What To Look For In A Crib

Stained wood or painted, modern or traditional, there are a wide variety of crib looks and styles for you to choose from. The most important decision of all – a safe crib. Here’s what to look for to find your perfect crib fit.

Adjustable mattress heights
It’s important to look for a crib that offers multiple height positions for the mattress. Look for two at a bare minimum and ideally three or four options. When your child is a newborn, you’ll have the mattress at the top height so it’s easy to get the child in and out. As your child gets older and is able to stand up and eventually crawl, you’ll move the mattress down to ensure your child doesn’t fall out or crawl out of the crib.

No drop side
Drop-side cribs have one side of the crib that can move up and down to make it easier to get the child in and out of the crib. However drop-side cribs were banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) as of June 2011 after they were found to be the cause of nearly three dozen infant deaths. They are illegal to sell in the United States – but may still be sold at some retailers and second-hand stores. Avoid them.

Good fit with the mattress
Cribs and crib mattresses are sold separately. While crib dimensions are standardized there is 5/8” variation allowed. If you choose a crib on the larger side of that limit and a mattress on the smaller side, you could end up with a gap between the mattress and crib sides – a safety hazard for your infant. Check the measurements of the crib and mattress to ensure a snug fit.

Safe slat distance
All crib manufacturers are required to follow the CPSC’s regulations for safety, and if you buy from a major retailer and well-known company, chances are your crib will meet all the requirements. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to double check. On a full-size infant crib, slats should be no more than 2-3/8” apart to prevent the baby’s head or body from getting stuck between the slats.

Convertible cribs
Many cribs are advertised as 3-in-1s or even 4-in-1s and can convert from a traditional infant crib into a toddler bed, into a day bed and even into a twin or full-sized adult bed (you’ll need to buy a different mattress). Convertible cribs offer lots of versatility, but you may not actually use all its available options if you need to use it as a crib again for child #2.

4 ways to keep families safe during and after hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes

Disaster Preparedness for Families
Provided by Brian French

Disasters and hazards are fickle and unpredictable. People who understand that it can happen to them and take the necessary precautions are the ones who fare better in the aftermath. You should recognize that in a severe disruption or emergency that you may need to rely upon yourself for your family’s survival.

Talking about and planning for potential disasters is not a whole lot of fun. But, now is the time to take steps to build your emergency preparedness kit for your family, and here is what we recommend you have in it:


We recommend that families keep at a minimum 7 days of non-perishable food and water storage on hand. Look for food products that have extended life-spans, such as Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s), dehydrated foods, beans, rice, wheat, nuts, and so on.


For water, you should plan on 2 gallons a day for each person; this includes water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Don’t forget that you will need to purify your stored water.

Medical & Hygiene

Your family’s Disaster Survival Kit needs to include medications for multiple illnesses including antibiotics and pain/fever medications, a complete first aid kit for managing injuries, and hygiene products such as anti-bacterial wipes, toilet paper, bleach, soap, portable toilet, blankets, towels, and more. For families with children, include several days of diapers, dry infant formula, baby medications, thermometer, bug spray, sunscreen, comfort/activity items (stuffed animal, crayons, etc), and an emergency document that lists all names, birth dates, allergies, prescriptions, health issues (diabetes, seizures, etc.)

Protection & Self Sufficiency

Your Disaster Survival Kit needs to include products for light, shelter, heat, power, water purification, and emergency communication. This includes battery operated radios, cooking stoves and fuel, fans, knives, can-openers, utensils, water proof matches, duct tape and more; you will need ropes, hand tools, saws, and skills to improvise your own repairs to your home and survival equipment.
Brian French is a US Army veteran with extensive training in first-aid, survival techniques and chemical/biological warfare. Following his military service, Brian graduated from business school and spent six years working in the insurance industry tracking risks and losses associated with natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. He is a dad and a PeppyParents customer (thank you!).

Toddlers and Restaurants — 8 Tips for Dining Out with Little Ones

Toddler at restaurant

As a mom to five, I have had a lot of experience taking small children to restaurants. I know many parents who are afraid to take their children when they have passed the infant stage and moved into toddler stage. With three children under six, I assure you it can be done without ruining your meal. The best method is to have a plan before you ever leave home, ensure you come prepared and try to make sure your little one is well-rested.

Here are some tips to keep your toddler entertained at restaurants.

Bring Entertainment Activities

While some restaurants will offer activities for children, it’s better to come prepared. You can bring small table-sized games, coloring books, drawing pads, dry erase boards or writing slates that wipe clean for reuse. Anything small, clean and easy to carry with you and sit at the table with will work. Carry a tote bag or allow your child to bring the tote into the restaurant with her and enjoy activities brought from home. Some children also like bringing a comfort item like a favorite doll or stuffed animal. Just make sure you don’t leave it at the restaurant!

Play Table Games

You can also play games with your toddler at the table. This allows you quality time together while also keeping your child occupied. Word games, rhyming games and even Tic-Tac-Toe are great ideas that can be done from seated at the table.

Choose Family-Friendly Restaurants

If you want the upper hand on keeping your toddler entertained at a restaurant, try to pick family friendly venues whenever possible. This doesn’t mean every meal has to be at Chuck-E-Cheese. There are many local and chain family restaurants who cater to children and their families. These places usually have better accommodations for bathrooms (changing tables), seating (booster seats), child menus and more.

Baby in high chair at restaurant

 Order Your Child’s Meal with Your Drinks

Some parents like to order their child’s meal with the drinks so it comes out faster and your child can go ahead and eat. Since many children take longer to eat their meals anyway, they will still be working on it when you get your plates. Then you only have a short time to entertain your toddler while you wait for food to arrive. If you prefer, you can bring some small finger foods (such as Cheerios or Goldfish crackers) and allow your toddler a small portion of these while waiting for the meals to arrive. Be careful if your toddler is ordering a restaurant meal so you don’t overfeed before the real food arrives.

Build a Bag of Restaurant Only Toys

We create a bag of “special” restaurant-only toys for all small children. They are kind of like goodie bags with quiet, hand-sized toys and items to keep them occupied at the table. All the toys go back into the bag before we leave and we don’t let them play with them at home so they don’t get bored with these items. This makes it extra special when we go out somewhere and pull out the bag. The kids get excited for it and it adds to the experience of family eating out.

Use This Time for Learning

Read a book, talk about the colors of the items on the table, or do math quizzes (ie. “How many fingers am I holding up?”) to keep your young one’s mind occupied at the table. Younger children seem to have short attention spans but this is because they are constantly thinking, observing and learning. When you keep their mind occupied, they will be less hyper and disruptive at the table and in public. This is also a great opportunity just to talk with your child. Most toddlers love to tell stories and if given the chance, they will talk your ear off. Life gets busy and waiting for dinner is a great time to slow down and just listen to what he has to say.

Teach Table Manners

Eating out at a restaurant is a great opportunity to teach or enforce table manners. We spend time before the food comes telling our children about the table setup, different utensils, how to politely ask for something from your server, what to do if you don’t like something on your plate and other table manners that they will use for the rest of their lives.

iPhone/iPad with Learning Apps

I don’t usually recommend placing toddlers in front of electronics to keep them happy but there are some great educational apps available today for toddlers and it makes a great back-up plan if your food runs late and your child has grown tired of the other methods listed here. It’s also good for when your child has finished her food but adults are still enjoying the meal. It even makes a good “reward” for encouraging your child to finish her food. After she eats, set her up with her favorite learning game (and some earphones) and the adults can enjoy the post-dinner chit-chat.

Finally, have a plan for discipline before you go to the restaurant. Keeping boredom at bay will prevent most incidents but even the best child will test his boundaries from time to time. Restaurants can be strange, loud and busy, which is often overwhelming to a young child. This over-stimulation can cause behavior issues or acting out. What is your plan of action when you do encounter a problem in a restaurant? If your child screams, throws food, stomps her foot or refuses to sit still at the table, you want to have a plan of action already in place so you’re not put on the spot by a toddler temper tantrum. My family uses “time-outs” on the benches outside the restaurant or at the front of the restaurant when they are available.

Do you have any tips for keeping your toddler entertained while at the restaurant? We want  to hear your tips!


8 Tips For Choosing The Best Car Seat

Rear facing infant seatIn the market for a car seat? Had your eyes glaze over as you walk through the real or virtual aisles of options? We’re here to help.

There are 4 main types of car seats.  

Infant carrier car seat
Use from newborn until about 1 year old
Infant carrier car seats must be installed rear-facing and include a base that remains in the car and a removable infant carrier seat that can be used to carry a sleeping infant from the car to the house, click into many strollers or attach to a shopping cart.

Convertible car seat
Use from newborn until about 3-4 years old
Convertible car seats can be installed either rear-facing or forward-facing. They allow you to use one car seat for a longer period of time, but do not offer the portability convenience of an infant car seat carrier. Some convertible seats are labeled as “3-in-1” meaning that they can be installed rear-facing, forward-facing, or used as a belt-positioning booster.

Forward-facing car seat
Youngest use usually well after 2 years old; up to elementary school
Suitable for children old enough to ride facing forward, these car seats have a built-in 5-point harness system and may convert into a belt-positioning booster.

Belt-positioning booster seat
Elementary school
Booster car seats do not use a built-in 5-point harness and instead “boost” your child up so that he or she is in the corre
ct position to safely and effectively use the car’s seatbelt system. Boosters can be backed or backless.

So how do you decide which seat is the best for you? Here are some important considerations to help you select the best car seat.

Important considerations when choosing a car seat

1. Determine the car seat regulations for your state. Car seat rules vary from state to state so it’s important to figure out the age, height, and weight requirements for where you live. Visit the Governor’s Highway Safety Association listing to find the current regulations for your location.

2. Age of your child. Your babe will start in a rear-facing infant car seat carrier or convertible car seat, eventually move on a forward-facing car seat and end up in a booster. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a new recommendation  that all children remain rear-facing until 2-year-old (up from the previous recommendation of 1 years old.)

3. Weight and size of your child. Kids come in a variety of shapes and sizes. While you will likely purchase an infant car seat before your little bundle is born, keep in mind that some infant car seats are geared for preemies (with extra padding and extra small harness settings) while other seats are wider providing additional girth for bigger babies. If you can wait until baby is born or if you have an inkling your babe might be on the bigger or smaller side, be on the lookout for a car seat that will be a good match for your baby’s size.

4. Style and space of your backseat. The same car seat will fit differently in a Prius than in a Suburban. Hit your back seat with a tape measure and the product dimensions from the manufacturer’s or retailer’s website.

5. Extra safety features.
Remember this – all car seats sold in the United States must pass minimum Federal Safety Standards and crash test performance standards. But some manufacturers do go above and beyond to provide additional safety features like shock-absorbing foam, enhanced side-impact protection, or anti-rebound bars.

6. Ease of installation.
Buying a safe car seat is negated if it’s not installed correctly. According to research highlighted in a 2012 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 70% of car seats have at least one critical installation error. How to prevent this?

Learn what type of installation system your car allows. Car seats are installed either by using your car’s seatbelt system or through a method called L.A.T.C.H. (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). L.A.T.C.H. should help you get a correct installation more easily, but it is not necessarily better than a car’s seatbelt. More information about L.A.T.C.H.

Choose a seat that has easy-to-use installation hardware and a manual with pictures and word explanations. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that parents were 19 times as likely to correctly install child seats in vehicles with easy-to-use hardware.

Read the directions. The NHTSA’s study found 1 in 5 parents aren’t doing it. If the directions are unclear, check the manufacture’s website or YouTube for installation videos.

Not feeling confident? Use the NHTSA’s listing of child passenger safety seat technicians to find an installation location near you.

7. Ease of adjustment.
As your child gets older, you’ll need to adjust the harness and when possible, the seat back to accommodate your growing child. The NHTSA’s study found that 3 of the 5 most common installation errors are related to the harness position or tightness. Many car seat companies are now trying to make these adjustments easier for parents to do with no-rethreading harnesses, simpler adjustment mechanisms, and devices located on the front of the seat for easier access. Ensuring the correct harness position for your child is important, so check the adjustment method for any seat you’re considering. If you have to disassemble have the car seat to move the shoulder strap up one position, you’re less likely to do it.

8. Cleanability.
The style and cleanability of your car seat pales in comparison to a well-chosen car seat installed correctly. That being said, your car seat is likely to see its fair share of crumbs, spills, blow-outs, dirt and grime, so choosing a seat that is wipeable or washable is a wise idea.

Here is a list of nearly all of the car seats available in the US; along with types, weight limits, and MSRP.

How to Pick a Good Baby Stroller for Errands and Travel

Most parents learn that one stroller is not good for everything they’ll do with their baby during the year. The features that make for a good outdoor stroller are opposite of what an ideal errand stroller will offer.

Weight and size are two important factors when it comes to a stroller designed for quick-and-easy, convenient use for running into a store or negotiating an airport.

Stroller weight breaks down in to three categories:

Lightweight baby strollers

    The lightest weight strollers are less than 15 pounds in weight. They have aluminum frames and plastic or EVA (a hard plastic foam) wheels. These strollers usually have among the most compact folded sizes as well. The main advantage of a lightweight stroller is how easy it is to lift, fold, and stow. The main disadvantage is that the lightest strollers usually don’t do well on rough or uneven terrain.

    Some examples of lightweight strollers:

  • Bumbleride Flite (13 pounds)
  • UPPAbaby G-Lite (9 pounds)
  • UPPAbaby G-Luxe (13 pounds)

Midweight baby strollers

    City mini strollerMost parents find that midweight strollers are a good compromise between having more features – like a reversing seat – without being too heavy for most moms. A midweight stroller weighs 15 to 22 pounds. Some strollers in this category may have folded sizes similar to lighter weight models. The midweight baby strollers are the most popular overall.

    Some examples of midweight strollers:

  • Baby Jogger City Mini (16 pounds)
  • Baby Jogger City Mini GT (21 pounds)
  • Nuna Pepp (22 pounds)
  • Bumbleride Indie 4 (21 pounds)
  • UPPAbaby Cruz (22 pounds)

Fullsize baby strollers

    Though it’s possible to run errands or travel with a full-size stroller, it’s not usually the most convenient option. The full-sized strollers weigh 23 pounds or more, sometimes more than 30 pounds. Full-size strollers sometimes offer optional second seat attachments, reversing seats, larger wheels for easily pushing over rough terrain, bigger seats, and more rugged frames. The main disadvantage, with larger folded sizes and heavier overall weights, is that some moms may struggle with loading the stroller into a vehicle on a frequent basis.

    Some examples of full-size strollers:

  • Nuna Mixx
  • Orbit Baby G3
  • UPPAbaby Vista


Lightweight strollers Midweight strollers Fullsize strollers
Reversing seat Rarely Frequently Often
Car seat compatible Rarely Often Almost always
Cupholder Almost always Almost always Almost always
Adjustable handlebar Rarely Often Often
Reclining seatback Sometimes Almost always Almost always
Suitable from birth Rarely Almost always Almost always
Rubber tires Rarely Sometimes Sometimes

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