New Parent Checklist
Created by FindLaw's team
of legal writers and editors.
Deciding to have a child is probably one of the biggest decisions a person can make. Once a person is a parent they're not only responsible for their own life, but also for the life of their child. It's no wonder that new parents and soon-to-be parents experience anxiety. But, preparing for what's to come can help to ease that anxiety. The following article provides a checklist that new parents can use to help prepare them for the responsibility of having a child.
New Parent Checklist: During Pregnancy
- Find out what your healthcare insurance will cover. Determine what kinds of treatment your healthcare insurance provider will pay for. For instance, does the plan cover prenatal and maternity care, is preauthorization needed, what prenatal tests are covered, and how many days can you stay in the hospital after delivery.
- Select a doctor or a midwife to deliver the baby. Choosing whether to receive care from a doctor, a certified nurse-midwife, or a direct-entry midwife will depend on several factors, including where delivery of the baby will occur, whether the pregnancy is high-risk, and what type of treatment the healthcare insurance covers.
- Select a pediatrician. It is important to select a pediatrician during the last few months of pregnancy. Visit doctor's offices, speak to the office staff, and interview doctors. When evaluating pediatricians, consider whether the office is clean, whether sick and well children wait in separate waiting areas, and whether you and the doctor have similar views on childrearing.
New Parent Checklist: After the Birth
- Apply for a birth certificate. To apply for a birth certificate, it is necessary to complete a birth registration form. When a mother gives birth in the hospital, the hospital will request a parent complete the form and will then submit it to the appropriate agency. Some states automatically mail a copy of the birth certificate to the parents, but you may need to request a copy.
- Obtain your child's Social Security number. The easiest way to obtain a Social Security number is to apply for it at the hospital when completing the birth registration form. If you apply later, it's necessary to obtain it at the Social Security office by completing an application and by providing proof of the child's U.S. citizenship, age, and, identity.
- Claim a Child Tax Credit on your income tax return. The IRS allows taxpayers with children under age 17 to claim the Child Tax Credit if their adjusted gross income falls below a certain amount.
- Determine whether you can take a leave from work. The Family and Medical Leave Act grants eligible workers the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period after the birth or adoption of a child or after the placement of a foster child into your home. During an employee's absence, the employer must continue providing the same healthcare coverage as before the leave and must keep the employee's job open.
- Know your right to nurse in public. The federal Right to Breastfeed Act allows a woman the right to breastfeed anywhere on federal property that the mother and the child have a right to be on. Many states also have laws that address breastfeeding in public.
New Parent Checklist: Returning to Work
- Select a childcare provider. Possible childcare options include an in-home childcare provider, a daycare center, a nanny, or a family member.
- Make a plan to pump breast milk at work. Because of the health benefits of breastfeeding, many states have laws that allow lactating mothers the right to pump breast milk in the workplace. Employers, for instance, may be required to provide a private place and a break time for breast milk pumping.
New Parent Checklist: Planning for the Future
- Select a guardian. A legal guardian is a person designated to care for a minor child in the event of the death of both parents. When selecting a guardian consider financial ability, age, religious beliefs, and values and morals.
- Create a will. The function of a will is to distribute the decedent's property according to their wishes. A will can name a trustee to manage the property on behalf of the minor children.
- Buy life insurance. A life insurance policy will provide support to the beneficiaries that survive the policyholder. A life insurance policy is a good way to provide for minor children in the event of a parent's death.
- Save for your child's college education. Begin saving for college early. Ways to save include Section 529 plans, Coverdell ESA's, UGMA and UTMA Custodial accounts, and U.S. savings bonds.
Have Questions About This New Parent Checklist? Talk to an Attorney
While becoming a parent can be equally exciting and scary, planning for being a parent can ease some of the anxiety. If you have legal questions about any aspect of parenting, it's a good idea to get in touch with a family law attorney near you.