DON’T GET RATTLED WHEN BABY COMES HOME
Lori Z. Bahnmueller
Michigan Credit Union League-YOUR MONEY MATTERS
PLYMOUTH, Mich., June 1, 1999 -- Readers have been quite generous with further advice regarding last month’s article about planning for the arrival of baby. Many offered a number of necessary considerations to ponder closer to delivery, following the birth and after baby comes home. While some of the information was learned the hard way, these often overlooked tips can save expectant parents future mental, emotional and financial strain.
Choosing a pediatrician
This is one of the most important and complicated decisions expectant parents must make so select this physician (or group of doctors) at least three months before baby is due. Confirm that your choice is a part of your insurance network or plan to avoid paying expenses out of pocket. Also make sure this doctor has privileges at the hospital where baby will be born as he or she has to examine and discharge baby.
By calling the hospital, expectant parents can obtain a directory of pediatricians with privileges and the insurance plans they accept along with a directory of participating pediatricians. Comparing the two lists determines your options. The hospital can provide credentials of each doctor as well. Talking to your medical insurance representative should also help streamline this process.
Once the choices are narrowed, evaluating which pediatrician is right for you requires investigation on your part. “Parenting Magazine” notes that finding a physician you trust takes insight as well as instinct so don’t discount any misgivings you may feel. Talking with family and friends who are parents is another way to obtain guidance in your search.
Asking the right questions of your potential pediatrician is a vital aspect in the selection process. A recent article from Parenting Magazine’s Web site (www.parents.com) recommends the following checklist:
* Are there other doctors in your group? If so, can I schedule appointments with you, or will my child have to see the doctor on duty?
* Who covers for you when you’re not available?
* Do you do all aspects of each exam, or does a nurse or nurse practitioner assist you?
* Will you provide written instructions for well and sick baby care?
* How will you handle patient calls? Do you get all messages immediately or is there a staff member who is qualified to differentiate between emergencies and routine calls?
* Do you have a scheduled call-in time for patient questions?
* How can I reach you after hours or in an emergency?
* How soon could I get an appointment if my child is sick?
A part of well-baby care that parents dread, these vaccinations stimulate the body’s production of antibodies to fight communicable diseases. Administered through an injection or orally, they’re given at specific times during your child’s lifetime, primarily during the first year. Surprisingly, some insurance plans don’t cover immunizations. Parents can avoid paying out of pocket for these important visits
Consult your pediatrician or health department physician for your baby’s immunization schedule since all shots must be up-to-date by age two to be most effective. Shots, and some boosters, are also usually required for entrance into kindergarten.
Exercising caution when cutting corners
Every parent has expectations and desires for the nursery but it’s imperative that the essentials remain at the forefront, especially for parents on a budget. Experts agree the four most important pieces of baby equipment include a crib, a car seat, a stroller and a baby carrier. Whether for safety, convenience, nicety or frill, these items don’t have to cost a small fortune. Shop around for the best prices and use coupons whenever possible.
Some of these pieces, like a car seat or crib, should almost always be bought new. However, buying secondhand or using hand-me-downs is acceptable if the items meet current federal safety standards. Check out used baby essentials by calling the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s hotline at 1-800-638-2772 or the Juvenile Products Manufacturer Association at 1-609-231-8500. Clothing should also be checked as some articles, like coats with drawstrings, are no longer considered safe for children.
Friends and family usually express their generosity through baby showers so it’s a good idea for expectant parents to sign up at store gift registries. While some necessities such as bottles and diapers may not be fun and cute they’re no doubt costly so don’t forget to put them on your list, too. If you receive a $100 gift certificate, for example, use it to buy the $30 baby monitor and spend the remaining $70 on diapers or use the extra cash toward a better car seat.