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Friday, August 24, 2012

Buying a Playard

Graco Element Pack N Play, Oasis
There are Two Types of Playards: Care Stations and Play Areas.

Care Station Playards
  • Playpens still come as low, netted beds used to keep babies safe from harm. However, many these days now come as care stations. 
  • Care Station Features: 
    • Bassinet feature 
    • Changing table 
    • Vibration and music settings 
    • Attached diaper stacker 
  • Since the AAP recommends keeping baby in the room with you for the first few months, many parents use the bassinet feature of the play yard for nighttime use, and the attached changing table saves you a few midnight trips to baby’s room. 
  • Play yards also make great travel beds, because they fold up to the size of a stroller (though, unfortunately, the changing table does not fold) 
  • Play yards are also a great thing to keep at the grandparent’s house so they have somewhere for baby to sleep and be changed when they visit 
  • People with limited space sometimes use play yards instead of cribs altogether. Though, play yards do not have to go through the same kind of testing that cribs have to.
Play Area Playard:
  • Play area types of play yards are used not for sleeping, but rather for keeping baby from harm. Usually from older siblings poking or the dog’s licking. 
  • Also used outside to keep baby off the ground, or a toddler out of the streets. 
  • These are brightly colored (not at all conducive to sleeping) and often feature toys attached.

Here is a piece of an article from PEDIATRICS regarding safety in using playards or bassinets for infant sleep:
"If a portable crib/play yard or bassinet is to be used, it should meet the following CPSC guidelines: (1) sturdy bottom and wide base; (2) smooth surfaces without protruding hardware; (3) legs with locks to prevent folding while in use; and (4) firm, snugly fitting mattress.121 In addition, other AAP guidelines for safe sleep, including supine positioning and avoidance of soft objects and loose bedding, should be followed. Mattresses should be firm and should maintain their shape even when the fitted sheet designated for that model is used, such that there are no gaps between the mattress and the side of the bassinet, playpen, portable crib, or play yard. Only mattresses designed for the specific product should be used. Pillows or cushions should not be used as substitutes for mattresses or in addition to a mattress. Any fabric on the sides or a canopy should be taut and firmly attached to the frame so as not to create a suffocation risk for the infant. Portable cribs, play yards, and bassinets with vertical sides made of air-permeable material may be preferable to those with air-impermeable sides.122 Finally, parents and caregivers should adhere to the manufacturer's guidelines regarding maximum weight of infants using these products.122,123 If the product is a combination product (eg, crib/toddler bed), the manual should be consulted when the mode of use is changed."

Published online October 17, 2011NEOREVIEWS Vol. 128 No. 5November 1, 2011
pp. e1341 -e1367
(doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2285)

These are safety tips from HealthyChildren.org, their source is: TIPP—The Injury Prevention Program (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 9/11)
  • Never leave the side of a mesh playpen lowered because a baby can become trapped and suffocate.
  • When your child is able to sit or get up on all fours (or when he reaches 5 months), remove any toys tied across the top of the playpen.
  • When your child can pull himself to standing, remove any large toys that could be used as steps.
  • Check the top rails for tears and holes because teething children often bite off chunks of the covering. If the tears are small, you can fix them with heavy-duty cloth tape. If the tears are large, you may need to replace the product.
  • Make sure that there are no tears, holes, or loose threads in the mesh and that openings are less than 1⁄4 inch across. Make sure the mesh is securely attached to the top rail and the floor plate. If staples are used, make sure they are not missing, loose, or exposed.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bjorn Original Review

Baby Bjorn Original
This is my review of the Bjorn Original Baby Carrier from Amazon.com

I am going to preface this by saying that I actually did use this, and I do not find it practical for day to day babywearing needs.

The way that baby's legs hang down without support puts pressure on baby's developing spine and hips. Any product that supports baby thusly should only be used for very short periods of time. A baby carrier is usually used for long periods of time. A properly positioned baby in a carrier would have their legs supported from knee to knee, with a deep seat for their bottom. The carrier's back would come to at least their arm pits. A newborn can be worn legs out or in, if in legs should be froggied.

Horrible. One of the most uncomfortable things I have ever worn. Once baby hits about 15lb I can't stand to carry them for more than a few minutes. And this is coming from someone who can wear a ring sling for hours.

I already talked about how baby hangs, but this is addressing how baby faces. A newborn (0-3mo) should always face in for two reasons. 1) They do not have the requisite head control or neck strength to do this and 2)Due to underdeveloped nervous systems, babies can be easily over-stimulated with nowhere to hide when forward facing. A baby carried facing in can turn their head away if the world becomes to much for them. Note: A baby will not necessarily cry if they are over-stimulated. They may close their eyes, become irritable, tense up, or try to turn away. Older babies can be worn in high back carries, like those done in a woven wrap or mei tai to see over the wearers shoulder.

Ease of Use:
This is the only area that I can give props to Bjorn. These carriers are simple to use, which has probably contributed to their popularity.

What I Would Recommend:
What else is out there that is comfortable for baby and wearer?
  • Ergonomic Carriers: I love KinderPacks way more than ErgoBaby Carriers, but either is a good choice for proper knee to knee positioning
  • Mei Tais: These ancient Chinese baby carriers have survived centuries because they are comfortable for baby and wearer. A high back carry can be done in a MT. I personally adore my CatBird Baby MT, but others swear by BabyHawk.
  • Wraps: These have a learning curve, but once you get the hang of them they are wonderful! A stretchy wrap like the Moby can be used for newborns, and woven wraps can be used for all ages.

To learn more about the kind of carriers available, check out the forums at TheBabyWearer website. It is free to join, and the community is wonderful!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

When to use Which Carrier

So, I have been asked several times if I really need all the baby carriers I have. I have decided to answer it here to share my wisdom (or lack of it) here.

Well, no. Not technically, but it sure makes my life easier! Some carriers are better for long periods of time, and terrible for 'popping' baby in and out. Some carriers are great for newborns, but are terrible for toddlers. Some are perfect for most of the year, but give you heatstroke in the summer. I choose my carrier depending on the outing, the size of the child/ren I plan on carrying, and the weather. I may use a SSC in the morning, a mei tai in the afternoon, and a ring sling in the evening.

Here is my list of carriers and the outings/age of the child appropriate for them. (Click to view larger)

  • Amauti Coat: Strictly for very cold weather. Newborns to toddlers. May stress your back after awhile if you aren't used to it.
  • Frame Backpack: Hiking or all day trip. Older babies and toddlers. Any time of year if baby is dressed appropriately. 
  • Soft Unstructured/Asian Style: There are several kinds, but my experience so far has only been with MTs, so I am sticking with that. Podaegis and Onbuhimos are similar though.
    • Mei Tai: All year round, will need a cover in colder weather. Infants-toddlers. Great for running errands, going to park, etc. Depending on padding, can be used all day, but I prefer shorter jaunts
  • Soft Structured:
    • Ergonomic: I use this when I have a decent walk ahead of me. Once baby's in, I leave them there for a decent amount of time. Can be used in place of a frame backpack. Unless it has a mesh panel, it is no good for hot weather. Older babies and toddlers
  • Sling:
    • Pouch: 6mo+ is best IMHO. Short jaunts or frequent ups and downs. All year round except exceptionally hot weather
    • Ring: newborns - toddlers. Short jaunts or anytime with a newborn. Most of the year, may need a mesh or linen one for summer
  • Wrap:
    • Stretchy: newborns and young babies only (no matter what they claim the weight limit is), not for warm or hot weather. Can carry comfortably for hours.
    • Woven:  Newborns - preschool. Comfortable for long periods of time. Depending on weave and fabric, may not be comfortable in very hot weather
For more information on the types of baby carriers, see my post Types of Baby Carriers

Monday, August 6, 2012

On Your Right!

You may notice, that something has changed to the right of my posts. I have added a RSS feed of recent child related recalls, direct from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Those are not advertisements, they are safety notices. The CPSC receives incident reports from consumers, they inspect the claim, and issue recalls as needed to protect the public from harmful products. If you have an item that has posed a danger risk to your family, or if someone you know has been injured by a product, you can file an incident report with the CPSC.

How to Stay Safe:
I highly recommend joining the CPSC's e-mail list. You choose the categories that pertain to you, and when there is a recall the CPSC will send out a mass e-mail. They do not send anything other than recall e-mails. You can do this by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx.

When buying a product second hand, check online to see if it has ever been recalled before using. The CPSC website will give you the information, but you can also just type in the name and the word 'recall' into a search engine too.

If you buy a product that includes a recall notification letter, then fill it out and send it in. They will inform you if the item is ever recalled.

Be safe, and spread the word! So many dangerous products are still out there...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tub Time!

Fisher Price Whale of a Tub

  • Baby skin is very delicate. Everything you use during bath time should be fragrance, dyes, and alcohol free. 
  • If your baby hates baths, don’t force them unless you need to. They don’t get that dirty, sponge bathe them until they feel comfortable in the water. You can also try taking them in the bath or shower with you. 
  • Newborn babies should be sponge bathed until their umbilical card falls off. 
  • Keep the bathing room warm. At least half of baby’s body is going to be out of the water at any given point 
  • Wash baby’s head last. If baby’s head is cold, then the rest of them will get cold too.


  • Never, ever leave baby alone near or in water. A baby or toddler can drown in less than ONE INCH of water. 
  • Never fill a tub higher than baby’s waist, and even that’s high. 
  • Put everything you need right next to the tub before starting bath time. If you realize you forgot something, go without or take baby out of the tub and with you to retrieve it. 
  • Empty the tub immediately after you are done with it. Once baby is mobile, or has an older sibling, that left over water becomes a death trap 
  • Adjust your water heater so that the hottest it can go is no more than 100-120°F. Any hotter can scald baby. Keep it at this preset until your child is a teenager. Children can turn the faucet easily. 
  • The water temperature should be about body temperature. Stick your arm in (your forearm is best for testing temperatures), if the water feels hot on your skin, than it is too hot for baby. If it feels cold on your skin, then it is too cold for baby. You should hardly be able to tell there is water on you, or it could be just slightly warm.
  • A tub thermometer is worthless, your arm is fine. You should not rely on them, always check the water before putting baby in.
Baby Tubs:
  • You don’t necessarily need a baby tub. It is easy to do without, but some people find bathing babies hard or nerve-racking. 
  • For newborns you can lay baby on a fluffy towel on the counter to sponge bathe them until their umbilical cord falls off 
  • 0-6mo: My mom used to lay us in the regular tub and fill it with a little water to about our ears. This gave us room to kick and splash and turn our heads to lap a little water. 
  • 6-12mo: Many people are fond of kitchen sink baths. I really like these once baby can sit up unassisted. I put a bath sponge or washcloth underneath baby to keep them from sliding around, and turn the faucet away so they can’t bump their heads. You do have to remember to clean out the sink before to remove food particles. 
  • I happen to like baby tubs because I hate bending over the big tub. It strains your back and hurts your knees. I put the tub on the bathroom or kitchen counter to wash baby. 
  • I do not like the tubs with slings for infants, but some people swear by them. In my experience they loosen, and baby’s back is hitting the hump in the middle. Plus, baby is cold because s/he is suspended out of the water. Not to mention that tub slings get mildewy.
Tubs I Like: