Car Seat Safety 101

Every time you get behind the wheel, can you say your child is in the safest possible position and buckled in the seat properly? Would you bet his/her life on it? Have you read your car seat manual front to back and the owner’s manual to your car? Who does? Even if you had the time, with all of the details that go into installing a car seat properly, it can be an overwhelming amount of information.

Did you know that unintentional childhood injury is the leading cause of death and disability for children ages 1 to 14? Not to be Debbie Downer, but injury and death can occur due to mistakes, short cuts, and bad choices made when installing a car seat or when buckling your child in. Safe kids is a national organization formed to educate parents about safety. One of the FREE services they provide is car seat checks and installations. The hands on experience with an expert who has been trained to install and teach you about car seats is invaluable.

We took our infant car seat to safe kids before C was born, for both cars, and when she graduated to the bigger seat. I’m so thankful that my husband does not have an ego when it comes to seeking guidance from an expert. At our appointment, Officer Lonnie gave us a mini education course about car seat safety, explained how our brand of car seat worked with our car model and made sure we understood how to properly install it ourselves. As an officer, he has witnessed many car crashes throughout his career and volunteers his time every week to this organization in order to prevent tragedies he has seen. He is so passionate about this cause and so are the many other volunteers that work with SafeKids.

Here are some key points:

YOUR CHILD SHOULD BE REAR FACING FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. It is SO.MUCH.SAFER. Our car seat goes up to 40 lbs rear facing, then 70 lbs forward facing. That could mean she might be 4 years old before having to face forward! She can learn to sit criss cross applesauce. As officer Lonnie puts it, “broken necks or spines are much harder to fix than broken legs”. He gave us a simple physics lesson to explain how a child is far better protected when rear facing in an impact. Another point was made that having legs dangle off the front of the seat can also cut off circulation. Children might in fact be more comfortable rear facing. They are flexible and can bend their legs!

I’ve heard friends say their child doesn’t like to rear face or they like to be able to see them. This justification doesn’t make sense to me when your child’s safety is on the line. But I’m sure they just don’t understand how much safer it is or they would make a different choice. That’s why I think car seat education is so important.

WHEN POSSIBLE, PUT YOUR CAR SEAT IN THE CENTER SEAT, NOT THE SIDE. It doesn’t take a rocket science degree to figure this one out. In a side impact, even 1 foot difference can be a life saver. Sure it might be a bit of an inconvenience to load your child in the center, but again, at what cost? Here’s where it is a bit complicated. Most cars, even new cars, don’t have the latch system in the center seat. Manufacturers are only required to put two sets of latches in. In an assembly line situation, it’s easier to put them on the side. Thanks car industry! So, you have to use the seat belt instead of the latches. Perhaps a bit more work when installing. But! the payoff is so worth it! When a second child comes along, of course 1 of them will have to be on the side and 1 in the center, unless you have a limo. HaHa!

MAKE SURE THE HARNESS IS TIGHT ENOUGH AND IN THE PROPER POSITION. The shoulder straps should be at or below the shoulders and the chest strap should be right at the nipple line or underarms. When checking for tightness, you should not be able to pinch any material together just above the chest strap. Buckling them in is NOT enough. It must be tight.

These 3 points are pretty universal. But, there are even little details such as not adding anything to your car seat, like pads, toys, seat protectors, or even those shades that stick on the windows. All of those bells and whistles you can buy have not been crash tested with the car seat. And, things fly in an impact. Even more importantly, when actually installing the car seat, there are so many variances depending on the brand of car seat and the make/model of your car. That is why it’s important to have an expert check and/or teach you to install it properly.

It’s so easy to do. Just call and set up an appointment. They have them weekly in your area. You can never be too busy to make sure your child is as safe as they can be in your car!! If your heart is set on facing your child forward before they have to according to their weight, I hope you will consider making an appointment and turning your child back around!

But What About The Stinkies?

Diaper pail

Stinky shminky! I give a “meh” to the stinkies. The cloth diaper stinkies that is. Usually the cloth diaper stink refers to the ammonia smell that lingers in the diaper pail. I prefer this smell to the disposable diaper pail rotten poo smell. Is it weird to prefer one bad smell over the other?

The diaper pail I use for my cloth diapers has a little filter that allows some air flow to help keep the stinkies from partying like it’s 1999. And I know the ammonia monster is contained in the pail. It doesn’t sneak out and tap you on the shoulder like a sposie pail. There’s nothing worse than a slight cloud of stale poopy diapers in the air. Care bears need to breathe after all.

Sometimes I wonder if the things I talked about before having kids sounded this gross. Talking about snot and poo doesn’t really bother me. Puking might be another story. But luckily I haven’t had to deal with that yet. Oh wait, there was that time I had to pull over and let my husband puke out of the car. I was hoping I’d forget that sound.

If you are reading my blog for the first time and these things gross you out, I hope I haven’t scared you away.

So as I was saying, “pheeewwie!” I’ve tried all the stripping tricks I know of to combat the ammonia smell. I’ve soaked them in Rockin’ Green, Charlie’s Soap, done multiple washes with no soap, added bleach (which is generally a no no), tea tree oil, dawn, and I always add extra water to the cycle and do extra rinses. The good news is my diapers always smell fresh and clean after each wash. They only smell like ammonia after sitting in the pail a few hours or when Clara wakes up in the morning with a diaper that probably weighs 10 pounds. I suppose it could be worse. Some people say they smell ammonia as soon as their baby wets. Luckily I don’t have that problem.

I have a few theories as to why my diapers might get that smell. Perhaps the free and clear laundry detergent we use for the rest of our laundry leaves a residue in the washer, finding its way into the cloth diapers. Perhaps the very hard water with a lot of minerals affects the diapers. Perhaps my HE front loader washer doesn’t clean/rinse as well as our old top loaders since less water is used.

Either way, I still give a “meh” to the stinkies. It doesn’t grind my gears and it’s really the only complaint I have about cloth diapering. What works for you to get rid of the sshtinkies? I’d love some ideas!

My Favorite Everyday Cloth Diaper

BumGenius Elemental AIO

Raindrops on roses and cute baby tushies. Bright colored diapers without any mushies. Velcro or snappis and inserts with wings. These are a few of my favorite things.

Thanks to the Green Bambino in Oklahoma City, I have quite a buffet of cloth diapers. From diapers made with microfiber to polyester to wool to organic cotton to PUL to terry cloth…with features such as pockets for extra absorbency, inner gussets, nano technology, and quick dry fleece..the list goes on and on. I personally have 18 varieties/brands of diapers in my stash. There are only a couple diapers that I tend to pass over. The rest of them compete very well with each other.

I love using different brands. There are so many cute styles and different features that it keeps it fun and interesting. Who knew diapering could be so fun?! If I absolutely have to pick a favorite for everyday wear, it would be the BumGenius Elemental with organic cotton.

Here are some reasons why I like the BumGenius Elemental:

It’s an All-in-one: I really love AIO’s. They are just so much easier to deal with altogether. No stuffing, unstuffing, or getting inserts mixed up. They’re just as easy as using a disposable. My dad said it best when he was babysitting Clara one day. “If you have these kind of diapers, why would you use disposables?” He was amazed at modern cloth diapers.

The Fit:  The fit is snug but breathable and very trim. Clara is 15 months right now and at her size, it fits about the same as a disposable would. She still has so much room to grow in it too. Although I love a bubbly cloth diaper bum, her pants fit the same as it would with a sposie. It doesn’t cause issues with leaking or blowouts since it fits her little tush, waist, and legs so perfectly.

The material: The organic cotton is super duper soft. The smoothness also keeps the poopies from getting ingrained into the cotton, which makes dumping and/or spraying easier.

The quality: This feels like a well made diaper that will last forever.

I haven’t tried using this diaper at night. Since there is not a pocket to stuff inserts for extra absorbency, I’m not sure it would last all night long. I’d rather stick with what I know works for my nighttime routine. I don’t want to take any chances on her waking up from a wet diaper. Stay tuned for a post on my favorite nighttime diapers.

The Snot Sucker!!

The Snot SuckerTttthhhheeeewp! Bllllllrrrrrp! Wsshhhhh! Ah, the sounds of snot being sucked into a tube. No more trying to shove a pointy syringe into your baby’s nose while she wiggles her head from side to side. No more accidentally squeezing the syringe at the wrong time sending air and icky particles that have been harboring inside the bulb back into her nose.

This little gadget is very handy. Clara thinks it’s strange enough that she looks at me like I’m weird just long enough for me to get in a thewp or two. It’s still a bit of a battle, as with anything I stick towards her nose. But it’s so much more fun, effective, and easy to use! And the handy filter keeps any boogies from getting into mommy’s mouth. Phew! Try the electronic one that play lullabies, you say? Done that…fail.

I give the snot sucker an A-. The minus is for having to replace the filter every time. It would be nice to know you should go ahead and order a bunch of filters when buying the sucker while you are already paying for shipping.

The inventors of the NoseFrida SnotSucker also have a new gadget out called, “the windi”, a gas catheter used to suck the gas out of your baby’s butt. I know what you’re thinking… EEEEEEWWWWWW!! That’s what I’m thinking too!! The funniest thing is that apparently you hear a little whistle when the gas comes out. OMG! Luckily there is no pipe on the other end for you to suck out like the snotsucker. That would make me gag… a little.

Getting Started With Cloth Diapers

Diapers drying in the sun

A friend who is planning to cloth diaper asked me to send her some information about cloth diapering. I thought I’d share what I wrote…

Personally, I like the All-in-ones the best because you don’t have to do any unstuffing before the wash or stuffing after drying. They are a little more expensive, but totally worth it. I think the best thing to do is have a mix of brands because you’ll find that you prefer certain ones at different times/stages and it’s nice to have a variety. My favorite AIO’s are BumGenius Elemental with snaps, Grovia AIO with snaps, Bummis Easy Fit, Kissaluv Marvels, and Tailfeathers. Bummis and Kissaluvs have an option to add an insert for extra absorption at night for example.
Another diaper that I really like using is the Flip by BumGenius with snaps, also very economical. These are a cover with multiple inserts(usually 3 per cover)that you just lay in the diaper cover. So… you can use the same cover multiple times before washing and just replace the insert. These absorb really well.
I have some fuzzi bunz and rumparooz and others… since you have to stuff/unstuff these with inserts, they are just more of a pain… and whatever can make your life easier, the better. You might try a couple though just to see what you think.

All of these diapers that I mentioned are meant to last from newborn to potty training because they are adjustable in size. I didn’t start with/learn about cloth until Clara was about 5 months, so I don’t know what they are like on newborns. I have some friends that use them w/ newborns and they certainly are bulky… but cute!! I think some brands have diapers specifically for newborns. Rumparooz has Little Joeys for example. I would probably use disposables until the umbilical cord falls off though, or at least until the black meconium poo has passed-probably a few days. The disposables we have used and prefer are Earth’s Best. They don’t have any fragances or chemicals etc. like pampers and huggies.

Here are some essentials:

Diaper pail: mine doesn’t have a flip top lid that you can just step on and I wish it did!

Diaper pail liner: Planet wise are awesome (get 2 so you can use one while washing the other)

Wet bag: It’s a smaller bag for nursery/changing table or for the diaper bag. I use rumparooz brand and it works great. I keep my diaper pail in the bathroom, so I just hang it on a dresser nob and transfer the dirty diapers to the pail at the end of the day.

Flushable liners: thin liners to put in the diaper so you can dump the poo 🙂 probably not necessary if you are exclusively breastfeeding because that poo is okay to slosh in washer; haha… and it doesn’t smell bad! But when baby starts solids, they are very handy!

Diaper sprayer: attaches to the toilet and great for spraying off those extra messy ones so you don’t have to dunk. 🙂

Cloth wipes: I just put mine in a tupperware with water once a day. If you are washing diapers, why not wash wipes too?! They are better for baby’s skin and then you don’t have to worry about having a trash can to throw the wipes in separate from the diaper pail.

Cloth-diaper-safe rash cream: sometimes you or baby eats something that can cause diaper rash… grovia magic stick- awesome!! Just put on as a preventive at each change. Smells like a spa 🙂 It’s extremely important not to use regular pasty rash cream or anything with petroleum because it will RUIN your diapers… If you have to use some desitin or something strong, use a disposable until the rash has gone away. You can get Angel Baby Bottom Balm from central market which is safe for cloth diapers.

Diaper-safe detergent: this is also very important. You can’t use regular laundry detergent with your diapers or it will ruin them and cause stink and absorbency issues from build up… The most commonly used with cloth are Charlie’s soap and Rockin Green. Use only a small amount because too much detergent can cause build up. ***important, do a cold pre wash with no detergent, then a hot wash with detergent, add extra water to the cycle if you can, and I also do another extra rinse to make sure everything is washed out. My diaper wash cycle routine takes about 2 hours. It sounds like a lot of water… and probably is, but we haven’t noticed any increase in our water bill and it’s a very important part of the process so your diapers work and last for years. You can dry most diapers in the dryer, but it’s nice to hang them out to bleach in the sun from time to time.

There’s a lot to learn about “modern” cloth diapering… very different from what our parent’s experienced. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy and so much better than having to go out and buy disposables all the time. Plus, you know you’re not exposing your baby to any chemicals etc…

The Plate That Sticks To The Table- NOT!

We went to our favorite restaurant and took little girl with us. I brought a plate/placemat duo that has a suction cup on the bottom to keep said baby from tossing said plate off of the table. The server who is the owner and knows us well (we are regulars) was quite impressed with the idea. “The things they come up with these days” she said as we all laughed in agreement about how cool it was. “I wish they had something like that when my boy was little”. I demonstrate by trying to pull it off and it doesn’t go anywhere. It worked quite well for momma.

Then baby got a hold of it. Not two seconds after the server left the table, she had pulled the plate up. I looked at daddy… “maybe it needs to be wet first, like the suction cup holders in the shower, you know, since those always hold up- ha!” Anyway, I try it wet. Nope. I clean it off. Nope. I keep smooshing it down again at different angles and ways to see if it will stick. Nope. She keeps figuring out how to pull it off. So for the rest of the meal, Daddy holds one side down while I hold the other. FAIL!

My Baby Ate Dirt Today

Do you think I’m excited about this or traumatized? Maybe a little of both… haha!

So, I decided to be adventurous. I’m reading a book called “Montessori from the Start” since I’m really fascinated by the Montessori philosophy. One of the ideas of Montessori is that children should play with real and natural things as opposed to all of these plastic toys that are everywhere. They need to be outside experiencing nature… such as playing with grass, dirt, rocks, sticks, and probably bugs (eek!). Really though, if you think about, we are such an inside culture with electronics everywhere. It’s funny that all the toys you buy have something listed about your child’s development such as textures, colors, sounds etc. These are all qualities that mimic things in the real world!

Anyway, to get to my story. I was in an adventurous mood and it was such a pretty day. So, I took Clara to the Botanical Gardens for a picnic. I decided I was going to let her crawl around and experience the real world- outside of our living room full of plastic toys. She loved the feel of the grass between her toes and tried to pull it out of the ground. She was fascinated by the mulch in the rose garden. She looked up at the sky through the trees in wonder and pointed as if to reach up and touch it. Then she started playing in the dirt. I decided I’d get out my camera to take a picture of this exploration. After I snapped the picture and take a second to look at it… thinking I was so proud of myself for relaxing enough to let her play in the dirt.

Then! She shoves a handful of dirt in her mouth. I hurriedly dig in her mouth to get it out, probably with a look of panic on my face. She looks at me in bewilderment, which she is known to do. There are little flecks of dirt on her lips. Of course, in that moment I realize I could take a harmless experience and create a fearful experience for her. Then I stop myself. I realize this is an opportunity to break the cycle of fear that I come by honestly (don’t worry Mom, you know I love you :). So I decide, “eh, what’s a little dirt? There could have been a bug in there, maybe some bark, hopefully not an remnants of a cigarette butt- there I go again… BUT it’s not like she swallowed a tarantula or something. She’ll be fine.”

Watch Out For Flying Poop Particles!

Toilet Sprayer
Toilet Sprayer
Toilet Sprayer

So I bought a Bum Genius diaper sprayer and installed it all by myself. I watched some helpful youtube videos beforehand to get a visual. I must say I’m so glad I came across a demo of someone trying the sprayer for the first time and spraying poop all over the bathroom… because that would definitely have happened to me.

For reals though, in order to get the smooshy poo out of the diaper that makes it into the crevices, you have to put it on full blast and there just ain’t no way of gettin’ outta there without droplets flying everywhere. Weee!! Splat!! I feel bad for the droplets, but I suppose it’s their destiny. Better to end it quick then to sit and stew in a diaper genie all week I guess.  Anyhoo, I tell myself that the bits of water that land on my legs are only water and not poop. “Julie, the bits of water that land on your legs are only water and not poop.” That’s what I tell myself. And I feel cleaner.

Now have you ever tried spraying a cloth wipe? Well, if your baby did a really messy job and has been crawling and bouncing around in it for more than 5 minutes, then let’s just say your cloth wipe is going to feel important. The only thing is, you can’t really spray a wipe. The force of the sprayer would send it flying across the room. Weeee!!! Glop!! So, it’s dunk time. But then it’s so saturated with mud water that when you put it into the diaper pail, you just hope that the drops (not dropLETS because they’re quite a bit more substantial) don’t land on the bathmat for you to step in later when you’re wearing socks. You see, stepping in an unsuspecting wet spot with socks on is just really annoying, especially when you know there could be a tiny bit of poopage in it.

So, am I glad I bought a diaper sprayer? Yes. With a little practice and technique on a good day, the benefit far outweighs the cost. Plus, it can be used for other things… as a bidet (not that I’ve ever used one before), or as an extra shower wand since it’s close enough to the bathtub, or even to spray someone in the face as a practical joke. I don’t know.

Fireworks In Your Pants

Lil’ C is not a quiet pooper. It sounds like fireworks are going off in her diaper. As a newborn, sometimes the poopage made its way through the diaper, through her onesie, and on to me. In fact, one time it actually got on the arm chair. Many of her outfits have little brown stains on the back from major blowouts. So much for pampers and huggies. 7th Generation and Earth’s Best contained her fanfares pretty well though. I finally made the transition to cloth diapers a few months ago. From what I’ve heard about the new fancy shmancy diapers, blowouts are minimized depending on the brand of diapers… and your own baby’s brand for that matter. 😉 I bought a multi-pack from The Green Bambino in Oklahoma City and I must say, we haven’t had any blowouts yet with any of the brands!

While I’m on the train to poopville, I might as well tell you a story from when she was a newborn. It was bath time. I undressed her on the bed and carried her ten long feet to the bath tub when all of the sudden she started to pee. I was inches away from the tub and just stood there frozen as pee dribbled down my shirt, pants, and legs. All the while she was just smiling away. Why didn’t I think fast and move her a few more inches to make it into the tub? After bath, I hurriedly jumped in the shower to wash off while Daddy held her in his lap. As I was drying off I heard a call of distress from the living room. “Jubers! Bring me a towel!” This time, it wasn’t just pee…

Electronic Snot Catcher That Plays Lullabies?

Electric Snot Catcher
Electric Snot Catcher
Electric Snot Catcher

Clara is not a fan of having the snot sucked out of her nose and I’m not sure I’ve heard of a baby who is a fan. So, when I heard about the nasal aspirator that plays lullabies, I thought… genius!! Clara loves music, so it will distract her. Wrong!  The buzzing motor probably scared the heck out of her, not to mention it’s about the size of her arm. I guess if something that big and loud was coming towards my face, I’d be scared too!! So, it’s back to the ol’ bulb syringe. Hopefully mommy will get the technique down so it’s quick and easy. Either that or I’m going to have to figure out how to suck them out… did I just say that? eeeewwww!!!!