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Baby Firsts: When Are They Safe?

Editor's Note: This piece is being republished because of an incorrect guideline that the source gave on air.

Can most questions about when babies are ready for specific milestones be answered with a definitive yes or no?

Josh Lerman, senior editor of Parenting magazine, says experts can set the parameters but parents need to use common sense and consider an infant's unique development rather than waiting for an age limit to occur. There's no "magic age" for anything, he says.

He has these answers to the following questions put to him by co-anchor Hannah Storm.

  1. Experts say to put newborns to sleep on their backs, so when is it okay for them to sleep on their stomachs? They can start sleeping on their stomachs when they begin to roll over on their own, usually at around five to six months.
  2. Filling up the crib with things like blankets and toys is also something many new parents question. When is it okay for babies to have them in their cribs? Lerman says this is "an example where the experts lose touch with the American public." If you are concerned about a specific toy, he says, put it in the crib and then scoop it out when the child goes to sleep.
  3. What about taking things out of the crib? Some people say once babies are a certain age they could get hurt pulling on a mobile or use the crib bumper as a step to get out. If the child can stand up and reach the toy and really start jerking it around, it's time to move it back, Lerman says.
  4. Every parent would rather be able to see the baby's face in the rear-view mirror. When is a baby ready to face forward in a car seat? Lerman says it is a question of strength and a child should be one year and at least 20 pounds in weight before he or she sits face forward in a car seat.

  5. What about using things like a backpack? Is it an age or a size/weight issue as to when they're ready for this? A baby needs to be three months or older for most of these carriers, and those for a three-month-old should have good head support, Lerman says.
  6. What about jogging strollers and bicycle carriers? Is there a specific time at which babies are ready for this? A child should be a year old before using this equipment. The jogging causes a lot of shaking, which can be dangerous for younger babies. For biking, the baby needs to wear a tiny helmet, and a baby's neck can't support that until he or she is at least 12 months old.
  7. A lot of people say that once a baby has a couple of teeth, they can start on foods they need to gum or chew. At what point is a baby ready for breads, like crackers or bagels? About nine months is a good age for crackers and other foods that easily dissolve. A child should be older for bagels because these can gum together in wads too large for a child's throat.
  8. Food allergies are a huge concern to parents everywhere. When is a baby ready to eat certain foods like nuts or sushi? Stay away from potential allergens until a child is at least three years old. This is not because of choking dangers but because younger children are more susceptible to allergic reactions.
  9. Aside from necessary trips to the doctor, or to briefly get them into a car to travel from one location to another, when is a baby ready to actually be outside in the cold? Babies can't regulate body temperature the way older children can, so you have to be careful. But if you are comfortable when dressed properly outdoors, it is likely your baby will be, too.
  10. Most parents are reluctant to bring their babies into the sun. When is a baby ready to be in the sun? Don't even consider taking a baby into the sun unless he or she is at least six months old.

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