You don’t know it yet, but that small bundle of joy will not only require your total and devoted attention but also your space. Between strollers, high chairs, cribs and baby gear, your house will soon be swallowed in baby “everything”. Thankfully and despite what the baby stores would like you to think – and buy, it does not have to be that way. Here are some true and tested ways to get you organized for your new baby.
1. No one said that you had to have a crib, changing table and other complicated, expensive gear. If you live in a small space especially, you don’t need to have a crib and a playpen. Purchase a good playpen and use it for bedtime and playtime. They are versatile and easy enough to set up. Use it for bedtime in the nursery and in the living area or home office during daytime.
2. You are probably very excited about your new baby and you should be. The big name baby stores are also very excited to get you to spend more than you need. One way of avoiding a big ticket item is to place a changing pad on to of a dresser. It does double duty and will save you a bundle.
3. Keep all baby-changing essentials in the top drawers or the dresser you are now using as a changing table. You certainly do not want to step a few feet away from your wiggly newborn to go grab a diaper or baby oil. Keep everything at arm’s length. Install a shelving unit above the changing station if you need additional space for organizing products.
4. Bath time doesn’t require that clunky baby plastic bathtubs you see everywhere. Some are compact and cushy, some are inflatable and take no closet room at all. Look online and pick what you are most comfortable with, but be aware that there are many and often better choices than what you see at big name stores.
5. If you were using the nursery’s closet for yourself and excess clothes, this is the time to purge it! Make room for baby. Again, if you live in a small loft in NYC, design your closet space around a potential folded stroller or high chair. Add a lot of shelving to make organizing tiny clothes easier and neater. You may want to use decorative baskets for some items (like diapers, bath products and toys) and clear plastic bins for others(such as first aid kits, medicine, onesies, etc…)
6. Hang the pretty outfits, fold the onesies and burping pads. If you are exhausted and sleep deprived, don’t sweat it. Dump the sorted laundry into pretty baskets. No one will know it’s not folded and your baby will never remember you weren’t a Stepford mom, but you’ll regain a sense of sanity, and who knows, squeeze in a 10 mn power nap. Your baby and partner will thank you for that.
7. Your child will need a social security number to be claimed as a dependent on your income taxes so be sure to apply for one at the hospital right after the baby is born by checking the box on his/her birth certificate or by requesting a form. If friends or family members give you checks in the baby’s name for college or later use, you will need a social security number to open a bank account in the baby’s name.
8. Before giving birth, draw up a will that states your specific wishes, lists bank accounts and other resources that may be needed by the person/s you designate to care for your child. Be sure to appoint an executor to your will as well. Keep a copy and give other copies to your bank, attorney, executor of the will and guardian/s.
9. Buy a fireproof box to keep all important documents such as wills, birth certificates, social security cards, passports, bank statements, medical records, etc…safe from fires or other natural disasters. Personally I like safekeeping important documents in my free safe deposit box at the bank or in at fireproof vault facility.
10. If you plan on saving money for your child’s education, you can choose to fund a state-sponsored tuition savings plan. Years ago a $10.00 per month contribution for 18 years could buy you a 4-year tuition at a state college. I am unsure whether such low-costs plans are still in existence in your state, but if you put $100.00 a month in a savings plan for 20 years with a 10% annualized return, your account would be worth about $76,000.00. That would be enough to cover tuition and food. It might not be sufficient to cover the full cost of boarding expenses. There are other instruments such as IRAs and trust funds available. Consult with a financial planner so see what solution best fits your lifestyle and needs.
11. As your baby gets bigger and starts to crawl, use their bedroom as a giant baby-proofed playpen. In my case the baby’s room was at the end of the hallway, not far from the kitchen and on the same floor. Instead of limiting her movement to a playpen, I opted to remove the bedroom door and replaced it with a sturdy gate (I didn’t want to chance her closing the door on her cute little fingers). I put toys in the bottom drawers of her dresser so she could have fun opening and fetching her own toys. I put a lock high up on the closet doors and remove anything that could be harmful or off limits. And then I sat in the room for a couple of hours to make sure everything was bullet-proof so to speak. She had tons of fun playing and moving around freely in that big space. She would practice pulling herself up on the crib and dresser and soon she would stand up. Having that big space set up for her also gave me the freedom to prepare dinner without having to worry about chasing her and picking her up every 2 minutes. This was a very liberating move.
12. Keep a small set of clothes (one for you, one for the baby), diapers and wipes handy in the car. They will throw up when you least expect it, especially in your husband’s car where there typically isn’t a diaper bag.
13. If your baby as GERD and colic, you may want to prepare your own baby food that is organic and preservative-free. I don’t care that the jars say preservative-free. There is still citric acid in them (derived from lemon) and it will do a number on your baby’s stomach. When your baby is ready to eat solids, make batches of baby foods for an entire month (baby bullet) and store them in the freezer. It’s not that time consuming or hard to do but you will get a happier baby and you will get to sleep at night for a change. It will make going out or travel easy as well since all the food will be ready ahead of time and the guess work of feeding your baby the right foods will be eliminated.
14. Consider putting your baby on a schedule. Everyone has their take on the sleeping schedule of their bundle of joy, but for my part, having suffered twice from both severe ante and post-partum depression for years at a time, putting my baby on a schedule early on was essential and was nothing short of saving my life. I recommend reading Baby Wise if you are interested in that process. If you are breastfeeding, this may not be a viable solution for you and your lifestyle. We are all different in our approach on raising our children and one is not better than another. No one knows your baby and your needs better than you and no one as yet come up with a cookie-cutter manual on raising children. Do what you feel in your heart is best for you and your baby.
15. If you are planning on placing your child in private school, make sure you budget for it well ahead of time. There may be hidden costs you might not have planned for. Call the school ahead of time as there may be a waiting list and discuss all costs associated with enrollment so there are no surprises. If the waiting list is 3 years, enroll your baby in an extra-curricular activity that is linked to that school. It might make it easier to enroll your child in the school when the time comes and the administration favors people who have a prior “relationship” established with it. You never know…
It has been a while since I have dealt with a newborn so I may have forgotten a pearl of wisdom or two but I hope this article has given you a solid start on how to get organized with your new baby. What would you add to this article? Any pearls of wisdom you would like to share with all of us?