Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

When to Turn the Car Seat

Monday, June 13th, 2016

When to Turn the Car SeatCar Seats. This is seriously a topic that before having kids, I never dreamed was the hot-button topic it seems to be now. I didn’t know until I started researching seat safety, especially when I was looking to purchase our first convertible seat. Then I found there are entire blogs, web pages and forums all solely dedicated to car seats.

The real discussions seem to start however, not with purchasing an infant seat or even a convertible seat, but when to turn your child from rear facing (RF in car seat forum land) to front facing (FF). Ultimately, the safest position in the car for your child to ride in is rear facing in the back row of seats (the airbags in the front seats are dangerous to children). Car seat safety experts want you to continue this as long as possible. Maybe until high school. (I’m joking). The minimum recommended age for turning your child to front facing is at the second birthday, but continuing to rear face until your child meets the height and/or weight maximum for their seat is the ideal scenario.

I think every parent wants their child to be as safe as can be. There are different roadblocks, however, that prevent many families from rear facing up until these seat limits. First is the size of the car, or at least of the back seat. Even larger cars and SUVs now have fairly small back seats, and many seats, when rear facing, take up quite a bit of room. Parents can usually accommodate this by installing the seat in the middle seat of the back row. This only works for one rear-facing child, however. Second is the weight and height maximums of the car seat. If your car seat is on the smaller size or your child is tall and/or heavy for their age, the limit can be reached quite rapidly.

Without purchasing a new car (minivan, anybody?), there are a couple ways to maximize the space that you do have. First, if you haven’t bought your car seat yet (or are looking to buy another), consider seats that are designed to take up less room while rear facing. Some of these seats also have optional wedges that can be purchased for underneath the seat, making the seat’s footprint in the car even smaller. Placing the bulkiest car seats in the center, and from there behind the shortest person in the front row (at my house, the non-center car seat always went behind my seat, as my legs are much shorter than my husband’s) is ideal. If you’re facing a small car seat issue (vs a small car issue), can you hand down your child’s current small seat to a younger sibling in the family and purchase a seat with higher RF maximums. This is not in every family’s budget, but it is an option for some.

Finally, like always, if you have installed a new seat or even just moved the current ones, consider having the installation inspected by a certified technician. Often, fire stations have employees that can do this for you for free.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two sons. She found her car seat jenga skills improved by bounds after moving to Japan and needing to fit two rear-facing American car seats into her tiny Japanese car. 

Exchanging Presents for Memories

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Exchanging Presents for Memories

My oldest daughters’ first and second birthdays were wonderful, but I was really looking forward to her third birthday. This was the first birthday that she was really aware, able to anticipate and realize that her birthday was a special day. That morning when she woke up, we brought her into the kitchen where all her presents were laid out on the table. As she opened them one by one with a blank look, I thought, “She’s not having fun. Why are we doing this?”

After that birthday, we decided to wean ourselves off birthday presents.

The reality is that you don’t remember the stuff you get unless it’s really special. So as parents, we have two choices when it comes to making birthdays memorable: Spend a ton of money and time searching for the best stuff, or doing something amazing and make memories we will never forget. After all, what are we saying by buying things on our children’s special day? Things make you feel special? I love you, so I bought this for you?

Exchanging Presents for MemoriesPresents are a huge part of American culture, but after looking deeper at it, that just wasn’t the message I wanted to send. Giving a gift only lasts a moment—once the gift is unwrapped, the moment has passed. So we decided to give experiences instead.

The next year it was hard not to buy this or that toy for Maisie’s birthday, even though I knew family members would more than fill the gap. Instead of giving her a physical present, we bought her an hour of horseback riding lessons. This year we spent a day in Vermont to celebrate Maisie’s sixth birthday. We ran a 5k together, picked apples, and toured the Vermont Teddy Bear factory.

If you want to get away from collecting stuff at birthdays and holidays, here are a few ideas:

  • Start small by giving non-toy gifts
  • Look for day trips you can do in your area
  • Plan a weekend trip for a birthday
  • Try something new or something you have always wanted to do as a family
  • Buy a small something to remind you of the trip that will last, like a Christmas ornament, charm, or small collectible
  • Purchase a museum or park membership as a birthday gift
  • Buy a year of music, dance or tumbling lessons

We have only been doing it for two years now, but so far our experiment is a success. We are celebrating birthdays now by spending time together focused on each other and doing something new. The kids don’t miss the presents, and I hope we are teaching our girls that special times are made special with people, not things. The memories we make can never be lost, won’t ever need to be returned, and we will have them forever.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls who is trying to simplify, declutter and downsize. She loves and writes in Queensbury, New York.

Planning Baby’s First Birthday

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Planning Baby's First BirthdayBalloons. Invitations. Cake. Overwhelming. Celebrating your child’s first birthday is a joyous, exciting occasion, but it can be a stressful, expensive event if you don’t plan smart. My daughter Johanna turned one last August. Months before her birthday arrived, I found myself searching websites like Etsy and Pinterest daily trying to find the cutest things for the best party. Here are some tips I would share if asked on how to make planning a baby’s 1st birthday party easy and successful.

Plan Ahead

Start early. Planning early gives you time to get all your supplies and mail out invitations. Use a checklist to help you cover all of your bases. Talk with your spouse about any ideas he has. Make the planning process a group effort.

Be Smart

Focus on the important things. Obviously, you want your baby’s party to be fun and cute for the guests. Ultimately, baby won’t remember the party but your guests will. Choose a location that will accommodate your guests but not break the bank. Remember that you can’t plan the weather, so have a back-up plan or be prepared if you decide to do the party outside. Remember to not plan a party during a time when you know baby will need to nap or be especially fussy.

Save Money

You don’t have to buy a lot of decorations to make a cute party. Streamers, balloons, and your own designs work well. Personal touches, such as monthly photos of baby, fun facts about baby, and personal party favors are always a hit. Enlist the help of friends and family to make and serve food if needed. Start saving and budgeting for baby’s party in advance so that you don’t feel overwhelmed as the date approaches. Websites like Etsy have adorable invitations that you can purchase and then print at home or in a store.


Remember that your child’s first birthday is a celebration of the milestone of turning 1. Use the party time to celebrate with family and friends, not stress over the decorations, cake, or anything silly. Take lots of pictures. Have guests write a note as a keepsake for baby to read someday. Ultimately, have fun and shower your baby with love!

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana. She loves birthdays, especially birthday cake.