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Straight Talk : Carseat Covers
Straight Talk : Carseat Covers

It is Hot.  Not just a little .... but mind draining body beating hard to breath kind of hot this year.  If you think this heat takes your breath away and wears you out, just think how that little metabolic engine know as your new infant feels out and about in this heat.

Babies all tend to run a bit warmer that the adults that care for them.  The are just little engines that are burning food, building bone & muscle and all that metabolic energy gives off heat! We tend to think that we need to protect our little ones and dress them up, often over-dressing for the weather.  Given the extreem heat in the south (and throughout the country this year) you should be extra careful to dress down your little one.  Lightweight fabrics and minimal clothing should be the go to so your little metabolic engine is as comfortable as possible.  Dressing down the little one will help them when facing the 90 degree plus weather we can expect for the next few months.  Many many parents know this and do a great job of keeping the little ones comfortable in their home, but then venture outside and make some choices that are less wise.

As any parent can tell you, random strangers are often suprisingly familiar with little babies.  Most new parents are shocked how many people just walk up to your new infant child and start touching without asking.  It is for this reason that the car-seat cover has become an important part of the parent's 'out with baby arsenal'  Parents often use a cover over their carseat to function as both protection from sun and wind as well as strangers that want to reach into the carseat carrier and give the baby a little squeeze.  Carseat covers and carseat canopies are great products but have some draw backs as well.

stretch knit carseat cover

enclosed stretch knit carseat cover

minky blanket type carseat cover

fuzzy minky blanket carseat cover

Most carseat covers are just blankets of some type that have been sewn to neatly wrap around or over an infant carrier type of carseat.  They come in a myriad of styles and types.  A majority of the most popular carseat covers are made of a stretch knit fabric that wraps around the entire seat, leaving the baby protected and the handle free for carrying.  The problem with stetch knit is it is just not that breathable.  The inside of the carseat and the baby therein can start to overheat.  Recently there have been more and more warnings from health and safety professionals about taking care wit respect to blankets and covers on carseats and strollers in the hot summer months


The solution is Muslin:

Muslin.  Yes the lightweight open weave fabric that is all the rage in the baby industry is probably the best answer to how to cover the carseat.  This fabric is super breathable since is is so thin lightly woven swaddle blanket as carseat covertogether.  Muslin is slightly tigher weave than cheesecloth but not much and allows supieror breathability.  It is the fabric of choice in swaddling blankets for this very reason.  Because it is so breathable it allows the heat to flow out quickly and not build up inside a swaddled baby as well as in a carseat if using as cover.  Muslin swaddle blankets are extreemly popular and pretty much everybody receives a few for the baby shower.  Muslin swaddling blankets can range from a few dollars to twenty-five dollars or more depending on brand and style, with most popular designer brands less than $20. 

At a minimum grab a lightweight muslin swaddling blanket and toss it over the carseat or stroller when out and about in this heat and leave the stretch knit or minky covers at home. 

Our Favorite Carseat Covers:

By far our favorite (and only product we sell in this category) are the dedicated muslin carseat covers from Little Unicorn.  They are single layer of super breathable 100% cotton muslin that is sewn to function as a carseat cover.  They have an elastic band sewn at the bottom to fit around the carseat and snaps at the top to attach to the carrier handle.... but the best part is that they have a magnetic closure so you can open them up without removing the entire cover to check on the baby.  Eventhough a simple muslin swaddling blanket will work as a good breathable carseat cover, these dedicated products do provide a fitted and easy to function approach.   All the lovely fashion doesnt hurt either.

little unicorn muslin carseat cover

Little Unicorn Carseat Cover

muslin carseat cover with magnetic window opening

magnetic peek-a-boo window in muslin cover

lightweight muslin carseat cover with magnetic window

magnetic peek-a-boo window in muslin cover

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Nuna Pipa Variations – Explained.
Nuna Pipa Variations – Explained.

We think the infant carseat is one of the most important purchases you will make during your first year of child rearing.  We have discussed carseats in general here: “Straight Talk about Carseats”.

The stunning Nuna Pipa infant carseat has become the infant carrier carseat of choice throughout the United States in the last few years and there are actually now three different versions of this car seat. For many consumers the differences are confusing, so we want to help by explaining the three seats and their independent features.

defining characteristics of nuna pipa car seat

Nuna Pipa Car Seat – the original revolution

The Nuna Pipa Infant Car Seat was released a few years ago and was a revolutionary piece of safety equipment because it combined several safety features found on other products into this single seat.  This essentially created one of the safest seats on the market. Specifically, the Nuna Pipa incorporated both a rigid latch installation with a load leg (both of which were not in widespread use) into a single seat; blowing away the competition. By adding additional features like the Okeo-Tex textiles (for a certified clean fabric component), the ‘Dream Drape’, and out of the box compatibility with a range of strollers the original launch of The Nuna Pipa was a revolution.

Nuna Pipa Lite Car Seat

We have detailed the launch of this seat with our review, “New PIPA Lite by Nuna - the 5 pound wonder!”. The major take away on this product versus the Nuna Pipa is that the weight of the carrier has been reduced a whopping 2 pounds without sacrificing the safety or aesthetically pleasing nature of the seat. Additionally a complete second seat liner in an GOTS certified organic cotton is included with this seat.

The one caveat to mention is that the standout cost to this innovation was the removal of the seatbelt pathway on the carrier portion of the seat. On the Pipa (original) there is a belt path on the carrier allowing the car seat to be installed without the base for emergency situations and for use in public transportation (Uber, Cabs, airplanes, etc) so you do not have to carry the heavy carseat base with you. For most families this is a non-issue because they are not utilizing public transportation on a regular or occasional basis (or plan not to during the first year of this new baby’s life). If, in fact, you utilize public transport on a regular basis it might not be the right fit seat for you.

Lastly, noticeably absent on the Pipa Lite is the presence of the Dream Drape that so many families love for the breathable sun protection.  We recommend these breathable muslin magnetic closure car-seat canopies from Little Unicorn as a replacement for the ‘Dream-Drape-less’ Pipa Lite.

Nuna Pipa Lite LX Carseat

The last and most fantastic of the three versions is called LX (for Lux). This overall function and construction of the seat is the same as the Pipa Lite (rigid latch, load leg, 5 pound carrier) However there are two distinct additions to provide that LUX moniker. First, the DREAM DRAPE makes it’s reappearance adding that coveted built-in canopy extension, beloved by most consumers. Second, and more important to many people, is the use of Merino Wool as the seat fabric. Wool is naturally cooling in warm weather and provides some warmth in those cool months. Wool is also one of the few natural fibers that boasts an inherent flame retardant property.

How do I choose which Nuna Pipa is right for my family?

We have a series of questions that can help:

  1. Do you use or plan to use public transportation more than rarely over the next year? - if you answer that you use local public transportation (Uber, Taxies, Ride Sharing) on a weekly basis OR if you plan on Airline Travel with your child multiple times in the next year – We recommend sticking with the Original Nuna Pipa
  2. Do you or any primary care persons have severe back, shoulder or neck injuries/limitations that will be affected by lifting a carseat? – if the answer is yes, we recommend one of the Nuna Pipa Lite or Lite LX
  3. Are you a proponent of Organic and Natural fiber usage as an exclusive approach to your lifestyle? – if yes then we recommend the Nuna Pipa Lite LX

Browse and Shop all NUNA PIPA Car Seats

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Straight Talk - In-line Double strollers
Straight Talk - In-line Double strollers

Get straight forward information about single to double expandable strollers and how they might fit your needs for a family of multiples or family with children close in age. Don't be fooled - there is no perfect stroller. The particular configuration of the second seat has drawbacks and features and we detail those concerns so you can match the right stroller to your lifestyle and family needs. The often daunting offering of strollers that expand to fit multiple children is discussed with our recommendations for different types of families.

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New PIPA Lite by Nuna - the 5 pound wonder!
New PIPA Lite by Nuna - the 5 pound wonder!

We detail the advancements used in developing the new Nuna Pipa Lite infant carseat.  Infant Car Seat carriers are a must have for busy parents and this new 5.3 pound carseat allows easy use while providing one of the safest seats on the market.  Features include a load leg and rigid latch installation.  We also detail the pros and cons of this new seat and who the Nuna Pipa infant carseat is designed for.

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Gear Trade In Event
Gear Trade In Event

Go from Yuck to AHHHH....

This comming weekend join us for our first ever - GEAR TRADE IN EVENT.  As part of our EARTH DAY CELEBRATION we are taking back old used Carseats and Strollers and providing a 20% Discount on a new Stroller or Carseat.

  • 20% OFF on NEW carseat or stroller purchase
  • Cannot be applied to prior purchases
  • Good only April 21st through April 23rd
  • Instore event only - discount cannot be applied to online purchases
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Straight Talk about Car Seats
Straight Talk about Car Seats

I’ve been selling baby products for a large number of years now. I’m starting to see the kids that I originally designed bedding for as an infant come back and they are entering college this year. The Columbia, SC location has been in business for over 35 years so we are now dealing with multiple generations having slept in our cribs or beds. All this experience has taught me something important: occasionally parents need a reality check.  Parenting is hard: being the ultimate ‘decider’ for an infant in your care can be overwhelming.  There are tons of resources for parents and parents to be.  In the age of instant information overload (the internet) it is exhausting trying to process all the information.  A while back I wrote a little post, ‘straight talk about safe sleep’, to hopefully demystify all the noise out there regarding safe sleep practices.  I think it is about time to do the same about an even more important topic: Car Seats

The child survived, uninjured, with help of the carseat.

The child survived, uninjured, with help of the carseat.

Car Seats are the #1 Safety Purchase for your child.

There is not a single other product on the market that is required by a hospital for you to exit their doors after giving birth.  The evidence is sound, ubitiquous and lengthy:  A CHILD IS SAFER IN A PROPERLY USED CAR SEAT.  Most people seem to get this with that sweet little infant that can’t walk or crawl or talk…. but the proper use of car seats drops off quickly after those developmental milestones are reached.

Barriers to Proper Use of Car Seats

This little section might be hard for a few of you to read, but you need to hear this again if it pertains to you.

The barriers to proper uses of car seats are two fold and pretty simple:

  1. parent is not educated about proper use
  2. parent opts out of appropriate use because it is ‘hard’

Of the reasons someone is not using a car seat appropriately, only the first is truly acceptable.  The second one, where the parent’s are opting out…. well, all we can hope is that continued education, peer pressure and encouragement will change that for those parents.  Some of the most common improper uses of carseats and the rationale given by parents are:

pouting child

No pouting, whining, temper tantrums or poor attitude should ever dissuade you from the best practices in safety.

  • transitioning to forward facing earlier than advised : ‘they don’t like it’, ‘so i can see them’, ‘their legs will get cramped’, etc.
  • transitioning out of 5 point harness before advised : ‘they don’t like it’, ‘i needed the seat for a different child’, ‘none of their friends use 5 point’, etc
  • transitioning to seat belt only without booster: ‘they don’t like it’,’none of their friends use a booster’, ‘they won’t have it when they ride with (dad, grandma, aunt sally….), etc.

I hope you can see the trend and the absurdity of these rationales for not using a car seat appropriately.  In almost every case where we have spoken to a parent that is knowingly misusing a child restraint, they are making the decision because the parent ‘perceives’ an issue that doesn’t exist or they have allowed the child to make the determination about their safety.  This is not parenting behavior.  The reality of a severely injured (or dead) child versus the parent’s perception of a child ‘not liking’ their car seat seems like an idiot’s decision.

Recommended Proper Use of Car Seats:

Up to the age of puberty, children are much more susceptible to injury than the same sized adults.  The seats in automobiles and the restraints (seat belts and airbags) are not designed for children.  For these reasons there are some recommendations for best practices in automotive car safety:

  • Fllo_ExtendedRF-1

    Rear-facing to 50lbs/43 inches is our recommendation although most states have a ‘2 year’ law on the books we think longer is better and parents should aim for 4 years.

    Rear Facing – in general a child is safer rear-facing as long as possible.  The limitation on this seems to be the manufacture’s ability to get a seat tested and approved.  Currently on the market, are seats that allow extended rear facing up to 50 pounds and/or 43″ in height.  InSweden this standard of Rear-facing through age 4 is already in place and they are reporting zero fatality rate for children below 6 years of age.  Given their success in protecting children, I would expect other countries in Europe to follow suit.  There are plenty of rear-facing car seats in the US allowing up to 40 lbs.  A handfull of US seats are approaching this from the European standards, including the awesome Clek Foonf and Fllo allowing rear-facing to 50 pounds.  Most states in the US are recommending or requiring 2 years rear-facing and we consider this the bare minimum.  With options available to rear-face until the age of 4, 50 lbs or 43 inches height, smart parents should opt to this proven strategy for protecting their child.  My guess is that there will be new seats hitting the market over the next few years allowing rear-facing upto 60 or more pounds since there is such strong evidence of the protective nature of this position.

  • Fllo_signature-1

    forward face in 5 point harness up to 65lbs and 5 foot tall.

    Forward Facing in 5 point Harness – We recommend keeping a child in 5 point harness as long as physically possible, up to 65 pounds and 5 foot tall.  I know there are plenty of adults below 5 foot height that are not in a 5 point harness, but there are significant differences in bone density and development prior to puberty.  Spinal injuries are most prevalent in children and pre-adolescents due tonot being properly restrained in an automobile accident.  The five point harness on car seats helps in protecting in an accident and the side impact protection in most full size car seats is also extremely protective and beneficial.  Ultimately drawing the line in the sand with a child “you can go to Disney in the carseat, or you can stay home’ might have to occur, but safety is the first concern ALWAYS.

  • oobr booster best in class

    full back booster with side impact protection until 100 pounds or 57″

    Use of Booster – a full back booster with significant side impact protection is recommended for all pre-adolescent children up to 100 pounds and 57″ in height.  This can become a battle of wills between parents and children, but ultimately providing the most protective environment for your child to travel in an automobile is the responsibility of the adult in the relationship.

Final Words and Resources

Unfortunately this was not a ‘lovey-dovey’ article to write.  It might come across as harsh and preachy, for that I am apologetic about the tone, but not the content.  We wish you and your family only the safest of journeys through this life and hope to be a resource in evaluating the fun stuff (like art work and custom bedding, etc) as well as the harder stuff like the ‘right car seat’.  In each of our locations we have multiple CPST (child passenger safety technicians).  Each of these individuals have spent multiple hours training and testing to attain this certification.  They will be happy to assist you in evaluating the install of your existing car seat.  We also offer a selection of, what we consider, the most advanced and safest car seats on the market.  The difference between the most technologically advanced carseat on the market and the one that just ‘meets’ the standards is about $100-$200.   $200 dollars is not a little bit of money, but when you are talking about protecting your child for the next 8 years it just doesn’t seem like something most people need to skimp on.

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Straight Talk About Safe Sleep
Straight Talk About Safe Sleep

Parents today are faced with a myriad of suggestions and proclamations.  So many, in fact, most are petrified to make any decisions.  Friends, family, co-workers, pediatricians, gynecologists, websites, facebook, twitter, google search, pinterest, television news, television in general…. the list of people making suggestions about how you raise your baby is ENDLESS.  So we want to tackle this head on in a concise and clear manner.

What is “Safe-Sleep”

Safe-Sleep is terminology developed by health and safety agencies to address the concerns over the incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and the other child deaths related to sleep situations.  The goal of these organizations is to help reduce these deaths by creating a dialog with parents about best practices.  It is a huge endeavor and has elicited response from everyone in recent years, including the National Institutes of Health, Consumer Product Safety Commission, MULTIPLE non-profit organizations geared to child health, and a whole bunch of others who have some type of vested interest in the outcome (these tend to be product manufactures that are trying to sell something or sometimes trying to keep you from buying something).  The reality is that the message is getting convoluted and hard to understand.  Unfortunately in this day and age, people want a simple solution and latch onto a solitary item that might cause or might protect a child from these horrible outcomes.  The reality is that protecting your child is actually a continuum of behaviors, any single one not sufficient, but taken in concert can help you avoid a potentially horrible outcome.


SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death) is relatively new terminology.  In the last couple of decades investigators into an infant’s death were noticing that what had been termed SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – typically unexplained death of an infant under the age of 1) were often cases that could be explained by some other factors.  Closer investigations found that the cause of death of many of the children could in fact be determined to be other than “unexplained” .  It looks like only about 1/2 of the unexpected deaths are actually SIDS (un-explainable) and the balance are related to suffocation or strangulation in bed. (see Centers for Disease Control article on SUID).  Suffocation and strangulation can be prevented and this is where “Safe-Sleep” really comes into play.

So there are two things at play with safe sleep.

    1. Things that contribute to Suffocation and Strangulation
    2. Things that contribute to SIDS

Suffocation and Strangulation

One of the biggest culprits in these deaths is the improper environment.  ‘Bed-Sharing’, where the baby is actually in the same bed without a barrier from the parent, is considered one of the most dangerous sleeping environments.  Many people misunderstand the terminology around this.  “Co-Sleeping” – where the child sleeps in close proximity to the parent is touted as a robust way to bond with and administer attention to a young infant.  It (Co-Sleeping) is recommended by a myriad of professionals as a great parenting approach.  Unfortunately, many people misunderstand that the approach is not intended to be a ‘bed-sharing’ approach.  ‘Bed-Sharing’ puts the infant at risk for suffocation from the parent or in the parent’s bedding, where co-sleeping in an appropriate separate environment that protects the child.   Additionally, it is thought that those cute naps where the baby is sleeping on mom or dad’s chest on the sofa could be extremely dangerous.  A sleeping parent can in NO WAY monitor a child, and a child can easily slip into a precarious position between a parent and a cushion.  Basically it comes down to keeping the sleeping child in a safe environment of their own!

Strangulation can occur in situations where clothing, blankets, toys or other objects obstruct the child’s breathing passage.  Recent (2010) federal legislation addressed the construction of cribs to prevent strangulation of infants due poor construction methods that could result in child entrapment and strangulation within the crib.  Additional federal measures like recall of certain sleep positioners, changes to bouncers and swings and other products is helping to reduce the likelihood of strangulation deaths.  What is left for the parent is to be sure clothing and other objects in the sleeping environment do not create a risk.

SIDS reduction

This is an area of heated debate and much research.  In the past two years I have seen multiple targets of the cause of SIDS:

    1. premature birth
    2. exposure to drugs and or alcohol in-utero
    3.  low birth weight
    4. serotonin levels
    5. exposure to second hand smoke
    6. cardio-vascular problems
    7. infection
    8. brain anatomy and other genetic factors
    9. lack of breastfeeding
    10. AND MORE

Since there are so many ‘possible’ causes, many of which are still being investigated and many are not preventable, what is a parent to do?

The “Safe-Sleep Approach”

So since safe sleep is actually trying to get at both the ‘possible causes’ of SIDS as well as address the causes of strangulation and suffocation found in many of the SUID cases the approach seems cumbersome and exhausting to parents.  Many of the approaches are not about ‘buying’ something and are all about behavior so this isn’t always an easy task, because it is a daily ritual and not a purchase at your local store.  So HERE GOES:

    1. Purchase or use a CPSC certified crib (those manufactured after 2010) that has gone through federal testing and certification process.  All cribs sold on the open market should meet this criteria at this point.  Retailers and Manufactures in violation of this are subject to enormous federal penalty and are very unlikely to be selling anything but certified cribs.
    2.  Use a firm and supportive crib mattress.
    3. DO NOT BED SHARE  (co-sleep/room share in an appropriate environment for the infant and not in YOUR bed without a barrier between you and your child)
    4. Be diligent about not allowing the child to sleep in alternative environments (napping with mom or dad in the recliner or on the sofa…etc)
    5. Do your best to Breastfeed
    6. Do NOT smoke around child, Do not drink or smoke or do drugs while pregnant
    7. Place child to sleep on their back
    8. Use wearable blankets (swaddle, Halo SleepSack™, infant sleeping bag, etc) rather than loose clothing or blankets
    9. Remove pillows, blankets, toys and other soft products from the crib. Don’t use sleep positioners.
    10. Use a pacifier when you put your child to bed  (this is a weird one but recent studies have found that this is protective against sleep related deaths through an unknown mechanism)  Even if the pacifier falls out during the night it is still protective
    11. Monitor the room temperature (neither too hot or too cool) There are great products out there to address the temp of the room.

Actually this all looks pretty simple.  For more detailed information and some resources, we recommend the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

* a note about monitors: although everyone is looking for the perfect single step solution, monitors are not it.  Monitors are great to help alleviate parental worry and could be helpful in identifying a potential incident, but should not be used as a replacement for all of the above behaviors.  Many people feel that if they use a monitor they won’t have to worry about the rest, in actuality, you should do all of the above and use a monitor as an additional tool.

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