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  • Afternoon Coffee: Booster seats & More

    Baby Cheapskate recommends some booster seats under $50. Angie suggests skipping a high chair and going straight to a booster, because high chairs take up a lot of space and aren’t used for a long time. However, I’m glad we had a high chair because it tilted back. In the beginning, when the boys were just starting solids at 6 months, that was important.

    We’ve had the first booster Angie recommends, the Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat,for four years now and still use it at home. It is super easy to use, and the chair wipes clean easily. However, after all of this use, I can’t get the straps and buckles sparkling clean anymore. We even got two of the cheaper versionto use at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. One word of caution here: the only chairs they have that can accommodate the booster are too wide in the back for the strap that’s supposed to go around. It’s not a big deal since the boys don’t spend a lot of time there, but it’s something to keep in mind. Disclosure: Product links are to Amazon. I’m an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    Another booster Angie recommends is the KABOOST Portable Chair Booster.The Kaboost (pictured, left) slips under a chair’s feet to lift the whole chair up. I received one to review almost two years ago, and we’re still using it. (Read my original review.) I like that Alex can get in and out of the chair by himself but once in a great while, the leg will slip out of the Kaboost and that can be dangerous. Also, the kids can’t seem to help standing on it. I definitely recommend the Kaboost for older children, and not as a substitute for a high chair.

    As for other topics:

    I just finished reading The Futurist,a biography about James Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar. It’s very well written and absolutely fascinating. There’s a compelling anecdote on each page, from how Cameron broke into the film industry at the “Roger Corman School of Film” to how studio execs wanted Matthew McConaughey or Chris O’Donnell to play the role in Titanic that went to Leonardo DiCaprio. The story of how he came to make True Lies was just amazing. And although the book is clearly written with Cameron’s blessing, it doesn’t come across as overly skewed. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.

    Get a printable coupon for $4/1 Method laundry detergent. (Via Deal Seeking Mom.)

    Koupon Karen reports that some Shaw’s stores will have free 2-liter bottles of Diet Dr. Pepper tomorrow (2/21).

    Get a printable coupon for $1 off Yoplait Yo-Plus yogurt.

    The Children's PlaceClick on the banner for a printable coupon for 15% off at The Children’s Place. Through Monday (2/22), they have windbreakers on sale for just $10. Banner via

    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer’s full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

    Safety alert: It may be best to avoid drop-side cribs

    A few months ago, the Baby Bargains Book blog posted about Babies R Us’s decision to stop selling drop-side cribs. The decision came after more than 375,000 Jardine cribs were recalled, costing BRU a lot of money (they’re the exclusive seller of Jardine). The Baby Bargains Book blog suggests that the problem isn’t inherent with drop-side cribs, which have been around for decades without the kinds of problems we’re seeing now, and that the baby gear industry is motivated by the increased profit they could make from non-drop-side cribs.

    I’m no safety expert, but we had two drop-side cribs at one point when Tyler was an infant. His crib was one of the Jardine cribs that was recalled – it cost about $300 and was of noticeably poorer quality than the convertible Simmons crib that we had bought for Alex for almost $600. The drop-side on the Jardine crib worked so badly that I stopped using it – I couldn’t use it one-handed, and it was quite loud. And I’m 5’3″ so you know the drop-side had to be really bad for me to not use it. By contrast, the drop-side on the Simmons crib always worked great.

    From this admittedly tiny sampling, the lesson I draw is that you get what you pay for. Not that $300 is a pittance, but the difference in the quality of the two cribs was dramatic. And, given all of the recalls recently for drop-side cribs, it may be better to play it safe and avoid drop-side cribs simply because the hardware is more complicated. (By my count over at the CPSC site, there have been six recalls involving drop-side cribs since last fall.)

    At the very least, if you have children still sleeping in cribs, you should read this warning from the CPSC about cribs. It includes this list of safety tips for all cribs:

    • Parents should not use any crib with missing, broken or loose parts.
    • Hardware should be inspected from time to time and tightened to keep the crib sturdy.
    • When using a drop side crib parents should check to make sure the drop side or any other moving part operates smoothly on its track.
    • Always check all sides and corners of the crib for disengagement. Any disengagement can create a gap and entrap a child.
    • Do not try to repair any side of the crib without manufacturer approved hardware or with tape, wire or rope.
    • Putting a broken side up against the wall does not solve the problem and can often make it worse.

    Cloth diapers may not be as environmentally friendly as we’ve been led to think + a lesson on misleading reporting

    I came across this British news article that says a new government study has shown that cloth diapers are more damaging to the environment than disposable diapers unless parents practice certain measures, like always line-drying the diapers, using them “for years” on multiple children, and not using excessively hot water in the washer.

    I was suspicious of the article, though. They seemed to be saying the water temperature in the washer shouldn’t exceed 60 degrees Celsius, which is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Consumers in the U.S., at least, have been told for years to set their hot water heater to 120 degrees for both safety and environmental reasons, so I’m not sure how many people would actually be using excessively hot water in the washer.

    But what really confused me was the end of the article, which offers a comparison in which the cloth diapers were “washed at 90C.” If “90C” is 90 degrees Celsius, then it converts to 194 degrees Fahrenheit, which seems absurdly high. And that made me think I just wasn’t understanding something fundamental.

    So I managed to find a direct link to the British government study (pdf). Skipping ahead to the “Conclusion” section on page 21, I found that the true conclusion of the study is that the global warming impact of the “average” use of both types of diapers results in a difference of only 20kg of carbon dioxide equivalents over the course of two and a half years. The disposable diapers come in at 550 kg, while cloth diapers come in at 570 kg.

    The report makes the obvious observation that how the cloth diapers are washed dramatically affects their global warming impact. Washing them in fuller loads, line-drying them, and reusing the diapers on a second child reduced their global warming impact to 370 kg in two and a half years. Conversely, tumble-drying cloth diapers increases the global warming impact to over 800 kg.

    So what’s the bottom line? Cloth diapers aren’t always the environmentally friendly choice. And while I haven’t done the math, my guess is that, depending on your shopping and laundry habits, it may not always be the most budget friendly choice either. (Neither disposable diapers nor laundry detergent – especially the dye and fragrance free kind, which are recommended for babies – are inexpensive.) On the other hand, if you use the cloth diapers on multiple children, wash as few loads as possible, and line-dry the diapers, you’ll probably save both money and energy.

    But if you’re on the fence about what kind of diaper to use, I’m not sure this is a decision you can make ahead of time. In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are some things you just can’t know until after the baby is born. Your child may end up having extremely sensitive skin such that cloth diapers are infinitely more comfortable for him. Or your child may turn out to be so colicky that you don’t have the time or energy to line-dry and fold cloth diapers.

    One final note about an interesting aspect to this study: according to the article (which, as we’ve established isn’t entirely reliable), British government officials have tried to bury the report. I’m not quite sure why, except to guess that someone high up expected the report to show that cloth diapers are far better for the environment, and is crushed that that wasn’t the conclusion.

    Image credit:

    Target carries good, inexpensive crib sheets

    Before Alex was born, I repeatedly read that it was important for safety reasons to get crib sheets that were elasticized all the way around, and didn’t just have elastic at the corners. Fully elasticized sheets are less likely to slip off the mattress and pose a suffocation risk. I remember walking through Babies R Us, scrutinizing every crib sheet package that wasn’t pink to see if it said “fully elasticized” anywhere. I only found two different patterns there.

    It was probably cost that made me pick up a crib sheet at Target the first time. Sheets at Babies R Us were over $15, whereas Circo brand sheets at Target (like this one)were $5.99 or $6.99, depending on whether they were a solid color or had a pattern. Even non-Circo brands like Amy Coe were less than $10. I was thrilled to discover that the Circo brand sheets were fully elasticized, and I’ve been buying them ever since. I think I’ve bought one non-Circo brand sheet and that was fully elasticized too.

    You can probably find inexpensive fully elasticized sheets at Wal-Mart as well. When we were on vacation a couple of years ago, we bought a Carter’s brand sheet at a Wal-mart that was fully elasticized.

    Now if only I could find flannel sheets that are fully elasticized . . .

    No Surprise: Crib Bumpers Aren’t Safe

    Everything I read before and after Alex was born emphasized the importance of an empty crib to prevent SIDS: no blankets, no loose clothing, no loveys, etc. The material I read also said no crib bumpers, though I found almost every friend used them. I understood why people think bumpers are necessary after we stopped swaddling Alex and he migrated all over his crib in his sleep. I ended up with breathable mesh bumpers, which gave me more peace of mind than traditional bumpers would have. They weren’t pretty and they definitely didn’t match, but they got the job done (and were only in the crib for about three months anyway, from the time we stopped swaddling him until he could pull up).

    It turns out crib bumpers might be even more dangerous than people generally think. According to the Baby Bargains blog, the JPMA, a trade organization that supposedly promotes safety, deliberately mislead the public about the CPSC‘s data on crib bumper safety by issuing a release stating that crib bumpers don’t cause deaths, which was in “‘direct contradiction'” to the CPSC’s data.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that the safest crib is one that doesn’t have any bumpers. But I bet parents will still buy (and use) bumpers anyway.