Equipment, toys and child-minders

Small babies need little by way of equipment. A pram and baby-bath are useful, but not essential; they can often be borrowed or bought second-hand. Cots can also be acquired second-hand, but be sure they conform to current safety standards. And make sure all second-hand equipment is thoroughly cleaned. A special babychair gives the baby who cannot yet sit a better view of the world. When he starts to crawl, a safety gate stops him exploring too far and hurting himself.

Nor does he need many toys: anything brightly coloured or noisy will delight him. However, a baby should be given nothing that can break, has sharp edges, is made of small parts easily detached and swallowed, or is coloured with toxic dyes or paints. Some mothers want to return to work after they have had their babies. If so, they need good child-care arrangements. A child-minder may be a solution, and the minder will probably have young children of her own for the baby to play with. When parents choose a minder, they should ensure that she is willing to take care for the baby over a long period, as a too frequent changing of minders is not good for the baby. Day nurseries may suit some families, but the parents should visit the nursery first to check there are sufficient staff for the number of babies and that the children receive enough affection and stimulation.