Double Strollers That Are Fun and Functional

IMG_0202-2When you have more than one little one, sometimes you need a go-to stroller. Since having my son last summer, I have discovered that I never have enough hands free for my kids. I do prefer to baby wear, but sometimes a good stroller is necessary. When I was pregnant, I did a little research on what kind of a stroller I wanted.

Do you buy new or used? Websites likes craigslist and Facebook have many strollers for sale online. What features were necessary for my family and I? For example, I had to have a cup holder. Going on walks or runs with my kids is something I love to do and I sometimes just have to have a Starbucks iced tea along for the ride. Here are my three favorite double strollers.

#1 Joovy Ergo Caboose:

This stroller is a beast. I found mine on craigslist. It was used and still cost me $200.00. It retails for $300.00. Here are some of the features I love about my Joovy:

  • Giant canopy: This canopy is bigger than any I have ever seen. My kids are protected from the weather and sun. The rear canopy is also detachable.
  • Real tires: This stroller doesn’t have plastic wheels. It can handle rough terrain.
  • Easy seatbelt buckles. Lifesaver.
  • Giant basket underneath: I always have too much stuff. I never run out of room with this stroller.
  • Rear infant seat: My son Levi was always in arms reach. He could see me and that made him happy, too. It works  with several infant car seats. We used a Baby Trend.
  • It’s not too heavy. I do not have great upper body strength and I can easily lift this into my Jeep.
  • Fun colors. This stroller comes with optional seat covers. I bought it with the green ones and got the purple ones, too!

#2 In Step Grand Safari Double Jogger:

I recently purchased this double jogger to save my sanity and get in some workouts. Here are the best features I’ve discovered so far:

  • Dual cup holders for mom and dad
  • Dual child trays and cup holders
  • MP3 capability (It’s amazing what a little music does for a cranky baby on a run!)
  • Removable fleece seat pads for colder weather
  • Swivel front wheel
  • Wipes clean easily

This stroller retails for $270.00. The only thing I do not like about it is the weight. It weighs 42 lbs. I have trouble lifting it, but it is great for a good workout and my kids seem to like it so far.

#3 Baby Trend Sit ‘N Stand Stroller

This stroller was recommended to me by several friends. It is a very affordable option for a double stroller. It retails for under $200.00. Here are some of its highlights:

  • Many positions: This stroller’s seats can be positioned in different ways depending on your needs.
  • Cup holds and trays for everyone!
  • Foot activated rear brake
  • Can hold two infant seats (Ideal for moms of twins)
  • This stroller comes in a variety of colors, so you are sure to find one you like.

These are only 3 of the many choices out there in double strollers. I recommend thinking about what you are really looking for and going from there. Price can also eliminate some in your search.

What’s worked best for you, mom?

Karyn Meyerhoff lives, writes, strolls, and runs in Northeast Indiana with her family.

 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
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Transitioning Out of the Swaddle

Transitioning from the SwaddleSome babies never seem to need, or want, to be swaddled. Some do, but outgrow the need easily in the first few months. Others, like my daughter, truly need to be swaddled to sleep for an extended length of time to help them sleep. We transitioned away from swaddling when my daughter was 6 to 7 months old. Let me tell you, I was so nervous! She wasn’t a good sleeper as is, and now I was taking away one of my best tools! Thankfully, there actually are a number of good options available to help you transition away from traditional swaddling.

First, make the change gradual. Continue with your typical swaddle routine and blanket or suit, but swaddle baby with one arm out. Give them some time to become accustomed to newfound mobility and the feeling of being able to move an arm as you lower them to the crib, while still providing them with that “hug” the swaddle gives. After a bit of time, move to leaving both arms out while still wrapping their torso. Some swaddle products on the market are particularly well suited for this process. If both of those steps goes well, try putting baby to bed swaddle free! That may be all it takes. At this point I would continue the night time routine you have established, but in the place of getting swaddled, place baby into a sleep sack or wearable blanket. These provide the security and warmth baby has become accustomed to without any of the safety issues of loose blankets in the crib.

For some babies, the swaddle may be necessary for getting to sleep, but not staying there. If you feel that the startle reflex wakes baby when you’re putting him down but that otherwise baby is fine once asleep, try wrapping your baby in a blanket before you rock/feed/lay baby down to sleep and removing it once they are comfortably lying on the mattress. Since loose blankets in the crib can potential increase the risk of SIDS, be sure to remove the blanket as soon as your child is asleep. This is only assistance in getting baby down to the mattress, essentially.

Finally, a third option for babies that seem to struggle with leaving the swaddle behind may be a sleep suit. The sleep suit isn’t a swaddle, but does take the place of any sort of blanket and offers enough resistance to muffle baby’s nighttime movements. The thick fabric creates the cozy, contained feeling that some babies need in order to sleep. This can be used to help move past a swaddle blanket or can be a great resource for parents of baby houdinis who regularly escape their swaddle. As with all swaddle products, this is for use only when baby sleeps soundly on his or her back and is not rolling over in the crib.

Any change in a sleep routine can be a daunting one. Hopefully these tips will help you and have you moving on to swaddle-free sleep in no time!

Kate Cunha is mom to a 3 year old little girl and lives in the Pacific NW.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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What is a Limited Edition Cloth Diaper?

what is a limited edition cloth diaperIf you’re newer to cloth diapers, you may not know the pre-limited edition cloth world. People bought the diapers they liked. End of story. But with the advent of limited edition prints, it hid the fervor of dedicated collecting under the “need” to have more diapers. You know, for the baby.

In the several years prior to 2014, retailers often learned of new prints at seasonal expos. Sometimes there were pre-orders and usually those prints or colors were around for a full season or, at least, a second shipment. Many brands continue to market this way. Last year the diaper world was thrown for a (hook and) loop when limited editions came to larger production brands, namely bumGenius (Cotton Babies brand along with Flip).

To be fair, WAHM brands like RagaBabe already had a corner on the highly-coveted, low-availability market. The shake-up happened, in part, due to bumGenius’s larger availability in stores and their fan base as a top-selling brand across all styles of cloth diapers. Their tiny socialite artist series paled in comparison to the drop-and-gone approach of the later Genius series of diapers in 2013-2015.

We bought an Albert with no difficulty when we first entered the world of children and cloth diapering in late 2011. I thought nothing of it; nobody did. Then at some point between Maathai and Irwin, I noticed the tension. I recall stepping back when I saw small retailers staying up at all hours of the night trying to update their loyal shoppers on when diapers might arrive and how many and of what styles they might get. Even retailers were left in the dark in the limited edition craze of Caroll, Jules, Audrey, and Chaplin.

In the midst of this, the old socialite series was offered in a limited release by some retailers. This was hard to swallow for some who paid double–and triple–for used versions of these hard-to-find prints. Then Cotton Babies/bG re-released Maathai. bG has taken the brunt of some buyers’ hard feelings as some people buy up more diapers than “needed” for the purpose of reselling at exorbitant prices. Websites crashed. Poor reviews were posted on retailer sites. Mamas got mad at mamas. I’d say it was the best of times and worst of times, but I don’t want to buy into the drama.

The world of cloth diapers forever changed after 2013. Some were turned off by limited edition offerings (by any brand that specialized their brand). Others became even more committed to gathering their entire rainbow of one brand; they enjoy the hunt on buy-sell-trade pages for the one or two hard-to-find prints they seek. Given the excitement over prints, families new to cloth diapers got enthusiastic and old regulars became excited anew to see what each creative team would come up with next.

Two years later, most of the limited dust has settled, though it continues. The limited edition craze definitely added spice to a world that maybe was getting too settled in its ways. It pushed creative boundaries and vision of what all a cloth diaper can encompass. It’s good for a business to sell their inventory, so at least for the brand-name business is good. A lot of people have bought in, making them lifetime customers, both inviting brand-loyalty if you want a rainbow and brand-bridging if you want all the cute prints.

Just as before the limited edition craze, brands like Rumparooz and AppleCheeks continue to ramp up their social media for reveal parties of retiring and new colors and prints. Generally, their offerings are not limited. Some brands continue to work under their old model of a monthly or seasonal type of production, often akin to Softbums and BottomBumpers. With a monthly print, you know it’s going to change and there may be a shorter supply or limited availability in that they produce with the expectation of selling for one month.

Blueberry Diapers recently launched their Blueberry and Me website that offers several new prints, available only for a few weeks. It offers some of the high-demand and surprise aspects of limited editions in a predictable, managed way. Blueberry also has “exclusive” prints available through only a select retailer or two. Rumparooz teamed up with Ju-Ju-Be diaper bags. Some other brands offer an exclusive print at a single event, like MommyCon or The Great Cloth Diaper Change.

I didn’t think I was into it all. In fact, I wasn’t particularly happy with bumGenius and the way some small retailers had to handle the challenges of limited edition prints. Then at a diaper swap I eyed an Irwin in the distance. For $2. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast across a room. (For the inquiring mind: I paid it forward.)

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Monday, July 27, 2015
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Choosing a Babysitter

Questions for Your First Daycare ProviderHaving a sitter that’s not a family member can be very scary the first time around. It’s hard to trust a stranger with your baby, especially when your baby isn’t old enough to speak up for herself or tell you things. But when you have a sitter you trust, there’s nothing better.

There are many criteria to consider when choosing a sitter for your family. Price, age of the sitter, experience, CPR training, and whether they have kids of their own are all important things to consider. Asking friends and family for names is usually the best route to go. They’ll be happy to pass on the name of a great sitter. If you’re in a new area, ask around at church or in online mom’s groups.

Before you ever use a sitter, meet with them in person, either at your home or their home, depending on where they will be keeping baby. Write down some open-ended questions for them in advance. Here are a few I like to ask:

  • Have you ever had to react in an emergency situation? What happened? How did you respond?
  • What is the most children you’ve ever watched at once?
  • Do you stay in touch with any families you have babysat for?
  • When was the last time you got a traffic ticket? What was it for?

These questions always helped me with determining what their judgment is like. If you let people talk long enough, they will tell you what you want to know, good or bad. It’s just human nature to be yourself.

Always ask for references, and then actually call and talk to them. If you are interviewing a minor, talk to the parents as well. If you are interviewing an adult, ask for permission to do a background check. They are not expensive and you don’t need very much information from them to find out a lot about them. You can find forms online.

Use social media in your favor. Ask your sitter for social media profiles and handles and check out what they post. It will give you insight into their judgment and character.

Another tip is to ask if they have ever worked in church childcare. Church childcare workers, especially at large churches, are usually background checked, reference-checked and often go through abuse prevention training. If they have worked for a church nursery, you can look the church up online to research how they vet their childcare workers.

As moms, we don’t need someone perfect to watch our children. What we do want to find is someone who will put our child first, above their phone and their friends and family for that short time, pay attention to them, play with them and be attentive to their needs just as we would. Hopefully these tips will help you find the perfect sitter for your family.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who has had some really great sitters! She lives and writes in Oklahoma City.

Friday, July 24, 2015
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Closing the Gap: Diastasis Recti

Abs are always the cover story any time a celebrity mom makes her first appearance after having a baby. Most non-celeb moms aren’t too overly concerned–bonding with baby trumps having a washboard stomach at six weeks post partum.

But in some cases, your abs should concern you. During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles actually separate to accommodate the growing uterus. You can tell this has happened because during braxton-hicks contractions your stomach comes to a point instead of remaining rounded.

After pregnancy, your abdominal wall will slowly come back together. In fact, it’s one of the reasons you need to go really easy on your body following childbirth. Overexerting yourself with exercise, housework or heavy lifting can cause further damage while this area is healing.

In some cases, the gap remains months after it should have closed. This is called diasasis recti. While some of these cases will eventually require surgery to completely close, many women can help ease the process along themselves with a simple set of exercises.

Make sure to talk to your doctor or midwife before you begin any exercises to help deal with diastasis recti.

Sarah Johnson is a mom of five boys who lives and writes in Finland.

Thursday, July 23, 2015
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