Mom and Baby Basics


Nursing Bras and Pads
Designed with cups that open and close with minimum effort, a nursing bra helps you respond quickly when your baby is hungry. Comfort and support are key, so look for soft fabrics, stretch straps and adjustability. Nursing pads tuck neatly into your nursing bra to minimize leakage that may occur after breastfeeding. The pads come in two varieties -- cloth and disposable. If you use cloth, you'll need at least two pairs on hand so you can launder one set while using the other.

Car Seats
Every state requires infants in automobiles to ride in government-approved car seats. In fact, you'll need a car seat within days of the birth, for that momentous ride home from the birth center or hospital. Your child should always ride in the back seat and, until his or her second birthday, always ride facing backward.

Infant seats have a handle so you can easily carry your baby to and from the car. Some seats snap into bases (which you leave belted in the car), and some can be snapped into a stroller so you don't have to disturb a sleeping baby when you're out and about. Other "convertible" seats can be used (with a supportive insert) for infants in the rear-facing position. After your child turns two, or has reached the maximum height and weight for their seat, you can turn the convertible seat around to face forward and use it until your child weighs 40 pounds. After that, your child will graduate to a booster seat.

Features to look for include: a five-point harness system (the safest, according to several studies), an easy-to-release locking mechanism, straps that are easily adjustable as your child grows and a cover that can easily be removed for washing. Whatever car seat you choose, follow the instructions carefully to ensure that it's properly installed to give your baby the best possible protection.

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