Choosing the Right Umbrella Stroller

Umbrella strollers have come a long way from the flimsy constructed ones of years back. Many umbrella strollers are more of a hybrid, with the enjoyment of many features that a standard stroller possesses. The newer models not only have the convenience of transportation on wheels for your kids but also increased storage capacity, lighter weights and greater construction and stability. This is not a replacement for the larger traditional stroller, but a well-loved companion that will make short trips or travel much more enjoyable.

Considerations to Give

When purchasing an umbrella stroller there are a few questions to consider to help you narrow it down to the perfect buy. Ask yourself how much are you willing to pay, how often you will use it, do you want a shaded cover, reclining features, drink holder and lots of storage, and how easy is it to set up and collapse? It is important to note if you are using it for an infant, only certain models are recommended as they require a seat which can fully lay back and provides the necessary head support. Let’s take a closer look at some of these considerations.

Safety

Above all considerations, safety should be first and foremost. It may certainly give you peace of mind if your product has the JPMA certification (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association). If it does not have the JPMA certification, your stroller still has requirements to be met and may be recalled if there are any product defects.

Please note the following safety precautions before making your purchase:

  • Ensure if your baby is lying flat in an umbrella stroller, it does not tip backwards from the weight
  • Look for a stroller with a wide base that will not allow tipping to the sides if your child should lean over
  • Keep an eye for any large openings that may allow your child to slip through
  • Be aware of any areas a child might get fingers caught in the mechanics
  • Be certain to buy the appropriate stroller for the weight and height of your child to reduce risk of injury.
  • A 5-Point harness system is the best for securing your little one

The Budget

Umbrella strollers can be purchased from $30 to over $300. That being said, you don’t have to pay $300 for a great stroller. Have your budget in mind before you go shopping and stick to it.

Usage & Durability

Are you someone who is out of the house a lot with your little one and love the convenience of an umbrella stroller? Consider moving away from the lowest priced strollers. You definitely want to invest a little more for better mechanical features; a sound frame, quality wheels, lightweight, material that can be easily cleaned and has a high durability rating to withstand the numerous opening and closings.

If your stroller is being utilized more for travel, look for features that will make that journey easier; strollers that have ease of manoeuvring, shock absorbing suspension when traveling on various terrains, shoulder strap for ease of carrying when not in use and a compact fold for overhead storage on planes is a wonderful convenience.

Most umbrella strollers are made of aluminium, a great light weight material. Although there are some plastic options available in strollers, they do not have the durability of an aluminium frame and might end up being more of a headache as parts may break more easily and need replacement.

The Extras

The extras can be essential for some moms and dads; the drink holder, the shaded cover, the deep storage, removable seating for easy cleanup and lightweight. Generally speaking umbrella strollers are lightweight so if your umbrella stroller is over 15-16lbs, you may want to simply use your full size stroller.

Extras that may not come with your stroller but might be important to you may include; a rain protector for the stroller, stroller organizer to attach to the handles for extra storage, travel bag to protect your stroller while traveling and even connectors to join two strollers together.

With all the options, it may feel a little overwhelming to make a choice. Be certain to make a list of your must-haves and work within your budget and research well before you head out shopping.

Umbrella Strollers We Love

When is a Baby Carrier Right For Baby

There’s no question about it: a baby carrier is one of the most comfortable and secure ways of carrying your child around! However, there are a number of questions that we keep hearing from parents looking for a baby carrier for their baby.

What are the advantages of a baby carrier?

With a baby carrier, your baby will always be close to you, without you having to sacrifice your arms to holding them when you have a million chores to attend to. You can carry on working – inside the house, or outside – while your baby sleeps serenely beside you.

Baby carriers are especially helpful when you are travelling or visiting friends or family, and pushing a stroller around is not a choice. You could be waiting in line at the bank or walking along the beach, and your arms would not get tired from holding your baby for too long.

How do I choose a baby carrier for my child?

While choosing a baby carrier, there are a number of questions that come up with most parents.

When can a baby go in a carrier?

Theoretically, babies can be carried in a carrier as a newborn. But you have to keep one thing in mind: babies need to be at least 4-5 months old before their neck muscles are strong enough to support their head. If you do carry a newborn that is less than 5 months old in a carrier, you need to make sure it provides enough support for the baby’s head to rest on.

Baby carriers are usually hard and firm to give a sturdy support for your growing child. Your newborn might find it uncomfortable to sleep inside a rigid carrier; for this reason, a baby wrap or a sling made from soft fabric that can allow your baby to curl up comfortably inside might be a better choice.

To answer the question at hand: although it is perfectly all right to buy a baby carrier for your newborn baby, they will be better suited inside a sling or a wrap.

How much weight do baby carriers hold?

Different carriers are built for babies of various weights, differing between brands and models. On average, babies weigh around 7 to 8 pounds at birth and slowly gain another 12 to 15 pounds over the next 12 months. Most baby carriers are built to support babies weighing from 7 pounds to 40 pounds – the average weight babies reach when they are 4 years old or more.

Therefore, most baby carriers can easily support a child who is more than 3.5 or 4 years old. However, most parents stop carrying their children when they reach their 2nd birthday, because they learn to walk very well by that age.

When can I carry my baby facing outward?

Very young children do not need to face outwards; they will be more comfortable sleeping the whole time you carry them around. Before they are 5-6 months old, it is recommended that you carry your child facing towards you, so that they can rest their head on your chest and sleep comfortably, listening to your heartbeat and feeling your skin against them.

By the time your baby is 6 months old, they would have developed strong neck muscles and started to show some interest in the world around them. This is the perfect time to start carrying them facing outward, because they can hold their heads high and enjoy looking around them at different colors and movements.

When is a baby carrier safe for the baby’s hips?

If the proper position to carry a baby in a carrier is not maintained, it is possible to harm your baby’s hips and lead to hip dysplasia – which is the abnormal formation of the hips. When the baby’s legs are left dangling on the sides, at any age from birth to 3 years old, it can create permanent problems for the hips, especially if the baby remains in the same position for a long time.

However, a good baby carrier provides support to the legs and not just the parent’s back. In such cases, the pressure is taken off the hips and the legs get proper support; the legs do not dangle below the back but are spread and supported, going around the waist of the person who is carrying the child. The hip is more stable and doesn’t need to carry the pressure of the whole body, thus making the baby feel more comfortable.

How old does my baby have to be for a carrier?

Newborn babies can be put in a carrier, but it is preferable to wait until they are capable of holding their heads high. If you need to use a carrier for babies younger than that, it is recommended that you choose a carrier that has a sturdy headrest where your new baby can rest its head. Your newborn to 5 months old baby will be more interested in sleeping close to you rather than enjoying the view, so it’s important that the carrier you choose is comfortable enough for them to sleep in.

What is the best way to carry a baby when hiking?

If you are looking to explore the great outdoors with your baby, be sure to check out our in depth look at baby backpack carriers.

 

Baby Carriers We Love

Choosing a Co-Sleeper Bassinet

While some new parents are completely happy with their baby sleeping in a crib in their very own nursery from a very early age, there are some parents who can’t bear to think of their baby being away from them at night. For these parents, a co-sleeping bassinet is the perfect solution, allowing them to make sure their baby is right next to them, without the worry of harming the baby when asleep.

Different types of Co-sleeping

Your co-sleeping arrangements with your baby can be of different types, and you can choose the arrangement that suits your needs.

One, you can sleep with your baby in the same bed as you. This is most commonly known as bed-sharing, and not very healthy for the baby, because there is always a chance that you may roll over and squeeze your baby’s limbs in your sleep. Doctors don’t encourage bed-sharing since it increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Two, the baby can sleep in a separate crib, cradle or bassinet in the same room as the parents or the caregiver. This way, the parents are aware of their baby’s every movement, even when they are sleeping, and don’t have to go very far in case the baby wakes up or needs a feeding in the middle of the night. This is known as room-sharing, as the baby is sharing its parent’s bedroom instead of sleeping in the nursery.

Then there’s another kind of co-sleeping where both the baby and the parents have different sleeping provisions, but are still very close to each other at night so that they are aware of the other through touch, smell and sound. This is the perfect combination of co-sleeping that most parents approve of for their baby.

Choosing a Co Sleeper Bassinet

Different types of co-sleepers are available for you to choose from, depending on what kind of co-sleeping you want to establish with your baby. If you have decided to co-sleep with your baby, you would need something that allows you the freedom of being as close to your baby as you can without risking it.

A bassinet or a crib attached to the parents’ bed is thought to be the perfect way by most parents since they will be able to stay close to their child – close enough for the occasional touch or pat, or for ease of midnight breastfeeding – but not have to worry about inadvertently harming their child in their sleep while rolling over, or with the blanket.

Features

The co-sleeper that you decide on will have to last you at least a few months. Your baby will grow with it, and it should keep your baby safe, secure and comfortable. So, there are a lot of features you need to look for in deciding on the right co-sleeper for your baby.

Versatility

If you want to invest in two separate cribs or sleepers for your child, that is completely up to you. However, if you are buying only one, it is better if you invest in a co-sleeper crib that can be transformed into a permanent crib later. Some cribs have the provision of being turned into a co-sleeper crib by lowering the walls on one side, while the other three sides stay constant. The open side can be attached to the parents’ bed securely with no barrier between the baby and the parents, but without any risk of the baby getting hurt.

A versatile co-sleeper can be turned into a normal crib during the day or when the parents no longer feel the need to co-sleep. It will be a sound investment on your part if you buy a co-sleeper that can perform as both, so that you won’t have to struggle with two pieces of furniture in your home.

Safety

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every single crib, bassinet, cradle or co-sleeper needs to follow certain safety rules so that the chances of SIDS are lowered. Among the rules, one important is that the mattress of the co-sleeper needs to be thin and firm. Soft and cushy mattresses may seem comfortable, but they increase chances of suffocation. The co-sleeper you choose needs to have a mattress that is no more than an inch in thickness, and firm enough that the baby would not sink into it.

Visibility

Co-sleepers that have net or mesh walls are preferable because your baby will receive adequate airflow inside. With high walls of the co-sleeper and the baby lying at the bottom, it would be difficult for them to get enough air, unless the walls are mesh and see through. A transparent side also makes it easier for you to check on your baby in your sleep without having to stand up.

Easy to clean

There are bound to be accidents around or in the crib that you will never foresee – in forms of throw-ups, spit-ups or an overflowing diaper. It is very important that you choose a co-sleeper with removable sheets or mattress cover that you can wash.

Portability

If you are the type of family who loves to travel, you might want a co-sleeper that is portable. With portable bedding, you can take it with you when you travel, and use the co-sleeper anywhere you are.

Ability to Rock

Some co-sleepers come with the ability to rock them, which is especially helpful in case you have a fussy baby who wakes up several time during the night. With a rocking co-sleeper bassinet, you won’t have to wake up at night to rock your baby to sleep; you can do so while cozy in your bed.

 

Hopefully, this article will help you choose the right co-sleeper for you. Below are a few of our favorite co-sleepers.

Co Sleeper Bassinets We Love

Elks & Angels Snuggle Pod Footmuff Review

Elks & Angels, an unusual company name with a unique and clever product.

I recently found out about the Snuggle Pod Footmuff when a friend from my parent walking group arrived one very brisk morning with this very cozy looking insert in her stroller. Her little guy looked so warm and content, and the material felt so soft, I couldn’t help but ask her about it. She told me she had only recently received it as a gift and that it was a godsend. Not only was it very practical as a product for its warmth with its sheepskin covering, it was so beautiful looking and fit her stroller perfectly.

Well, after testing out the Snuggle Pod for myself for the past month, I can tell you I was pleasantly surprised by how versatile such a warm looking product was, no matter the weather (hot or cool).

The Snuggle Pod Footmuff attaches to your stroller, and provides a cozy cocoon around your baby in winter, and acts as a cooling stroller liner in summer. Made with 100% Australian sheepskin, the footmuff shields your baby from both cold and warm weather.

Living in a climate with very cold winters and warm summers, I found the Snuggle Pod Footmuff’s regulation of body temperature to be a wonderful feature. The balance of warmth without overheating and a cooling effect in the summer months were a godsend.

Elks & Angels are a fairly new company started in 2010. Their sheepskin products are both luxurious and sensible. Sheep live in warmer and colder climates quite comfortably. For a baby, the Snuggle Pod keeps in a baby’s own body heat without overheating, while insulating them from outside heat or cold, creating a dry and warm environment.

The Snuggle Pod Footmuff is currently available in one color option “buttermilk with black nylon”, and comes in one size of 3ft X 2ft. At $259, it is definitely not a budget purchase. It is a luxurious item through, and through.

I found that the Snuggle Pod Footmuff easily attached to my stroller even with my 5-pt harness. I was also thrilled with the option of using it as a play mat when detached. I was able to do that several times when out and about visiting friends or at the park. It was a great feature.

Pros:

  • Made with 100% Australian sheepskin
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Fits from newborns to 3 years of age
  • Machine and hand washable
  • Product arrives in environmentally friendly packaging
  • Adheres to the standards of ASTM 
(American Society for Testing & Materials)
  • Suitable for all seasons
  • Luxurious feel and quality

Cons:

  • Price is not for the faint of wallet
  • Only a single design option

It may be at a higher price point, but it is definitely a quality product that will survive getting passed down to your other children or family members.

Overall, the Elks & Angels Snuggle Pod Footmuff is a wonderful product. It acts very much like a giant Ugg for your baby. It is perfect for any temperature. I didn’t find my little one in any discomfort on warmer or cooler days. I love the craftsmanship of the Snuggle Pod and its impeccable quality. Knowing it is a natural product and I don’t need be concerned about the fabric, put my mind further at ease.

I loved it, and so did Little One.

Tether Straps & Car Seat Anchors

As parents, we always worry about our child’s protection. Thankfully, baby and child safety equipment will generally come with a set of extensive (though sometimes overly complicated) instructions. That is certainly no different when it comes to car seat tethers and car seat anchors. Let’s shine some light on tether straps and car seat anchors; the terminology, the history and understanding the importance of using them as directed.

First, let’s clarify the necessary terms.

Car Seat Tether – Behind all car seats, you will see a long seat belt style strap that has a clip at the bottom to attach to an anchor; this is your car seat tether.

Car Seat Anchor – Anchors are metal attachment points installed in a vehicle to secure your car seat tether strap. Anchors are often hidden behind removable plastic covers or carpet.

LATCH – An acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.

When did the tether strap come into use?

I was surprised to learn that tether straps have attached to baby car seats/forward facing car seats since 1989. Vehicle manufacturers began installing car seat anchors in 2001 and the LATCH system became compulsory in 2003.

In 2003, new legislation mandated that vehicles must provide 2 lower car seat anchors and 3 car seat anchors for forward facing car seats, if there are 3 seating positions available in the car.

Common Anchor Positions

Lower anchor for a car seatLower Anchors


Generally rear facing car seats use only the lower anchor strap feature found between the backrest and seat. Sometimes they are covered with soft cushioning or a plastic cover. Depending on the vehicle, it may come in the form of a long bar or smaller separate metal bars. The hooks from your car seat will either be a rigid latch hook, a flexible latch or a j-hook.

Forward facing car seats can utilize the lower car seat anchor as well with a rigid lower latch in some models.

Tether Strap Anchor Behind and at the Base of the Vehicle SeatTether Strap Anchor Behind and at the Base of the Vehicle Seat

In vehicles such as mini vans, there is an anchor at the very lowest back base of the seat.

Tether Strap Anchor on Window ShelfTether Strap Anchor on Window Shelf


In a sedan, you will find the car seat anchor on the back shelf below the back window. It may be covered with a section of plastic which you can lift to open.

Tether Strap Anchor Attached behind the SeatTether Strap Anchor Attached behind the Seat

In the back of some vehicles the anchor can be found at the back of the seat, around ¾ of the way down the back.

Pick Up Truck Anchors

Depending on the make and model, pickup trucks have varied spots for their tether strap anchors; behind the rear head rests, behind the seat backs or to the sides of the rear seats.

Safety Tips to Ensure You Use Car Seat Straps & Anchors Appropriately

Every vehicle is different; every car seat is different, so please ensure the following when installing:

Read the instructions on your car seat very carefully to ensure you understand the directions fully. If the instructions indicate the use of two anchors, then do it. If a booster recommends using the lower anchor, then use it. Although a lot of car seats may look the same, they are not, and may have small differences with varied safety features. Follow the instructions to the letter when using your car seat latch straps and anchors. It is crucial for optimal safety.

Read through your vehicle’s owner’s manual to ensure you are very familiar with the location of your car seat tether anchors. Don’t assume that something that looks like a car seat tether anchor is in fact one. Make sure it is with your owner’s manual.

Be aware of the state or provincial laws related to weight and height requirements, so you can ensure you are using the appropriate style of seat. (i.e. rear facing car seat, child car seat, booster seat).

Adhere to the expiry dates. Car seats and booster seats do indeed have expiration dates. Most have an expiry of 6-10 years from the date of manufacture. Over time and with different exposures, parts can wear or degrade. A car accident could damage or loosen a car seat anchor or tether, heat may weaken plastic components on your car seat, or perhaps it was stored in a manner that may have damaged the tether strap. Manuals and instructions can get lost over time, safety stickers can peel off and recalls are only in place until the expiry date. This important date should be noted on the back or under your seat. Dispose of the seat upon expiry. It should not remain in circulation.

Remember

Car seat straps and car seat tether anchors (LATCH) are a major part of the safety system of your car seat. Make certain you use them according to the guidelines provided with your seat. Proper installation and care of your car seats and using your car seat tethers and car seat tether anchors appropriately will ensure the safety, security, and comfort of your little ones.

Car Seats We Love

Emergency Numbers

Print and fill out this list of useful phone numbers and put it on the fridge. Make sure your child and the babysitter knows where it is.

Click the list to see the full sized version and then right-click the image and choose “PRINT”.

Important Phone Numbers

Choosing the Perfect Glider or Rocking Chair

It is very easy to lose focus when you are trying to set up a nursery for your child before their arrival. New parents, especially first time parents, may start from the basics but very soon realize that they have filled up the nursery with everything they thought their child would like, rather than need. Nurseries may suddenly look filled with pink stuffed toys or blue balloons, the little cupboard already overflowing with adorable – albeit impractical – outfits, but they have forgotten to focus on the important pieces. For example, a baby glider or a rocking chair.

Yes, a practical and efficient rocking chair – or a baby glider – is one of the most important features of a well-planned nursery, as you will begin to understand within days of bringing your child home from the hospital.

So why do you need a rocking chair in the nursery? Rest assured, your newborn baby will be waking up every few hours during the night for the first couple of months. Even if you are blessed with the best-behaved child in the universe, you – or your partner – will be heading into the nursery at least a few times in the night to feed your baby, or to soothe it to sleep. After a long and exhausting day, a good, comfortable rocking chair or baby glider in the nursery would seem like the most brilliant idea in the world when you need to settle down with your baby.

Did that seem like a sensible reason to you? So, you need to think of investing in a good rocking chair before you blow your budget on matching curtains for the nursery!

Baby Gliders vs. Rocking Chairs

When it comes time to choose, you have two choices: a baby glider, or a rocking chair. Here’s the difference between the two; A baby glider is like an armchair that will make you and your baby feel like you are floating. It’s comfortable, soft and usually full of cushions. It also gives you the option of keeping your feet up in a matching stool in front of it. A traditional rocking chair, on the other hand, allows you to rock your baby up and down. Most babies find the rocking sensation soothing and sleep-inducing; despite being around for centuries, rocking chairs are still widely popular for new parents.

Features

You will be using this particular piece of furniture quite heavily and regularly for a long time, so there are some features that you should be mindful of, whether you are buying a glider or a rocker.

Durability

Whether you choose a rocking chair, or a glider, make sure it has a strong and well-built frame. As we mentioned before, you will be using this chair for years, even after your child has grown up. You need to make sure you are investing in a chair that lasts for years down the road. Most rockers and gliders have wooden frames underneath all the finery, and it is important that the wood that has been used is of good quality.

Armrests

Look for chairs with wide armrests. You will be carrying your baby on your arms when you sit down to breastfeed or put them to sleep, and therefore, you will need all the space you can get to rest your arms. The armrests should be spacious and soft, with enough room for your arm and the baby’s head to relax.

Removable Covers

Make sure that the chair has a removable or washable cover. Your baby is bound to have all sorts of adventures on this chair, and so it is bound to get dirty. From spit-ups, throw-ups, drool, accidents with the diaper, and more, this chair will see a lot. You might need to wash the seats and the cushions at least twice every month. Making sure the covers are removable or washable will be a great help.

Locking Mechanisms

It is better if your chair has a good locking mechanism, so that you can control whether or not it reclines, or how much it reclines. With baby gliders, a good lock ensures that you will be able to stand up with the baby in your arms without having to worry about losing balance.

Ottoman

Make sure you get a matching ottoman with your rocking chair or glider. An ottoman will do wonders for your aching feet when you spend long hours at night in the nursery feeding or soothing your child.

 

When it comes to gliders and rockers, there are a lot of details that you need to look through, rather than just brand or style. Hopefully, this article will prove to be helpful to you in setting up the nursery.

Chairs We Love

Baby Backpack Carriers

Backpack carriers are a great way to hike in safety and comfort, both for you and your baby.

Baby backpacks look very similar to camping backpacks but come with a fabric mounted on a rigid aluminum frame and a seat for the baby to ride on. Like front carriers, a baby backpack is far easier to handle than a stroller as it distributes the child’s weight more efficiently, thereby allowing you to walk long distances, more comfortably than you would otherwise do. Not only that, the baby’s head is always in close proximity with your head, thus affording great views for the child and better bonding too.

Backpack carriers mainly fall in two categories: framed and unframed. While the framed ones are more expensive and can be bulkier (especially when not in use) they do a great job at distributing your child’s weight. Non framed carriers are cheaper, but as they are without frame support, the baby tends to sit lower and can weigh down on you more.

Finding that perfect backpack can be an intimidating task. Baby backpacks come in a variety of sizes and models. It is important to find one that fits your baby’s size. Most backpacks are designed for children weighing at least sixteen pounds. For someone less than that or an infant you might consider going for a front baby carrier. This is an excellent solution as carrying babies in this manner is very beneficial to keeping a baby calm and quiet, thanks to the closeness involved.

Hiking backpack carriers are ideal for travel and out of town use. These externally framed backpacks offer a built in frame that allows you to actually wear your child high on the back, once he is at least six months old. You can then head for the mountains hands-free, or with trekking poles, while your child stays safe and supported.

Remember before heading out with your new backpack to adjust the straps, so as to spread the weight of the baby evenly on the hips and legs rather than the back.

When Can Baby Go in Backpack Carrier

The total weight of a backpack along with the weight of the child should typically between 30 to 50 pounds. That usually occurs when the child is around 6 months old and is able to sit up independently, with total control of the head and neck. At this time the baby can go in the backpack carrier quite comfortably and makes it easy both for you and the child.

Even though backpack carriers can look cumbersome at first, they are a great hit with parents thanks to the comfortable ride they provide. Here are a few of our favorites.

Backpack Carriers We Love

Baby Nasal Aspirators

If your baby has a stuffed-up nose, it is probably not only making her uncomfortable but also makes it harder for her to breathe, eat and sleep.

When leaving the hospital, you probably received a rubber bulb syringe in your newborn kit. This syringes work relatively well, but there are a number of other newer products that may be more effective at removing mucus from stuffy noses. You may want to shop around and find the best nasal aspirator for your baby before settling on one.

Clearing Baby’s Nose with Saline

Before using the booger sucker (as it is affectionately known by many parents), you will want to use some saline to clean your baby’s little nose. Saline can help moisten and loosen up the mucus before you suction it out.

You can find different saline sprays online, including ones with soothing aloe. You can also make your own by mixing 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. If you make your own saline, make a fresh batch every day and store it in a covered jar.

When using the saline, make sure your child is laying down with her chin tilted up slightly. Squirt the saline spray once or twice into each nostril (or place one or two drops with an eyedropper), and try to keep your baby still for about ten seconds.

Using a Nasal Bulb Syringe

The saline itself is often enough to ease your baby’s congestion, but if it isn’t enough it is time to use the nasal aspirator.

Before and after using the nasal aspirator, you should always clean it. Squeeze the bulb with the tip in soapy, warm water and suck some water into the bulb. Now shake the soapy water inside the bulb and squeeze it out. Repeat several times with clear warm water. Once done, leave the syringe tip side down to dry.

Once the nasal syringe is clean and dry, squeeze the air out of it to create a vacuum. Gently insert the rubber tip into your baby’s nostril, then slowly release the pressure from the bulb, sucking the mucus out of the nose. Remove the syringe and squeeze the bulb forcefully into a tissue to release the mucus from within.

If your baby is still congested, wait at least 5-10 minutes before applying saline and suction again.

DO NOT suction your baby’s nose more than two or three times a day, as it may irritate its lining.

DO NOT use saline sprays or drops for more than four days in a row, as they can dry out the delicate insides of the nose.

Nasal Aspirators We Love

The Complete Stroller Guide

A stroller is unquestionably one of the most frequently used and indispensable items you’ll need for your baby. Baby strollers come in all shapes, sizes, and fabrics, with every feature you can imagine. From active and all-terrain strollers; easy-to-handle, lightweight ones; sturdy, classic carriage strollers; and much more, it’s no wonder that shopping for one can often be an overwhelming experience, especially for the first-time parent.

What To Consider Before Buying

Because your stroller will most likely be used on a daily basis well through the toddler years, it is important to find the one that best suits your lifestyle and budget. Also keep in mind that your stroller needs will change as your baby grows and you may find one–or more–that is just right for you.

So how do you choose between a luxurious pram-style carriage, a rugged jogger stroller, or a super lightweight and compact model? Naturally, safety and comfort are high on your list of priorities. But there are several other important things to consider before you begin shopping:

  • Your Lifestyle – If you plan to do a lot of walking, you’ll need a sturdy model with good suspension. If you rely on public transport, size, weight, and portability are essential considerations. Check how quick and easy it is to fold for catching a bus or negotiating a flight of stairs. If you are doing more walking than driving, you’ll need a stroller that can take you around the block and downtown. If you’re a suburban driving machine, you will be A-OK with a model that is lightweight, stores easily in your trunk, and has good maneuverability. For the athletes and outdoorsy types in the audience, a jogger might be just what you are looking for.
  • Space Limitations – How big is it, folded and unfolded? Will it fit in the trunk or back seat of your car? Will it fit through an average-size door? Can you take it on a subway or bus?
  • Stroller Weight – If a lot of lifting and climbing stairs is expected, choose a lightweight stroller. Trying to coerce a heavier model up or down stairs isn’t safe for you or baby.
  • Your Child’s Age – Only strollers that fully recline are appropriate for babies under 3 months old, while a convertible stroller will take you through the toddler years. If you have more than one child, a double stroller is an obvious choice (be sure to get one that fully reclines if you have one or more young infants). And, for toddlers, a lightweight or umbrella stroller is just right.
  • Your Height – While your baby’s comfort and safety are most important, remember to also consider your height and stride when making a choice (longer legs take longer steps). Your stroller needs to be comfortable for both you and your partner, so look for a model with adjustable handle height if you plan to share pushing responsibilities.
  • Wheel Type – Unless you are looking for the additional stability offered by the fixed-position and oversize wheels usually found on joggers and larger prams, fully independent wheels are recommended for mall and supermarket use. Their caster-like movement allows for the best maneuverability and many models feature a locking device to point the front wheels straight forward for added stability.
  • Will This Be Your Only Stroller? Many parents have two (or three) strollers for various needs. A full-size stroller is great for longer, bumpier rides, and the ultracompact umbrella fits everywhere from your trunk to an overhead bin on an airplane. If you’re only buying one, keep portability at the top of your list.
  • Sanity-Saving Features – When you are shopping for a car, you usually know if you want AC or power door locks. There are many innovative and sanity/time-saving stroller features available today. Some models boast the beloved one-hand-fold feature, which you’ll find indispensable while packing your baby and your stroller back into your car; others have all-terrain wheels; and still others have parent trays. Bells and whistles can sometimes make all the difference; other times, they seem silly. Plan ahead and think about what you can and cannot live without.
  • Your Budget – It is possible to find a great stroller without spending a fortune. And, of course, you can find subpar strollers at sky-high prices. However, more often than not, you get what you pay for. Think carefully about the features you need, and then narrow by budget. Your purchase could potentially last you from your child’s infancy well through the toddler years, so investing in a quality pick might be more economical in the long run.

Stroller Safety Tips

To keep your baby safe and sound while strolling, the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) suggests you follow these guidelines:

  • Choose a stroller or carriage that has a base wide enough to prevent tipping, even when your baby leans over the side.
  • If the seat adjusts to a reclining position, make sure the stroller doesn’t tip backward when the child lies down.
  • Always secure the baby by using the stroller’s seat belt.
  • Don’t hang pocketbooks or shopping bags over the handles. If your stroller has a shopping basket for carrying packages, it should be low on the back of the stroller or directly over the rear wheels.
  • Use the locking device to prevent accidental folding and apply the brakes to limit rotation of the wheels when the stroller or carriage is stationary.
  • When you fold or unfold the stroller, keep your baby’s hands away from areas that could pinch tiny fingers.
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal.

Stroller Glossary

Parlez-vous stroller? If not, try our handy glossary–filled with a few stroller-related terms that may be new to your vocabulary.

  • All-Terrain Wheels – Think mountain bike tires. These rugged rubber tires don’t necessarily give you more traction and a smoother ride but are great if you are pounding more than smooth pavement. You will find them featured mostly on joggers and some carriages and prams.
  • Canopy – This fabric–sometimes collapsible–shield helps protect baby from sun, wind, and rain.
  • 5-Point Harness – This type of harness consists of five straps: two at the shoulders, two at the legs, and one at the crotch. This allows parents to adjust the harness closer to the infant’s body and is easy to buckle and unbuckle.
  • Weather Boot – This fabric “pod” usually snaps onto the stroller seat or bar, keeping baby’s legs and feet warm and dry.

Types of Strollers and Key Features:

For something that is supposed to be a convenience by its very nature, the search for the perfect stroller can be quite an overwhelming experience. Never fear. We have compiled a detailed view at each type of stroller for your convenience, as well as our picks of the best strollers in each category.


Baby Monitors Guide

Baby Monitors are an extra pair of ears or eyes when it comes to looking out for baby. Baby Monitors allow parents and caregivers to keep tabs on a sleeping baby while working around the house or even outdoors. Although a baby monitor allows parents and caregivers more freedom and flexibility, it is important to remember that it does not replace adult supervision.

Baby Monitors are actually a set of small radio transmitters: a base transmitter that is placed in the nursery near your baby and a receiver transmitter that is carried along with you. It is important for you to test and establish the operating range of the monitor by testing the unit in different room combinations, as obstructions caused by terrain and walls, and interference from other devices can cause static and unclear reception. If you’re living in a densely populated area or high-rise apartment building, you’ll want to look for models that offer more than one channel so that you can change channels when you get interference from a neighbor’s portable phone or remote-control toy. On the other hand, if you know you’ll want to be outside working in your garden or going longer distances with the receiver portion of your monitor, you’ll want to get a high-range baby monitor (i.e. 900 MHz). Baby monitors operate on batteries, electricity, or a combination of both, and many are rechargeable and do not need batteries.

Types of Monitors

  • Audio monitors transmit sound only. They may have multiple channels to minimize interference, a low-battery indicator, and volume control. Some baby monitors have a portable receiver that can be clipped on and taken wherever you go.
  • Video monitors allow you to actually see and hear your child on a TV screen. Some monitors utilize infrared technology that allows you to see the nursery, even in total darkness.
  • Sound-and-light audio monitors have a special LED display that allows you to view the sound level. In addition to standard features, most have an out-of-range signal light, too.
  • Intercom monitors allow you to communicate with others in the house with just the push of a button, as well as transmitting baby’s sounds. Some feature sound lights that let you “see” when baby stirs.

Safety Tips

  • Do not use a baby monitor to justify leaving your child alone while playing. Parental supervision is essential.
  • Do not place near water. As with any electrical gadget, baby monitors present shock hazards if misused.
  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions on placement and usage of baby monitors.
  • Handle monitors with care. Do not carry the device by the antenna, as they are fragile.
  • Protect monitors from direct sunlight or heat sources.
  • Remember to place the monitor up high where other children cannot disturb it.

Monitors We Love

Car Seat Buying Guide

Car Seats Aren’t Just Essential, They’re the Law

From the moment you leave the hospital with your precious new cargo, you’ll want to be prepared to transport your baby safely–no matter where you go. That’s why, before baby arrives, you’ll need to do some homework and carefully choose an appropriate car seat.

It’s not only for baby’s safety and your peace of mind; laws in all 50 states require car seats. But knowing that a car seat is necessary is the easy part. Choosing the right car seat is where it gets tricky. The process is almost like buying a car. There are scads of body types, upholstery styles, safety features, and prices. So fasten your seatbelts, parents. Here’s Car Seats 101.

Before You Buy

Before going into the nitty gritty of types and features, keep in mind these helpful guidelines when selecting a safety seat:

  • Choose a seat that you find easy to use and that fits in your vehicle. Be sure it can be buckled tightly.
  • Look for the seat you can use facing rear as long as possible.
  • Be aware of weight limits.
  • Keep in mind that if you buy an infant-only seat, you will need an infant-toddler (convertible) seat later.

Car Seats — You Won’t Believe the Options

There are as many opinions about the safest, most comfortable, and most convenient car seats as there are car seats. But there is only one absolute to follow in the process. A baby car seat must pass Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Make sure when you’re scouting around that the product you choose has passed muster.

There are three types of car seats available:

Infant Car Seats

Infant car seats are designed specifically for infants up to 22 pounds or 26 inches long. Although there are many brands and features to choose from, all infant car seats have one thing in common: they are designed to support a developing infant’s back, neck, and head. Infant car seats should be installed rear-facing (facing the back window of your vehicle) in the center of your back seat. For added convenience and comfort for baby, many models are available with a stay-in-car base that not only allows you quick installation, but easy and gentle removal from the car without waking your sleeping baby (a feature parents love).

Infant car seats offer two restraint systems:

  • Three-Point Harness – A three-point harness secures your child at the shoulders and between the legs.
  • Five-Point Harness – A five-point harness secures your child at the shoulders, hips, and between the legs.

Our favorite car seats for infants:

Convertible (Infant-Toddler) Seats

Designed for newborns up to approximately 20 pounds, then converts to a car seat for infants 20 to 40 pounds. Convertible car seats are so named because they can be converted from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing seat. This means that from birth to around the time she reaches her first birthday, your baby can keep the same car seat. An added bonus is that she gets to face the front of the car like everyone else.

Convertible car seats offer three restraint systems:

  • Five-Point Harness – Consists of five straps–two at the shoulders, two at the hips, and one at the crotch. This allows parents to adjust the harness closer to baby’s body and is easy to buckle and unbuckle. This is the best choice if you’re using the seat for a small baby and provides the best protection against head injury.
  • Three-Point Harness with T-Shield – This model uses a soft, T-shaped center section to draw the shoulder straps over your child. The “T” then buckles into the seat shell at the crotch. It’s simple to use and easy to position. It is not appropriate for an infant whose head does not clear the T-shield. The shield harness should be no more than chest high when fastened.
  • Three-Point Harness with Overhead Shield – This padded T-shaped or triangular shield swings down over baby’s head, drawing the straps over the shoulders. A third strap buckles the shield to the seat at the crotch. Some are adjustable and can be tightened to accommodate smaller children or loosened for bulky clothing. This restraint system fits properly when the shield is at the child’s chest level.

We loved these convertible seats:

Booster Seats

When your child has outgrown the convertible seat, but is too small to use your car’s safety belt system alone, it’s time to move to a booster seat. Designed specifically to help standard vehicle seat belts fit children better, these specialized seats are appropriate for children who are 4 to 8 years old, weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, and who are less than 4-feet-9-inches tall. By reducing the potential for belt-induced injury which can occur when a lap or lap/shoulder belt is a small child’s only restraint, booster seats play a very important role in protecting children as they transition from a child safety seat to an adult-sized lap and shoulder belt.

There are two types of booster seats:

  • Belt-Positioning Booster – Designed for children who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, belt-positioning boosters are available in high-backed and backless models. The child sits in the booster seat and uses the vehicle lap and shoulder belts for restraint. Lap and shoulder belts together offer better protection than lap belts only.
  • High-Backed Booster with 5-Point Harness – This type of booster seat can be used as a forward-facing child safety seat for a child who weighs between 20 and 40 pounds, or more. The booster seat is attached to vehicle with either the LATCH system’s lower anchorages or the vehicle’s belt system and tether (if the seat has one), while a 5-point harness provides full body protection. When a child reaches 40 pounds, the 5-point harness is removed and the seat converts to a belt-positioning booster seat. In this configuration the child uses the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts for restraint, and a tether will not be used.

Our favorite booster seats include:

What About Preemies?

These extra-small bundles of joy need extra attention while on the road. Here are some helpful suggestions when considering a seat for your preemie.

  • Use a seat with the shortest distances from seat to harness strap slots, and from back to crotch strap.
  • Supplement baby’s comfort and safety by rolling blankets or towels and placing them on either side of baby to keep his head from slumping.
  • Never place any extra cushioning under or behind the baby.

Safety Tips

To be sure you’re making the most of your seat’s innovative safety features, be sure to follow these guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • Use the lowest harness slots for a newborn infant. Keep the straps in the slots at or below your baby’s shoulders for the rear-facing position.
  • It’s important for an infant to ride sitting semireclined, about halfway back or 45 degrees from horizontal.
  • Make sure harness straps fit properly over the shoulders and between the legs of your infant.
  • To fill empty spaces and give support, roll up a couple of small blankets and tuck them in on each side of your baby’s shoulders and head.
  • Never use any car seat or booster car seat in a seat with an air bag.
  • Be sure that the car seat you purchase is appropriate for your child’s height and weight.
  • Send in the manufacturer’s registration card. If by any chance your car seat is recalled, you will be notified by the manufacturer.
  • The base of your car seat should rest firmly on the seat, and the vehicle’s belt must be able to secure it tightly. If it moves an inch in any direction, it’s too loose.
  • If your car has lap and shoulder belts with a free-sliding latch, you must use the locking clip included with most car seats. (Locking clips are also sold separately.) Follow manufacturer’s instructions for installation. If you have any questions, contact the manufacturer. Also, many local police stations, fire stations, and hospitals can offer you assistance.
  • To make sure you have installed your car seat correctly, attend a car seat safety check and read our installation tips from the NHTSA. Many local fire departments, police stations, healthcare facilities, and even some local baby stores like Babies “R” Us will periodically hold these meetings and will examine your car seat installation at no charge.
  • Avoid used car seats. Normal wear and involvement in accidents may limit their effectiveness. Also, they may not conform to present safety standards.

General Shopping Guidelines

  • Be sure it’s a car seat – Sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to confuse some of the newer, top-of-the-line carriers with car seats. Make sure the product description specifies “car seat.”
  • Look for car seats featuring easy-release latches and buckles – When your hands are full, an easy release can save aggravation.
  • Make sure there’s wiggle room – You want your baby to be comfortable year-round, so allow room in the seat for bundling up during cold weather. Make sure the product description indicates the seat accommodates larger youngsters than yours.

Child Proofing with Safety Gates

When your baby starts to crawl, explore, or use a walker, it’s time to install safety gates wherever potential hazards may be present around your home. At the top of stairs, at the bottom of stairs, and in between rooms, safety gates act as barricades that communicate which areas are off-limits for your little scooter. When purchasing safety gates for your home, there are several things to keep in mind: types of gates, features, and safety.

Types of Safety Gates

Pressure-Mounted Safety Gates – The two sliding panels of a pressure-mounted safety gate adjust to the dimensions of the doorway and a locking mechanism supplies the force to wedge the gate in place. These safety gates are typically used between rooms, but should not be used at the top or bottom of stairs.

Wall-Mounted Safety Gates – This type of safety gate is mounted with screws directly into the wall and therefore has the ability to withstand more than pressure-mounted styles. Some styles have a special swing-stop mechanism to prevent the gate from swinging out over the stairs. Wall-mounted safety gates can be used at the top and bottom of stairs and at window openings.

Yard Gates – Yard gates have expandable panels to form a fairly large area for your child to play in and are perfect for creating an exclusive area for your toddler outdoors. Typically, every other panel of a yard gate opens for easy access. We recommend the Superyard XT from North States Industries, it even comes with a handy portable carrying strap.

Features To Look For

  • One-hand release allows you to open and lock a gate with one hand. This is great for times when you are carrying a baby (and that is sure to be often).
  • Dual-direction swinging allows you to open the safety gate in either direction.
  • Expandable safety gates can fit doorways and openings of different sizes.
  • See-through safety gates allow you full vision of baby through widely spaced bars or mesh for better supervision.
  • Installation kits help in mounting safety gates on various surfaces.
  • Extension kits allow gates to expand to fit openings larger than standard-size doorways and windows.
  • Safety gates come in various materials that complement any d�cor–wooden, plastic, plastic-coated steel, and soft mesh.

Safety Tips

  • Do not install pressure-mounted safety gates at the top of stairways, as they cannot withstand as much pressure as wall-mounted safety gates.
  • Choose a safety gate with a straight top edge and rigid bars or a mesh screen, or an accordion-style gate with small (less than 1.5 inches) V-shaped and/or diamond-shaped openings.
  • Discontinue using safety gates when your child is 36 inches tall or is 2 years old. A safety gate should never be less than three quarters of your child’s height, since they can probably climb a safety gate that is not high enough.
  • When installing safety gates with expanding pressure bars, install the bar side away from baby, since pressure bars can be used by children as toeholds to climb over a gate.
  • Follow installation instructions and anchor the safety gate firmly in the doorway or stairway.
  • Always close the safety gate behind you when leaving the room and never leave your child unsupervised.
  • Do not use older models of safety gates that are not certified for safety. They are more prone to be hazardous.

Our Favorite Safety Gates

Crib and Mattress Guide

Choose the Perfect Crib For Your Baby

As the place where baby sleeps at night, naps during the day, and just plain hangs out on a regular basis during their first two or three years of life, a crib will most likely become the centerpiece of your baby’s nursery. Although they typically come in a standard rectangular shape, cribs are available in a number of different styles and can differ widely in price depending on the materials used in their construction.

Most baby cribs are made of wood, but the quality of wood can range from the softer, more porous woods like pine, to more durable hardwoods like oak, ash, maple, and other imported woods. Parents shopping for a new crib are also likely to encounter a huge selection of colors and finishes, from pure whites and natural wood colors to a whole range of deeper wood stains, including lighter maple and cherry stains to the much darker mahoganies. Regardless of the color you select, the finish should be nontoxic and should not be prone to chipping or peeling.

Some cribs can be purchased as part of a furniture suite, which can include matching chests, dressing tables, and armoires. While this may be an attractive option for parents who want to have a completely coordinated set of nursery furniture, these matching suites can be expensive. Some cribs are equipped with built-in storage drawers, a convenient feature that raises the overall price.

Unfortunately, the price you pay for a crib doesn’t always match up with the quality of what you get. So learn as much as you can about the different components and the required safety features, and then try to find the best possible crib that fits your budget.

In addition to three basic crib types, there are a number of different options and features to consider. Here is a breakdown of what to look for when you start shopping:

Crib Types:

  • Standard cribs: The most common style of crib, standard cribs usually have either one or two drop sides–a side of the crib that can be easily lowered and raised so that you can place baby inside without waking or disturbing her. Double drop sides offer more versatility for caretakers, while single drop sides tend to be more stable. Look for drop sides that work smoothly and quietly (and look out for potential “pinchers”).
  • Canopy cribs: A stylish alternative to a standard crib, canopy cribs come equipped with a large post at each corner, with a metal frame over the top to secure a fabric canopy. Canopies are often available in a variety of styles and colors that can be matched up with the rest of your nursery furniture and accessories.
  • Convertible cribs: Designed to convert from a standard crib to a toddler bed, love seat, or double bed, a convertible crib can be a good choice for parents who don’t plan on having another child. Along with saving you money over time, these adjustable cribs can also make the move from a crib to a bed a little less stressful for your child by making the transition in stages.

 

Key Features:

  • Mattress support: As your bouncing baby grows into a bouncing toddler and discovers the joys of jumping in his crib, it will be tested, repeatedly, for strength. Attaching to the mattress height clips located at each corner of the crib, the mattress support is a metal frame that is designed to withstand all the abuse your child may dish out.
  • Adjustable mattress height: Holding up the mattress support at each corner of the crib, multiple mattress height adjustments allow you to raise or lower the height of the mattress, a versatile feature that becomes increasingly important as your child grows larger and inevitably tries to climb out of the crib.
  • Release mechanism: The release mechanism is a very important component of a crib and performs a dual role: it allows parents to lower the drop sides of the crib for easy access, while preventing baby from lowering them accidentally. You’ll find this essential feature in one of three forms–metal rods, trigger releases, and knee releases. Regardless of the configuration, a release mechanism should always be childproof.
  • Teething rails: These aptly named strips of plastic fit over the top of the crib’s railings and prevent little ones from gnawing directly on the wood. Teething rails are usually installed by the manufacturer, but they can also be purchased separately in 12-inch sections and attached at home.
  • Rolling casters: Available in either plastic or metal, rolling casters should come with a locking mechanism. The ability to lock down the wheels will become more important as your baby approaches toddlerhood and begins to stand upright while holding onto things–including the side of the crib.

 

Crib Safety Guidelines:

The crib you select should always meet all current national safety standards. Many older cribs do not meet all current safety standards. You should not purchase an old crib at a garage sale or accept a hand-me-down as a gift. Parents should always read through and follow the manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to both assembly and daily usage before setting up and using a new crib. Here are some additional crib safety guidelines, as compiled by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA):

  • Infants should always sleep in a crib which meets current federal and ASTM standards. Never place infants to sleep on pillows, sofa cushions, adult beds, waterbeds, beanbags, or any other surface not specifically designed for sleeping infants.
  • Remember to always keep the drop side up when baby is in the crib.
  • Take rattles, squeeze toys, teethers, plush toys, and other items out of baby’s crib when baby is sleeping or unattended. Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, pillow-like stuffed toys, and other pillow-like products from the crib.
  • Never place your crib near windows, draperies, blinds, or wall-mounted decorative accessories with long cords.
  • Select bumper pads that fit around the entire crib and tie or snap securely into place.
  • Use bumper pads only until the child can pull up to a standing position. Then remove them so baby cannot use the pads to climb out of the crib.
  • Mobiles should also be removed when baby can stand up.
  • Make sure there are no missing, loose, broken, or improperly installed screws, brackets, or other hardware on the crib or mattress support.
  • Crib slats or spindles should be spaced no more than 2.38 inches apart, and none should be loose or missing.
  • Never use a crib with corner posts over 0.06 inch above the end panels (unless they’re over 16 inches high, for a canopy). Babies can strangle if their clothes become caught on corner posts. These should be unscrewed or sawed off and the remaining end panels sanded smooth.
  • There should be no cutout areas on the headboard or footboard, so baby’s head can’t get trapped.
  • There should be no cracked or peeling paint.
  • There should be no splinters or rough edges.
  • Look for the JPMA Certification Seal.

Our Favorite Cribs


Mattresses:

When it comes to crib mattresses, you essentially get what you pay for. Manufactured in a standard 52-by-27-inch size, most are 6 inches thick and typically come with a white or off-white cover. But that’s where the similarities end. There are two types of mattresses on the market, foam and innerspring, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a look at the differences between the two:

 

Mattress Types:

  • Foam: Made of polyester or polyether material, foam mattresses typically weigh less and are less expensive than their innerspring counterparts. Their weight depends on the density of foam used in their construction: the denser the foam, the heavier the mattress. A denser foam mattress will provide a firmer surface for baby and will keep its shape longer, while a lighter mattress makes changing baby’s sheets every week a little easier on the back.
  • Innerspring: Like most adult mattresses, innerspring crib mattresses come with an innerspring unit containing rows of steel coils. These coils can vary in both number and in quality and directly affect the firmness and weight of the mattress. Innerspring mattresses also have an insulator layer that sits on top of the coils to prevent them from penetrating the top layers, a cushioning layer or layers of foam or natural cotton, and a mattress cover.

 

Buying Tips:

  • For both foam and innerspring mattresses, the quality of the material and the number of layers that are used in the padding, or ticking, will help determine how long the mattress will last. Some mattresses have double- or triple-laminated ticking, and many have a layer made of heavy-gauge nylon that is bonded to a layer of waterproof material. In addition to providing water resistance, a nylon layer will make the mattress more resistant to tearing.
  • Apply the two-finger sizing test: place the mattress in the crib and try to fit two fingers between the outer edge of the mattress and the rods or spindles that run along the sides of the crib. If you can fit two fingers into this space, the space is too big and the mattress is not the right size for the crib. Baby could potentially get trapped between the mattress and the side of the crib.
  • An overly soft mattress is a suffocation hazard, especially for infants and newborns, so choose the firmest mattress that you can afford to buy. When shopping for a foam mattress, it is a good idea to test the mattress for firmness by pressing your hand on it and seeing how quickly it regains its original shape.
  • Look for a crib mattress with vent holes, typically located on either side. By allowing musty odors to escape, these will help keep a mattress smelling fresh over years of use.

 

Mattress Accessories:

Along with the bedding you select, there are a number of accessories you can purchase to protect your crib mattress and make it more comfortable for the diminutive person who will be sleeping on it. Crib sheets, sheet savers, and waterproof mattress pads can extend the life of the mattress and are usually available in either a fitted form or with zippers. Always use a crib sheet that fits securely on the mattress and wraps around the mattress corners.

Our Favorite Mattresses

Baby Backpack, Sling & Front Carrier Guide

Choosing a Backpack, Sling or Front Carrier for your Baby

Going out and about with your baby in a stroller is one way to go, but for increased mobility and potentially greater closeness, consider using a baby carrier, sling, or backpack that straps onto you via shoulder straps. Contraptions of this type conveniently free up both of your hands and allow for a closer physical connection between parent and baby. It is much easier to navigate stairs or crowded stores with a carrier than with a stroller. And, if you plan on hiking and camping with your child, then these would be your only choice, since strollers just won’t cut it on more rugged terrain. For baby, they have the added benefit of providing a view of more than just shoes and socks and the chance for added closeness and even conversation with Mom or Dad. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing any type of backpack, front-carrier, or sling:

  • Look for a carrier that is comfortable for both you and baby. Try out the ones you’re thinking of buying, rather than asking a friend for a recommendation. A carrier that fits your friend well may not fit you.
  • Carriers can be used until your baby is about 45 pounds, though you may find that they may feel too heavy and uncomfortable even before your baby reaches that weight. At that point, it’s time to try a stroller.
  • Make sure your carrier is the right size for your child’s size and age.
  • Beware of carriers that you cannot manipulate on your own. It’s unrealistic to think that you will always have a spouse or companion with you to help get your baby in and out of the carrier.
  • If you plan on sharing the carrier with someone else (like a spouse or babysitter), make sure it adjusts to fit everybody who’ll be wearing it.
  • Carriers made of fabrics that are easy to wipe clean or that can be put in the wash are best.


Front Carriers

Front carriers are made up of two shoulder straps supporting a fabric seat. They are typically designed so that your baby can ride on your chest, facing inward or outward, and have adjustable settings to help distribute your baby’s weight across your back and shoulders.

  • Front carriers are good for newborns and can hold infants up to 30 pounds, though many parents find that a backpack works better once your baby exceeds 15 or 20 pounds.
  • Front carriers allow baby to face outward and see the world while still being close to you, which may be soothing and cut down on fussiness.
  • The snug fit of front carriers makes them warm, so pick one with breathable fabric that won’t make baby too hot.
  • Use a carrier with well-padded shoulder and waist or hip straps to save your shoulders and back from strain.
  • Make sure your carrier has a sturdy headrest that will support a sleeping baby’s neck and head and that leg holes are banded with soft fabric that won’t irritate a baby’s skin.
  • Find a carrier that is easy to slip on and off by yourself and that won’t require you to wake baby to do so.
  • It is awkward to breastfeed a baby in a front carrier. If this is something you plan to do, you might want to consider a sling instead.

Parents and reviewers have been raving about the classic BABYBJORN Baby Carrier for years now, and with good reason. It is a great, easy to use carrier that fits most parents perfectly. We love it.

Our favorite carriers are:

Slings

Slings are simply a wide swath of fabric that hangs across an adult’s torso and is supported by one shoulder strap. They allow infants to lie in a fetal position or to face outward, and older babies may enjoy straddling the wearer’s hip.

  • Slings are best for carrying newborns under 20 pounds around the house or for short distances. As infants grow, they will become cramped and uncomfortable in a sling.
  • Slings are incredibly comfortable for the wearer and allow infants to rest in a comfortable, natural sleeping position. The soft material of a sling wraps around the infant, simulating the coziness of a swaddling blanket, and the swaying motion may help them sleep.
  • Slings are the easiest type of carrier in which to breastfeed.
  • Make sure the strap of your sling is comfortable and well padded.
  • Some slings can be bulky due to the large amount of fabric they contain. Watch out for slings that have an unnecessary amount of fabric in order to cut down on some of the bulk.
  • Cotton and other breathable fabrics are best for slings, which will be warm due to baby’s close proximity to the parent.

We have a few favorite slings, but our #1 is definitely the Boba Baby Wrap.

Our favorite slings include:

Baby Backpacks

A baby backpack carrier is similar to a backpack used for camping except that a seat for baby takes the place of a storage compartment for gear. The frame and straps will help distribute your baby’s weight evenly over your shoulders and hips.

  • A baby is old enough to ride in a baby backpack when she can sit up on her own (about 5 to 6 months). Until then, it’s best to stick with front-style carriers.
  • Backpacks are sometimes difficult to get on and off without help from a second person, so they may not always be convenient if you’re running errands that require taking the pack on and off at each location. Practice solo loading and unloading of baby until you get the hang of it.
  • It is especially important to make sure a backpack fits correctly and is adjusted properly.
  • Look for a lightweight backpack with an adjustable inside seat and a harness that will safely strap baby in, ideally one that fits across baby’s chest and shoulders.
  • Choose a model that has a stable support stand that allows you to prop it up while putting your child in or taking them out.
  • If you’re planning on hiking and camping with your baby, get a backpack that comes with a protective canopy to shelter him from the elements.
  • For heavier children or for hiking, look for a model with a waist belt, which will transfer some of the weight from your shoulders to your hips.
  • A model with roomy, easy-to-access pockets for stashing baby gear will be most convenient.

If you are looking to take your little ones hiking, we highly recommend the Kelty Tour Child Carrier. It is solid, easily adjustable, and recommended by many parents.

Our favorite Backpacks:

Safety Tips

  • Carriers should not be used while driving, jogging, skating, or riding a bike.
  • Frame-style carriers should be used only when baby can sit unassisted.
  • When picking something up while wearing a carrier, always bend at the knees so that baby doesn’t fall out.
  • Do not cook while baby is in the carrier.
  • Stay off stools and ladders while wearing a carrier.
  • Do not reach for overhead items that could fall and hit baby on the head.

Crib and Sleep Safety Guide

As adults, we consider sleep such a natural part of everyday life that we often don’t give it much thought (except, perhaps, that we’d like more of it). However, because of the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), you should definitely give careful thought to how and where your baby sleeps. Though medical researchers have not found one specific cause of SIDS, they have determined several factors that most likely contribute to these tragic infant deaths. As a result, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have developed the following safe bedding practices for infants:

  • Place baby on his or her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety standards.
  • Remove pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, and other soft products from the crib.
  • Consider using a sleeper or other sleep clothing as an alternative to blankets, with no other covering.
  • If using a blanket, place baby’s feet at the foot of the crib. Tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as the baby’s chest.
  • Make sure your baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep.
  • Do not place baby on a waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface to sleep.
  • Mobiles should be removed when babies can pull themselves up or are strong enough to grab dangling items.

In addition to the above guidelines, the Consumer Product Safety Commission also suggests that an infant’s crib should have:

  • A firm, tight-fitting mattress, so a baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the crib.
  • No missing, loose, broken, or improperly installed screws, brackets, or other hardware on the crib or mattress support.
  • No more than 2.38 inches (about the width of a soda can) between crib slats, so a baby’s body cannot fit through the slats; no missing or cracked slats.
  • No corner posts over 0.06 inch high, so a baby’s clothing cannot catch.
  • No cutouts in the headboard or footboard, so a baby’s head cannot get trapped.

Bottle Feeding Guide

Everything You Need To Bottle-feed Your Baby

Feeding on demand applies as much to bottle-feeding as it does to breastfeeding. A newborn may have to be fed as often as every two hours. While a nursing mom is self-sufficient in a sense, bottle-feeding does involve getting a lot more accessories together. Our handy buying guide might help you decide what’s just right for your baby.

Bottles

Nursing bottles come in three basic sizes: 4-ounce, 8-ounce, and 9-ounce. The 4-ounce bottles are typically used for newborns. They can also be used for storing expressed milk and when the baby gets older, as juice or water bottles. The 8-ounce and 9-ounce bottles are more versatile and long lasting.

There are enough types of bottles available today to make you wonder which one is right for your baby. However, they can be broken down into basically three categories:

  • Standard bottles – These have straight necks and bodies and can be used over and over again. All bottles are marked in ounces for easy and precise portion control of the formula. It’s best to buy clear plastic or glass bottles so that you can observe the milk flow as baby drinks it.
  • Bottles with angled necks – designed to keep the nipple filled with liquid to reduce baby’s air intake, bottles with angled necks also promote holding the baby’s head in an upright position. Many doctors believe that feeding in this position helps prevent ear infection in babies.
  • Disposable systems – osable systems have a hard plastic shell called the nurser, which holds disposable plastic bags. For one-time use, the bags are presterilized to hold formula. The system comes with a special nipple and screw-on collar that holds the bag in place. The advantage of this system is that the disposable bags contract to prevent babies from sucking in air bubbles that cause them to spit up. Plus, it is ready to use and requires no cleaning. The nipples, however, need to be thoroughly cleaned, as with any bottle.

Nipples

When bottle-feeding your baby, make sure the nipple hole is of the right size. If your child appears to be sucking too hard, you probably need a fast/medium-flow nipple. An overly resistant nipple could collapse under your baby’s strong sucking motion. On the other hand, if your baby seems to be sputtering and gulping often, your baby could need a slow-flow nipple. For a newborn, you know the nipple size is right when the milk comes out in a spray for a second or two when the bottle is inverted, and then trickles down to drops.

Types of Nipples

  • Traditional, bell-shaped nipples – These have a range of hole sizes from standard to small for newborns, to large for toddlers or for pulpy juice drinks. Some brands of nipples have just one hole and others have two or even three holes to ensure an easy flow of the formula. It is best to use the nipple and collar from the same manufacturer to ensure a tight fit and to avoid messy leaks.
  • Orthodontic nipples – Orthodontic nipples have an irregular shape and are designed to resemble a mother’s nipple in the baby’s mouth after repeated sucking. The nipples are elongated and have an indent in the center to evoke the same tonguing action of breastfeeding babies. It is believed that this helps in reducing the tongue thrusting and bite problems caused by standard nipples.
  • Latex nipples – Elongated to promote breastfeeding-like suckling action, latex nipples cause the milk to be delivered at the back of the baby’s tongue instead of the mouth. However, latex nipples should be checked after two to three months for deterioration, cracks, or clogging.
  • Silicone nipples – These are made of a clear, heat-resistant material that can withstand being washed in a dishwasher. Since silicone is a less porous material than latex, it isn’t as prone to bacteria. Typically, silicone nipples last three to four times longer than latex. However, all nipples must be checked every two to three months for deterioration.

Our favorite bottle nipples are:

Formula

Babies need plenty of nutrients growing up, and next to mother’s milk, formula is the best source. In fact, formula alone can meet a baby’s nutritional needs for up to six months, after which doctors recommend introducing solids, in the form of baby food, to infants. Many start as early as four months, after which the baby’s diet includes a well-balanced mix of both. It’s best to check with your pediatrician, as every baby has a different schedule.

There are two basic types of formula: cow’s milk and soy. The soy formula is designed for babies with a family history of allergies. Do not give ordinary cow’s milk to infants because it does not have the nutrients babies need. Plus, their digestive system is not yet capable of effectively breaking down and utilizing its nutritional components.

Formula comes in three forms: liquid concentrate, powder, and ready-to-feed. It is important that you follow the instructions to prepare the formula, using the same measuring spoon provided by the manufacturer. Diluting the powder or liquid concentrate form too much or too little is not good for your child. Also be sure to follow storing instructions. Usually, once the concentrate or ready-to-feed cans/bottles have been opened, you need to refrigerate and use them within the next 24 to 48 hours, as specified by the manufacturer. The ready-to-feed does not require any water. Formula should be at room temperature for a feeding.

Bottle-Feeding Accessories

There are many accessories available to help you bottle-feed. Whether it’s warming, cleaning, sterilizing, or transporting, there is a bottle-feeding accessory for you.

  • Bottle brushes – A must if you are using a standard or angled baby bottle. Bottles often prove to be a cleaning challenge without them.
  • Day or night coolers/warmers – These help keep bottles cool for up to two hours or warm them up in just minutes. They’re a great help when you need to feed the baby in the middle of the night. We highly recommend The First Years Quick Serve Bottle Warmer.
  • Bottle warmers for cars – Perfect for moms and babies on the go. Just plug right into the car lighter socket and your baby’s formula is heated in minutes.
  • A hot/cold insulated bag – Perfect for carrying formula or snacks during extended outings with your baby.
  • Sterilizers – Essential to keep baby’s nipples and bottles bacteria free. Don’t forget to sterilize them before their first use. There are several types of sterilizers to choose from: stove-top bottle sterilizers have rings and racks to hold bottles and nipples in place, and self-standing electric and free-standing bottle sterilizers have automatic cut-off mechanisms, which prevent damage to bottles if water evaporates. We are big fans of the Philips AVENT 3-in-1 Electric Steam Sterilizer.
  • Dishwasher racks and baskets – Racks and baskets help keep the nipples, collars, and pacifiers from being tossed around in the dishwasher.
  • Bottle organizers – Good for helping you store baby’s bottles, nipples, collars, hoods, and pacifiers in a clean and organized way.
  • Feeding pillows – Feeding pillows, such as the beloved Boppy, can help you get baby up to the proper angle and give your weary arms a little rest.

For a great, affordable start, we recommend going with a set like the Philips Avent Infant Starter Set.

Some of our favorite accessories:

Safety Tips

  • Never try to warm formula in the microwave, because it may be unevenly heated and parts could scald baby.
  • Do not let baby fall asleep with the bottle, as bedtime bottles may lead to teeth decay from formula accumulation in the mouth.
  • Do not prop the bottle when feeding baby, as it may cause choking. Always hold baby in a semi-upright position and angle the bottle accordingly.
  • Do not pour overheated liquid into a plastic liner, as it can burst.
  • Feed baby formula or breast milk only at room temperature.

Baby Proofing Guide

General Safety

Thinking about baby safety doesn’t necessarily come naturally to parents and, in fact, might seem like yet another overwhelming and intimidating task related to bringing up baby. Fortunately, babyproofing is something parents can–and should–take care of before baby even arrives, when you do not yet have the day-to-day care of a new infant as your first priority. You might consider it as the warm-up before the big game–a time to get into the right mindset for parenting and get comfortable with your equipment and strategy. Like many things, you should rely on instinct, but here are some general guidelines to help you make your home a safer place for your bundle of joy.

The guidelines below contain very specific suggestions about how to babyproof your home. However, it’s also helpful to keep some basic things about baby development in mind as you consider ways to make baby’s surroundings safe:

  • A new infant, though not mobile, requires safe equipment (car seats, cribs, strollers,monitors).
  • Once a baby can push herself up on her hands or roll over (around 3 to 6 months), you will need to make sure there is nothing within her reach in or above the crib or on a playmat that may be hazardous.
  • When a baby learns to creep or crawl (around 7 to 9 months), the area in need of babyproofing expands exponentially. You may have to develop babyproof “zones” in highly frequented areas of the home–rooms that are safe for baby and are blocked off from the rest of the home by gates or other equipment. Staircases now become a hazard, and some experts suggest that the bathroom and kitchen should be completely off-limits to mobile children, due to the difficulties involved in making those areas safe for baby.
  • A walking child can get much farther than a crawling child and can do so much faster. At this stage of the game (around 10 to 14 months) you will need to be especially vigilant about watching your child and making sure off-limits areas are well guarded by gates or other barricades. An upright child can also reach much higher than a crawling toddler, so the area that must be babyproof expands vertically as well as horizontally.

Basic Household Safety

“Better safe than sorry” is the best approach to adopt when it comes to making your home a safer place for your baby. The best way to assess what could pose potential hazards for your child is to see your home from a child’s point of view, quite literally. Start by getting down on your hands and knees and explore your home from that vantage point. When you view things from this perspective, it will probably become quite obvious to you just how dangerous that coffee table corner is or how easy it would be for a baby or toddler to stick curious fingers into an electrical socket. Below is a checklist of things you should do in every room in your house.

  • Use socket guards for all unused electrical sockets.
  • Use safety locks on all windows.
  • Put coins, keys, matches, batteries, paper clips, ashtrays, purses, and other small items out of your child’s reach.
  • Place safety latches on all cupboards and closets.
  • Install smoke detectors in all sleeping areas.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Use corner cushions to protect your child from sharp corners.
  • Use cord shorteners to avoid exposure to window cords and wires in the house.
  • Secure gates at top and bottom of all stairways.
  • Eliminate baby’s access to the bathtubs, showers, toilets, swimming pools, and hot tubs.
  • Make sure cosmetics, perfume, aftershave, and other toiletries are out of reach.
  • Position pet food and the litter box out of baby’s way.
  • Post the number of your local poison control center next to telephones along with a list of other emergency numbers–such as the ER, pediatrician, grandparents and other close relatives, and neighbors. You can print our fridge sheet of useful numbers.
  • Stow cleaning products, paint, electrical tools, and exercise equipment out of baby’s reach.
  • Keep plastic wrap and plastic bags out of baby’s reach.

Living Room/Family Room/Nursery

  • Place knickknacks on a high shelf.
  • Use a fireplace screen that a baby cannot tip over, store fire utensils and matches out of baby’s reach, and cushion the corners of fireplace edges with padding or guards.
  • Use socket guards for all unused electrical sockets.
  • Cushion the edges of tables, desks, or other furniture with padding or guards.
  • Do not hang mobiles or other toys over the corner or sides of a playard once baby can push up on her hands, as this could present a strangulation hazard.
  • To prevent your toddler from hurting themselves climbing into or out of a playard, don’t leave them in a mesh playard with the drop side down, and keep the drop side of a playard up even when your child is not in it. Do not leave children unattended in a playpen.
  • Do not use use a playard with holes in the sides, as this could entrap a child’s limbs or head.
  • Avoid locking mechanisms on toy chests that could lead to pinched fingers or accidental closures.

Bathroom

Many experts suggest that babies and toddlers should not be allowed in the bathroom at all (except at bathtime or potty training sessions), as young children can drown in even the smallest amounts of water. However, because toddlers and crawlers are quite curious once they are up and moving on their own, experts suggest that you take the following safety precautions:

  • Keep the toilet lid down and secure it with a latch and do not allow children to play with the water in the bowl. An open toilet bowl presents a potential drowning hazard (not to mention a germ hazard).
  • Do not leave water in the bathtub when it is not in use. Children can drown in as little as 2 to 3 inches of water.
  • Do not leave a child unattended in the bathtub or rely on an older sibling to supervise.
  • Use nonskid mats in the bathtub to prevent slipping.
  • Check to see that the suction cups on a bath seat are securely attached to the bath seat and tub surface.
  • Never use the baby bath seat in a non-skid, slip-resistant bathtub because the suction cups may not adhere to the bathtub surface.
  • Do not rely on bath seats to keep baby safe in the bath.
  • Keep the medicine cabinet locked and keep all medications in childproof containers.
  • Move all soaps, shampoos, bath gels, razors, and other toiletries out of reach of children.
  • Before placing your baby in the bathtub, make sure you have everything you need to bathe your baby near you to prevent having to turn away from baby to fetch it later.
  • Test the temperature of the water before bathing your baby by using your wrist or elbow, and remember that babies may not be able to tolerate the same water temperature as an adult. The correct temperature should be between 96 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place soft or inflatable covers over tub faucets to prevent bumps and bruises.

Dining Room

  • Always use all restraining straps provided on a highchair–both the waist strap and the strap that goes between the legs. Injuries or even strangulation can occur from unrestrained children slipping down under the highchair tray.
  • Make sure that the locking device on a folding highchair is fully engaged.
  • Don’t allow your child to stand up in a highchair or an older child to hang onto a highchair while baby is in it.
  • Place the highchair far enough away from the table, counter, or wall to prevent the child using that surface to push off and tip the chair over.
  • When seating a child at a table, use place mats instead of tablecloths, in case they succeed in pulling the tabletop items off the table.
  • Add sharp knives to place settings only after adults are seated.
  • Use plastic plates and glasses for children.
  • Be sure that your china and silverware are stored away from your baby’s curious grasp.

Kitchen

The kitchen, like the bathroom, is full of potential hazards. It may be best to block access to the kitchen with a safety gate.

  • Never leave babies or toddlers alone in the kitchen.
  • Do not let your baby play on the floor by the stove while you are cooking.
  • Use the back stove burners when possible. When using the front burners, turn the pot handles toward the back of the stove so that children cannot grab them.
  • Install cabinet and drawer latches and locks to prevent your child from finding items that may present a choking hazard.
  • Keep all dishwashing liquids and cleaning agents in locked or latched cabinets.
  • Keep sharp and potentially dangerous items out of reach.

Safety Gates

When your baby starts to crawl, explore, or use a walker, it’s time to install gates wherever potential hazards may be present around your home. At the top of stairs, at the bottom of stairs, and in between rooms, safety gates act as barricades that communicate which areas are off-limits for your little scooter. When purchasing gates for your home, there are several things to keep in mind: types of gates, features, and safety. We recommend you check our complete guide to choosing safety gates for your home.

Baby-Proofing Products