Monday, December 22, 2008

Review : Formula Mixing Pitcher

Dr. Brown's Formula Mixing Pitcher is not something I would have gone out and purchased on my own. My wife is big into kitchen gadgets, and initially I thought this was a gimmick. Boy was I wrong (there, I said it). I've got to hand it to her, this was a great buy. It is the ideal mixing pitcher. More than just Formula, any powder and water combo works great in this thing.

We found it at Burlington Coat near our house, but it's available most places you see Dr. Browns (Wal-Mart, Amazon.com).

The pitcher easily mixes up to 32oz of water with the 16 scoops of powdered formula. This fills the pitcher just about to the 34oz, and will make sure you don't spill and make a mess. The top rotates, to mostly seal the top when you're mixing. A few quick swishes with the handle and you're ready to make bottles.

Win A Free Ergo Baby Carrier

Our favorite store Nature's Child in Charlottesville is branching out with a new website Along for the Ride specializing in various types of child carrying systems. This month they are running a promotion to win a free organic embroidered ergo carrier. Your choice of two styles.

Click the link below for your chance at this great prize.
Win a Free Organic Embroidered Ergo Baby Carrier Hands Free System from Along for the Ride
http://www.alongfortheride.biz/Win-a-Free-Organic-Embroidered-Ergo-Baby-Carrier-s/49.htm

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud Election Day Dad

Proud of getting the chance to take my little guy to vote on Tuesday. What a historic day!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Items Needed The First Few Days After Birth

The list no one told us about:

  • Paper Plates, who has time for dishes
  • Coffee and filters, who can get a normal amount of sleep with a newborn
  • Cool temp swaddles (muslin works great). Why cool? Because you house is heated and cooled. These are great for sleeping in the first few weeks, and won't overheat the baby. Figure a wrap, plus a shirt and hat.
  • Plain infant t-shirts, like the hospital uses, with the hand muffs. These are the easiest to use with swaddling and diaper changes and feeding. A ton of these will fit in one laundry load, and they are not too thick
  • Medications for mom, short list (laxative, stool softener, Motrin, Sudafed if bottle feeding along with a large ace bandage, and a head of cabbage)
  • A case of bottled water. I left this upstairs where mom & baby stayed most of the time the first few days. While healing from surgery, this was one less thing to run up and down stairs.
The 'duh' list
  • Diapers
  • Vaseline
  • Plenty of infant clothes
  • Formula, we had both Enfamil and Similac
  • Moisture pads, early on we've had a lot of leaking diapers.
  • Baby wipes, a case works well to start
  • Laundry detergent, we're using Dreft or the generic equivalent
  • Meals in the freezer

These are the items I can think of that have been critical in the first 2 days back from the hospital with the little guy. I'm sure I'll add to these as time goes on.

Coming Home

The day has finally arrived, and we are now home with Bennett Cooper Metts.



A few quick notes from a new parent:
- the C-Section wasn't as bad as feared, wonderful doctors also make it easier. It kept an anesthesiologist busy.
- the Hospital, although trying to give that hotel room feel, isn't a hotel. You can tell it's managed by medical personnel. But mostly positive.
- A huge thank you to "The Dog House" in Fredericksburg, VA for letting me drop off the dog and change checkout dates as needed.
- I will soon be posting an article on what to have at home that you might not think of (ie a stash of simple baby t-shirts with the finger pockets)
- And finally, one thing we hadn't really considered, even though it's Oct, inside the house it's the same temp as it would be in the summer (70-80 degrees F). So forget the flannel winter wear, baby needs light clothes just like in the hospital. Out of all of the great gifts from family, very few were cool.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Camera Selected - D90

With a baby on the way and the blog popularity rising, the other month I started looking for a digital SLR. I thought I had made my decision, when Nikon releases the press release on their new D90. This dslr has the sensor of a pro camera, but with a price closer to the consumer models. Normally I wouldn't be looking to spend this much on a camera, the blog doesn't make that much $. But this one will serve me two purposes. I can shoot great pictures, and also snag the occasional youtube clip for the blog or of the baby for our parents. All without having to lug around our camcorder and do the tape to pc conversion.

My friend who shoots almost exclusively with Nikon, brought up a good question, which lens do I want? The camera has an option of being bought with an 18-105mm lens, which gets descent wide angle, and zoom to about 6x for those of us used to point and shoot terms. However, the photo community is in love with Nikon's 18-200mm lens. It is a step up in quality construction. Read that to mean also more than double the price. I could look on ebay, but then you don't know exactly the quality of any used equipment.

I just need to make friends with a Nikon rep and offer up blog posts for a long term equipment demo!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stroller Decision - BOB Revolution

My previous post on strollers is here. I've always favored the BOB strollers, they aren't too expensive, and yet are constructed incredibly well. Out and about, people using them always seem to have enough storage, and can easily move their child around no matter how big they are. The one minor drawback is the size, so we'll probably get a smaller umbrella style or Quinny Zapp for use in tight spaces or travel. As of Tuesday, we are the proud owners of a brand new BOB Revolution in Mesa Orange.

If you've ever thought of getting one, now is the time. REI is having and end of summer sale, with 20% off. I have not seen these prices available anywhere else on the internet. I also discovered that BOB makes a conversion kit to make the stroller into a 3 wheeled cargo cart. Maybe that's why you never see them on Craigslist. Hurry, to save 20%, place your order before 9/1.

We chose to go to our local REI store in Alexandria VA, since it's close to my work. This saved us the shipping costs. The sale is both online and in the store. If you can't make it to the store before 9/1, you can always buy online and pickup in the store later.

Back to our decision, you will find that the BOB strollers get very high marks at several compare sites. In the running for us were the Baby Jogger City series, BOB Revolution, Bugaboo Cameleon or Frog, and Stokke Xplory. These higher end strollers covered a series of uses, some off road, some semi-joggers, some combinations. I like the Stokke, with it's elevated reversable seat. What eventually won us over on the BOB was evaluating the uses it which it will be used. We live in a neighborhood with several quiet streets, but no sidewalks. We also plan on taking it to our downtown, across uneven surfaces, and to a regular vacation house where the driveway is crushed shells and often we cut through the yard. To do all of these, we needed something with good shocks, larger wheels, sturdy construction, and we had to like the way it looked and performed. The way BOB uses fabric at the base instead of plastic, was appealing, the tires were in the right size range, it has amazing ability over rough surfaces.

As I stated before, the only drawback on these strollers, is their ability to travel. At 23lbs (10kg), it's heavy, and the folded size isn't exactly a carry on for an airplane. For travel we're eyeing the Quinny Zapp, because of it's folded size alone. Inside the case, you might not even have to gate check the bag, and one thing I want to be sure of is getting out of the airplane as quickly as possible with a little one. Also in the running are the Inglesina Zippy, and Maclaren Volo. Of course there are always the simple umbrella strollers you see at every store. Cost vs. function may lean more towards costs on the small stroller.


One resource that I found especially helpful were the video reviews posted by Baby Gizmo. You can check out the videos either on their site or on YouTube.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New SLR Cameras

The field of entry level SLRs is getting pretty crowded, with my top 3 favorites each having features, but no one having all features. I'm looking to upgrade from the point-and-shoot, to a digital SLR. Even though these are considered entry level, the complexities, and possibilities are pro level compared to what was available a few years ago.

I'm looking at models by Canon, Kodak and Sony. In http://www.popphoto.com/, the 2008 editors choice in this field is the Canon Rebel XSi, last year the top model was the Nikon D80, and after many years of using point-and-shoot, and considering the shots used for this blog, the Live View and moveable LCD make the Sony A350 is very appealing.

Pros
Canon XSi - good color reproduction, uses SDHC cards like my existing Canon (and laptops), has live view, but has a number of limitations.
Nikon D80 - Feels good in the hand, compatible with a wide range of older Kodak lenses, including older auto focus lenses that don't have the motor in the lens. Uses SD cards. No live view. A good friend uses Kodak, and can offer free advice and tips for this model. Nice Kodak 18-200mm lens with optical stabilization.
Sony A350 - Live View, Movable LCD screen for shots over a crowd, second place in 2008 editors choice from Popular Photography. Best price.

Cons
Canon XSi - limitations on live view, no Canon 18-200mm lens
Nikon D80 - expensive
Sony A350 - worst performance in low light situations. Uses compact flash, not SD.

I'm leaning toward the Sony, since my purpose for getting the camera doesn't include pro-level enlargements of photos. At best, I'm probably looking at 11x17. Plus with the baby on the way, I have other expenses, and the lower cost makes this camera more appealing. Sony is relatively new, but this camera is born from the Konica-Minolta product lines. However, it will require getting a compact flash to SDHC card adaptor, since popping the SD card in the laptop is the easiest way to download photos.

[UPDATE 8/28] Nikon has announced the new D90, which includes in addition to Live View, some type of movie recording. Will this drive down the price on the D80? If they do Live View in a way that doesn't impact auto focus speed like the Sony A300/350, will that lower the price on the Sonys since there is now added competition? I've been eyeing the Sony A300, after I decided there was no real reason for me to need 14M pixels. I wonder if Sony is trying to think of a way of picking off the live view mode as a movie? Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

DadLabs videos

There is a great Video Blog that also covers gadgets, issues, etc of other creative Dad's. Check out their vblog at:
www.dadlabs.com

Congress Acts on What Parents Already Insist On

We had already agreed that no BPA products were going to be used with our child. And I was really happy when my brother and sister-in-law returned all of their baby bottles for my neice to get BPA-free versions (not exactly a cheap thing to do), we had yet to encourage them to do this. The literature has been overwhelming against this additive, based on studies mostly in European countries.

Boy was I surprised when today Congress actually passed a bill against this and other toxins in baby products. Wow, common sense prevailed? The article in the Washington Post was actually a bit comical to read. Here one side takes the "there is no scientific proof", yet on the pro side, there is documented studies. Um, proof? We're talking about our children here. Sure, maybe you could discredit one study, but there there are the lab rat studies...

So I went looking around the Internet, and found this great site on another blog. A Cheat Sheet for Paraben and Phthalate free products:
http://safemama.com/2008/02/10/cheat-sheet-paraben-phthalate-free-baby-care/

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Baby Weight - what is ideal

Over the 4th of July holiday I was able to visit with my 10wk old niece. She's steadily growing, and loves to interact with all the new faces and objects around her. Expecting a boy in a few months, it got me to thinking about ideal weight & growth, and somewhere along the way I spotted a news article about the standard growth tables.

In 2000, the US CDC released updated tables in use by pediatricians all across the nation. These tables are freely available, and every parent has probably seen them (copies here).

Then in 2006 the World Health Organization released their own growth charts (Media page here and detailed chart pages here).

The CDC subsequently has posted this statement on their website.
The Department of Health and Human Services (CDC and NIH) and the American Academy of Pediatrics convened an expert panel in June to consider using the new WHO charts versus the CDC charts. The panel compared the 2000 CDC growth charts to the new WHO charts and examined how U. S. children might be assessed differently using the two references. Guidance will be developed for appropriate use of these growth charts for monitoring growth within the US Population.
An expert panel was formed in 2006, but so far they have not posted any results on the website.
The WHO charts show a lower weight gain than the US charts. This difference is not small either, at 12 months old, the WHO charts average is 21.1lbs, while the CDC charts are 22.7lbs. That is a difference of 7.5%. My non-scientific survey (looking around at travelers, passing through airports each month), I would tend to agree that European children show less "baby-fat" than US infants. There are also several references on the CDC and WHO websites to lower weight gain after 2 months for breast fed infants. CBS recently did a show on early weight gain and the risk for obesity later in life. Sounds like more research is coming, as well as some detailed questions for the pediatrician after birth.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baby Names

I'm trying to pretty much leave this one up to my wife, but of course you can't at least spend a few minutes searching the good 'ol Internet for a few big hitters. Here are my favorite sites so far.

www.babynames.com
www.thinkbabynames.com
www.babyhold.com
www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/
www.darrenbarefoot.com/archives/2007/03/29-really-geeky-baby-names.html
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Most_popular_given_names

And of course all of your non-Internet addicted friends will refer you to the endless baby name books. The top 100 Amazon baby name books are here.

Sorry, can't share the list of names, for fear of the infamous 'Seven' episode on Seinfeld.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Infant Car Seats - Beginning the search

Last year Consumer reports incorrectly tested infant car seats. The impact they subjected the test vehicle to were much more rigorous than specified in the test. However, even with all of this, two car seats still passed.

This website still lists the two (Snugride & Flex-Loc):
http://www.consumersearch.com/www/family/baby-car-seats/

With both of us having science backgrounds, this is a no-brainer, go with test verified quality. I see that many new models now contain EPS foam padding.

So most of my research here just included looking at what infant seats were compatible with which strollers. The best resource was this compatibility matrix:
http://www.elitecarseats.com/catalog/product_matrix.jsp?groupId=102&categoryId=500&sortKey=NAME

Next Research Challenge - Strollers

Strollers, wow, where to being.

- there are the high end - like the Stokke Xplory
- there are high end, but not as expensive, Bugaboo Cameleon, Quinny Buzz
- there are rough road/limited jogging strollers, Bob Revolution, Phil & Teds, Baby Jogger
- there are compact ones, all umbrella strollers, Quinny Zapp (smallest folded size I've found)

I will be posting more on this topic as I get time (tons of internet searches in the history). Right now we're leaning toward two strollers, the Bob Revolution for more extensive outings, and a Quinny Zapp (4 wheel US version) for travel.

Organic Mattresses

One of the first things we identified (through the help of "Raising Baby Green") was the desire to use organics, particularly for the crib mattress. Easier said than done, try to find a store in your area that carries organic mattresses. So it was off to the Internet to do some more research.

The biggest retailer I was able to locate online was Naturepedic. They have an entire line of various combinations. The use of organic cotton provides a natural flame retardant, one of the biggest chemical problems with non-organic mattresses.

During a trip to a local store, I found that another option is the Colgate natural coir fiber mattress. This fiber based solution wrapped in organic cotton gives a firm backing for a crib.

Our final decision is the Naturepedic 2 and 1 (infant hardness on one side, toddler on the other with more spring). The use of inner springs is appealing since it allows for the double sided use which will extend our usable time. Since this is not a cheap crib mattress, this should help us save over time.

I normally don't recommend using a manufacturer's website to research topics, however, Naturepedic does a very good job of describing the benefits of organic mattresses. Visit there FAQ here.

Specifically we will be going to Charlottesville, VA to pick this up at one of our favorite stores The Nature's Child (mattress link here).

This Blog

In this blog, I'm going to attempt to relay information about research Gail and I are doing throughout the raising of our child. We're starting out with almost nothing (I think we have several books right now, a handful of infant cloths, and maybe one or two toys). This way you can see and comment on what we're finding.

We live in a small city (Fredericksburg, VA) between Washington DC and Richmond VA. It's a nice community, with many amenities. Though sometimes finding some moderate to high end baby gear is a challenge. Come experience this journey through our blog.