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Baby gear

  • Plan on using about 70 diapers a week for your baby.
  • Get a car seat and make sure you can install it correctly.
  • Be sure any pre-owned items are clean and safe to use.
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Bath tubs and products

A baby bathtub is a small, safe place to bathe your baby. We do not recommend a bath seat, bath ring, or blow-up (inflatable) tub that fits inside a regular tub because they can flip or tip over and the child could drown.

Shopping tips

  • Buy a bathtub with contoured sides or a sling to cradle your baby. The contoured sides keep your baby from sliding around in the tub. The sling prevents her from slipping underwater.
  • We do not recommend a bathtub with a temperature indicator. They are not necessary. Your hand or elbow is the best way to test the water temperature.
  • Do not bother with a fresh-water rinse unit. It costs extra, takes up room, and may not work that well.
  • Buy a soft towel and washcloth. A towel with a hood is best because it cradles the baby’s head.
  • Choose a baby body wash that is also a shampoo.

Safety tips

  • Give your baby sponge baths until the stump of his umbilical cord falls off. Then bathe him in a baby bathtub two to three times a week. More often can dry out his skin.
  • Always hold your baby while she is in the bathtub. A baby can drown in very little water.
  • Test the water temperature before you put your baby in the tub or rinse him. Use your elbow, the inside of your wrist, or the back of your hand.
  • Rinse your baby using a plastic cup or a sprayer attached to the sink. Test the water temperature first.
  • Clean and dry the bathtub each time you use it. This keeps mildew and soap scum from building up on the tub.
  • When your baby can sit up, he can be bathed in a regular bathtub with a small amount of water.
    For more information, visit Babies & Kids on the Consumers Report Web site.

June 2008

Copyright 2008, Consumers Union of United States, Inc. All rights reserved. No redistribution allowed.

Baby gear

  • Put a car seat in your car.
  • Keep toys out of the crib.
  • Plan on using 70 diapers a week.
  • Get baby clothes and bedding.
  • Keep medical supplies on hand.

Frequently Asked 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.

Have questions?

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