Itzbeen Baby Care Timer Review

EDITOR RATING: ★★★★☆ 

QUICK SPECS
From the Manufacturer

The Itzbeen Baby Care Timer is the first multi-purpose nursery tool designed to help new parents remember the basic details of baby-care. The Itzbeen has four timers that count up with the touch of a button. No more charts and journals. The Itzbeen also allows you to set an optional reminder alarm for each of the timers, for example: change the diaper every 2 hours, or give medication every 4 hours. If the time limit is reached, the appropriate button will light up, and an optional alarm will briefly beep. The Itzbeen has several other helpful features: Nursing Reminder Switch – easily reminds mom which side baby nursed from last, Soft-glow Nightlight – to help parents find their way in the dark without waking the baby (the nightlight automatically goes off after 7 minutes), Backlit Display – so parents can read the times and the clock in the dark, and a Back Clip – makes the Itzbeen Baby Care Timer totally portable and allows for hands-free use of the Nightlight.

Product Overview
Itzbeen Baby Care Timer is a multi-purpose tool that helps parents remember the essential details of baby care. It has four timers that count up with the touch of a button when its time to change diaper, feed or put the baby to sleep. Its soft-glow night light allows for use even at night. Designed for use from birth up to 24 months, this unique parent aid can also be used to help maintain baby’s schedule when he or she is with other caregivers.

EDITOR’S REVIEW
The Good
  • Clean design and simple timer concept.
  • Great way to help maintain sanity for new parents during those crazy first few weeks after birth.
  • Helps manage your baby’s schedule when getting help from grandparents, babysitters, and child care providers.
  • Built in flashlight.
  • Super portable, with a handy clip that allows you to attach it to a pocket, belt, diaper bag strap, car seat, etc.
The Bad
  • Limited functionality. If you require more detailed tracking of diaper changes and feedings, you may want to consider trying some of the mobile apps that are available on the Apple or Android app stores.
Why We Bought It
The Itzbeen Baby Care Timer is great for managing the feeding and sleeping schedules of your infant…especially with a cloudy mind in those first sleepless weeks and months with your newborn. We are firm believers that a fairly tight daily schedule is a primary reason that both of our daughters are such a great sleepers and eaters. Our first daughter started sleeping through the night (Midnight to 6am) periodically at about six weeks, and did so regularly by eight weeks. Our second daughter followed roughly the same track. Their schedules certainly vary somewhat day-to-day, but by using this timer, we always know how much sleep our daughter has had at any point in the day, and when she last fed. This greatly reduces the fussiness that is normal when a child is overtired or hungry.

We used this timer in conjunction with the full feeding concepts presented in Babywise, along with the sleep, eat, play progression. Thus, if she started fussing and it wasn’t quite her normal nap time, we could usually be fairly certain that she wasn’t hungry (due to her recent full feeding), and probably just needed a diaper change. This takes so much of the uncertainty out of the equation, and has really made our days and nights much more manageable.

One thing that we have shifted to recently is to just use the Itzbeen Timer to track our second daughter’s feeding schedule. Her feeding schedule has started to space out a bit more, and her napping schedule is completely synced up with her feeding, so in an effort to accommodate her evolving schedule, we set each timer to 30-minute increments (2:30, 3:00, 3:30, and 4:00). The first button will start to blink at two and a half hours, the second at three hours, and so on. This basically queues us up to get ready for a feeding at 2:30 or 3:00, but allows us to monitor the blinking lights a little more passively (i.e. can see them from across the room). So far so good.

Bottom Line
We used the Itzbeen Baby Care Timer pretty much everyday to manage the feeding schedule throughout the first year of our first daughter, and have used it everyday thus far with our second. We consider it a key piece of gear for our family, and never leave home without it. Hopefully, you and your family will find it just as useful.

Angelcare Baby Movement Monitor Review

EDITOR RATING: ★★★★★ 

QUICK SPECS
From the Manufacturer
The Angelcare Baby Movement Monitor (AC300) is portable and can be used anywhere baby sleeps. The under-the-mattress sensor pad detects the slightest baby movements and alerts you if no movement is detected for 20 seconds. It is a great addition to the Movement Sensor with Sound Monitor from Angelcare if you have twins sleeping in different beds, in the same room. Can also be a great addition to the Angelcare sound monitor or any other sound monitor for that little extra reassurance.

Product Overview
Whether your baby is awake or sound asleep, the under-the-mattress Sensor Pad will detect all of your baby’s movements, even the slightest breathing movements. The Angelcare Baby Movement Monitor uses a sensor alarm which works in such a way that if movement is not detected after 20 seconds then an alarm will sound to alert you to the situation.

EDITOR’S REVIEW
The Good
  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Uses batteries, so no need to find an outlet, and one less cord to secure.
  • Portable and easy to use in a variety of situations, from bassinet to crib to pack-n-play.
  • Works very well for swaddled and/or wrapped newborns and infants that aren’t moving around too much.
The Bad
  • Manual switch requires you to remember to turn it on and off each time you pick up your baby.
  • Once baby starts to roll on their side, or moving to edges of crib, the sensitivity may not pick up their breathing properly, resulting in false alarms.
Why We Bought It
With our first daughter, we found ourselves always walking over to her bassinet and placing our hands on her chest to “make sure she was still breathing.” Like most new parents…especially first timers…on of our biggest fears was SIDs. After a few weeks, this paranoia got a little unhealthy, and right about that time, we discovered baby movement monitors. There are so many new pieces of gear for new parents to consider, but this was not something that was on our radar initially. Since we installed this movement monitor, we have recommended it to many of friends, and many have chosen to use it for their own babies. The Angelcare Baby Movement Monitor has really helped my wife and I sleep a little better at night. It provides an extra layer of monitoring that gives us a little extra piece of mind and comfort. It can be a little temperamental when getting it all set up, due to its sensitivity, and once a baby starts sleeping on their side, it may have trouble picking up their breathing, but all in all, we are very happy with its performance. If you already have a video/audio monitor, the basic model works just fine, as you can easily hear the alarm in your nursery through a regular video/audio monitoring system. Otherwise, they have integrated systems that may save you some money and keep your total number of gadgets down a bit.

Bottom Line
The Angelcare Baby Movement Monitor is definitely a worthy addition to your baby nursery, starting with the baby’s first day at home. It helped us sleep better at night, and we think you will too.

Expectant Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Banking

Prior to the birth of our first daughter, one of the things my wife and I decided to explore was cord blood banking. When having a child, especially your first, the whole experience can be pretty overwhelming. Most expecting parents are trying to figure out which baby gear to add to their baby registry, which names to add to their shortlist, how to decorate the nursery, and more importantly…how to afford everything. This was certainly the case for us, but after some careful research and multiple discussions between ourselves and with our obstetrician, we decided that it was something that we wanted to do for our family, and we selected Cord Blood Registry. Hopefully, this overview will help other expecting parents decide whether or not cord blood banking is right for you and your family.

What is Cord Blood Banking?

Cord blood banking allows families to store stem cells that are harvested from cord blood extracted from the placental end of a newborn baby’s umbilical cord. The cord blood is usually collected within 10 minutes of giving birth, and then sent to a cord blood storage facility where it is processed and placed into freezers. It is stored there indefinitely in a subzero cryogenic system that preserves the stem cells until a later time when they might be needed to treat medical conditions of the child from whom they originated, or possibly another family member. Hopefully, your child and family will remain healthy, and the stem cells will never be needed. However, many find it comforting to know that they are available should the potential need ever arise.

According to WedMD, cord blood stem cells are considered the building blocks of life. They have the ability to divide and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types, consistent with cells of various tissues such as muscles or nerves. Stem cells have been used for more than 20 years to treat more than 80 life-threatening diseases and disorders, including the treatment of leukemia, lymphoma, and anemia, along with a variety of other hematopoietic, immune system, and genetic disorders, and stem cells are considered a better alternative to bone marrow transplants. Additional treatments and uses are currently being developed all around the world, including the treatment of traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, Type 1 juvenile diabetes, and autism. While somewhat controversial, and with research and discoveries that are still fairly early-stage, many view this as a sort of insurance policy for their children and family.

Sample Collection Process

Let’s take a step back and talk a little bit about the setup and collection process. For us, the entire process was pretty seamless. After speaking with a company representative on the phone to answer a few questions, we completed the registration process online. They promptly sent us the collection kit in the mail, which provided detailed instructions for our upcoming birth day. We informed our obstetrician that we were collecting the cord blood, and provided the kit to the medical team upon our arrival and admittance to the maternity unit. After the birth of our child and the subsequent cord blood collection, the sealed sample was placed on our newborn daughter’s transport cart and brought with her back to our room. Shortly thereafter, we then called to schedule the sample pickup using a toll-free number provided by the cord blood banking company, and a courier came directly to our room within an hour or two to pickup the sample for preparation and shipment to the main storage facility. After it arrived at the storage facility, the sample went through final preparation steps and was banked in their freezer storage system.

Sample Options

One thing we discovered with our second child is that new technology now allows for additional options on the types of tissue and cells that you can choose to collect and store. For our first daughter, born in March 2010, I believe the only option was cord blood collection and storage. For our second daughter, born in October 2012, the same cord blood banking company now offers the option to also collect and store the cord blood tissue, in addition to or instead of just the cord blood. Of course, there are additional fees for both the upfront cost of collection and the ongoing annual storage cost. We decided to go with the same program as our first daughter, and opted to stick with just the cord blood collection.

Program Costs

Even if parents are interested in cord blood banking, the cost may force many parents to forego this option. To be completely honest, the cost of cord blood banking is rather high. Most cord blood banks have an up front collection and storage preparation fee that ranges from $1,500 to $2,200, and then charge an annual storage fee of $125 to $150. Additional charges apply if you choose to also preserve the cord tissue, in addition to the cord blood.

There is no doubt that this is a steep cost at an expensive time in the lives of young families. So if it comes down to choosing between diapers and formula, or cord blood banking, this decision is an easy choice. In order to help parents manage these upfront costs, most cord blood banks offer payment plans and gift registries that allow family and friends to contribute towards these services. Additionally, a variety of discounts may be available through your obstetrician office, referral programs such as the one offered here for friends of A Modern Dad, and some employers. In our case, my wife is a nurse, and we discovered that we were eligible for a pretty significant discount offered to medical workers by the cord blood bank that we selected. Discounts are also often available for public service providers (military/police/fire/EMT), active students, multiple birth situations, and repeat customers. These discounts greatly helped us to move forward in getting things all set up, so please keep this in mind and be sure to ask.

Banking Options

A variety of cord blood banking options exist across the United States. I suggest checking out the details of at least two or three companies so you can compare options and pricing, and get an overall feel. There are two types of cord blood banks available to expecting parents. The focus of this article is private cord blood banks, which store cord blood for personal use by your family. In various cities across the U.S., and countries around the world, public cord blood banks may also be available. With public banks, cord blood is donated for research or for use by anyone who may need it. In most cases, there is no charge for that service. Unfortunately, samples submitted to public banks are anonymous, and if a family member later requires a stem cell transplant for treatment, your donation is not retrievable.

Additionally, some public banks offer sibling-directed donation programs for families that have an older child who has cancer, a life-threatening inherited blood or immune system disorder, sickle cell anemia or thalassemia. These programs will collect and store umbilical cord blood for a biological sibling at no charge to eligible families, and then if/when a stored cord blood unit is used for transplant, a fee is charged to the patient’s insurance company. More information can be found on the National Marrow Donor Program website.

More Information

For additional information, here are a few other sites that provide good information on cord blood banks, and the cord blood industry as a whole: American Association of Blood Banks, Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, National Marrow Donor Program, WebMD, and Wikipedia.

Image Credit: thesilhouettestudioblog.com

The Lists: Top Parenting Sites

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Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad

Over the past few years, we have received a lot of really great advice, feedback, and guidance from family and friends as we started (and recently grew) our family. In addition to family and friends, we have also found a number of go-to websites that have helped answer questions and fill in gaps along the way. Here are a few of our favorites. Please let us know which you like, and if we are missing any of your favs. Enjoy!

Dec 22, 2012 by Keith Hancock - daddyplace.com - 283
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Daddyplace.com

Daddyplace is your source for Dads Helping Stay At Home Dads, New Dads, Single Dads and Divorced Dads with Fatherly Advice.

Feb 05, 2015 by termlife77 - term-life-online.com - 258
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Get Affordable Term Life Insurance Quotes | Buy Term Life Insurance No Exams
When you think of your family, you can't help but imagine the hopes and dreams you have for their future. The life you hope to give them, the future you're working so hard to provide for your loved ones.
Feb 28, 2017 by Dan Spanski Dreffin - jojomomma.com - 0
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | JoJo Momma – Adventures In Parenting

Becoming a parent is one of the most intense experiences in life. It can often be confusing, frustrating, wondrous, and amazing. And that’s just the beginning! Add jobs, school, social demands, family, personal issues, and life’s other fun variations and you have the recipe for a soap opera/sitcom gone horribly wrong. Without an instruction manual, life and parenting are all pretty much trial and error. So here we will share our trial and errors, fails and wins, and the in between for your reading pleasure.

Nov 30, 2012 - babycenter.com - 280
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | BabyCenter

Find information from BabyCenter on pregnancy, children's health, parenting & more, including expert advice & weekly newsletters that detail your child's development.

Nov 30, 2012 - babble.com - 254
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Babble.com

The revolutionary online magazine for a new generation of parents.

Nov 30, 2012 - webmd.com - 274
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | WebMD Parenting Center

Here you'll find parenting tips and informative information including expert parenting advice for each age and stage in your child's development.

Nov 30, 2012 - parents.com - 214
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Parents

Expert advice about pregnancy, babies, baby names, birth, your life, and family time from the editors of Parents magazine.

Nov 30, 2012 - cafemom.com - 231
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | CafeMom

CafeMom is a community where moms come together to get advice and support on topics like pregnancy, babies, home, health, fashion, food, entertainment, and more.

Nov 30, 2012 - family.com - 251
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Family.com

Family.com provides answers for every family's needs. Find resources on parenting and raising healthy children, activities, entertainment, recipes, family travel and attractions, budgeting, shopping, coupons, and answers from the experts, other moms.

Nov 30, 2012 - parenthood.com - 264
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Parenthood.com

Parenthood.com - Parenting, Pregnancy, Baby Names, Online Parenting Articles & More

Nov 30, 2012 - informedparent.com - 240
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | The Informed Parent

A monthly online magazine which addresses the areas of pediatrics, child-care, and issues relevant to today's parents.

Nov 30, 2012 - whattoexpect.com - 205
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | What To Expect When You're Expecting

Track your pregnancy week-by-week, chat with other moms and moms-to-be, and find answers to questions on toddler development, baby development, and pregnancy symptoms from the author of What To Expect When You're Expecting.

Nov 30, 2012 - parentingweekly.com - 205
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Parenting Weekly

Online parenting resource for trying to conceive, pregnancy, baby, and toddler.

Nov 30, 2012 - babiesonline.com - 266
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Babies Online

Baby & pregnancy news, information, and free stuff for new & expectant parents

Nov 30, 2012 - parentsconnect.com - 250
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Parents Connect

Get advice from other parents at Parents Connect, Parenting Forums, advice for parents, tips for parenting and raising children. Connect with other parents at ParentsConnect.com

Nov 30, 2012 - huffingtonpost.com - 266
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Huff Post Parents

Big News on Babies. Includes blogs, news, and community conversations about Babies.

Nov 30, 2012 - thebump.com - 244
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | The Bump

Get pregnancy information, baby advice and parenting tips at TheBump.com. Join our parenting forums and use our pregnancy tools.

Nov 30, 2012 - pluggedinparents.com - 231
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Plugged In Parents Baby

PluggedInParents.com is a website for parents who want to plug into the latest practical information. Staying on top of current issues is a daunting task, which is why we strive to bring you the most relevant topics in an all-in-one online magazine.

Jul 12, 2014 by Gerardo Orlando Campbell - supportforstepdads.com - 250
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Support for Stepdads

In 2011, the website Support for Stepfathers was started in an effort to reverse the nearly 70% divorce rate for blended families in the United States. His website is to help and inspire stepfathers, aspiring stepfathers and the women who love them worldwide.

Feb 04, 2015 by Karrie Scholz - positive-parenting-with-purpose.com - 270
Top Parenting Sites | A Modern Dad | Parenting is tough. Being a positive mom or dad is even tougher. Have a plan?
Parenting can be tough. Combine great intentions and great planning for a great family experience!

The Art of the Burp

With the arrival of A Modern Dad 2.0, we will refocus on newborn issues, while continuing to talk about the trials and tribulations of also raising a toddler. As such, one of the primary anxieties for new parents in the first few days after a newborn arrives is feeding. Is the baby latching on properly? Is she getting enough? When will the mother’s milk come in? Is he hungry? Is she full? These questions are all common concerns, often with no clear and immediate answer. In most cases, this all works itself out within a week or so, and everyone moves on to the next most pressing matter of the day or week.

We would like to talk a little bit about how to manage a very important aspect of feeding in the days and weeks after the milk and/or formula really start flowing…the burp. As a baby gains strength and starts to consume more milk, they tend to take more and more air into their little stomachs. For many babies, air and gas is the root of most evil. This usually leads to fussiness and discomfort, and it often leads to inconsistent sleep patterns as the air and gas cause intermittent pain as it tries to work its way through their little systems. In order to keep your baby comfortable, and keep you and your spouse sane, figuring out how to burp your little one is critical. Here are a few suggestions to hopefully help things go a little more smoothly.

Timing

In most cases, you will want to burp as much as possible, often during feeding at the halfway point, and always after you are done. Obviously, you need to use your own judgment here, but it is usually wise to clear the air from your baby’s tummy when you switch breasts or after every 2 to 3 ounces from a bottle. This will create more room to ensure you little one gets enough nourishment, and it will also help to reduce the likelihood that they will spit up and lose all their hard work. Once the feeding is finished, you will again want to clear as much of the remaining air as possible so it doesn’t cause additional gas problems later.

Positioning

How you position your child for burping will vary from baby to baby and parent to parent, but there are a few tried and tested positions to keep in mind. The first, and probably most common and convenient, is the standard over the shoulder. The allows you easy access to pat your baby’s back, and it keeps them upright with a little pressure on their stomach so the air can work its way up and out, without bringing a lot of milk with it. The second is placing your baby in a sitting position and sideways on your own lap. When a baby is still really small, it can be a bit tricky to properly support their head and body with only one hand (while patting their back with the other), but this has always worked well for me, as the baby’s semi-slumped position tends to bring the air out of their stomach a little more effectively. A third position that you might want to try is laying your baby face down on your lap, with their head resting on one leg and their stomach over the other leg. Support the baby with one hand, while patting their back with other.

Techniques

In addition to the three positions that are commonly used, I often work in a few other techniques that seem to help. For our first daughter, and now our second as well, I have found that while holding them upright on my shoulder, if I lean to my right (the babies left), that often helps release a burp. I also lean the baby (and my torso) forward and back and to the left and right, while bouncing slightly with my knees. This all seems to help work the bubbles to the proper area of the stomach where they can be released up the esophagus. And that, my friends, is how an engineer over thinks the common baby burp.

Back Pats

While burping your baby, it is common to pat their back to help break up air bubbles in their stomachs. It usually doesn’t take much force, so please be gentle with your fragile newborn, and just take your time. Burps have never harmed a baby, and all burps clear themselves eventually. Rubbing the back of a newborn, in addition to or instead of patting, may also be effective for some.

Always Use Protection!

For most of the first twelve months or so, you will want to always have a burp cloth handy. With a backup always nearby as well. Any time you decide to perch a newborn on your shoulder or lap, you are asking for trouble. If you are covered with a burp cloth or a lightweight blanket, you should be able to avoid most major messes. This is especially important when away from your home or traveling. There is nothing worse than having to travel all day with the smell of baby spit up wafting from your shoulder (hyperlink). Trust me.

Queues

Occasionally, you may need to revisit the burping process in between feedings, if your baby becomes fussy. A key queue to listen for is a grunting sound that sounds like your baby is trying to force out some air…because that is probably what they are trying to do. They might also be trying to force something out the other end, or both, but if they recent had a diaper change, then chances are they just need a little help with another burp.

Prevention 

For the most part, burping and gas and spit up are just past of the program. There is nothing unusual about it, and as a baby grows and gets stronger, it usually becomes less and less of an issue. However, in some of the more extreme cases of gassiness and spitting up, it might be a sign of other issues like lactose intolerance or food allergies. If you are worried about this, or if it runs in your family, it is probably worth discussing with your pediatrician. Over-the-counter medications such as Mylicon or gripe water might be worth a try. Another issue might be equipment malfunction. Be sure that you are using the proper bottle nipple for the age of your child, and reasonable quantities of milk or formula, so to avoid the intake of excess air.

Sleeping Position

If your baby is really gassy and burpy, sometimes it helps to slightly elevate the head end of their bassinet or crib. This won’t always be possible to do safely, but if so, it might help keep your little one a little more comfortable through a nap or through the night.

(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Growing Up in Small Town America

Even after spending most of my adult life living in larger cities, working for a large multinational company, and traveling the world, one of the life experiences that best defines me and who I am as a person is having grown up in Small Town America. And by small, I mean small. As in an official population of 226 people. My graduating class at the local public school was made up of a whopping 38 people!

I grew up in rural Northwest Ohio, in one of the many small farming communities that dot the countryside. Most families there, including mine on both my paternal and maternal sides, have German roots and are members of the local Catholic church. I went to the same elementary and high school as my parents (and had some of the same teachers), my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and probably further back than that, considering my family tree in that area dates back to the mid-1800’s. My grandfather was the mayor of our village in the 1960’s (yes, the town is actually incorporated) and my father was the fire chief for the volunteer fire department for a number of years. It was pure Mayberry.

As is the case with many small towns, my hometown is built firmly on the foundation of a family-first, work hard, take-care-of-your-neighbor type of mentality. A place where everyone knows everyone and family roots run deep, with many families now in their seven or eight generation. A place where kids play in the park until dark almost every summer day. A place where, if something needed repair, you just fixed it yourself, or you called a friend that could help. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer adults from Generation X, Generation Y, and the Millennials are staying in these small towns, and fewer still are returning after leaving for college.

Even though I know that I will probably never live there again, I still occasionally find myself reminiscing about my childhood and hoping to find a special place like that to raise my own children. I can’t imagine myself growing up anywhere else. I am sure there are lots of similar towns across our beautiful country, but I have not found one that has quite the same unique mix of small size, friendly naivety, old-school blue-collar work ethic, and deep family traditions. The bar for my expectations of how and where my children grow up has been set pretty high.

Our daughter recently turned two, and the quality of schools and safety of neighborhoods is quickly becoming a hot topic for my wife and I. That is one of the big reasons that we chose to move on from Phoenix last year and settle our family in Denver. It was very difficult to leave behind so many wonderful friends, but we just felt like Colorado was a better fit for us and our family. Our hope is that we will be able to bring up our daughter in a town or neighborhood that leaves a similar impression on her when she is an adult.

Do you think Mayberry types of towns and neighborhoods still exist? Or has society changed so much that this type of childhood nirvana is just a pipe dream? Do you have fond memories of your childhood neighborhood? Would you want your kids to grow up in your childhood neighborhood? If not, why?

Flying With A Baby Made Easy

Most of us have been on at least one flight with a screaming child that just would not settle down, some of us have shared a row with one, and some of us have had one on our lap. My wife and I certainly did on our way home from a recent family vacation. It is no fun for anyone involved…especially the parents that are desperately trying to calm the child. So how can we avoid over-the-top meltdowns and being the parents responsible for the child from hell? With holiday travel right around the corner, here are a few tips for helping to make flying with a baby or toddler more enjoyable for you and all those other passengers that will be sharing the airliner cabin with you.

 

Timing of the Flight
We don’t travel very much, but when we do, we try to schedule flights during our daughter’s nap time so she hopefully sleeps for at least part of the time. If you are pretty sure that your child will not be able to sleep on the plane, or in the terminal while waiting to board, then you may opt for a schedule that actually avoids nap time. Airports are usually a little less busy in the mornings, so if your schedule allows, you may want to shoot for a morning flight. Try to avoid layovers, unless the timing is ideal for allowing your toddler a chance to stretch their legs and burn off some energy. Since connecting flights often require a journey to a different terminal, make sure the layover provides enough time to gather all your stuff, assemble your stroller, and hit the restroom for a diaper change.

 

Entertainment
Keeping a young child entertained and occupied for an extended period of time can be a huge challenge. Especially in the close confines of just a seat or two on an airliner. And with a minimal amount of extra space in a carry on bag, you will probably have to get creative. Try to stick with toys and games that are small and easily stuffed into an already full bag. If the toy makes a lot of noise (i.e. music, crazy sounds, etc.), you should probably remove the batteries at least while on the plane. Some of our favorites include Violet the Dog (LeapFrog), a small teddy bear or baby doll, a familiar and comfy blanket, flash cards (animals, letters, numbers, etc.), and a few favorite books. Depending on the age of your child, you may also choose to upload some videos to watch on your smartphone, laptop, or iPad.

 

Location of Seat
Huge piece of advice, that we discovered the hard way, is to not sit near the bathrooms. This means definitely avoiding the last 5-6 rows of seats, sometimes the first 2-3 rows, and it may also include seats near the middle of the airplane if you are on a large international flight. These areas have a ton of non-stop noise, as there will be doors slamming and people standing next to your seat the entire flight. The bathrooms are also usually near the busy staging areas for the flight attendants.  This is obviously very distracting for a little one.
In general, a seat on the aisle is probably the best bet, especially for a toddler, so you can get up more easily for diaper changes or to walk a fussy child. Alternatively, a seat by the window is probably better if you have a young baby, so you will have a little more privacy for nursing and napping. If the plane has rows with three seats across, book the aisle for you and the window for your partner. Other travelers are less likely to request middle seats and if the plane isn’t full and someone does get assigned the seat between you, they’ll be more likely to switch to another row. If the flight is completely booked you or your partner can trade for the sandwich seat to sit together.

 

Gear & Supplies
For our carry-on bags go, we usually carry a backpack that has enough supplies for the flight itself, and then stash extras in a small roller bag that we can stow in the overhead compartment. Make sure you have more than enough of all your supplies in case your flight is delayed. That means extra diapers, extra clothes, extra food, extra snacks, extra wipes, and (if you’re bottle feeding) extra formula. For food, try to stick with non-perishables as much as possible. The baby food squeezer packs from Ella’s Kitchen, Plum Organics, and Happy Tot work great for babies and toddlers alike while out on the go. Also be ready to accommodate you and your child for a range of temperatures. Planes at the gate tend to get stuffy while boarding, but once you are in the air, the cabin can get a little cool. Airport terminals also tend to be on the cool side. Definitely make sure you bring an extra t-shirt for you, too, as the last thing you want to deal with on a long travel day is sour baby spit-up on your shoulder!

 

Common Causes of Fussiness
There are obviously a wide variety of things that may cause fussiness with your child. However, one of the main issues while flying is pressure buildup in ears. Be sure to have a pacifier and/or a bottle ready for take-offs and landings. Another is over-stimulation. A full day of traveling can be both physically exhausting and mentally draining for even the most seasoned adult travelers. The irregular schedule and environment of a travel day is sure to cause a high level of anxiety and fatigue in most young children. Other likely causes of fussiness are more typical, such as hunger & thirst, a dirty diaper, being too cold or too warm, and being generally uncomfortable.

 

Other Reminders & Tips
Here are a few more brief reminders as you prepare for a day of travel with children:
– Carry birth certificates for each of your children.
– Give yourself plenty of time to get checked in, get your baby fed, and change their diaper.
– For most airlines, toddlers can ride on your lap until age 2. After that, you will usually be required to purchase a seat for them (discounts are often available).
– Typically, strollers and car seats do not count as pieces of luggage.
– Don’t be afraid to ask flight attendants for help while boarding the aircraft, leaving the aircraft, and during the flight.
– If you may need to nurse your baby during the flight, bring a cover up and wear clothing that allows for easy access.
– For an overview of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security process for babies and children, follow this link…http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children/index.shtm.

 

Please be sure to share your travel experiences and ideas with our community in the comments below…and GOOD LUCK!!
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Chicco Cortina Travel System Review

EDITOR RATING: ★★★★★ 

QUICK SPECS
From the Manufacturer
The Chicco Contina Infant Car Seat is the #1 rated infant car seat in America. The Chicco Cortina Infant Car Seat is the premier infant carrier for safety, comfort, and convenience. The Cortina is packed with features that make this Infant car seat the easiest to install and thus the safest choice for your baby. This is designed especially for the Chicco Infant Car Seat, the Cortina stroller works as a travel system for your infant and a full size stroller for your growing baby. The Cortina stroller will satisfy your desire for convenience, comfort and safety.
Product Description
The Chicco Cortina Stroller Travel System features the stroller and the Chicco Infant Car Seat. It is one of the most fabulous systems on the market because it combines Chicco fashion and safety ideas. The Chicco Cortina Stroller features a lightweight, aluminum frame which comes loaded. It has a one hand fold to make life much easier on the parent. The Chicco stroller features a smooth ride which will assure the child that rest will be possible the entire way.

 

EDITOR’S REVIEW
The Good
  • Well built and sturdy, and has been very reliable for us for over 17 months thus far.
  • Easily collapses with just one free hand, assuming you will be holding your baby with the other.
  • Car seat snaps securely into the stroller and can be easily removed with just hand, while holding and lifting the seat with the other.
  • Removable, washable cloth cover on both car seat and stroller.
  • Removable, dishwasher-safe drink/food tray.

The Bad

  • The Cortina is only rated to 22lbs. Most babies/toddlers reach this weight by 12 to 18 months. At that point, you will need to purchase a larger car seat. You may want to consider purchasing the Travel System that is rated to 30 pounds instead, in order to get a little more life out of this Chicco system.
  • As our daughter got older, and wanted to check out everything going on around her while we were out and about, we realized that we wished the seat adjustment sat up a little bit more. Our daughter has to hold on to the food/drink tray in order to sit straight up.
Why We Chose This Product
After careful consideration, we chose the Chicco Cortina Travel System for our first child. We like it because it collapses and opens easily, has good build quality, and receives good safety reviews. After using for nearly 17 months of use, it is still in great condition and has held up very well. The carseat can only be used until your child is 22 pounds, so you may want to consider the 30 pound system instead, in order to get a little more life out of the carseat, before having to upgrade to a larger one.

 

Bottom Line
Regularly a top choice for new parents, you can’t go wrong with the Chicco Cortina Travel System. It’s build quality and ease of use makes it well worth the slightly higher price.

Making The Perfect Pizza

How many of you love pizza? …or at least have kids that do? Okay, how many of you have a pizza stone? If you are like most of us, it is probably stashed somewhere in the depths of your kitchen cupboards, unopened and untouched since you received it as a wedding gift…oh, about six or eight years ago. With Papa John’s on speed dial, or a local favorite pizza joint right down the road, making your own pizza just seems like too much work, right? I am here to say absolutely not.

I am going to show you how to make perfect gourmet pizzas in the comfort of your own kitchen in just minutes. It is a fun family activity. It gives you better control over the quality of ingredients used. And the pizzas taste great! Are you up for the challenge? Okay…here we go.

 

Equipment
Homemade pizza ingredients
  • Pizza Stone
  • Pizza Cutter
  • Cutting Board
  • Oven Mitts
  • Hot Pads

Ingredients

Toppings Ideas
  • Pizza Dough – Pre-made dough balls available at most grocery stores. If not, I have also purchased dough balls from local pizza shops for a couple dollars.
  • Flour – Small amount for handling, prepping, and spreading pizza dough.
  • Mozzarella Cheese – Finely shredded works best.
  • Tomato Sauce – 8-oz can is just the right size.
  • Oregano
  • Onion Salt
  • Favorite Toppings
  • Chicken Breast, Bell Peppers, and Onions
  • Ham/Canadian Bacon and Pineapple
  • Chicken Breast, Pre-cooked Potatoes, and Rosemary
  • Chicken Breast, Tomatoes, and Onions
  • Chicken Breast, Pineapple, and Tomatoes
  • Chicken Sausage and Onions
  • Pepperoni, Jalapenos, and Onions
  • Pepperoni, Mushrooms, and Onions

Preparation
  • Place bare pizza stone in oven on the middle rack and pre-heat to 500°F (DO NOT GREASE or SPRAY).
  • Allow to pre-heat for approximately 20 minutes to heat pizza stone all the way through.
  • Remove pizza dough from refrigerator and bring to room temperature (it may start to rise slightly).
  • Prepare your favorite toppings.
  • Slice and cut veggies.
  • Remove cheese from the refrigerator.
  • Sprinkle some loose flour on a clean surface (countertop or table).
  • Remove the pizza dough from the packaging – be sure to sprinkle some flour on your hands and the dough to make it easier to handle.
  • Use the heal of your hand to flatten and shape the dough – be sure to not flatten to much or to create areas that are too thin and be sure that the diameter of the pie is not too big for your pizza stone.
  • Once the oven has reached 500°F, and the pizza stone has been in pre-heating for at least 20 minutes, it is time to get the show on the road.
  • WARNING: THE PIZZA STONE IS 500°F! DO NOT TOUCH!!! Using thick oven mitts, remove the pizza stone from the oven and place it on the stove top. DO NOT PLACE IT ON YOUR COUNTERTOP, as it may melt or blister the surface.
  • Carefully pick up the pizza dough and drop it on the pizza stone. Use a fork to remove folds and straighten. The flour on the dough should prevent it from sticking to the pizza stone.
  • Since the pizza stone is 500°F, the pizza dough will start to cook, so try to load the pizza toppings as quickly as possible.
  • Pour the 8-oz can of tomato sauce on the dough and sprinkle with some oregano and onion salt.
  • Quickly add your favorite toppings.
  • We usually put most of the toppings under the cheese, but sometimes put onions and peppers on top to roast and cook them a bit more.
  • Cover everything with shredded cheese (roughly one 8-oz bag, maybe a little less).
  • CAREFULLY place the pizza stone back in the oven.
  • WARNING: The pizza stone will still be very hot, so use thick oven mitts to pick it up.
  • It usually helps to slide out the oven rack in order to get the pizza stone loaded up.
  • Set the timer for 9-10 minutes and get the family ready for a tasty dinner.
  • Keep an eye on the cheese and when it starts to brown (between 9 and 10 minutes), it is usually ready to be removed.
  • To remove the hot pizza stone from the oven, again it makes things easier if you slide out the oven rack.
  • Use thick oven mitts to remove the pizza stone.
  • Immediately remove the pizza from the pizza stone, or it will continue to (over)cook.
  • The pizza should not stick, and should just slide off the stone when you tilt it. If it does stick a bit, just run a fork around the edges.
  • Cut the pizza into six or eight slices, crack open a nice cold beer or soda, and ENJOY!!

If you have any questions, or other suggestions for making the perfect pizza at home in your own kitchen, please join the conversation in the comments below, or in the comments over on our Facebook page.

Raising a Child with Food Restrictions – Part 2

As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, we introduced rice cereal to our baby daughter at six months.  Within a week, she started to get sick whenever she ingested it.  After initially thinking her illness was caused by some spoiled milk, a dirty bottle, or possibly a virus, we pretty quickly identified the rice cereal as the apparent root cause.   

Upon our return to Phoenix from our Santa Fe vacation, we once again consulted with our primary pediatrician.  Her feedback was that rice is typically considered the most neutral, hypoallergenic cereal available for babies…especially since it is gluten-free.  However, since rice cereal seemed to be the culprit, she advised us to give oat cereal a try instead to see if our daughter would do better with that.  We tried that the next day, and again experienced the same excruciating result.  Our daughter gobbled up the oat cereal paste, and then about three hours later proceeded to vomit for about three hours.  At that point, we knew for sure that something definitely was not right.

We consulted again with our pediatrician.  Her latest advice was to just avoid grains all together for a while.  Both my wife and I quickly agreed, having already arrived at this obvious conclusion prior to our visit.  However, now we were even more perplexed and curious as to what was going on inside our beautiful daughter.  Was this “condition” she was experiencing something temporary?  Was it being caused by something more serious?  Was this something she (we) was going to have to deal with for the rest of her life?  These were all questions that were hanging out there, and we needed some answers.  Now what?

After some further discussion with our pediatrician, and even though rice cereal is gluten-free, we agreed to do a blood test for celiac disease.  According to Mayo Clinic, celiac disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.  Unfortunately, there is no cure for celiac disease and people with the disease are forced to manage their lifestyle and dietary consumption throughout their lifetime.  Fortunately, celiac disease and other gluten-related digestive conditions have led to the fairly wide availability of a variety of gluten-free lines of food products and ingredients.

After waiting for about a week or so, our pediatrician informed us that the test for celiac disease had come back negative.  This did not completely rule that out, due to our daughter’s young age, but it did reduce the likelihood that celiac was the culprit.  Okay…now what? Once again, we consulted with our pediatrician to discuss other possible causes or conditions.  Food allergies were considered to be the other most likely cause of our daughter’s grain issues.  Childhood allergies have received much press in recent years, as studies have shown possible connections between food allergies and a pretty wide range of common childhood illness, from ear infections to general irritability and colic to ADHD.  In many cases, children outgrow these allergies by 3 to 5 years of age, and the best way to deal with them is to just avoid the foods causing the problems.  Rather than go through a full battery of allergy tests at such a young age (~8 mths old), we decided to just avoid grains for a while and focus on introducing other foods that would satisfy her nutritional needs for the foreseeable future.  This would certainly pose some challenges when mealtime rolled around each day…and especially when it came to snacks (no Cheerios, crackers, bread, cookies, cake, etc.)…but it was certainly something we felt we could manage…for now.

Fast forward eight months.  Our daughter is now almost 16 months old and we have learned to manage her dietary restrictions quite well by closely monitoring product ingredients and watching carefully for crumbs on our floors.  A few weeks ago, we decided to investigate some more to try to find other possible causes of the grain intolerance/allergy/reaction with which we are dealing.  After going in a few different directions with our research, we stumbled onto something called FPIES.  FPIES is short for Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome.  FPIES is a severe, cell-mediated gastrointestinal food hypersensitivity typically provoked by cow’s milk, soy, grains, poultry, and/or some vegetables.  It is commonly characterized by profuse vomiting and diarrhea.  As I read through descriptions of the condition and read through details of how FPIES has affected other young children and babies, I started to get goosebumps as I realized that we had finally found some of the answers we were looking for. We visited an allergy clinic this week and confirmed our FPIES suspicions with the doctor, who was familiar with the condition and was in agreement with our discovery.

Check back soon for more details on FPIES, and also for more information on the foods and snacks that have helped us to manage our daughter’s dietary restrictions and keep her healthy.

If you have any questions about how we are dealing with FPIES, please let us know…and please join in the conversation on our website, on Twitter, and on Facebook to share your stories of dealing with childhood food restrictions.

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