Getting Your Home Ready for Your Baby

The best car seat and stroller combo, and other essentials for keeping your baby safe and comfortable

Getting ready for your baby? This man holds his sleeping baby in a nursery.
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Babies come into this world even in the midst of a global pandemic. And while so much might feel out of your control as soon-to-be parents, the gear you've got ready and waiting can help bring some peace of mind that your little one will be safe and comfortable at home.

In the months leading up to the birth of your baby, it seems as if there’s an endless list of things to buy. But first consider the essentials highlighted below—a travel system, smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, humidifier, blender, and laundry detergent for sensitive skin. These essentials performed impressively in our tests, topping our ratings or coming close.

There are also a few items you should take off your list. “Skip bumpers, quilts, pillows, loose-fitting sheets, and wedges or other sleep positioners in the crib," says Joan Muratore, an expert on baby gear and Consumer Reports' lead tester of strollers. "The safest crib is an empty crib."  A fitted crib sheet is all your baby needs; in colder weather, a zippered sleep-sack will keep him or her warm and safe—without the loose blanket.

Best Travel System
Chicco Bravo Trio
Chicco Bravo Trio

    Chicco Bravo Trio

    The Chicco Bravo Trio is the only travel system to snag an Excellent rating for stroller and car seat performance in CR's tests. The Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat earns top-notch ratings across the board. It’s one of the easiest to install using a vehicle’s LATCH system or its safety belts, increasing your odds of getting a secure fit. It earns a Better designation for crash protection (that means it provides added safety beyond models that score Basic but less than those that score Best). This car seat maxes out when your child reaches 30 pounds or 30 inches tall. The Chicco Bravo stroller is a cinch to fold, fairly easy to maneuver, and garners an Excellent rating in our safety tests.

    Best Smoke Detector
    First Alert 3120B
    First Alert 3120B

      First Alert 3120B

      Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and at least one on other floors of your house (in the basement and a finished attic, too). First Alert 3120B earns an Excellent rating in detecting flaming fires, such as grease fires with little smoke. It’s also quick to detect the large particles associated with smoky, smoldering fires. This detector is hardwired and backed up by batteries in case of a power outage, and it’s an interconnected model. “Wire it into a system with other smoke detectors, and when one alarm goes off, they all do,” says a CR engineer, Bernie Deitrick.

      Best Carbon Monoxide Detector
      First Alert OneLink CO511B
      First Alert OneLink CO511B

        First Alert OneLink CO511B

        Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, so it's important to have a CO detector on each level of your house, outside each sleeping area, and in the basement if you have any fuel-burning appliances. 

        First Alert One Link CO511B garners Excellent ratings in detecting both low and high levels of CO. It can be wirelessly interconnected with compatible detectors so that they can signal each other. “Wirelessly connected alarms run on batteries and will chirp when new batteries are needed,” Deitrick says. “But our advice is to change them once a year.”

        Best Humidifier
        Crane Owl
        Crane Owl

          Crane Owl

          When your baby gets a stuffy nose, a cool-mist humidifier thins the liquid, making it easier for her to breathe, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The Crane Owl cool-mist humidifier, part of Crane's Adorables lineup, can humidify a room up to 250 square feet and earns an Excellent rating in our noise tests, making it a good choice for a bedroom. Be sure to drain, rinse, and dry the humidifier daily, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for routine cleaning. Otherwise, it can release bacteria from standing water into the air.

          Best Blender
          Ninja Smart Screen DUO with FreshVac CT661V
          Ninja Smart Screen DUO with...

            Ninja Smart Screen DUO with...

            The AAP recommends introducing solid foods when your baby is about 6 months old. Our tests found that a blender is typically better at puréeing food and less expensive than a food processor. The Ninja Smart Screen DUO with FreshVac blender serves up smooth fruits and veggies, with a few small bits mixed in. As your baby moves on to more textured foods, use the pulse button to get the different consistencies you want. 

            Best Laundry Detergent
            Kirkland Signature (Costco) Ultra Clean Free & Clear
            Kirkland Signature (Costco) Ultra...

              Kirkland Signature (Costco) Ultra...

              Regular detergent is fine for washing baby clothes unless your baby’s skin becomes irritated, according to the AAP. Some baby detergents contain allergens such as fragrance, however, so consider a detergent meant for sensitive skin. Most major manufacturers say their hypoallergenic formulas don't contain dyes or perfumes, and Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Free & Clear carries that claim. It earns a Very Good rating in removing dirt and is one of the least expensive of the hypoallergenic detergents we’ve tested. If your washing machine has an extra-rinse cycle, use it to rinse away detergent residue for anyone in your family who has sensitive skin. 

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              Kimberly Janeway

              For years I've covered the increasing water and energy efficiency of washers and what it means to consumers, along with innovations in a variety of products, and whether manufacturers deliver on their promises. What I'm really trying to do is to help consumers, and consumers help me by posting comments and posing questions. So thanks!