Newborn Babies: Getting Ready at Home
Preparing for a new baby doesn’t have
to be overwhelming. Experienced parents have learned that newborn babies just need
basic items at first. These include a warm and safe place to sleep, food, clothing,
Many baby products are available, but
listed below are the essential items you’ll want to have ready for your new baby.
Safety is an important issue when
choosing your baby’s new furniture, especially for the bed. The U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) offers the following advice:
Baby cribs must meet federal
safety standards. These include:
Slats should be spaced no more than 2 3/8 inches (60 mm) apart.
All slats should be
intact, not missing or cracked.
Mattress should fit
snugly. This means less than the width of 2 fingers between the edge of the
mattress and the side of the crib.
Mattress support should be securely attached to the head and footboards.
Corner posts should be no
higher than 1/16 inch (1.5 mm). This is to prevent clothing or other objects
worn by child getting caught on them.
The head and footboards
should have no cutouts. Cutouts might let the baby’s head become trapped.
Drop-side rail cribs are no longer considered safe.
All screws or bolts that
secure parts of the crib should be present and tight.
The crib should not be
placed near drapes or blinds, the CPSC says. This is because a child could
become entangled and strangle on the cords. When the child reaches 35 inches in
height, or can climb or fall over the sides, replace the crib with a bed.
Crib mattress and bedding
According to the CPSC, the
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the National Institute of Child Health and
Human Development, soft bedding may play a major role in SIDS (sudden infant death
syndrome). These groups offer the following advice for infant bedding:
Place your baby on his or
her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety
Remove pillows, bumper
pads, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, and other soft products
from the crib.
Don’t use blankets for a
newborn baby. Instead use appropriate-weight sleepwear or a sleep sack.
Check that your baby’s
head stays uncovered during sleep.
Don’t place your baby on a
waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface to sleep.
Bassinet or cradle
These small beds are helpful and
portable in the first few months. The CPSC recommends following the manufacturer’s
guidelines on weight and size of the baby in determining who can safely use these
products. For safety reasons, look for a bassinet or cradle that has:
A sturdy bottom and a wide
base so it won’t tip over
Smooth surfaces. This
means no staples or other hardware sticking out that could hurt the baby.
Legs with strong locks to
keep it from folding while in use
A firm mattress that fits snugly
Changing tables are a convenient
place to change your baby’s diaper. Always use straps to prevent your baby from
falling. But straps are not a substitute for constant supervision.
These provide enclosed areas
where a baby can nap or play safely. The CPSC recommends never leaving a baby in a
mesh playpen or crib with the drop-side down. Even a very young baby can roll into
the space between the mattress and loose mesh side and suffocate. Use only playpens
that meet federal safety standards. These include:
Drop-side mesh playpens or cribs with warning labels to never leave the side in the
Mesh with small weave (less than 1/4 inch openings)
Mesh with no tears, holes, or loose threads
Mesh securely attached to top rail and floor plate
Top rail cover has no tears or holes
Wooden playpen with slats spaced no more than 2 inches (60 mm) apart
If staples are used in
construction, check that they’re firmly installed and none are missing or
Strollers and carriages
These are helpful in taking
babies on outings. The CPSC recommends always securing the seat belts when using the
stroller or carriage. Never leave a child unattended in a stroller. Keep children’s
hands away from pinching areas when stroller is being folded or unfolded, or the seat
back is being reclined. For safety reasons, look for a stroller or carriage with:
A wide base to prevent tipping
The seat belt and crotch strap attached securely to the frames
A seat belt buckle that is
easy to use
Brakes that securely lock
A shopping basket that is
low on the back and directly over or in front of rear wheels for stability
Leg hole openings that can
be closed when being used in the carriage position
All states have laws requiring
babies and children to travel in an approved car safety seat. The National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration offers advice for choosing a car safety seat. These
Buy the car seat well before your due date.
The simplest and least expensive model usually will work as well as one with fancy
Choose a seat that you find easy to use and that fits in your vehicle.
If you choose a convertible seat, try it facing both toward the front and rear.
Look for a seat you can use as long as possible that faces the rear.
Always put your baby in a
car seat in the back seat. According to the AAP, bab ies and toddlers should
ride in a rear-facing car safety seat for as long as possible. This is often
until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. Check your
safety seat instructions. Most convertible safety seats have height and weight
limits that will allow children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more.
If you buy an infant-only seat, you will need a convertible seat later. Most babies
need to use rear-facing convertible seats as they get larger, because they outgrow
their infant-only seats before age 2.
When you purchase a car
seat, follow instructions on correct installation.
Nearly every car seat and
most vehicles made since Sept. 1, 2002, are required to have the lower anchors
and tethers for children (LATCH) system. The LATCH makes it easier to install
the child seat correctly.
Supplying your home for your newborn’s
The following is a suggested list of items you may want to have on hand before you
bring your newborn home.
As you prepare your home for your
new baby, look for sturdy furnishings and equipment. Check that all products meet
current safety standards. This is especially important if you’re borrowing or buying
What to know about preventing SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths
Here is advice from the AAP on how
to reduce the risk for SIDS and sleep-related deaths from birth to age 1:
Breastfeed your baby. The AAP recommends breastmilk only for at least the first 6 months.
Have your baby vaccinated. A
baby who is fully immunized can reduce his or her risk for SIDS.
Place your baby on his or her
back for sleep or naps.
Place your baby on his or her back for all sleeping
until he or she is 1 year old. This can decrease the risk for SIDS, aspiration,
and choking. Never place your baby on his or her side or stomach for sleep or
naps. If your baby is awake, allow your child time on his or her tummy as long as
you are supervising. This lowers the chances that your child will develop a flat
Always talk with your baby’s healthcare provider before raising the head of the crib if your baby been diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn).
Offer your baby a pacifier for
sleeping or naps
, if he or she isn’t breastfed. If breastfeeding, delay
starting a pacifier until breastfeeding has been firmly established.
Use a firm mattress covered by a
tightly fitted sheet
to prevent gaps between the mattress and the sides of
a crib, a play yard, or a bassinet. This can decrease the risk for entrapment,
suffocation, and SIDS.
Share your room instead of your
bed with your baby.
Putting your baby in bed with you raises the risk for
strangulation, suffocation, entrapment, and SIDS. Bed sharing is not recommended
for twins or other higher multiples. The AAP recommends that babies sleep in the
same room as their parents, close to their parents’ bed, but in a separate bed or
crib appropriate for infants. This sleeping arrangement is recommended ideally for
the baby’s first year. But it should at least be maintained for the first 6
Don’t use infant seats, car
seats, strollers, infant carriers, and infant swings for routine sleep and
These may lead to blockage of a baby’s airway or
Don’t put your baby
on a couch or armchair for
. Sleeping on a couch or armchair puts the baby at a much higher risk
for death, including SIDS.
Don’t use alcohol and street
drugs, and don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
Keep your baby away
from others who are smoking and away from areas where others smoke.
Don’t overbundle, overdress, or
cover your baby’s face or head.
This will prevent him or her from getting
overheated, reducing the risk for SIDS.