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Nursery checklist: What you need to do before your baby arrives

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Make room for baby

Getting ready for a baby is a lot more than washing bottles and folding onesies. There are a million things that need to be done before your little one arrives, and we’ve got the top must-dos here.
Expecting parents in new nursery

Setting up your nursery is about more than making sure you have all the latest hot nursery items. It’s about making sure you have what works for you and your baby, and that you use it in the way that helps you most.

Set him up for sleep

Nap time and bed time are going to be your best friends for the next few years, so make sure your baby is set up in an environment that’s conducive to some good shut-eye. “70 percent of their first year is spent sleeping, so a good sleeping environment is critical to the baby's development," says Kate Tanner, owner of Babystop in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Tanner says you shouldn’t skimp on the mattress — quality counts on this purchase. Place it in a well-ventilated area, and make sure the room gets dark at night. Thick curtains that hide the sun during daylight hours are an extra feature you’ll be glad you opted for.

Think outside the nursery

Instinct will probably tell you to pile all of your baby items into the nursery, but you’ll soon find that may not be practical. According to lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Conner, you should put some of the nursery items in other areas of your home, especially the places you’re most likely to hang out.

“Do not sequester yourself in the nursery only,” says O’Conner. It’s handy to put a changing table in one of the main living areas of your home — it may not complement your décor, but you’ll be glad not to have to run off to the nursery every time your baby needs a fresh diaper. You might also consider putting a swing and/or bassinet in the family room, so the baby can hang out with the rest of the family.

Don’t overbuy

Be careful about buying too many products before the baby arrives. You want to be prepared, but avoid wasting your money on products you don’t need.

“What works for some may not work for all,” O’Conner warns. Buy the necessities, and then wait and see what works for your baby before you stock up.

Get more monitors

You’ll need a monitor receiver in your bedroom while you’re sleeping, but the baby spends a lot more time snoozing than you do. You’re going to want to hear her while you’re in other rooms of the house too.

“Invest in a monitor that has two receivers so you can keep one in the master bedroom and one in the kitchen or living room,” says father of seven and creator of Daddy Scrubs, Robert Nickell. “It takes some practice to figure out which volume is best for you, so give yourself time. You may like to hear every gurgle and grunt, but you may also need to turn it down so you can get some rest as well,” he adds.

Have food ready

We know this is a touchy situation for some moms, but breastfeeding doesn’t always work out as planned. Have a backup plan ready to go, even if your plan is to exclusively breastfeed.

“Have formula and/or breast milk at home when you come home from the hospital,” says new mom Elizabeth Hardison. “Just in case something goes awry with breast feeding, you'll have everything you need on hand."

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