If you’ve got a baby shower in your future, be sure to register for practical items, such as diapers in the larger sizes, which can be especially costly because the cost per diaper increases with the size. If you’ll be using cloth diapers, register for reusable diaper gift packs. Other basic must-haves to put on your registry include wipes, breast pads, Diaper Genie plus refills, infant formula (if you’ll be using formula, register for the store brand because it’s nutritionally equivalent to the name brand and saves you up to 50 percent when your gifty supply runs out), bottles, pacifiers—one for every room in your house, plus a few for the car–allergen-free laundry detergent, sleep sacks or other Velcro swaddlers, onesies with magnetic closures (available on Amazon), especially in the 0 to 6 month size, baby nail clippers, a night light, diaper-rash cream, and batteries. In general, you’ll need batteries—and lots of them–for anything that vibrates or plays music, such as a bouncy seat or an Exersaucer. Electronic toys gobble up battery power too. Practical items make the best gifts because you’ll need them for months, even years, to come. Some moms even have showers in which the guests are instructed to bring only diapers as presents. I love that idea!
For a friend’s recent baby shower, I gave her a high-tech suction bulb for blowing her baby’s nose. In her thank you note, she wrote, “Eww!” and called me a true friend because of the type of present I wasn’t afraid to give. I knew it was something she’d use and that she’d appreciate that sort of gift because she’s a germ-o-phobe. So a nose blower seemed appropriate.
What’s the most practical baby gift you’ve ever received or given?
When you’ve got a new baby, each day is a photo opp that can bring on the urge to snap away. Special moments you’ll want to capture forever: When your child is less than 10 days old and brand new to the world; when your baby is 6 to 9 months old—and bursting with personality, but not yet mobile; at 18 months to 2 years, when he’s on the go and super curious, and around age 5, before your child loses her baby teeth, the last remnants of babyhood. In the meantime, if you’ve got the latest iPhone, all the better. “The iPhone is the new point and shoot camera,” says Nick Kelsh, a professional photographer in Philadelphia and the owner of www.howtophotographyourbaby.com and a corresponding Facebook page. Of course, iPhone doesn’t have built-in lenses that allow you to do special effects, such as throw backgrounds out of focus. But its resolution is “astoundingly good,” Kelsh says, such that you can enlarge photos to 5×7 and they’ll still look good. To get even better pics and videos of your baby, you can also easily upgrade your smartphone camera into an SLR, by clipping on a lens, which gives you the ability to zoom in and out. There are lots of smartphone snap-on lens options on Amazon.com for around $10 to $70, depending on how sophisticated you want to go. I suggest trying the cheapest lens option first to get gist.
One iPhone photo-taking tip: “Pay attention to the little box that appears when you’re about to take a photo,” says Court Passant, the executive director of Interactive for CBS. That’s autofocus. To maximize this feature, don’t take a photo unless the autofocus box appears. You can also tap on your screen to activate it, if it doesn’t appear.
The breastaurant was always open when my two girls were infants and beyond. (To read about my marathon breastfeeding experience, click here.) So the concept of having a milk supply that’s less than adequate isn’t something I’ve experienced first hand.
Still, I know some moms have trouble in this area. Enter Milkmakers, a Seattle-based company that makes Moms-on-the-Go lactation cookies to help nursing moms produce more breast milk. These sweet treats come in two varieties—oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin dairy-free. They’re made from organic ingredients, such as oats, flax seed and brewer’s yeast. The press release that came across my e-mail says they give moms the nutrition they need for an abundant milk supply. I remember that drinking lots of water seemed to yield lots of breast milk, even if I didn’t intend it to. But cookies? Hm…
Why not? If you’d like to try Moms-on-the-Go lactation cookies, Milkmakers is giving away two free cookies so you can see if they work their magic on you. Milkmakers suggests eating 1 to 2 cookies per day to reap the “full” benefits. If they do the trick, a 10-cookie Moms-on-the-Go cookie starter pack retails for $19.99.
This may seem like a silly question but here’s why Babyproductsmom.com is asking. 4 Moms Playard sheets, about 1,440 of them, were recalled on February 6, 2013 because they were too small to fit the 4Moms breeze playard. If you’ve got these sheets, item #4M-009-10-000101, stop using them and return them to 4moms, Thorley Industries LLC, d/b/a 4moms, Pittsburgh, PA.
Fortunately, no injuries (or worse) were reported because of these defective playard sheets. Still, the recall underscores an important point about playards: The sheets need to the exact right size, even after they’ve been washed. If they’re too small, they’re apt to come off. If they’re too large, there will be too much fabric in your baby’s playing or sleeping area. Either way, loose ends or extra fabric can entrap a baby in the playard, posing a suffocation or entrapment risk.
The recalled 4Moms playard sheets were sold at buybuy Baby stores and at www.buybuybaby.com and other baby stores from December 2012 through January 2013. They retail for about $15.
Did you know?
With recalled products, consumers could do a better job. Only about 30 percent of recalled products are returned to the manufacturer or dealt with according to recall instructions, once they make it into consumer’s hands, says Neal Cohen, the small business ombudsman for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. To easily track recalls, sign up for the CPSC’s list serv at www.recalls.gov and recall updates will be sent right to your e-mail.
Have you had your child’s car seat inspected by a certified child passenger safety technician? If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth a trip to your local inspection station (typically your local firehouse) to see how you did.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 73 percent of car seats have at least one “critical” misuse. I wrote about five of the most common car-seat mistakes parents make with car-seat installation, according to a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, in a recent post for Productopia.com. In the study, NHSTA researchers pinpointed the seat errors by surveying 4,167 drivers who came to certified child passenger safety inspection stations in 24 randomly selected geographic areas in the U.S.
With most of the errors, the car seat was too loose—either the harness or the seat itself. Another boo-boo, one I didn’t include in the piece: Not using the top tether to secure the car seat. “Many parents are confused by the top tether strap that comes with all convertible car seats. They aren’t sure what to do with it and will sometimes just tuck it away in the back of the seat,” says Allana Pinkerton, a child passenger safety advocate for the car seat manufacturer, Diono. Sound familiar? The top tether strap is important because it helps secure the top of the car seat to the car, to reduce how far a child’s head will go forward in an accident. Car seats are tested with the top tether is use. Some though, such as Diono’s Radian RXT, exceed federal safety standards even without the top tether, Pinkerton says. Don’t risk it though. Use the top tether as directed by your car seat’s instruction manual.
In general, crash forces can be so strong and unpredictable that if the seat isn’t a snug fit and secured properly, kids can get propelled forward or out of the seat, risking injury or death.
Car seats are complicated. So do your homework. Before attempting to install your child’s car seat, read your car seat’s manual, read your vehicle’s instruction manual and watch the installation video on the car seat manufacturer’s Website if it’s available. Finally, make sure your work passes inspection. To find a car seat inspection station in your area, visit www.safercar.gov.
If you own a Nap Nanny or Nap Nanny Chill infant recliner. stop using it. If you don’t own one, think twice before buying one (you may still be able to find them at tag sales and secondhand shops). That’s essentially the message I’m taking away from Consumer Product Safety Commission, which filed an administrative complaint against Nap Nanny’s manufacturer, Baby Matters, LLC, on December 5, 2012. Baby Matters, LLC is now out of business. The complaint alleges that the Nap Nanny Generation One and Two, and Chill Model infant recliners have defects in design, warnings and instructions, which pose a risk of injury and death to infants. As a result of the formal complaint, the manufacturer may be required to notify the public of the defect and offer customers a full refund. Stay tuned.
The Nap Nanny is a shaped foam base to cradle a baby with a fitted fabric cover. The recliners retail for around $130. Five thousand Nap Nanny Generation One and 50,000 Generation Two models were sold between 2009 and early 2012 and have been discontinued, according to the CPSC. Since January 2011, 100,000 thousand Chill models have been sold. The Chill features a 3-point harness and a contoured bucket with higher sides than previous models. According to the CPSC, four infants have died in the Nap Nanny Generation Two recliners and a fifth infant died in the Chill Model. The CPSC reports over 70 more incident of children nearly falling out of the product. If you’re interested in reading some of those reports, visit www.saferproducts.gov and put “Nap Nanny” in the search box.
The Nap Nanny and Chill story reminds us that even though babies are just sleeping, they can get themselves into a heck of a lot of trouble, by. say–turning over before you think they can. That’s why the best, safest sleep environment is a stationary-sided crib with nothing in it–no blankets, sleep positioners, stuffed animals, pillows or Nap Nannies. (Some parents placed their Nap Nanny in their baby’s crib.) You’ve probably heard it before: “bare is best.”
Confession: For safety reasons, I’m not big on second-hand shopping when it comes to baby gear. In my book, Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear, I barely mention it. But holiday outfits are an exception. Buying them preowned is a great way to dress your baby up for the holidays for a fraction of what you’d spend otherwise. You can find cute, like-new holiday outfits at consignment shops, on Craig’s List and at swapping sites, such as www.thredup.com, and then re-sell or swap them when you’re done. Chances are your baby will only wear them once or twice before the holidays are over, which is why they hold up so well. I wish I would have taken my own advice. When my second daughter was an infant, she worn her sister’s holiday handmedown, a red-plaid jumper with a white collar, in our family holiday Christmas card photo. My first daughter wore the red-plaid jumper in the family photo two years before, when she was four months old. So we have two holiday Christmas card photos from different years with different babies in the same outfit. It was a $60 romper, after all. Still, I should have bought something cute and inexpensive for baby #2 secondhand. Oh well. Only Grandma was sharp enough to notice.
If you’re traveling this holiday season and planning to stay in a hotel or motel with your baby, here’s good news: Hotel and motel cribs are getting safer. As of December 28, 2012, all hotel and motel cribs must conform to the latest safety standards established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The new rules, which apply to full-size and non-full-size cribs, prohibit the manufacture or sale of traditional drop-size rail cribs, strengthen crib slats and mattress supports, improve the quality of hardware and require more rigorous testing. In short, the hotel or motel crib your baby will sleep on after 12/28/2012 must be a stationary sided crib that has stronger internal supports. If you’re traveling before 12/28 with your baby and planning to stay in a hotel or motel, you can always bring your own playyard and have your baby sleep in it. But don’t add extra padding to the mattress (radar: suffocation hazard). It’s thin for a reason. And keep everything else out too, including a blanket, pillow, stuffed animals and a sleep positioner. Dress your baby in a sleepsack instead of a blanket to stay warm. Happy travels.
Now’s a great time to get good deals on baby gear.
When you’re shopping on BlackFriday and Cyber Monday, which has become a national sport, why not buy something on your baby to-buy list? In general, the fall is the best time of year to snag great deals on baby products, especially 2012 models of car seats, strollers and cribs. Come January, retailers will need the floor space for 2013 inventory, especially big-ticket items like these, so they’re looking to make room now. On BF and CM, they can really make some headway. In many cases, last year’s model of car seat or stroller, say–isn’t a whole lot different than next year’s model, aside from a change in “fashions,” which is manufacturer speak for a re-do on fabric patterns and colors. Do your homework now, if you haven’t already. Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday takes planning. Of course, the idea is to buy just what you want at the lowest price possible. Keep your receipt though and know the etailer’s or retailers return policy, which is part of your homework, just in case you need to take it back for whatever reason.
The week, which starts September 10th, is the first ever to highlight and underscore the issue of diaper need in America. Disposable diapers take a big chunk of the family budget. In fact, three out of five moms in America struggle to keep their babies in diapers because, unlike infant formula, diapers aren’t covered by WIC or any state or federal subsidy program, says Joanne Goldblum, the executive director of the National Diaper Bank Network in New Haven, Connecticut, who spearheaded the Network eight years ago and National Diaper Need Awareness Week. “As a social worker, I saw first hand how people were leaving their babies in diapers all day, emptying out the solids and putting the diaper back on their child or trying to wash and dry disposable diapers,” Goldblum says. “They did things that were not in the best interest of the health and comfort of their child because they had to.”
If this sounds familar–if you’re struggling to keep your baby in diapers yourself–or you know someone who is–you can find a local diaper bank in your area by logging onto Diaperbanknetwork.org. “Many people are reaching out to diaper banks, saying they never thought they would be in a position of asking someone for help to meet the basic needs of their child,” says Goldblum. But the banks are here to help. There are 147 diaper banks across the U.S., some with choice of cloth diapers for parents who can and want to use them in addition to disposables. The largest diaper bank, in North Haven, CT, gives out nearly 2 million diapers per year.
If diapering your baby isn’t a problem, consider helping a local diaper bank stock up on supplies. “If you have are able to provide for yourself and have something extra, we would certainly appreciate a donation,” Goldblum says.
The National Diaper Bank Network can help keep all babies in diapers.