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third trimester checklist baby on board hat beach

Third Trimester Checklist: 17 Essential Things To Do Before Baby Arrives

Mar 26, 2020

third trimester checklist baby on board hat beach

Third Trimester Checklist: 17 Essential Things To Do Before Baby Arrives

Mar 26, 2020

Baby is the size of a cauliflower and you know what that means… it’s time to get going on your third trimester checklist!

Don’t you just love the fruit/veggie fetus measurements?

You’ll want to get started on this pregnancy to-do list when you’re about 1 month out from your due date.

You might think you’ve got a full 40 weeks, but take it from this first-time-mom who unexpectedly delivered 3 weeks early… you might not!

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Third Trimester Checklist: Here are 17 things to do before baby arrives…

Pack at least 50% of your hospital bag. Keep a list of everything you need to add to it.

If this is your first baby, you probably won’t have to dramatically rush to the hospital when (if) your water breaks, but save yourself the stress and start packing a month before you’re due.

My must haves for the hospital:

One note here: Everyone always asks what kind of bag to bring. Overnight duffle, giant rolling suitcase, etc. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter at all what you pick. Use whatever is convenient and holds all your stuff.

P.S. If you’re pregnant and uncomfortable right now, I’ve got a list of things you can do WITHOUT GETTING OUT OF BED to prepare for your baby. Email it to yourself for later!

Sterilize bottles, pacifiers, and breast pump parts. This is 100% something you want to take care of before baby arrives. I was so glad I had this stuff ready when we came home from the hospital.

The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to put everything in boiling water. Let the parts air dry and then stick them in a Ziploc bag until baby comes.

Soft rubber parts should only be boiled for a couple of minutes. Hard plastic parts need a full five.

third trimester checklist sterilize baby bottles pacifiers breast pump parts

If you’re a first time mom, dad, or caregiver, this post might be helpful (scroll down to #4): 6 Things I Didn’t Know About Bottle Feeding

Note: If you haven’t ordered your pump yet, be sure to add that to your third trimester checklist too! This one is the overwhelming favorite among moms, myself included.

Buy formula. Even if you’re planning to exclusively breastfeed, I highly highly recommend picking up a bottle of ready-to-feed formula to have in the house. (Again, get ready-to-feed — not powder).

We had to syringe-feed Aden during his first few days until my milk came in.

As far as what kind of formula to get… Infant formula is strictly regulated so any kind is fine. You might want to start with whatever’s cheapest and then try out a new one later if your baby has specific GI issues.

These little 2-ounce bottles are perfect for newborns.

Schedule a free car seat installation or check. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 59% of car seats are not installed correctly. This is something you want done right.

There are lots of great organizations that will help you install your car seat for FREE where you live. Check with your local police department and fire department. AAA also offers free car seat inspections in the West.

newborn baby car seat heading home hospital

A CPST from SF Safe was scheduled to come to our house, but Aden was born a couple of days before the appointment. The amazing tech met us at the hospital instead. He installed the seat in the the parking lot and then he came up to our room and showed us how to adjust the straps. All of this was FREE.

Important note: Once you’ve got the car seat installed, remove the seat from the base until you give birth — just in case you get into an accident. It’s cheaper to replace the base than the entire thing. (The NHTSA recommends that car seats be replaced after a moderate or severe crash).

Schedule care for your pets. Try to think ahead a little. Get vet visits out of the way before baby arrives. Make sure you have flea and tick and heart-worm meds.

Make sure you have a plan for your pets for when you go into labor — maybe a boarding facility or a friend who can step in.

chocolate lab english Labrador wearing bandana sidewalk

Barkley’s “camp” allowed us to hold 3 weeks without pre-paying. Amazingly, we didn’t need camp because my sweet friend Suzy came and got him for the night when I was in labor.

If you’re planning on having someone come to your house to care for your pets while you’re in the hospital, make sure you have a spare key and a plan for where to leave it.

Build your postpartum kit. Keep it all together in a bin. Don’t open everything — I ended up returning some extras because the hospital sent me home with so much.

My postpartum must-haves were Depends and Dermoplast.

Get your car cleaned. (Or clean it yourself). This depends on how dirty your car is and how OCD you are. In our case, it was obvious that our dog had been to the beach about a zillion times. I didn’t feel right about putting a clean carseat and a new baby into a dirty car.

Take care of all your beauty treatments. Haircut, highlights, waxing, etc. This isn’t to say you can’t still do these things once baby is born, but you’ll be 100x more tired, more busy, and less interested in your appearance once baby comes.

Finalize your birth plan. I went through the exercise of writing a birth plan, only to realize all of my preferences were for doctors to do whatever they thought was best for my baby.

Writing down a birth plan is good mental preparation, either way. Of course, if you do have strong preferences about anything in particular, make them known.

Wash a few outfits in size NB and size 0-3M. You don’t know which size will fit your baby best. Don’t wash everything — lots of moms will tell you they had big babies and ended up wanting to return all the NB stuff.

Don’t forget to wash swaddle blankets, wraps, burp cloths, socks, hats, wash cloths and bibs.

Note: There’s no need to use Dreft laundry detergent — just use this stuff for baby and the whole family.


Prepare at least one safe sleep space. Putting together a crib or bassinet is an activity you won’t want to be doing when you get home from the hospital. You definitely want to get this ready at least a month before your due date.

swaddled newborn baby sleeping pack n play

We had three places for Aden to sleep: a bassinet in the master, a mini Pack N Play downstairs (pictured), and a crib in the nursery.

Not sure what qualifies as a “safe” sleep space? Read this for an important breakdown of the basics: The ABC’s of Safe Sleep: How To Protect Your Baby From SIDS

Download these apps. This is a 3rd trimester checklist activity that you can do from your bed!

If you’re laboring at home, you’re going to want a contraction timer so you know when to go to the hospital. We didn’t end up needing the app since my water broke and we went right into L&D, so I can’t recommend a favorite here, but they’re all pretty similar.

Huckleberry is the second app you should download. It’s the best baby-tracking app I’ve used. You can easily record everything (frequency of wet diapers, color of poops, length of nursing sessions, ounces fed, sleep windows, medications, etc). You’ll need to keep track of these things while you’re in the hospital and during baby’s first days home. We still use the app to track Aden’s sleep at 7 months.


Build your breastfeeding + pumping station. It’s great to have everything you need in one place once you sit down to feed or pump.

Here are a few things you might want to include in your station:

I kept all of this in a nice little white rolling cart. It was perfect to wheel from room to room as needed!

Pack your diaper bag. It’s great to have this ready to go — again, one less thing to worry about later!

I’ve got you covered with a detailed post on this: The Ultimate Diaper Bag Checklist

diaper bag checklist backpack with baby supplies

Diaper bag essentials! See what’s in my diaper bag.


Set up the baby monitor. This takes a bit longer and can be more complicated than you might expect, so it’s smart to take care of it before your due date.

Things to consider about the placement of your baby monitor:

  • You want to have an unobstructed birds-eye view of the crib.
  • Never place a baby monitor inside the crib. Never attach it to the crib, either.
  • Make sure the cord is at least 3 feet away from the crib to prevent strangulation.

If you need a recommendation for a great baby monitor, check out the one we have!


Build a car kit. Even if you have a fully stocked diaper bag, having a caddy filled with supplies is great. Here’s why:

  • Back up! Just in case you forget to restock your diaper bag.
  • You can store extra stuff that might be too bulky or heavy to carry around in a diaper bag.
  • Sometimes, you won’t want to take your diaper bag with you and this gives you the option not to.
car kit for new baby caddy with diapers new mom hack

What should you include in your car kit? The same essentials you keep in your diaper bag. A few must-haves:

  • Extra muslin blankets
  • Several pacifiers (in case one falls and gets dirty)
  • This portable sound machine
  • Extra Ziploc bags
  • Change of clothes for baby (sized up)
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Hand sanitizer

Familiarize yourself with hospital check-in procedures. Last but not least on your 3rd trimester checklist should be making sure you know where to go and what to do when it’s time to give birth!

 Things you should know:

  • Do you need to register with your hospital before delivery?
  • L&D phone number (save it in your phone)
  • Does the hospital want you to call ahead?
  • Hospital address
  • Where to park when you get there
  • Is there a place to temporarily leave your car if you don’t have time to park?
  • If so, do you need to prepare a sign to put in the window (i.e. Woman in Labor)?
For the sake of a complete third third trimester checklist, I will briefly include the following super basic stuff you probably already have covered!

  • Finalize baby’s name
  • Clean the house
  • Finish perfecting your nursery
  • Plan a date night with your significant other
  • Food prep — or do what we did and get lots of frozen meals
  • If you have other children, be sure to plan for their care

Read this related post next:

35 things to do (WHILE LYING IN BED) to get ready for baby!

I’m a big believer that planning reduces anxiety and I love myself a good to-do list. You’ll probably find that you’re continuously editing your third trimester checklist, so keep it somewhere handy like the notepad on your phone.

Check out the posts I mentioned earlier:

8 Essential Items To Add To Your Hospital Bag Checklist (to make your stay much more enjoyable!)

The ABC’s of Safe Sleep: How To Protect Your Baby From SIDS

The Ultimate Diaper Bag Checklist: Everything You Need, Minus The Bulk!