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How to Prepare for a Gender Surprise

Don't know if it's a boy or girl? You can still start prepping for baby's arrival! Here’s what you need to know when you don’t know baby's gender.
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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated May 13, 2020
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Clothes

No need to worry that you don’t have a stash of little dresses or sporty tees ready to go, says Amy E. Goodman, lifestyle editor at Zulily.com: “I didn’t find out the gender during either of my pregnancies and learned that you don’t lose any time in preparations for baby.” The key, she says, is to stock up on basic onesies in gender-neutral colors—you’ll use these the most in the beginning and your newborn will be in these itty-bitty clothes for such a short while. Plus, those gender-neutral options can be used down the road for new siblings. Going shopping with baby to get your fix of blue or pink is also something to look forward to. “I was eager to shop, and it was the perfect excuse to get out and take baby for a stroll,” Goodman recalls.

Nursery

Lucky for you, gender-neutral colors are extremely popular for nurseries right now, especially gray, which looks great when you mix together different shades and patterns of it. Whether you want a modern, minimalist design or something more whimsical, there are multiple creative ways to paint and decorate the space without gendering it. “I decided on a light green for the lower half of the wall to represent grass, and a sky blue for the upper half, which we dotted with white puffy clouds,” Goodman says. And the best part about a neutral space is you can quickly and easily add more feminine or masculine touches, like some adorable wall decals, once baby comes along.

Watch, Popular Unisex Baby Names:

Baby Shower

While you won’t be able to throw an all-pink princess-themed or all-blue baseball-themed shower, that doesn’t mean you’ll miss out, says Goodman. “When you go public with your decision not to find out, your family and friends will likely tailor their clothing-related gifts in shades of cream, white, yellow and gray. I had a beautiful stockpile of options well into the third and six months of my baby’s life.” Plus, there are plenty of gender-neutral toys, books and baby gear available these days, so guests will have lots of gift options. Even better, not knowing gives you a unique opportunity to have some fun with the gender suspense—serve two cakes (one blue and one pink) and set up a gender prediction board so guests can cast their votes.

Names

True, the uncertainty might mean double work deciding what to call baby, but you can avoid it by choosing a gender-neutral name—which is totally a hot trend right now. Inspiration can strike anywhere, so pay attention to names you hear on the radio, read in a book, see on a street sign or even hear in line at the store. Looking for a unique middle name? Your maiden name may be a viable option whether baby is a boy or a girl.

Health

Even if you’re carrying high and convinced it’s a girl, know where you stand on the big decision that comes along with boy territory—circumcision. There are both benefits and risks to the procedure, but because it’s not essential to baby’s health, the American Academy of Pediatrics says the choice is ultimately up to you. Since circumcision is usually done during the first few days or weeks of his life, talk to your OB and/or pediatrician in advance to get all the facts you need to decide.

You

Let’s be honest: You probably have some preconceived hopes about gender, or general expectations about raising boys versus girls. But now’s the time to let those go, says clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett, PhD. “It’s that idealized picture of what the future and your family should look like that causes disappointment in the first place,” she explains. Gender disappointment, however, is completely normal, so don’t beat yourself up about it. “It’s okay to have these feelings, and it doesn’t mean you won’t be a good parent to this child,” says Bennett. “The bonding and closeness will happen, and don’t forget, you know nothing about that little person who pops out of you. Your son may be a poet and your daughter may love football. When you let go of expectations, you can allow things to unfold more freely.”

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