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Clek Infant-thingy Review: Clek for Noobs!

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infant thingy green

Clek Infant-thingy Infant Insert

The Clek Foonf and Fllo convertible carseats both have minimum starting weight limits of 14 lbs. with the addition that the child must be able to sit upright alone. Right off the bat, this eliminates both seats from parents who want to use a convertible from birth since most babies don’t reach this “advanced” stage until 6+ months of age. Enter the Infant-thingy, Clek’s new hotly anticipated insert that allows the Foonf and Fllo to fit noobs from 5 lbs. It’s available in Shadow black Crypton fabric, so it’s easily cleanable for those baby blow-outs you’ll inevitably have.

Basics

  • Rated from 5-22 lbs., 19-33” rear-facing use only
  • Body support cushion is required until 11 lbs.
  • Crotch strap adjusted to the rear slot position
  • Energy-absorbing material in head support
  • Infant-thingy manual supersedes Foonf and Fllo manuals

Measurements

  • Bottom harness slot with body support: 9”
  • Crotch strap position: 3”

Before using the Infant-thingy, the carseat’s headrest must be removed. Raise the headrest to its uppermost position, then use the troubleshooting tool on the back of the carseat to release it. There’s a small hole on the front of the right headrest guide where the tool fits in (that’s the one that doesn’t have the push button release). If you’ve lost the tool, you can use a paperclip. Don’t worry, there are directions for this maneuver in the Infant-thingy instruction manual. Be sure not to lose the headrest because you’ll definitely need it later on when your child is taller.

Clek troubleshooting tool with circle removing Clek headrest

NEWS: ABC Kids Spring Show 2015

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The Spring ABC Show is quite a bit different than the Fall Show as it’s geared specifically toward specialty retailers. This show has 4 rows of booths in a hotel convention center—this time it was at the Rio in Las Vegas—as opposed to 4 million at the Las Vegas Convention Center at the Fall Show. Hyperbole aside, it’s a much more chill environment and I could chat with manufacturer reps for as long as I wanted. I know you’re all about the latest and greatest, so here’s what I found out.

Cybex

They had the Cloud Q on display. Due to testing, there have to be some tweaks made. Of course! The lovely testing. I heard that a lot as I talked with everyone. So, when used baseless, the Cloud Q’s handle will have to be in the most forward position toward the child’s feet and there are now notches in the handle for the lap portion of the seat belt not only to remind parents it needs to be that way but also to act as a reinforcement to the notches in the seat. They didn’t have a prototype on hand with the new handle to show, so here’s a glossy press version of the Euro model in its full recline mode.

Expected: 2nd half of July

gb_news_cloudq_high

Lil Fan Boosters

Lil Fan makes sports-themed boosters. Have a favorite team? It’s a good chance they’ll have a booster for you! I measured the shoulder belt guides at 21” while Kecia measured them at 19” at the Fall Show, so we’ll be sure to Duke it out and let you know Sooner rather than later.

Highback booster (Club Seat) features:

  • 30-110 lbs., 4-12 years
  • EPS foam
  • 5 position headrest
  • backrest can be removed to make it a backless booster
  • removable dual-sided cup holder

Backless booster (Box Seat) features:

  • 40-110 lbs., 4-12 years
  • adjustable shoulder belt clip

Lil Fan also has a line of team diaper bags available in 3 different styles: messenger bag, backpack, and sling bag, plus there’s an insulated bottle holder. Everything’s available on Amazon.com plus at other retailers so they should be easy to find.

Expected: boosters are due in 30 days.

Lil Fan Notre Dame Lil Fan Ohio State Lil Fan Denver Lil Fan belt guide

Jané (Hahn-ay)

Deja Poop: You’ve Done It Before. Infant Seats

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new siblingAwwww. You’ve already had one kid and found that you did a pretty good job the first time around so you thought you’d try again. Maybe it was around that magical 15-18 month age when those little monsters are at their cutest. Buggers! I’m convinced that’s how the human race has continued for so long. It’s certainly not because of proper carseat usage.

During those first many months of our children’s lives, they suck the life out of us quite literally. We get virtually no sleep, sometimes don’t eat, definitely don’t shower occasionally due to loud demands forced upon us, and touch things we swore when we were childless that we would never touch. During this time, parents, and moms especially, lose brain cells due to the lack of sleep, constant touching, and demands from their little offspring. I’m sure there are studies that prove this, but years after having my children, I’m still making up the sleep and too busy trying to recover my lost brain cells to find . . . oh right, the studies.

Anyway, if you were like most parents, you probably used an infant seat for your first baby because that’s what you do for your first baby, right? Not necessarily, but it is a convenience feature for sure. Depending on the infant seat, there were adjustments you made as your baby grew. If you are using this infant seat again for your second, or third child, there are a few things you need to do to “reset” the infant seat so it’s ready for a newborn again and so you don’t ring me because the infant seat that fit your first bundle of joy so perfectly doesn’t fit your second at all and you’re panicking and befuddled.

First, if the seat has been in storage, thoroughly check it for mold and mildew. It’s gross to think about, but this is very common in many environments, especially if the seat has been stored in a basement or in a bag. You probably won’t believe me if I told you we have a black mold problem here in the desert where the humidity is less than 10% with a dew point of less than 20˚? It’s everywhere. If your seat has mold or mildew, it’s probably better to say goodbye to it. The only way to clean the mold is to use harsh chemicals, exactly what *all* carseat manufacturers tell you not to use, even on the plastic shell, and especially not on the harness. If it’s only the cover or harness that has mildew, you can order a new cover and harness from the manufacturer generally (some harnesses aren’t replaceable), but by the time you add up how much that costs, sometimes it’s about the same to buy a new seat. For recommendations, see our Recommended Carseats List.

Side note: If you’re borrowing a used infant seat, make sure you trust the person you’re borrowing the seat from with your child’s life. This is a safety item that has the potential to save your child’s life, remember. Ask them if it’s been in any kind of a crash, even a parking lot fender-bender (many manufacturers want their seats replaced after *any* kind of crash and don’t specify severity). Ask how they’ve cleaned the seat—did they follow the directions in the manual or did they throw everything in the washer? Harnesses should only be wiped down  with a washcloth and NEVER washed in the washing machine.

With today’s infant seats going to such high weight limits, your first child may have been in the carseat until he was a toddler. That means the harness was last adjusted to fit him as a toddler, not as a newborn. You’ll want to change the harness slot height back so that the harness is in the lowest slots. The harness of a rear-facing carseat should always be coming from the slots below the child’s shoulders. There’s an easy way to remember this if your kids are facing different directions in the car. A rear-facing child has the harness coming from at or below the shoulders, a forward-facing child has the harness coming from at or above the shoulders—they’re opposites of each other.

*Note that the video shows changing the harness height for seats with front-pull harness adjusters only. If your model has rear adjusters, read your owner’s manual because the method will vary by seat.

Some infant seats also have different lengths for the harnesses to accommodate wide weight ranges, from noobs to toddlers. If you look at each end of the harness where it attaches on the back of the seat to the metal splitter plate, there’s a loop that hooks onto the splitter plate. Some seats have a second loop a couple of inches up on the harness that makes the harness shorter for newborns. If your carseat has that second loop, detach the harness from the splitter plate and reattach it to the second loop to make the harness shorter. You WILL need to know whether the excess strap length goes in front of the splitter plate or behind it and in which harness slots you can use those second loops, so crack open that manual or find it online at the manufacturer’s website because the placement does matter.

SnugRide harness loops  SnugRide harness loops large

I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “I have the harness taken apart, I’m gonna wash this sucker because, boy, it sure looks nastier than I remember it being the last time we used it.” And it’s true! Baby things have a way of producing their own stains over time. And their own Cheerios. It’s some kind of natural law. You can probably get away with throwing the cover in the washing machine on the handwash cycle, but don’t leave me a nasty comment if it falls apart 😉 . You know the drill: consult your manual. Roll it up tight in an absorbent towel then hang it to dry or put it in the dryer if your owner’s manual allows. If your harness is removable and you have a new-fangled phone that takes insta-photographs, pop a couple of photos of how the harness looks before you tear it off the seat so you can remember how to put it back together. Never submerge the harness in water; it’s best to clean with a damp washcloth. If it’s extra nasty, wet a toothbrush with water and go after the spitup that way, then wipe down. You might could (oh darn! there’s that 3 years of living in the South coming back to me) put a drop of mild soap, like Dreft or Ivory or Dawn, on the washcloth, but then you’d have to wipe it down a million times to get it off. What a pain.

Don’t forget that carseats have a lifespan, just like you. It’s not some ploy to get you to toss money at the manufacturers. Plastics break down over time (just like your knees) and each manufacturer uses their own proprietary mix of plastics that determines the lifespan of each carseat they make. Cut back on the fancy clothes your child wears, not the safety items she uses if money is an issue. Look at the label that has the date of manufacture and the model number on it. Sometimes it will have the expiration date on it. Other times the expiration date is stamped into the plastic shell.

SnugRide DOM label SnugRide expiration label

So there you have it: how to reset your infant seat for newborn use. I have to be honest. If you’re not an infant seat user, you can apply all these techniques to a rear-facing convertible seat as well, but most people do use infant seats for their first babes at least, so that makes them pretty popular items to have around (and to borrow). Now, go forth and use that infant seat safely!

Carpool Lanes and Kids

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wooden dummy screen shotI’ve long teased my kids that the only reason I had them was to be able to use the carpool lanes during rush hour. And while they’re a lifelong commitment for a minor convenience, it’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable using the carpool lanes with them as my passengers in the car. I wonder why that is, especially in our society where cops see broomsticks with fake heads and blow-up dolls as passengers.

Long before we had carpool lanes (aka high-occupancy vehicle–HOV–lanes) in my city, we used to have to travel down to Phoenix every other week while my son had his DOC band adjusted (for plagiocephaly). Phoenix, being a modern city, had carpool laneshov and I so wanted to use them but it seemed odd to declare my 8 month old as my 2nd passenger. He couldn’t be seen through the tinting in my van’s windows, so I could very easily have been pulled over wasting both my time and the police officer’s. I never used the carpool lane.

I guess I determined that my children were worthy carpool lane passengers when their heads could be seen through the back window. I have tinting, but you can still see shapes through it. It seemed too much of a risk for me until then. I’ve only received one ticket in my driving career and I don’t mind saying it was for hitting a parked car 6 weeks after I got my driver’s license (a well-deserved ticket that the police officer hesitantly wrote, as I recall). We all do stupid things when we’re 16, right? Like throw toilet paper at future husbands and their friends while driving? Yeah.

When do you feel kids become full-on carpool lane-worthy passengers? Is there a law in your state that dictates an age? Do you even use the carpool lane?