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


POPULAR FEATURES PARENTS WANT ON STROLLERS

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

Child Car Seat Laws Listed By State

Infant car seatVehicle safety precautions for children vary from state to state depending upon on age, weight and height. There are a few different categories on which laws are based: infants use rear-facing infant seats; toddlers use rear to forward facing car seats; and older children use forward-only booster seats.

It’s up to parents to know the laws in their own state, as well as states through which they’ll be traveling. Aside from best safety for their children, fines for first time violations range from $10 to a whopping $500! Additionally, some states also put points on the driver’s record; which can increase insurance costs.

This list is accurate as of January 2015.

See top recommended car seats

State Child Restraint Required
unless indicated, # refers to Yrs. and weight is in parentheses (Lbs.)
Adult Safety Belt Permissible
unless indicated, # refers to Yrs. and weight is in parentheses (Lbs.)
Maximum Fine for
1st Offense
Alabama <1 (or <20) in rear-facing infant seat; 1 – 4 (or 20 – 40) in forward-facing child safety seat; 5 (but not yet 6) in booster seat 6 – 14 $25 + points
Alaska <1 (or <20) in rear-facing infant seat; 1 – 4 (and >20) in child safety seat; 4 – 7 (and 20 – 64 lbs. or <57″) in booster seat >4 (and >65 or >57″)
8-16 (and <65 or <57″)
$50 + points
American Samoa <4 >4 No data
Arizona <4; 5 – 7 (and <57″) 5 – 7 (and >57″) $50
Arkansas <5 (and <60) 6 – 14 (or >60) $100
California <8 (and <57″) in rear seat if available 8 – 15 (or >57″) $100
Colorado <1 (and <20) in rear-facing infant seat in rear seat if available; 1 – 3 (and 20 – 40) in child safety seat; 4 – 7 in booster seat 8 – 15 $82
Connecticut <1 (or <20) in rear-facing restraint system; 1 – 6 (and <60) in child restraint system; booster seats only w/ a lap and shoulder belt 7 – 15 (and >60) $92
Delaware <7 (and <66) 8 – 15 (or >66) $25
D.C. <7 8 – 15 $75 + points
Florida <3 4 – 5 $60 + points
Georgia <8 (and <57″) in rear seat if available >57″; >40 lbs. in rear seat can use lap belt if lap/shoulder belt unavailable $50 + points
Guam <4 in child safety seat; 4-11 (and <4’9″) in child restraint or booster seat 12 and older (or 4’9″ or taller) $100
Hawaii 4 – 7 (and >4’9″); 4 – 7 (and >40 lbs.) in rear seat can use lap belt if lap/shoulder belt unavailable$100
Idaho <7 Not permissible $79
Illinois <8 8 – 15; >40 lbs. in rear seat if only lap belt available $75 ($200 for subsequent offenses)
Indiana <7 8 – 15; >40 lbs. can use lap belt if lap/shoulder belt unavailable $25 + points
Iowa <1 (and <20) in
a rear-facing child seat; 1 – 5 in child restraint
6 – 17 $195 (including court costs)
Kansas <3 in child restraint; 4 – 7 (and <80 or <57″) in child restraint or booster seat 8 – 13; 4 – 7 (and >80 or >57″) $60
Kentucky <40″ in child restraint; <6 (and between 40″ and 50″) in booster seat <6 (and >50″) $50 child restraint;
$30 booster seat
Louisiana <1 (or <20) in
rear-facing child safety seat; 1 – 3 (or 20 – 39) in forward-facing
child safety seat; 4 – 5 (or 40 – 60) in booster
seat
6 -12 (or >60) $100
Maine <40 lbs. in child safety seat; 40 – 80 lbs. and <8 yrs. in safety system that elevates child
so that adult safety belt fits properly; <11 (and
<100) in rear seat if available
8 – 17 (or <18 yrs. and >4’9″) $50
(max. $250 for subsequent offenses)
Maryland <8 (and <57″) 8 – 15 (or >57″) $50
Massachusetts <7 (and <57″) 8 – 12 (or >57″) $25
Michigan <7 (and <57″); <4 in rear seat if available 8 – 15 (or >57″) $10 for <4; $25 for 4 – 8 and under 4’9″
Minnesota <7 (and <57″) >8 (or >57”) $50
Mississippi <4 in child restraint; 4 – 6 (and <57″ or <65 lbs.) in booster seat >7 (or >57″ or >65 lbs.) $25
Missouri <4 (or <40) in child safety seat; 4 – 7 (and 40 – 80 and <4’9″) in child safety seat or booster seat; >4 years (and >80 or >4’9″) in booster seat or safety belt 8 – 16; >4 (and >80 or >4’9″) $50; $10 for >80 lbs. or >4’9″
Montana <6 (and <60) Not permissible $100
Nebraska <5 6 – 17 $25 + points
Nevada <6 (and <60) Not permissible $500 (min. $100)
New Hampshire <7 (and <57″) 7 – 17 (or <7 and >57″) $50
New Jersey <8 (and <80)
in rear seat if available
Not permissible $25 + court fees
New Mexico <1 in rear-facing infant
seat in rear seat if available; 1 – 4 (or <40) in child safety seat; 5 – 6 (or <60) in booster seat
7 – 17 $25
New York <3 unless >40 lbs. and no lap/shoulder belt available; 4 – 7 unless no lap/shoulder belt available 8 – 15 (or >40); 4 – 7 if no lap/shoulder belt available $100 + points
North Carolina <7 (and <80) 8 – 15 (or 40 – 80 lbs.
in seats w/out shoulder belts)
$25 + $188 court costs + points
North Dakota <6 (and <57″ or <80 lbs.) 7 – 17; <6 (and >80 and >57″); <6 (and >40) can use lap belt if lap/shoulder belts unavailable $25 + 1 pt.
Northern Mariana Islands <5 (or <70) >5 (or >70) $50 – $250
Ohio <4 (or <40) in child safety seat; 4 – 7 (and >40 and <4’9″) in booster seat 8 – 14 $75
Oklahoma <5 6 – 12; >40 lbs. in rear seat can use lap belt if lap/shoulder belt unavailable $50 (up to $207.90 with court costs)
Oregon Child seat required to 40 lbs. or max upper weight limit of seat; rear-facing to 1 yr & 20 lbs; booster seat for children over 40 lbs but < age 8 or < 4’9″ tall 8-15 (or >4’9″) $110
Pennsylvania <7 Not permissible $75
Puerto Rico <4 in child safety seat; 4 – 8 (or <57″) in booster seat; <12 in rear seat >9 (or >57″) $100
Rhode Island <7 (and <80 and
<57″) in rear
seat if available
<7 (and >80 or >57″); 8 – 17 $85
$40 (for children between 8 -17)
South Carolina <1 (or <20) in
rear-facing infant seat; 1 – 5 (and 20 – 39) in forward-facing
child safety seat; 1 – 5 (and 40 – 80) in booster seat secured
by lap/shoulder belt (lap belt alone is not permissible); <5 in rear seat if available
1 – 5 (and >80) or <5 if child’s knees bend over the seat edge
when sitting up straight with his/her back firmly against the
seat back
$150
South Dakota <5 (and <40) 5 – 17 (or >40) $25
Tennessee <1 (or <20) in
rear-facing infant seat; 1 – 3 (and >20) in forward-facing infant seat; 4 – 8 (and <4’9″) in booster seat; <8 (and <4’9″) in rear
seat if available; rear seat recommended for 9 – 12
9 – 15 (or <12
and >4’9″)
$50
Texas <7 (and <57″) Not permissible $25 min., maximum unlisted
Utah <7 (and <57″) 8 – 15 (or >57″) $45
Vermont <1 (or <20) in
rear-facing infant seat in rear seat unless front passenger airbag is deactivated; 1 – 7 (and >20)
8 – 17 (and >20) $25
Virgin Islands <5 >3 $25 to $250
Virginia <7; children in rear-facing devices must be in a rear seat if available – otherwise, in front only if front passenger airbag is deactivated 8 – 17 (4 – 7 with physician’s exemption) $50
Washington <8 (and <4’9″); <13 in rear seat if practical 8 – 15 (or <8 and >4’9″); >40 lbs. in position where only lap belt available $124 to driver if passenger <16; to passenger if >16
West Virginia <7 (and <4’9″) <7 (and >4’9) $20
Wisconsin <1 (or <20) in rear-facing infant seat; 1 – 3 (and 20 – 40) in forward-facing child safety seat; 4 – 7 (and 40 – 80 and <57″) in booster seat; <3 in rear seat if available <8 (and >80 and >57″) $173.50 if passenger <4; $150.10 if passenger 4-8
Wyoming <8 in
rear seat if available
Not permissible $50
Total States 50 + D.C., Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway
Safety
(IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

Everything You Need to Know About Cloth Diapers

Cloth baby diapersAs a mother, you want your baby as healthy, safe, and comfortable as possible. Along with this, you also want manage your budget and be environmentally-friendly. Cloth diapering is one way many moms accomplish all of the above.

All the information about cloth diapering can be overwhelming – in the American culture, it’s assumed most parents will want to use disposable diapers. All the advertising, store displays, and ease of finding diapers makes it seem like disposables are the only option. So parents wanting a different option have a bit of learning to do from square one!

Before you jump into the decision of going environment-friendly and using cloth diapers for your baby’s comfort as well as saving money in the long run, a good hard look at the advantages and disadvantages of cloth diapering will help you decide whether you should give it a go or not.

Read more about cloth diapering

10 Tips and Tricks For Putting Your Newborn to Sleep

How to get your baby to sleep can be baffling. While there are lots of factors that may impact how easy your baby goes down for bedtime, there are some tricks that can make it go smoother. If you’re struggling with putting your baby down, try some of these tried-and-true techniques from experienced moms. Because the better baby sleeps, the better you sleep too.

 

Build a Routine – Many kids thrive on a nightly routine that prepares them mentally and physically for sleep. Whether it’s a bath and books or a snuggle and a special song, pick a routine that is simple and easy to replicate, even if you’re in a new place.

“We keep the same bedtime routine almost every night, ending with books. The trick for us is to end on the same book every night and once we start reading that familiar story, she starts yawning and rubbing her eyes. It’s like Pavlov’s bell!” –Adrienne

 

Look For Clues –Babies that get too tired can be tricky to put to bed, so learn to look for your baby’s early cues of sleepiness. Rubbing eyes, yawning, drooping eyelids can all signal that the ideal time for sleep is soon.

“Watching for sleeping cues is critical!  As soon as I see an eye rub, I immediately put the baby down for a nap.  I drop her in the crib awake and she falls asleep without complaint within 5 minutes.  If I botch the timing, it is much harder to get her down.” – Kristin C.

 

Snug as a Bug – Swaddling can help recreate a womb-like environment for newborns and prevent babies from flailing. A good swaddling blanket has a bit of stretch, an effective fold and a snug fit.  Or, try a specialty swaddling blanket like the Aden + Anais Easy Swaddle.

“Swaddling! It was the only thing that worked for us when the twins were small.” – Summer M.

 

Make It Dark – Darkness helps signal sleep for our bodies. Invest in a blackout shade or an added blanket thrown over the window to block out light and make it easier for baby to rest.

“Blackout curtains are amazing.  My baby naps so much better when the room is super dark, and good blackout curtains do the trick!” – Kristin C.

 

White Noise For the Win – The noise in the womb is as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Help recreate that comforting sound with an inexpensive white noise machine. Make sure that it’s easily portable for trips in the car or stays at Grandma’s house, and consider finding one that has the option of running on batteries for situations where an outlet isn’t close by.

See Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, talk about noise.

“We love the Sleep Sheep. It’s cute and helped confuse Charlie into thinking he was still in a tummy. He still loves it and we use it to drown out the dogs and other random noises in our house. – Rebecca T.

 

Sleep Treats  – Keeping certain sleep treats like pacifiers or special stuffed animals just for bedtime can help signal rest time to your child and also help her self-soothe.

“My 16-month-old dives for her crib for a nap or bedtime because it is the ONLY time we have let her have her pacifier. We haven’t had the headache of weaning a child off of one yet, but so far it has been our ace in the hole.” – Kathryn V.

 

Mother’s not always best… – Being held by mom is way more fun than sleeping by yourself. Plus you smell like milk. If your babe is having trouble going down, try passing her off to someone else.

“[My daughter] napped like a champ at school and if she was alone with her dad on weekends, but she would not nap if I was anywhere in the vicinity.” – Erin N.

 

Try, Try Again – Babies must learn how to self-soothe and go to sleep, and learning takes time. Be consistent in your efforts and patient for results. Your future self will thank you.

“I turn on the machine and leave the room. I start this process around 2 months old. If they cry for too long, I go back and try the same soothing tactics and attempt it again.” – Katie K.

 

Wise Words – Start off the way you intend to go. If you don’t want to rock your 3-year-old to sleep every night for 45 minutes, consider not making that your go-to method when he’s 3 months old.

“Our son was a nightmare sleeper. Our only trick was to actually go to sleep with him.  He slept in our bed until he was 4 and still comes in during the middle of the night. With our daughter, I decided that she would start sleeping in her crib as soon as she was about 6 or 7 weeks old, so that we would hopefully not get a second bed buddy. So my routine for her was to breastfeed her and then put her in the crib. Even if it only lasted an hour or two, she got used to falling asleep in her crib.  Now at 18 months old, she asks to get into her crib so that she can go to bed.” – Stacey B

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