Expectant Parents: A Checklist For Your Path to Parenthood
If you have a baby on the way, you are likely filled with excitement as you get ready for your bundle of joy to arrive. While you may be practicing healthy habits and reading parenting books, at times, it might feel a bit overwhelming as you realize all of the other preparation that needs to take place. Luckily, with a little time and effort now, there are many ways you can prepare for a baby ahead of his or her arrival. Here is a checklist of important tasks you may need to complete to help you get ready.
1. Verify Your Health Insurance Coverage
To help avoid surprise medical bills, brush up on your health insurance coverage. Confirm your plan’s deductibles and any coverage limits, and research in-network and out-of-network providers to determine which group your doctors fall into, says TheBump.com. While many health insurance plans may cover some out-of-network medical expenses, TheBump.com says that most of the time, you will still end up paying more than you would with an in-network provider. After your baby is born, you’ll also want to add him or her to your medical plan as soon as possible and select a pediatrician.
2. Review Your Employer’s Parental Leave Policy
Start making a parental leave plan as soon as possible so you know what to expect when your baby arrives. Consult with the appropriate contact at work to see if you qualify for a parental leave policy, says BabyCenter.com — and if your company does not have a policy, ask if short term disability coverage may be an option. Also, remember that you may be protected by the federal government’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), if you work for a covered employer. This plan protects eligible employees’ jobs for a limited time during an unpaid leave of absence, such as needing to care for a baby.
3. Plan a Budget and Purchase Necessary Baby Items
Having a baby will likely bring on some new expenses, so don’t overlook setting a budget for any necessary items. Some large, one-time purchases you may need to make before your baby’s arrival might include a crib, car seat, stroller, baby monitor, rocking chair or changing table. But, there are also expenses you should plan for when it comes to day-to-day items — such as diapers, formula or baby food, clothing, toys and child care. Keep in mind that family and friends commonly purchase gifts for expectant parents, especially if you are having a baby shower. So, you may want to focus on the larger items your baby will need right away and less on cute outfits or toys until you see what has been gifted to you. Finally, budgeting for your baby’s medical coverage costs or college savings should be another consideration.
4. Make Time For You and Your Partner
While much of the focus will be on your baby’s arrival, don’t forget to make some quality time for yourself and your partner. Nowadays, many couples choose to take a “babymoon” before their little one makes an appearance — but it’s important to get your doctor’s approval to travel first, says Parents.com. Some other things you may want to consider include the timing of your trip, destination safety (for example, you may not want to travel to countries where the Zika virus is a known risk) or creating a plan in case a medical emergency arises while you’re on vacation, according to Parents.com.
5. Childproof Your Home
Some parents wait to childproof their home until their baby can crawl or walk, but it may not be a bad idea to get ahead and start preparing now. According to KidsHealth.org, most accidents at home occur in areas where there are water or choking hazards, the risk of falling, toxic materials or flames present (think bathrooms, stairs and the kitchen, for starters). You should move cleaning products and medicine to a high cabinet, says HealthyChildren.org, and keep all small objects, houseplants and trash out of reach. Remember, even though you can make areas of your home safer, KidsHealth.org says it’s still very important to keep a close eye on children at all times.
Having a baby is an exciting time in your life that will bring many changes your way — and preparing for your baby’s arrival ahead of time may help ease you into these changes. By planning ahead, you can focus less on the last minute stress of a to-do list and more on the joy of welcoming your new baby to the world.
Originally published on June 29, 2015.