My parents own a home in the Dominican Republic, and they recently decided it was time to (finally!) draft a will and determine how to distribute their assets in the event of, to quote my mother, “Dios lo libre, nosotros fallemos.” My mom is always saying, “No piensas mal, que Dios es poderoso.” (“Don’t think bad thoughts, God is powerful.”) My mother has a lot of faith and, as such, her faith (huge in my cultura) kept her from drafting a will and planning for the inevitable. My mother was also a stay-at-home mom, so she felt she was in full control of her children’s safety.
As a career woman, I am not always with my bebes, as my mom was with us. Knowing that I would be away from my baby for long stretches of time throughout the day amplified my fears. I was determined to prepare for the worst before I had my kids, from creating a will to installing the car seat. Funny story: My husband thinks I went crazy about the car seat. I enlisted the help of thecarseatlady.org to help us install our first car seat. He thought I was being paranoid, but did you know that car crashes are the leading cause of death and injury to children in the US? I have a lot of faith, like my own mama, but those stats are a rude awakening, and I felt empowered knowing that I was protecting my baby by having the car seat installed by a professional.
Whether it’s your first baby or your third, the month before your bebe arrives can be a hectic one. These tips will give you peace of mind in the countdown to baby as you go into this wonderful journey of parenthood.
1. Keep important docs in a safe deposit box. Then, back yourself up with copies and give them to a close relative you trust. This includes: Your will, insurance policies, all family records (birth, marriage), Social Security cards, deeds, stocks and bonds, passports, immunization records, bank account numbers, credit card account numbers, and a detailed inventory of valuable goods (there’s an app for that!). All this can be lost during disasters, so protect yourself.
2. Plan ahead. This is the crucial time to think about who your baby’s guardian will be if the unthinkable happened to you and your spouse. It’s a difficult conversation to have, and my husband and I fought about it many times, but it’s a very important decision to make before you have the baby when life gets really hectic.
3. Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class. You, your family, and your baby’s caretaker should learn basic safety measures like CPR and first aid. These are critical skills and will make you feel more comfortable leaving your bebe with the nanny or abuela.
4. Install your baby’s car seat the right way. You’d be surprised how many people install them incorrectly (nearly half of kids’ car seats are installed incorrectly!). And if you don’t have a car but regularly need to take taxis with your bebe, be sure to pick a car seat that is taxi-friendly. Find them here. Also, don’t hesitate to go to your local police station and ask for help. The officers are likely trained in car seat installation and may even install it for you, for free.
5. Install smoke alarms throughout your home, especially near baby’s bedroom. I never stressed about smoke alarms prior to having a baby, but learning that smoke alarms cut your chances of dying in a home fire nearly in half, I made sure that my family was protected by installing them (and testing them frequently).
6. Purchase a fire extinguisher and get the proper training from your local fire department. I thought this was an easy thing to do: purchase a fire extinguisher and check it off your get-ready-for baby safety list. It’s not that simple. I learned that different extinguishers operate in different ways, and in order to use one effectively, you need to be familiar with the particular model you are purchasing. Imagine trying to read these directions during a disaster or emergency?!
7. Prepare a financial checklist for your bebe. For me it was a no-brainer to open up a college savings account and purchase life insurance for my entire familia shortly after delivery. It’s a way for me to protect my kid’s financial stability and well-being.
8. Enlist a trusted friend or relative who can pick up your kid in an emergency. It may very well be a mama’s worst nightmare: a disaster occurs and you’re nowhere near your baby. If you are unable to get to your child fast enough in a disaster situation, pick someone who can. Most childcare centers will ask for your emergency contact’s information and will ask for your official permission to release your child to that person.
9. Baby proof, baby proof, baby proof! Your newborn infant won’t be crawling up to electrical sockets just yet, but baby proofing your casa is essential to keeping your baby safe. I examined every inch of our apartment and thought about worst-case scenarios like things that could fall on top of a baby in an earthquake (like picture frames or a bookshelf). I thought twice about hanging anything that could move, fall, or break near my bebe.
10. Sign up your baby for swim lessons. Not only is swimming great exercise and a challenging sport, but it is also life skill. You’ll give your baby the confidence he/she needs to develop a sense of security in the water early on.
This post is sponsored by American Family Insurance. All opinions are my own.