The hospital bag is packed and waiting next to the door. The nursery is ready, diapers and powders on call near the changing table and tiny outfits neatly folded in the dresser. Baby will be here any day. Yet, it takes more than one diaper and bottles to prepare for a newborn. Here are five things a parent should know before bringing baby home.
1. The Crib
Crib bedding sets often come with a fluffy comforter and matching bumper. Yet babies under the age of one can easily be suffocated by blankets, thick bumpers, and even plush toys. All baby needs is a tight-fitting sheet, a warm outfit, and a swaddling blanket. Some pediatricians recommend avoiding a bumper altogether since it is merely decorative. Also be sure that the crib bars are no more than 2 1/8 inches apart and that the mattress fits snugly inside the crib. When baby comes home, remember to always put him to sleep on his back.
2. The Changing Table
Invest in a changing table with protective railings at least several inches taller than the changing pad. The pad should have sturdy straps. Be sure to always strap baby onto the table while changing him. Keep a well stocked supply of diapers and wipes nearby so you won't have to step away for even a moment. Baby should never be left unattended on the table, as even the youngest infant can inadvertently and unexpectedly roll off.
Purchase bottles that are BPA free. BPA is a chemical that may be linked to human growth and reproductive issues. Never microwave a bottle of formula, as microwaving bottles can lead to uneven heating and possibly burn baby's mouth. Wash bottles and nipples thoroughly after use and never use a bottle of formula that has been left out longer than 2 hours.
Infant seats are helpful when bathing baby, but don't be fooled into thinking it is a safety measure that will prevent all accidents. A baby must never be farther than arms reach while bathing and must be constantly supervised. Set your house's water heater to 120 degrees or less to prevent scalding, or install an anti-scald device. It is a good idea to get your towels, diapers, and other supplies ready before bath time.
5. Used Baby Equipment
Second-hand baby equipment is less expensive or even free, but it can also be dangerous. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission to be sure your used car seat, stroller, crib, or toys have not been recalled. Toys that are several decades old may contain lead paint and should be avoided. When it comes to car seats, never buy a used seat if you don't know its history. It may be unreliable if it has been in a crash. Don't by a seat that is more than 6 years old, doesn't have an instruction manual, or is missing parts. Although they can be expensive, a car seat is one baby item you should consider buying new.