There’s nothing more exciting than becoming a mom. Having a child changes everything.
But while parenthood is rewarding, it certainly isn’t easy. Motherhood means adjusting to a new lifestyle, all the baby clothes, and steep childcare expenses. And before all of that, it means baby-proofing your home.
What are the most important tweaks to make to your house? Here’s where to start:
1. Plug up everything electrical.
Before having a baby, you don’t realize just how many outlets, appliances, and plugin tech products are in your home. You don’t have to revert back to the stone age, but you do need to keep those tiny hands away from anything that could shock them.
Cover electrical outlets with specialized plastic caps. Organize cords and cables to keep them secure and out of reach. Stow electronics sitting out in a closet or basement, where they’re less likely to be tripped or nibbled on.
2. Soften corners and edges.
Your fancy coffee table might make a wonderful living room centerpiece prior to parenthood, but sharp edges are dangerous for babies. Especially when teaching your child to walk or run, keep anything with hard corners or edges out of the room.
Metal and glass surfaces are especially important to minimize. If you can’t part with the object in question (such as wall corners), you can pad the edges with bubble wrap, foam, or plastic guards.
3. Set up baby’s bed and monitor.
Don’t wait until after you’ve brought baby home to put his or her crib together. Whether in your room or an empty one, set it up in a dark, quiet area. If your home is inherently loud, such as a downtown apartment, a white-noise machine can help block out noise.
If you decide to give baby his or her own room, make sure to set up a monitor. Again, don’t wait until the last minute: You don’t want to be troubleshooting the device when it’s already past your bedtime.
4. Lock away chemicals and medications.
You may know not to drink bleach, but your baby doesn’t. Look through bathrooms, under sinks, and in laundry areas: Any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, household cleaners, pool chemicals, and automotive fluids should be locked up.
Go through your pantry as well. Foods like honey can breed bacteria that babies are sensitive to, while many cheeses contain molds that can cause an allergic reaction. Alcoholic drinks and acids like vinegar should also be locked away.
5. Clean everything.
Babies’ immune systems are still developing. Although it’s important that they are exposed to some bacteria and viruses, they aren’t ready for seriously germy surfaces. Disinfect door knobs, kitchen countertops, bathroom fixtures, and other high-traffic areas.
Clean other areas for your own sanity. Chores are tough to make time for in the best of times, let alone with a new baby in the mix. Use cleaners that are non-toxic and leave no residue, such as vinegar, just in case baby decides to taste what you wipe down.
6. Stock up on your favorites.
Preparing your home for a new baby isn’t just about the baby. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have a happy home for long.
Before leaving for the hospital, fold the laundry (better yet, ask your husband to do it for you). Pack an away bag, including a comfy set of coming-home clothes. Stock up on frozen meals. Grab a few restaurant gift cards. Don’t forget, too, about bathroom necessities like toothpaste and toilet paper.
Although this list isn’t exhausted, it will certainly help keep you from becoming exhausted. When your bundle of joy arrives, you’ll be grateful you worked ahead.