As you buy things for the nursery or register for gifts, think about your baby's safety.
Your baby's safety and well-being is very important. To help prepare for your baby's safety, you should buy a car seat before your due date. This will give you enough time to read the manual, install the car seat, and know how to use it before you bring your baby home from the hospital.
Your baby should be secured in a car seat each time she rides in a vehicle. Place the car seat so your baby rides facing the rear of the vehicle. Keep the car seat in this position until your baby weighs at least 20 pounds and is 1 year old.
Riding in a rear-facing car seat is the safest position for your baby.
There are many different car seats from which to choose. None is safer than another, but some may be easier to use or may come with more user-friendly options.
The most important things to consider when shopping for a car seat are:
Most car seats for infants have a lower weight limit starting at five pounds. If you think you may have a preterm birth, you may want to consider buying a seat that has a weight limit lower than five pounds or no weight limit.
Infants born less than 37 weeks will also be tested in their car seats to make sure they can maintain their airways in a seated position before going home. Your doctors or nurses can give you more information on testing if it is needed.
Make sure the seat is properly installed according to the manufacturer's instructions. A properly installed car seat should not move more than one inch in any direction.
It is a good idea to have the installation of your car seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician or practitioner.
It is your responsibility to know how to use your car seat. There are many resources available, including classes and car seat checkup clinics, including the following:
All children must be in a five-point harness that consists of two shoulder straps, a lap belt and a crotch strap. A padded tray shield or T-shield is not recommended for newborns and small babies.
Be sure to fill out and mail the car seat warranty card. The company will notify you in case of a recall or other safety notices
Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website at nhtsa.gov for car seat recall notices.
Your baby's crib is an investment because your baby will be sleeping in it for several years. In 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) required new crib safety standards for all cribs made and sold in the U.S.
Using cribs, playpens, gates and walkers without the most recent safety measures puts your baby's safety at risk.
The five requirements are:
For more on crib safety, visit the Crib Information Center on cpsc.gov.
If you have a crib that was made or bought before the improved federal safety standards went into effect on June 28, 2011, the CPSC encourages people to:
If you are using an older crib:
If you are going to use a pacifier, here are some guidelines:
If you are going to use a changing table, choose one that is wide and sturdy. If you are getting a used one, check it carefully for exposed nails and splinters. Consider buying a new pad if the old one is cracked.
Slings and front packs are a convenient way to carry your baby while you shop, go for a walk, or work around the house. They can also be useful in quieting a fussy baby.
There are several different styles. It is helpful to try a style to make sure you feel comfortable wearing it. Read and follow the instructions to ensure that your baby is secure and your baby's head is supported.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts