Are you the kind of expectant mom who buys nothing for her baby until the child has arrived safely and the gender is known? Or are you the kind who has already bought everything the child will need for the next five years? In either case, the baby eventually will need certain things. When you shop, keep these tips in mind:
Some hospitals and the Red Cross offer free or low-cost car seats. If all the new baby paraphernalia is hurting your pocketbook, this is one expense a community agency might be able to cover. Call your local hospital and ask.
Car seat: By law, all children under age five must be strapped into a car seat when riding in a car. This is so important that most hospitals will not release a baby until they are assured she will sit in a car seat on the ride home. This is one time that you have to start thinking like a responsible parent even before the baby is born.
You should buy the car seat this month before you deliver the baby. It's an important purchase that will require some comparison shopping. You'll also need time to practice getting it in and out of the car. Always put the car seat in the back seat-that way it's not directly in the path of an exploding air bag.
Car seats are made in two basic styles:
- Infant seat: This is designed for children under 20 pounds and it faces the back of the car.
- Infant-toddler seat: This can be used by both infants and older children up to 40 pounds. It faces the back for infant use and is turned around to face the front when the baby reaches 20 pounds.
- Slats should be less than 2 3/8 inches apart or no wider than the length of your little finger. If the crib was made before 1985, it might not meet this requirement.
- Avoid cribs with cut-out designs on the head- or footboard. They can trap a child's head.
- Unscrew or cut off corner posts—your baby's clothing can get hooked on one and cause her to choke.
- The mattress should fit snugly. If you can put more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib, replace the mattress.
If you are using a rocking cradle, make sure it has stops so the baby won't be thrown out. And keep in mind that you can use it for no more than three months. By that time the baby will be too big to be left alone in a cradle or bassinet.