Babies 101: A Guide to Caring for the Newest Georgians
Congrats, parents! You may be exhausted, but you’ve brought a tiny new human into the world and that’s amazing.
Of course, with parenthood comes a whole new laundry list of worries. The state has several programs and initiatives dedicated to making sure that your baby’s life starts on the right foot.
In this post, you’ll find safety tips, childcare options, financial assistance, and even the chance to win big for your child’s future.
Keep Your Baby Safe While Sleeping
Sleep is a limited resource these days, so let’s make sure to do it right. To reduce the risk of sleep-related death in newborns and infants, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Safe to Sleep Campaign reminds parents the ABC’s of safe sleep:
- Alone – Your baby should sleep alone in their own space, never in the same bed as the caretaker.
- Back – Place your baby on their back to sleep, including naps and at night.
- Crib – Make sure your baby sleeps in a crib or bassinet that meets standards set by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
Finding the right caregiver at an affordable rate can seem like an impossible task. But in today’s busy world, it’s nearly unavoidable for families with young children.
Search for child care, day camps, and pre-kindergarten programs near you online. You can narrow your search to include only “Quality Rated Providers.” This means you’ll see programs with a star rating, based on factors such as the quality of their education, environment, and family engagement. Even one star ratings indicate a commitment to exceptional standards and continual improvement.
As you’re filtering through your search results, also take note of whether or not the program is licensed. Since licensed programs are required to comply with state guidelines, you can be sure your child is in a safe and healthy environment.
Facilities for licensed programs must be:
- Inspected, unannounced, at least twice per year
- Cleaned and sanitized routinely
- Smoke-free during hours of operation
Staff must include:
- Someone on-site who is trained in CPR and First Aid whenever children are present
- Only those with satisfactory criminal background checks
- Only teachers and directors with at least 10 hours of applicable training per year
Support for Low-Income Families
You can search for child care programs that offer free or reduced-cost meals on the Department of Early Care and Learning’s website. In the search section, select “Child Care” under “Program Types” and enter your ZIP Code. You can also use this search engine to find summer food programs in your area.
As your family grows, it becomes more important to track your budget. No matter how much you love your new bundle of joy, you can’t escape the fact that money might be a bit tighter than it was a year ago.
That said, there are a few state programs to help:
- Planning For Healthy Babies (P4HB) — P4HB expands Medicaid eligibility to qualified women for family planning services. Women who give birth to babies weighing less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces can access additional services.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — TANF provides monthly financial assistance for eligible low-income families.
- The Women, Infants, and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) — WIC provides food to low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children under age 5.
And of course, you can also look into child care options for low-income families listed above.
If you are a low-income family, you may be able to receive free learning and development services for your child. Head Start (for children 3 to 5 years old) and Early Head Start (for infants and toddlers) offer social, emotional, health, mental health, dental, nutrition, and family services. Some Early Head Start programs also serve pregnant women.
Children of the appropriate age on September 1 of the current year are eligible for services if any of the follow are true:
- They are in a low-income family, according to federal poverty guidelines
- They are in foster care
- They are homeless
- They are in a family receiving public assistance — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income
Contact a Head Start or Early Head Start program in your community for local requirements. And please keep in mind that eligibility does not guarantee a spot in a program, due to limited funding.
Learn how to apply for Head Start or Early Head Start from the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center.
Sponsor Your Baby’s Education
After a baby shower or two, you’ll probably have more than enough cute outfits and jingly toys. You’ll of course be grateful for whatever your friends and family give you, but your baby can only wear so many onesies before outgrowing them all.
As you prep your registry, consider asking for something future-focused — a contribution to a Path2College account.
A Path2College 529 Plan allows you to put money aside specifically to cover the costs of tuition and other related fees at any state or private college, technical school, or community college that offers financial aid. This even includes schools outside the U.S.! The money that you save in a 529 plan account is tax-deferred — meaning that it will accumulate over time tax-free. So the sooner you start saving, the bigger it will grow.
The minimum amount to open and contribute is $25. There are a few ways to save, so speak with a financial advisor before starting.
Enter Your Newborn to Win Big!
Path2College is currently holding a newborn sweepstakes! Enter for a chance to win $5,529 towards a Path2College 529 Plan for your child or grandchild, born in 2018 at a Georgia hospital. You can enter once per newborn before April 15, 2019. (Multiple eligible parents and grandparents can enter for the same newborn.)
Good luck and congratulations on your newest family member!