Welcoming the newest member of your family can feel like daunting task, especially if this is your first child. But it doesn’t need to be!
Newborn babies only need basic items at first, such as food, clothing, diapers and a warm and safe place to sleep. Below are some essential items and safety features to keep in mind for when you bring your newborn home.
Household Items for Your Newborn
Newborns need clothing and household items in their size, but not as many as you might think. This is a great place to start for your newborn registry.
Select simple clothing that is easy to remove, without choking hazards like long strings and ties. Buy sleepwear that is flame-retardant. You may want to buy only a few newborn items, and purchase more clothing in size 0-3 and 3-6 months. Recommended clothing items include:
- 2-3 one-piece footed sleepers
- 4-6 receiving gowns
- 1-2 blanket sleepers
- 4-6 undershirts or onesies
- 2-3 pairs of booties or socks
- A sweater
- Diaper wipes
- Diaper pail
- About 10-11 disposable diapers per day for the first few weeks, or 48 cloth diapers (plus 3-5 diaper covers or wraps)
- 3-6 receiving blankets
- 3-4 fitted crib sheets
- 2 cotton lightweight baby blankets (no fringe)
- 2 waterproof crib pads
- 4 waterproof lap pads
- Mild bath soap
- No tears baby shampoo
- 4-6 baby washcloths
- 2-4 hooded towels
- Baby bathtub
- Rectal or digital thermometer
- Baby brush and comb
- Baby nail clippers or scissors
- Bulb syringe for clearing baby’s nose
- A front baby carrier or backpack
- Baby acetaminophen drops (follow your pediatrician’s advice for dosing)
Furniture and Safety Items
As you ready your home for your new baby, look for furnishings that meet current safety standards. This is especially important for borrowed or secondhand items, which may have outdated safety features.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) gives the following recommendations for buying your baby’s crib:
- All slats should be intact, with none missing or broken.
- Slats should be 2 ? inches (60mm) apart or closer.
- The mattress support should be securely fastened to the head and footboards.
- The mattress should fit tightly, with less than a two finger width between the side of the crib and edge of the mattress.
- The head and footboards should not have cutouts, which risk head entrapment.
- All screws or bolts should be present and tightly fastened.
Additionally, the CPSC recommends against positioning a crib near blinds or drapes, which risks strangulation from cords. It also recommends against drop-side rail cribs, which are no longer considered safe. When a child reaches 35 inches in height, or can climb over the sides, the crib should be replaced by a bed.
Crib Bedding and Mattress
According to the CPSC, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, soft bedding may be a big contributor to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). These organizations give the following recommendations for infant bedding:
- Take pillows, bumper pads, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys and other soft bedding out of the crib.
- Use a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety standards.
- Use a sleeper or wearable blankets as an alternative to blankets.
- If you do use a blanket, place your baby with his or her feet at the foot of the crib. Then tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress, pulling it up only as far your baby’s chest.
- Ensure that your baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep.
- Do not place your baby on a soft surface to sleep such as a sofa, sofa mattress, pillow or waterbed.
Cradle or Bassinet
These small beds are portable and easy to use in the first few months. The CPSC recommends following manufacturer’s guidelines on weight and size of your baby when deciding how long your child can use these products. For safety reasons, keep in mind the following:
- A firm mattress that fits tightly
- Legs with strong locks, to prevent folding while in use
- Smooth surfaces (no hardware sticking out that could harm the baby)
- A wide base and sturdy bottom for stability
Always use straps to keep your baby safe on a changing table. However, constant supervision is still necessary even when straps are being used.
Playpens offer enclosed areas where a baby can play or nap safely. The CPSC recommends never leaving an infant in a mesh playpen with a drop-side down. Infants can suffocate by rolling into the space between the loose mesh side and mattress. Only use playpens that meet federal safety standards, found in the list below:
- Small weave mesh (less than ¼ inch openings)
- Mesh without holes, tears, or loose threads
- Secure attachment of mesh to top rail and floor plate
- No tears or holes in top rail cover
- Warning labels on drop-side mesh playpens to never leave the side in the down position
- Slat spaced 2 inches (60 mm) apart or less on wooden playpens
- If staples are present, ensure they’re firmly installed with none loose or missing.
Strollers are helpful when taking babies on outings. The CPSC recommends always fastening the seat belts when the stroller is in use. Keep children’s hands safe from being pinched when the stroller is being folded, unfolded or when the seat back is being reclined. Always supervise your child when he or she is in a stroller. For safety reasons, purchase a stroller with:
- A wide base to avoid tipping
- A securely attached seat belt and crotch strap
- An easy to use seat belt buckle
- Secure brakes for the wheels
- A shopping basket that is directly in front of the rear wheels and low in the back for stability
All states have laws for car seat safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following recommendations for selecting a car safety seat:
- Purchase the car seat before your due date.
- Select a seat that fits in your vehicle and that you find easy to use.
- Pick a seat you can keep in the facing rear position for as long as possible.
- Models with fancy features often do not necessarily work better than simple and less expensive models.
- If you select a convertible seat, experiment with it facing both the front and rear.
- If you purchase an infant-only seat, you will need to buy a convertible seat later. Most babies outgrow their infant-only seat before age 2, so they need to use a rear-facing convertible seat as they get larger.
- Follow the child safety seat regulations recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). An AAP policy advises parents to keep infants in a rear-facing car seat until age 2, or until the infant reaches the maximum height and weight, as determined by the car seat manufacturer.
- Follow the instructions with the car seat for proper installation.
- Most car seats and vehicles manufactured since Sept. 1 2002 are required to have the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. The LATCH helps parents install the car seat correctly.
If you have any questions or concerns about preparing your home for your newborn, consult your pediatrician for more information.