bringing a newborn home

Before bringing a newborn home, there are so many things to consider!  Chief among them is housing. Is it time to buy your first home? Should you leave the city and go to the suburbs? How much space do you really need with a baby?  Do you need to move-up or can you make do in your current living situation? The answer depends on so many factors. The truth is – although your life is completely different once your little bundle of joy arrives, there isn’t too much that needs to change in the first few months with a baby.  Based on my experience as a mom to a toddler (with one on the way) and as a Realtor who has helped many clients through this life transition, I’ve outlined my suggestions for things to consider when making this decision. 

{Check out our entire baby series for what to consider with a toddler – that list is much longer – what to consider with multiple children (coming soon) and as your children grow (coming soon). Stay tuned!}



YOUR BABY’S NURSERY – AND YOUR BEDROOM SET UP

When you’re expecting your first child, one of the most fun things to do is it plan and set up your baby’s nursery.  We had ours ready months in advance. However, looking back the nursery really isn’t necessary until you move your baby out of your room. The AAP now recommends that you keep your baby in your room “ideally for a year, but at least for six months to reduce the risk of SIDS”. Of course, I know people who never kept their baby in their room and others who kept their babies with them for years!  

We kept Brooks (pictured above) in our room with us for four months, which worked well.  We are now expecting our second baby. This time around, we are going to have a changing station for diapers and a chair to rock him in our bedroom (as well as in the nursery) to make things easier for us in the middle of the night.

How long you keep your baby in your bedroom with you is an incredibly personal choice, but it’s important to consider when thinking about your housing decisions.  You certainly could live in a 1BR apartment with your baby for quite some time (as long as other conditions discussed below are met), so never feel that you need to move and have everything done well before the baby is born if there are other factors that make it more appealing for you to stay put.

Housing Takeaway:  Make sure there is space in your bedroom for a bassinet as pediatricians recommend babies sleep in their parent’s room at first.  A dedicated nursery is nice, but not needed immediately.  When you do move your baby to his or her own room, you will want it to be convenient to yours (ideally on the same level) as you will more than likely be making frequent nighttime visits to your baby’s room!




YOUR RECOVERY SPACE

After an emergency C-Section, 24 hours of labor and 4 days in the hospital, my husband Doug and I brought our baby home from the hospital to our historic townhouse in Old Town, Alexandria. I was tired just looking at the steep stairs leading to our front door! Needless to say, the newborn days with my son Brooks were some of the most exciting and most exhausting of my life. The days seemed both incredibly long and incredibly short all at once since everything is so new.

One thing I would recommend to every new mom (and dad) is to have a “recovery space” with a comfortable couch or chair for you to hang out with your baby (and any visitors), watch TV and relax, that is convenient to both the kitchen and a bathroom. You will also probably want to set up a little area where you can quickly change diapers in this area as well.  Just a basket with the supplies (or even having the diaper bag nearby) and a somewhere to dispose of the diapers will do!

Housing Takeaway:  You want a space to set up where you can spend most of the day those first few weeks without going up and down the steps, especially if you have a C-section. A bathroom and a kitchen on the same level is key.  



THE BABY STUFF


One thing many new parents underestimate is all of the STUFF that they acquire with a newborn.  From rock ’n play’s (lifesavers), to baby bouncers, baby bjorns, dock a tots (highly recommend), and strollers, there is a lot to store!  Make sure you carefully consider if you have room to use these items and also where you will store them when they aren’t in use.  

If you are planning to stay put in a small space while you have a newborn, I recommend having a plan of when you hope to move to your larger space.  Many of the “accessories” aren’t used in the first 3-6 months, so if you are planning on making a move quickly, you can definitely make do.

The biggest thing to consider is where you will store your stroller. Is there space to bring it inside? Will it stay outside? How will you protect if from the rain?  Do you need to haul it up and down stairs while carrying your baby?

Housing Takeaway:  While you don’t need to indulge in all of the baby accessories on the market, having some of them will make your life easier.  Make sure you have room to store these items, especially your stroller! You will also not want to haul your stroller up and down flights of stairs which makes walk-up condos a challenge for most newborn parents.

 


YOUR WELL BEING


In order to be a good parent, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.  Consider what makes you happy in your house or neighborhood. Are you willing to sacrifice on space and baby accessories in able to have a walkable lifestyle?  Would you rather have a 5BR home to allow for guests and some peace and quiet? Do you want room for in-laws and friends to stay with you when they visit, or would you prefer them to be in a nearby hotel?  

For me, being in a walkable neighborhood where I could easily get out and about was key to my happiness.  I loved being able to go on daily walks with my baby when I was home on maternity leave. We often went out to lunch together or we popped into the office for some adult conversation when I was feeling lonely.  This was especially important to me since I had a C-section and was not cleared to drive for 6 weeks, so we happily walked everywhere during that time! I was willing to sacrifice not having a lot of extra space for visitors to stay with us or to have all of the latest and greatest baby accessories.

Housing Takeaway:  Weigh the importance of space and walkability. This is a personal decision – which is more important to you?  



PARKING


Once I was able to drive, I realized how much nicer it would have been to have dedicated parking.  Often, I would have to put on my flashers to drop off groceries or other items at my front door, get back in the car and drive a couple of blocks to park the car, then walk back to the house carrying the baby in his heavy car seat.  This would have been more difficult if we lived on a busier street, in a condo where I couldn’t put the items I dropped off inside, or if I was concerned about theft.

Housing Takeaway: Dedicated parking is something that will make your life a lot easier!



NOISE


Though I loved being in an urban location with a newborn, I will point out a major negative – the noise factor.  If you live in a condo building, in close quarters to others, or in a location where you often hear sirens, planes or other outside noise, know that if you or your baby sleeps lightly, this could become an issue for you. Sleep in those first few months is so elusive – you want to be sure when you can sleep – you stay asleep!  This also goes both ways – consider whether or not your neighbors will be able to hear your crying baby in the middle of the night 🙂

Housing Takeaway: Note that noise from neighbors or your neighborhood can also be a concern with a newborn.

 

 

APPLIANCES


You will have many loads of laundry with a newborn baby, so I highly recommend having your own washer and dryer that is easy to access.  The last thing you will want to do is go to a basement communal laundry room when you have a newborn! If you will eventually transition to feeding your baby bottles, I would also recommend having a dishwasher that has a sterilization mode on it.  Sure, you can get a countertop appliance that will do this as well, but with all of the other “stuff” the baby will require, this is an easier and cleaner looking option if you are already planning to replace yours!

Housing Takeaway:  A washer and dryer is critical.  A dishwasher with sterilization mode is nice to have as well if you’re in the market for an upgrade.



THE BOTTOM LINE


All in all, not much needs to change with a newborn.  Most people can make their current living situation work.  For the first six or so months, your baby will not be very mobile so will not need a lot of room to roam around and childproofing is not yet a concern. Your baby will also not need his or her own dedicated nursery for several months either.  However, considering the following recommendations for your living situation will make your life a heck of a lot easier.

1. Extra space in your bedroom for a bassinet and a changing station. Once your baby leaves your room, having nursery on the same level as your room.
2. A hangout space on the same level (and convenient to) the kitchen and a bathroom.
3. Storage for baby items – especially the stroller (and you will not want to lug the stroller up and down a lot of stairs)
4. A washer and dryer is important.  A dishwasher with sterilization mode is a “nice to have” as well.
5. If you will need extra help, it’s also nice to have space for in-laws or friends to visit, or for a night nurse.
6. Being able to walk somewhere from your house might be helpful for your well-being, especially if you have a c-section and cannot drive for several weeks.  A neighborhood with sidewalks is preferred!
7. Dedicated parking is always a plus.
8. Consider if outside noise is an issue.

Again, not all of these items are critical, but will make your life easier.  The more complicated stage where you may need to make a housing adjustment is when your baby becomes mobile.  You can read about my recommendations for things to consider with a toddler in our upcoming series.

Ready to think about the next phase of your baby’s life? Here’s what you need in your home with toddlers.

Stay tuned for the rest of our “baby series” for other articles as your child grows and what you need in your home with multiple children!

 

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  1. Hi,
    I think you have no ideas how many moms you help by this informative article. This is super helpful for the mom especially for the new mom. One of my cousins recently became a new mom. I am going to pass this suggestion to her hope so she will be benefited from here. Thanks for your helpful article with lots of information.

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