Another great thing to have is a bassinet. They are tall, free-standing baby-holders. They have mattresses and linens and usually some kind of visor that keeps sun and noise out. Bassinets are convenient to keep your tiny tot at arm's reach in the night, and also moving sleeping infants from room to room without waking them. Cribs and bassinets are good items to get second-hand from friends or at yard sales and consignment shops.
Items like Moses baskets, fancy wooden cradles and elaborate co-sleepers are lovely, but can be expensive and impractical. Moses baskets aren't supposed to be carried with a baby inside of them. Co-sleepers are expensive and can't be moved, and wooden cradles are expensive version of the very practical bassinet.
Car seats are not items to skimp on. Unless you know the previous owner very well, car seats are not good items to get second-hand. Manufacturers advise that any car seat that has been in any kind of accident, no matter how minor, must be replaced. Car seats are carefully constructed to protect their precious cargo, and any compromise to the structure could limit its effectiveness.
There's a difference in the quality of car seats. Every expectant mother should spend time reading helpful consumer sites and magazines. Consumer Reports test crashes car seats and through their research it's easy to see that there are differences. New brands and varieties of car seats come out every year, so it's wise to check any time you are in the market for a car seat, to see which kind is currently at the top of the market. It seems like the most expensive one is the "best" but not always. Often two seats are identical in safety ratings but very different in price.
The infant carrier is the most versatile. The seat by itself can be strapped, rear-facing, into the back seat of a car. It also comes with a base that straps into the family car and can be left there, allowing you to just drop the carrier into the base in one smooth motion. Press the button, and you can pull the carrier right out.
Infant carriers are also designed to attach to stroller bases. In this way, a sleeping baby can be strapped into a carrier, taken to the grocery store, strolled through the shopping mall or out to dinner without ever being disrupted.
Infant carriers, for all their convenience, are only good for about ten months. Once the baby has outgrown the carrier, it is time to go to a more expensive convertible seat.
This is a larger, more expensive seat but typically lasts until the child is 3 or 4 years old. It begins as a rear-facing infant seat, and morphs into a front-facing toddler seat and eventually into a full-grown child seat.
In the good old days, people just carried babies around in their arms all day. You'll do some of that. It's good for muscle tone -- mothers have the best upper arms! Eventually, you want your arms free and a convenient and safe way of transporting the little one.
If you can do it, it's wise to have both a body-carrier (like a Baby Bjorn or a Snuggli) and a stroller base for your infant carrier.
The chest packs are marvelous for many reasons. First, they allow a fair amount of mobility to the parent. You can do basic household tasks while a fussy baby sits close to you and feels comfort. Wearing your baby is a good way to soothe the baby, keep him or her right in with the family activity, while also providing security and comfort. Wearing your baby on walks helps burn calories and build muscle tone after pregnancy and is a fun way to interact with your baby outside.
Under no circumstances, however, can you ever wear your baby in a moving vehicle. Babies must be secured in car seats. For this reason, the car seat stroller base is an indispensable tool for modern mothers.