For first-time parents, knowing exactly how to prepare for and raise a child can be daunting. Luckily, there are countless resources online to help – and we want to be one of them. From budgeting for three to baby-proofing your home, preparing for your first child is both exciting and, yes, completely doable.
Feeding Your Piggy Bank
One of the biggest adjustments that comes with having a child involves managing the influx of costs. While being a parent itself is priceless, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a middle-income family will spend at least $165,000 raising one child to the age of 18. Though that’s a pretty steep number to face, now that you have a basic starting point for your savings goals, skip the worry stage and get motivated with these three steps:
1. Start Saving From Day One: Before your baby arrives, it’s recommended that parents have at least three months’ income saved for emergencies. So, the sooner you start saving, the more financially prepared you’ll feel.
Another opportunity for saving isn’t simply setting aside money. While it’s exciting to buy all new items for your first child, take advantage of hand-me-down strollers or baby clothing from siblings or close friends who’ve recently had children. Anything that a newborn will outgrow in mere weeks or months isn’t worth spending a fortune on.
2. Leverage Life Insurance: Having a baby should bring life insurance to the top of your financial priorities. Before the baby arrives, analyze your family’s financial needs and look at factors such as annual spend, each spouse’s earnings, worth of investments and assets, and costs for your child’s future education. Knowing how much coverage you need is the first step toward managing your family’s future.
3. Don’t Wait to Educate: Education can be a fortune for kids these days, so it’s fundamental to start a college fund for your child early on. Whether this means opening a 529-plan (a tax-advantaged college investment account) or putting aside $100 per month from the time the baby is born. Saving $100 monthly can make a huge impact 18 years down the road – adding up to nearly a third of the cost for college.
Baby-Proofing Your Home
Eventually, it becomes time to baby-proof (the process of turning your home into a fortress) your home. While we know an infant won’t get into anything, you’ll want to get a head start so it’s much less labor-intensive once your baby starts moving around. It happens before you know it. Approach the process one room at a time to make it less overwhelming and to allow for a more thorough job.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, though, because no matter what you do, your baby will eventually find the one thing you didn’t manage to baby-proof. However, the following are important to not overlook:
- Ensure anything sharp (e.g. table edges) are covered with protective casing or cushions
- For any staircases, guard the top and bottom of stairways with baby safety gates
- Use window guards and locks
- Cover all electrical outlets, and keep all cords out of reach
- Keep anything toxic (e.g. medicine, cleaning supplies, make-up) completely out of children’s reach, and use cabinet locks
- For items kept on taller surfaces, move them away from the edge. i.e. plants, televisions, etc.
Nurturing Your Marriage
Mother’s and Father’s Day exist to celebrate everything that parents do for their children, but it’s important to make time to celebrate this journey with your spouse, too. While it can be tough to keep the romance alive in between changing diapers and months of sleep deprivation, there are ways around the madness.
Date nights with a newborn won’t be the same as the two-hour candlelit dinners you had pre-pregnancy, but at-home dinners following baby’s bedtime can be just as romantic. Try making a quick but creative dish together, like this pasta dish. Then, enjoy your meal together by catching up over a glass of wine, toasting to a moment when you were very grateful for the other person – maybe whomever stayed up with the baby at 3 a.m. that morning.
While it may take some time to adjust to the day-to-day transition that accompanies parenthood, raising a child should always be a team effort. Building a strong family foundation doesn’t happen overnight, but thankfully there’s tons of support and advice to be found online that can help with the preparation process.
Expecting a baby for the first time? Parents of a newborn? Tweet your tips and ideas for baby planning @HavenLifeInsure