It’s June and my thoughts are turning to…road trips! My little Brooklynites don’t spend a lot of time in cars like all of their suburban friends. Summer—when we start to drive around on weekends and do some big drives across several states—is always when we reevaluate what they’re sitting in.
Here are the current guidelines. Your baby needs to be in a car seat from birth, and that car seat should stay rear-facing as long as possible, ideally up to the second birthday. At American Baby we generally recommend you begin with an infant car seat, because 1) It’s shaped for a tiny person’s body and 2) It’s so convenient, because you can easily take it in and out of the car. The base stays in the back of your car, but the seat itself snaps out and is easy to tote around.
Newborns can start right out in a convertible car seat, facing the rear. You save money going that route for sure. The new Evenflo Symphony DLX, for instance, is meant to hold a baby from 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing, and a child all the way up to 65 pounds forward-facing. Most of the time, though, we see families switching to these big convertible car seats when their baby has outgrown the infant seat. The convertible seat has to stay installed in the car; you don’t want to be taking it in and out all the time.
Most people, when they ask me about a car seat, want to know which is the safest one. But all the car seats on the market that have a JPMA certification stamp have to pass the same safety tests. Choosing a car seat, then, becomes about ease of use. I like the Symphony because of the infinite-adust harness straps; they’re so easy to move as your baby grows, or even as he comes in and out of bulky winter clothing. It’s easy to recline the seat, and to adjust the headrest as well. Finally, I give Evenflo kudos for having some of the most helpful car-seat installation videos. They don’t replace reading the manual, but watching a video certainly helps when you’re new to the car seat world!
To help kick off road-trip season, Evenflo will give one Symphony DLX away to someone who posts a comment here. It’s worth $229! Tell me where you’re driving your family to this summer. Here’s a picture of the payoff my kids get after I drive them for 8 hours: Sitting on Pap’s tractor in his backyard!
You have until the end of the day on Wednesday, June 13th to comment and can post up to once a day. Read all the official rules here. Goody luck!
There’s no toy that says “summer” to me like a Radio Flyer wagon. Did you know that the red wagon has been around for 95 years now? I picture these in every Memorial Day, Flag Day, and Fourth of July parade. And every beach town across America!
Personally, we use one at Neenup’s house (that’s my mom!). She’s near the beach but my kids just pull it around her yard during their endless imagination games. I love that we’ve got a customized one that says Grace and Joe on it!
The Grace and Joe mobile! They're hunting for ladybugs.
Want to customize your own red wagon? You can do it at RadioFlyer.com. You pick whether you want the metal-and-wood, old-school wagon (we’ve got one of those here in our office, it makes sneak appearances in photo shoots), or the plastic one I have for my kids (because we kind of abuse outdoor toys). Then you pick whether you want two little canopies, shade umbrellas, or one big canopy; you choose fabric patterns; you customize your wheels; and of course, you add a kid’s name, or a few! (You get up to 20 characters.)
To celebrate their near-centennial, the Radio Flyer folks are going to give away one personalized wagon for free. The worth of the wagon depends on what you add to it; it will be worth at minimum $105 and at most about $250. (Mine, which includes a storage compartment, would cost $209.) Just leave a comment here, up to once a day. Tell me what you’re most looking forward to doing with your kid this summer! (I’m looking forward to jumping in a pool with mine, we have a long wait here on the East coast for the pools to finally open up.)
This giveaway starts now and goes through Wednesday, May 23rd. For the official rules, please click here. As always, goody luck!
This sweet Pack ‘n Play is sitting here next to me and bringing back so many memories. Mostly I think of traveling, and how I took my first child, Grace, on probably a trip a month during her first two years of life. Our Pack ‘n Play saw a lot of use! It came as a shock when she turned 2 and cost a full plane ticket. That slowed our travel for sure. Then her brother was born and we were really grounded. But I still kept a Pack ‘n Play at Neenup’s house (you have to visit grandma!) and at Madama’s house (you have to visit both grandmas!). As a travel crib, the thing is a lifesaver.
The one shown here, the newest collaboration between Graco and Disney Baby, is especially tricked-out. It’s Minnie-Moused themed, but not with Minnie all over it or anything. It’s just inspired by Minnie’s girlishness, with flowers and such. I’ve gone on before about my family’s love for Disney, so I won’t go into it now, I’ll just take the opportunity to post a picture of my own Minnie!
My favorite Minnie!
Back to the Pack ‘n Play: It’s got a changing pad and bassinet built in. This makes it a portable nursery. Seriously. It can be a second nursery setup in your living room, or be pretty much all you need in your baby’s bedroom until she’s ready to graduate to a crib. (Side note: My coworker next to me kept her son in a Pack ‘n Play until he was 18 months old, so I’m just saying, you can make one of these your baby’s sleepspot for quite a while!)
Readers who vote in our American Baby Bests contest love the Pack ‘n Play; most use it as the changer and as a playpen in some area of the house aside from the nursery, so they’re not always running back in forth to their baby’s room. And hey, if you love this or any baby product and want to tell new moms, please vote at our polls right here! They’re fun, I promise you.
And good news: Graco and Disney will mail this same $220 Pack ‘n Play Premiere (or I’m sure they could substitute some boy-appropriate gear if necessary!) to one lucky person who leaves a comment at this post between now and the end of the day on Wednesday, May 16. That’s right, we’re running this contest over Mother’s Day! And as a salute to all mommies or mommies-to-be, I’m linking to Disney’s tear-inducing tribute to moms here. (Or am I the only person who cries when I see Dumbo’s mom?!)
Leave a comment, as many as one a day. Maybe tell me who your favorite Disney mom character is! (There aren’t a whole ton to choose from, right? But the mom in the Mary Poppins movie cracks me up, personally.) Read the Official Rules here. And as always, goody luck!
We see a lot of products dreamed up by frustrated parents, but one that I keep going back to is the Nap Nanny. A mom in Pennsylvania had a daughter who didn’t want to sleep anywhere but in her car seat or swing. It’s such a common story, but this was the first woman I ever met who got so fired up about it, she designed, and then manufactured, a new kind of baby product. (TRUST me, that is a huge investment of time, money, and sanity!) Her Nap Nanny doesn’t have to replace a bouncer seat and it’s not meant to go into a crib (ever! It must live on your floor). It’s a sleep spot for all those babies out there who can’t or won’t sleep flat on their back.
Of course, you don’t know if you have THAT kind of baby until you have one, right? But if you do, or if your baby suffers from reflux and you’re looking for a comfy spot to sit him in (especially after feedings), this could be a lifesaver for you. Check out all the testimonials at NapNanny.com.
And pssst, we keep one around here for photo shoots because let me tell you, it makes taking cute pictures of a young baby pretty easy! In fact, Sandra Bullock’s son Louis made his big photo debut in People magazine sitting in a Nap Nanny.
Want to try it out? The folks from Nap Nanny will give one of seat, valued at $129, to one person (chosen at random) who comments at this post. How about you tell us where your baby likes to sleep? And while we’ve got you…how about you vote for your favorite bouncer, swing, and crib over at our American Baby Bests polls? (No Nap Nanny on our polls this year, but maybe its time will come!) You can post here once a day between now and the end of the day on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. You can read the full rules here. Goody luck!
Plenty of artists have been discovered on YouTube (ahem, Justin Bieber), launching wildly successful careers. Despite her young age, 2-year-old Makena knows it’s finally her time to shine. The tot sings her little heart out to Adele’s “Someone Like You”–and we think it’s the best cover yet!
We used to call my daughter’s activity center “the office.” We’d put her in, and she’d sit with a determined expression and get busy with the toys, spinning herself slowly around to access all of them. Her seriousness about it was hysterical for the adults in the house. It also drove home to us the adage that “play is a child’s work.” Mastering toys is a baby’s job!
Does your baby have an activity center or jumper that he or she adores? If so, we want to hear about it for our American Baby Bests contest. We’re taking nominations for products that babies and parents love, and will turn those into polls that will go live in a few weeks. (Don’t worry, I’ll announce when they’re up!) In the meantime, you can vote for your favorite baby products here. You have to join our Parents.com community in order to post there, but the good news is, posting about your favorite products makes you eligible for a $250 prize! The rules for that contest are here.
Meanwhile, if you don’t yet have an activity center and need one…this could be your big break! We’re photographing this awesome Baby Neptune Activity Saucer, from Baby Einstein, for a summer issue. And we’ve got an extra one still in its box that we’re happy to ship out to a baby who seriously needs to play. Leave a comment below—you can leave a comment once a day—anytime between now and the end of the day Wednesday, March 21st. We’ll randomly pick a person to win this $90 supertoy. You can read the full rules here. Goody luck!
True love (or a need to have a clean mate) is evident in this week’s webtastic pick. Well, at least from one end. The snowball on the right looks sleepy, and has good reason to be—the life of an adorable, fluffy critter can be a hard one!
Add a pint-sized puppy and an adorable wide-eyed tot, and you get this too-cute-to-be-real high-quality home video. And If this doesn’t make you want to get an English Bulldog pup, then I don’t know what will. Watch the duo as they go about their day…being cute.