Baby on board
Congratulations and welcome to your first trimester! It may not seem quite so dreamy at the moment, especially if you're still going through the morning sickness phase – but it will pass. Even at this early stage, you can start to get your home poised and ready for the little one.
First, think about where everything is stored: plastic bags, cleaning products and anything sharp needs a new home out of reach of little fingers. It's also a great time to declutter. Local Facebook selling pages are a great option, as you don't have to worry about posting anything. You could also try selling via the Shpock app
– it's like having your very own boot sale on your phone. You can sell locally and listings are categorised, so it makes it easier to shift unwanted goods. You could also head off to a real car boot sale
. The first trimester is the best time to do this, as you won't want to carry boxes when your bump starts growing.
Changing your spare room into a nursery? Then think about how you'll make up for the lost space. Add some shelves around the house to create extra storage space and keep baby-inappropriate items – anything sharp or medicine-related – out of reach.
Other ways to create extra storage space include:
- Under bed drawers for clothes, shoes, handbags and even paperwork
- Canvas baskets, which are very versatile and can hold bedding, scarves and toys
- Hanging bins, which you can buy from Ikea, and are handy for small things around the house and kitchen
- Storage trays or crates that screw into wardrobe doors for some extra space
- A buggy shelter, where your pram can live outside if you don't have space inside
Finally, if you've been thinking about replacing an old dishwasher or washing machine, then this is a good time to do it – you won't be able to live without them in the coming months. When buying one, make sure you opt for something with an A+ energy rating and pay attention to the noise level rating – between 44 and 49 decibels is best; this will be handy when you have a sleeping baby in the house, as it doesn't take much to wake them.
Lifestyle blogger Laura Snell, who writes The Shrewd Life
, says baby shows are one of the best ways to get a taste for all the products on the market – and get them at a reduced price.
'These shows can be time-consuming and tiring, so attending one in your second trimester is a good idea,' Laura recommends.
Before you shop for anything, measure the baby's room, says lifestyle blogger Claire Wacey
, who recently had her first baby.
'Baby furniture is actually bigger than you would think, so measure and plan where each item is going, to ensure that you're not going to be too cramped or unable to move,' she says.
'If you buy a pushchair online, make sure it fits in the lift to your flat and in the boot of the car,' she adds.
Next, it's time to decorate the nursery. Work out where in the room baby will sleep – close to the window could be too drafty, and close to the radiator could be too hot. If you expect your child to flex their creative muscles early on, washable paint may just be your new best friend.
Here are some of the nursery essentials you'll need:
- Cot: if you want one that will last a while, a cot bed will give you flexibility – you can take the sides off when your baby is older, to make it into a toddler bed
- Nursery chair: these are great for feeding at night, as they can prevent back pain, and their rocking motion can help comfort a baby
- Nappy-changing unit: they come with handy storage so you always have everything to hand – and some even attach to the wall to save precious floor space
- Blackout blind: some infants sleep better when the room is very dark
- Night light: a must for the night feeds, as you don't want to sit there feeding a baby with a bright light on
- Baby monitors: there are so many baby monitors on the market, it's hard to know which one to get.
- Baby bath: you'll need a plastic baby bath or somewhere else to clean the baby – the kitchen sink is fine!
The second trimester is also a good time to get babyproofing. Hunt down all the sharp edges in your home – whether they're on furniture, cupboards or wainscoting – and cover them in cushioning. Unless you live in a totally open-plan house, you'll need to pick up some foam doorstoppers to prevent little fingers from getting trapped. If there are any stairs in your home, install safety gates at the top. It's also a good idea to stick down any rugs to prevent a slip and fall.
It's also worth checking that all the potential hazards have been removed: have you added childproof locks to drawers, cupboards and doors? Are there any unguarded plug sockets and trailing wires? Do a sweep now to avoid a last-minute panic.
One thing many new parents don't account for is 'nappy brain' – the forgetfulness and chaos caused by the sudden combined demands of multitasking, tiredness, interrupted thought and, as time goes on, the need to put things out of the way of little hands.
Agree with your partner where things will always 'live' in your house, and stick to it – it can even help to make a list and email it to each other, to keep on your phones. That way, you'll minimise those moments familiar to every new parent when the urgently required spare key/car insurance documents/passport/credit card/gas bill/IKEA spanner/inhaler/earplugs go AWOL.
You might even want to keep a little spare shelf space free in each room, as a place to put whatever's in your hand the moment the baby starts crying, so that you'll know where you put it later.
As your bump gets bigger in the third trimester, you may find yourself not sleeping well. A maternity support pillow will allow you to rest your bump better and give you more comfort. Sorry, dads – this means less bed space for you!
This is also a good time to start thinking about cover for the baby products you've bought and are going to need, as well as a protection policy for yourself, to make sure that your newborn is provided for.
To help new parents, LV= provides home insurance customers with 10 per cent extra cover a month either side of the birth. After the extra cover expires, parents should consider revaluing their contents to make sure that they're fully protected.
In this final stage, also put aside some time to deep-clean the house and wash the baby clothes using non-bio detergent. Do all the areas that can get neglected – inside the fridge drawers, extractor fans, that awkward patch behind the sofa – to get rid of dust and other nasties as you may not have time when baby arrives.
Finally, sit back, relax and let your friends spoil you with a baby shower. It's a good time to catch up with friends and family, or even go on a weekend break with your partner – you won't have much time when your bundle of joy arrives!
For more personal finance ideas and resources, follow Kalpana Fitzpatrick on Twitter @KalpanaFitz or check out her website Mummy Money Matters.