Thursday, November 27, 2003

car seat checks in the east bay 

Go to this site with some good basic information about car seats.

Piedmont Police Department, 403 Highland Avenue
Officer Paul Knoll (510) 420-3000; really sweet man; had lots of availability to check car seats; highly recommended

California Highway Patrol, 3601 Telegraph Avenue & 36th, Oakland, CA 94609
Officer Annie Greenfield by appointment only (510) 450-3821; had to wait over 2 weeks for an appointment

Berkeley Police Department, 3140 Martin Luther King Way, Berkeley
Officer Rollins by appointment only Tuesday - Friday 510-981-5890

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

notes from shopping for baby products 

Car Seat

Hands down, every source says the Graco Snug Ride infant car seat is the best. It is rated by several sources to be the safest, best value, good usability, etc. But, it presents an issue with the stroller / traveler system. Under certain misery, you do NOT want to wake up a sleeping infant. You want to be able to transport the baby from car to stroller without disturbing him / her. But that means that you have to find a stroller that is compatible with the car seat, and not every stroller does this. Which stroller you pick depends mostly on your preferences, budget, and lifestyle.

Question I had was - if babies outgrow the Graco car seat at 21 pounds, and they must be in an infant seat until they are 1 year old, then what to do? Apparently, it is OK to wake up a baby when it is older than 6 months because they sleep more soundly and/or they don't sleep that much any more, so it is not as important to have a stroller travel system at that point.


The best brands seem to be MacLaren, Peg Perego, Combi, Zoopy(?), Ingelsina. Our priority was the lightest high quality stroller, so the Peg Perego Aria and Combi jumped straight up to the list. But we knew we wanted to buy the Graco SnugRide, so we needed something that fit. We decided to buy the Peg Perego Aira. The Perego Aria is only 10 lbs and reclines 150 degrees, and the shade is not as wide as I would have liked, but it is sooo light and folds very easy. The problem was that it only fits Peg Perego car seats which are not supposed to be so good. We decided to get this stroller anyway since we liked it so much, and buy a second stroller so we can have some kind of travel system.

What to do? For sure we were going to get the Graco Snug Ride so we needed something that fit it. The most logical option was a Graco stroller. Our friends highly recommended the Graco Metrolite, which was Graco's lightest travel system, and even had a one-hand fold. I've heard many opinions about travel systems which made my head spin. The travel system wins on convenience for the baby. But, others told me definitely not to get the travel system because they are so bulky and heavy that you would not want to use it after the baby outgrew his/her car seat since they are such a pain in the ass. It would be $100 wasted on a stroller. We didn't really see the money as the issue. It was more the bulk of having an unused stroller sitting around that I didn't like

Given that, we decided not to get the Metrolite and looked at other options. We have heard and read many great things about Kolcraft's Universal Car Seat Holder / Snap-n-Go. I asked a handful of new parents on the street about it, and they all loved it. We thought we would go that route. It was only $40 cheaper than just getting the Metrolite, but again I hate wasting more than I have to. However, I was disappointed when I looked at the latest model of the Universal Car Seat holder. The car seat would only be held down by a strap!! The car seat does not latch on to anything. It didn't seem to be that great to me.

The best thing is that when we read an Amazon post where the Snug Ride actually fit into Peg Perego Aria stroller! We were excited about this, but only found the one lone post about this. We tried it on our stroller, and sure enough it fit!!!! It latched on at the bottom??! Rich was ingenuous and bought straps just like the Universal Car Seat holder had, and we had the same if not better security putting our Snug Ride onto the Peg Perego Aria????? I couldn't believe it!! It was the best case scenario that we could have hoped for!!!!!! Go to Rich's blog on how he did it.

Anyway, some other strollers we considered:

Combi is really light too, but someone said not quite as durable as the PP; it folds up ultra small if you're going to bring it on the plane, but probably don't need it to fold up that much, and it is kind of a pain in the ass to push that latch in; but, i did like the way it folded second best; we tried the McLarens too - they fold up great but because they weren't as light as the PP and Combi, we decided not to go for it; and, it was more expensive for what you got for your money.


Symphony Mobile - most colorful and stimulates the baby; babies get bored of pastels after a month?


Gymini Activity Pad - most colorful and stimulates the baby; I personally think the black and white one is creepy looking and couldn't bring myself to buy it even though black and white is supposed to be best for baby development


Fisher Price Kick n Play bouncer - I hear great reviews about this bouncer and it is a best seller; I'm interested to see what the fuss is all about

Baby Bjorn Baby Sitter - the Japanese maternity magazine rated this the top product that you MUST have for your baby

Waste of money
Crib sets which include window valences, crib skirts, etc.
White linen sheets because baby poops all over it

Diaper Pail

Supposedly not that big a deal when the baby is an infant, but once you introduce solids, this gets totally nasty. Apparently, Diaper Champ doesn't hide odor enough because it is basically like a trash can but is cheapest because it only uses regular garbage bags; Diaper Genie does a great job of trapping odor, but the twisting motion is supposed to be a pain in the ass; Diaper Dekor traps odor although allegedly not as well as Diaper Genie, but it has a foot pedal to open the can, and refills are slightly less expensive