You can use a standard changing table or a changing pad attached to the top of a dresser.
- Look for a changing table that is flat. Make sure it has a barrier on all four sides, a pad, and a safety strap. We do not recommend contoured changing tables.
- If the table is on wheels, make sure it has brakes that lock.
- Make sure the table or dresser does not wobble. Give it a shake.
- If you use a dresser whose top doubles as a changing table, buy a pad with a safety strap.
- Use the safety strap every time you change your baby.
- Never leave your baby alone on the changing table, even with the safety strap on.
- Keep the diapers, wipes and diaper pail within easy reach.
- Stop using a changing table when your baby is about 2 years old or weighs about 30 pounds. This will be around the time when it is hard to keep your baby still.
If you use a dresser as a changing table
- Choose a dresser that is wide and low.
- Use a pad with a safety strap.
- Follow the directions for attaching the pad to the dresser.
- Attach the dresser to the wall so that it does not tip over. You can use an “anti-tipover restraint” to do this.
For more information, visit Babies & Kids on the Consumer Reports website.
Copyright 2008, Consumers Union of United States, Inc. All rights reserved. No redistribution allowed.
Most common 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.