7 documents you need in place today to protect your child’s future

Doing this work today can make life for your children easier down the line.

7 documents you need in place today to protect your child’s future

Can I fly with my new baby?  Can I give birth to my child in another country?  What documents do I need to register my child for school?  How do I protect my children if I am unable to care for them?  What would happen if I can’t pick my child up from daycare?

These are questions I hear every day as an attorney—and have faced as a mom.  Whether you stay at home or are a working parent, you know that while having a child is rewarding, it is also a full-time job.  If your child is a minor, you have even more work making sure all of your children’s documents are in place for traveling, school or daycare.

As a mom and as an attorney, I know the importance of these top seven documents you should have in place for your children.

1. Birth certificate

Your child’s birth certificate is the first document you need in place after your child is born.  This document identifies the place your child was born, their birthdate and your relationship to the child. You will need this document for many events in your child’s future, such as boarding an airplane, registering for school or daycare and, inevitably, a driver’s license.

Generally, a representative at the hospital will bring you an application for a birth certificate after delivery.  Once completed, you usually have the option to return this form to the hospital representative or return it by mail.  Once returned, a birth certificate can usually be obtained in 7-10 days by mail.  You should check with the vital record’s office of your county for more details.

2. Social security card

Your child’s social security card is probably the second most important document you should have in place for your child.  This card will obtain a unique number issued to your child that they will use throughout their lives to obtain health insurance, employment and government benefits.

As with a birth certificate, you can generally get the form needed to apply for a social security card from the hospital where you deliver your baby.  If you aren’t provided one or didn’t meet your child at a hospital, you can get the form directly from your local social security office.

3. Health insurance cards

If you currently have health insurance, your child is typically covered by your policy for 30 days. In that first 30 days, you must add your child to your policy to continue coverage. If you do not add your child within those first 30 days, most insurance companies will not let you add anyone to your current policy until your next renewal period.

To add your child to your health insurance, most companies require a copy of your child’s birth certificate and eventually their social security number.

4. Vaccination records

With your approval, your child will get vaccinations at the hospital and then continue a series of vaccinations over the course of their first several years. The hospital will provide you with a vaccination card to record the date and type of every vaccination your child receives.  This record becomes an important part of their medical history and will be needed to register them in daycare or school.  It may also become relevant to diagnose future medical issues.

5. Passport

If you plan to travel internationally with your child or give birth to your child in another country, your child will need a passport.  Regardless of whether your child is one day or 9-years-old, your child will need a passport to travel abroad.

The same procedures for applying for a passport for an adult apply to a child, except you must apply in person and take your child with you.  Additional documentation includes proof of citizenship by you and your child, which can be shown with a birth certificate.

6. Temporary guardianship nomination form

A temporary guardianship nomination form is a document in which you choose who will take care of your children temporarily when you cannot.  Have you considered what would happen to your child if something happened to you and you were unable to pick them up from daycare or the babysitter?  Most people haven’t.  The likely result is that the police would take your children and place them in the care of strangers until a court could sort out who could care for them if you couldn’t, a result that no parent wants.

This can be avoided completely.  By legally documenting temporary guardians for your children and educating their daycare or babysitter about how to proceed if you can’t retrieve your children, you can keep your children out of the system and with caretakers you choose in advance.  At my firm, I provide a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan to make sure your children are never at risk if something were to happen to you.

7. Permanent guardianship nomination

A permanent guardianship form is a document in which you choose who will take care of your children in the event of your incapacity or death.  While it’s important to consider naming short-term guardians for your children, it’s even more important to think about who would raise your child if you could not.  For many of us, it’s as important to make sure that someone we know we wouldn’t want to raise our child does not get that privilege, as it is to keep our child out of the system.

To do that, you must nominate permanent guardians to raise your child in the event that you cannot. By doing this YOU get to choose that person in advance instead of leaving it up to a judge who doesn’t know you or your family. This last document is so important to me that I have a site that will help you through the process of naming long term guardians for FREE: If you have not already named legal guardians for your children, in writing, legally, use this website now to legally document who you would want to raise your kids, if you can't.

And, if you are at all concerned that you don't know who to choose as guardians, the website takes you through a process of making the very best choice for you and your children.

Unfortunately, most parents (and their lawyers) do not plan for the care of their minor children in the right way, leaving their kids at risk, even if they have a will. I learned this myself after reading the book "Wear Clean Underwear: A Fast, Fun, Friendly—and Essential—Guide to Legal Planning for Busy Parents." I found it so informative myself, as both a mom and a lawyer, that I sought out and became trained in the methodologies taught in the book to ensure no parents in our community would ever leave their kids at risk again due to the common mistakes made in legal planning for parents with young children.

Join Motherly

These new arrivals from the Motherly Shop are *so* good you need them all

Noodle and Boo, Mushie and Plan Toys—everything you need, mama.

Motherhood is hard work—finding great products and brands to make the journey easier doesn't have to be. Each week, we stock the Motherly Shop with brilliant new products we know you'll need and love from brands and makers that really care.

So, what's new this week?

Noodle and Boo: Holistic baby skin care

Through working with chemists who specialize in natural and holistic skin care, Noodle and Boo has developed exclusive formulas that nourish, replenish and protect especially delicate, eczema-prone and sensitive skin—including laundry detergent. Their signature, obsession-worthy scent—which is subtly sweet, pure and fresh—is the closest thing to bottling up "baby smell" we've ever found.

Mushie: Kids' dinnerware that actually looks great

We're totally crushing on Mushie's minimalist dinnerware for kids. Their innovative baby and toddler products leverage Swedish design to marry both form and function while putting safety front and center. Everything is created in soft, muted colors from BPA-free materials.

Plan Toys: Open-ended toys that last

Corralling and cleaning up the toys becomes less stressful when you bring home fewer, better, more beautiful ones. Plan Toys checks all the boxes. Made from re-purposed rubber wood, they're better for the planet as well.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Mushie silicone baby bib

Mushie silicone baby bib

There's no going back to cloth bibs after falling in love with this Swedish design. The pocket catches whatever misses their mouths and the BPA-free silicone is waterproof and easy to wipe down between uses.


Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

We're totally crushing on the soft muted colors that flow with our table aesthetics and the thoughtful high-sided design that helps babies and toddler who are learning to feed themselves.


Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Stocked with everything a new mama needs to care for her little one's delicate skin, Noodle and Boo's nursery essentials gift set is the perfect way to create a holistic and natural skin care routine from day one.


Plan Toys doctor set 

Plan Toys doctor set

Ideal for quiet time and imaginative role play, we love the gorgeous planet-friendly doctor kit from Plan Toys. The rubber wood stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, syringe and reflex hammer pack up neat and tidy into the red cotton case should they need to dash off on a rescue mission.


Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Since we're buying and using hand sanitizer by the truckload these days, we're thrilled Noodle and Boo has made one we can feel good about using on little ones who cram their hands in their mouths 24/7. Not only does it kill 99.9% of germs, but it also leaves hands moisturized as well.


Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

A toy box isn't complete without a set of blocks—and this set is one of our new favorites. The sustainable, re-purposed wood is eco-friendly, comes at a relatively affordable price point and are certain to last well beyond multiple kids, hand-me-downs and even generations.


Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Because their products were developed for delicate and eczema-prone skin, Noodle and Boo's full line of skin care has become a favorite among those with sensitive skin of all ages. This set is the perfect way to pamper the entire family.


Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

No need to sacrifice safety or design with the sustainable dinnerware from Mushie. Their minimalist, functional dishes are perfect for serving up meals and snacks to your tablemates who might hurl it to the floor at any point. They're made in Denmark from BPA-free polypropylene plastic mamas can feel good about and dishwasher and microwave-safe as well.


Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

The best engaging, open-ended toys are the ones that are left out and available, inviting little (and big!) ones to play. These beautiful gem-like blocks make for addicting coffee table play for the entire family.


Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Energy-efficient design isn't just for grown-up real estate. This green dollhouse includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation along with minimalist furniture we'd totally love to have in our own houses.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less

21 questions to ask your partner instead of, “How was your day?”

2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

Keep reading Show less
Love + Village