There are a lot of administrative tasks associated with being a parent. The Pregnancy Podcast has separate episodes covering big projects like planning maternity leave and finding the right childcare. There are many smaller miscellaneous tasks you are responsible for once your baby is born, from keeping track of pediatrician appointments to updating your finances. This article overviews the administrative tasks you need to take care of as a new parent. Plus how to stay organized and keep track of these new responsibilities. Procrastinating and putting off these responsibilities will take more work or cost you more money or frustration in the future. Being proactive is the key to staying organized and on top of these tasks.
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Once your baby is born, there are a few identification documents you will need to apply for or obtain on their behalf.
A hospital may provide you with a keepsake birth certificate, but your bay will need an official birth certificate issued by the vital records office in your county or state. This document contains your baby’s name, date and time of birth, biological sex, and the names and information of both parents. This document is needed to get a social security number, passport, school enrollment, open bank accounts, etc.
A hospital should provide a form to obtain a birth certificate and should take care of submitting it to the necessary office. If you have your baby at a birth center, they should provide instructions on applying for a birth certificate and may assist you with the process. A home birth may require you to go in person with your midwife to your county records office.
Social Security Number
A social security number is a unique number issued by the Social Security Administration in the United States. Your child needs an SSN for health insurance, to open a bank account in your child’s name, to apply for government assistance, to claim your child as a dependent on your tax return, etc.
The paperwork you complete for a birth certificate may have a box to check to request a social security number. If not, you can apply through the Social Security Administration Office. Applying through social security will require a birth certificate, the SSNs of both parents, and your identification documents.
A passport is an identification document for international travel. If you plan to travel internationally on an airplane with your baby, they need a passport regardless of age. U.S. and Canadian citizen infants are not required to have a passport for travel by land or sea – although they are required to present a copy of a birth certificate. If they are not traveling with both parents, the Department of State suggests a consent letter from the parent not traveling. You can travel within the United States without any identification documents for your child.
There is a passport book and a card. You can use a passport card for land border crossings or ports of entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. You must have a passport book for all international travel by air. If you are applying for a passport for your child, get a book because that works for all travel. If you would like a card, you can also request that for an additional fee.
You must apply for your baby’s passport in person with both parents. You will need to submit an application, passport photos, birth certificate, copy of social security number, proof of identity of both parents, and fees. Although adult passports are good for ten years, children are issued a passport for five years.
If you are planning international travel, you should apply for a passport as soon as possible. Processing times vary depending on the time of year. As of the start of 2023, it can take six to nine weeks. You can also pay an additional fee to expedite processing to three to five weeks. You can find more information about applying for a passport for your child here.
For the first 30 days of your baby’s life, your health insurance automatically covers your baby. You have 60 days from your baby’s birth to add them to your or your partner’s health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, having a baby opens up a special enrollment period, allowing you to enroll outside of the standard open enrollment period.
If you think you cannot afford health insurance, resources are available. You may qualify for Medicaid or subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. If you are in the United States and do not have health insurance, visit healthcare.gov. Any health insurance plan automatically covers all routine well-child visits. If your baby gets sick, it is much easier to get them in to see a doctor and get care if you have health insurance. The last thing you need to worry about as a parent is whether you can afford medical care for your baby. You can learn more about health insurance here.
Your baby should have their first appointment with a pediatrician within the first week they are born. A pediatrician will visit your baby before the hospital discharges you. If you have a birth center or home birth, you need to schedule a visit within the first week. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a schedule of “well-child visits” intended to monitor your baby’s health. These appointments allow you to track the growth and development of your baby and ask questions. Schedule of well-child visits:
The first week (3-5 days old)
1 month old
2 months old
4 months old
6 months old
9 months old
12 months old
18 months old
2 years old (24 months)
2 ½ years old (30 months)
Annually from 3 years old on
The schedule of well-child visits coincides with the CDC vaccination schedule. In the United States, every state has legislation in place regarding vaccines. A state with mandated vaccines can deny your child access to school or daycare if they are not up to date on vaccines. You can view a link to each state and whether exemptions are available here.
Vaccines are a controversial topic. Your goal should be to make a decision based on information, not fear. Two episodes of the Pregnancy Podcast cover vaccines for your baby. One is an overview of vaccines in the first two years, and the other is on individual vaccines. Please talk to your pediatrician about any concerns or questions. If you know that you are opting out of some or all vaccines or plan on doing an alternative schedule, make sure your pediatrician is supportive. Some pediatricians will not accept patients that choose not to vaccinate.
As a new parent, you never want to think about the possibility that you could not be around for your child one day. Welcoming a new member to your family means you may need to update your beneficiaries and your estate plan. You may want to update your beneficiaries if you have any financial or retirement accounts. This dictates whom the accounts go to in the event of your death. Other assets and having a child can be more complicated. Without a last will and testament or comprehensive estate plan, who inherits your assets or gets custody of your children is left up to the courts.
You may not think you need a will, especially if you do not have significant assets. No matter what your financial situation is, a will is a must once you have a child. A will instructs who should take care of your child(ren) if you and the other parent are no longer around. Without a will, the courts will decide who takes care of your child(ren).
Epic Will is an inexpensive and easy way to ensure your family is protected. In addition to the last will and testament, you get the building blocks of an early estate plan, including a healthcare power of attorney, an advance directive, and a financial power of attorney. This is something you can do in as little as five minutes and have peace of mind that your family is taken care of and you don’t have to think about it again. If your life changes, Epic Will gives you free access to update your documents.Use the code PREGNANCYPODCAST for 10% off.
If you have more financial complexity, you may want to discuss creating or updating an estate plan with an experienced estate attorney. Even with a complex estate plan and a family trust, the last will and testament is the legal document that instructs who will care for your children.
There are some bank accounts you may want to take advantage of to put funds aside for your child in the future for education or other purposes.
Having a separate savings account for your child allows you to put funds away and somewhere to keep any gifts from family separate from your accounts. A savings account can be a child savings account or a custodial account. You and your child jointly own a child savings account. Custodial accounts are either UGMA (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act) or UTMA (Uniform Transfers to Minors Act), and these are under your control until your child turns 18. Please talk to your financial representative or bank about which account is the right fit for your goals.
You have additional options if you would like to start saving for your child’s future education. Accounts for educational expenses include a 529 or ESA (Coverdell Education Savings Account). Both accounts consider tuition, fees, books, and supplies for higher education as qualified educational expenses. Either type of account allows you to invest funds that grow tax-free and may be withdrawn tax-free for qualified educational expenses. Non-qualified withdrawals are taxed and hit with a 10% penalty. You are the account owner and name your child the beneficiary. This allows you to maintain control of the account and change the beneficiary to another child to accommodate the different financial needs of your family. Although these accounts share some characteristics, there are important distinctions.
529s expand qualified educational expenses to include tuition and fees for grades K-12, apprenticeship and homeschool expenses, and student loan repayment of up to $10,000 per beneficiary. Each 529 plan is limited to a preset group of investment options. 529s vary by state, and you can open a 529 in another state if there are better options out of state. There are no annual contribution limits, but you may be subject to federal gift tax on yearly contributions over the gift tax limit ($17,000 for 2023).
ESAs (Coverdell Education Savings Accounts) expand qualified educational expenses to include tuition, fees, books, and supplies for grades K-12. ESAs offer more investment options than 529s, and you can choose virtually any stock, bond, or mutual fund. These accounts have an annual contribution limit of $2,000. There are also income restrictions, and you cannot contribute to an ESA if your modified adjusted gross income is more than $110,000 if you are single or $220,000 if you are married and file joint tax returns. You can make contributions up until the beneficiary turns 18. Funds must be used by age 30 or given to another family member to avoid taxes or penalties. You can roll funds from an ESA to a 529 if you decide later that a 529 is better.
Please talk to a financial advisor to determine the best education savings account for your family.
Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account
A dependent care flexible spending account is an employer-sponsored pre-tax benefit account to pay for eligible childcare expenses. This can include a daycare, a nanny, or au pair. You estimate your dependent care costs for the year (up to a limit of $5,000 per household), divide the total by the number of pay periods you have, and those funds come out of your checks pre-tax. When you incur an eligible expense, like monthly tuition for daycare, you submit that to your human resources department or whoever manages the FSA plan, and they reimburse you.
If your or your partner’s employer offers this benefit, you can enroll during the open enrollment period, which usually falls toward the end of the year. Depending on when you have your baby when you need childcare, and when you can enroll, you may need to wait until the following year.
This account operates on a calendar year. A dependent care flexible spending account can only reimburse you up to the amount you have contributed. If you elect $5,000 and only spend $2,000, you lose that extra $3,000 at the end of the plan year. Please consult your employer or a tax professional with any questions about a dependent care flexible spending account.
If your family relies on your income, an insurance policy can provide financial support to your family in the event of your death. Life insurance is a big business, and many types of policies can be very confusing to understand. The simplest and least expensive life insurance policy is a term policy. This life insurance policy lasts for a specified amount of time. For example, if you are having a baby, you may elect a 20-year term to ensure your family is financially taken care of until your child reaches adulthood. Term policies are relatively inexpensive, with an annual fixed premium for the policy’s life.
Many financial advisors and life insurance companies pitch insurance policies as investment tools. While they can operate that way, the main reason to obtain life insurance is to replace your income in the event of your death. Please consult with a trusted advisor if you have questions about life insurance. Be cautious about purchasing a complex or difficult-to-understand policy that is more expensive than a term policy.
Waitlists for Daycare
If you know you will need to put your child in daycare, you may want to consider getting on a waitlist as soon as possible. If you would like to get an idea of whether daycares in your area have availability, call a few in your area and ask if there are openings and how long their waitlist is. Most daycares will require an application fee to be on the waitlist. If you are in a position to pay multiple application fees, you may consider joining more than one waitlist.
I learned about so many adorable keepsake ideas over the years that I wish I had known about before I had kids. It is much easier to preserve keepsakes as you go rather than try and compile them months or years down the line. A baby book is an excellent tool to consolidate your baby’s growth and milestones over the first year or longer in one place. Many books make it easy by providing prompts to place photos and record memories or information.
If you want prints of your newborn baby’s hands or feet, you need to take them when they are a newborn. Those are keepsakes you cannot create later. The same goes for taking a monthly picture to document your baby’s first year. If there are specific things you want to document, plan to record those memories or events as they happen. The easiest way to ensure you preserve some keepsakes from the first year is to designate a box to collect baby items you may want to keep. This could include a favorite onesie they have outgrown, a hand-knit hat they no longer wear, or anything else you feel sentimental about.
If you are already very organized by nature, keeping track of all the administrative tasks of being a parent may be easy. If this isn’t a natural skill, there are a few easy things you can do to help you stay organized.
Keeping Track of Appointments and Deadlines
It is an excellent time to start if you do not already use a calendar to keep track of your schedule. You also need a system so that you and your partner are on the same page with your schedules. You can do this with a shared online calendar or a physical calendar in your home.
At the end of your pediatrician appointments, your pediatrician’s office should schedule your child’s next appointment. They should also keep track of your child’s vaccines and the schedule you have agreed upon for immunizations. You also need to track appointments like your postpartum doctor visits, meetings with lactation consultants, or any other appointments you schedule. A calendar is also a good place to keep track of deadlines, like adding your child to your health insurance.
With a new baby, life gets busy very quickly, and keeping track of your schedule is a must. I encourage you also to schedule fun events, visits, or phone calls with friends and family, self-care, or time for you and your partner. It is much easier to prioritize if you put something on your calendar.
Keeping Documents Organized
With all of the documents and paperwork for your baby, you want to keep records organized. Doing this from the start is much easier than going back through piles of paperwork later. I encourage you to utilize electronic storage and minimize the amount of physical paper you store. There are fantastic apps that make scanning documents from your phone easy. If you need an online storage solution, Google Drive and DropBox are excellent options and offer free plans if you don’t require a lot of storage.
You will need to keep physical copies of a few documents, like your baby’s birth certificate and social security card. It is still a good idea to scan these and have access to them digitally. You should have a place in your home to keep important original documents. That could be a fireproof safe or an envelope in a safe place.
Building Systems for the Future
Managing the administrative side of parenting can be overwhelming on top of all the other duties required to care for a newborn. Communicate with your partner, so you know who is taking care of the tasks covered in this episode. In a stereotypical heterosexual relationship, the mom is the person who tends to take on these additional responsibilities. If your partner is better suited to keep track of these tasks, ask them to take the lead. You may also find it best to split tasks based on what fits better for each partner. Administrative tasks will continue to grow as your child does, and schedules get busier and more challenging to manage. The more systems and good habits you put in place now, the easier it will be in the future.
Thank you to the amazing companies that have supported this episode.
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