GaGaGear

Posts Tagged ‘Travel

Oh no!  Not MeToo!

Phil Ted MeToo Chair Round Table

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

I’m going to try and tread lightly here, as one of my all-time favorite gear items is called out by the CPSC for safety concerns.  We used (and still use) Phil&Ted’s iconic MeToo clip-on chair in lieu of a high chair for both our children, both of whom are on the heavy side of the scale (75% and 110% at almost every weigh-in), and believe firmly in the strength of those beefy metal clips when tightly secured to the appropriate surface.

We’ve primarily used two in tandem, attached kitty corner on our built-in kitchen island, which is a solid inch and a half of sturdy maple.  Our kids could potentially kick the center of the island while in the chairs, but honestly, that’s not how they roll.  For us, the risk (and reality) was more that they would climb out of their seats, stand on the island, and swat at the pendant lights – whee!  (The arm straps on MeToo are weak sauce and a totally tough sell on top of a bib and broccoli.)

I’m actually comforted and pleased that Phil&Ted’s isn’t responding immediately with a worldwide recall – this to me indicates they believe the issue is not one of product integrity or basic design, but perhaps more one of user error.  They are issuing rubber pads or boots to make it safer – not to fix a fundamental design flaw.  Not exactly what the CPSC ordered, but as an owner, it seems logical – the rubber pads ours came with finally came unglued after their 50th trip through the dishwasher (and clothes dryer).  It’s not unlike the recent brake fix on our Bugaboo Bee.  Or the hinge covers issued for our Maclaren Twin Techno (for your precious fingertips).

In my humble opinion, keeping things safe with MeToo is a matter of physics and attention to detail – you have to assess the weight of your child, the curvature and heft of the furniture you’re attaching the chair to (round ones are tough, yet pictured in official photo at right), and use the clamps properly, tightening until you can tighten no more, and then tightening one last time.  I shudder to think any children actually did have their fingers amputated as they hit the floor from an improper installation and extra case of the wiggles, but I suppose it must have happened?  Or perhaps we’re at a point now where we if we dream it, we really CAN do it?

Anyway.  At our house, we’re hanging out in our MeToo’s until the kids are tall enough for our rickety backless bar stools.  It really is a best-in-class solution, from the hefty clips right down to folding fully flat for travel (even won a Cribsie nod recently in the Mealtime category).  But I’ve included the entire CPSC release below, urge you to come to your own conclusions, and promise to keep you posted on any developments.

…………………… official release follows ………………………

NEWS from CPSC
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2011
Release #11-218

CPSC Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

CPSC Alert: Consumers Urged To Stop Using phil&teds USA Clip-on Chairs Due To Serious Dangers Posed To Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns consumers that some “metoo” clip-on table top chairs, imported by phil&teds USA Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo. put young children at risk of serious injury due to multiple safety hazards. CPSC is urging consumers to stop using some metoo clip-on chairs immediately.

The product is an infant/toddler chair with a nylon fabric seat and a metal frame that clamps onto tables using two metal vise clamps. The upper part of each clamp rests on the table top and has either a rubber clamp pad on its underside or a rubber boot covering it. The chair is sold in three fabric colors – red, black and navy.

The clip-on chairs affected by this warning do not have plastic spacers between the table clamps and the front horizontal metal bar. The clip-on chairs that have plastic spacers between the table clamps and the front horizontal metal bar are under evaluation.

The company has refused to agree to a national recall of their hazardous product that is acceptable to CPSC. The company has offered a repair kit consisting of rubber boots to place on the upper clamp grips of the chairs. Consumers should be aware that CPSC has not approved a repair kit for this product, despite the firm’s prior statement that it was conducting a recall “in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

CPSC is urging consumers to stop using the affected metoo chairs at this time in order to prevent the risk of injury to children.

The affected metoo chairs pose serious fall and amputation hazards to children placed in them. Children can suffer impact and head injuries when the chair detaches from the table and falls with them in it. CPSC staff is aware of numerous incidents involving the affected metoo chairs.

CPSC staff has determined that the clamps can detach from a variety of different table surfaces. Additionally, the chairs can detach when children move around or use their feet to push against other objects. Staff also determined that the lack of adequate space between the horizontal metal bar at the front of the chair and the clamps can cause children’s fingers to be severely pinched, lacerated, crushed or amputated if caught between the bar and the clamp when the chair detaches.

In addition to hazards with the affected clip-on chairs, the product packaging and instructions provide conflicting information. The product’s packaging and marketing information show the product being used in ways that may lead to the chair detaching from the table. However, the product’s instructions do not adequately warn against this type of use.

Tens of thousands of the affected metoo chairs may have been distributed since May 2006 for about $50 through philandteds.com, Amazon.com, Buy Buy Baby, Target, Toys R Us, other online retailers and a variety of independent juvenile specialty stores.

To see this safety alert on CPSC’s web site, including pictures of the products involved, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11218.html

Advertisements

This just in from ERGObaby, makers of the ever-popular Ergo Baby Carrier: a new/improved Infant Insert called “Heart2Heart.”

The original insert (c. 2004) was not unlike a small comforter you’d tuck your infant into taco-style, and then carefully bundle into the carrier at a precarious angle (“the cradle position”).  It always felt like an after-thought, and something of a rip-off at almost $40.  (We even razzed it in our GearGuide.)

Ergo Baby Organic Silver Heart2Heart Infant Insert

Photo Credit: ergobabycarriers.com

The new design is the result of contributions from research studies, customer feedback, chiropractic support and working directly with newborns.  Heart2Heart keeps the comfy padding of the original, but gives parents confidence with a more defined shape and secure snaps.  ERGO handles the baby origami for you this time, removing a big barrier to use (if not purchase) with the original.

Heart2Heart is available online and in stores, in both regular cotton poplin ($25) and 100% organic cotton ($38 – recommended).

GaGaGear’s Word To The Wise:  With the new version in circulation, you may see deep discounts on the old insert.  While still technically effective as a newborn carrying device in combination with the Ergo carrier, we didn’t recommend the previous version, and still don’t.  It was cumbersome and too easy to use incorrectly.

I’m a big fan of my Organic Ergo Baby Carrier.  With a back prone to going out and two active babies, it’s always at hand – both as go-to gear and safety net.  Don’t leave home without it.

I’ve worn Ergo on my front, worn it on my hip, and most recently became adept at the tricky slide-baby-onto-your-back maneuver, freeing up my arms and shoulders for an increasingly demanding toddler.

Boba Baby Carrier

Photo Credit: bobababycarrier.com

Today, though, I learned about another soft-structured carrier that has all the best of Ergo and more – the Boba Baby Carrier.  Basically, Boba is the Ergo but 100% organic, a little taller + wider, made in the U.S.A.*, and with clever foot stirrups for the child.  (Boba provides a handy comparison chart vs. Ergo on their web site.)

There’s certainly a part of me that wants to give more credit to Ergo for having pioneered this general design in the first place.  That same part wishes Ergo had added footholds first, brought some finesse to the carrier design (let’s be honest – it’s ugly – Boba’s is better), and wasn’t manufacturing in China*.

* Editor’s note 6/22/2012: I recently learned Boba is now manufacturing in China as well…darn it!

I’ve got to admire Boba for boldly stepping up with just a couple key improvements to an already successful proposition.  A look at their web site shows a company brimming with confidence, almost daring you to pick another carrier once you’ve read everything there is to know about babywearing in their “compare carriers” section.

Am I rushing out to get one, trusty dusty Ergo dangling behind?  Probably not – it’s really not a set of features I absolutely can’t live without.  (Still holding out for the Cone-of-Silence-Carrier.)  But I’m adding it to the GearGuide, and am curious to see how Ergo will respond.

Boba Baby 2G Carrier will be available starting April 23, 2010.  It retails for $118 and can be ordered online direct from Boba.  From what we can see, it’s new colors and a little different styling.

Find the original Boba Organic Baby Carriers for just $99 locally in Portland, Oregon at Bella Stella on NE Broadway.  Bella Stella also sells Ergos.

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.

Like many parents, I try and limit tv exposure for my kids, attempting instead to fill their days with hands-on creative play, together and independently while I go about my business.

Lately, though, my toddler’s morning routine has become character-driven, with an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba while I prepare breakfast, and an hour of Sesame Street afterward while I play with our infant and get him squared away for his first nap.

Scholastic Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics

Photo Credit: amazon.com

Honestly, I’m not too bothered by these choices since they do teach good habits and preschool basics in a non-aggressive and engaging way.  But after six or nine months, the lessons have been learned, Elmo’s song has been exposed as Jingle Bells, and even Mr. Noodle is going limp.  So I was thrilled to find the Scholastic Treasury of 100 Storybook Classics – a collection of 100 beloved stories translated onto film, some live-action but most animated with celebrity voice-overs and original music.

Favorites so far are Kevin Henkes’ Chrysanthemum, beautifully narrated by Meryl Streep, and Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon, the simplicity of which is even more delightful with animation.

The full set of 100 stories on 16 DVD’s retails for $79.99 at Amazon.



  • 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

GaGaGear on Twitter

Archives

COPYRIGHT INFO

Original site content ©GaGaGear, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to GaGaGear with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
BlogWithIntegrity.com

Back To School Cool:

Back to School Shopping