Baby On the Way? Here's A New Parent Checklist
Baby news is some of life's best news and all the preparation - the baby names, the baby showers, and the nursery decor - is half the excitement. The reward of all that prep is, of course, the new baby is in your arms (a moment you will *never* forget). From that point on, your life has officially changed. But beyond the bliss of new motherhood comes adulting stuff you might not think of pre-parenthood. Here's a checklist of how to prepare for a baby to make sure all goes smoothly for you, your partner, and your peanut.
Prepare To Feed Yourself
Bringing your baby home for the first time is euphoric and also a crash course in caring for your baby: the feeding, the diapering, the swaddling. You'll be so focused on doing the most important job in the world that you won't have much time to think about yourself, much less feed yourself. Instead, you want to have a meal plan for you and your partner for at least the first few weeks. Stock up on frozen meals or a healthy delivery service so you have food at the ready as you navigate those first few weeks.
Round Up Your VillagePhoto by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
Trust us: you are going to need some sleep breaks. Schedule grandparents to fly in, sisters, brothers, besties, the whole gang and figure out how they can help. Give yourself a week or so to settle in as new parents without an invasion - your baby high will get you through those initial sleepless nights. But then tap your village for baby breaks to get some sleep, self-care or a mini date night. Give them tasks - like unloading the dishwasher, washing the baby bottles, doing the laundry, anything you don't physically need to do yourself (breastfeeding, for example, which is like a full-time job if you're going that route).
Determine Your Family Leave
Talk to your employer/HR dept about their parental leave policy and make a plan for when you will be leaving the office and returning post-baby. The Family and Medical Leave Act grants certain employees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during the first year after a birth, adoption or foster care, but employers vary widely by how much leave they offer and whether or not you'll be paid. Employers are also required to provide the same healthcare coverage you had before you leave. Also, talk to them about your return and any accommodations you may need; for example, a private room for breast milk pumping.
Choose A PediatricianPhoto by Larry Crayton on Unsplash
Schedule follow-up appointments with doctors as soon as you can. Your OB/GYN will want to see you postpartum and you'll want to bring your baby in for their first checkup with a pediatrician. Ask local parent friends for recommendations on pediatricians as you'll want to find the right one for you before baby arrives.
Apply For A Birth Certificate + SS Number
You'll want to take care of this official paperwork at the hospital rather than have to go to any government agencies during those initial weeks of new parenthood. Your hospital team will give you the appropriate forms - all the more reason to have a baby name lined up, including what your family name will be.
Make A Plan For Childcare
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After your maternity and/or paternity leaves, decide whether one parent will stay home with baby or look at your childcare options, whether it's a local daycare, a nanny, or a family member.
Create A Will
It's not something anyone wants to think about, but it's important to make a plan for the worst case scenario. Choose a legal guardian for your baby who would care for them in the event something happens to both you and your partner. When choosing a potential guardian, consider their financial status, age, religious beliefs, and who you would want to parent your child if you were unable to. You'll also want to name a trustee to manage your property on behalf of your child.
On the same note, you'll want to get life insurance to provide financial support for your baby should anything happen to either of you.
Start Saving For College
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No joke - if it's possible for you to establish a nest egg for your babe, you want to start saving now. Look into contributing to a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan to make it easier to pay for tuition when the time comes, and the time will come surprisingly fast.
Take Care Of You
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Remember to give yourself the proverbial oxygen mask first. A baby's care is only as good as their caregiver's. Here's what to expect postpartum and how to care for yourself (and ask for help) while you're caring for baby. Check in on your mental health too and know when you're experiencing more than just baby blues. Make time for important friendships and practice self-care, even if you only have 10 minutes.
You've got this, mama. Check off as much as you can before baby arrives and enjoy those first few weeks before they fly by, because nothing is more true about parenthood than that the days are long but the years are short. ENJOY IT!
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.