When I decided to write about this, COVID-19 was just beginning to become a concern. The shelves of Target were still stocked with ample toilet paper and baby wipe supplies; now, three weeks later, I’m considering how to stockpile diapers and baby wipes for the baby in my belly who isn’t due for another 13 weeks. The days of leisurely walking the aisles of your grocery store without anxiety and armed to the teeth with hand sanitizer seem like they are so far away. Who knows how long this toiletry stockpiling madness will last? What’s nesting mom to do?
I am just entering my third trimester with baby boy number three, due towards the end of June. I am grateful that this is my third child so that I can focus my anxieties on the unknowns that the rise of COVID-19 has introduced into our lives, instead of the unknowns of birth, postpartum, and having a newborn. Sure, there are still a lot of unknowns involved when a child is born. Regardless of everything, I at least feel prepared for that process.
This child will be ushered into the world amidst a pandemic. Admittedly, I think that this scenario may feel the most stressful and frustrating because so much of it is out of my control. It also makes me so sad to imagine this baby boy possibly meeting his extended family through closed storm doors or 6-foot distances to keep him and our older family members safe.
So what should we do to prepare for a newborn if you’re nesting during a pandemic?
NESTING PART I: SUPPLIES
Children, and certainly newborns, tend to accumulate a great deal of laundry, and general mess. At least mine do! I like to *almost* always have basic cleaning supplies on hand, just in case. I think this is a great idea for these uncertain times when it seems likely that we may not be able to run to Target or Walmart and feel confident that items will be in stock.
My staple cleaning supply items are:
- Basic multipurpose cleaner (we love Method brand or Mrs. Meyers)
- Laundry detergent
- Dishwashing tablets or liquid
- Wool dryer balls—These can be so helpful for improving drying time!
- Vinegar—The perfect natural cleaning supply, I try to always have a large container on hand to clean floors, surfaces, drains, and more!
- Baking soda—We use this stuff everywhere, even for bath time!
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper
- Bubble bath:: Bao Bao Naturals is our current favorite, and bath time for my older boys can be such a lifesaver. Throwing them in the tub with some soap and dinosaurs or cars to “wash” keeps them busy for at least a few minutes.
- Squatty potty:: We use these all the time, but it can be especially helpful to keep things regular after baby.
- Other:: Any other regularly used toiletries. Make sure to have some supplies on hand to pamper yourself postpartum.
- Freezer meals – Our family’s favorite freezer “meals” are individually prepared and wrapped breakfast burritos. Yum!
- Non-perishable items—We’ve been stocking up on these items more than usual amidst COVID-19. Our favorites are beans (we keep a few types on-hand, dry and canned because sometimes I don’t have the time or forethought to soak dried beans ahead of time). We also love to have bone broth and regular broths on hand to add nutrients and flavor to meals.
- Frozen items—Frozen veggies and fruits are a staple in our home. We’ve been getting a few extra bags each week, and piling them into our freezer.
- Easy, healthy snacks—Prepared every few days and ready to grab and go in the refrigerator.
- Oats – Oatmeal has always helped me maintain my milk supply!
- Disposable plates and silverware—Just do it, and don’t look back.
- Grocery delivery or pick-up and/or subscriptions for meat or other items. We have moved exclusively to grocery pick-up since social distancing began, and we’ve been using ButcherBox for meat delivery every few months for a few years. Whole Foods pick-up is included in Prime membership, and Target has drive-up for non-perishable items!
- Cook Once Eat All Week by Cassy Joy Garcia is also a fantastic guide to help simplify meals, buy only what you need, and is adjustable for different preferences like paleo and gluten-free.
Remember, babies are unique, and so are their parents. There are so many things that you may not be able to prepare for until the baby arrives, and you get a feel for their needs. Therefore, keep in mind that this list of baby supplies isn’t exhaustive.
- Diaper cream
- Simple, easy to change outfits (i.e., not millions of buttons).
- Peri bottle—I have saved mine from my last two pregnancies, and they are life-saving.
- Perineal cold packs —You can make and freeze pads with witch hazel and aloe to use in the early (and sore) days postpartum. I also like to simply have ice packs on hand, because they hold their temperature longer than a pad.
- Tucks medicated pads
- Extra, heavy-duty pads
- Adult diapers—I used adult diapers the first few days after my second son, and it was so much more comfortable than pads.
- Dermoplast—That magical medicated spray they give you at the hospital.
- Nipple cream (I recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby, for breastfeeding and pumping mamas)
- Haaka—Amazing for let-down on the breast not being nursed on or pumped from.
- Epsom salts for baths
Other Nesting Supplies:
- Regularly used medications for children, including older children
- Prenatal vitamins
- Amazon Prime Membership
- Some good books or an Audible subscription for when your hands are full.
- Blue light glasses for all that extra screen time you’re likely to log while nursing or feeding babe.
- Hand sanitizer sprays at least 62% alcohol.
Establish care now with a mental health provider, so you have a relationship established when the baby arrives—Telehealth is widely being covered due to COVID-19.
Remember, your mental health and wellness, in general, are key to your family’s wellness. Invest time in yourself, even if it’s carving out tiny chunks of time throughout the day.
NESTING PART II: CLEANING AND DECLUTTERING
I love a clean, organized, minimal home. This doesn’t mean my house is always clean and organized; I have 2-year-old and 4-year-old boys, so it’s a constant battle to keep our home from falling into mayhem. However, I do think it’s helpful to try to keep the house clean and organized to the best of our ability, especially before a baby arrives.
Use the downtime, thanks to quarantine, to get rid of all that stuff you never use. If you haven’t used it or worn it for a year (as long as it isn’t sentimental or seasonal), chances are, you won’t miss it if you donate them to a good cause. Start with one room a week, or maybe a weekend, and go through the items. Many places need donations during this difficult time.
I also like to tidy and organize all of the baby supplies and bathroom items. For example, we co-sleep with our boys, so I want to make sure our bedroom and master bathroom are stocked with diapers, wipes, and diaper cream for the middle of the night diaper changes. Take time to organize your own toiletries, too. You’ll want to have all the necessary items close to a toilet, like a peri-bottle and dermaplast. You may even want to have a little basket with the things you’ll need for pumping. I don’t always pump in the same place, so I keep a “go basket” with my pump, nipple ointment, towels, wipes, and Haaka.
ACTIVITIES AND GIFTS FOR OLDER CHILDREN
Finally, if you have older children, take time to plan activities and to have a few unique gifts squirreled away. With quarantine, older siblings may not be going to school, activities, or daycare, so you may need to figure out how to keep them occupied at home. Our boys are home with me all the time, so busy work and activities are a must! Thank goodness it’s warming up, and I can take them outside!
Outside, we love window painting, gardening, going on walks or hikes, riding bikes, and playing in the sandbox or water.
On rainy days, our boys love playing in sensory bins with rice, kinetic sand, or water beads. We also enjoy crafts, and my oldest loves cutting our shapes and letters. When all else fails, throw them into the tub with some old toothbrushes and cars for a car wash. Sometimes we make “mud” with baking soda, cocoa powder, and water for them to get their dinosaurs or cars dirty in first before they clean them off. Stickers, threading big chunky beads, or other fine motor skills also tend to keep them busy. Remember, you know your kids best, so have fun and be creative, finding fun activities to keep them busy.
You can even consider having the newest addition to your family “give” something special to their older siblings. Think of this as a peace offering—something fun and sweet to help include the older siblings into the transition of adding another brother or sister to the family.
Remember, you aren’t going through this time of uncertainty alone.
Practice acknowledging and validating any anxieties or negative thoughts you may have, but work on focusing on the things you can control like nesting. If you invest energy and time into things within your sphere of influence, and you’ll be prepared and as ready as possible to bring a newborn into the world!