Preparing for parenthood can be something of an emotional rollercoaster. Addressing a few important practicalities ahead of time can help you to stay calm and collected – we’ve put together your next finance steps after finding out you’re expecting.
If you’re a working parent-to-be, one of the first steps to take when preparing for your baby’s arrival is to tell your employer. From a legal standpoint, you must, as far as possible, inform your employer about the pregnancy at least 15 weeks before the baby’s due date.
This will let your employer plan around your parental leave and assess any health and safety issues for expectant mothers in the workplace. It’s also a good opportunity for you to clarify your maternity/paternity pay entitlements and talk over any plans to return to work.
As tempting as it is to buy all the latest baby paraphernalia, before you blow your budget, aim to prioritise your purchases by making a list of essentials and ‘nice-to-haves’. This will help you decide where you should spend more money – on a high quality pram, cot and car seat, for example – and where you can afford to save a little.
Remember too that friends and family will also want to buy gifts so your ‘baby gear’ will quickly build up. Don’t forget to stock up on the basics too – the last thing you’ll want to do when your baby is born is panic buy blankets, nappies and baby formula.
Making your home safe and fun for your baby’s first steps is one of the best ways to mentally prepare for parenthood. So even if the ‘nesting instinct’ hasn’t fully kicked in yet, use the months leading up to the birth to child-proof your home.
You might be surprised by how quickly your baby starts getting around and getting into things. Put bumpers on any furniture with sharp edges. Store medicines in high safe places. Use holders to keep cords fastened against walls and put outlet covers on electrical sockets. If you have stairs, install gates at the top and bottom before your baby gets mobile. Install window guards to prevent falls.
It’s also worth adjusting your boiler so that water is no hotter than 120 degrees. Finally, make sure the baby has a safe, secure place to sleep – from a Moses basket in your bedroom to a crib in the nursery.
Just like getting married or buying a house, having a child is milestone event that should be reflected in your will. Although it’s the last thing you’ll want to think about, it’s important to make sure that your baby is cared for in the event of your death and that your assets pass on to the right people.
It’s never too soon to begin researching nurseries or childminders in your local area, since the best providers are often booked up months in advance. Make a list of potential childcare venues, research their credentials, reputations and waiting lists.
Also, think about the financial implications of childcare, and work out a ballpark budget. Find out whether family members or friends might be able to assist with childcare, if only for a few hours a week.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is the UK's largest charity for parents. It has a helpline, 0300 330 0700, for practical and emotional support in pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.
The NCT also offers some practical advice on choosing a car seat.
Visit gov.uk for more detail on pregnant employees’ rights.
Looking for information on making or changing a Will? The Money Advice Service explains the different options available.
If you need help or advice around life insurance, contact LifeSearch, an Independent Protection Advice service.