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Baby gear

  • Plan on using about 70 diapers a week for your baby.
  • Get a car seat and make sure you can install it correctly.
  • Be sure any pre-owned items are clean and safe to use.
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Bassinets and cradles

Bassinets and cradles are only covered by voluntary safety standards, not mandatory federal standards. We recommend that you use a full-size crib if you can.

Shopping tips

  • Buy a bassinet or cradle with a wide, stable base, and a sturdy bottom. Look for a sticker from JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association).
  • Buy a cradle that barely rocks. If it rocks too much, it can press your baby against the sides of the cradle.
  • Make sure there are no splinters, no sharp points or edges, and no small parts that your baby could choke on.
  • Buy a firm mattress or pad that fits the bassinet or cradle snugly.
  • Buy a sheet that is designed to fit the mattress or pad. Make sure the mattress or pad is no more than 1½ inches thick.
  • If you use a bassinet or cradle that folds up when not in use, make sure it locks when it is open.

Safety tips

  • The mattress or mattress pad and sheet should be smooth and fit snugly. Do not use a pillowcase or larger sheet.
  • If you need replacement parts, make sure they are from the same company that made the cradle or bassinet.
  • Do not use a co-sleeper (an infant bed that attaches to an adult bed). There are no safety standards for co-sleepers.

Looking ahead

  • Move your baby to a crib as soon as she pushes up on her hands and knees or reaches the maximum weight for the bassinet or cradle.

For more information, visit Babies & Kids on the Consumer Reports website.

June 2008

Copyright 2008, Consumers Union of United States, Inc. All rights reserved. No redistribution allowed.

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Baby gear

  • Put a car seat in your car.
  • Keep toys out of the crib.
  • Plan on using 70 diapers a week.
  • Get baby clothes and bedding.
  • Keep medical supplies on hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the safest crib for my baby?

A full-size crib is best for your baby. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reviewing safety standards on cribs and urging parents to avoid drop-side cribs (cribs with sides that move up and down). Many of these kinds of cribs have been recalled. It's best to have a crib with sides that don't move. Other things to keep in mind:

  • Crib mattresses should be firm and tight-fitting. Otherwise, a baby may get trapped in the space between the mattress and the crib.
  • You shouldn't be able to put more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib frame.
  • Sheets should fit snugly.
  • Don’t use bumper guards on cribs because they pose a suffocation risk. Newborns and small infants aren't able to pull themselves free if they become stuck between the bumper pad and the side of the crib.
  • If you have a used crib, check the CPCS website to see if it's been recalled.
  • Make sure corner posts are less than 1/16 inch. Otherwise, clothing could get caught and your baby might strangle.
  • There shouldn't be more than 2 3/8 inches between crib slats so a baby's body cannot fit through.

What kind of car seat is safest for my baby?

If possible, buy a new car seat. That way, you're sure that it's never been in a car crash. If you're using a used car seat, be certain it is not more than 6 years old, has never been in a crash and hasn't been recalled (check the Consumer Product Safety Commission for recalls).

Look for a model with a five-point harness (two shoulder straps, two leg straps and one crotch strap). It's the safest for baby. You can choose an infant-only seat, which is always used rear-facing. You can also choose a convertible seat. These start out rear-facing but can change to a front-facing seat when your baby gets bigger. Other tips:

  • Recline a rear-facing car safety seat at about 45 degrees or as directed by the instructions that came with the seat.
  • Get a free inspection to make sure the seat is installed right.
  • If you have a baby who is premature or has a low birthweight, look for a car safety seat with the shortest distance between the crotch strap and the seat back. Ideally, pick one with a crotch-to-seat back distance of 5 1/2 inches.
  • Pay close attention to the lower weight limit of the car seat. The typical car seat is only suited for newborns that weigh more than 5 pounds. Look for infant seats that can accommodate a baby who weighs 4 pounds or less. Some manufactures sell inserts to attach to a regular infant car seat for preemies or low-birthweight babies.

Have questions?

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