If you’re about to be a mom, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the baby advice. What do you need to do to make your home safe for a new baby, and where should you start? Take heart, mamas. The good news is, preparing for a new arrival doesn’t have to break the bank.
Whether you’re in a home or apartment, you can make a few common-sense changes to create a safer space for your little one. And while there are some things you should do before you even bring your baby home, other things, like putting up baby gates, can wait until you’ve got the hang of this new parenting gig.
Here are a few steps you can take immediately to create a safer environment for your bundle of joy.
How to Prepare for a New Baby
#1: Turn down your water heater.
Spit up and dirty diapers are part of caring for a new baby, so be prepared for lots of baths. In addition to getting a bathtub thermometer, you should also turn down your water heater to a safe temperature. Experts say to aim for bathwater that is 100° F (38 C), so set your water heater to just below 120° F (49 C), and always test the water first.
#2: Put away the crib bling.
Those adorable, plush bumpers and matching quilt are cute nursery accessories, but they’ll need to move out of the crib. All these items present a suffocation risk to your sleeping baby. You should also carefully inspect clothing your baby will wear or sleep in to remove anything with drawstrings or loose buttons that could pose a choking hazard.
#3: Cover sharp edges.
Take the time to look around your house and determine which corners you need to cover. You want to assess furniture or decor items near the floor or changing table and things that might be at the height you’d hold your little one. Your baby will get mobile sooner than you think, so cover everything now instead of worrying about it later.
#4: Put supplies within arm’s reach.
Your arms are going to be full of a new bundle of joy, so stash items you’ll need for various tasks at arm’s length. For instance, you’ll want all the wipes and diapers close to the changing table so you never have to leave your baby unattended or in a precarious position.
#5: Install carbon monoxide detectors.
Carbon monoxide is often referred to as an “invisible killer” because this odorless gas can reach toxic levels in homes without any visible signs. It’s especially dangerous for small children, who can become quickly overwhelmed by the noxious gas. Install carbon monoxide detectors, and if you have a modern security system, integrate sensor notifications into your home security hub and mobile device. That way, even if you’re not paying attention to the sensors, you’ll have plenty of warning that CO levels are rising and ample time to evacuate the entire family.
#6: Stock up on quick meals.
Yes, you’ll be tired. But you’ll also be hungry. And one of the mistakes new parents often make is trying to cook with a baby in one hand. When you try to multitask with a little one in the kitchen, you’re placing both of you at serious risk of injury. Instead, try to plan and prep quick meals that need minimal time and attention.
#7: Get a baby monitor.
There are lots of choices crowding the market for baby monitors, but you don’t need to get fancy. You can even use another device like a home security camera or your smartphone to multitask. Just be sure that if you put the monitor near your baby’s crib, it’s wireless or you can stow the cord out of reach.
#8: Clean house.
Let’s be real. The last thing you want to do after you arrive home with a new baby is clean. So, give the whole house a once-over and deep clean every nook and cranny. This task will help not only save you from stress, but also keep dangerous germs at bay during the first few weeks of the baby’s life, when his immune system is the most vulnerable.
#9: Prepare your pets.
If you have a furry family member, work to get them acclimated to the idea of a new baby. You can bring home a blanket the baby used at the hospital and let your pet sniff it to help them adjust to the scent. Consider hiring a trainer for your pet to help them learn boundaries for when the new baby arrives. When the baby comes, take some time for introductions with your pets and encourage them to engage appropriately and respect the personal space of your newest family member.
#10: Review your emergency plans.
Now is the time to revise your emergency plans to include a plus-one. That means updating any survival kits with necessary baby items and reworking your fire evacuation plan. It’s also a good time to revisit your contact lists and plug important numbers into your phone, like the pediatrician and the nearest emergency room. This way, when you need to get help, it’s just a tap away.