Why You Should Create a Solid Financial Plan When Expecting Your First Child

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A first child comes with many new responsibilities. Some are more daunting than others, but there is no reason you can’t start tackling them now. One of the most important things to get under control as soon as possible is your finances. Coming up with a financial plan before the baby arrives is the best time to do it.  

Planning Ahead

 

Between setting up the nursery, buying baby supplies, and attending various doctor’s visits, it’s easy to let financial planning fall by the wayside. However, once the baby arrives, it will be even farther from your mind. According to Parents Magazine, most couples who don’t plan ahead run into financial issues around six months after the baby is born.

 

This can lead to significant amounts of stress and cause serious relationship issues. Financial stress has been known to take a toll on mental health. It can also lead to depression and anxiety that affects your physical health. That’s why the best time to come up with a plan is before the child arrives. Proper money management and solid financial health can relieve stress and anxiety and promote happiness. Plus, you can head into parenthood knowing you’ve got your ducks in a row.

 

Find a New Budget

 

The cornerstone of any financial plan is creating a budget. Children are expensive. On top of the larger one-time purchases such as cribs and strollers, you have to account for diapers, clothing, daycare and maybe even formula. Then as they grow, their needs will change and so will your expenses. Time magazine found that the average cost of raising a child to age 17 is $14,000 yearly. Start keeping track of your spending. This helps you to see where you can make cuts to allow for these new costs.

 

There are many hidden costs in owning a home, so you should also think about where your home fits into your budget. If your home is too expensive, you may need to downsize. Consider using a home cost calculator to work the numbers.   

 

Beef Up Your Savings

 

Most money experts will encourage you to have three to six months worth of savings in your emergency fund. This money exists should anything unexpected happen such as job loss or a hefty medical bill. Even if you are the type of person who is on top of their savings, remember that a child will add new monthly expenses. To account for this, the best time to add money to your savings is before they are born.

 

Get Your Estate in Order

 

However unpleasant it is to think about, you need to plan for the worst. In the unlikely event that something happens to you or your spouse, you can take comfort in knowing your child is taken care of. Before the baby comes is the perfect time to look at your assets and decide how you would like to distribute them. It is also the time to decide who would take guardianship of your child in the worst-case scenario. This will save your family a lot of heartache from fighting over your estate and you can have a peace of mind knowing your child will be okay.

 

The New York Times also encourages parents to take a look at their assigned beneficiaries. In many states, certain accounts will distribute to the beneficiary even if it’s noted otherwise in your will. Now is the perfect time to update your accounts.

 

Plan for Their Future

 

Truly savvy financial planners look farther ahead than the next month and even the next year. They’re planning for the long-term. It’s never too early to start saving for your child's college. Consider opening up a college savings plan in their name as soon as possible. These are designed to ensure money goes directly toward your child’s future education. It will help them avoid missing out on financial aid and owing thousands of dollars in student loans.

 

Do Not Forget Your Future

 

It’s easy to get wrapped up in spending all your money on your child. Resist this urge. There is no reason to spend everything on them now if they are going to end up supporting you in your retirement. Keep putting money toward your retirement plan. This will save everyone a lot of stress and future arguments if you are able to support yourself into your golden years.

 

Getting Your Finances in Order

 

As excited as you may be when you are expecting your first child, there will inevitably be a slow creep of stress as the weight of your new responsibilities hits you. Getting your finances under control ahead of time will significantly relieve this. It’s never too early or too late to start planning. The sooner you start, the less stressed you will be.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Guest Blog Contribution dadsolo.com

Postpartum Depression Awareness

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In May we celebrate all Mother's for Mother's Day but May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. To help with this movement the following information is provided to help raise awareness of postpartum and maternal mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares that roughly 1 in 10 woman in the U.S. alone suffer from symptoms of depression. Here is some information on some of the causes, symptoms and resources to get support if you think you or someone else might be experiencing Postpartum Depression. Hormones 

We all know that with pregnancy and post pregnancy comes several physical changes and one thing that could be the leading cause of postpartum depression is HORMONES! In an article about What happens to your hormones after having a baby Dr. Lucy Hooper states that one of the things that happens immediately after childbirth is the birth of the placenta and this causes the body to experience a sudden decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels . This can cause all kinds of physical changes like hair loss and mood swings. This sudden change can cause women to feel overwhelmed and experience low self esteem and breast feeding can prolong these effects. Hormone changes are not the only cause of postpartum woes so pay attention to other things such as suspected domestic violence or other traumatic experiences and don't be afraid to speak up and seek support.

The Signs

It is common for a postpartum mother to experience some type of sadness following childbirth. However, if this lasts more than two weeks you should look for the Early Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression. If you think you might be experiencing something more serious don't be afraid to express yourself. There are several resources to help and it's important to pay attention to your personal mental health but also the health and wellness of your new baby and your family. New father's can suffer from depression as well especially if the mother is suffering and causing a strain on the entire home environment. If you don't know where to start try taking this Quiz to see how you are feeling. Common symptoms include severe mood swings, excessive crying and trouble bonding with your new baby.

Get Help 

If you find that you are suffering from any of the common symptoms you should seek support right away. Try talking to a family member or close friend and contact your doctor for a screening. The support of others often helps us realize that things are not as terrible as they may seem. Focusing on your personal overall health is something that often gets set aside once all the needs of the new baby start, so try to take time to yourself often. If you do not feel like you have someone close enough to talk to you can seek support through other outlets. Postpartum Support International or PSI has a ton of useful information and a helpline. Try to remember to take time for yourself and ask for help when needed. The saying "It Takes A Village" is the truth and caring for your new baby doesn't have to leave you feeling miserable.

 

 

New Parent? Don’t Forget That Self-Care Is Essential for You and Baby!

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New parents can easily get caught up in the to-do lists, diaper changes, feeding schedule, and everything else that comes with having a newborn in the house. But you have to remember that self-care benefits both you and your baby. Here’s advice on the importance of self-care when you’re a new parent.

Putting Yourself First

As a new parent, you realize that suddenly your world is both smaller and bigger all at once. This brand-new life becomes your focus and your entire universe, and you want to protect your new baby. But that little addition to the family is going to take a lot out of you, and you've got to take the time to replenish your own resources, or you won't be able to give your baby everything they need. According to Parents magazine, you need to maintain a balanced life to maintain a joyful life.

It's extremely hard for parents to put themselves first, or even to think of their own needs, but you have to take the time every day to do this. Don't forget to take care of yourself physically by

eating right, getting rest, and exercising. According to BabyCenter, you need to take frequent breaks for your own health. Everyone needs a little downtime, even new parents.

Don't Forget Your Other Needs

You have a lot of physical needs that you need to focus on but don't forget your other needs. You should also connect socially with friends. Take time to acknowledge, feel, and express your own emotions. Get intellectual stimulation by reading, meditate to relax, and work on your hobbies. All of your needs matter, and they all deserve to be addressed.

Dealing With Stress

Newborns bring a lot of joy into your life, but they also bring a lot of stress. New parents often worry about whether they're doing the right things, feeding the baby correctly, diapering properly, and managing all those little chores the way a good parent should. Stress can bog you down in negative thoughts, drain your energy, and make you physically less healthy.

Make sure you're getting plenty of sleep. And when you need it, ask for help. It's okay to acknowledge that you can't do everything alone because you can't. Make it a point to reduce your stress and deal with it in a healthy, positive way. Don't turn to alcohol or drugs to manage your stress, to keep yourself awake, to boost your mood, or to get an extra burst of energy. This is a slippery slope that can lead to addiction, and then you really won't be able to be an effective parent in any way. Substances hamper your judgement, and they very often lead to addiction and abuse, which will only take you away from your child.

Self-Care for You and Your Baby

If you aren’t taking proper care of yourself, then you can’t give your best to your new baby. Make sure you include self-care as part of your parenting routine so you can decrease stress, stay healthy, and set a positive example for your child. Self-care isn’t just for you; it’s also what’s best for your baby, too.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Blog Submitted to The Newborn Care Agency by Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org

Changing Table Necessities

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With an infant comes the responsibility of changing a diaper. Whether you decide to use disposable or cloth diapering, a dedicated changing area can make the whole process much simpler. Our team of Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists have changed more diapers than they can count, and have put together this list of essentials for your changing table to make changing baby a snap! The Changing Area Pick a space that is comfortable for both you and baby, that will remain comfortable until baby is out of diapers (Yay, potty training! We can talk about that later.) This should be a space that is free of breakables and allows baby and caregiver to bond. Some examples that we have worked with include: changing tables, a spare bed, a counter-top, and the floor. To keep baby safe, never leave them out of touch during a diaper change.

The Basics Every changing space should have three things. The baby. A diaper. Wipes.

The Extras To make diapering seamless, you can add in comfort measures for you and baby. These would include things like: -a diaper genie(goodbye stink!) -a waterproof changing mat or liner -diaper creams and lotion to add in some baby massage(we'll talk about this later too!) -a stockpile of diapers and wipes -at least two spare sets of clothing.

Let's get Real You and any other caregiver for your child will spend a fair amount of time diapering. It could even last for many years. Most children will be out of diapers by three. That is a ton of potential quality time that can be spent on the changing table. From the very beginning, taking the time during a diaper change to talk to your child and engage them can lead to huge benefits in their development down the line. Babies love to hear your voice. Even if you are talking nonsense, it is making a difference in their socialization, vocabulary, and emotional development.

Enjoying the Holidays with a New Baby

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It's the Holiday Season; you are making plans to visit friends and family, and they are making plans to see your new baby. Having a new baby during the holidays can be overwhelming. The struggle to please everyone while maintaining your sanity in the postpartum period can make it very difficult to enjoy the holiday season. Throw in going gift shopping with your infant when all you want is to enjoy your baby-moon, and you have a recipe for disaster. There is good news, though! Communication is so important when setting boundaries. Friends and family will not know where the boundaries are if you do not communicate your needs up front. Are you tired? Make it known. If you are hungry, ask for someone to bring you food. Do you need to hold your infant? Tell whoever is holding the baby that it is Mommy's turn. Communicate yours and your baby's needs to everyone in order to maintain your sanity and keep everyone happy! Utilize your resources. Have friends or family that live close by? Take them up on previous offers to help out, whether it be helping to decorate, going shopping with you (or even for you!), and, if you can bear it, let them babysit for some self-care.

 

Baby Wearing

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Baby wearing is an important part of parenting. There have been many studies on the benefits of baby wearing. These studies have found that babies who are "worn" cry less and are socialized earlier. This is due to being included in all the family's activities and being exposed to more language and social interaction, instead of laying in another room passively. Baby wearing is very practical in addition to the social impact on a child. In addition to less crying, wearing your baby increases portability with your infant. Simple tasks for parents are made easier and wearing your baby allows you to meet your own needs, such as eating, shopping, walking the dog, or even working. Using a quality carrier can ensure that parents or care providers can meet the needs of the child while still being able to get things finished.

When baby is happy, parents are happy. When baby is happy, parents are happy, and if there are older siblings, they are happy too. Baby wearing makes it easier to integrate a new baby into the family with older siblings as baby is less likely to wholly monopolize parents' time.

Carriers for baby wearing are an essential tool. As such, it is important to keeps things in mind while choosing which carrier is right for your family.

Things to keep in mind include:

  • What is the main purpose? Short carries or the long haul?
  • Comfort; for both baby and the wearer.
  • Style
  • Who will be the main wearer?
  • Does it need to be adjustable for multiple wearers?
  • Is it hands-free?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • Is it washable?
  • Do you have more than one baby?

If you have questions about baby wearing, there are a multitude of resources available to parents. We suggest: asking your pospartum doula or newborn care specialist; joining a baby wearing group; renting a carrier to find what you like; and reaching out to other parents in your community.

Tackling Cold and Flu Season with your Infant

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It's here. FALL! With the smell of cinnamon, the changing of the colors, and pumpkins everywhere; comes something not so pleasant. Cold and Flu Season! Cold and flu season does not have to be intimidating. There are many things you can do to prevent sickness from terrorizing your house.

  • On a nice day, open up those windows and get the air moving.
  • Change your bedding and towels frequently to prevent germs from building up.
  • Wash your hands!
  • Eat a good diet with immunity boosting vitamins and minerals.
  • Don't share drinking glasses or utensils to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, like doorknobs and light-switches.

Though we can try hard to prevent sickness, a well-stocked medicine cabinet is an essential tool to making it through cold and flu season.

  • Thermometer: A digital rectal thermometer is the most accurate for taking children's temperature. If your child is less than 6 months old and has a fever over 100.4, then it is important to call your pediatrician.
  • Tissues: Red and runny noses are no fun. Be prepared with plenty of tissues on hand that aren't abrasive on your or baby's skin.
  • Humidifier: Adding humidity to the air can be beneficial, especially if there is congestion.
  • Nasal aspirators and Saline drops: Especially for babies who haven't learned how to blow their nose, saline drops loosen up mucous and aspirators clear the nasal passages.
  • Pain Relievers: Infant Tylenol and Motrin can help a fussy baby with a fever, but always make sure to follow the dosing recommendations set forth by your provider.

Cold and flu season does not have to an insurmountable task for your family to accomplish, nor does it have to be stressful. It is something that can be managed with a little preparation in addition to lots and lots of rest. If you ever feel unsure in regards to your infant's illness, then a call to your pediatrician is always a good idea, and it is important to trust your intuition.

Carseat Buying Tips

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Carseat buying can be an overwhelming process. There are so many to choose from, yet they are all basically the same. So, where do we differentiate which one we should choose? Our tips focus on safety, comfort, and personal preference.

Safety

First and foremost, safety is the most important deciding factor when making a decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends rear-facing your child until the age of two or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. A rear-facing child restraint does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash. During an impact, a rear-facing seat distributes the force of the collision over the entire body.

Comfort

You want your child to be comfortable, but don’t forget that it is important for you to be comfortable too.Take time to read reviews on what other parents like or don’t like about a specific seat. Take all their advice into consideration when making a purchase. Some comfort measures can inhibit safety, so it is important that the comfort measures you desire are built into the carseat. Try and avoid aftermarket products that aren’t made specifically for your child’s seat.

Preference

Don’t forget to pick out something you like! Personal preference is important because you will most likely own this item for at least two years. That is a long time to hate the color or pattern on the carseat. When in doubt, stick with neutral colors and patterns.

Buying your child's first carseat doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Just remember to focus on safety, comfort, and preference!  Be on the lookout soon for a more detailed summary of car seat safety. These blogs will include: proper installation of the carseat, buckling in your child, and extended rear-facing your child.

 

AAP: www.healthychildren.org/carseatguide

Tips for an Easy Newborn Bedtime

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Sleep is an essential part of the growth and development of any newborn which is why they spend so much of their time sleeping. Despite the quantity of sleep that babies receive, many parents still struggle to get their child to fall asleep each evening. So what are the common mistakes that we see when it comes to putting an infant down? Keep reading for our tips for an easy newborn bedtime.

Look for the Signs

One of the best things you can do for an easy newborn bedtime is to pay attention to your baby’s sleepy signs. While these symptoms may vary slightly from child to child, all infants exhibit some form of tired signs. Be on the lookout for rubbing eyes, looking away/trouble focusing, arching of the back, or yawning as cues that your child is ready to go to sleep. Once you begin to see the signs, start whatever preparations you may make for bedtime and get started putting them to sleep immediately. An overtired newborn is exceptionally hard to get to sleep.

Light and Sound

Overstimulation is another common cause of difficulty in putting a baby to sleep and avoiding it can go a long way towards an easy newborn bedtime. Overstimulation often occurs because of an inability to process large amounts of stimulation. When an infant becomes overstimulated, they tend to go into a full on melt down and may not respond well to attempts to comfort them. The best way to help an overstimulated baby is to remove sources of stimulation. Take them to a quiet, dark room and swaddling them will provide a calm environment that will help them settle down and eventually go to sleep.

Tank Up

One of the most common things we hear from new parents is that their baby seems insatiable before it’s time to go down for the evening. Often this is part of a phenomenon known as “cluster feeding” where an infant will feed more frequently in the night to sleep longer stretches through the evening. Ensuring that you meet their feeding demand is one of our biggest tips for an easy newborn bedtime. Cluster feeding is one strong exception to establishing a schedule for your child.

The Basics of Paced Bottle Feeding

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Many parents have questions about bottle feeding their breastfed baby. Using a bottle, especially in the early days of your child’s life, can allow the responsibility of feeding your newborn to be shared by both parents. However, breastfeeding mothers sometimes are unsure how to go about successfully bottlefeeding their breastfed baby. One of the methods to quickly help your newborn transition between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding is called paced bottle feeding. Below you can read more information on this technique.

What is Paced Bottle Feeding?

The idea behind paced bottle feeding is to mimic the process of natural breastfeeding but with a bottle instead. It is a technique that puts your baby in control of when feeding sessions begin and end rather than a rigid schedule. This method of bottle feeding forces your child to work harder for their milk and, as a result, slows down their feeding patterns. In part, the added difficulty of retrieving milk from the bottle helps reinforce your infant’s preference for the breast. Therefore, it can allow you to bottle-feed your baby with confidence knowing they will feed more easily and readily from the breast.

Why is it Needed?

Since your child is the one in control of the feed, paced bottle feeding can help you avoid over or under feeding your baby. They will exhibit hunger cues or signs of being full that, when followed, will let you know whether they are getting enough milk, too much milk, or just the right amount. Additionally, because it is designed to mimic breastfeeding, this technique supports your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. For many new moms, the ability to allow their partner to take over evening feeds can make a dramatic difference in their sleep schedule and

How do you do it?

The method is fairly straightforward. First, keep an eye out for hunger cues and when you see them it is time to start the feed. When beginning a paced bottle feeding session, use the nipple on the bottle to elicit a rooting response where baby will draw the nipple into their mouth on their own. During the actual feeding, tilt the bottle only enough to keep milk in the nipple. While you don’t want your baby to swallow a lot of air, maintaining a more horizontal bottle reduces the flow and ensures your child is working for the milk. At regular intervals (20 to 30 seconds or when active sucking stops) tip the bottom of the bottle down or remove it from their mouth to stop flow and bring it back up when they begin sucking to simulate a let down. Repeat these steps until your baby is satiated. For more detailed information check out these blogs from Mama Natural and Motherlove.

San Francisco Baby Gear Rental

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Having a new baby can bring joy to the whole family, but unfortunately, traveling can become a bit of a nightmare. While family members and friends will often do what they can to help accommodate you, it is often prohibitively expensive for them to purchase everything your child may need. Additionally, there are some pieces of gear that you may be hesitant to buy because of cost or the fact that it will only be utilized for a short amount of time. In other instances, it may be a major headache to lug some items through the airport or try to load them into your vehicle for a road trip. Read on to learn about a few San Francisco baby gear rental companies.

Baby’s Away

Family members visiting from out of town that have a baby? There is no need to have them lug all of their gear to your house. Baby’s Away is a San Francisco baby gear rental company that specializes in helping families prepare for visits from friends and families with infants. They offer round trip delivery and setup services, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you put the needed items together correctly. With all but one of their items renting for less than $100 per week, you can make sure your guests have everything they need.

Traveling Baby Company

If you are looking for a company that has a significant degree of flexibility regarding how and where items are delivered for your family, Traveling Baby Company is your solution. As a San Francisco baby gear rental company, they have options for delivering to private residences, rental properties, hotels, airports, self-pickup, and even split delivery/pickup locations. They offer an extensive assortment of car seats and strollers to choose from which is ideal for families flying into the area or those that may want to test out a few options before purchasing one of their own.

Babierge

When you want a bit more choice or can’t quite find what you are looking for from a traditional San Francisco baby gear rental company, check out Babierge. Operating in cities across the country, Babierge works hard to connect families with trusted providers of rental equipment in their area. They even have resources to help you pick out the right rental package based on your travel plans which can be a lifesaver for families who are scared they might forget something they need or who tend to overpack.

Diaper Rash Basics

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There are a variety of issues and ailments that new parents may have heard of but may not understand very much about them. Regardless of how you approach the situation, all newborns are going to need some form of a diaper. As a result, diaper rash is a common issue that arises for many babies. Below you will find some general information on diaper rash and what you can do to help your child recover quickly.

What is Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is a form of dermatitis (inflamed skin) that appears on the skin under a diaper. It is typically seen in children younger than two years of age with most experiencing the rash between nine and twelve months. This three-month window is typical because during this time, infants spend a lot of time sitting and the introduction of solids around this period causes changes in the pH of bowel movements. According to WebMD, the most common causes of diaper rash are friction, irritation, candidal infection, allergic reaction, and seborrhea.

How Do You Know When It Happens?

Identifying a diaper rash is usually pretty straightforward. The rash will be located on the skin under the diaper area and will look red and irritated. It may appear as a patchwork of bright red skin on your baby’s bottom or genital area. While it is entirely possible for dermatitis to form in the folds of baby’s skin, it is not a requirement for this particular type of rash to be present. Aside from the physical symptoms discussed above, you may also observe some mood or behavioral cues as well. Your baby may show signs of discomfort during diaper changes or cry when you wash or touch their diaper area.

How is it Treated?

Most of the time, diaper rash can be treated at home without any need for professional medical intervention. According to Mayo Clinic, the key is keeping the area dry and clean reduce the risk of further irritation. When cleaning your baby’s rash, avoid rough scrubbing and allow the skin to air dry rather than using a towel. If possible, leave your child’s diaper off for as long as you can to avoid worsening the rash. If the rash Is severe or unusual; gets worse despite home treatment; bleeds, itches or oozes; or is accompanied by a fever, seek professional medical assistance immediately.