Now that you have a baby, you’ll often have company whenever you leave the house. Whether it’s a walk around the block or errands around town, you’ll need a way to get your baby safely and comfortably from point A to point B.
You can choose from countless car seats, strollers, and carriers. From cost, to safety, to function and more, here are some of the most important things to keep in mind.
It’s one of the most important pieces of equipment that you’ll buy for your baby. A properly installed one will protect her during a car accident. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants ride in a rear-facing car seat until they’re at least 2 years old or until they reach the highest weight or height that the manufacturer allows. There are three types of rear-facing seats:
- Rear-facing only. These are smaller car seats that have carrying handles. Rear-facing-only seats often come with a base. You can leave the base in the car and click the seat in and out of it. Since you can use a rear-facing-only seat in just that one position, you’ll have to get another car seat when your child outgrows it or it’s time for her to face forward.
- Convertible seats. You can make this kind rear facing. Later, you can turn it to face forward as your child outgrows the manufacturer’s limits for rear facing. That’s a plus, since you can use it for longer. These seats also tend to have higher weight limits than the rear-facing-only kind. That’s something to consider if you have a bigger baby. But convertible seats don’t have a handle like the rear-facing-only ones, and they don’t have a separate base.
- 3-in-1 seats. This type will last you the longest. You can use it rear facing, forward facing, and as a booster seat. It also has a higher rear-facing weight and height limit than rear-facing-only seats. Most children will need to ride in a booster seat from 8 to 12 years of age.
Whichever type of car seat you choose, it’s important to make sure that it fits your child properly and that you install it correctly. Don’t go by price alone. A more expensive car seat doesn’t mean it’s safer.
Walk through the stroller department of any baby store and the number of options is enough to make your head spin. Most of them fall into just a few categories. An umbrella stroller is lightweight -- a good option for quick trips or travel. A sturdier stroller may be what you need for walks outdoors. And if you plan to exercise with your baby, consider a jogging stroller. Other features to think about:
- Does it recline? Newborns aren’t able to sit upright or hold their heads up on their own. This means they need some recline in the stroller seat to support them. Some strollers lean back all the way so you can tilt your baby back while he snoozes. Jogging strollers don’t tend to have much recline. They’re often not recommended until your baby is 5 or 6 months old and can hold her head up well.
- Does it shade your baby from the elements? If you plan to use the stroller outdoors, it’s a good idea to find one with a canopy or shade to protect your baby from rain, sun, and wind.
- Does it have a travel system? It lets you easily click your baby’s car seat into a stroller base. That way, if your baby falls asleep in the car or stroller, you won’t have to take her out of the seat and risk waking her up.
Babies love to be held. But it’s tough to do when you need to make dinner or shop for groceries. Baby carriers offer a way to keep your little one close while you have your hands free. There are many different types:
- Wraps: A piece of fabric that you can learn to tie in different ways and positions to securely hold your baby.
- Ring slings: A piece of fabric that you secure with a ring and wear over one shoulder.
- Mei tai: A panel of fabric with two sets of straps, one that goes around your waist and the other over your shoulders.
- Buckle carriers: Also known as soft structured carriers, they have a waistband and adjustable shoulder straps that you can easily take on and off like a backpack.
Which kind should you choose? Some important things to consider are:
- What’s the weight range? Not all baby carriers are safe for newborns. If you want to use it early on, make sure your baby is within the right weight range for the carrier. You may need to use a special infant insert with some of them.
- Is it comfortable? Check that you feel good and don’t have any pain while you wear your baby.
- How easy is it to use? Make sure that you understand how to use it safely and correctly.
- How much does it cost? Carriers can range in price. You may find that a more expensive one is worth it if you use it often. Even so, there are options for every budget.
No matter what kind you choose, make sure it’s right for your baby’s stage of development, and follow the instructions for how to place her in the carrier.