to crawl very quickly, sometimes overnight, so it’s better to prevent a poisoning ahead of time by following these simple steps:
- Do a cabinet check and make sure no chemical products are being stored in low cabinets. This includes laundry detergent, dishwasher pods, nail polish remover, cleaning supplies, rubbing alcohol, etc.
- Install latches on lower cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom. Even if there aren’t any dangerous chemicals in these cupboards, there could still be a lingering smell or other objects you don’t want your baby to play with.
- Don’t take cleaning supplies out of the original container or remove labels on the container. Putting laundry pods in glass jars will make your pinterest-worthy laundry room will seem like a candy store to young children. The safest place for all your household chemicals is in their original containers.
How to Organize Your House When Baby Starts Walking
As your baby grows and learns about the world around her, she will grab everything within reach, especially once she becomes mobile. Here are a few home improvement tips to make your home a safe place for your little explorer:
- Move Things Out of Reach. Breakables should be far out of baby’s curious little grasp, so do a thorough sweep of your home and move it all. If you aren’t sure how high is high enough, always move something higher than you think is necessary.
- Block the Stairs. Your baby can move faster than you think, and even looking away for one second could result in disaster if your stairs aren’t properly gated. Secure baby-proof gates to the tops and bottoms of stairs to keep your little one out of harm’s way.
- Be Wary of Choking Hazards. It’s time to put on your paranoid parent goggles and take a good look at every item in the baby zone. Even something like loose cardboard from your cat’s scratching post could pose a threat to your baby. Take the time to move or get rid of anything your baby could choke on.
- Cover Electrical Outlets. Invest in plastic covers or move some furniture around to block access to all outlets.
- Door Locks. Add locks or door knob covers to prevent your child from entering rooms that aren’t baby-proofed. Exercise rooms, bedrooms, and home offices have a lot of potential dangers that can’t be baby-proofed.
Best Baby Gear
Which Baby Monitor is the Best For You?
Finding the perfect baby monitor can be a complicated process with all of the options on the market today. With so many features, prices, and promises available, which monitor do you choose? Here are some features to consider when purchasing a monitor and which ones are worth splurging on.
- Sound. Sound is the number one most important feature of any baby monitor you select. Your newborn will cry several times during the night letting you know he needs a diaper change or food. If you can count on being able to hear when your child needs you, you will sleep more soundly in between late-night feedings. It’s a good idea to focus on sound capabilities when choosing the right baby monitor.
- Video. Having a baby monitor with video capabilities could save you a trip or two to the nursery. If you have other children, you’ve probably experienced a time when you dragged yourself out of bed only to find your little one has gone back to sleep by the time you reach her crib. With a video monitor, you can watch your baby first and see if you need to get out of bed or not. Video monitors are also useful for keeping track of kids during the day while you clean or while they are with a caregiver.
- Movement. There are a few baby monitors out there that monitor your child’s movement during the night and alert you if your baby stops breathing. The concept is interesting, but these monitors usually don’t have any data or studies to back up their claims. Some people swear these monitors have saved their baby’s life, but it’s probably not worth busting your budget on. If you are concerned about your baby’s safety, read over this list from of ways to reduce the risk of SIDS from Parents.com.
- Range. Range is important to consider if you have a large home or your baby’s nursery is just far away from your room. Turns out, most manufacturer claims about the range of a specific product are wildly inaccurate. The bottom line is that you’ll need to read reviews and buy and test a monitor to find out if the range will work for your needs.
- Return Policy. Don’t buy a monitor that doesn’t have a liberal return policy. Baby monitors are expensive, and there’s a chance the one you fell in love with won’t work for your situation once you’ve set it up. Keep your receipts and packaging, and thoroughly test out your baby monitor before settling on it.
List of Newborn Must-Haves
Before the newest member of your family makes an appearance, you’ll want to have all the gear you need to survive the next few months. While some baby-oriented equipment is admittedly over the top, here is a list of newborn must-haves that you will actually need.
- Car Seat. A car seat is the number one must-have for your new baby. There are two types of car seats you can choose from: a portable clip-in infant car seat and a convertible car seat that will grow with your child.
- Bouncer/Swing. Bouncers and swings are perfect for keeping fussy babies satisfied. As an added bonus, your bouncer or swing is a safe place to buckle your sweet baby into while you take a quick bathroom break.
- Baby-Tracking App. Keeping track of feedings and diaper changes is important to making sure your newborn is healthy and happy. You can use the sheet of paper the hospital gives you, or you can download a user-friendly app and let your phone keep everything organized for you.
- Noise Maker. White noise is you and your newborn’s new best friend. A noise maker helps your little one fall asleep and stay asleep by drowning out any noises the rest of the family makes during baby’s sleep time.
- Wearable Blankets. Some babies love being swaddled, but some hate being constricted by blankets. Loose blankets can put your baby at risk for SIDS, so what can you do to keep your claustrophobic baby warm at night? The answer is wearable blankets. These handy sacks zip up right over your baby’s pajamas, keeping them warm and safe at the same time.
- Baby Carrier. Snuggling your snoozing little one up to your chest is the best way to carry her around. Having a good carrier will let you carry your baby and have both hands free to shop, clean, or anything else you want to do.
Preparing the Family for a New Baby
A new, needy member of the family is on the way, and that means big changes for everyone living under your roof. While having a new brother or sister can be difficult for your other children, preparing them beforehand can help ease some of the strain.
Preparing Young Children
Your toddler-aged kids will suffer the most from your new addition. At this age, your children are still very attached to you and don’t quite know how to share. Here are some ideas for how to prepare your younger kids for a new baby.
- Use Picture Books. Look at picture books with your tots to help them understand words like “new brother” or “ new sister.” Because their language skills aren’t great yet, showing them pictures of a new baby is the best way to get them to understand what’s happening.
- Don’t Sugar-Coat It. When you talk about your new baby, be sure to help your littles understand that although the baby will be cute and cuddly, he or she will also cry sometimes and need a lot of your attention.
- Give Them the Attention They Need. Your toddlers may regress a little, and that’s ok. If your toilet-trained child starts having accidents, it’s his or her way of telling you they need extra love and attention. Praise them when they do good things, and be sure to give them special one-on-one time.
Preparing Older Children
Your school-aged children usually have an easier time adjusting to a new baby, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have some struggles. Preparing them in advance can help them be less resentful of the attention the new baby is getting. Here are some ideas for how to prepare your older kids for a new baby.
- Talk About the Changes. Take the time to sit down with your children and discuss what will happen when the new baby comes home. In language they can understand, let them know the baby will need a lot of your time and attention.
- Make Them Feel Included. Take your kids shopping with you and let them help pick out clothes and toys for the new little one. Let them help fix up the nursery, and if possible make arrangements for them to come to the hospital when the baby is born. This will make your kids feel secure and know they are still an important part of the family.
Preparing the Family Dog
Your favorite furry friend is in for a big surprise when you walk through the door with your newborn for the first time. You can make this transition easier on your faithful canine by making small adjustments before the big day. Here are some ideas for preparing your dog (or other pets) for the new baby.
- Don’t Change Things Overnight. The time for changing routines is before the baby arrives. For example, if your dog or cat sleeps in your bed with you every night but you plan to change that when the baby comes home, start months in advance. Your pets may see baby as a threat if you don’t get them used to a new schedule beforehand.
- Slowly Introduce the Baby. Make sure the nursery is set up and your pets understand their boundaries before baby comes home. When the time comes, bring something with the baby’s scent on it for your pets to check out before you bring the little one in.
- Get Them Used to the Crying. If this is your first human baby, chances are your furbabies aren’t accustomed to crying and other ear-piercing baby sounds. Play some recordings of other babies to help your pets prepare their ears before the big day comes.
Making Space for Baby
Trying to squeeze everything you need for a new baby into a small space is a complex operation. Below are some home improvement ideas to help you fit all the baby things you need into even the smallest of spaces.
Utilize the extra space under the crib by investing in a rolling storage box. You can easily roll the box out when you need access to its contents and then nestle it away again. This baby storage hack is a great way to get more storage out of space you already have.
Use the dresser as a changing table or find a crib with a built-in changing table to save floor space. Seek out pieces that have multiple functions when looking for nursery furniture. You can also apply this rule to other areas of your home.
Maximize Vertical Space
You may not have much floor space to work with, but you can add functionality to your walls with a few simple tricks. Hang a pegboard to organize diapering items above the changing table or shelving units with rods to hang baby’s clothes.
Get Cheap Storage
Self storage is a convenient and inexpensive way to make room for a new baby. Go through all your stuff and take all the nonessentials to your storage space. This will keep the clutter out of your home and give your little one more room to grow and explore. You can use Neighbor storage to find storage spaces close to your home for only half the price of typical self storage.
How to Manage the Household After Baby Arrives
It’s hard to keep up with your newborn and household chores at the same time. Your baby will take all of your physical and emotional energy, and you may find yourself wondering how you’ll be able to get anything done. Here are a few tips to managing your household after baby arrives.
- Go Easy on Yourself. Understand that you are not going to have the time and energy to do all the things you used to. Your little one is your priority, so forgive yourself for the pile of laundry on the floor and stack of dishes in the sink. Things won’t always be this way, so try to relax and get through one day at a time.
- Let Others Help. To all those friends asking if you need anything—tell them yes! Let friends and family watch the baby for a while or bring a meal to your family. Don’t immediately respond that you don’t need any help to anyone who asks. Look around and see what you could use help with and then let other people help you.
- Invest in Cleaning Helps. Now is the time to treat yourself to that robot vacuum you’ve had sitting in your Amazon cart for the past few months. Get paperware to cut down on dishes and anything else that will save you from extra cleaning.
- Learn Your Baby’s Schedule. After a little while your baby will start to fall into some sort of routine or schedule. Use this to your advantage by planning to clean and take time for yourself during your baby’s longer naps. Check out this sample newborn schedule for an idea of what your baby’s daily routine might look like.
Ways to Pay for All Those Baby Bills
Babies are expensive. Between hospital bills, baby gear, and diapers, there seems to be an endless pile of expenses. The perfect side hustle can put a big dent in those bills, but how do you find the time to add more work to your already hectic post-baby life. The answer is simple: Look for passive income opportunities. The great thing about passive income is that it works by itself after you set it up, so you get money without doing much work. Here are a few passive work-from-home side gigs you might want to consider.
- Online Rewards Portals. You can use programs like InboxDollars and Swagbucks to make money for surfing the web, watching videos, and other activities you already do on a daily basis. You won’t strike it rich using these types of programs, but every little penny counts!
- Sell Stock Photos. If you love photography, you probably already have a huge portfolio of breathtaking photos. You can sign up with an online platform like Shutterstock or iStock to sell your images. After you create an account and upload your photos, just sit back and watch the cash flow.
- Start a Blog or YouTube Channel. Chances are you will have a lot of great stories and advice to share as life with your newborn unfolds. Keep track on a blog or via YouTube videos, and you could start making money from ads as your audience grows.
- Become a Host With Neighbor. If you have extra space in your home—a closet, basement, spare bedroom, RV pad, etc.—you can rent it out as storage space with Neighbor. All you have to do is register as a host on Neighbor’s website, list your space, and watch monthly payments come into your bank account.
Getting your house, family, and self prepared for your newest little family member is critical to getting through those first few months of your baby’s life smoothly. Once the baby is born, the time for making home improvements is over, so start preparing now. Your life will never be the same after your little one makes his appearance, but you can set yourself up for success by getting everything ready ahead of time.