So, you’ve had a baby!
Congratulations! Having children is a wonderful experience, but also one that creates extra admin. To help you through it, here is a list of things you may have to do to ensure the well-being of your baby and your sanity. Some things you can do ahead of time to lessen the burden after the birth, and I'll note those throughout.
Announcing the baby’s arrival. This is one of those categories that I chose to minimize the admin, as a formal birth announcement was not important to me. We just sent a picture with the information to our work colleagues, family/friends and posted on facebook. If you want something more formal, make sure to arrange a photographer beforehand. Put together the email list of recipients beforehand, that way you can just add a photo and click send when the time comes.
Medical appointments. Ideally you’ve already chosen and met with a pediatrician before the birth. You’ll have to take the baby to see them within a day or two of being released from the hospital, so call for an appointment. Youll be going to many appointments over the next year so be sure to pick a pediatrician with weekend hours if your work isn’t flexible.
The mother will also have to go see her doctor for post-partum visits usually two weeks and six weeks after the birth. I made these appointments right away because I like flexibility on times and things fill up.
Also, having a baby can be a stressful time. You may want to do a bit of research on therapists within your network before the baby is born because you may not have the mental energy to vet people after the birth. That way you have a plan in case you are feeling down or overwhelmed after the birth.
Keeping track of baby’s health. Most healthcare professionals will want you to keep track of your baby’s sleeping, eating and pooping/peeing stats to make sure the baby is getting enough food. Most of these apps also help you keep track of which boob the baby last fed off of so you can keep them even. We use babytracker for this (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/baby-tracker-newborn-log/id779656557), you may use another one. But you'll need to download it and sync with your partner to start tracking when the baby arrives.
Unplugging – out of office. I have multiple jobs and emails, and I receive a lot of requests from both inside and outside my immediate work networks. I didn’t want to have to respond with the same information over and over – that I was unavailable for the next two months. So I put an out of office on all my email accounts and for one of them, had my assistant monitor it to clear it out for me and forward me anything that needed a response from me.
Put a car in storage. If you have two cars, you may consider putting one in ‘storage’ meaning you won’t drive it for a period of time and can store it in a secure location. It saves money, and at least in my family, while I was recovering and we were bonding with the baby, there weren’t any scenarios in which my husband and I both needed separate cars.
Arranging help/services. Everyone says to have friends and family pitch in for food, etc. This is great to the degree you have it, but in our case, we don’t have family close by and our friends are pretty busy with their own lives. So you may want to consider setting up a grocery delivery, cleaning service or lawn care for about 6-8 weeks after birth, depending on your recovery situation.
Also, make sure to pay for any services you used for the birth, like a doula.
Birth certificates and social security card. When you are in the hospital, you will fill out a form to create a birth certificate for the baby. Make sure to tick the box that you also want a social security card (you’ll need that for a bunch of stuff that I discuss below).
Your social security card should then come in the mail. Your birth certificate will not. You’ll have to order that. It may vary based on state, but here is where I ordered mine: https://www.vitalchek.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxefx-NSa6AIVhICfCh2vmg_BEAAYASAAEgILs_D_BwE&click_id=990510516059832322&ppc=1
You have to pay the outrageous shipping and processing fees no matter how many you order, so I’d get at least two just in case.
You never know! During COVID, we sent one of the birth certificates to the state department to get our son's passport. Five months later, it still hasn't been processed. Luckily, I had ordered two, so we had a copy to get an emergency passport for him in June, which we needed to head to Australia (but more on traveling internationally with babies in another blogpost!)
Health insurance. The rules for what you have to do will vary based on your insurance (and may change from one year to the next – what I had to do in 2018 with my first son was different from 2020 with the second).
But they are all a variation on having to add your new baby officially to your plan. And they only give you a window to do this before you risk not being covered and having all your claims since his birth rejected. For my insurance, Tricare, I had 90 days. However, with Tricare you have to get your dependent added to a system called DEERs and you need the baby’s social security card to do this. If you are in the military, DO NOT just show up to do this. You may have to wait hours with your newborn. Make an appointment online here first: https://rapids-appointments.dmdc.osd.mil/appointment/building.aspx?BuildingId=298&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
Adding a dependent for tax purposes. For each of my three jobs, adding a dependent for tax purposes was different. For one, I had to go through DEERS (discussed above on health insurance); another I changed my elections through an online software system; the third I had to fill out a new W4 and send it through HR. So, youll have to inquire what your work needs. It is worth doing because it reduces your monthly withholding (ie you get more of your money). At the end of the year, there will be additional tax benefits, but Ill discuss those in a separate post. For now here is some useful information on that: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/family/birth-of-a-child/L26LBBTkd
Changing other elections. After an event like a birth, you can change your other elections like how much money you want taken out to use tax free for medical purposes (FISA/HAS) and childcare (max allowed in $5000). So considered changing these elections as well.
Setting up a 529. It seems crazy, but the cost of education is increasing almost eight times for than real wages. If you start saving when they are young, you have to in effect save a lot less. Here is a great LifeKit episode on the various options for saving for college: https://www.npr.org/2019/09/09/759013909/how-to-save-for-your-kids-college-education
One great way to save is to open a 529 – this is an investment account that can be used only for the education of the beneficiary (your child) but has the benefit of being tax-free, even on gains. More information on it here: https://www.sec.gov/reportspubs/investor-publications/investorpubsintro529htm.html. Youll see a social security number to set this up. I got one through my bank, USAA, and have it set to transfer a certain amount of from my checking account into it every month so I don’t have to think about it.
Updating estate planning. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t done this yet, especially if this is your first child. I have another post on the admin of estate planning here:
But if you have this paperwork set up, youll need to add the new child into it as a party to inherit and also the details of guardianship of that child if something happened to you or your spouse. Youll also want to add the details of the 529 account into the paperwork so the executor of the will is aware of these funds.
Nationalities, passports, and other travel documentation.
We travel quite a bit, and I like to make sure the lack of documentation does not prevent us from doing so when we want. We took our first son overseas the first time when he was four months old, and plan to do the same with the second. So, we needed to get passports of various nationalities for each.
First, the passport picture. My go-to is to use a white sheet, put it behind the baby in the car seat for the picture. I didn’t have any troubles getting the picture accepted (Rivka Galchen has a hilarious essay in her book Little Labors about the difficulties about getting a passport when the pictures are not right).
For children’s passports, you have to go in person. The details of what you need to bring is here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/under-16.html
But basically youll need the pictures, birth certificate, a copy of the front and back of the birth certificate, a completed form (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/forms.html), SSN card, a form of ID for you and your partner, and form saying he/she consents to getting the passport if you both aren’t going (form DS-3053 found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/forms.html).
A few tips to save time.
1) You can get an appointment and submit your application at the post office. Here is the link to make the appointment: https://tools.usps.com/rcas.htm. I’ve done this twice successfully, and it has never taken more than fifteen minutes.
2) Photo services. If you want to save time, you can pay $15 to have the passport picture taken at the post office. This is definitely worth it if you are getting a passport for a baby, which may do things in the picture that wont be accepted. Regardless of where you get the photos, the best way to do it with an infant is to bring a white sheet, put it under the baby in a car seat, and then take the baby’s picture.
3) Then you can track the progress of the passport 7-10 business days after you submit the application: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/need-passport/status.html.
For global entry. Whats even better than not waiting in line for customs with global entry is not having to do it when you have babies in tow. My husband and I both have it, so it made sense to get it for our sons too. Many major credit cards reimburse you the global entry fee – if you have that benefit make sure to use that credit card to pay the fee. Also, just a heads up, while youll avoid the lines, you wont be about to go straight through with children. Youll still go through the global entry line, but they don’t have the babies biometric data, so youll have to show the babies’ passports to the custom agent anyways as you go through.
Other citizenship. This is also the time to apply, if your children are eligible, for dual-citizenship.
Note if your children have dual citizenship, they are required to travel to that country on that nationalities’ passport. So in other words, when my children enter and exit Australia, they are required to present their Australian passports. So you’ll need to apply for those too.
Breastfeeding. If you plan to breastfeed, you will probably need a pump as well. For my first son, I bought one through amazon with my FISA money, so I had to submit a claim through insurance to get it reimbursed and upload the invoice through my FISA account on connectyourcare. For the former, the insurance wanted a prescription for the pump so I made sure to get one this time from my midwives before I left the hospital.
This time, Ill also be renting a hospital grade pump from a local breastfeeding center. I used one of these when my first son was in the hospital at 8 months old and it was so much more efficient and hurt so much less, so I’ve decided to splurge. So for this you have to reserve one, pick it up, buy your kit parts, charge it to your FISA account if you have one, then submit claims to both insurance and to through your FISA account.
Buying crap. If you have set up a registry, there may be a completion discount window and diaper discount you’ve qualified for. This is definitely the case with amazon. If $500 was spent off your registry, you qualify for 20% diapers for the year. If you also add those diapers to your subscribe and save items on amazon, you can save up to 40% on diapers, which comes out to hundreds of dollars. So do it. The registry completion discount for amazon is 15%, so we put a bunch of items that we planned to buy ourselves on the registry, so we could get them discounted. These items include expensive things like strollers, car seats, nursery furniture, etc. We also put a bunch of stuff we needed for our toddler on our second registry so we could use the discount as well.
Keeping organized. I created two paper files immediately labeled Name-Medical and Name-Important Docs (for the SSN, birth cert, etc) and created the latter file digitally as well and put into that computer file a pdf of his passport, global entry card, birth certificate, and social security card.
Making memories. I’m big into creating sentimental items that I can easily enjoy – like scrapbooks. My husband and I take soooo many pictures that first year, so I found it useful at the end of each month to 1) organize my photos into albums by month on our computer 2) print around 10 of the best, and then 3) scrapbook those. I got this scrapbook kit that specifies the months: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H1WGLKS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1.
If scrapbooking isn’t your thing but youd like such keepsakes, there are apps like ‘chatbooks’ that puts together photo books based on your phone’s phones – super easy and very affordable (30-60 pages for $5-$15).
We also got one of those milestone chalkboards from etsy, and took a picture (that then went into the scrapbook each month) with the milestones written out.
Lastly, to share with friends and family, you may consider setting up an online photo depository. We use tinybeans (https://tinybeans.com/) I like it because it has a calendar format, with a picture per day. If you are a private person, this type of app is good because it only shares the pictures with people you designate. Note, they usually offer the premiere service at half off for black Friday.
So that’s it! Here’s this life admin in checklist format
New Baby Admin:
Send email with picture through email lists to announce news
arrange post-partum visits
arrange pediatrician visit
download baby tracker and start tracking
set up out of office
put car in storage
order birth certificate and social security card
set up cleaning service
order birth certificates, waiting for those and SS card
put baby on health insurance plan within 90 days
change dependent status with work
change FISA medical elections, dependent care elections
set up 529
update estate planning
baby global entry
baby Australian citizenship and passport
submit pump claim to Tricare, upload documentation to connectyourcare (FISA)
confirm diaper discount on amazon; put diapers on subscribe and save
buy stuff with amazon completion discount
create needed paper and electronic files for new baby
decide on how you want to organize/keep photos
buy milestone chalkboard
set up photo sharing