Use Video Baby Monitors With Caution

Summer Infant Video Baby Monistor

via CPSC

On February 1, 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in conjunction with Summer Infant Inc, Woonsocket, R.I., issued a warning about a strangulation hazard. Young babies and children are getting tangled in the cords of video baby monitors and two children have died.

Strangulation hazard from cord

There has also been a report made of a child becoming tangled in the cords but had been freed safely.

What the CPSC is advising that no cords be within three feet of the crib. If a baby or child can reach the cord it is too close. The report also states that the monitors had been placed on the rail, on the wall and on a dressing table attached to the crib.

Summer Infant Inc, has also started a campaign where the company is now putting labels on all of their video monitors. There has been over 1.7 million of these types of monitors sold.

We as parents always want to do the best for our children and of course we want to keep an eye on them when they are sleeping. Having a camera in the room is a great way to keep an eye on what is going on. But, on the other hand we do not want to risk having something terrible happen either. By using due diligence with anything that is placed near a baby crib risks will be lowered.

Best rule is to never put anything near a baby crib where the child can become entangled. Although there is only one company named in this report there are other brands of baby video monitors on the market. Anything with a cord should never be put near the crib.

Do you use this device or anything similar? How far away do you keep the cord?

Basic Baby Tools Reviewed

A crib is one of the things you need to buy when expecting a baby

Photo on CAPL

Funnily enough, 2010 seemed to be the year of the babies. I have so many friends who welcomed their bundles of joy last year and so many who got pregnant and are expecting this year. It really is beautiful to see the beginnings of a life, to see the joy in the parent’s faces, and to see all my new mommy-to-be girlfriends fret over all the baby things they think they need.  This is especially true (and fun to watch) with my friends who are going to be first time mom’s.

I remember very well what I thought I needed when I was pregnant with my first child.  I remember it was a few months in chaos listing all the things magazines and sites were telling me I needed.  And, being the anal person that I am, I got MOST of these items.  Only to find out later that I didn’t really need half of them.  Good thing was I was able to use them for my second child. Wonderful how some baby things just don’t go out of style.

Anyway, I thought about doing a list of things you really need after you find out you are expecting and a basic time chart for when to get them. It might be helpful for all the first time mom’s out there.

6 months before D-Day:

By this time, I think it is OK to start getting the big stuff. This is because you will have had enough time to save up for them and because you will still have enough time to pay them off should you decide to get these on installment.

1. Crib

OK, you can choose whatever crib you want here but I personally think that if you have no baby cabinets yet, then get the ones with the drawers and the ones with the bed that can take the baby into the growing years.  There are some cribs that are cute and may fit a little nook in your room, but for practicality and for budget’s sake, these are not the smartest choices.

2. Stroller/Car Seat/Bassinet

OK, there are sooo many choices in the market today and some ranging from the reasonably expensive to the outrageously expensive.  The things I would say to look out for are the material of the stroller and car seat, the quality of the belt and the fasteners, the padding around the bars, the size and quality of the wheels and the shocks of the stroller.  Any brand that presents above average standards for all these is a thumb’s up for me.

4. Bottles and sterilizer

Now, if there were many crib and stroller choices, there are even more bottle choices.  And the manufacturers have made these bottles so complicated that  it almost feels like you need a degree to choose the right one!  The rules I followed were two things: that they were designed to produce a non-colicky baby, and that they were made from material that does not leach BPA or bisephenol, which is a harmful byproduct of plastic that can go onto the liquid in the bottle if it is heated above 175F.  The thing is a lot of the really cute and popular bottles use Polycarbonate plastic despite this fact because it is lightweight to bring around and for the baby to hold and offers flexibility in design of nipples and bottle.  But there are a lot of bottles made from safer and greener plastic that are just as pretty. It really is personal choice here.

3 months to go:

1. Bedsheets, clothes, blankets

I cannot stress how many of these you will think you need in the first two months after the baby is born.  You will want sheet replacements in case you need to change the sheets, and change you will need to do often.  You will want clothes that can come off and go on the baby as easily as possible and these usually are the ones that you tie up front. For tropical countries, it is important to have cotton clothes to keep the baby cool and it is essential to have changes of clothing to keep the baby clean and fresh. I has a set of 6 tops that you tie in front, 6 that you button on the shoulder, and 6 wide neck ones.  I used them all.  Blankets and towels are equally important as they cover the baby, keep the baby warm, and is what the baby will be wrapped in for chnks of hours over the day.  I had 6 of these although I know of others who had a dozen to be safe.

2. Washing/changing station

If you are old fashioned like me, you will do with a regular tub with a dipper in the bathroom.  If you are more mod, you may want to use a changing table that can convert into a washbasin. This is entirely a personal choice.

3. Breast pump

Now, if you do not intend to breastfeed, this is a moot point. But, if you do, finding a good pump will be a lifesaver.  Like most things, a pump has a price range.  I didn’t try all but I have tried a few to be able to make some kind of recommendation. I’ve also thrown in comments from friends for good measure.

  • Medela- This range of breast pumps is, as far as I’ve heard, the Ferrari of breast pumps. It is strong but not painful and really gets the milk out. Plus it has some sort of suction imitation thing that keeps breast milk in production even if the baby is not breastfeeding from the breast all the time.  This is pricey though.
  • Avent- very very well known for quality bottles and pumps, I had the opportunity to use the manual breast pump. It was very good. No need for an electric pump at all. It was virtually painless to use, had good suction, and was easy enough to use for a few hours straight. The only thing I found a bit off putting was that it was rather large to use and hold (for me at least) but this really depends on the woman’s grip and hand size.  I would recommend this breast pump if your budget allows as this is also a bit on the pricey side.
  • Pigeon- this is the more budget friendly brand and I was able to use the manual and electric varieties. The manual one was great. It was small enough so it was not cumbersome, the pump was soft enough to use for a few hours straight, it was virtually painless as well. I would definitely recommend this pump. I used the electric one as well because i thought i could get a lot of milk minus the manual pumping. It was very painful. I stopped using it after two tries. I do not recommend this at all.

4. Diapers

You will need to change the baby around eight times a day in the beginning and will only taper off when the baby is well withing the first year so stocking up early is not a bad idea. Diapers do not have an expiration date but they do have sizes so stock up on some newborn diapers and small ones first.  Research on how often you need to change the baby and how fat they grow on average to get a rough computation of how many pieces you might need. If you want to use cloth diapers, you will need about 2-3 dozen of the small to medium ones first.  You will need some baby friendly soap and a good washing machine and dryer as well.  Have a basin with some water mixed with detergent handy so you can soak soiled diapers immediately.  This makes them easier to wash and prevents staining.

5. Diaper bag

You can have two to three of these ion different sizes.  You will need a variety as the amount of things you will bring around will change depending on where you are headed. make sure to have bottle holders, a changing mat, other dividers and an insulated area.  It would be great to have an outside or other pocket for your personal things so you don’t have to carry a handbag but this is optional.

These are the most basic things you will need to have before you welcome your new baby. Of course, there is a whole novel full of other things you will want to have but those you can stress less about.  Having these basics will at least get you through the first couple of weeks.

What are your favorite tools for caring for your baby?

Holding Your Baby Close

There is no feeling that compares with having a child, seeing that precious baby for the first time and eagerly anticipating all the time you will be spending together.  When I had my children, it was indescribable.  I wanted them with me all the time, everywhere I went.  But I couldn’t carry them for long periods without help because I had a Cesarean section when I had them.  There were two things that helped me out and which I recommend for any mommy or daddy when carrying your child.

When The Baby is Tiny

baby slingI used a baby sling when my children were newborns until they could sit easily on their own.  This made it so much easier for me to carry them because I didn’t have to use my core to carry the weight. Even a 6lb. baby is heavy when you’ve just had a C-section!  My baby never fussed because he felt like it was just me holding him. He was never aware of the fact that the sling was doing more than half of the carrying work. The sling also helped keep me private when I was breastfeeding.

From a vain perspective, a baby sling was also great in terms of style.  Becuase it looks like a long shawl and it comes in so many different designs, I was able to carry my baby around comfortably with some style.

Daddy’s can use the baby sling as well. It is very easy to use and is adjustable so anyone can use it. It helps give Dad’s who are not as confident yet with carrying their child on their own, that additional support. This gave my husband the opportunity to carry our child around a lot.  He told me that he felt more comfortable carrying our son with a little help from the baby sling. He was able to focus on our baby and not on whether he was carrying him the wrong way.

One really good thing as well was that the baby sling was not very expensive.

As Your Baby Grows Up

backpack baby carrierI chose to use the baby sling until my son was arougnd 8 months old.  You can use it for longer as long as your child still satys withing the recommended weight that the sling can handle.  But I prefered the baby backpack carrier at this time.

By this time I was up and about again and I was trying to get back into shape and lose the baby weight. The backpack carrier just made it really easy for me to take my son on long walks around the park with me. It had durable and adjustable straps, a lot of comfortable cushioning so he wasn’t squeezed in too tight, pinched uncomfortably anywhere, or unsafely belted in. I made sure the backpack carrier I got was ergo-checked as well so I was assured I wasn’t doing damage to me or my baby in using it. It cost more than the baby sling but I was able to set aside something for this by this time.

The question now is, what is the best baby carrier?

And the winner is?

The thing about this question for me is that it is all about the parent’s preference.  I loved the use of the baby sling and the backpack carrier both at different points of my baby’s development. For me, it was about answering my need for myself and my child at different times.  So the best thing to do is this:

1.  Know what you want and need for yourself and for your child when taking care of your precious baby.

2.  Research.  Look at reviews and testimonials from other parents who have used baby carriers. Ask the opinion of  your friends who are parents. Look at manufactures ratings as well. Look at the baby carriers you are eyeing and see what materials they are made of and if these are durable and safe.

3. Remember that there is no hard and fast rule except that you keep yourself and your child comfortable and safe.

So, good luck with the purchase. Have fun with it and enjoy every moment carrying your child!

 How did you carry your baby around? What would you do differently next time?

Choosing a Baby Stroller That is Right for You and Baby

It takes 40 weeks before you get to hold that bundle of joy in your arms. 40 weeks before you get to meet the little person who had been growing inside of you all that time. It is a time to marvel at the creation of life but also a time to prepare for your new role as parents. In those amazing 40 weeks there are plenty of decisions to make – breast or bottle, disposable or cloth diapers, crib or family bed, stay at home or return to work. There are plenty of items to buy – breast pump, bottles, pacifiers, nail clippers, diapering system, change table, crib, blankets, bath towels, dresser, car seat, stroller. Through the morning sickness (which actually lasts all day for many), the constant need to go to the bathroom and the extreme fatigue (no one told you you would be this tired already), you need to get ready because this little one is coming out, ready or not!

With the wealth of information available from other parents, in books, in magazines, and online, sometimes it will feel that the decision to have a child was easier to make than what stroller to buy for him or her! I have been there and felt overwhelmed many times myself so here is a simple break down on choosing a baby stroller for your baby.

Handling Multiples and Strollers

Double StrollerTo begin with it is important to know how many babies you will be welcoming into this world. When it comes to strollers, multiples simply means you need more seating. Luckily, with the increase in multiple births over the past decades, it is much easier to find a stroller to suit your needs as the parents of multiples. You must also take into consideration if you will be travelling a lot, for what activities you will most likely be needing the stroller and for those who are deciding which single seat stroller to buy, you need to consider if you plan on having more children who could be using the same stroller.

Safety is always the number one consideration when it comes to purchasing any item for your precious little one. In strollers check their stability and their harness system. Five point harnesses are best for infants and babies. Keep in mind that your infant will not have much head control before four to six months of age so these little ones need the ability to recline. The reclining position is also very good for in-stroller naps and sometimes those are the best ones!

If you find a stroller with the safety features you require, it is always a good idea to do a test run in the store. Push the stroller around and make sure the height of the handles is a good height for you. Taller parents may need to search for the strollers that have adjustable handle heights. It is very important to check the mobility of the stroller as well. You will need one that makes corners smoothly if you plan to use it in crowded places. Something else to keep in mind is the size of the wheels. Typically the smaller they are, the less variation in terrain they can handle.

As any parent or caregiver will tell you, where there is a baby, there is a diaper bag. It is never recommended to hang a diaper bag over the handles on the back of the stroller as the weight of the bag can cause the stroller to tip over backwards with baby sitting inside. Most strollers come equipped with storage space in the form of a storage basket underneath. Make sure the stroller you choose will meet your storage requirements. Do not worry too much about the accessories or lack thereof on any particular stroller. Each accessory is sold separately. If you plan to do a lot of travelling, make sure the stroller you choose folds and fits in your trunk easily and that it is light enough for you to lift into your trunk.

The Main Varieties

lightweight stroller typeBaby strollers come in four main varieties that include lightweight strollers, standard strollers, jogging strollers, and travel systems. Lightweight strollers are just fancy versions of umbrella strollers or lightweight standard strollers. They are great for short trips to the mall or around amusement parks.

Standard strollers are very versatile and most fold easily with a one handed folding mechanism. They do take up more space and are heavier to lift into your trunk but they are also roomier for baby, often come with accessories and have larger wheels, more storage space and more ergonomic handles than the lightweight strollers.

If you plan to be outdoors a lot, on rugged terrain or jogging with your baby in the stroller, a jogging stroller is probably the stroller for you. Jogging strollers typically have three large wheels, all-terrain suspension systems and hand-grip brakes. They can replace a standard stroller or be used as a back up to a standard. The disadvantages of a jogging stroller are that they are very heavy, do not fold very compactly and are not recommended for infants under six months of age.

Travelling systems are standard strollers that also come with an infant car seat that snaps securely onto the stroller’s frame. The car seats often come with a base that you leave fastened in your vehicle, allowing you to simply snap the car seat off the base and onto the stroller. Everyone knows you never wake a sleeping baby and travelling systems allow for easy transport of your sleeping angel from stroller to vehicle and vice-versa. Once your baby outgrows the car seat, the stroller functions the same as a standard stroller.

Brand new, many of these strollers are expensive. The good news is that if you have more than one child, the same stroller can be used for all of your children which will definitely save you money. For travelling systems, the infant car seat can even be used for at least one more child. It is recommended not to use a car seat if it is more than five years old. Do not forget to include the stroller of your choice on your baby registry. Often times doting grandparents or groups of friends, co-workers or teammates like to put money together and buy the big ticket items off a registry list. This is how I received the jogging stroller I used for all three of my daughters. My ball hockey team certainly got their money’s worth out of that!

In-store prices can be a lot more expensive than online prices so in order to save money it is recommended to “test drive” the stroller in store and to hold off buying it until you have compared the in-store prices to the online prices. I have heard of people saving as much as 50% online!

Consider a Used Stroller

A stroller can be bought used as long as it meets safety standards and it not currently under recall. It is not recommended to buy an infant car seat used if you cannot verify the seat’s crash history and of course, if it is more than five years, which makes travelling systems much harder to buy used. You can find used strollers in second-hand stores, at yard sales, by asking friends and family if they know of anyone looking to sell baby items and also through online sites such as Kijiji Canada and the eBay Classifieds (USA). There is also the possibility of getting a free baby stroller through a website called Freecycle. Freecycle is used in 85 countries around the world and is a way to recycle rather than throw away perfectly good items. I have freecycled some baby items, including a stroller, myself.

Where did you get your stroller? What type was it?