A typical family spends nearly $13,000 on baby gear in the first year alone.
But what products do you really need to welcome your new bundle of joy?
Sandra Gordon, editor of Consumer Reports' Best Baby Products Guide, offers her top 10 list of must-haves for every new mom:
1. A safe crib; we recommend a crib over a bassinet or cradle, even to start with, because it’s considered the safest sleep environment for a baby. Cribs are federally regulated and manufacturers must also follow voluntary safety standards. Bassinets and cradles only have voluntary safety standards that regulate them. The AAP recommends room sharing for baby’s first six months. Make room for a crib in your bedroom. If you don’t have the space, a bassinet or cradle is the next best thing.
2. Crib mattress; for most parents, this purchase is an afterthought. But since babies sleep a lot—up to 18 hours daily initially, it’s important to buy a good crib mattress. The safest are super firm. When you pushing them in, they spring back immediately. Either foam or innerspring work well. What’s too firm for adults is just right babies. No need to pay extra for a mattress with an anti-microbial cover.
3. A sleep sack. At CR, our thing with cribs is “bare is best.” That means nothing in the crib—no bumpers, blankets, stuffed animals or pillows. But a crib skirt is allowed, so you can use that as a decorating starting point, if you’d like to.To keep your baby warm when she’s sleeping, we recommend swaddling in a swaddler sleepsack or a regular sleep sack for babies past the swaddling stage. These wearable blankets are seasonal; they make them for summer and winter.
4. A good diaper bag—preferably a diaper bag backpack. Diaper bags are accessories these days; they make some gorgeous ones, for example, that can go from day to evening. Don’t be seduced! Better to getadiaper bag with lots of compartments, which helps you stay organized, in rugged nylon microfiber. Backpack diaper bags keep your hands free so you can wear them and forget about them.
5. Diaper disposer/pail. Our top rated is the Diaper Dekor Plus; it’s easy to use and contained odors well in our tests. I also like the Diaper Genie II; it’s an upgrade to the original Diaper Genie, the granddaddy of diaper disposers, which is known for its ability to contain odors. The Diaper Genie II is much easier to use though.
6. The right stroller for your lifestyle. If you’re active, consider an all-terrain stroller such as the Mountain Buggy Urban or Maclaren MX3, our top favorites. Otherwise, a traditional stroller may be all you need. The Chicco Cortina scored highly in our tests. With strollers, it’s important to take them for a test drive, even if you ultimately plan to buy online. Take a stroller for a spin in the store. Practice opening and closing it, and see if you can do it one-handed. In the real world, you may have your baby in the your other arm.
7. Infant car seat. This is a must. Our latest car seat ratings are still underway. In the meantime, look for an infant car seat with a five-point harness—it gives a baby a snugger ride than a three-point harness. Many strollers are car seat compatible, so take that into consideration too—whether the stroller you like matches with the infant car seat you have your eye on.
8. Breast pump. Breast feeding is big—and back. Unless you only plan to use a breast pump occasionally, such as when traveling, get an electric double pump, such as the Medela Pump in Style Advanced or Original. Don’t be tempted to borrow your best friend’s breast pump or buy one used on eBay. Since bacteria and viruses from breast milk can lodge into the pump’s internal frame, there’s the potential for cross-contamination. Experts say to consider a breast pump like any personal item you wouldn’t borrow, such as a toothbrush or lipstick.
9. Pacifier. The AAP recommends pacifiers to help reduce the risk of SIDS. There are so many to choose from. We recommend silicone because babies can develop a sensitivity or allergy to latex. Silicone also holds up longer. To start, buy several different brands/types and experiment. If your baby doesn’t like a pacifier, though, don’t force him to use one.
10. Baby bathtub. Get one with an internal sling; you’ll much more control when giving your slippery baby a bath. We like The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn-to-Toddler Tub. Because a hammock-like sling, it has a padded, contoured back rest.
Find more safe products for babies and kids at consumerreports.org.