Once the baby is home, you’ll want to just sit and hold him forever. Unfortunately, reality gets in the way, and you sometimes must put the baby down… to shower, cook dinner, do a load of laundry or simply let him enjoy his world. At these times, the baby industry comes to your rescue with a number of baby gifts:

BOUNCY SEAT: You’ve seen bouncy seats: a fabric sling held up on a metal frame. They run in the $20-$30 range, and are a great investment! They give you a place to put the baby, from where he can look around and see the world. Options to consider:

a) Be sure the buckles are adjustable for size and well sewn in. Your peaceful little bundle of joy is going to get quite squirmy in the coming months.

b) Some have music…it can get annoying (for you anyway) after a while. Check to see whether the music can be turned off when you’ve had enough.

c) Most have a vibration feature. You’ll go through some batteries, but many babies find them calming.

d) Check the age and weight ranges; they vary. You’ll be using this up until the time when that “squirmyness” starts to become a problem.

e) Be sure the model you choose is sturdy!! Play with it and be sure it won’t tip.

Once you have a bouncy seat, the safest place to put it (or just about any piece of baby equipment) is on the floor. If you do plan to put the bouncy seat on a table, be sure it’s a large, sturdy piece of furniture… like the dining room table.

SWING:  Many babies LOVE their swings. The motion seems to soothe them amazingly well!

a) Check to be sure you have enough room for the swing you’re considering.

b) The portable swings are GREAT! While they inhale batteries, you can move a sleeping baby from room to room.

c) Windups: look for ones with 30 minutes or so of use; you won’t want to keep the baby swinging for any longer. They tend to be cheaper than battery operated, but then again they need to be rewound when necessary.

d) Check that the seat has no sharp edges that could scrape the baby’s legs. Check that the belts are firmly anchored into the seat and buckle securely.

e) Check the ease with which you could remove a sleeping baby; do the sides get in the way? You really do NOT want to wake a baby who is comfortably sleeping, so play with the models in the store and be sure you can manage.

f) Check the age and weight restrictions on the models you’re considering.

EXERSAUCER:  You won’t need one until the baby can support his head. But, if you have the room for one, these are great. They come with a variety of toys and some include music. Options:

a) Some have removable legs so the baby can rock back and forth. Be careful here if you have heavy or active baby.

b) Some let you adjust the seat height as baby grows; the seat raises up to allow for longer legs.

c) Be sure it’s not too heavy for you to transport.

d) Be sure it’s easy to clean; too many nooks and crannys become a health hazard.


HIGH CHAIR:  You have some time on this as well. Consider these features:

a) A tray which can go into the dishwasher (and is small enough to fit into yours?)

b) Multiple positions as baby gets older.

c)  A tray which is large enough to catch all spills.

d) It must be sturdy! Play with the model in the store and be sure it is impossible to tip.

e) Do you need one that’s lightweight or folds?

f) Look for one-handed operation on the tray, so that you can hold the baby with the other hand.

g) Normally speaking, a wider base adds stability if you have the room for it.

h) Check to be sure that there’s a strap or support between baby’s legs so that he doesn’t slip down from the high chair.

i) A thick seat cushion isn’t a big plus– your baby will be wearing a padded diaper.

j) Watch for seams in the seat covers– they can hurt!

k) If there are folding legs, they should lock securely– you should be able to hear them snap into place.

PLAYPEN/ PACK N PLAY: This gives you yet another place to put the baby, and in a pinch it can double as a crib (say, for vacations.) Look for these features:

a) Lightweight.

b) Easy to set up.

c) Size: does it fit in the area you have?

d) Some have sheets you can buy to use in colder weather.

e) Some have a bassinet feature so that you can change the baby while on the go. Be careful that there’s no way that baby could catch a finger or toe, or even his neck, betweeen the edge of the bassinet and the edge of the playpen.

f) Look for a toy pocket… it will come in handy!

g) Like anything else which holds  your baby, it MUST be sturdy!

h) Some have a sun shield; be careful not to substitute this for sunscreen/ supervision. The shields can also cause a “greenhouse effect” in the heat, so use them cautiously.  Some shields also tend to blow away on windy days.

i) Look for thick padding on the top rail and covering all metal pieces.

j) The bottom padding should extend to the edge of the playpen with no room for little fingers to get stuck.

k) All hinges should be well protected from baby and snap into place– test the one in the store.