Choosing an infant car seat...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I made a car seat post on my social media last week. This raised some questions about car seats. What do I recommend? Why did I choose the one I'm using? What are things to look for in a seat? Is used ok?

I decided to write up a post that should hopefully help your choice on one of the biggest baby gear purchases. I'm going to focus this on infant seats but many reference points will be the same for convertible or next stage seats. 

The car seat world is quite big! It is always a wonder to why some seats are so expensive compared to others.Aren't all seats that are sold approved for safety and equal? No. Car seats go through rigorous testing to be approved and while any seat that hits the retail market has to pass this test, it doesn't mean the crash dummy did as good as another branded seat. It also doesn't mean that a seat that costs more is safer. Car seat price does usually tend to reflect materials used in the car seat. But there is more to safety than adding the best foams or non toxic covers.

So how do you select the one to purchase? Well, this gets tricky... as a blogger (even though I know the field of car seats due to my history of working the business many years and could probably spew off info on all brands) I feel it's not my place to say what to use. There are many factors that come to play and trying the seat in your car is a huge one. If the seat doesn't fit my recommendation is potentially dangerous. Also the seat needs to fit your lifestyle and you need to be able to use it correctly with ease. I suggest visiting sites like 
these sites give amazing up to date information and can help guide you with what works for your car, lifestyle and overall needs. This will be the only item I will not unequivocally recommend. Sorry guys! But I'm being a responsible blogger. 

What I will give in my car seat tips are ::

Pull back the cover and look for the white foam. There is only a minimal amount needed to pass testing and the inexpensive seats tend to use the true minimum. This foam helps the seat perform by absorbing shock during a crash. You want as much as possible! As you'll see in my photo below my Orbit car seat is fully lined. There are different types of white foam, EPS and EPP. My seat is lined with the better EPP foam. It has more elasticity to it and doesn't break as easily which results in your car seat holding up better during everyday use.

Ask the store if you can try the car seat in your car before you buy. Many businesses mark car seats final sale once you leave the building with them. Fit and ease of installation are important. Also can you get it on the base properly so it is locked tight every time? Does it fit with other car seats if you have older children?

Read your manual FULLY and if you are using a car seat tech for install ask them to teach you. You don't want to be traveling with baby and not know how to get your seat installed! Also, make sure you know how to install your seat without the base. We traveled often with our kids and we never brought our base so the load is lighter to pack.

Don't add anything to your car seat. This includes bunting bags! I know you see them advertised and they look oh so cozy... But don't! They change the way your baby sits in the seat, changes the function of the straps (often slots don't match up) and you can not properly tighten baby in. On this note - don't buckle baby in a big padded jacket or snowsuit either. You can't not tighten the straps properly to get maximum safely.

Used? New? What to do? I personally recommend buying new, always. That way you have the latest advancements in safety and you know the seats history. There are so many items you can cut back on to save money; car seats shouldn't be one of them. If you do choose to go the used route make sure you know the history of the seat, pull back the cover to check for damage or white stress marks on plastics, check manufacture date and expiry yourself (sellers are often in it for themselves) and call in to the manufacture to make sure there are no outstanding recalls on the seat. Also check your area laws. In Canada you can not sell or buy a used seat that isn't up to the latest labeling change. There are seats that check off all requirements of the used recommendations but can't be traded because the new standard label is not attached. It is actually illegal!

Check your harness height to make sure in rear facing mode the straps are AT or BELOW shoulders of baby. These help keep your baby from ejection and secure them into the seat. 

Chest clips are for the chest. (armpit height) A very common mistake is it too low. And don't forget to tighten those straps! A super tight installed car seat doesn't work if the harness on baby isn't right and chest clip isn't used properly.

Please!! Keep babies off the top of the shopping cart. Haven't we heard enough sad stories from falls. If you plan pick up so many groceries that your car seat can't go in the actual basket - carry your baby. It's better for bonding, flat heads, and you get to snuggle while doing one of the annoying household chores. My kids all lived in slings and carrier until age four. Yes, I packed these big boys on my back that big! I always knew where they were and it prevented store theft from sneaky little hands grabbing treats and pocketing them.

You must use a car seat that is approved for your country. This means NO importing USA seats to Canada or vise versa. Even though you see the same seat sold in both USA and Canada they are not cross border friendly. Countries have different labels. Bringing a car seat cross border can result in a traffic ticket or your car insurance company can decline any claims involving the use of a seat. This is not included for traveling with your seat. You can bring your seat on holiday with you and use it.

Travel with your child's own car seat. Do not rely on rental car seats. They are often misused and you will not have proper installation instructions handy. However that said some destination hot spots for families have quality rental agencies and car seat techs that can help you install. Check before you go. Never go anywhere without using a car seat! You do not know the driver and often times places like Mexico or similar countries have fast drivers and crazy roads. We had a couple close calls and experienced a crash in front of us that nearly could have involved our airport transport shuttle in Mexico. Our kids were buckled properly thankfully! Down to cruising in the Caribbean and getting off at ports of call we took our car seat always for tours on the islands. The pain on the butt far outweighs the dangers and risks for my children.

Once you find a car seat you love did you know many brands of strollers will accept them? This is great to get everything you want without compromise. Often seats are perfect but the matching stroller won't work for your lifestyle or trunk. Good quality brand strollers make kits to accept competitors car seats. My Orbit is one of the exceptions to this as it just fits Orbit products.  

Interior of the Orbit infant car seat I am using. As you can see it is fully lined.

What the white EPP/EPS foam you will watch for looks like.


Twenty nine week bumpdate...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Twenty-nine weeks is already here! I've surpassed my goal of twenty-eight with flying colours! Latest ultrasounds on the cerclage and cervix show its holding up great still! It's getting so close to taking out the cerclage, under eight weeks left. It has been rubbing and irritating so bad but I'm told this is common. If you're reading this and have a healthy pregnancy please be thankful! So many women complain and while I'm not here to be bossy I want you to be reminded - you are lucky to be growing a beautiful, healthy blessing. Nine months is not that long to pay for the gift of life. 

I'm starting to think about all the required things I need for the hospital and baby. I'm planning to have my hospital bag ready to go at thirty-two weeks. I'll be sure to do a blog about what's in my bag then. I received my Orbit baby system this week. I had a lot of questions about car seats and I plan to follow up this week with my thoughts and recommendations on buying car seats. 

No real changes or big news but I did have some fun outfits I wore on the last two weeks! I'll share those below.

Notes ::

Pregnancy cravings - black licorice and twizzlers! Been on track for overall healthy consumption otherwise. 

I've started to plan the nursery out and can't wait to share what I'll be doing in the future. 

Weight gain to date :: 15 pounds

Dress by :: Tiffany Rose UK 

Overalls :: non maternity from Urban Outfitters

Dress by :: Au Fait Mama (designed for all stages pregnant, nursing, beyond)

Tee by :: Anna Bee (the soft fit is amazing!) 


Boob Design Nursing Wear...

Friday, October 16, 2015

When you name your nursing wear line BOOB Design you must have confidence in your clothes!  Genius I'd say! 

I discovered Boob Design when I had my last baby over four years ago. I loved that you could wear most items through pregnancy and then for nursing after. I usually don't like maternity/nursing clothing with showing flaps or clips because I hate them to scream "I'm in mom wear!". The items I first purchased were such a pleasant surprise, the flap stayed perfectly hidden under my bust! It was great you couldn't even these were for nursing on most items I bought, even up close. The fit on the dresses and tops were nice compared to many brands I tried; almost an hour glass shape to the tops and dresses instead of tent style. This helped flatter my smallest part (rib cage) after baby and made me feel great wearing the pieces!

Boob Design is also an eco friendly fashion line. Who would have guessed you can get such cute items without comprimising your baby's future world? They use 
sustainable materials such as organic cotton, lyocell and fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. Clothing is manufactured in Europe, are 100% OEKO-TEX certified, and eighty percent of the line uses sustainable materials.

Here are a few of my current items I have from the fall collection. I'm wearing them pregnant with the interior elastic under bust to give extra fabric room for my bump. I'll pull the elastic over my bust after I have the baby to take care of the bulk and go back to a fitted look. 

I highly recommend splurging on a few key pieces for nursing baby! It really makes a difference having easy access and something cute to wear. I am sure I'll end up with a good collection again for baby Apple since we do extended breastfeeding - my hubby and I agree formula money saved goes to nursing wear. :)

Note :: For those moms who love yoga or activewear check out their b-warmer hoody!! I didn't get one yet but plan to for baby fitness walks after Apple arrives. It was a good piece in my wardrobe for chilly nights and evening walks when I was nursing Kingsley.  

Check out :: www.boobdesign.com for more great styles!


Twenty seven weeks...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I'm so incredibly happy to be doing well with the cerclage in, my spirits are high, and I'm feeling so confident I'll make it to term. I've even started to resume a semi normal life! I go out longer these days, cook proper meals for the family and enjoy my time a lot more. But as the happy glow arrived, worry about life after baby has creeped in the door.  Basically, I'm feeling like a normal pregnant lady. 

The other night I felt anxiety on how I will be after baby. (Silly right??) Mainly about my body going back after this baby. I know this isn't anything I should worry about... However, I couldn't resist texting my girfriend for support that I will be ok after. The pregnancy hormone devil is saying I used up all my luck on the last three kids, and telling me I'm even older this baby. Don't they say as you age weight sticks around? I swear these moments get the best of us and even though I'm fairly sensible, I can't help them from crossing my mind. So shall I say "cheers!" to being normal finally or put muffin number five down and get my ass walking. Hmm.. I'll cheers and probably annoy everyone to death for the next ten weeks.


Pregnancy cravings - everything sweet

Apple is kicking less these days. Her home must be getting tight. 

I've started to dream about our first meeting. 

My favourite looks are below. 

Kingsley is wearing ::
Shoes by Freshly Picked
Shirt by Wild Rose Tattoo 
Hat by Lennon and Wolfe
Chain by Gunner and Lux

 Skirt by Isabella Oliver
Tank by Ingrid and Isabel
Leather by Black Noir
Dress by Ingrid and Isabel
Scarf by Aritzia 


Cloth diapers...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

First and foremost I want to start this post with the following... 

Opinions expressed and brands I choose to talk about are those of mine, are not endorsed nor the be-all end-all on what to use. I have sold cloth diapers for 16 years, my first 4 were working in a children's boutique with the most knowledgeable lady who did cloth herself, and then 12 in my own store. My customers and I have trialed many brands and the ones mentioned are the narrowed down brands that had the best success rates and happiness. If a different brand, or washing detergent works for you and you hate everything I suggest please keep this post in mind. The cloth diaper world is incredibly overwhelming and can be worse than pregnancy advice. Mom's do not need negativity, and if they choose something different than you do, it's not appropriate to express your opinions to them. Cloth diaper forums can be bully forums and this is not a place for negativity. So please, when you see a mom using something different than you, think twice before telling her how much better your system is. You don't go around telling people their cars, husbands or homes suck. 

Ok, now that's out of the way!

I'd like to start with one of the most important thing to me. It's called transparency with a company. I am not one to put a company down or like getting into a negative situation. But it is a serious issue that I think needs to be addressed and exposed. A company who calls themselves Canadian or American with the intent to sell China made diapers as a North American made brand is wrong on so many levels. Now this is not wrong to say your business is a Canadian/American business, and I'm not against China made either, but to not fully disclose on your website or to your buyers the diapers are made off shore is wrong! Unsuspecting moms are being taken by this! Not only do some of these "relabeled" brands sell as a North American diaper but they use other companies hard work and design. Getting it made cheaper, often lower end PUL, and allowing new buyers to think they have something they don't. I have come across MANY moms in my business who say they only buy Canadian and when I ask what brands they are currently, they are in fact China. If production is important to you and you're purchasing from a company you don't know ask what the label inside the diaper states. Made in ____ . The exterior labels can be done Brand designed in ____ or Brand a ____ company. (Often the too good to be true is that.)

Now let's get on to the nitty gritty of why you came to read this post!! 

•Are cloth diapers hard? Only if you make them hard. 
•Cloth Diapers are so gross in your house! Nope, you can flush or rinse away the solids and they don't sit around in a bin for a whole week until the garbage truck comes. 
•Cloth is so expensive! Only if you make it that way. With many affordable options you can have full-time cloth as low as 300.00 and that's all you spend until potty training. Throw always cost upwards of 2500.00+.
•My friend tried cloth and said its the worst! Your friend wouldn't marry your husband either. Take it with a grain of salt!
•There are too many options out there! Agreed. 

Here is what I will be using for Apple. I have chosen a mix of brands I like. But one thing stays the same in all and that's natural fibre inserts. I am doing mostly bamboo with a handful of hemp blend inserts. I prefer bamboo for the softness over hemp's stiff and scratchy feel. (Hemp does absorb more for the most part and that will be in her night diapers.) Microfiber is cheaper to start but can be harder to get build up or stink out, and has a very low resale value. Natural fibers can easily be deep cleaned at home and are always sought after on the bst markets. That helps recoup some of your out of pocket expense. 

I'm doing a mix of covers by Applecheeks, Softbums,AMP and Peachy Baby. My reason is because I enjoy a change in style at times, I find some to work better for night stuffing, some are cute diaper butts with ruffle edges, and my boys prefer hook and loop (Velcro) when changing baby. I personally do not choose all in ones because the outer shell can be damaged easily by deep cleans and they take much longer to dry. They aren't a bad option at all for a mom who doesn't want to stuff diapers, just not for our house.

The made in USA Softbums I use come in two versions. Echo cover you lay the insert on top (or if you use their insert snap in), Onni cover you can stuff insert in or lay on top. The Echo has a slightly trimmer fit. These are both Velcro but do come in snap although not the same fit or ease with snap. Both have an adjustable elastic inside and work brilliant for every size of baby!

The Applecheeks are sized covers made in Canada. Come in size 1 and 2. This means you get a better fit for baby in size 1 and bigger child size 2. But, it also means you purchase covers twice. Keep in mind resale on this brand is high!! And often discontinued diapers go for more than you paid - even after using them! Customer service is the best from this company. And they always have the best release parties on social media. 

AMP and Peachy Baby are the same ownership both made in Canada. AMP makes a few styles and options for diapers but I'm choosing their one sized and sized cover only. The one size are stuffable and have snaps to adjust the rise. The sized are two options size 1 and 2. Again sized require purchasing twice. Peachy Baby covers work from newborn to toddler with rise snaps. Peachy baby have no pockets to stuff inserts.Although many diapers that do this (one size) are hard to fit real newborns, PB design does. The snaps overlap at the waist and they adjust enough in rise to give a perfect fit.

My inserts are mainly Applecheeks bamboo. The quality is great, they stay soft after many washes; you fold them to the size you need. They are my favourite by far!! I do have a few hemp blend inserts by AMP for heavy wetting stages and night and very little Softbums mini bamboo. The mini can be used as a newborn insert and later as a doubler. I do recommend for price conscious inserts the Peachy Baby in size large. Even though I'm not using them with Apple they are great and my customers loved these budget friendly inserts.

My laundry and routine is pretty simple. The easier you make it the more enjoyable cloth diapering is.
•I use diaper friendly soaps and *gasp* Tide free at times. There are so many options out there for soap I don't want to get into brand naming them. This is a very personal choice. What to look for if you are purchasing commercial brands is no dyes, scents, fabric softeners for sure. DO NOT use dryer sheets! Wool balls are best if you choose to use your dryer or go to Walmart and pick up an inexpensive drying rack.

A typical week following along our cloth use. (With previous son as new baby isn't here yet)

Stuff diapers so they are ready to go. • Time to change and baby is wet only - take diaper off and drop wet diaper into wetbag (or just the wet insert if you choose to lay inserts on top and not stuff in pocket) . • Next change - baby pooped - if breastfed only, drop into bag as is, if starting solids brush poop into toilet and drop diaper into wetbag. Once this happens enough to either fill the wetbag or you are running low on future changes its time to wash. • I then dump my diapers into the laundry sink, fold back velcro tabs to prevent diapers sticking together, pull liner out of pocket and as I'm doing this throw each diaper into the machine. If one of my prize older children or daddy left a poopy in the dipe, I set aside and at the end when sink is clear rinse poo off with cold water, it falls off easily with cold, then use hot and down the drain it goes. (You could take it to the toilet but like I said .. I'm simple) • My wash routine is add soap, set machine to hot wash and cold rinse with an additional rinse. That's it! I don't mess around adding soap 4 different times, or bulking up the laundry with towels or rinsing everything first and all the extra routines you can do. I do not do a cold rinse ahead because I have pre-rinsed poop or bad off while loading. •Once my load is up I drape my covers on the drying rack and put my inserts either into the dryer or on drying rack. •This next step depends on how busy I am. 1) be the perfect mom and stuff all the diapers neatly and put away. 2) grab as you need from laundry rack. 3) shove in a laundry basket and set beside the change table until you are option one. 

Now at times I forgot my diapers at work and they would be disgusting! (I took babe to work with me from birth) Or if we were travelling into another country and they were only lightly washed in the hotel sink. I'd need to extra clean this load.... I would wash my inserts only in a super hot sanitary wash with a diaper soap booster or use a diaper stripper like Funk Rock. This is where natural fibers work best for us and most homes since they are easy to bring back to life, and get the stink out. DO NOT use super hot with sanitary cycle on covers often or at all. This can damage your plastic lining called PUL on the cover causing it to leak. I suggest checking with your diaper manufacture on ultra hot washes.

Even though the following brands aren't in my line up I did use some of these with my son. Grovia covers (made in China but honest about it) were good for travel. No fleece lining so they washed and dried well in hotel rooms. Handmade wool covers were great to put over diapers at night for heavy wetting leaks. Bamboozle fitted were cute for the odd days I wanted something different and would use them cover free at home.
A good balance in diaper cover to insert ratio is 3 inserts to 1 cover. If you lay inserts on top you can possibly get up to 3 changes before you need to wash the cover for smell reasons. If you want to stuff every diaper then 2 inserts to 1 cover. Inserts are like socks in my house... They can go missing!
If you are trying out cloth it's best to commit to 12 covers at least. Working with less becomes challenging to keep up with laundry. If you are doing 12 covers you will not be able to stuff unless you love daily laundry... Babies go through a lot of changes as newborns and poo often if you hadn't heard this a million times so far. The poop can get on leg seams and you have to wash covers more without being to reuse. If you are more flexible with your budget 36 is a dream and anything up from there is diaper hording awesomeness. I'll admit I had at one point 150 diapers for Kingsley *self admitted hoarder* it was a real problem having the get the next cutest colour or print that was released. Baby Apple will have 60 to start with, this is not normal or needed at all!! It is because I am ridiculous and buy in excess at times. (Hubby if you read this 60 is far less than King's stack so be happy!)

Stock photos of shells - my diapers have not all arrived at time of this post. I will be doing only white in all covers. Some say brave... I say photo perfect... 

Applecheeks (sized 1 and 2 - pocket - best resale)

Softbums Echo (no pocket - slide to size elastic adjustment) 

Softbums Omni (stuffable - slide to size elastic adjustment) 
AMP (one size - pocket)
Peachy Baby (one size - no pocket)
AMP (sized small - large) 


Twenty six weeks pregnant..

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The weeks are starting to speed up! I am now needing to think about the required basics I need for after birth. Breast pads, granny undies, a breast pump if she's early, baby basics like washcloths, soap, preparing her cloth diapers. I know most don't worry about this until mid thirty weeks but with a high risk pregnancy it's best to be prepared ahead! I'm hoping to have most essentials ready by thirty weeks. 

Lately, things have been pretty uneventful. I'm so used to the ups and downs, I didn't know how to navigate this relaxed setting. I can't complain though! I'll take the next ten weeks relaxing, and enjoying my big boys. It's easy to forget to absorb the moments with them while I can. New baby, breastfeeding, husbands new work and planning to travel back to our home in California will be an agenda full. No rest for the wicked.. right??? I don't even want to think about setting up our new home then too. Hopefully consuming my placenta will be the magic pill to get through everything this winter! Most importantly isn't losing sight on the special moments that fly by with a newborn. 

Notes :: 

I have gained 11 pounds to date.

I'm considering an epidural. Even though I did drug free all 3 kids and a homebirth last time. 

I love Apple and know I'm having her, but I don't feel that real connection with who's in my tummy yet. 

My favourite looks are shown below. 

Skirt by Isabella Oliver
Top by Baukjen

Skirt by Isabella Oliver
Top Custom 
Skirt and top by Ingrid and Isabel
Blazer by BCBG
Dress by Isabella Oliver
Leather vest from Nordstroms
Boots by Frye


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