Ways to tell if you are ready to have a baby
Are you ready to have a baby?
Wow, that’s like the biggest question you could ever ask yourself. And there is, of course, no single easy answer.
There are about a billion little hints and tips and indicators that you might be ready, and the exact reason that tells you, in the end, to just go for it will be different than for the next parent-to-be.
There is a difference between being ready and being prepared. You can do all the research and groundwork needed to prepare yourself, but very few parents will actually feel completely ready when the time comes and that little bundle of joy (or dynamite) comes into the world.
But there are a few things that might lead you to recognise that you are at least a little bit ready, however.
How to tell if you are ready to have a baby?
Okay, no matter what happens, you will never have enough of this. There will simply never be enough time to devote to a baby what he needs, as well as give yourself and your other relationships everything that they need as well.
Having a baby means A LOT of compromise and prioritising stuff. So, you will never have enough time to have a baby, but if you don’t have any time at all right now, then you may want to consider waiting or rearranging something.
If you feel like you have no time at all for everything in your schedule right now, but are thinking of having a baby, you might need to assess a few things.
Do you have enough time in your life for a baby?
Ask yourself the following questions:
How many hours a day do you spend either commuting, working at the office, and then working from home or studying after hours? Is it possible to cut any of this back, or will these hours continue?
How flexible would your work be about you needing more family-friendly hours, such as working from home sometimes, starting and finishing at adjusted times, or needing to call in sick to look after your baby or your partner?
How much time do you spend socialising with friends on the weekend, going to restaurants, bars or music gigs? Would you be prepared to scale some of this back?
Do you travel often for work or pleasure? How will a baby fit into this schedule?
Do you play sport on the weekends, or enjoy much time exercising or going to the gym?
Do you like having alone time completely to yourself, such as brunch on a Sunday, a Saturday morning market or time to watch your favourite sport alone and in silence when it is on?
Do you have luxuries that save you time (such as a cleaner, dry-cleaning, take-away food etc.) that you might have to give up if you had less money? How much extra time would things like cleaning and cooking add back into your schedule if you had to factor them in again?
You don’t HAVE to give up anything to have a baby; a baby will fit into your life with other things already scheduled in.
But it will make everything a bit more stretched. Your partner will need more of your time than before as well. You will get less time together as a couple, and less personal time as individuals. Your life will be much easier if you let some things go, compromise on others and sometimes choose sleep or sanity over other commitments.
When a woman has a baby, she will need time off from work; the total amount she takes will vary from woman to woman depending on her circumstances and her wishes. At the minimum, she probably needs a month off to physically recover. Many women will take between 6 months and 2 years to give the baby the best start they can before returning to work. Some are fortunate enough to not have to go into paid employment at all.
But most families with a newborn will need to get by on one income for a time, usually around a year. Before you have a baby, you need to do your maths, and figure out how long you want to take off from work.
It can a really good idea to spend the 12 months before the baby is born trying to live on one income only. This helps you prepare for the time when you won’t have any other choice, and teaches you things like budgeting, and working out what luxuries you might be able to do without.
This also gives you the benefit of saving an entire year of income, which may be very helpful for emergencies, or for the years the mother may be working part-time when the child is young.
You don’t have to have all of your financial ducks in a row before having a baby, but it would certainly help if they are at least in the same pond, or even in the same meadow.
Do you need to be financially stable to have a baby?
Some people think they can’t have a baby until they have bought a house, or paid one off, or reached a certain point in their career. While all of that would be ideal, by then you might be too old biologically to get pregnant.
You can handle having a baby without owning your home or being fully established in your career, you don’t need to wait until everything is settled. Because there may never be a time in your life when everything is settled.
If you don’t have a mortgage that is out of control or a crippling debt that you are struggling to cover, then financially you are probably ready to have a baby. But every extra dollar you can put aside now will also be a bonus.
Babies are tiny little things, but boy, do they need a lot of big stuff!
We would love to buy brand new, the best of everything for our children. We would love to have a perfectly decorated room full of matching items ready for when our baby arrives. But we don’t need to.
Babies don’t care if some of their stuff is second-hand, and once you see how much the cost of everything adds up, you won’t mind if some of their stuff is second-hand too.
Cots, change-tables, baby bath, high chair, stroller and so much more can be bought second-hand and will still be fine. The beauty of babies is that they grow out of things before they wreck them or wear them out, so the used cots and strollers available online are very good quality.
Some things you should really try to buy new however if possible.
A second-hand cot is fine, but ideally, you should buy a new mattress. This is hygienically better for your baby and safer in terms of SIDS dangers, plus then you know it is sturdy and fits the cot well. You should not have any gaps between the sides of the mattress and the crib; it should fit very snugly, so make sure that you measure this.
You should either buy a new carseat, or only take one that you are sure about the history of, such as from friends or family. You do not want a carseat that may have been in a car accident or could be anyway unstable.
You don’t need to buy a new baby capsule if you can’t afford one (which can only be used for 6 months), you can hire these from your council.
A baby capsule is more a convenience than a necessity, and legally you don’t need one of these to carry your baby safely in your car. It can just make it a lot easier to move them in and out of the car when they are asleep, that’s all.
Or you could buy a carseat that reclines for the first six months and then can be turned around and sat upright to last until your child is 4 years old.
We are not going to say that you need to be a part of a couple to welcome a baby into your life. Babies come into the world in many different sets of circumstances and having two parents in a loving relationship is not a requirement to have a baby.
But the same way we can’t biologically get pregnant with just one person, looking after a baby is a big job for someone to take on alone.
The level of emotional support and practical help that a parent needs cannot be put into words. Many, many parents raise children on their own, but very few would willingly choose this path if they had another option.
If you want to be ready to have a baby, the more emotional support you have, the better parent you will be.
If you are in a loving couple, this is fantastic, but not essential. But you will need people to rely on, so having your own family or a strong group of friends who can be there to help you is a massive bonus and a sure sign that you are ready.
If you are in a couple that is struggling, having a baby will unlikely make you stronger, and any difficulties you are having will make being a parent so much harder. You may want to talk to a counsellor about your relationship difficulties because these would be better addressed separately from your desire to have a baby.
This is all just a guide and a start to get you thinking. What works for every parent will be different.
We can never truly be ready because if there is one thing that is true of every baby, it will more than what you expect. But we can do the best we can, and working out some of the stuff above will certainly help.