If you are an expectant parent, you may be overwhelmed at this point in your pregnancy. There are so many things to prepare for a baby, whether your pregnancy is planned or unplanned, so how do you make sure you accomplish them all?

To help you out, we’ve created a “getting ready for baby” checklist to aid you in your preparations. When you’re preparing for a baby arrival, a checklist can help you make sure you address all of your necessities — letting you be a bit more relaxed before your life changes forever.

If you are looking for a to-do list to prepare for a baby, look no further than this article. However, if you are still asking, “What do I need to prepare for a newborn baby?” after reading, we encourage you to sign up for parenting classes and speak to any other parents you know to be as informed as possible.

15 Things to Do To Prepare for a Baby

  1. Choose a Healthcare Provider.

When you discover you are pregnant, one of the first things to do to prepare for a baby is find a healthcare provider. It’s critical that all expectant mothers receive prenatal care as early as possible (more on that below) but, in order to do that, you must locate an appropriate medical professional. Do your research before choosing an obstetrician (and a pediatrician for after birth) to ensure that your goals and preferences are met for your pregnancy and your healthcare.  This choice will affect the rest of your pregnancy and your child’s first few months after birth.

  1. Get Prenatal Care.

Once you have found a healthcare provider, you will need to obtain prenatal care as early as possible. This care will make sure that you and your unborn baby remain healthy during your pregnancy, and it’s an essential part of your checklist while preparing for baby.

  1. Make Healthy Choices.

If you’re asking, “What do I need to prepare for a baby?” think about how your current lifestyle will affect your pregnancy. As an expectant mother, you will need to give up unhealthy behaviors in the best interest of your child. This means refraining from smoking, drinking and using illicit drugs during your pregnancy. You will also need to avoid certain risky foods and start doing safe, pregnancy-appropriate exercise.

  1. Talk to Your Employer About Maternity Leave.

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, schedule an appointment with your boss to talk about your plans for maternity leave. Ask about what paid or unpaid leave options are available, and create a plan for covering your work-related responsibilities while you are on leave.

  1. Take Birthing and Infant-Care Classes.

In addition to the list on this article, you can learn everything you need to prepare for a baby from birthing, parenting and infant-care classes. It’s normal to have questions about becoming a parent, especially if your pregnancy was not originally part of the plan. In these classes, you can learn about the basics of childbirth and caring for a child, as well as get answers to all of the questions you may have.

  1. Identify Your Support System.

As much as you try, parenting is not something that can successfully be done on your own. Even if you are planning to become a single parent, you will need to identify family and friends who you can lean on for support. When it comes to your pregnancy and delivery, think about who you can ask to take care of any older children, pets and your house while you are otherwise occupied.

  1. Create a Parenting Plan.

One of the most important things you need to prepare for a baby is a parenting plan. Whether you are co-parenting or becoming a single parent, sit down and think about the parenting style you will use. How will you discipline and encourage your child? What kind of values will you instill in your child? When you and your spouse agree on a parenting plan, you will be better parents for it.

  1. Make a Baby Budget.

Before you can decide what to buy for baby preparation, you will need to evaluate your personal budget. Consider your monthly income and factor into it the costs of raising a child. Make a plan for affording baby expenses, childcare, healthcare and other costs. You and your spouse may need to restructure your personal budget or try to find another job to afford the new member of your family.

  1. Create Your Delivery Plan.

As part of your birthing classes and your discussions with your obstetrician, you will need to make a plan for your stay at the hospital. Your medical professional will explain what steps are necessary for your situation, but don’t forget to plan for preterm labor, just in case. Regardless, think about who you want in your hospital delivery room and any kind of non-traditional birthing aspects (like a water birth or a doula) you want included in this experience.

  1. Prepare any Older Children or Pets.

When preparing for a baby, don’t forget any existing members of your family who will be impacted by this addition. Talk with older children about the baby brother or sister they can expect, and make plans for your older child’s care while you are in the hospital. Pets also need to be properly acclimated to a new arrival; give him a private spot he can escape to, and accustom him to the rough handling of a young child.

  1. Create a Nursery.

Wherever you plan to keep your baby in your house, take the steps to prepare it with the proper necessities. Some of the things to buy when preparing for a baby include a crib, a changing table, and other big purchases that can stay in the nursery. It’s best to start the nursery early in your second trimester so you are prepared for any unexpected and early arrivals.

  1. Buy Necessary Supplies.

At the same time that you are preparing the nursery, make sure to include all of the other things to buy to prepare for a baby. You can find a full list below. Having these items ahead of time will prevent additional stress in bringing a baby home and allow you to stay at home and bond after delivery rather than run to the store for supplies.

  1. Prepare for Breastfeeding.

    If you are planning to breastfeed, consider taking classes and talking with a lactation specialist. Breastfeeding is not right for everyone, and knowing what to expect before starting will temper any unrealistic expectations. If you do not plan to breastfeed, you will need to take steps for either pumping your breast milk or stopping lactation. If you are unsure, talk with your doctor or a lactation specialist to determine which path is right for you. 

  1. Put Together a Hospital Bag.

As you enter your eighth month of pregnancy, put together a bag to take to the hospital with you. This way, everything will be ready to go ahead of time, and you can be sure you have all your necessities when your water breaks. Wondering what to put in that bag? Find a checklist to get ready for baby delivery here. 

  1. Relax and Enjoy it All.

This can be one of the most important things you need to prepare for a baby — but it can also be the hardest for expectant parents. When you’re focus on your “preparing for baby” checklist, it’s easy to forget about the magnitude of what you are doing. Take time to enjoy the experience of being pregnant and your few last months before your life changes forever.

Things to Buy When Preparing for a Baby

There’s no question about it: Having a baby is expensive. In addition to your healthcare and delivery costs, you will need to think about the necessary things to buy to prepare for a baby.

Each parent’s checklist will be slightly different. Don’t forget to talk with other parents, friends and family members to see what kind of supplies they may be able to give you. That way, you can save money on your list of things to buy when preparing for a baby.

As you make this list, think about these necessities:

For Your Nursery:

  • Crib and crib mattress
  • Waterproof mattress covers
  • Fitted cribsheets
  • Light blankets for the crib
  • Sleep sack
  • Changing table
  • Changing pads
  • Rocking chair
  • Playpen
  • Mobile
  • Night light
  • Plastic infant tub (for bathing)
  • Bathing washcloths
  • Baby soap
  • Baby hair brush
  • Hooded towels

For Your Baby:

  • Baby clothes, including onesies, nightgowns, sleepers, socks, hats, etc.
  • Laundry detergent for infants
  • Pacifiers
  • Rattles and other toys
  • Diaper bag
  • Diapers
  • Diaper pail
  • Diaper cream
  • Disposable wipes
  • Blankets
  • Baby bottles with nipples
  • Formula
  • Bibs
  • Bulb syringe for mucus
  • Eye dropper/medicine spoon
  • Nail clippers
  • Medication

For You:

  • Sling or baby carrier
  • Car seat
  • Sun shade for car windows
  • Stroller
  • Breast pump
  • Burp cloths
  • Nursing pillow
  • Nursing bras
  • Nipple lotion

This is only a basic list of what to buy for baby preparation. Always consider your own circumstances and desires to determine what your “preparing for newborn baby” checklist will include. If in doubt, contact a parenting class or an experienced parent you know to help you prepare for your baby’s upcoming arrival.