Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pimp My Ride - Phil & Ted's Sport

When we were cruising around a while ago in our Phil & Ted's Sport, I was thinking about how we ended up with the  mix of storage/sun/trouble-shooting solutions that we have.  Most of them aren't made by Phil & Ted (sorry guys).  Here is a quick rundown of how we pimped out the Phil & Ted's Sport (not out of vanity, but out of necessity):

We started with the Phil & Ted's "Hang Bag" console and quickly returned it.  The three pockets - in order - are: bottle, larger unstructured zippered pocket, bottle.  Both of the bottle pockets are open on the bottom which is great for bottles or sippy cups, but no help if you want to drop - say - your house keys or your phone in there (if you do, they will bean the child in seat #2).  We found the center zippered pocket to be too large, too deep, too dark and generally too easy to lose things in.

Out of necessity we strapped on our Baby Jogger City Mini Console and found that it fit perfectly.  It has three structured pockets - in order - are: mesh cup/bottle holder, square flip top "cooler" pocket, and another cube shaped compartment.  The mesh cup holder mesh on the sides and solid on the bottom so it is great for an iced coffee or your keys or loose change (or all of the above).  The two square pockets are solid, structured cube shapes and are great for Blackberry/phone, mittens, bows, toy trucks, etc.  I use one of them for a pump bottle of hand sanitizer, a travel pack of tissue and a lip gloss.

Supplemental Storage
There are no seat back pockets so where to put your wallet?  Due to the placement of the second seat (and tipping issues) you can't attach a diaper bag to the Phil & Ted's Sport.  I've seen a few creative parents figure out how to attach one to the side of the stroller frame, but it is very difficult to attach/detach.  Phil & Ted's came out with the Mini Diddy (tot-sized mesenger bag that attaches to the back of either seat), but it doesn't hang flush to the back of the seats so doesn't work well for practical day to day walking around.  It basically bangs you in the shins the whole time.

The Phil & Ted's Pannier Bags give a little bit less than a grocery bag's worth of storage.  It is unstructured so it tends to look floppy when it isn't full of nice, lightweight square things (like maybe kleenex boxes), but with one on each side it can add a lot of storage.  All that extra storage comes at a small price.  If you put one on each side it becomes very difficult to reach into the main basket from the side anymore.  The straps for the bag clips are also a bit long and can drag on the ground.  We choose not to do them because the storage was too unstructured and they gave the stroller a much wider profile and a sloppier look.

Instead we chose to go with a pair (sometimes a trio) of Skip*Hop Saddle Bags.  One on each side and one on the bar taht runs along the top of the 2nd seat.  The small size of the Skip*Hop Saddle Bag means it doesn't hold a ton , but it gives you a great place for your wallet, wipes and a few diapers (it can even hold a Potette + diaper).

Rain Cover
So we bought the Phil & Ted's double rain cover.  Its bulky (350 cubic inches tightly rolled), but it fits pretty well.  Just make sure to put the second seat upright (non-reclined).

Sun Shades
If you've met me driving my P&T in the summer you've probably heard me gripe about the TERRIBLE sunshade on the P&T Sport.  Really - they're a joke.  If the sun was shining down on you from directly above, it would provide shade for Tot #1's head (but not her shoulders, arms, body or legs).  Since the second seat is tucked behind and underneath the first seat, Tot #2's legs are always shaded (but not necessarily his head, shoulders, arms, etc).  You get my picture.  The "sunshade" looks kind of like a sunshade, but it does not actually provide any shade from the sun.

I love the Protect a Bub Compact Sunshade and the Protect a Bub Tandem Sunshade (shown) which provide great sun coverage (UPF 50+) and store very compactly (included 8"x8" drawstring bag).  They attach to the stroller with a set of fabric ties and can easily be pulled back/tucked up to take kids in or out of the stroller without having to fully remove the sunshade.  They are also cross-compatible with a lot of other strollers so it is something you can hand down to friends, siblings, etc. after you're done with strollers.

For the babe we started out with the Phil&Ted's Cocoon, but quickly returned it.   It was very, very snug fit in the 2-child infant mode and was difficult to get in/out of the reclined main seat.  If you live in a cold climate and need bundlers, the toddler size JJ Cole Urban BundleMe is a good option with a little compromising.  For the main seat, skip the elastic band and pull the top pocket over the top of the seat (you may need to undo the two clips at the top of the seat under the canopy).  The child shoulder straps should hold the rest in place.  For the second seat, pull the elastic band all the way around the seat frame and pull the top pocket over the top of the fabric portion of the seat (below the bar).  If you are using this in infant mode (second seat mounted on top, main seat fully reclined),  you can use the second bundler in the full reclined main seat.  Just make sure to tuck the top portion of the bundler away from the baby's face.

Potty Seat
If you have a toddler you probably will need a potty seat.   And it just so happens that my favorite potty The Pottette Plus seat fits pretty well in the Skip*Hop Saddle Bag which can be strapped on the side of the stroller frame. 

Mommy Hook Stoller HangerFor a light grocery shopping trip, bulky/heavy items are best stuffed in the basket under the stroller (if you have room), but you can hang a couple bags of lighter items off a pair of MommyHooks on either side of the handlebar.   The MommyHook is one of my favorite inventions.  Between all of our strollers, I think I own about six of these.  Two have already been worn to death and had to be replaced.  Make sure to balance your load equally between hooks, checking that the bag don't swing near child #2's head, and make sure you install the clip opening facing out for easy access.  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Quick Favs - Outdoor Play Blankets

JJ Cole Collections All-Purpose Blanket, Gray/RedSo spring is in the air and the park is starting to look inviting!  We searched high and low for the best outdoor play blanket and among our mommy friends the JJ Cole Essentials Blanket is our hands-down favorite.

It weighs less than 5 pounds and unfolds into a generous 5' x 5' square.  The exterior is waterproof and both sides easily wipe clean with a washcloth (or Clorox wipe).  It also folds easily back into shape and the attached velcro flap seals it into a 15" x 10" 5" rectangle.  It fits in the bins of most strollers and the detachable shoulder strap makes it just as easy to throw across your shoulder.

Plus is comes in a bunch of fun colors and patterns!

The Neat Sheet Ground Cover, 57 x 77 Inches, Single RollThe disposable Neat Sheet is a close second since it easily fits in the washer and for under $10 if it gets really disgusting you don't feel too bad about throwing it away.

Friday, March 12, 2010

CPSC - Sling Safety Warning

Here is the CPSC warning that just came out regarding safe practices with sling style carriers:

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs 
Washington, DC 20207 

March 12, 2010
Release #10-165  

CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Infant Deaths Prompt CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers for Babies

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is advising parents and caregivers to be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months of age. In researching incident reports from the past 20 years, CPSC identified and is investigating at least 14 deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers, including three in 2009. Twelve of the deaths involved babies younger than four months of age.

Slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards to babies. In the first few months of life, babies cannot control their heads because of weak neck muscles. The sling's fabric can press against an infant's nose and mouth, blocking the baby's breathing and rapidly suffocating a baby within a minute or two. Additionally, where a sling keeps the infant in a curled position bending the chin toward the chest, the airways can be restricted, limiting the oxygen supply. The baby will not be able to cry for help and can slowly suffocate. 

Many of the babies who died in slings were either a low birth weight twin, were born prematurely, or had breathing issues such as a cold. Therefore, CPSC urges parents of preemies, twins, babies in fragile health and those with low weight to use extra care and consult their pediatricians about using slings.

Two months ago, the Commission added slings to the list of durable infant products that require a mandatory standard. Additionally, CPSC staff is actively investigating these products to determine what additional action may be appropriate. Until a mandatory standard is developed, CPSC is working with ASTM International to quickly complete an effective voluntary standard for infant sling carriers.

CPSC recommends that parents and caregivers make sure the infant's face is not covered and is visible at all times to the sling's wearer. If nursing the baby in a sling, change the baby's position after feeding so the baby's head is facing up and is clear of the sling and the mother's body. Parents and caregivers should be vigilant about frequently checking their baby in a sling.

CPSC is interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are directly related to infant slings. You can do this by visiting or call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

CPSC - Sling Safety

I'm a fan of baby carriers in general, but buzz on the mommy/baby wire is that CPSC is about to issue a warning regarding the safety of carrying infants in sling style carriers.

Sheri at Magic Beans just did a helpful post on the upcoming CPSC warning on the safety of sling carriers and infants on Spilling the Beans.  Also, check out this helpful site on determining the safety of your sling/carrier.

Quick Favs - Bathtub

The First Year's Infant To Toddler Tub with Sling BlueSomeone recently asked me about bathtubs - which is another funny, random thing like diaper pails that I have very strong feelings about. I love, love, love the First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn-to-Toddler Tub.   We had one or two other infant tubs before we found this one and it is by far the easiest to use.

It has adaptors molded into the bottom so it fits into the kitchen sink which is one of the easiest places for an adult to bathe a baby until they are about 9m old.  The drain plug doubles as a temperature check.  The detachable sling is perfect for newborns - especially for sponge baths before their little belly button stump falls off.  It has two positions for older babies – a reclined position for babies who can’t sit up yet and a sitting position for slightly older infants and small toddlers.  It is also $18 which is hard to beat.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sorry for the delay...

Sorry for the delay everyone, but even Gear Mommy needs a vacation.  A week at Carlisle Bay in Antigua hit the spot perfectly.  I'll do a full post soon, but Carlisle Bay ranks as one of the very best family luxury resorts I've ever been to.  Unlike most resorts that are "kid tolerant," Carlise Bay really goes out of their way to be kid (and family) friendly.  Amazing.