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Ask the Experts: Organizing paperwork Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts: Organizing paperwork

Our new baby just arrived, and it seems she brought tons of paperwork with her. What records do I need to keep, and what can I pitch?

A: High-five to you for considering this question before you end up with piles of paper clutter and are unable to find your child’s vaccination records when it’s time to register for summer camp!

The first step is to decide whether you are going to have a paper or digital system for filing. If you choose digital, be sure to have a backup. If you choose paper, be sure to store crucial records in a fireproof place.

Here’s what you need to hang on to:

  • Birth certificate.
  • Medical records, including:
    Newborn records. Visit savebabies.org to see what tests are required in your state, and request a copy.
    Medical consent forms. These allow other caregivers the right to seek medical treatment in case of emergency.
    Medical history. Each time you visit a doctor, ask for a copy of records for that day’s visit.
    Immunization records. This information is supposed to be kept in a national database, but human errors are possible in entering data, so record your own information to be sure.
    Blood type. A University of Wisconsin study found that 7 out of 10 parents don’t know their baby’s blood type—take note of that information for all family members.
    Cord blood banking records, if applicable.
    Medication records. Keep track of every medication your child takes, and maintain a running list. This will be helpful in case of allergic reactions.
  • Doctor’s contact information. Note office hours, emergency numbers and office policies.
  • Baptism certificate, if applicable.
  • Memorabilia. Keep this category separate from “essential” records.

If you’re not sure about a particular paper, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that would happen if I didn’t have this?” If you can live with your answer, toss, recycle or shred it, and move on!

—Barbara Hemphill, founder of Productive Environment Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina, and author of Organizing Paper @Home: What to Toss and
How To Find the Rest!

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