The best baby shower gifts are thoughtful, unexpected and, most importantly, safe. You want a gift that considers the unique needs of expecting parents, stands out from the rest, and will protect infants no matter where they go. Following the first two criteria is easy;, but how do you know if your baby shower gift is safe?
Here are 10 ideas for safety-oriented presents that should make expecting parents happy while helping you give an out-of-the-ordinary shower gift. For further questions about baby safety check with the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
1. Skincare Products
Who doesn't love blowing on a baby's belly? Unfortunately, that madly irresistible skin can be equally sensitive. There are a lot of products out there that will get the job done, but they may not fulfill our "safe" requirement. Fortunately, there are a lot of skincare solutions for both expectant mothers and new babies, but it's important to check the ingredients before passing them on. Anyone can slap an "FDA approved" or "baby safe" label on a product. Watch for multiple ingredients of more than three syllables and avoid anything containing alcohol, an ingredient designed to help out the manufacturer and not the user.
2. Sling Carriers
The Consumer Products Safety Commission sent out a warning last year on baby slings, particularly the inherently dangerous baby-style carriers, which have been linked to suffocation deaths. Consumer Reports specifically warned in October 2009 against using Infantino SlingRider, cited in two documented deaths. The design of these carriers forces a baby into a C-position with chin tucked to the chest, thus obstructing their airway.
Still, sling carriers are very popular and can create a strong bond between child and parent. If you decide to buy one, make sure the child's face will be visible at all times. There should be a two-finger width between baby's chin to ensure it won't get tucked into the chest. The sling also should carry the child securely in the "baby-wearing zone," between the parent's waist and collarbone. Basically, the infant's head should be close enough to kiss. For more information, check out the BabySlingSafety blog.
3. Crib Bumpers
Mesh crib bumpers come in attractive styles while providing a "breathable" environment for newborns. For true safety, there shouldn't be any quilts or soft-material bumpers in a crib. Look for a firm and thin bumper.
4. Baby Joggers
A safe baby jogger can help both mother and child enjoy some outdoor time while mommy loses that extra baby weight. There are a lot of joggers on the market but infants should be at least six-months old before they begin "running," unless the stroller has a seat adapter that ensures the infant's head and neck are properly supported. A safe jogging stroller should have a stationary front wheel to avoid any sudden turns that could cause a crash or fall. The unit should also have a top covering to protect baby from the elements.
5. Car Safety Seats
This isn't all that original of a gift but it falls under the category of absolute necessity. Proper sizing and design can make all the difference in the world. Infants should always ride facing the rear and the best seats have five-point harnesses with straps that go over a baby's shoulder and hips. The extra harnessing is particularly important in the event of a side-impact crash.
An infant's head should appear at least one inch below the top of the shell. An anti-rebound bar isn't a necessity, but does offer one more form of protection. Leave the accessories at the store as these can often void the car-seat warranty. Babies R Us actually offers an excellent selection of approved car safety seats.
6. Infant CPR and First Aid Classes
Here's an unusual gift that's sure to surprise. The American Red Cross, and some hospitals offer classes that will give parents peace of mind, should the unthinkable happen. The Red Cross also offers babysitting training, which might come in handy for parents who'd like to get out of the house before baby reaches the toddler stage.
7. Auto Mirror
Infants should travel in the back seat facing backwards, but it's difficult to monitor their safety and diaper load while driving. A convex mirror mounted on the back seat allows a parent to keep in contact with baby while driving without all that dangerous neck craning. Make sure the mirror has soft, cushioned edges and can be secured to the back seat so it can't become a projectile during accidents.
8. Grocery Cart Cover
Grocery carts are germ ridden and about as unsafe as a vehicle can be. A baby cart cover protects a child from danger while providing them with a more comfortable seat. Look for a cover that includes a restraint device and a few toys to keep baby occupied.
9. Auto Roller Shade
Protecting baby from a sunshine overdos can also mean blocking the driver's line of vision. Look for a clear shade, usually made of mesh, that will help block the sun while allowing parents to drive safely.
10. Electrical Outlet Plugs
The simple, one-piece plugs are easier for children to remove than you would expect. Look for electrical outlet covers that require two movements to detach, such as squeezing in the sides and pulling.