Things to Buy Before Baby's Arrival

Getting Ready for BabyPreparing for parenthood involves both emotional changes as well as changes to your environment and lifestyle. As you stagger dazedly around the baby superstore examining the plethora of baby products available, you might come to the conclusion that the emotional preparation is a much easier process.

But choosing safe and useful baby products to prepare for your little one’s arrival doesn’t have to be an ordeal if you plan ahead, keep it simple, and keep safety considerations in mind.

The Nursery

The baby’s room is one of the first areas new parents are eager to prepare. Whether you decide to create an elaborate jungle theme or keep it simple with just the basics, your most expensive purchase will probably be the crib. In the case of cribs, beauty isn’t the most important consideration -- safety is. Choose a crib that has slats that are no more than 2 3/8" apart so that your baby won’t fall out or get her head stuck between the slats. If the crib has corner posts, they should be level with the top of the headboard and footboard or over 16 inches. Otherwise, something caught on the crib posts could pose a strangulation hazard to your baby. If you have a family heirloom or are considering a used crib, make sure that the crib meets these safety standards, and keep in mind that cribs manufactured before 1978 could contain lead paint.

You should also take care when selecting a mattress for your baby’s crib. Make sure it’s firm because soft mattresses may put your child at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In addition, make sure the mattress fits the crib and there’s no space in between the slats of the crib and the mattress that your baby could slip into.

You could change your baby’s diaper on a bed or the floor, but purchasing a changing table may be your preference. "Changing tables are much easier on the parental back than changing the baby on a bed, and the shelving underneath was handy," says Madeline Perri, mother of a 4-year-old in Wilmington, Delaware. You’ll be able to choose from wooden changing tables with guardrails, fold-up models, and tables with hinged chest adapters. Be careful, though: you’ll want to select a changing table that’s sturdy and that isn’t likely to tip, sway, or be pulled over by a roaming toddler. Changing tables with hinged chest adapters pose a danger if your child gets his finger stuck between the hinges. A safety belt to hold your child in place is another must, although you should never leave your child unattended while he’s on a changing table, bed, or couch.

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