Top 5 Reasons to use a Travel Crib at Home

It was almost time. The nursery was all ready. The brand-spankin’ new clothes were hanging on their brand new hangers, and the crib was made just perfect.

When we brought our little bundle of joy home from the hospital, we wanted everything to be perfect.

We visited his cousin, born two weeks earlier. I was surprised, when I visited, to see that her bed was nothing but a Pack-and-Play travel crib. I said nothing, but my perfectionist mind was thinking, “No crib? Can my baby sleep safely in a travel crib at home?”

How much I had to learn.

Why a Travel Crib Is a Perfectly Acceptable Bed for Your Baby

1. It allows naptime to be consistent yet portable

In case you weren’t aware, one of the most crucial aspects of parenting is conquering naptime. Sleep is paramount, both for you and baby, and much of that depends on a good place to sleep.

Travel cribs like Pack-and-Plays are perfect for naps because they facilitate a long-term consistency that isn’t possible with traditional cribs. Using a travel cot or crib, you can move it out to the garden where you’re working, into the kitchen, or to the trunk for a trip to Grandma’s. Since the bed is familiar and cozy, your baby knows exactly what’s supposed to happen there. Naptime.

Now, whether or not your growing infant will be pleased with the idea is another conversation altogether.

2. It’s much more economical

A new Pack-and-Play can be a fraction of the cost of a new full-sized crib. Combine with that all extras like full-size crib mattresses, bedding, and bedskirt, and you’ll quickly see that a portable crib is much easier on the pocketbook.

3. It can be safer

Although cribs are getting safer and safer—or so they tell us—there’s always the possibility of a growing child getting stuck between the slats or learning to crawl over and escape. With mesh-sided travel cribs, that factor is eliminated, and a child would have to be pretty old—or talented—before he could vault over the side of a Pack-and-Play.

4. It’s versatile

A Pack-and-Play isn’t just for sleep time. It’s a great way to contain toddlers at play. It’s a perfect solution when guests bring over their roaming anklebiters who haven’t learned to keep their sticky fingers to themselves.

5. It’s easier to resell

When it’s time to move to a “big kid bed,” it’s usually easier to sell a well-cared for Pack-and-Play than a full size crib. Many places won’t even allow you to sell used cribs due to the potential liability involved in older models.

While first time parents like myself have the best of intentions, they don’t always have the most sense. I thought I was such a great parent for having a top-of-the-line nursery, when my sister-in-law had the right idea all along.

Fast-forward to today. My youngest child just woke up and smiled at me from the Pack-and-Play where he loves to sleep every day and every night. He is healthy, happy, and just as wonderful as my oldest child.

And his room isn’t nearly as crowded.

For more on making sure your baby sleeps safely, visit our guide to crib and sleep safety.

Travel Cribs We Love

Cuisinart Baby Food Maker Review

Once your baby starts eating solids, you will probably want to introduce them to many different foods. And when it comes to solid foods, fresher means better.

But making fresh baby food means chopping, steaming, pureeing – a lot of work.

Luckily there are a few baby food makers in the market that can make the job much easier and faster. And as the parent of a baby or toddler, you know that between dressing, feeding, changing, and sometimes even sleeping, time is one of the most valuable commodities you have (or don’t).

Product Features

Cuisinart Baby Food Maker

The Cuisinart Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer can chop, steam, and puree almost any kind of fruit, vegetable, and more. The dishes in the included recipe book are diverse and appetizing; including Mango and papaya Cinnamon Oats, Veggie Lentil Medley, and even Baby Chicken Soup (for budding carnivores).

The included bowl is large enough to make four cups of baby food at a time, and perhaps best of all – the entire process is done inside the bowl. No need to clean multiple dishes.

Another nice feature of the Cuisinart Baby Food Maker is the compact design, which keeps it from taking up too much space on the counter or in a cupboard. The lid even has a convenient spot for storing the bottle ring when it is not in use. Furthermore, the white exterior goes well with all types of kitchen décor.

Another helpful feature of the food maker is the large-capacity, four-cup, work bowl, and a patent-pending Blade Lock System to hold the blade in place while pouring. This feature is especially useful when portioning food into smaller containers to freeze or refrigerate for later.

Additionally, there is a built-in bottle warmer that will heat your baby’s bottle to an ideal temperature, which takes the guesswork out of heating a bottle.

Also included in the box are a recipe book, spatula, bottle adapter ring, and integrated measuring cup to assist you in preparing food or bottles for your baby.

What we Like

We like that the Cuisinart Baby Food Maker has the capability to steam, chop, and puree food for your baby within the same container. The product makes it easy to create healthy, homemade meals for your baby without a lot of pots and pans to clean afterward.

While you are chopping foods for your dinner, it is simple to add the chopped fruit or vegetables into the baby food maker, so your child can eat similar foods.

Overall, the Cuisinart BFM-1000 Baby Food Maker and Bottle Warmer is ideal for someone who appreciates having only one container to clean after making baby food. The ability to steam, chop and puree food all in one, reliable machine is great for busy parents.

Pros

  • Steams, chops, and purees
  • Compact design
  • Only one container to clean
  • Makes enough food for multiple meals

Cons

  • Not intuitive to use the first time – make sure you read the manual
  • Bowl could become cloudy with extended use

8 Toys for Babies Under a Year Old

Despite a huge variety in the market, it seems like it isn’t always easy to find toys for babies between 6 and 12 months. As babies transition from being completely immobile, and then within a few months are suddenly very, very mobile, it seems that they are also in a transition phase between toys that are great for newborns, and ones that expect baby to sit at, crawl with, or stand next to.

Luckily, there are some great toys that can last through this transition period and beyond. Not only that, they can help baby’s development through this phase by encouraging important motor, cognitive, and language skills.

In making this list, we only chose toys that have passed 4 tests:

  1. The toy must help develop a number of different fine motor, gross motor, cognitive, or language skills.
  2. The toy must be relevant for at least 3-6 months. Toys are expensive, and babies’ attention span is fleeting. We only recommend toys that can stand the test of time, and keep baby engaged and interested for months.
  3. The toy needs to be safe for baby to use.
  4. The toy must have had the stamp of approval of real parents who lived with it in their day-to-day lives.

Oball

One of the most diverse toys on this list, the Oball is a favorite of ours. Its webbed design make it easy for even the littlest of hands to grasp, and the fact that it’s a ball (you can’t patent simplicity) encourages kids to start crawling as they try and catch up.

Once baby is old enough to sit up and play, rolling the ball back and forth with an adult is a great way to develop an understanding of the back-and-forth of communication.

Floor Mirror

A good baby-safe mirror can provide a lot stimulus, and development opportunities for baby.

It encourages head control during tummy time, helps develop self awareness, social and emotional skills. And as your baby transitions to sitting, and then standing, a good standing mirror on an easel (like the Sassy Floor Mirror) forces baby to bend their wrist back (called “extension”) which is critical for handwriting skills later on.

Sophie La Girafe

If my daughter’s first words end up being Sophie la Girafe, I won’t be surprised.

Sophie has become the go to toy for so many parents, and with good reason. Sophie’s design is perfect for various chewing activities for teething babies, with her legs being perfect for baby’s molars, and her back for the front of the mouth. And for an added stimuli for the baby, sophie squeaks when you squeeze her.

Sophie is one of the more expensive teething toys, but don’t let that scare you. She will be your baby’s best friend (and yours) when they are teething.

Tip: Look for the Sophie the Giraffe Gift Set which comes with an additional teether for an exceptional value.

Soft Stackable Blocks

Simple, good old fashioned, stacking blocks are still surprisingly relevant. Better yet, playtime can evolve as your child develops.

Starting with grabbing and pulling, babies then move on to reaching for far off blocks. At this stage you can start stacking them on top of each other, let baby knock them over, and repeat… and repeat. One day, you will find out that your baby has learned to stack them up all by themselves.

Blocks are great for fine and gross motor skills, midline play, tummy time, grasping and releasing, understanding cause and effect, hand-eye coordination, and more.

Stacking Rings

Continuing our tour of the classics, we find another one you may remember from your own childhood – the ring stacker. You will be surprised how much fun, and for how long, babies can enjoy this toy.

Their shape encourages baby to hold them with both hands, helping develop their midline play skills. They are perfectly shaped for putting into the mouth. And baby can watch as you stack them, and start to understand the difference between each ring. Once baby is a bit older and sitting up, they can begin stacking themselves, further developing motor and cognitive skills.

Play Table

Play tables are like souped up activity centers. Their detachable legs make them versatile for babies aged 6-36 months. Detach all the legs and let your baby play on the floor. Once baby is ready to start sitting and crawling, attach two legs so that the table sits at a 45 degree angle. Finally, once baby is starting to practice standing, attach the last two legs to encourage them to stand up for longer periods of time, as they play with the various activities of the play table.

Ball Drop Ramp

The ball drop is a fun way for baby to work on fine motor skills, understanding cause and effect, depth perception, hand eye coordination, transferring between hands and visual tracking.

Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering!

Accurate enough to satisfy an expert, yet simple enough for baby, Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering! will teach little one about the basics of flight – from birds, through planes, and all the way to rockets – and ties it all in to baby’s world.

It’s never too early to instill a love of science.

Is Your Child Ready for an Umbrella Stroller?

Umbrella strollers are a lightweight, compact, and affordable option for parents of young children. This extremely maneuverable style of stroller can be a highly convenient choice for on-the-go parents. Often manufactured with lightweight fabric and a collapsible feature, umbrella strollers are easy to travel with and pull out whenever required.

What is an Umbrella Stroller?

An umbrella stroller is lightweight baby stroller that has the ability to collapse into a much smaller size. It’s weightless and foldable design makes the umbrella stroller suitable for traveling families, as it can be easily stored and reassembled. This stroller gets its name from is easily foldable structure, umbrella J-shaped handles, and sun/rain shield. Umbrella strollers are popular for use on public transport, use in shopping malls, or even use at carnivals and outdoor festivals. An umbrella stroller can be the perfect addition to your child’s collection of necessities, however ensuring that your child is in the ideal age range to use one is crucial. Is your child old enough for an umbrella stroller?

What Age is Safe to Use an Umbrella Stroller

There are various designs of umbrella strollers. While some may be suitable for slightly younger babies, others are better suited for toddlers and bigger babies. The age that is most safe to use an umbrella stroller with your child depends on the manufacturer’s design of the stroller. Some umbrella strollers have a recline feature that allows the backrest to recline, which enables the child to lie horizontally. These strollers are great for younger babies that are only a few months old. Younger babies have not developed the supportive neck and back muscles that will allow them to remain in a seated position throughout their stroller journey, therefore the recline feature would be highly useful. Babies that have developed their required neck and back muscles would best benefit from the umbrella strollers that allow them the ability to sit up as opposed to laying down.

Are Umbrella Strollers Safe For Infants?

Infants are bundles of joy that are new to the world. Infants need to be loved and protected from harm’s way at all times. This includes choosing a stroller that is compatible with your needs as a parent. As the parent of an infant child, you are still able to experience the great pros of an umbrella stroller. However, you do need to critically evaluate the key features of the umbrella stroller prior to making the decision to purchase it.

If you are opting for an umbrella stroller for your infant, ensure that there is optimal padding and cushioning around the seat. Seeing that infants’ supportive neck and back muscles are yet to be developed, extra cushioning will be required. Not only will the padding provide support for the baby’s neck and back, but it will also ensure that the baby’s stroller experience is a comfortable one. Your typical umbrella strollers with extremely thin fabric are not recommended for infants due to the lack of support that is provided. Once the baby is capable of sitting upright on their own, usually from 4 to 7 months of age, then it is safer to use an umbrella stroller with less padding.

Is My Child Ready For an Umbrella Stroller?

Umbrella strollers come in several styles, each offering unique features that are suitable for babies and toddlers during their various stages of growth. Regardless of how young your baby is, there are umbrella strollers on the market that will comfortably suit your child and put your parental worries at ease. Take into consideration all of your child’s needs and choose wisely.

Umbrella Strollers We Love

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

Silver Baron Lodge – Elevation Lodges

When a ski bum friend returned from her family vacation in Park City, she raved about the family-friendly nature of her winter wonderland vacation. It didn’t take too much convincing. My husband and I excitedly packed up our 4-month old daughter in the warmest puffy jacket we could find and set off for our first snowy vacation with our baby.  Deer Valley turned out to be an ideal infant-friendly winter getaway and Elevation Lodges was the perfect choice for a smooth, drama-free stay.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Our base for the week was the Silver Baron Lodge, which we booked through Elevation Lodges.

Our suite had a royally comfortable King Bed in the master bedroom, and a King size pull out couch in the living room. The staff from Elevation Lodges set us up with a baby cot and baby bathtub, so we didn’t have to lug anything with us.

Larger families can also rent the adjoining unit, which has two extra Queen beds and a separate kitchen facility in case two families want to be together, and also have privacy (next year we will rent this unit and bring the grandparents too!).

Having the fully stocked kitchen was perfect for cleaning and warming bottles as was having a full washer/dryer for keeping our ski gear and our LO’s slobber-gear clean. For entertainment, the suite comes with a large screen TV, board games, Sony Playstation and cozy fireplace. A few times we even managed to sneak out to soak our tired muscles in the outdoor jacuzzi on our balcony.

The suite also had an indoor jacuzzi bath and a separate bathroom with an additional standing rain shower so that both my husband and I could shower and get ready conveniently in the morning.

CHILD CARE

Deer Valley Youth Ski Instruction

In the evenings the ultra-helpful staff at Elevation Lodges arranged a trustworthy babysitter for our baby, and during the day we would take our little one to the Children’s Center at the Deer Valley Resort. The ratio for the infant room is 3 to 1, and while we were there, we had the luck of no more than two kids at a time with the caretaker. For those wanting to snowboard (as Deer Valley is a ski-only mountain), parents can also check out the child care at Park City Resort.  Advanced reservations are required for either Children’s Center, and we recommend doing it early as it tends to fill up. If there is space, you can also opt for the half day, which we did a few times on lighter skiing days.

KID-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

Park City offers excellent year-round outdoor activities. In winter months, the Children’s Center has a full day of non-ski activities for ages two months through 12 years. Kids ages 3+ can join the ski schools of any of the area resorts.

FOOD

We specifically chose a suite with a fully stocked kitchen knowing that after long days of being on the slopes, we would be exhausted and happy to curl up by the fireplace with some soup and hot cocoa. For delicious kid-friendly outings check out Squatters (something for everyone!), El Chubasco for simple Mexican fare, and High West Distillery in town for some adult-friendly beverages.

Why We Loved It:

  • baby gear available on request
  • comfy massive beds
  • romantic cozy fireplace and jacuzzi for when the kiddies fall asleep
  • location minutes away from the Deer Valley Resort Children’s Center

What We Would Have Changed:

  • extra fee for daily cleaning when renting through Elevation Lodges (worth it)

Vitals:

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