What are your legal responsibilties when your baby is born?
You’ve done it! You’ve given birth to your beautiful baby and you’re trying not to get overwhelmed by it all.
You will have realised by now there are a million things to think about. Sometimes it can get too much. Thinking about feeds and nappies and keeping baby safe is a full time job, you don’t need to be stressed about money and paperwork.
This post will set out 11 tasks you need to do (or at least consider doing) once your baby is here. I hope that seeing them laid out in black and white will allow you pick one to tackle whenever you get a spare few minutes or hours. That way they’ll not all pile up on you and seem more work than they are.
How do I register the birth?
This is one of the most important. You should be directed on how to do this by the staff at the hospital where your baby is born, or by your community midwife. Some hospitals allow you do actually do this before you leave, otherwise you should go to the local register office.
You need to take proof of identity and your child’s red book. There are also rules on who can physically do the registering which you can find here.
Registering the birth will mean that the government knows your baby exists. This way they’ll be entitled to all the basic rights and benefits the country offers to its citizens.
If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you must register the birth within 42 days. If you fail to do this you could be handed a fine (around £200)!
In Scotland, you need to register the birth by 21 days, so be quick!
Part of the registration process is receiving a birth certificate for your baby. There are two types. There is a long version, with parents details on it and a short version, with only baby’s details. Note they cost £11 per copy so expect to have to pay this when you go.
You can find more information here.
How are my benefits affected when I give birth?
Having a child may mean you’re entitled to extra benefits that you weren’t before (eg further universal credit money).
You need to let all the relevant organisations know. Many local authorities operate a ‘Tell us once’ service where one appointment will allow each of the relevant organisations to be informed. The registrar with whom you register the birth will direct you to this.
When you go to this appointment, you’ll need to take identity documents for each person being named on the birth certificate and details of all benefits being received by the parents and/or others living within the same household as the child being registered.
If the ‘Tell us Once’ service isn’t in operation in your area you’ll need to inform each benefit service you receive separately. You should be able to do this online.
Many people have found the online Universal Credit portal difficult to use, if you have trouble, the telephone helplines can be found here.
Don’t miss out on extra help now baby is here!
You very well may be able to apply for a SureStart Maternity Grant worth £500! You don’t have to pay this money back and it doesn’t affect your other benefits.
- Are pregnant with your first child
- Are pregnant with twins (whether it’s your first pregnancy or not).
- Are receiving qualifying benefits.
You can find information on how to claim here (England and Wales, and here (Northern Ireland).
There’s a separate scheme called the Pregnancy baby payment in Scotland).
As we mentioned above, make sure your Universal Credit account is up to date with the fact you have a beautiful new baby. Your payment should receive a boost to help cover all the costs of being a new parent.
Have a firm plan for ending your maternity leave and going back to work
You’ve got lots of wonderful time to spend with your baby. The last thing you want to think about is going back to work.
Even before the birth you should have had in your head exactly what maternity leave and maternity pay you’ll be getting. If you’re still not sure of these things you need to get it sorted now!
There are other things to think of. What about Keeping in Touch days? You can get any training days or mandatory things out of the way while you’re off so you don’t fall behind on the career ladder when you’re away.
See our post Plan your Perfect Maternity Leave! Avoid the Common Mistakes! for information on all these aspects, including a free printable Parental Leave Plan. We have separate dedicated posts on Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance and Maternity Leave FAQs. After reading each of these you should be well up to speed on what you’re entitled to, and how to get it!
If you don’t live in the UK – what about baby’s health insurance
Ahhhhh!! Everytime I write anything about healthcare on this site, I feel thankful to have the NHS to rely on for my children. Of course you could argue we pay for it through taxation but I think the deal we get is great.
If you live outside the UK and need to sort health insurance for your baby, do not delay!
If your baby is uninsured and needs long term NICU care, the costs could be astronomical, they could financially devastate your family for years and years.
Sign up for child benefit now!
You’ll need to claim Child Benefit separately from the Tell Us Once appointment. The paperwork should be given to you by the hospital when you and your baby are discharged (Otherwise you can download the forms here).
It takes up to 12 weeks for child benefit claims to go through fully. The money is then backdated.
You might be able to have your child benefit claim verified at the Tell us once appointment though. This varies by where you live so ask the registrar when you register.
You’ll get £20.70 a week for the first child and £13.70 a week for each subsequent child.
You have to pay some/all of this back if you’re a high earner. We have a whole series of posts coming soon on childcare, with lots of info about child benefit.
How to protect your baby’s future. Don’t put it off
You’d do anything for your baby. They rely on you for everything and you’ll feel responsible for them forever.
What would happen to your baby if you or your partner died? What would happen if the income that supports them dried up? Would the remaining family have to move house? Could they pay the bills? Would they slide into debt and a financial black hole? You need to put something in place to protect against these awful circumstances.
We’ve created a whole post on how to financially protect your family, it’s being released in the next couple of weeks.
In here we talk about how you can try to protect your children from the financial harms.
We talk about making a will, life insurance and critical illness cover, and also income protection.
You don’t have to get it all in place at once. Taking little steps here and there will have you sorted in no time.
Update your home and contents insurance
If you’ve bought any somewhat expensive baby items (such as a pram, cot or any other furniture) it’s important to make sure your home/contents insurance has them covered for theft or damage. You can name them as specific items too for extra protection.
Register your baby with your GP
If your baby is unwell, you need to be able to access healthcare for them. If you forget to register them and only realise when they’re sick, you’ll have an extra level of stress to contend with.
Plus, they need their routine appointments such as the 6 week check and vaccinations.
You should get a little pink card when you register the birth of your baby with the registrar. You can fill this in and take it to your GP practice or post it.
While you should do this as soon as possible, you should still be able to get an emergency appointment for your baby on the day, at most practices if you need it. If you’re really worried about your baby, call 111 or 999 or go to A+E. Here is a useful NHS resource if you need help.
Arrange appointments with your GP
Now you’ve registered your baby with your GP, it’s time to plan trying to get an appointment. If, like me, you find it impossible to get an appointment with your GP, get on this early!
Your baby will need a routine 6 week check and at 2 months of age will be due his or her first set of vaccinations.
Many GP practices will contact the parents of new babies in preparation for this, but only if they know about the baby (i.e you’ve registered him or her there).
Ring your practice and ask how the routine newborn appointments are done, whether you need to make a standard appointment or if there are special sessions with specific GPs (or nurse practitioners) for them.
Get up to speed with all things childcare!
When your baby is first born you won’t be thinking too hard about who’s going to look after them when you’re back at work, or busy with the million other things on your plate. It’s a good idea to learn all about these things when you get a chance. This will help you budget and plan your return to work as best you can.
We’re releasing posts all about childcare very soon. Follow our Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter pages to find out as soon as they land! These articles will tell you exactly what help you’re eligible for and then you’ll be able to make a childcare plan.
Once you’re approaching the time to go back to work at the end of maternity leave you’ll need to sign up for a government childcare account. This is run through the government gateway system (which is very similar to that used for personal tax accounts).
It will allow you to access, if eligible, the 30 free hours of free childcare for 3-4 year olds and the tax free childcare scheme.
It’s time to enjoy getting to know your baby!
I hope this post has helped you organise your list of baby responsibilities. If you get each of these things ticked off you’ll be in a great position.
If you’ve found this post useful, I’d be super grateful if you’d share it with your friends!