Whether you were a list-maker prior to motherhood or not, chances are you now make list after list after list. Or maybe you think about making that list, but often forget to make the list of things not to forget (story of my life!). Either way, we’ve done the busy work for you—whether you’re getting ready for your newborn’s arrival into the world or planning your little one’s birthday party, we have your lists made.
From 37 weeks on, having your delivery bag ready and in your vehicle is critical. Here’s your survival checklist while you’re in nesting mode and prepping for the big day.
- Onesie. The shirt hospitals generally put newborns into allows for easy access to the diapers—which is crucial—and lets the umbilical cord air out. But you may still want a onesie that is a bit more fashionable than a plain white shirt. Or to put under his/her outfit to go home in.
- Baby socks. Keep those little piggies warm.
- Mittens. Protect your baby’s snuggly soft skin from his/her dagger fingernails.
- Picture/go-home outfit (and accessories, if applicable). This may be one or two outfits, depending on your desires. Be sure to pack what you want, though; explaining to someone else what to bring to you at the hospital likely won’t be as simple as you imagine it. You know that the lavender headband with the gemstones coordinates with the purple outfit you packed for the baby—your husband likely doesn’t know what color/shade lavender is.
Pacifier. For breastfed babies, pacifiers aren’t recommended right away. And the hospital has pacifiers, in case you haven’t bought any/aren’t sure what brand your baby will accept.
Blanket. Again, the hospital also provides blankets, but you may want your own. Be it a swaddling blanket, receiving blanket, or homemade blanket, it will help keep the little one warm as he/she adjusts to life outside the womb.
Cloth diapers/wetbag. The hospital does provide diapers during your stay, but if you plan to cloth diaper from the very start, be sure to have your necessary supplies packed.
Gift for older sibling(s). The baby can greet his/her new best friend(s) with a gift in tow. Get a gift for the older kiddos that’s from the baby—a babydoll, toy car, stuffed animal, whatever your child enjoys. There’s plenty of time for sibling rivalry later.
- Buy and pack! Travel/mini-size shampoo, conditioner, soap, face wash, lotion, toothpaste, mouthwash, and deodorant. If you don’t have a favorite plastic travel bag just use a gallon zipper bag. Since many of these items will get wet in the shower and could potentially spill, the plastic bag will be easiest to ensure everything else you pack stays dry and clean.
- Hairbrush/comb/any hair products you may want. Personally, I just needed a brush and ponytail holder. But twice, pregnancy brain got the best of me and I forgot the brush part. Hospitals usually have brushes available, but they may not be the best quality and it may take hours for housekeeping to bring it to your room. And explaining to your hubby which brush to grab from the house never ends well.
- Pajamas. The hospital gowns are about as comfortable as they are flattering. Pack at least two pairs of pajamas—one for warm and one for cool. Postpartum bodies are strange things. And in case the surge in hormones leaves you with hot flashes/cold chills, you want to be prepared for both. Nursing mamas should pack some button-down pajama shirts and nursing bras to make for easy access.
- Glasses/contacts case and solution. You may not want to worry about remembering to take your contacts out as you nap during your hospital stay, so glasses may be your best bet. If you have overnight contacts, solution is a must.
- Cell phone charger. For the obvious reasons of letting everyone know how labor is progressing/when delivery is over. And taking an enormous amount of pictures, of course.
Depends. Any way you slice it, postpartum bleeding is a nuisance. Mommas either love or hate the mesh undies and big-enough-to-save-a-sinking-boat pads that the hospital generally provides. If you can’t stand the mesh and pad combo, adult diapers may offer a solution.
A bag for your dirty clothes. If your water breaks at home, chances are you will leak amniotic fluid on the way to the hospital. You may want to separate those clothes from the rest as you pack up to leave the hospital.
Three months before:
Reserve your space! Although it sounds like it’s being way too cautious, birthday party venues book up quickly (especially during the summer and fall). If you want to make sure you have your first choice of date and venue, you have to be proactive. Also, deciding on a venue well in advance will make the rest of your party planning that much easier.
Two months before:
Decide on a theme. This should give you plenty of time to research ideas and shop for supplies. If you haven’t already developed an addiction, please be aware that Pinterest can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to party ideas. It’s a great place to search for budget savvy ideas but also a great place to get overwhelmed. Remember to keep it simple. A birthday party is about celebrating your little miracle—not being the craftiest mom on the block.
Six weeks before:
Make the guest list. It’s a good idea to make the guest list a few weeks before sending out the invitations. This allows for plenty of time to review before you begin to invite people. Although many people still rely on traditional paper invitations, creating a Facebook event could be a money-saver for you. It’s quick and easy, and in many instances, could give you a more accurate count of who will actually come to the party. It’s easier for many of today’s moms to click that they’re coming rather than contacting you after receiving an invite. Just don’t forget to call could-be guests that don’t use social media.
One month before:
Start shopping! If you are planning on ordering a custom cake, it’s a good idea to give the baker a 3- to 4-week notice. Many popular bake shops will book up several weeks in advance. Other items you will need include:
- Paper goods (plates, cups, napkins, utensils, tablecloth)
- Party favors
- A gift for the birthday kid
- Candles (don’t forget matches or a lighter)
- Food and beverages (depending on your venue)
- Thank-you cards
- A special birthday outfit for your little one
One week before:
Tie up the loose ends. Do you know who’s is planning to attend? Send a message to or call guests who haven’t sent an RSVP. It doesn’t hurt to call and confirm your venue and cake reservation, either. If you’ve chosen to have your party at home, do you have activities to keep young guests entertained? Do you have enough food, beverages and favors for all attending? Do you have enough space for all guests to sit and eat? Find a central location to keep all parties supplies to make sure nothing is left behind or forgotten the day of the party.
The day of:
Enjoy! Birthday parties can been overwhelmingly stressful, but make sure you take the time to enjoy the special day with your little one. Most of us know that kids are only kids for a little while and that the magic of birthday celebrations will soon fade. Take lots of pictures, cherish every smile, and just revel in the joy your child has on the day that’s all about him/her.