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Answers to your toughest baby product questions from Sandra Gordon, author of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products 9th edition.
Why is buying a baby walker a bad idea? What makes one stroller worth $150 while another costs $750? Consumer Reports Best Baby Products, 2007 will answer all your questions about buying products that keep your baby safe and provide good value. Here are a few of the answers you’ll find:
Is it okay to buy a used breast pump--or borrow your best friends?It’s not a good idea. Buying a used electric personal-use pump or borrowing a friend’s can put your baby’s health at risk because breast milk can carry bacteria and viruses. These potential contaminants can travel through the tubing and lodge in the pump’s internal mechanism—the part that connects to the tubing—which can’t be removed, replaced, or fully sterilized.
Hospital-grade rental pumps, on the other hand are designed for many users and are built to endure years of use. They may prevent cross- and self-contamination with a special collection filter that prohibits milk from entering the internal diaphragm. Or they’re designed so that the milk comes in contact only with the bottles and tubing that attach to the pump, so there’s no cross-contamination.
If you live in the city and take lots of cabs, you're probably wondering: What do I do when my baby outgrows her infant car seat? Lug around a convertible car seat?
Consider buying a portable car seat for taxis and travel. Check out the Sit n Stroll by Tripleplay Products (www.tripleplayproducts.com), which converts from a stroller to a car seat.It works as a rear-facing restraint up to 30 pounds and a forward facing seat up to one year or 40 pounds.
What's the best sleeping arrangement for a newborn? A Moses basket?Crib? Bassinet? Co-sleeper?
We think the best beds for babies are full-size cribs, which must be manufactured to federal safety standard. Other options for the first four to five months of your baby’s life include bassinets, Moses baskets, co-sleepers, cradles, and portable cribs (play yards).
A co-sleeper is an infant bed that attaches to an adult bed. We don’t recommend co-sleepers or Moses baskets—a basket with a bottom pad and puffy fabric sides with handles—because safety standards have not been established for either one.
Bassinets and cradles are subject to a voluntary safety standard. (Juvenile products that don’t comply with a voluntary standard can be recalled if the Consumer Product Safety Commission considers the product a safety hazard.) But unlike full-size cribs, there are no mandatory federal safety standards for bassinets and cradles. That’s why we advocate full-size cribs over bassinets and cradles. If you do go with a bassinet or cradle, consider it a temporary arrangement. Once your baby begins to push up on his hands and knees or reaches the manufacturer’s maximum weight (usually 15 to 18 pounds, but sometimes as high as 25 pounds), whichever comes first, it’s time to move him to a crib.
Can I use my baby's play yard as a portable crib when I’m traveling?
You can, and in fact it’s a good idea to bring it along in case the hotel’s crib is not up to standards. If you do use the hotel’s crib, check to make sure the mattress is firm and snug-fitting. You shouldn’t be able to fit two fingers between the edge of the mattress and the crib side or fit a soda can between the slats. There also shouldn’t be any missing or protruding parts, screws or bolts, or high corner posts, which pose a strangulation hazard, or cutouts in the head or footboard.