Car Seat Shopping For Beginners

My son and our daughter-in-law are expecting in about a month and we could not be more excited. Of course, as doting grandparents we plan on spoiling our first grandchild in every way possible. We also know how tight money is when you are having a child so we are thrilled to help out when we can. A car seat is our first effort to help share some of the burden with them, especially since this is can be one pricey but necessary piece of equipment. When we started shopping for a child safety seat we did not realize just how many options are available or how many different types of car seats there were to choose from. It was a bit of an education for us, so we thought we would share some of what we learned.

Thankfully we could find all of the information that we needed online, which was a much different experience than we had our first child back in the day. We found a lot of helpful parenting sites that let us understand which kind of seat would be best for our needs. Once we decided on the type of seat we wanted we could then go shopping with the knowledge to make a good choice.

Various Kinds of Car Seats

Since it had been decades since we had the need to use a car seat we just didn’t realize how far they have come. This was our first hurdle, but it was nothing major.

Infant Seats

This is just as the name implies. Infant car seats are designed for newborns and they come with the proper support for the head and neck region. This is important because young babies are not developed enough in that area of their bodies to support the weight of their own heads. This type of car seat has a very short shelf life, usually 18 months to 24 months max since their weight limit is usually around the 35 lbs mark.

Advantages

Easy to carry – Most infant seats come with a handle so that you can easily remove your child from the car or carry them back and forth with ease. They are a lot lighter in weight than convertible car seats which makes it easier to transport your child.

Stroller Compatibility – A lot of today’s infant seats are compatible with different strollers. This will enable you to simply lift the seat and snap it into the stroller. This added convenience is a huge plus for parents that love to use strollers.

Disadvantages

Short Time of Use – Since these types of seats are specifically designed for small children you will end up having to buy a convertible seat eventually when they quickly outgrow it. This means an extra added cost somewhere in the near future.

Convertible Car Seats

These are very popular options for parents since it can be used for a longer period of time, even with newborns.

Advantages

More Economical – You only have to buy one seat for the first few years of your young one’s life. They are recommended for children from 5 to 65 lbs. Once they outgrow them you will probably have to get a booster seat, but that is further down the road.

Multiple Facing Positions – They are called convertible because they can be used in rear-facing mode for small children and forward-facing for larger kids. Great flexibility, especially if you have more than one child of varying ages.

Disadvantages

Weight – These safety seats are going to a lot heavier and harder to move in and out of the car than an infant seat. It can be quite a workout if you want to switch between different vehicles and some parents just end up getting multiple seats to avoid this, one for each car.

Stroller Compatibility – What is a plus for infant seats is a negative for convertible seats. You cannot easily lift these with a handle and they will not snap into strollers like infant seats.

Booster Car Seats

This is the final type of seat that you need and is a transition piece of equipment. Once your child outgrows their convertible car seat they probably won’t be tall enough to use your vehicles standard seat belt right away. Using a booster seat ensures that the seat belt fits over their body properly so that it won’t cause injury by riding too high in case of an accident. This is also a very important piece of safety equipment you should be prepared to purchase when the time comes.

We Went The Convertible Route

After speaking with our daughter-in-law we decided to go with a convertible car seat. She said she wasn’t sure how if she would get any use out of the stroller advantages of an infant seat and thought just using one seat was a better option. Once we heard that we could then find something that both parents and their precious child would enjoy using. This is where we could really hone in and find something that was the perfect fit for them. This part was actually fun, since all of our education was almost complete. We took advantage of the reviews on Great Plains Examiner to narrow down our options and we found a convertible child seat we feel our little granddaughter will love riding in all while being protected from something unfortunate happening.

Having a child is an expensive and nerve racking experience for the entire family. This is why we are so blessed to be in our position to help out when we can. We started by purchasing a convertible safety seat for our granddaughter, but rest assured this is just the first step in our quest to spoil her.

Get Your Kids To Eat Healthy With A Toaster Oven

Toaster oven benefits

Being a parent, one of the last things that I want to do when I get home from work is to slave over a hot stove to prepare a decent meal for my family. It is so much easier to get something out of the freezer that is already made or to order in. But after many of these types of days of quick fixes I started to feel guilty about what was actually in the food that I was feeding my family. I started to look for healthy alternatives that would save me some time without compromising the ingredients. This is when I came across how a toaster oven can help me accomplish both of these goals. I always thought these small appliances were just mainly use for making toast or heating frozen pizzas, but I could not have been more wrong.

Finding a quality model was not that hard. After examining the latest countertop oven reviews online, I found that Breville, Cuisinart, and Kitchenaid all make excellent toaster ovens. My final choice came down to features and budget. I ended up getting a Breville Smart Oven, but there were many other ovens I’m sure that would have performed just as well in my kitchen.  So if you end up buying a toaster oven, these are the brands that I would stick with.

Now that I have used it over the last year, it is easy to see how having one of these in my home has benefited me and my family.  It really has help transform the way that we eat and my attitude towards cooking.  Here is a quick list of some of the advantages of using a toaster oven that I have discovered.

Huge Time Saver

Little things like quick preheat and convection cooking have really reduced the amount of time that I really need to think about using an oven.  A smaller oven will heat up faster, pretty logical, but it never occurred to me how those minutes add up.  Hitting a button then a few seconds later having it ready to cook is a real luxury.

My Breville oven happens to come with a convection cooking function which basically circulates the air inside of the machine to ensure everything is done evenly.  This also helps concentrate the heat so things cook a little bit faster without burning or sacrificing flavor.  Again, it may be just a few minutes, but they add up.  These two things alone have probably saved me a few hours alone over the course of the year.

In turn, my attitude has changed a little when I go to prepare a meal now that I know that it won’t take as long.  It seems a little less like work, so I enjoy doing it more often.  This has gone a long way to also increase the number of different dishes that I try and cook and experiment with some tasty and healthy toaster oven recipes that I find online.

Control Over Ingredients

Now that I enjoy cooking a little more and actually look forward to it I actually do it more often.  And one of the perks of home cooking is that you can control what goes into each and every meal.  For the health conscious mom, this is a real blessing.  You know exactly what is going into your kid’s tummies and you can feel good about what they eat.  It sounds corny, but this actually leaves me with a real sense of pride.

With a good toaster oven, you will be able to roast, broil, bake, and cook just about every kind of recipe that you can do in a full sized oven, which means there is no limits to the nutritious meals that you prepare.  Only it won’t take as long.  Having at least one meal a day that you have control over will help ensure that your children’s diet is somewhat positive.

Easier To Clean

This is another obvious observation, but having a smaller oven is a lot easier to maintain.  Most of them come with non-stick interiors which wipe up extremely easy with just a damp rag. However, I would make sure to keep an eye on crumb tray accessibility when shopping.  I have seen some ovens where you can only get to it from the back, which is not really that convenient.

Energy Savings

This is something that I have heard, and it makes sense, but it is not something that I have actually calculated.  You would think that a smaller oven that is on for a less amount of time would use less energy.  It sounds good to me, so I am going to go with that.

Enjoyment

This is the one thing that kind of hit me after a few months, but I now enjoy going into the kitchen and cooking for everyone.  I try to use the Breville countertop oven whenever I get a chance and it does not seem like a chore anymore.  Some days I actually look forward to getting home to see what magic I can create in the toaster oven.  This is something that I would never have imagined a year ago and even I am surprised.

If you are ready to take back control of what your family eats and you want to make something that is not only healthy for them, but they will also enjoy eating, then get a toaster oven and see how it can change your feelings toward spending more time in the kitchen.  You just might be surprised as well.

 

Should You Purchase A New Running Stroller?

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A number of new mothers often look for ways to shed some of the weight that they gained during pregnancy and a jogging stroller seems like it would be a good way to work off a few pounds while also spending some time with their children. However, these shelling out quite a bit of money for one of these higher end pieces of equipment is not going to be a good investment for everyone. Before you make an impulse buy, it is important to figure out just what you hope to get out of a new running stroller and whether or not it is something that you will actually end up using on a regular basis.

The higher quality models typically cost between $200 and $400 or more so if you are trying to find the best jogging strollers it will be a hefty investment. If you have more than one child and need a double running stroller, then the price will be significantly higher. This is not a decision to take lightly unless you have money to burn. So you should ask yourself some tough questions and be honest with yourself before hitting the “Buy Now” button.

Who Should Not Buy A New Jogger?

Despite all of your good intentions to get healthier, lose some weight, or find new activities to do with your children, you might fit into a certain group where a new stroller may just add to your collection of stuff you have used only a few times and then put it in the corner of the garage to collect dust. Ask yourself some of the questions below to see if you will be able to get the most out of a new stroller

Do you currently own a treadmill that you have transformed into a clothes rack? This could be the biggest indication that a new jogger may not be the smartest choice for you. If you cannot find the time or energy to use something that provides a convenient way to exercise indoors then how are you going to find the energy to constantly go outside and sweat in the heat. If you have any piece of home exercise equipment that now has another use other than exercise, then a jogging stroller is not going to be for you.

running-stroller-reviewsWhen was the last time that you have actually run anywhere? For a lot of us, running is something we gave up as soon as we became young adults. We tend to slow down, and a brisk walk is the fastest we usually move. If you were never that big into running, then chances are you may not ever be that big into running. Getting a regular stroller may be the better and more economical move here.

Do you like the heat, or sweating? This is a very small thing, but some people tend to stop at the first sign of sweat. How are you going to feel not only running in the heat, but also trying to take care of a crying child who needs a diaper change in the middle of a run. If this is not appealing to you then you might want to pass on the running stroller.

Have you ever had a year long gym membership that you have never used? We all start out with the intent to get back into shape, but once we find out it actually takes work the commitment needed to continue starts to wane. We tend to repeat the same patterns as we go along in life. If this has happened to you then you should save your money for something that you will actually use.

Now if you fit any of the above criteria, but you have already bought a new jogging stroller then all is not lost because you don’t actually have to run to get use out of it. They can also be used for walking. These types of strollers tend to be a little bit heavier and bigger, but they can still function as an everyday stroller, albeit a little more costly.

Who Should Go Ahead and Get A Jogging Stroller?

This answer is rather easy. If you love to run, exercise and stay active outdoors then getting one of these makes perfect sense. If you loved to jog, run marathons or hike before you had children, then getting a high quality jogger is the perfect opportunity to introduce your children to world outside while also getting yourself back into shape. Parents who are healthy tend to pass on those same habits to their kids who end leading healthier lives. Kids typically love to go on their “outdoor adventures” with their parents, so having one of these types of strollers is a wonderful way to have an enjoyable family experience. For a lot of active parents, getting a running stroller is a very sound investment that will more than pay off for itself in the long run (no pun intended).