Getting Ready for Baby: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Congratulations! You are heading into an exciting adventure. You can make your entry into parenthood a little less hectic by planning now and gathering some of the items you will need. You will be too busy (and probably too tired) to do much shopping after the baby arrives.

These tips will help you get started. Some items you may need to buy, but do not be shy about taking donations of clothes and other items from family and friends. Getting an early start can allow you to stock up over time, which might be easier on your wallet.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems.

What do you need to have at home?

Freeze meals ahead

  • Try to cook and freeze meals in the weeks before the baby comes. Family and friends may be able to help cook meals. You may not have the time or the energy to cook in the first weeks after the baby arrives.

Baby furniture and car seat

  • Make sure all the baby gear you buy meets safety standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Although most new items will likely meet these standards, older and used items may not. Equipment that has been used before may not be safe.
    • Cribs should have less than 2.4 in. (6.1 cm) of space between the slats. Lower the mattress as your baby grows. Your baby may try to climb out of the crib if the mattress is not lowered.
    • Baby walkers should not be used, according to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
    • Playpens should have spaces in the mesh material that are no greater than 0.25 in. (0.64 cm) across. Wood slats should be less than 2.4 in. (6.1 cm) apart. Look for a playpen or travel crib that has top rails that lock into position. This may prevent the rail from collapsing.
    • Stroller wheels should be in a locked position before you put your baby in the stroller. Use the straps to secure your baby so that your baby cannot lean out as he or she gets more mobile. Fasten any toys or bumpers so that they do not fall on your baby. Remove these items as soon as your infant can sit or get up on all fours. Make sure releases and hinges are out of your baby's reach, especially if the stroller can fold.
    • High chairs should have a wide, stable base. Do not use booster seats that attach to the table. Always make sure the high chair is locked in the upright position before use. Use the safety straps, and stay with your baby at all times while he or she is in the high chair.
    • Changing tables should have a railing on all sides that is 2 in. (5 cm) high. Try to use a slightly indented changing pad. Always use the safety strap, and keep one hand on your baby. Have diapers and other items handy, but keep them out of your baby's reach. (If you do not have a changing table, you can change your baby on a towel on the floor.)
  • Get a new car seat and put your baby in it every time you drive with him or her. Getting a new seat is the best way to make sure that a seat meets safety standards and has not already been used in an accident.
    • Make sure the car seat is properly installed. See the maker's instructions. If you are not sure how to put in the car seat, have your car seat checked at a police station.
    • Make sure the car seat is the right fit for your child's current age, weight, or height. For safety, it is very important to have a car seat that fits your child. And it is safest for the seat to face the rear until your child outgrows the height and weight requirement by the car seat manufacturer.
    • Put the car seat in a rear seat, not in the front passenger seat. This will keep your child from getting hurt by the air bag in an accident. If you have rear side air bags, put your child's car seat in the middle seat.
    • For more information about car seats, call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 1-888-327-4236.

Baby care items

  • Start stocking up on disposable diapers (unless you plan to use cloth diapers) and wipes. If you want, you can buy a few packages of newborn diapers, which come with a cutout in the front so the diaper does not touch the baby's umbilical cord stump. You also can buy regular infant diapers and roll down the front.
  • You may get some baby clothes from family and friends at baby showers and after the baby arrives. Ask for (or buy) a few basics to get you started. Get several sleep sacks or nightgowns, T-shirts that snap at the crotch (called "onesies"), small blankets to wrap the baby in (called receiving blankets), and one-piece outfits that snap or zip down one leg. This is so that you do not have to take off all the baby's clothes to change a diaper. Socks or booties are also a good idea to keep your baby's feet warm. Get a cotton cap or two. Newborns also need their heads covered to stay warm.
  • Put together a kit of baby care items. Include diaper rash cream, baby nail clippers, a nasal bulb syringe (to help clear a stuffy nose), and baby wash, which also can be used as shampoo.
  • If you plan to breastfeed, buy a couple of nursing bras. You can wear one while the other one is in the wash. Also, you may want get a nipple cream that contains lanolin. Some women also like to put nursing pads in their bras to prevent breast milk from leaking onto their clothes.
  • If you plan to bottle-feed, buy several cans of formula and several bottles to get you started.

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.