Babygear to Go
By Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell
There is a whole category of safe, lightweight, collapsible equipment on the market today to make visits to friends and relatives leisurely, safe, and pleasant. Some parents even buy these items (or ask to receive them as gifts) to keep permanently at a relative's home because they're so easily stored. Portable play yards or activity domes are great examples. They allow you to bring baby outside when you've all been invited to a barbecue, for example, and keep your child safe inside a play yard with a bug-proof roof. If friends have pets, a play yard keeps baby secure. And if your baby's grandparents haven't babyproofed their house, you'll all feel much better with baby safely entertained in an activity dome.

For overnight trips, there are great travel cribs and bassinets as well. You can set baby close to where you sleep and rest assured that your infant is safe even in an unfamiliar house or hotel room. The new equipment is efficiently portable—that goes for nursery monitors, too.

Strollers, carriages, and carriers make things a whole lot easier when you're bringing baby along. Be on the lookout for a stroller that folds easily into the car. On the whole, there are hundreds of strollers to choose from. Make sure you know your basic requirements before you start looking. Moms should never underestimate the importance of storage capacity in any baby product. If you're toting a lot of stuff, a stroller should have room for all your gear and baby's, too. But if you travel light, then the infinite pockets and clever spaces on today's strollers will take the backseat to weight considerations.

Some strollers convert from a bassinet-style 'pram' (baby lies flat) to a regular stroller (baby sits up). Others can hold a car seat inside. Some are bigger and hold a lot of gear. Umbrella strollers are pared down, convenient for plane trips. Still others are built for jogging. Parents often pick a used stroller. If you do, test the brakes, and be sure the latches that make the stroller collapsible work smoothly so it folds down easily, but not so easily that it might collapse on baby. Test the latches in the other position by adding the weight of the baby and accessories when the carriage is upright. If you have any questions, call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772.

When it comes to infant carriers, newborns especially enjoy riding in slings. These keep them pressed against mom, shielding them from overstimulation and giving them the tactile input from you that babies love.

Many parents like using carriers that can be worn on the front or the back, like a backpack. For an infant who is younger than three months, wear a carrier in front and keep the neck support up. After three months, your infant can face out. These carriers work for babies who weigh up to about 35 pounds, but newborns must weigh at least eight pounds before they can ride in them safely.