How to Choose Baby's Guardian

Picking the person or people who will care for baby is a tough decision. These tips can help make the process a little easier.
save article
profile picture of Hasti Daneshvar
Updated November 1, 2017
Hero Image

Not sure who should care for your child in the event that something happens to you? There are lots of factors you’ll need to think about as you consider potential candidates. Of course, it’s important to choose your guardian carefully, but also keep in mind that you can change your decision as often as and whenever you’d like. It also doesn’t need to be just one person. When designating a guardian for baby, you can create a checks-and-balances system by choosing one person or couple to support your children as their guardian, while designating a different person to manage their financial affairs.

When choosing a guardian, ideally you want to pick someone who’s a trusted family member or friend. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a family member, but what matters is that the person or couple you choose is not only willing to serve as your child’s guardian, but also able to raise your child in the same or similar way that you would.

To help you make the decision, sit down with a pen and paper and list your potential candidates and then answer the following questions about each one of them. If you’re deciding with your partner, answer the questions separately and then compare afterward:

  • What kind of relationship does my child have with this person, and vice versa? Do they get along?

  • Am I comfortable with this person’s lifestyle and values? Can my children get the same moral and religious upbringing that I would’ve provided?

  • Is this person able to care for my child? For example, do they have children of their own? If so, can they handle more children? If they don’t have children, would they be able to raise children?

  • Where does the person live? Would my child have to move to live with this person?

  • If I have more than one child, can this person take care of all of them, or would my children have to live separately?

  • Is the candidate willing to serve as my children’s guardian? The person you’re considering might not be willing to accept the responsibility. Therefore, it’s a good idea to find out ahead of time whether this person is willing to take on the task of being a guardian to your children.

  • How good is the health of the person? Are they physically and mentally able to accept the responsibility?

  • Does the person have time to raise my children? Are they a dual working family, or does one parent stay home? Would they need to place my child in day care? If so, am I comfortable with that?

  • What are the candidate’s views on education? Do I want my child to be homeschooled or privately educated?

  • Is the candidate financially secure? Although you don’t want money to be the ultimate determining factor in who raises your children, it’s always smart to pick a candidate who’s financially secure enough to provide stability for your children.

Once you decide, you should discuss your decision with that person to see if they’re willing to accept the responsibility, and make sure to give them some time to think about it. Many parents are worried about giving the designated person the assigned powers right away. To avoid this, parents can leave the signed documents with their lawyer with instructions on when to turn it over. If you choose to do this, then make sure you tell the guardian who they’ll need to contact. Also, one other option you have is to make the power of attorney effective as of a certain date or event, rather than making it effective once you sign the document.

Even if you’re feeling conflicted about your choice, it’s important to name a guardian now—you can always change the designation later. That’s a better idea than postponing the decision completely, since you never know what could happen.

save article

Next on Your Reading List

toddler boy playing on playground
These Cities Have the Best Playgrounds in America, Report Says
By Wyndi Kappes
couple holding positive pregnancy test in bathroom at home
I Got a Positive Pregnancy Test—Now What?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Pregnancy Books-hero
The Best Pregnancy Books to Answer Your Next 9+ Months of Questions
By Martina Garvey
mother holding newborn baby in nursery after recently giving birth
Why a Postpartum Plan Is Just as Important as a Birth Plan
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
smiling father holding newborn baby
10 Weird (but Totally Normal) Things About Your Newborn
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
Grandma happily interacting with her baby grandson, holding his arms up while he laughs.
10 Ways New Grandparents Can Start Off on the Right Foot
By Lexi Dwyer
pregnant woman and her dog at home
Can Dogs Sense Pregnancy?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant couple sitting in their kitchen looking at ultrasound photos
Expectant Parents Want to Know: What Will My Baby Look Like?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
bodily pregnancy kits
Bodily Launches Pregnancy Kits Packed With Advice and Essentials
By Wyndi Kappes
dad and baby at home
These Are the Top 10 Best States to Have a Baby in 2023
By Wyndi Kappes
pregnant woman reading a book on the couch at home
Myth Busters: Bad Pregnancy Advice (and What's Really True)
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
12 Best Pregnancy Journals to Document Your Journey
By Christin Perry
Tanya Ebony nesting party
Viral Post Highlights Why a Nesting Party Is the Celebration Parents Need
By Wyndi Kappes
close up of pregnant woman and girlfriend holding pregnant belly
5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being Queer and Pregnant
By Jessica Lovaas
close up of couple holding hands
The Most Important Thing to Bring With You to Prenatal Appointments
By Ashlee Neuman
pregnant woman listening to a podcast at home while sitting on the couch
The Best Pregnancy Podcasts to Get You Through Those Nine Months
By Nehal Aggarwal
Best of Pregnancy Pregnancy Pillow: Boppy Total Body Pregnancy Pillow
Best of Pregnancy Winner for Best Pregnancy Pillow
By The Bump Editors
Yana Sleep Pillow
Best of Pregnancy Winner: Reader’s Favorite Pregnancy Pillow
By The Bump Editors
Stanley cup best water bottle for mom
Best of Pregnancy Winner for Best Water Bottle
By The Bump Editors
Best of Pregnancy Cookbook: Real Food for Pregnancy
Best of Pregnancy Winner for Best Pregnancy Cookbook
By The Bump Editors
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List