New baby checklist: 8 important to-dos for month 1
There’s so much focus on how to prepare for a baby. But many new parents don’t know about these important and time-sensitive to-dos for after baby’s arrival.
Between round-the-clock feedings and postpartum healing, the first few days with a newborn can feel like a blur. The last thing you want to do is stress about forgetting important tasks for your baby’s well-being — and your own. This simple new baby checklist can help set your mind at ease.
Below are the key to-dos for the first 30 days after your baby is born, plus advice on how to check them off your list. That way you can focus on what’s most important: enjoying this time with your little one.
1. Seek breastfeeding support if you’re nursing.
For most babies, breast milk is the best source of nutrition. It’s been shown to help protect against serious health concerns like:
- Ear infections.
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
That’s why all the major U.S. medical organizations advise 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. That said, if you can’t breastfeed for any reason, know that formula is perfectly acceptable.
While more than 80% of newborns start out breastfeeding, that number drops to 57% at the 6-month mark. That’s largely because breastfeeding can come with all sorts of challenges. It can be enough to derail even the most motivated nursing parent. Struggles include sore nipples, a low milk supply, and problems latching. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The good news: There is help.
Many maternity wards have lactation consultants on hand that you can meet with after delivery. Some hospitals offer free support groups. There, you can connect with a lactation consultant and other new parents for advice and guidance. You can also look for a consultant in your area on the International Lactation Consultant Association website.
Another lifeline: Digital health management tools like Wellframe. You can use the Wellframe app to connect with a nurse, provided by your health plan, who can help guide you through many breastfeeding issues, says Susan Beaton, R.N. Beaton is vice president of health plan strategy at Wellframe. The nurse or customer service advocate can also help you find a board-certified lactation consultant in your insurance network who can offer extra assistance.
2. Contact your work.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) lets you take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for your baby. To qualify for FMLA, you must:
- Work for public agencies (including the government and school districts) or a private-sector company with at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite.
- Have worked for your employer for at least a year.
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past year.
Nine states and Washington, D.C. also passed laws that provide some paid family leave. Whatever your leave plan, you should reach out now to your employer with a tentative return date, says Lauren Brody, author of The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby. This can help your boss and HR department prep for your return and let you know about any paperwork or other steps that need to be completed.
It’s also a good idea to start thinking about the logistics of going back to work. A big one is pumping at work if you plan to keep nursing. “Unfortunately, many women find that it takes as much time to get to the pump room and set up as it does to actually pump,” says Brody. Think about whether you can find a private space closer to your office. You might also want to buy extra parts for your pump. That way you don’t have to spend time at work washing one set.
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3. Apply for your baby’s birth certificate and Social Security number.
If you gave birth at a hospital, you’ll be given the blank forms to fill out for a birth certificate. It’s important to fill them out completely. It may be hard to correct information later.
The form will also ask if you want to apply for a Social Security number for your baby. To do this, you’ll need to provide both parents’ Social Security numbers. If you don’t do it at the hospital, you’ll have to go to a Social Security office with your child’s birth certificate later to apply for a Social Security number.
4. Put your baby on your health insurance plan.
You can add your newborn to your health plan now. It doesn’t matter if it’s not during the Open Enrollment period. Do you have insurance through your employer? If so, you have 30 days from the date of your child’s birth to let them know and add your baby to your coverage. Have a Marketplace health plan? You have 60 days after your baby’s birth date.
5. Add your baby to your will.
Surprised that this is on a new baby checklist? It may not seem important, but you want a legal document in place to make sure your child inherits your estate, says Brody. You also want to be sure they have a legal guardian who is responsible for them until they come of age. Already have a will in place? You can contact your attorney to update your will with your child’s name and birth date. If you don’t have a will in place and can’t afford an attorney to draft one, you can use an online template, says Brody.
6. Introduce bottle feeding.
Once breastfeeding is well established — after about a month — you’ll want to get your baby used to a bottle. That’s especially true if you need to return to work. It’s a good idea to have someone other than you do the feeding, if possible. The reason: Your baby may associate you with nursing and turn down the bottle from you.
Choose a time of day when your little one tends to be more pleasant and patient. It may help to have a piece of clothing that you’ve worn recently nearby, like a pajama top. That way they can smell your scent, which is soothing. But stay out of the room: Your baby may want to reach out for you for feeding if they know you’re close by.
7. Visit the pediatrician.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends newborns get checked out within 3 to 5 days after birth. Bring all your hospital paperwork with you. That might include information about your baby’s discharge weight or any complications during birth.
During this visit, your baby will get the Hepatitis B (HBV) vaccine if they didn’t get it in the hospital. Your pediatrician will review the results of the hearing and blood screenings done in the hospital. They’ll also measure and weigh your baby to make sure they’re eating enough and do a physical exam.
If all looks well, you’ll go back in about a month for your baby’s 1-month visit. Your pediatrician can check your baby’s height and weight again. And they can talk to you about any concerns you might have.
8. Check in with your doctor or midwife.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology now recommends that you check in with your healthcare provider within the first 3 weeks after you give birth. This gives you a chance to talk about things like:
- Your mood.
- Your sleep.
- How your baby is doing.
A thorough visit should be scheduled within 12 weeks of giving birth. If you have questions in the meantime, you can always chat with a nurse via the Wellframe app, says Beaton.
Many health plans offer postpartum support and recovery programs for their members. To learn how to get the most out of your health benefits, ask your health plan about. their offerings.
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