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Test your baby-safety savvy

By Emily Bloch
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(Parenting.comexternal link) -- Make sure you know better than Britney! Here are four questions and answers from the editors of Parenting magazine:

Is your baby ready to face front in a car seat?

You'd never drive with your baby on your lap, of course! But you are tempted to turn her around so that she has a view. So what's the deciding factor -- her weight or her age?

What you need to know: Both are equally important: A child should remain rear-facing until she's at least 20 pounds and 1 year old, say experts. Newborn specialist Jennifer Shu, M.D., goes even further. She recommends keeping your child facing the back as long as she can stand it: "If we all could travel facing backward, we'd be safer. As soon as you face the front, the chance of whiplash goes way up."

Is your baby ready to be out in the cold?

When you're going stir-crazy indoors and your little one seems eager to taste the snowflakes, you might be tempted to venture out -- only to worry: Is it healthy? Is he sturdy enough?

What you need to know: Let your common sense guide you: If you're feeling cold, chances are your baby is, too -- and he can't warm himself by walking around the way you can. So dress him appropriately (with one more layer than you, plus a well-insulated snowsuit, a hat, and mittens) and feel free to let him play a bit with you in the snow. Once you start feeling cold and wet, though, head in and get him out of his damp clothes.

Is your baby ready to have a blanket in the crib?

You want your child to be cozy in her crib -- yet the official line from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to avoid blankets (due to suffocation risk) until your baby is 1 year old.

What you need to know: Some pediatricians give the okay for babies as young as 6 months. "A small, crib-size blanket is fine for a child who can lift her head and can push it off or crawl out from under it," says Dr. Roche.

Is your baby ready to chew crackers, bagels, and bread?

Gumming that bagel seems to be all your teething baby wants to do -- but is it safe with so few teeth? Will she choke?

What you need to know: "By 9 months or a bit sooner, a baby is able to try all bready foods, as long as parents keep a close watch," says Jennifer Roche, M.D., a pediatrician in private group practice in Amherst, Mass. The number of teeth babies have really has no bearing on their ability to chew; gums are mighty strong on their own.

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Copyright 2006 PARENTING magazine. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Dress your baby appropriately for going out in the cold.


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