Should You Move Before or After the Baby Comes?

I was 30 weeks pregnant and on my hands and knees, scrubbing out the empty fridge of the house we were leaving. My back hurt. My arms hurt. My womb hurt. My toddler pulled at my shirt, trying to get my attention. There was so much more cleaning to be done, and that was just to close out the old place, not to mention the mopping and dusting that the new house needed.

And then the unpacking. I looked around the rented townhouse we were leaving, gutted of all our things, fighting off tears. All the pregnancy advice flooding my inbox told me not to move with the pregnancy hormones raging — that it would be too tiring, too physically and mentally demanding during a time when I was focused on more internal things. And there I was, doing just that.

Moving After Having a Baby

My husband and I had planned to move after the baby’s birth, but an initial meeting with our real estate agent, not to mention a nasty leak in our ceiling, changed our minds. Lori McAlees, our Realtor in Rochester, NY, said we’d be better off buying before the baby came to distract us — and before the real estate market heated up in the spring. In the brutal month of February, when we found a house that fit our budget and our space requirements, we snatched it up.

McAlees sees plenty of families buying homes with newborns, but she’s in the move-while-pregnant camp; house shopping is a whole lot harder in that post-delivery haze and chaos.

Two years ago, I moved when my first baby was six weeks old, which cut into that precious newborn snuggle time, and while I’m happy we moved pre-delivery this time, some say the postpartum move is the way to go. Why? Read on.

Why You Should Move Before the Baby Comes. Or, Wait — Why You Shouldn’t

Moving while pregnant? Here’s the upside

  • No open house waits for a breast pump. There’s no room for the weary in real estate. If you’re actively searching for a home, you need to be ready to pounce at a moment’s notice, and nursing, napping, and diaper changes make that awfully hard. And if you miss a bit of the open house, you’ve got even less info on which to base your decision. As McAlees points out, you may spend a total of only 20 minutes in a house before you decide to buy it, and you need to make every second count.
  • The nesting instinct is no joke. I found myself with my head deep in the kitchen cabinets of my new home, armed with a toothbrush for scrubbing those hard-to-reach corners. You might reorganize the closets and cupboards, get the linens in order, and even defrost the fridge. You won’t be able to curb the instinct. Research shows that the nesting instinct peaks in the third trimester — better to already be settled in the new place so you don’t have to sort all the baby onesies by color and size twice.
  • If you move after the kid comes, you might screw up his or her sleep. Not to frighten those mamas-to-be, already nervous about impending sleep deprivation, but here’s something to consider: One source notes of moving that “well-established sleep patterns can be disturbed as a consequence of change in a baby or toddler’s environment.” Babies thrive on routine. Believe us: If your baby has finally settled into a sleep rhythm, you’ll do anything to preserve it.
  • Postnatal recovery takes a lot longer than you think. You just pop the baby out and move on to the next thing, right? Some women feel minor-to-moderate discomfort (we could elaborate on that, but we’ll spare you) for weeks — some face serious problems that can affect daily activity for months. Sure, you’re not going to win a weightlifting contest when you’re pregnant by schlepping boxes, but you’ve got to decide which discomfort is worse: pregnancy or recovery.
  • You could save money. I moved while pregnant from a rental into our own house, where our mortgage was cheaper than our monthly rent. We were lucky in the affordability of housing in our area, ranked at the time of the move among the top 10 least-expensive housing markets in America. Though we had to pay a fee to get out of our rental lease, we still saved a total of about $3,000 by moving.
  • You’ll waste spend less money on baby gear. What’s better for your sanity in the early chaos of mothering than an uncluttered house? Let’s say you have a baby shower. Let’s say you receive every co-sleeping, snuggling, distracting, milk-extracting item you could ever, or never, want — plus a diaper swan. If you’re still carrying the kid, you can sift through that stuff, quietly discarding or passing on the unwanted items, before you pack.

Actually, on second thought, here’s why you should move after the baby comes

  • Oy, your aching back: Baby bumps and moving do not mix. The American Pregnancy Association advises pregnant women: Get someone else to do the heavy lifting. Doing so carries a heightened risk of premature labor, low birth weight, and hernia.
  • You’ll have to give up your Formula 409 and rely on vinegar. Nontoxic cleaners like vinegar are the safest for pregnant women to use. As much as we aspire to have the greenest household on the block, we have to admit it: Some of those heavy chemical cleaners do a much better job. Pregnant women need to avoid oven cleaners and products that contain ammonia and bleach. Of course, you might decide to go clean-green after the baby comes, too.
  • You’ll know better what you need from a space. Spend a month or two with the kiddo in your old place, and you’ll figure out what’s missing: Man, could I use a bigger kitchen, or a real laundry room, or an office now that the baby junk has consumed my corner of the living room? After some time with your tyke, you’ll have a much clearer sense of what kind of home to look for.
  • Bye-bye, baby bump! Even if you’re in those weeks or months it takes to recover from childbirth, you won’t have that big baby bump to contend with as you sort and arrange your new space.
  • You’ll make mommy friends a whole lot faster. Babies are a great way to get to know people. Moving with a newborn can feel more relaxing and enhance your social connections in your new home. Many neighborhoods have mommy groups, storytime, and, in some places, mommy happy hour. With a baby in tow, you’ll have instant access to that world of new parents.
  • Newborns are easier than you might think (except the colicky ones). Though first-time moms might not believe it, newborns are pretty easy to manage — they basically just sleep and eat. And poop. Keep them fed, warm, and dry, and they won’t even notice they’ve moved.
  • You could save time. When your new baby comes, time will get even more precious. You’ve heard the cliches — it speeds up to warp drive (it really does!), and you’ll treasure every minute you have with your new one. If you wait to move until the baby is an infant, you can enjoy those early days, and if you’re lucky enough to have maternity leave, you can use your leave to bond with your baby, instead of rearranging the flatware or troubleshooting those inevitable kinks in your new house.

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Tips for Moving With a Baby

To ensure a successful move with a baby, we recommend planning all of your relocation logistics and baby-proofing strategies ahead of time. Here are some strategies and tips to consider when moving with a baby. You can also use our checklist for moving with kids for more tips and to create your own moving timeline.

  • Strategize your packing process. Box up non-essentials first, label all boxes, and leave the essentials (diapers, wipes, favorite toys, blankets, etc.) easily accessible until you get closer to moving day. For more tips and room-by-room packing advice, read our guides on how to pack for a move and how to move a nursery.
  • Unpack the nursery first (well, maybe after the kitchen). Giving your baby a calm and comfortable space is essential, so make unpacking the nursery a priority up there with the kitchen. For more unpacking advice, read our “94 Moving Hacks for Faster, Easier, Less Stressful Moves.”
  • Maintain a consistent routine for your baby. Sure, maintaining a strict napping and feeding schedule won’t be easy, but try your best to keep the baby’s routine as normal as possible during the move. Moving can be stressful for everyone, so keeping your baby on a schedule will also help you maintain your own sanity.
  • Keep your baby safe in transit. If you are renting a moving van there may not be a car seat (or even room for the baby), so you’ll need to make sure you have both, or you have someone to safely transport the baby in another vehicle while you drive a moving van.
  • Enlist help. We recommend enlisting a babysitter, family member or friend to watch your baby during the move – whether at your old home, new home, or somewhere separate altogether.
  • Babyproof your new home. The last (and most important) step is to babyproof your new home as soon as possible, even if it will be a while till your baby starts walking. This includes installing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, securing furniture and windows, and much more. For more information, read our guide on how to create a babyproof plan before the move, and “15 Questions to Ask When Buying a Home with Kids.”
  • Remain calm. We know, easy to say yet not so easy to follow this obvious advice. However, babies pick up on the stressful emotions of their parents and everyone else around them. Not to mention, changes in the routine like sleep and eating can feel disruptive. If you are calm your baby will pick up on that and who knows, maybe this will lead to less stress all around.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moving While Pregnant or With a Baby

  • Should I move during pregnancy or after?
    It depends on many factors, including your circumstances, how your pregnancy is going, financial considerations, logistics, your timeline, and much more. Only you can decide what works best for you.
  • Should I move after having a baby?
    Moving after the baby has its advantages and drawbacks. After the baby comes, you might be in a better physical and mental state to handle a move. You’ll have the bandwidth to focus on the baby’s birth, have a better idea of just how much space and what type of home you now need, and it will be easier to connect with other parents in your new area. However, postnatal recovery might take longer than you hope, it might be difficult to plan and execute a move while caring for a newborn, and your baby’s routine might be disrupted.
  • How long after giving birth can you move?
    This post-partum timeline indicates that you can resume light exercise and take on light household chores two weeks after delivery, but everyone’s health conditions and circumstances are different. So if you’re outsourcing most of the move’s process, including packing, you can move sooner rather than later. However, hauling heavy boxes is a no-no and a health risk so soon after the delivery. Again, only you can decide what works best for you and your baby.

The Bottom Line

Let’s face it: As with all things parenting, no matter what decision you make, someone (probably a member of your own family) will tell you it’s the wrong one. And thus, as with all things parenting, the trick is this: Go with your gut, even if your gut is hiding painfully behind your giant baby belly.

Moving soon?

It’s time to start planning your move. Fortunately,’s extensive network of reputable and reliable movers makes it easy to find and book the best moving company for the job. All relocation companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move will be in good hands. Best of luck and happy moving!

Should You Move Before or After the Baby Comes?
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