A: Start with the crib. Chances are if it's new, you're fine -- but hand-me-downs more than five years old may not meet current safety standards. For example, crib bars must be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. Get more safety facts from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (go to jpma.org and click on "Keeping Baby Safe.") Remember that until baby is older than 6 months, he could potentially suffocate on bedding such as pillows and blankets, as well as stuffed animals. Save them for when he's a toddler and remember to lay him on his back to sleep, which helps prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). You should also make sure his sheets and mattress fit tightly. Once your baby is old enough to sit up on his own (by 5 to 6 months), you should remove all mobiles and crib bumpers. As for the changing table, make sure it has three raised sides and a strap to keep baby safe. You should keep all furniture away from windows and install window guards (just a screen isn't enough to protect your kid from falling). Some more possible additions to your shopping list:• A thick piece of carpet or a rug to cushion falls• A safe toy box -- ideally an open bin (boxes with heavy lids can trap baby's head)• UL-listed night-lights and replacement bulbs• Finger-pinch guards for hinges on doors --Jessica Hartshorn
Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2004. Updated 2009.