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Getting in Gear

What You Need for Your New Baby

It's pretty amazing how many things one teeny baby needs. But with the following tips, you can get the very best for your new bundle without spending a bundle! Here are some things to buy now:

  • A car seat. It's the law (it guarantees your prince or princess will be as safe as possible). Buy a new one, because that used one at the garage sale may have tiny cracks you can't see, and that's dangerous. An "infant seat" is rear-facing only. Your baby will ride in the rear-facing position until she reaches the highest weight and height allowed by the seat's manufacturer (at a minimum, your child must be at least a year old and weigh 20 pounds before facing forward). This seat costs a bit more but has the convenience of snapping neatly onto your stroller. A "convertible seat" can be used in both the rear-and forward-facing positions, so you only need to buy one seat instead of two.
  • A crib, portable crib, or "co-sleeper." Your baby should not sleep in your bed, because research has shown it ups the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Give your newborn her own space free of any soft bedding and other people. Always put your child to sleep on her back and don't put any pillows, stuffed animals, sleep positioners or comforters in the crib—all these things may possibly restrict your little one's breathing. A co-sleeper is a bassinet that attaches to your bed for easy access to your baby through the night.
  • A new crib mattress. Used mattresses have been linked to a higher risk of SIDS, for reasons still unknown. It goes without saying: When it comes to your baby, one thing you don't want to scrimp on is safety.
  • A stroller. The kind that's appropriate for newborns offers good head and neck support and fully reclines so that the baby can nap flat on his back when you're out and about with him. Later, when your baby is sitting up well, you can buy a super light "umbrella stroller."
  • Diapers, wipes, and cream. Buy a few packs of diapers in the newborn size for now. Then, as your baby gains weight you'll be able to find great bargains on economy-sized packs. Same goes for wipes; just look for ones that are alcohol- and fragrance-free. As for diaper cream, slather it on that tiny tush and in the folds of skin after every change to prevent diaper rash; this way, you may never actually have to use it to cure a rash!

Here's a quick checklist of other gear to have when you bring your brand-new baby home:

  • A diaper bag (for carting around all the stuff)
  • A digital rectal thermometer (other kinds aren't accurate enough for a newborn)
  • About 10 burp cloths (plain cloth diapers are an inexpensive option and work great)
  • A can of formula and 4 to 6 4-oz. bottles (even if you plan to breastfeed exclusively, you'll have them if you need them)
  • 4 "sleeps sacks" (they keep your baby warm so you don't need to put blankets in the crib)
  • 4 to 6 bodysuits or undershirts for newborns
  • 4-6 footed "sleepers" or rompers
  • Diaper pail or diaper disposal system
  • An infant tub and a bouncer and/or swing

Now you're set for four to six months, when your baby will be ready to try solid food and it's time to go shopping for a high chair. Good luck! You won't need it, because you'll do great—all loving moms and dads do.

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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