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Today, I’m sharing my list of the most important things to do before baby arrives, as well as a handy printable third trimester checklist.
Being a mom is the most incredible, deeply rewarding and beautiful experience.
Pregnancy is tough.
Labour and delivery… well, it’s a journey.
The postpartum period? Yep, that’s a challenge too.
But you know what just sucks?
Finally having that precious little baby in your hands and being stressed and distracted by the list of things you *wish* you’d gotten done before baby arrived.
But that won’t be you, right?
You’ll be soaking up those newborn snuggles and savouring every precious moment with that new little family of yours.
So, let’s get to nesting:
Grab a copy of my super helpful checklist, and get those to-dos to-done, mama!
(Jump to the end of the post for printable Third Trimester Checklist [PDF])
Here we go –
- Stock up on household essentials – From toilet paper to laundry detergent to garbage bags – set aside a day to take inventory and get your home stocked up with the basic items you use regularly. Grab my list here: 49+ Important Items To Stock Up On Before Baby Arrives
- Stock your pantry – There are some non-perishable items that are great to have on hand and chances are, you already know what you use often. For us, it includes things like fortified pasta, tomato sauce, beans and chickpeas, oatmeal and rice. We also like to have things like whole-wheat tortillas in the freezer, berries, bananas, peas, corn, and boneless chicken bites that can be used in a number of different meals.
- Clean your home – If I had to guess, this one probably doesn’t even need mentioning, as the urge to nest (or prepare your home) is very common in the third trimester. So, let me just take this opportunity to say – if you have the means to have a professional cleaning done, do it. You’ve just built an entire human, mama! You deserve it.
- Fix squeaky doors – I remember one of the most frustrating moments of my baby’s first few months clearly. It had just taken me over two hours to get him settled and he had finally fallen asleep. I left his room, walked into our hallway, and without even thinking, closed the linen closet door that was half open and – squeeeeak – WAAAAAH! Just trust me on this one, grab this mini can of WD40 and give those squeaky door hinges a spray.
- Have your carpets cleaned – It can be crazy to think about while you’re still pregnant, but your baby will be there and rolling around sooner than you think! Did you know it’s recommended to have the carpets in your home professionally cleaned every 12-18 months? Yeah, me too… 😅
- Have your furnace cleaned – Have you had your air ducts and furnace cleaned in the last few years? While there is debate as to whether regular furnace cleaning is necessary, there is no question that if there is excessive dust and debris in your vents, mold or rodent droppings (lovely, I know), it is important to have them serviced. Give dad the job of taking a peek to see iif thy could use a clean before baby arrives.
- Clean your shower drain – Postpartum hair loss is no joke! Because of the drastic drop in mama’s hormone levels once baby is born, many moms will notice some serious shedding. Prepare yourself – and your shower 😆 – by removing any hair that may already be in your drain pipes with this super handy little tool. I know – kinda gross, but would you rather be sleep-deprived, covered in spit-up, and stuck showering with a clogged drain? These little silicone drain hair catchers are super affordable and just sit on top of the drain to stop hair from getting stuck in your pipes.
- Wash your bed sheets – Give your bed sheet a good refresh.
- Consider automating bill payments – Are you spending time and energy paying your bills each month? Consider setting up pre-authorized payments so that you have one less thing to worry about.
- Fill your gas tank – How bad would it be if you had to stop for gas on the way to the hospital? Welp…
- Clean your car – You know what makes your first (daunting) solo trip out with baby that much easier? A nice, clean vehicle!
- Stash a mini diaper caddy in your car – One of the best mom hacks I swear by is keeping an emergency diaper caddy stashed in my vehicle for on-the-go blow-outs and spit-ups. Here’s what’s in mine.
- Make sure your stroller fits – If you’re going to have an issue with your stroller not fitting into your vehicle, before baby is the right time to deal with it. And hey, a few practice runs of figuring out how, exactly, to fold that puppy up is great, too!
- Install your car seat base – Be sure to follow the installation guide that came with your car seat, and get the base installed properly.
- Install your baby mirror – The bane of my existence – a car mirror to keep an eye on baby while you’re on the go. If you find one that’s simple to install and stays put, LMK! Get yours up and ready to roll, mama.
- Assemble nursery furniture – Your glider, end table, dresser or changing table, assemble all of your furniture and get it ready to go.
- Decorate nursery – One of my favorite parts of decorating our nursery was hanging the shelves and setting up all of the special books that were gifted to us. Putting up a few cute art prints in our nursery and hanging our wooden name sign were just the cherry on top.
- Set up bassinet – Your bassinet most likely won’t need much set up, but get it all together, including washing and putting on the fitted bassinet sheet.
- Set up crib – If you haven’t gotten your crib set up and ready to go before your third trimester, now is the time. Assembling the crib is totally every daddy-to-he’s rite of passage – why not make a memory of it? Put on a good playlist, crack him a beer and just enjoy some of the last time you’ll spent together – alone. Some crib mattresses are reversible and have a more firm side for newborns and a softer side for toddlers. Be sure you’ve got the right side facing up! I also recommend covering your mattress with a waterproof liner, and then of course, the fitted crib sheet.
- Set up baby monitor – I used a few command strips to hold our baby monitor in place on the wall above our crib, but depending on the model and how your nursery is set up, you could also try putting it on a shelf nearby. Turn it on, read the manual, download the app if you’ve opted for a wifi monitor.
- Organize diapering station – Whether you’ve decided to go with a classic changing table, or to switch it up by creating your changing pad on baby’s dresser, get yourself set up and ready for diapering!
- Wash and organize clothes – This seems so obvious now being a mom, but one of the best tips I received before Hudson was born was not to take the tags off of all of the baby clothing (layette), swaddles and sleep sacks we’d received. Because you don’t know how big your baby will be until they’re born, and which size of clothes will fit them best, I recommend getting only a set of basics washed and ready. My son Hudson was born in the middle of winter. Here’s what we used in that first month: 7 long-sleeve onesies, 3 pairs of pants, 3 pairs of socks, 1 toque (beanie/hat), 7 zip-up footed pjs, 7-10 swaddle blankets, 3 swaddle sacks and 10 baby wash cloths.
- Buy diapers & wipes – I would recommend one box of baby wipes one boxes of newborn diapers (for babies up to 10 lbs) and two boxes of size one diapers (for babies 8 to 14 lbs) to get you started.
- Put together a diaper caddy – Here’s exactly what you’ll need.
- Black out nursery – For the first few months, your baby will have quite the knack for being able to fall asleep just about anywhere. But, before you know it, things will change and the importance of having their nursery totally blacked out can’t be understated.
- Finalize a name for your baby – You’ve probably been researching and short-listing baby names for months now (here’s a list of all of my favorite baby name ideas for inspiration, if not!). While some parents don’t actually name their baby until they meet them, many choose a baby name before their little one’s born.
- Order baby milestone cards & birth announcement – These sweet personalized signs have become super popular in recent years and I’m not mad about it. The classic baby in the bassinet photo is one you’ll cherish forever, so why not make it even more special with a handmade baby name sign? For parents who have already chosen a baby name, there are plenty of beautiful personalized options, as well as name signs that are left for mom and dad to fill in themselves.
- Book newborn photos – I didn’t end up booking professional newborn photos and it is my single biggest regret. I whole-heartedly recommend you avoid this mistake, and get them done. It’s most common to book your newborn photoshoot in the third trimester, and to have the photos scheduled for the first 1 – 8 weeks after birth. You’re probably already familiar with the traditional newborn baby photography style à la Anne Geddes, but you may also want to consider lifestyle newborn photography, which includes the family in the photographs. It’s a more candid style of photography, and is usually shot in your home, or outdoors.
- Plan newborn photoshoot outfits – If you do plan on getting newborn photos done, you’ll want to have their outfit chosen, and ready before they arrive. I would recommend getting an outfit in both newborn and 0-3 months as you really won’t know how big your baby is until they’re here! Simply return or resell the one that doesn’t end up fitting.
- Take a baby class – They say there’s no manual for being a mom. Well, they’re right about that, but there are courses. Whether it’s an in-person class, or digital, taking the time to learn the basics of newborn baby care will have you feeling much more confident as a new parent.
- Learn about baby sleep – If I could star this one, I would. My gosh, the baby sleep learning curve is steep! In their first few months (and beyond), sleep is so critically important for baby’s development, temperament – and for mama’s sanity. Consider taking a self-paced online class on baby sleep, or reading a book before baby comes in order to develop a basic understanding of how to get baby to sleep, sleep requirements, and sleep schedules. (Being pregnant and giving birth in the middle of the COVID pandemic was not only challenging for obvious reasons, but also really limited my husband and I’s access to pre-baby education. This baby sleep app was my saving grace! It’s super affordable, incredibly helpful and I absolutely recommend it, especially for first-time moms.)
- Learn about car seat safety – I know, I know. As if there isn’t already enough to know! But, I’m adding one more super important topic to read up on before baby arrives: car seat safety. From helping you choose which car seat to buy, to sharing super helpful tips on how to keep your baby safe in their car seat, Michelle from Safe In The Seat is a must-follow Instagram account for all expecting parents. For more info, safety courses and free downloadable resources, check out SafeInTheSeat.com.
- Get a color & cut – Is there anything better than a good hair day? Not only will a fresh color and cut help you feel your best in those ever-so-special hospital photos, but it will also help you feel more put together in those hectic first few weeks.
- Book other beauty services – Lash fill, mani, pedi, facial? Whatever makes you feel great, book it in now.
- Plan a special date night or baby moon – Enjoying an entire blissful baby moon is no doubt on every pregnant woman’s wish list – but, it isn’t always feasible for everyone. If it isn’t within reach for you, opt instead for a special night out with your hubby before baby. Italian over candlelight? Yes please. Take your time, savour some of your last moments together and do your best to just relax and be present.
- Buy a grip for you phone – The worst day ever was the day I accidentally dropped my phone on my baby’s head, who was laying beside me in bed. He was bawling, I was crying, it was bad. It even left a tiny bruise. Get a phone case with a finger loop or stick a cute Pop Socket onto your phone.
- Wash all of your laundry – You truly can’t fathom how many pieces of tiny laundry one sweet little baby can soil until you see it for yourself. A full load of laundry every day? If not two. Do your best to stay on top of your own laundry in the days and weeks before baby arrives. If the pregnancy exhaustion makes it too tough, consider dropping it off at your local dry cleaner’s – they have much lower rates for regular laundry (compared to dry cleaning).
- Set your phone to back-up automatically – One of my girlfriends did not have her phone backed up in any way, had an issue with her phone and ended up losing all of the photos and videos she’d taken with her phone from her baby’s first year. Prevent disaster by setting your phone to automatically save your photos to the cloud whenever it’s connected to wifi.
- Check driver’s license expiry – Check to make sure your driver’s license is current and renew it it will be expiring any time soon.
- Check car registration – Ditto.
- Consider life insurance – And now, for the least fun topic of them all! I know no one wants to consider the worst, but once you’ve got a tiny, little human dependant on you for survival, it really is important to be sure they’ll be taken care of if anything were to happen.
- Consider a will – Another important thing to do before baby arrives.
- Pack your hospital bag – I will tell you from personal experience – it is not exactly the most lovely experience to have to shove a bunch of things into an overnight bag with tears pouring down your face because you need to have an emergency induction three weeks early (which totally happened to me). Put as much together in advance as you can – I would recommend around 4-6 weeks before your due date. Because you’ll probably still need to use much of what you’ll be packing, print off this handy hospital bag packing list and clearly cross off what you’ve already packed. Keep the list beside your bag, highlighting what is left to be added so that it’s super clear and easy to follow if you do need to head to the hospital with little notice at any point.
- Make a birth plan – I almost want to laugh at this one because the *exact opposite* of what I had planned was what ended happening for me. 😆 Nonetheless – taking the time to consider each of the elements of a birth plan before you’re in labour is still very important, so spend some time researching the pros and cons of each option.
- Make plans for pets and/or other kids – Is Cookies taking a doggy vacay to grandma’s house while you’re in the hospital? Whatever your plan is, be sure to make arrangements in advance.
- Pack a travel bag for your pets and/or kids – If you do have furry and/or non-furry family members that will be staying somewhere, pack a bag of their essentials (a bag of dog food, water bowl, toy, leash, etc) in advance so that it’s ready to go.
- Put together a postpartum kit – While the hospital will provide you with (almost) everything you need while you’re there, if your labour and delivery go smoothly, you may leave within 24-48 hours of delivering. In that case, or if you choose a home birth, it’s a really good idea to grab a few important items that will really help with recovery. For me, my postpartum essentials included this giant tumbler, a peri bottle, this awesome, comfortable padded underwear, nursing pads, and comfy nursing bras.
- Get a second set of bedding – Postpartum night sweats were intense for me. In the postpartum period, mom’s hormone levels drop pretty drastically, which can often cause some pretty serious sweating. I was waking up every night completely drenched in sweat, like saturated – as if I’d just gotten out of the shower. Because I did’t want to ruin our good quality bedding or new mattress, I picked up this affordable mattress protector as well as an inexpensive fitted cotton sheet to sleep on. I also swapped out our white duvet for a regular blanket that wasn’t filled and that I could wash.
- Make some freezer meals – I am not exactly sure *where* the time goes, but I do it just about it vanishes when you’ve got a newborn. Keeping yourself nourished and fed is not only important for your recovery, but it can also affect your supply if you are breastfeeding. Pregnancy got you beyond exhausted and achy? Try placing an online grocery order for pickup or delivery and recruiting a friend or family member to help put together a few freezer meals. If you’re looking for ideas, here’s a list of my go-to healthy freezer meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) that are perfect for new moms. If it’s just a 100% no-go, consider trying a meal delivery service in the postpartum period like HelloFresh or Daily Harvest.
- Download some helpful apps – Did you know you can actually use two phones as a makeshift baby monitor with an app? You can also lull baby to sleep with the Baby Shushing Soundtrack on Spotify, get daily video tutorials on which which developmentally-appropriate activities you should be doing with your baby each day, and even have a custom baby sleep schedule created for you. There are so many useful apps for new moms that I put together this handy list of the ones that helped me most here.
- Buy breastfeeding essentials – If you plan on breastfeeding, get yourself all set up with everything you’ll need, including a breast pump (I have and love this one), an extra set of pump accessories, haaka or milkies, pumping and nursing bra, nursing pads and nipple balm and breastmilk freezer bags (single use or reusable silicone).
- Buy some formula – Yes, you read that right. *Even if* you’re planning on breastfeeding, I 100% recommend having some ready-to-feed (not powdered) formula on hand. Many moms who succeed with breastfeeding will often struggle a bit at the beginning to get the hang of things. Because newborns are so tiny, it’s really important that they get enough nourishment those first few days and weeks, so it is common to supplement breast milk with formula. These super handy 2-oz bottles of formula come in either a 6-pack (which would last 1-3 days) or 24-pack. They are pre-mixed so you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to properly prepare your own formula – just twist one of these nipples directly onto the bottle and you’re ready to go. What’s even better? If you don’t end up needing them, you can easily sell them on a local buy & sell group.
- Wash & sanitize bottles and pacifiers – Unless you’re planning on exclusively formula feeding your baby, I really don’t think that buying a counter top bottle sterilizer is necessary. You can safely sterilize baby bottles, pacifiers, teethers, pump parts and more in your dishwasher by running it on the hottest cycle (and some dishwashers have separate sterilize setting).
- Wash & sanitize your breast pump and parts – And you can even read the booklet that comes with it if you’re feeling kinda wild (it actually does have some helpful info in there!).
- Set up a nursing cart – You would think that you really wouldn’t need much to breastfeed, I mean – isn’t that the point? Just your baby and your breasts, right? Oh, and a *gigantic* water bottle, scrunchies, nursing pads, a swaddle, a breastfeeding pillow… and the list goes on. A nursing cart is just what it sounds like – a cart with all the things you’ll use while nursing your baby. Here’s exactly what you’ll need.
- Learn about breastfeeding – Before I had my son, I took a ‘mental health for moms’ course through a local women’s health studio. One of the sessions was hosted by a professional lactation consultant who shared two super helpful, reputable breastfeeding resources with us – Kelly Mom and La Leche League International. I’ve also shared the breastfeeding tips that have helped me the most, so take a peek!
- Learn about lactation consultants – In order to learn about what to expect and how to get started with breastfeeding, many first-time moms schedule a session with a lactation consultant before baby arrives.
- Learn about pelvic floor therapy – While it’s no secret that your body will need some time to recover after having a baby, there are some postpartum symptoms (like incontinence) that could warrant a visit to a pelvic floor therapist. Take a moment to read up on what to look out for and where you could visit one locally if the need comes up.