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Getting Ready for Baby - Illustrated Article

Becoming a parent is one of life's biggest joys and responsibilities. Do all you can do to prepare. Get tips on choosing a doctor for your baby, buying a car seat and safe-proofing your home.

Health Care for Baby
One of the most important things you need to do before giving birth is decide on a doctor for your baby. Don't wait until after you baby is born to choose a pediatrician! Babies need frequent check-ups, shots and sometimes get sick. So you'll want to find a doctor you like and trust.

Some tips on choosing a pediatrician include:

  • Call your health insurance company for a list of doctors covered under your plan.
  • Find out where they trained and how long they've been in practice. Some insurancecompanies and hospitals have this information. Details on some doctors can befound on the DoctorFinder on the website of the American Medical Association.
  • Request an interview with the pediatricians you like best.
  • Find out about their office hours and how they handle concerns and emergenciesafter office hours.
  • Talk with other parents for referrals.

To get regular check-ups and important vaccines, your baby will need health insurance.

If you're worried about paying for health care, there are programs for women and children in need.

Deciding on health care and insurance before your child's birth saves time and gives you peace of mind. If you deliver at a hospital where your pediatrician normally sees patients, she will see the baby right after the delivery. If not, make sure a pediatrician on staff at the hospital sees your baby right after the birth. Then you can call your own pediatrician to schedule a visit a few days after birth. Remember to get your baby's medical records before leaving the hospital. Your pediatrician will need them.

Making Your Home Safe
Your baby is on the way, and there is a lot to think about. Besides making sure that you have baby furniture and clothing for your new son or daughter, you'll want to check that your home is safe. Make sure there are no loose ends, sharp edges or small harmful parts that will be near your baby. Also make sure you have fire alarms or carbon monoxide detectors in your home so you can protect your baby in the event of an emergency.

Shopping for Safety
There's a lot to do to prepare for a new baby. Most parents want to purchase at least a few items before the baby is born. But shopping can be overwhelming. There are countless baby items and every gadget comes in different shapes, sizes and brands. Ask other mothers and check online resources and your bookstore for advice.

One of the most important items to buy for baby is a proper car seat. Most hospitals will not discharge the baby unless the car seat is checked for safety and correct installation. Check out the car seat guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics for tips on choosing and installing a car seat that is safe for your newborn.

Most parents also buy a crib and crib mattress before the baby's arrival. Most brand new cribs and mattresses purchased in the United States are safe. But often used cribs and mattress can put your baby's life in danger. Make sure it conforms to the current government safety standards. Get information on buying a safe crib and mattress at the U.S. Consumer Product Information Safety Commission website. Or call them at 1-800-638-2772.

And don't forget about all the items you'll need on a daily basis like diapers, wash cloths, and burp cloths. If you're having a baby shower your friends and family may ask you what items to buy for presents. Ask other new parents for recommendations on brands and which things to buy.

The National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC) has created a list of items a newborn baby will need to help you shop. We've also included links to web pages with safety information about products that may pose a risk to your baby if safety guidelines are not followed. If you have questions about the safety of products, ask your baby's doctor. When you're feeling stressed about preparing for baby remember this: your baby only needs food, shelter and you. So don't be overwhelmed by the numerous baby products available.

Source: The National Women's Health Information Center
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office on Women's Health



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