Preparing for Baby

Preparing for a new baby is a momentous time. Whether you are trying to conceive or just received a positive pregnancy test, it's natural to feel both excited and daunted by the prospect of parenthood. While adjusting to your changing body and fluctuating hormones, there are appointments to book, gear to buy, and decisions to make.

Fear not: We have plenty of guidance for getting ready for baby while taking care of yourself, too. Start here for ideas on newborn essentials, budget tips, baby names, and more. Advanced planning will allow you more time to recover, relax, and bond with your baby when the time arrives.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to start planning for baby?

    Start by preparing for a healthy pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends meeting with a healthcare provider to discuss your health history, medications you're taking, and vaccinations you need as soon as you think you're ready to start a family.

    Be candid about your lifestyle. It's important to quit smoking, curb drinking, and avoid certain household chemicals to protect your baby from birth defects and other problems. Talk about a nutrition plan to help you conceive and keep your baby on a healthy growth track. Taking 400 micrograms daily of folic acid leading up to pregnancy helps prevent major abnormalities of the baby’s brain and spine.

  • When to start planning for baby?

    It's never too early to start family planning. If you have a partner, share financial and relationship goals well before starting a family. Talk with a healthcare provider about how your age and menstrual cycle patterns may affect your ability to get pregnant.

    Upon a positive pregnancy test, book your first prenatal appointment to plan for screening tests and discuss childbirth methods and options. At the start of your second trimester, once your pregnancy is well established, consider adjustments to your work schedule and living arrangements to accommodate life with a new baby. As any morning sickness wanes, you may feel more motivated to turn to the fun parts of planning, like choosing baby names, making a baby registry, and setting up a nursery.

  • What do I need to plan for a baby?

    First, plan for a healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience. During prenatal appointments, speak with your doctor or midwife about creating a birth plan, which is a set of instructions about how you want to handle labor pains and any complications during childbirth. Another important plan to make when preparing for parenthood is a budget to account for new expenses. Make sure you have health insurance and life insurance plans in place and up to date. As you approach your due date, choose a pediatrician as well as a childcare provider if you know you'll need one.

  • How to be emotionally prepared for a baby?

    It's natural to have some roller-coaster emotions as you experience a changing body and perhaps feel anxious about what kind of parent you'll be, especially with fluctuating hormones. It helps to build a support network well before your due date. If you have a partner, discuss balancing childcare duties to allow for proper sleep and exercise. Reach out to friends, family members, and potential sitters to plan for self-care breaks. If you've had mental health issues, meet with a mental health care expert during pregnancy. Treating stress and anxiety before childbirth can help reduce your risk of postpartum depression.

  • How much to save when planning a baby?

    It's smart to save for a growing family. It costs about $13,000 each year to care for a child and around $234,000 to raise a child from birth through age 17, according to estimates. Contact your health insurance provider to understand what's covered before and after the baby arrives. Research local childcare costs, which range from about $5,000 to $24,000 annually depending on your location. Factor in projected expenses for diapers and other basics, and you'll have a good idea of how much you should aim to set aside to make sure your baby's needs are met.

  • Are healthcare providers needed for planning a baby?

    Yes, healthcare providers are essential for you and your baby. Choose an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN), a family practice doctor, or a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) to monitor your pregnancy and your baby's development through regular appointments and screening tests. If you're having trouble conceiving, a fertility doctor can help. About three weeks before your due date, look for a pediatrician for your baby and schedule childhood vaccinations. Contact your insurance company about in-network providers and ask trusted individuals for recommendations.

  • What are the right diets to conceive a girl or boy?

    No diet will determine your child's sex. Despite what you may have read or heard about high-calorie diets making you more likely to have a boy or acidic foods making you more likely to have a girl, there's no scientific proof for these claims. If there are medical reasons for wanting a boy or a girl, like a sex-linked hereditary disorder, you can talk to a fertility specialist about assisted reproductive technologies. In vitro fertilization with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (IVF-PGD) is a highly effective method of determining the sex of a fertilized embryo before implantation.

Key Terms

Page Sources
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