Preparation for Parenting: A Beginner’s Guide
When you first discover you’re pregnant, you’re ecstatic. But then reality sinks in: You have a lot to learn and get ready for and only 9 months to do it. Preparation for parenting can seem overwhelming at first, but we’ll help break it down for you in this post.
In this guide, we will help declutter your mind by organizing the steps you need to take and providing the resources to make you feel ready.
Most expecting mothers find it helpful to make a list of all the items they need before the baby arrives. A better idea is to divide your list into two categories: Needs and wants. Putting your wants on another list will help you prioritize what you absolutely need before labor. Other items you can forgo or put off until you’ve saved money.
Here’s an example NEED list:
- Baby cream
- Breast pump
- Crib and mattress
- Sheets and baby blanket
- Baby car sear
- Baby monitor
- Baby shampoo, soap and comb
- Baby attire— clothes, shoes, boots, pajamas, hat, etc.
Here’s an example WANT list:
- Changing table
- Bouncy seat or other premium toys
- Designer baby clothing
- Top-of-the-line baby sheets
- Crib skirt
- Rocking chair
- Baby dresser
- Wipe warmer
Once you’ve written down your list of baby needs and wants, realize that you don’t need to buy everything in one go. Give yourself time to shop around for deals. Perhaps consider purchasing some items from secondhand stores, online secondhand stores, Facebook resell groups, consignment shops or garage sales.
One of the parenting stresses you likely have is whether or not you know enough. To prepare for parenting, there’s plenty of ways to get the knowledge and baby basics you need.
Magazines: If you’re someone who loves magazines, consider picking up a few next time you’re at the store. Today’s Parent, Parents, American Baby and ParentsCanada are all magazines that publish articles about the how-tos of parenting a baby. You can even get some magazines mailed to you for free. To find out how, check out our post about The Best Pregnancy Freebies in 2017.
Parenting Books: The most popular resource parents-to-be turn to is likely parenting books. But with so many options out there, it can be hard to choose. Here are a few ideas to help you pick the right parenting book for you:
- Ask your friends who are parents what books they read and liked.
- Check out the best sellers in the parenting section.
- Check out GoodReads.com or another review site to see if others liked the book.
- What books do your favorite mommy bloggers recommend?
- Check out books geared towards first-time fathers.
- When was the book published? Would the information be outdated?
- Is the author educated and well-known in the field?
- Is the book offered at your local library? (Money saver!).
Attend Classes: Attending classes is a great way to gain knowledge while also making supportive friends in the same situation as you. Many cities and hospitals offer free or low-cost prenatal and parenting classes. A simple Google search for baby parenting classes in your area will give you a few options. If you’re paying for a class, be sure to check reviews online.
If you’re more of a homebody during pregnancy, you can also sign up for a few online parenting courses. Options include:
Online Resources: In today’s word, the most accessible parenting resources are found online. There are plenty of free articles on varying websites that tell you everything you need to know from diaper changing tips to how to handle a temper tantrum. Here are a few great sites to check out:
- BabyDoppler.com blog
- WebMD.com com parenting section
Pregnancy and parenting are full of questions and sometimes you can’t find the answer online. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of totally free pregnancy and parenting hotlines, texts and chats. These are excellent resources when you need trustworthy, expert advice.
Before you have your baby, there are a few housekeeping tasks you should get out of the way.
Baby Budget: Taking care of a baby is expensive, so you should decide beforehand what your budget is and what extra expenses you’ll have. On average, a family will spend about $12,000 on their baby within the first year, according to a 2010 USDA report. Since at least one of you will take time off work, it can be even harder on your wallet. Other than the “startup” baby costs, some ongoing baby costs include:
- Diapers and cream
- Clothes as your baby quickly outgrows them
- Daycare (if you’re going back to work)
- Formula (if you’re not breastfeeding)
Once you’ve determined your after-baby budget, start trying to stick to it during pregnancy. This is beneficial for two reasons: It gets you used to living on a budget and all the savings can go towards your baby.
If you’re expecting finances to be tight, research ways to save money and become conscious of what you’re buying. For example, you don’t need the most expensive, brand-name version of every baby item. Shop around to find cheaper versions or consider buying used.
Choosing a Pediatrician: Choosing a pediatrician early will put your mind at ease should any problems occur within the first weeks. Since the doctor will be in charge of your baby’s health, giving yourself enough time to make the right choice is a good idea. Here are a few factors you may want to consider:
- Does the doctor have any reviews online? Does anyone you know share the same doctor?
- Is the office open late or on weekends? Do the office hours fit within your work schedule (if you plan on returning to work)?
- Is the office located close to home?
Insurance: If you have insurance, be sure you know what costs are covered and what you’ll need to pay for out of pocket. You should also make sure you know how to enroll your baby. Most insurance companies require you to add your child within 30 days after labor.
Your Will: If you don’t have a will, you should create one. If you already have one, you will want to modify it to include who would take care of your child should something happen to you and your partner. You can also designate someone who would look after your child’s money until they become an adult. If you don’t have a will, there’s no guarantee your property or money will go to your child and he or she may not have the guardian you’d like.
Choose a Daycare: If you’re planning on going back to work after maternity leave, you should start searching for a daycare now. Give yourself time to research, visit the place and find the perfect fit. Anticipating how much daycare will cost will help you manage your finances better. Searching early will also give you time to be put on a waiting list in case the place you choose is full. Here are a few points to consider while searching:
- Where is the daycare? Is it close to your home or work?
- How much does it cost compared to other daycares?
- Are there any online reviews?
- How many children are there in a classroom?
- Do you know anyone who has used that daycare? How was their experience?
- When you visit, are the caregivers warm and inviting? Does the place look clean and safe?
Let’s Be Real
Even if you spent your entire pregnancy studying about babies, you’ll never be fully prepared for a baby until you have one. Since pregnancy and parenting is a new experience comparable to no other, it’s likely you’ll have moments where you don’t feel ready. And that’s okay. Parenting is a learning process that never ends, so try to relax and enjoy the journey.
If you feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do to prepare, try decluttering your mind using lists. Apps like WunderList allow you to create multiple lists to store all your different to-do lists. For example, you can have a list for supplies you need, for parenting books you want to read or for the different types of paperwork you need to complete. Getting it out of your mind and onto paper will help you organize the next steps you need to take.
Following the tips above and trying your best to prepare will help you feel more confident. If you’re looking for more information about preparation, check out 7 Things You Must Do Before the Baby Comes.
How are you preparing for parenting? Share your tips in the comments below. If you have pregnant friends or family members, be sure to share this post to help them, too!
P.S. Preparation for pregnancy and worrying about your baby’s health can be stressful. Luckily, our fetal dopplers can help. These handheld, at-home devices allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat while still inside the womb, ensuring you that he or she is safe.