View All Articles

Preparing for Baby's Arrival... Continued

January 05, 2012

Earlier this week, we talked about several ways for new and expectant parents to become prepared for their new arrival. Here is some more helpful information that every parent should know:

Get a car seat for your baby.


One of your many jobs as a parent will be keeping your baby safe in the car.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants ride in a rear-facing car seat, starting with their first ride home from the hospital.  Every year, thousands of infants and young children are killed or injured in car crashes.  Using a car seat properly can help keep your baby safe.  There are many, many car seats on the market so it’s not unusual that parents are overwhelmed with the choices.

All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years of age, or until they reach the highest weight or height requirement as determined by the car seat manufacturer.  For your baby, you can use an infant seat or a rear-facing convertible seat.  When you are shopping for a car seat, it’s important to remember that there is no one “best” or “safest” car seat.  The best car seat is the one that fits your child’s size, is correctly installed, fits well in your vehicle and is used properly every time your baby rides in the car.  If other family members or caregivers need to drive with the baby in the car, then also teach them how to buckle the baby in safely and ensure that car seat is properly installed.

Use the instructions that come with your car seat to install it correctly into your car.  If your car seat and your car have the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, then you may use this system to secure the car seat into your car.  If not, then you will need to use the seat belt to secure your car seat.  Most cars and all car safety seats designed after September 1, 2002 have the LATCH system.  If you need help or want to have your car seat checked, you can find a Child Passenger Safety technician in your area.

Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of your car if you have an active front passenger air bag.  If you are in a car crash, then the air bags could inflate and strike the car seat.  The force of the air bags could cause serious injury to your baby.  Place the rear-facing car seat in the back seat of your car.

Don’t use a used car seat if you don’t know its history.  You should never use a car seat that is too old, has visible cracks, is missing parts, and does not have the manufacturer label with the date and model number (you won’t be able to check if the seat has been recalled without this information), does not have instructions or has been recalled.   Never use a car seat that has been in a moderate to severe car crash.

Always remember to buckle your baby into the car seat, and that your car seat is always anchored and secured into your car every time your baby is in the car.  Unfortunately every year, we take care of babies and young children who are injured in car crashes because either they or their car seats were not properly secured in the vehicle.

Find a pediatrician for your baby and family.

You may be interested in meeting a few pediatricians before finding one to help take care of your baby.  Many pediatricians offer prenatal consults or host open houses in their offices for new parents.  These meetings can be a great opportunity to meet a pediatrician and ask them questions.

You may want to ask a potential future pediatrician about:

  • Policy for sick visits and same-day sick appointments for your child
  • Hours that the office is open (do they have any later evening hours, or weekend hours if that is more convenient for your family?)
  • His or her opinion about infant feeding (breastfeeding and/or formula feeding) and what kind of support is available if you decide to breastfeed and need help (some pediatricians have a board-certified lactation consultant in their practices)
  • The practice’s stance on vaccines (as a potential health risk to other patients, some practices will politely decline care and may refer you to another pediatric practice if you wish to not vaccinate your baby, or if you prefer an alternative vaccine schedule)
  • Who will take care of your baby if he or she needs to be admitted to the hospital (some pediatricians still make hospital rounds, and others have pediatric hospitalist groups see their patients when they are hospitalized)

By visiting a pediatrician’s office, you can also determine if the location is convenient for your family.  In the first two years of your baby’s life, you will bring your baby to the doctor for at least 10 regular checkups.  That’s a lot of trips back and forth to the doctor’s office, and that doesn’t even factor in if you need to bring the baby in for a sick visit.  Also, while you are at the office, try to get a general sense of the front desk, nurses and support staff.  Are they friendly, helpful, and polite?  Remember that they are the people who will be answering the phones when you call the doctor’s office, and they help put you in touch to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Finding the right pediatrician for your baby and your family is extremely important.  Choose a doctor that you like, feel comfortable with, and can answer your questions.

Most importantly, choose a pediatrician that you trust.  Your pediatrician will help take care of your baby, and also help guide you in your exciting journey as new parents and a family.