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Monthly Archive:: May 2011

Recommended Infant Carseats for Preemies & Multiples – CarseatBlog’s List of Best Bets

Everyone understands that low birthweight babies often come with challenges. However, most expecting parents don’t consider the possibility that the carseat they bought or chose to put on their baby registry might not fit baby well if she or he arrives early or is smaller than average at birth.

Of course, you often have no idea ahead of time that you’re going to have a preemie or smaller-than-average term baby.  But if you’re expecting multiples, have a history of preterm labor or just a history of delivering small babies then you really want to be prepared with a carseat that is likely to fit the baby/babies well regardless of whether they’re 4 lbs or 9 lbs at discharge.   

Unboxings: Chevy Volt, Britax B-Safe. Reviews coming soon!

Here are a couple previews of things to come at CarseatBlog later this month!

The Britax B-Safe infant seat (arriving at stores in June) looks very nice at first glance; smaller, lighter and less expensive than the Chaperone.  Plus, with bottom harness slots around 5″ torso height, it appears to fit the 4-pound Huggable Images premature infant doll, even without an insert!

The Chevrolet Volt is oh-so-sweet.  Everyone takes a second look as you silently approach, then cruise away!  I’ll be driving in style for a week, but will also be sad when it has to go.  As usual, I surprised Jon with it when I picked him up from kindergarden…

*And no I didn’t take my eyes off the road, I just turned the camera around with the hand that wasn’t on the wheel. (Blogging and Drving performed by an expert driver on a familiar course.  Please don’t try this at home!)

Staying Afloat

Most people know me as a child passenger safety advocate, but few know that before I developed my obsession with car seats, my child-safety passion revolved around drowning prevention. With summer fast approaching, the topic is more pertinent than ever.

There are many steps people can–and should–take to prevent drownings. Fences, alarms, pool covers, and, of course, parental supervision. Another layer of protection comes from teaching children how to swim. If your young children don’t already know how to swim, please consider enrolling them in lessons.

This has been a bit of a controversial topic in the past. For a long time the American Academy of Pediatrics advised against swimming lessons for children under age 4. They said there was no proof that swimming lessons for smaller children did any good. They also worried that parents wouldn’t watch their kids as closely if they thought their kids could swim.

The problem is that it’s very difficult to prove a negative. How can we demonstrate that a child didn’t drown because that child had taken swimming lessons, or that they would have died had they not taken lessons?

It’s also true that some parents probably would become complacent and not watch their kids around water because they figure their child is “drown-proof,” but that is where emphasis on parental supervision needs to come in.

Last year the AAP did wind up revising their recommendations to include swimming lessons for children over age 1. They still wouldn’t be thrilled with my having enrolled both of my children in lessons at six months–again because there’s no proof it helps–but they do now believe that toddlers and preschoolers can benefit from learning to swim or learning water survival skills.

I liken swimming lessons to teaching kids how to cross the street. You don’t want a 2-year-old crossing the street alone, but that doesn’t mean you don’t talk to him about it. You tell him not to run into traffic, to cross while holding hands with an adult, and to look both ways. You certainly never expect him to be alone next to a street street, but if he ever is, maybe there’s a chance that he’ll remember your lessons.

The same goes for water. We never expect our children to be near a pool, river, lake, or ocean by themselves, but even the most attentive, careful parents have lapses or miscommunications. If young children find themselves near water, isn’t it better that they have learned about potential dangers? If they wind up in the water, isn’t it better that they have learned skills that might save their lives?

Of course knowing how to swim or get out of a pool is only one aspect of a cohesive system of safeguards. I like the “Safer 3″ approach to pool safety:

  • Safer Water: Install barriers and maintain safety equipment
  • Safer Kids: Have constant adult supervision and teach kids to swim
  • Safer Response: Know CPR and first aid, and have a phone with you at all times

In the coming months, play safe around the water, buckle up, stay hydrated, and try not to get a sunburn. (I have already failed on that last point–hopefully you’ll be luckier.) Most of all, enjoy time with your family and have a fun-filled summer!

2011-2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review: Minivan Alternatives That Don’t Guzzle Gas

When the 2011 Highlander Hybrid was announced last fall, it finally fit into our family friendly reader demographic.  I had actually considered buying a 2006 “HiHy” back when I bought my minivan.  It lacked family seating flexibility at the time, due to a minimal set of top tether anchors, an optional 3rd row seat that folded in one piece and fuel economy that was actually lower on the highway than my Honda Odyssey.

That changed for 2011 with a mid-cycle refresh.  Well, it’s still lacking anything more than the minimum of LATCH and top tethers, though families with older kids like mine may no longer need them.  The updated model improved its fuel economy slightly overall and includes Exhaust Gas Recirculation and Cooled Exhaust Heat Recovery systems found on the Lexus RX450h to improve cold weather fuel economy.  Toyota added a standard, split-folding third row seat, too.  The Hybrid also received a facelift in front, blue optitron guages inside and blue trim touches outside.  Until some company has the guts to make a hybrid minivan, there’s really only one contender for the fuel efficient family truckster category if you can still find one.  The 2011 Highlander Hybrid.  This also applies as a 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid review as the new model is essentially unchanged.  Let’s start this review with its main selling point.

Fuel Economy:

Some drivers will break even on a hybrid quickly, if they drive a lot of miles when gas is expensive.  More important to other families, however, is simply cutting their use of gasoline.  This not only reduces pollution and greenhouse gases (EPA Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle rating), but it also cuts dependence on foreign oil.  Gas mileage is perhaps the best reason to consider a 2011 Highlander Hybrid.  EPA estimates of 28 city, 28 highway and 28 overall don’t sound all that great, but according to www.fueleconomy.gov, it’s about 50% better than competitive models like the Honda Pilot, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9 or Chevy Traverse that typically get only 16-17 mpg in town, 18-19mpg overall.