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Posts Tagged ‘Second Child

Here’s an update – dare we say, product review – for Phil N’Teds Wriggle Wrapper: “The perfect solution for sitting, feeding & sleeping on the go!”

A while back, we posted about the beautiful unfulfilled promise of the Wriggle Wrapper, which had sat gathering moss while our little babies rolled gleefully along, stopping only to nosh in the infinitely superior Phil N’Teds MeToo.  After several noble attempts at proper use, we felt wasteful and downright ashamed at having gotten suckered into another $50 of gear we didn’t need.

Then – the baby turned 1, the toddler hit 2.5, and we all took off to co-op preschool together, working parent shift (with tag-a-long) one day a week.

The first few times, I just struggled & juggled with the baby – swapping deftly between the Ergo, a Pack N’Play (not popular), and furtive sideway glances to keep Mr. Increasingly Mobile in my sights.  This wasn’t working, so I deployed the MeToo – but with much more at stake (glue sticks – how delicious!) the little guy grew even more determined, finding a way out of MeToo’s safety straps and onto the table.

As it turns out, toddlers are pretty good at sounding the alarm – not out of concern of precious baby’s health or welfare, but because glue is “mine” and they’re not sharing.  Yet another rescue pop into the Ergo.

Phil & Teds Wriggle WrapperLater, physically exhausted and emotionally bereft, it hit me like a ton of mossy rocks: Wriggle Wrapper.  The perfect solution for sitting…on the go. (Their words.)  It would bind baby’s wiggly little bottom to a tiny preschool chair.  As though the chair were wearing the Ergo.  Sort of.  Well, at this point, anyone or anything else wearing the baby is welcome, and my back thanks you.

I brought Wriggle Wrapper to Co-op my very next shift and it worked like a dream.  The WW’s extra-wide velcro-buckle waistbelt/short is genius for sitting securely, since it immobilizes the hips – baby has no leverage to wiggle his legs into standing position.  Best of all, baby seems to love it.  I think the secure hold might actually feel comforting – like he feels wrapped, not bound.

The other parents were impressed – what’s that?  That’s brilliant! For the first time, I finished shift with energy to spare.  I’m a fan of baby-wearing, and still wore my 23-pounder for a good two hours out of five, but the Wriggle Wrapper gave me *my* mobility at key moments in the Co-op day.  I felt like Supermom.  No…I felt…normal!

So I’m updating the review, and giving WW high marks – at least for sitting and feeding!  Sleeping…remains to be seen.  But I’ve got to find a way to test it.  Because the $49.99 just got paid off (good luck hiring a nanny for that for five hours) – and now I’m curious.

Along with first teeth, losing and regrowing hair, the army crawl and pulling up to standing, it’s one of baby’s earliest physical milestones: outgrowing the portable baby bucket.  If one bicep has grown to 2x the other, and you’re just starting to get some sleep, chances are it’s time to shop for a convertible car seat.

A “convertible” car seat is one that can be installed in either rear- or forward-facing positions.  It is strongly recommended that children be kept rear-facing as long as possible given height and weight guidelines assigned to a seat by its manufacturer (usually, *at least* one year in age and 20 pounds in weight).  Car-safety.org explains the crash physics behind safety guildelines well – among other benefits, rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child’s back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash.  With frontal or frontal-offset crashes making up 70-75% of severe crashes, it’s important to seek out a top-rated convertible model that fits well into your vehicle facing both directions.

Here are GaGaGear’s top-line convertible considerations:

1.  Reputable make/model with no recent recall activity

Maxi-Cosi Priori | Photo Credit: elitecarseats.com

Many parents stick with the same brand as they make this transition – a reasonable choice, since most the quality names from the infant category are equally proven with convertibles.  Fans of aesthetic and functional European styling might move from the Maxi-Cosi Mico into Maxi-Cosi Priori, looking ahead to a Rodi booster, or perhaps a Recaro.  Others fish within a certain price tier, or consistently pick the year’s “top” product from a reputable list.  Top-scoring Graco SnugRide or Metropolitan owners might pick the Britax Marathon or Boulevard (Graco’s convertible MyRide is nothing special).

Still others eek out the bucket seat as long as possible and transition directly to the functional yet forward-only-facing Graco Nautilus, which boasts 3:1 convertibility from a 5-point harness all the way to a backless booster.

A quick Google search will bring up any number of sites that compile car seat rankings, but we’ve had good luck with EliteCarSeats.com.  Also check Amazon for reviews once you’ve narrowed your list.  Carseat.org has a no-frills recall info page that’s kept up to date as recalls are announced.

2.  Where will you install the car seat?  Review 360-degree impact features.

Many cars have dedicated LATCH bars just for the side seats and not for the middle.  Although most convertible car seats can still be installed using a car’s seat belts, LATCH gives parents greater confidence and flexibility if installing/re-installing frequently without outside assistance.  While the middle of the back seat is still considered safest given the range of possible impacts, the sides are often most practical, and inevitable for growing families.

We discussed front- and frontal-offset crashes earlier.  A 5-point harness is “standard” front-impact protection for the category, and a clip that’s stiff or tricky to open is actually a good thing.  (Think child safety caps on medication.)

Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL

Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL | Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Side impact protection is just as important to review, and is accomplished in different ways at different price levels.  Less expensive seats rely on large quantities of dense foam padding to absorb and transfer energy in a crash, and can be bulky as a result, especially side-to-side.  The upper eschelon of convertibles (and infant buckets too) look more race car than padded pillow, and are engineered similarly with rigid internal structures designed to absorb and transfer impact back into the body of the car itself.  New seats with steel construction and deep side impact protection like Sunshine Kids’ Radian XTSL aim to boost side-impact safety within a more streamlined profile.  The Radian XTSL can run close to $300, but it also rates up to 85 pounds and has a slim enough profile so you could probably skip getting a booster.

3.  If installing behind the passenger, does sufficient legroom remain?  If installing driver-side, is there sufficient legroom for the tallest driver in your family?

This is the point at which some parents start to panic about buying a large sedan or minivan.  Our advice is to postpone that decision until you try a few seats in your current car – there is quite a range re: depth in the rear-facing position – if you could fit the infant seat, there’s likely to be a convertible sized just right for you.  It’s also not a time for self-sacrifice – if the driver can’t steer, brake, shift, or otherwise control the car comfortably and safely due to lack of leg or shoulder room, keep looking.

4.  Car seat width and rear seat real estate.

For some, this won’t matter – but for families looking to stretch (gasp) three seats across the back seat, it’s something to consider far in advance of that third trip to the hospital.  This is where Sunshine Kids shines, with the narrowest-yet-safest convertibles on the market today.  You’ll be lucky to squeeze a diaper bag between some of the other models, so if you’ll be sticking with your sedan, take it to the store and ask to test one seat on either side simultaneously to get an idea.  If you can’t get three across forward-facing, try to at least fit two puzzled together with an infant bucket, rear-facing in the middle – especially if you are a one-car family (since visiting relatives or friends don’t always rent a car).

5.  Child’s Comfort / Room to Grow

Lastly, do consider the comfort of your passenger long term.  Convertible seats are meant to last through a period of considerable growth for your child – in all directions.  This is where Amazon customer reviews can be particularly helpful, since you might find feedback from parents with children at different ages.  Especially look at the head/neck padding of the seat – some are adjustable, and others are fixed.  If fixed, be sure the padding is fairly flush with the seat and doesn’t force a shorter child’s head to tilt forward uncomfortably.  Some seats like the Maxi-Cosi Priori can recline, which is helpful for smaller children and those who still fall asleep frequently in the car.

If you like eBay or Craigslist for baby gear, add Returns For Sale (www.returnsforsale.com) to your bookmarks.  As the name implies, the site sells discount open- and closed-box merchandise returned by buyers, or discontinued by the manufacturer.  It looks like a great resource for budget shopping, especially for grandparents, or for extra items you might need for a brief time with a second child.

As always, smart shopping requires due diligence.  Before completing a gear purchase, however attractive the price, you should:

  • Double check the advertised retail price on Amazon.com – – occasionally, you will be able to find a new item at a similar price to that of a discount site, especially in the case of discontinued or deprecated models
  • Visit the home web site for the product’s manufacturer (or your favorite baby gear site), to learn what upgrades have been made for a next-generation model, in case you’d be willing to pay full price for these features
  • Ensure the product was not part of a safety recall.  About.com has a good article on how to find baby product recall information, or you can go to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission web site directly.

I made an impulse buy Tuesday – – a new diaper bag.  I already had a pretty good one from Fleurville that I’d picked up years ago in a second hand store, but I’d been finding it a bit cramped for both a baby and a toddler.

Skip Hop Via Messenger

Photo Credit: oompa.com

With Valentine’s Day looming, my defenses were down – – the Skip Hop Via Messenger (in a gorgeous green) was love at first sight.  The right bag at the right time.  8 months into baby #2, this mom is ready to tone down the happy prints and rediscover stylish functionality – Skip Hop’s forté.

All it took was a quick once-over to assess the must-have’s and appreciate the “more” – roomy interior with plenty of pockets, exterior cinch bags for easy access, lots of zippered compartments, dual magnetic closure, perfectly sized changing pad, and a smart urban look.

I bought my Via Messenger on Tuesday, and test-drove it Wednesday on my first coast-to-coast flight with the two kids.  It packed everything in and performed beautifully – especially at in-flight diaper change time, with the changing pad easily accessible and easy to manipulate with one hand.  I did notice a water spot the next day on the fabric from a wipe I’d balled up and shoved in the back “antimicrobial” pocket.  Seems like an easy fix, but leaves me wondering why they didn’t make it waterproof as well.

Skip Hop products can be found in finer stores everywhere.  Get Via Messenger at Oompa Toys for $78.99 and earn some reward points.

Baby Jogger City Select Single Stroller

Photo Credit: joggingstroller.com

Around this time last year, I was entering my third trimester with our second child.  Anticipating the logistical juggling act of 2 under 2 with great trepidation, I was in the market for a double stroller roomy enough to accommodate our tall toddler and the new babe, yet small and flexible enough to service our highly mobile urban lifestyle.

After much research, I narrowed the field to a BOB Revolution Duallie, the Bumbleride Indie Twin, and the Maclaren Twin Techno.  I had considered Phil N’Ted’s various in-line buggies with double kits, but didn’t like the low second seat – seemed like one kid got to ride first class and the other got stuck in coach.  I ended up with the Maclaren mostly due to size and portability.  (In retrospect I would have preferred the smooth handling of the BOB or Bumbleride, but that ship has sailed…)  Maclaren actually recalled the Twin Techno strollers this year due to people getting fingers pinched (or clipped off!!!) in the folding hinges, but we seem to have bought ours after they realized what was happening since it came with the hinge guards Maclaren is issuing via the web site to anyone who needs them.

Long story short, Baby Jogger stepped up to the plate this year, bringing modern moms a single/double convertible stroller that promises a premium ride along with ultimate flexibility.  The City Select is a single stroller with a patented second seat attachment method.  Patented, you say?  Method? Yes, friends – rather than a one-way add-on, Baby Jogger opted for a high degree of customization, allowing *at least* 16 different combinations of toddler seat, infant car seat, and bassinet on a compact four-wheeled chassis.

Baby Jogger City Select Double Stroller Options

Photo Credit: joggingstroller.com

This stroller will be a smart buy for people just starting out on a multi-child family, but it rates expensive if you’ve already invested in a single stroller of comparable quality.  To use the City Select for double-strolling, you’ll need the base stroller + second seat kit, and probably would want the car seat kit as well – so your inital cost is around $600 ($499 for the single).

Check out the Baby Jogger City Select at www.joggingstroller.com.

**FEB 2011 UPDATE: Baby Jogger has the City Select on sale for 30% off – so $349 for the single and $129.99 for the second seat attachment (car seat attachment kit still $59.99) bringing the doubles “kit” down to $540…



    • JHeff: I have read a good number of comments about most users of the boba not really ever using the foot rests. Looking at the videos I've seen, the back on
    • Mama GaGa: Oh, boo! Thanks for the manufacturing update - I will make note in the post. Cheers - MG
    • Cathy: I know this is a couple years old but I ran across this post and was so excited when you said the Boba was made in America - a big selling point for m

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