By Jennifer Goldberg
The first six months of pregnancy with my daughter were a blur of nausea-tinged excitement. But when that third trimester hit, I started to panic. Our house wasn’t at all child-friendly. I had no plan for the nursery and I didn’t have any of the new baby stuff other parents were toting around my neighbourhood.
Troubled by how unprepared I felt, I spent much of my final pregnant months urgently crossing off “to-dos” and purchasing items I thought our baby might need. I approached baby preparation as though I would never again leave the house once baby arrived.
“It’s normal to stress and worry that every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted because everybody forewarns you about how different life will be when baby comes,” says Sara Dimerman, a Toronto-based family psychologist. “But once you’ve adjusted to being new parents, you can still go out and get the things you need. It’s not like you’re going to a foreign county and nothing is available to you.”
It’s good to prepared, but how much do you really need to buy to bring home baby? Here are some tips to help you budget for your new arrival.
If you feel pressure to have everything perfect before the birth, remember that a lot of baby stuff is meant more to please us parents.
“This is all about how we want things,” stresses Toronto-based parenting expert Alyson Schaffer. “Newborns need very little except warmth, nutrition and love. They will not remember the colour of the diaper bag or the images on their crib mobile.”
Just plan on getting the essentials before baby arrives. “Be a cautious shopper by asking a store clerk what stuff you need to get you by for the first three or four months,” advises Robyn Dashefsky-Moar, CEO of West Coast Kids, a chain of baby stores with locations in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. After that, you’ll have a better sense of your child’s personality and what he or she needs.
Absolute essentials include a properly installed car seat, a stroller, newborn-size diapers and wipes, blankets for swaddling, sleepers, a nursing pillow and bottles if you’re bottle feeding, says Dashefsky-Moar.
Line up childcare
You may not need it for several months, but waiting lists are long in some cities.
“I put my name on every daycare waiting list within a reasonable distance of our home while I was still pregnant,” says Rasha Mourtada, a Toronto-based mom who is pregnant with her second son.
Do some preliminary research on care centres in your neighbourhood and call them up to express your interest. It may feel silly to sign your unborn child up for care, but busy daycare centres are used to advanced planning. And don’t take the first space that comes along; do your homework to find a good licensed centre. Read more about selecting proper child care.
Get the room ready
This can be as simple as clearing out space in a couple of drawers to make room for baby gear or clearing out the second bedroom for a nursery. It largely depends on your budget and space, but most people spend, on average, between $2,500 and $3,000 to outfit a nursery, says Dashefsky-Moar.
While you could hire a designer to give you the perfect baby abode, a coat of white paint and some colour artwork can do the trick, too. The biggest costs? A crib and a comfortable chair where you’ll end up holding your newborn in the middle of the night. Check out Canadian Family’s guide to setting up your first nursery.
Make lists and calendars
It’s hard to remember all of the appointments, milestones and “to-dos” that you need to get done. Use your tried-and-true time management tools to keep track. “I’m a huge advocate of using calendars and lists,” says Dimerman. “If you take the clutter out of your head and put it in a list then you have it in front of you and it doesn’t feel as overwhelming.”
Take care of yourself
“One of the hardest things when having a new baby is feeding yourself,” says Dimerman. Cook and freeze a few favourite dishes to have on hand for the first few hectic weeks of parenthood. Enlist family and friends to help with meal prep in lieu of baby gifts. Canadian Family tips for eating while juggling a newborn.
And take care of yourself. Take some time to prepare for this monumental life change. Take naps, plan date nights with your partner and have some discussions about how you’ll divvy up responsibilities once the baby arrives.
“I also suggest that instead of being a martyr, delegate tasks to family and friends,” says Dimerman. “People like to help. See what things on your list you can give to people who have offered.”