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Preparing home for when your baby arrives

7-minute read

Preparing your home for your new baby is an exciting time for parents. Newborns don’t need too much other than love, milk and warmth, however there are some ‘essentials’ when it comes to getting your home ready for when your baby arrives.

Many parents use a checklist to help serve as a reminder for what they could need. If this is your first baby, expect to spend more time and money getting the essentials.

You don’t need to buy everything new and it’s easy to save money by buying second hand, borrowing or recycling pre-used baby furniture and equipment.

Some things you will need to consider:

How do I prepare the nursery?

Your baby will need to sleep somewhere, other than your arms of course! According to safe sleeping recommendations, the safest place for baby to sleep is in their own safe space, in the same room as their parents or adult caregiver for the first 6 to 12 months.

Most parents choose to set up the new baby’s cot or bassinette in their room, at least for a few months until their baby has developed a more regular feeding and sleeping pattern.

When buying a cot or bassinette, check it meets the guidelines for safety. The mattress must be clean and fit firmly against the cot/bassinette sides. If you’re using a second hand or used one, it’s also important to make sure it is safe.

Nursery checklist

Handy guide for what you will need to set up a nursery.

A comfortable feeding chair and lamp for night feeds will make a lot of difference. Consider getting a foot rest to support your legs and feet whilst you’re feeding.

Prepare a space for changing your baby’s nappy. Ideally, a change table which is the right height for you not to bend over. Position items you’ll need close to hand and focus on what’s practical and going to make your life easier.

Organise a storage space for your baby’s clothing. A chest of drawers, closet or wardrobe will help you to keep everything together.

Before your baby arrives, you will also need to have a child car restraint secured correctly in your car.

What are the essential clothes and accessories for my newborn?

The amount of clothing you have for your baby will depend on your washing and drying facilities. Another factor is where you live and the season your baby will be born. Like adults, babies need to be dressed according to the weather — less clothing in the warmer months and more layers when it’s cold.

  • Jumpsuits — all-in-ones are a good idea. Allow for frequent changes.
  • Nappies — decide if you want to use disposables or cloth.
  • Wraps — swaddling your baby in a muslin or cotton wraps will help them feel secure, ‘contain’ their startle reflex and keep them on their back.
  • Sleeping bags are a good option for babies who are no longer being swaddled or wrapped. Make sure the sleeping bags you use have a fitted neck, fitted armholes and no hood.
  • Singlets and bodysuits, beanies and socks if it’s cold. Remember to always remove your baby’s head covering before they go to sleep.
  • A baby bath is useful, otherwise you can use the kitchen sink or basin. Give some thought into where you can sit the bath so you’re not needing to bend over and can avoid straining your back.
  • Your baby’s own towel and a few washcloths.
  • Cot sheets and a baby blanket or two. Avoid using soft blankets and make sure any blankets can be tucked in firmly.
  • Toiletries — a gentle baby bath wash, nappy wipes and some barrier cream for nappy changes.

What other items could be needed?

These are some extras to consider in case you need them:

What are some essentials I might need?

Ask your friends and family what they found really useful. Aim to recycle what you’ve already got.

  • Comfortable clothing with easy opening fronts to access your breasts if you’re planning to breastfeed. Have a supply of breast pads which will help to absorb breast milk if you’re leaking.
  • A breastfeeding pillow will help with positioning your baby for feeds.
  • A breast pump can be useful for expression. Do some research whilst you’re pregnant and see what’s available in terms of manual and electric pumps.
  • Stock up on maternity sanitary pads; in the first week or so after having your baby you’re going to need a few dozen.
  • Comfortable underpants. Don’t expect to return to your pre pregnancy weight or size for at least 12 months after birth.
  • Nipple cream, available from the pharmacy can be very soothing for tender nipples.
  • Get a water bottle which holds at least one litre so you can monitor your fluid intake. This is especially important if you’re planning to breastfeed.

Meal preparation

During your pregnancy, try to think about nutritious meals which can be cooked and frozen. Mark everything clearly and store correctly.

Practice on-line grocery ordering if you’ve not done this before. Having groceries delivered can be helpful in the early weeks and months of caring for a new baby.

Accept all offers of food drops and meal preparation from caring family and friends. Most people are keen to help in any way they can and food is a nice way to share connection with other people.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2022

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