There's nothing more important than the safety and happiness of your
child. When it comes to buying baby products — whether you are
purchasing a car seat, crib, high chair, or stroller, or even baby toys
— following a few simple guidelines can ensure that your money
is well spent.
Cribs. While most new cribs should follow standardized safety
guidelines, it doesn't hurt to double-check. Antique or older cribs
should be checked carefully. Crib slats should be less than 2 3/8
inches apart to prevent heads and necks from becoming caught, and there
should be no cutouts or decorations that the child could get caught in or
snag clothing on. Hinges and screws should be out of the child's
reach, and the safety latch should be childproof. If you are
considering an older crib, use a special kit to ensure the paint is
non-toxic and lead-free. The crib mattress should be firm and
should fit tightly inside the crib — if you can fit two fingers
between the mattress and the side of the crib, your baby could become
Car Seats. Car seats that conform to
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards are mandatory in all 50 states. There are several styles and types of car
seats on the market, and the most important thing to consider when buying one is whether it is appropriate for the age
and size of your child. Choose a car seat that fits your vehicle well and is easy for you to operate. Even
the best cars seats won't do their job if they are used incorrectly. Finally, do not buy used car seats, because
car seats that have been in accidents do not protect your child as well. In addition, after several years, the
car seat material begins to break down and is not as strong.
High Chairs. Most high chairs sold today are made of either wood or
plastic (with metal frames). Traditional wood high chairs tend to
be more durable and slightly more expensive, whereas plastic high chairs
often store more compactly and may coordinate better with contemporary
furnishings. A high chair should have a wide base and should sit on
the ground firmly without tipping. Make sure it has a good harness
your child can't climb out of. If the high chair is collapsible, it
should have a strong lock that keeps it from accidentally collapsing.
Finally, make sure the surfaces are smooth and non-toxic and that there
are no areas where your baby could pinch or catch his hands or limbs.
Strollers. Traditional strollers have small wheels that are suited
to paved surfaces and hard floors, while jogging strollers have larger
wheels for smoother rides on rougher surfaces and at higher speeds.
A stroller should be strong, stable, and offer a steady ride; it should
not be able to tip over while the child is sitting in it. It should
include a harness that prevents your child from falling out or climbing
out. Its surface should be smooth and non-toxic, and there should
not be any sharp edges, exposed hinges or screws, or areas where the
child can pinch his hands or fingers. Make sure that the stroller
has a convenient parking brake that locks at least one wheel securely.
Toys. Safety is the most important consideration when selecting
toys. For children under two, the item or any part that can
be removed from an item should be no smaller than 1 1/4 inches across,
otherwise it's considered a choking hazard. Toys with jagged edges,
sharp corners, and pointy sides should be avoided. All toys should
be labeled non-toxic, and soft toys should be labeled non-flammable.
For more information about baby product safety, browse through the
Child Safety information published by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.