Monday, August 31, 2009

The Orbit Baby Debate: CEO Joseph Hei faces off with Consumer Reports on failed car seat tests!

You all probably know how much I love my Orbit Baby Infant System, but I recently received an upsetting email from Orbit Baby CEO Joseph Hei. It appears the car seat failed Consumer Reports' safety testing. Below is the email all Orbit owners received. As for our family, we are still using our Orbit system, but rechecked the strap settings and the base station in the car. Ironically, I had been planning another post to extoll more virtues of the Orbit, such as having the only non-PVC rainshield available on the market and being Oeko-Tex 100 Certified, which no other car seat on the market is.

You can also get more info from Orbit and check out Joseph Hei's video response to the Consumer Reports testing.

Dear Orbit Baby parent,
Thank you for being a loyal owner of Orbit Baby products. I wanted to send you this email to address a recent piece of news about Orbit Baby car seats.

We were very surprised to recently learn that when Consumer Reports tested the Orbit Baby Infant Car Seat, two out of six units failed their safety test. Our extensive and regular car seat safety compliance testing program completely contradicts this. Our tests are conducted in the exact same lab that Consumer Reports and NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) uses. In all of our compliance tests, we have never seen the failures that Consumer Reports has reported.

Since safety is of top priority to us, we immediately ran more tests as soon as we learned about Consumer Reports’ results. We ran multiple tests in the same laboratory that Consumer Reports used, with various testing criteria, including the exact criteria Consumer Reports used. All of these tests passed. We also receive reports of real-life accidents from Orbit Baby parents, and we have never had a report of a separation or injury with an Orbit Baby car seat. Because we make products for children, we understand how important safety is. I have two daughters, and they use our car seats and our strollers. For me and for Orbit Baby, absolutely nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of children.

We are concerned Consumer Reports did not follow multiple aspects of our product instructions when they ran their tests. Safety regulations for car seats make clear that all testing should be conducted according to the product’s instructions. Consumer Reports’ tests are therefore not an accurate reflection of the safety of our Infant Car Seat.

Not following a car seat’s instructions can result in unpredictable test conditions, and we believe this is reflected in Consumer Report’s inconsistent results. Our greatest concerns are that they used a harness position that was too high for the size of the dummy, and that they did not turn the Base’s knob to engage the StrongArm™ self-tightening mechanism. In addition, we are alarmed that Consumer Reports showed an incorrect installation of the Infant Car Seat without the Base in the press video that they released to the public; they have acknowledged their mistake and have since edited the video. This further suggests they had not been properly following our Infant Car Seat instructions.

As many parents understand, a tight and properly fitted safety harness for their child is critical to the safety of a car seat. Consumer Reports themselves recommend that parents diligently follow all product instructions, so we are very concerned that they did not follow their own advice. We want to take this opportunity to emphasize again to parents how important it is to follow all product instructions in the real world. Please do revisit the product manual, and I encourage you to contact us directly if you have any questions.

We have already proactively contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to inform them of the Consumer Reports test results and to share our own data and investigation. NHTSA is in charge of enforcing car seat safety laws in the US, and we will work cooperatively with NHTSA should they have any further recommendations for us.

Your child’s safety is of top priority to me and the team at Orbit Baby. Please visit this web page to find out more information about Consumer Reports’ testing: Again, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-672-2229 or with any questions or concerns.

We appreciate your continued support for Orbit Baby.

Joseph Hei

CEO and Co-founder of Orbit Baby

Consumer Reports released a follow up to Joseph Hei's statement's on August 27th. As an Orbit owner I find it disturbing that Consumer Reports did not use the patented Strong Arm to tighten the safety belts. Our base station is impossible to even wiggle in the car with the Strong Arm employed, but that is not the case when the Strong Arm isn't used. I find myself agreeing with Orbit that Consumer Reports' testing was flawed, and find it hard to believe that they recommend using the car seat with only the seat belts. It appears there is no safety issue with the design of the seat itself. If you link to this latest release you will find many knowledgeable individuals condemning the CR testing, particularly because they ignored the manufacturer's installation instructions. We will be watching carefully to see what the NHTSA rules and how this issue will be resolved, but in the meantime we will continue to use our Orbit car seat with base station.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quick change: Diapering on the go

Vacation is in full swing (and here I am writing a post) and we find ourselves running to and fro. What better time to review diaper clutches? There are many options, from the utilitarian to the chic and everything in between. Diaper clutches serve a couple of purposes in our routine. First, I like to be able to grab a small, self contained diaper changing system to take to the bathroom when we are at a restaurant rather than lug the whole diaper bag. They are also convenient for leaving in the car or at grandma's house so you are never caught without diapers and the proper equipment. Finally, I love to grab them when we are going out for a quick dash in the sling or front carrier, like when we run to the cafe to grab some fruit salad and a muffin in the morning.

Our newest favorite is the Patemm diaper changing pad. It is an oversized circle that folds up onto itself with a carrying handle. It also has a number of pockets around the outer edge to hold diapers, wipes, cream, and disposable (biodegradable!) diaper trash bags. On vacation I am using the Patemm pad as a changing station set up on the dining room table at our rental house. But I love the Patemm so much that I am usually packing it up in the diaper bag to replace the small pad that it came with. The ultimate seal of approval came when my husband told me how much he even liked the Patemm pad. I am also a big fan of the Joya Baby Diaper Clutch. It is shaped like a traditional clutch with fun resort-like fabrics to choose from, and it even has a wristlet. Most people wouldn't assume its actual purpose. It contains a pocket for diapers, a pocket for wipes and cream, and a small changing pad. I often throw it in the diaper bag, but most of the time I leave it on the base of the stroller so I always have quick and easy access when we're out on the town. Their bgreen line is also eco-friendly and PVC free. For an elegant choice, there is the Petunia Picklebottom Cross Town Clutch. It looks most like an actual clutch, with gorgeous prints, a cute clasp, and it also has a wristlet. It is a bit larger than the Joya Baby, but could definitely be used for special events like dinner out with baby or a wedding. Finally, for a more basic or dad friendly diaper clutch try the Skip Hop Pronto. It is compact, comes with its own wipe holder, and the changing pad is built right in. The changing pad is a bit small, but this is a good choice for leaving in the car or running errands. Whichever diaper clutch you choose, they are perfect options for when you don't want to lug the entire kitchen sink (aka the diaper bag)!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't forget to pack...Last minute items you might need on vacation

What do you bring on your first vacation with the new addition? I always wanted to be one of those parents who traveled light. The idea of filling the whole cargo space of the car with baby gear made me cringe. And yet here I am, wondering how will I possibly be able to see out the rearview mirror over the pile of junk stacked in the back? Of course there is the obvious like diapers, wipes, clothes, bottles, pacifiers, and blankets. Don't forget to add the towels, wash clothes, bath gear (we are bringing one of those blow up tubs) and burp clothes. There's also the baby wash, diaper cream, baby lotion, sunscreen, and bug spray. We need some toys and books too, and we will be bringing the play gym and bouncy chair (it's 10 days at a rental cottage by the beach and we're driving there). Pooka will be sleeping in a portable crib by night (the Phil and Ted's Traveller), and lounging in the Kwik Cabana by day. And then there is Pooka's transportation, which means car seat and stroller (luckily the Orbit Baby is both), and her Baby Hawk Mei-Tai carrier. Oh, and we can't go anywhere without the breast pump. OK, we are probably overdoing it, but that's easy to do when you are traveling by car. Now I understand why people put those pods on the roof!

There are, however, a few things you might not think to pack until you need them. We will be vacationing on an island, and while there is a grocery store there are some things we can't rely on them to have. We have packed our MedBasics Infant Safety Travel Pack for quick reference, as well as the nasal aspirator and saline drops, a thermometer, a medicine dispensing pacifier, Infant Tylenol drops, and alcohol swabs and gauze for minor cuts and scrapes (or when I cut her finger with the nail clippers again). And don't forget the grooming gear like nail clippers and files. Pooka's nails grow like gangbusters, and she just entered the phase where she likes to pinch. And I'm also including baby laundry detergent , and stain remover because poop happens even if it is vacation. These items may be difficult to find where you are staying, particularly if you need them in the middle of the night.

Alas, the days of traveling light seem to have disappeared for a while, but I am confident they will return. Each trip I will hone my skills at choosing exactly what is needed and what is extraneous. And some day I may just achieve this goal. Until then I will have to use the side-view mirrors when driving!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Green your skincare regime: Healthy for you and baby!

When I got pregnant with Pooka I began looking for ways to reduce the amount of toxins and chemicals in our daily life. First we changed the products we used to clean the house, then the products we used to clean ourselves. Obviously this was very important when Pooka was still in the womb and anything I added to my system was also added to hers. Once she was on the outside I sought the highest quality baby care products and religiously read labels to make sure they are free of nasties like PEGs, parabens, and sulfates. But what about the beauty products I was using? Everyday Pooka has her hands all over my hands, face, and hair (usually yanking it out with her vice-like pinchers!), and then she joyfully stuffs her hands into her mouth. In an effort to reduce her exposure to chemicals and toxins I cleaned all the products out of my vanity and replaced them safer, chemical free, and often eco-friendly products.

When it comes to skincare, women have their products they can't live without and are loath to give up. Switching skincare products was easier for me, as my dermatologist-prescribed products contained salicylic acid which is a no-no during pregnancy and I was forced to find new products. I found two great lines that worked wonderfully. I am currently using the Nude Skincare line which is free of just about every nasty you can think of, smells fantastic, and has minimal packaging made of recyclable materials. I use the Facial Cleansing Oil, Hydrating Water, Age Defense Moisturizer, Replenishing Night Oil, and Nude Lips. While the line is not inexpensive I was able to get a travel sized kit to test the products first, and the moisturizer and night oil lasted over six months. For a less expensive but similar line try Evan Healy, which is available at Whole Foods stores. Similarly, they have a cleansing milks, hydrating tonics, treatment oils, and mosturizers. Evan Healy's products also smell marvelous, are packed with ingredients like rose, lavender, and tea tree, come in glass bottles, and are free of any nasties.

I also chose to detox my makeup bag, although these days I hardly find time to put any on aside from under eye concealer! My favorite is Josie Maran. Her products contain natural, organic ingredients with no fragrances and parabens, and are packaged in biodegradable compacts. I'm a huge fan of the concealer (which I use judiciously after late nights with Pooka) and the simple ease of the Finger Paints compacts. They combine four creme shade that can be used for eyes, cheeks, and lips. I throw one in the diaper bag and can go all day. I also use the mascara which is nice and light, perfect for a day out on the town. And to keep my baby-kissing lips safe I use the Plumping Lip Gloss which uses marine collagen to do the plumping rather than irritants or stimulants that cause your lips to swell. I also plan on picking up the Bronzing Argan Oil to give me an artificial and healthy summer glow.

And don't forgot what's in the tub! Although it is difficult to find shampoos, conditioners, and body washes devoid of nasties, they are out there. I was always a designer shampoo kind of girl, so making this switch was a bit painful at first, but in the end I was pleasantly surprised. In our shower we use shampoos and conditioners from Burt's Bees (I use the volumizing set) and have had fantastic results. At $8.00 a bottle it is a great savings compared to the $20-30 I used to pay before, and I haven't been disappointed with the results. For bodywash my husband and I both use Pangea Organics. The formula is concentrated, so you only need a drop to get clean and the small bottle lasts for months. The are six different scents, and we love the Indian Lemongrass and Rosemary. The line also has lotions, oils, bar soaps and facial products. We also really enjoy the scent of Ren's Moroccan Rose Otto Body Wash, but at $27.00 a bottle it's a splurge! Ren has a full skincare line and is free from synthetic ingredients.

There are tons of choices out there for you to detox and green your personal skincare regimen and safeguard you baby. These are just a sample of what's available, and they are the ones that have worked for us. If you are curious about the products already in your cabinet you can check the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database run by the Environmental Working Group, which independently tests thousands of products and rates their safety on a scale of one to ten.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Make a statement: Onesies with a message

Onesies are the basis of any baby's wardrobe. The plain white ones are utilitarian, but it's fun to add more interesting onesies to the mix. There are tons of novelty options out there, from supporting sports teams to supporting political parties. I tend to shy away from those types as I hope Pooka will grow up to make her own choices in these matters. On the other hand I have found some onesies that have great messages to share with the world. I love the onesies from Small Plum, who make organic bamboo baby clothes. Some of my favorite messages are "Produced Locally," "Homemade," and "Fat and Happy." Tiny Revolutionary also makes some fun organic onesies with messages about world change and peace. My favorite is the "I am the future" onesie. I also like the onesies at Tea Collection that support The Global Fund for Children. The onesies have the phrase "Little citizen of the world" on the front and come in colors for boys and girls. Finally, the Gap has an organic line of onesies with environmental messages such as "Respect your mother" and "Green is the new black." With so many adorable choices it's easy to let your baby make a statement!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beach bound? 7 Ways to beat the summer sun

It's that time of year when people are headed out on summer vacation, and if the weather cooperates that usually means some time at the beach. Our beach vacation is coming up in a few weeks, and I've been putting together some things to help keep Pooka safe from the sun. She is under 6 months old and sunscreen options are limited, so we must compensate in other ways. Some of these items we already use on a daily basis. Let's start with the basics, the i-play Girl's Brim Hat with UPF 50. Pooka has been wearing this all summer, particularly when she is in a baby carrier. We like this one because it has a large brim with a little bit of substance to it so it doesn't flop in her face. It also seems pretty breathable, as she doesn't get too sweaty while wearing it like she does in some of her cotton sunhats. Our next line of defense is the new UPF 50 BabyLegs Cool. They are made of a new breathable, mesh-like material, and they look adorable on. These are great when Pooka is in her stroller or a baby carrier with her legs hanging out. We're also big fans of the long-sleeve Patagonia Sunshade shirt, which is made of a breathable UPF 50 fabric. These are all items we use regularly, but for a day at the beach you need the big guns. First, a UPF 50 swimsuit if you plan on dunking the little one in the water. We got a cute one at the Gap with good coverage: the top is designed as a teeny rash guard shirt. Pooka will also be sporting a stylin' pair of i-Play Flexi Specs infant sunglasses in pink. We will be rounding out our sun defense with the Phil and Ted's Traveller portable crib with added UV screen. It is nice and airy with screens all around so Pooka can enjoy the ocean breezes but stay out of the sun's direct rays. The crib is extremely light at 5.5 lbs, and a snap to put together once you figure it out (it took us about 20 minutes the first time, but less than 10 the second time). Finally, while most pediatricians don't recommend sunscreen on children younger than 6 months old, the American Academy of Pediatrics does endorse using them on babies under 6 months, particularly on exposed areas such as hands and face. I always carry some with me in case the sun can't be avoided. The two sunscreens I trust for my little one are California Baby No Fragrance SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion and Super Goop's Dr. T's Quick Stick SPF 30. Both are mineral sunscreens with no nasties. We also use these sunscreens on ourselves since Pooka usually has her hands all over us and then proceeds to shove them in her mouth. It does no good to use safe suncreen on her unless you use them on yourself because your sunscreen will inevitably end up on her anyways. Now we understand why you always see parents loaded down with bags and contraptions, lugging everything but the kitchen sink, for a relaxing day at the beach. Despite promising not to be one of those parents (we were always going to travel light) it seems it is inevitable! I can only imagine what we will be lugging next summer...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Things we couldn't live without the first 3 months with Pooka

My expectant mom friends love to ask this question, and I'm sure the answer is different for every new mom, but I thought I would share some of the things my husband and I couldn't live without those first few weeks and months.

1) Itzbeen Baby Care Timer: We used the timer to mark the end of each feeding and the last diaper change. When things were crazy and sleep-deprived it helped to keep track of the time between feedings, as Pooka ate every 2 hours in the early days. It's much simpler than marking a log or trying to remember the exact time of the last feeding. I also used the timer to keep track of how long she fed on each side, and there is a helpful button to remember which side you last fed on. Also useful is the button that lights up the timer so you can check the time in the middle of the night without turning on the lights.

2) Aden and Anais Muslin Wraps: Pooka has been swaddled in these wraps from day one. They are a little large at first, but if you fold in two of the adjoining sides in a few inches they work for even the teeniest baby (Pooka was 5 lbs 12 oz when she was born). They are nice and light too, so you don't have to worry about the baby overheating.

3) Sling: My husband would work on his computer while the baby slept in our Serena and Lily Prague Market Sling. It's organic and has padded rails, not to mention beautiful embroidery. Not super manly, but that's because I purchased it for myself, only to discover the size was too large for me. Pooka would sleep in the cradle position for hours, we even took her to a cocktail party when she was two weeks old and she slept right through it. Slings are also useful for protecting your newborn from prying eyes and germy hands. After purchasing a Zolowear Ring Sling for myself, I would carry Pooka in the tummy-to-tummy position which worked like a charm to put her out. It's so easy to carry them this way and be hands free when they are so little.

4) Medela Pump in Style Breast Pump and Hands Free Bra: Double electric, that's all I've got to say! My milk took a few days to come in, and pumping after every feeding the first week made a huge difference. I eventually had more milk than I knew what to do with, but I'll save those issues for another post. A few days into the pumping extravaganza I got a hands-free bra and it totally changed my world. It is a NECESSITY if you are going to pump regularly! I used the time with my free hands to catch up on some reading.

5) Lullabies: We started playing lullabies before Pooka was born so she would recognize them once she was out in the world. We definitely have our favorites: any of the Rockabye Baby albums that do lullaby renditions of famous bands such as U2, Bob Marley, AC/DC, etc. (available on itunes, we actually only downloaded the specific songs we wanted from each artist and made a playlist); the Putamayo Dreamland albums, we have Africa and Asia; Jewel's new album Lullaby. We play them each night starting during the final feeding.

6) White Noise Machine: Living in NYC I already slept with one of these on at night and we have continued to do so with Pooka. We use a Marpac Sleepmate.

7) Exercise Ball: We have both a rocking chair and an exercise/birth ball (ours is a Gaim, but you can get them anywhere), and have found that bouncing a fussy Pooka on the exercise ball works like a charm every time. It take a fraction of the time of a rocking chair to quickly calm her and put her to sleep. Plus its great for exercises both pre and post baby.

8) Maclaren Rocker Seat: Pooka sat in this chair from her first week, although the safety straps were much too large for her at the time. To be honest, they seemed unnecessary when she was so small and not moving around much. If she was fussy or wouldn't go back down after an early morning feeding we would put her in her "Magic Chair." Magic, you ask? It was all about flipping the switch and turning on the vibrations which usually knocked her out cold so mom and dad could get another hour or two of shuteye. We did make a promise to only use the vibrations during extreme situations so she would not get desensitized to their magic calming effect!

9) Boppy Waterproof Changing Pad Liners: So the books will advise you to get two changing pad covers. But what about the night you ruin two in less than an hour? If you are blessed with a baby like Pooka, one of her favorite pastimes was to pee on Daddy during diaper changes. At first we just used the changing mats from our diaper bags to keep the cover dry, until I found these Boppy Waterproof Changing Pad Liners. They seriously reduced the number of times we had to wrestle off a wet or poopy changing pad cover. I also have friends who put disposable changing pads down on their tables over the real cover so they can just toss them when they get dirty.

10) Eurobath Bath Seat: If space is a premium, as it is for most NYC parents, this bath seat may just do the trick. It fits in both a large sink or bath tub, but stows away more easily than a traditional baby bath tub. It is only designed for the first six months, which is fine by us as we plan to have Pooka sit up in the tub once she is comfortable and stable on her own. And in the overpriced world of baby gear, you can't beat the price at $12.00!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Early Christmas Shopping! By Baby Keepsakes

While searching for a birthday gift for Daddy last week we came across this fantastic site. I had been searching for a way to preserve Pooka's tiny little hand prints and foot prints for posterity. Most of what I found required mixing messy plasters and having the baby keep their hands still for an extended period of time. This seemed nearly impossible, since I can barely get Pooka to hold her hands still to cut her nails (and sometimes her fingers, eek)! And then I found By Baby and their kiln fired keepsake plaques. Two new Moms had the same dilemma I had with finding a nice way to memorialize tiny fingers and toes and started their own company in their garage. Pooka and I ordered the double print plaque for Daddy and some ornaments for the grandparents for Christmas. Too early for Christmas shopping? Not if you are interested in using these for gifts. The clay for impressions takes a few days to arrive, then you make the prints and send them back to By Baby. Once they have the prints it takes 8 - 10 weeks for production and delivery. The good news is that they keep your prints on file for a year if you want to order any additional plaques, ornaments, etc. We just got the impression clay yesterday, and we'll be sure to update once we get the finished product.

Nursery University...A scary look at NYC Preschool Admissions

My husband and I had a chance to watch a frighteningly fascinating documentary film last night about the process of getting your 2 and 3 year olds into preschool in NYC. The film, Nursery University, chronicles five families as they negotiate the outlandish process of gaining admission to NYC's top private nursery schools. Any of you who live in NYC have heard the horror stories about this process, and this film confirms many of them. What's more shocking are some of the statistics about how many available nursery school openings there are compared to the number of families who apply and the price people are willing to pay for those spots. Some schools cost as much as $15,000 to $20,000 per year. What's more, there are no public nursery schools so if you want your child in preschool at all you have to play the game. Think you've got plenty of time to worry about this? The trend in NYC preschools is to start preschool with 2 year olds, and the admissions process begins the day after Labor Day a year before you plan on enrolling your child. Pooka isn't even 4 months old yet, but if we wanted to send her to an NYC preschool we would need to start researching schools this winter. Yikes! This film was an eye-opening learning experience and highly recommended for every NYC or urban mama. It's available on NetFlix.

Put leaky milk to work! Milk Savers Review

If you are anything like me, when Pooka eats on one side the other side flows like Niagra Falls. During the day I would usually have a pad in there to collect the leaking milk, but sometimes in the early AM or late PM I would be bra-less and just shove a burp cloth against my boob. I always wondered how much perfectly good milk was going to waste. Now I know, thanks to the ingenious invention of the Milkies Milk Saver. More importantly, I am able to save that milk and work on creating a decent stock of milk in the freezer. I usually save around 5 ounces per week, and only use the Milk Saver for the first morning feeds or after an extended period between feedings when my milk is fullest. This morning I saved a whole ounce from just one side during the first feeding of the day. It sure beats a wet shirt!

Adorable new Gap Sabrina Collection for your mini Audrey!

Pooka does not always make out well at Baby Gap. Their collections are often hit or miss, and because she is tall and slim we have some trouble with the sizing. They are usually too broad in the shoulders. That being said, they have just released a fantastic new collection called Sabrina. I especially love the Bow Knit Bubble Dress and Boatneck T-Shirt Dress. What NYC mama could pass up a chance to dress there little one in chic black and white?

Monday, August 10, 2009

To g or not to g? gdiaper Review

Choosing a diaper for Pooka was one of the more challenging issues I've had as a parent so far. I think in reality the diaper chooses you. Each brand has a different fit or level of absorption. Just because a diaper works well for one baby doesn't mean it will work well for another. This makes choosing a diaper difficult as the reviews range wildly from "fantastic" to "horrible" for the same diaper. Since Pooka was born we have tried 5 different brands of diapers with mixed reviews. First she was in Pampers Swaddlers because she needed preemie size (she was full term but tiny). When she got bigger she went into 7th Generation and we also tried Earth's Best. We like the 7th Generation, but they are a bit wide in the crotch and we had to wait until she was big enough for them. The Earth's Best did not work well for Pooka. The diaper often broke open leaving the absorption crystals stuck to her butt and we ended up exchanging the remaining packages we had for 7th Generations. We also really like the Wholefoods 365 Diapers which are similar to 7th Generation, but are cheaper and a little less bulky.

Enter the gdiaper. I had researched gdiapers prior to Pooka's birth, but it took a while before she was big enough to wear them. The diapers are rated to fit babies starting at 8 lbs, but Pooka was very tall and slim and was not able to wear them until she was at least 10 lbs. So how have they worked? The "bottom" line is that we have had a good experience with gdiapers and use them daily, but they definitely have their pros and cons. Here's what we love: biodegradable and better for the environment, flushable, relatively easy to use (even for a reluctant Daddy), look cute on Pooka's tush, good fit once she was big enough. Here's what we love less: if you flush the diapers the diaper changing process takes longer, need to change more frequently because Pooka really notices when she is wet (which is really a good thing though), and despite what you may read on their site the inner liner almost always gets messy when Pooka poops and needs to be cleaned, and often the outer cloth cover also gets messy. Finally, they can be difficult to use on the go because they are bulky in the diaper bag.

That being said I think I should explain why, despite the cons, I still prefer gdiapers and how I use them. First, it is extremely important to me that the numerous diapers Pooka goes through daily do not spend the next 500 years biodegrading in a landfill. Even if we only use four gdiapers a day and disposables the rest of the time we have reduced the number of Pooka's diapers going to the landfill by 28 diapers per week and 1,456 diapers per year. Can you imagine how large that pile would be? Second, the number of peepee diapers Pooka produces far outweighs the number of poopie diapers and these are a breeze to clean. I choose to simply toss the flushable insert into the trash (in a biodegradable trash bag). Plus, I actually like the fact that Pooka feels wet and lets me know much sooner than with disposables. She has never had diaper rash from her gdiapers.

Now back to the poopie diaper issue, yes they can get messy, but who said helping reduce our impact on the environment was supposed to be easy and convenient? I wash the liner and cover in the sink with a dab of stain remover, hang them and reuse them once they are dry. We have 6 covers and 10 liners. They all go to the wash once a week for a thorough cleaning. On average I wash about 4 liners per day and two covers, but bear in mind that Pooka is breast fed and a prolific pooper, pooping at least 4 times per day. At night we put a disposable on her for convenience, especially because Pooka sleeps 8-11 hours per night and we don't want her sleep interrupted by a wet diaper. We also use disposables if we are going to be out and about for so we can just toss the dirties.

gdiapers are a nice compromise between disposable and cloth, meaning they are more convenient than cloth but slightly more labor intensive than disposables. You may be wondering why I didn't choose cloth, and that is a matter of our current living situation. First, we use the community laundry machines in our co-op and I can only imagine the complaints we would receive running big loads of dirty diapers in the building (pre-baby I'm sure I would be grossed out by a neighbor who did that!). We also considered a diaper service, but they only pick up once a week. This would mean living with an enormous bag of dirty diapers in our compact 400 square foot apartment. Urban moms can appreciate this dilema! So all in all I give the gdiapers a big thumbs up, but realize they require some extra time and patience. To me it is worth it to have a little piece of mind!

For a more comprehensive review of the construction and price comparisons of 7th Generation, Wholefoods 365 and gdiapers check out this review at Mama Stories.

Most commonly asked question...who makes that stroller? Orbit Baby Stroller Review

Hardly a day goes by without someone stopping me to ask about our stroller. And to be honest, I have no problem gushing about it. It has fit seamlessly into our life, fulfilling the majority of strollering needs. I say majority because there is never a single stroller that can do absolutely everything, but the Orbit comes close. For those of you who don't live in an urban area a luxury stroller may not be a necessity, but in NYC babies spend more time in their strollers than they are ever likely to spend in a car during the early years of their life.

So what's so special about the Orbit? The biggest thing is that it is an incredibly simple travel system. Pooka's car seat IS the stroller. It is attached and detached from the stroller base using a simple lever, and the base can be fold in half and stowed in the car with one hand. It still takes up a bit of the cargo space, but less than many of its competitors such as the Bugaboo and Uppa Baby. The car seat/simple fold of the Orbit would also make it a great choice for the burbs, because it only takes two minutes to pop the base open and put the car seat on. We take it with us to CT on the weekends and use it out there as well. In fact, the stroller base stays in the car all weekend so we are ready for a walk wherever we end up during the day.

The other cool feature is the round base which allows the car seat to spin on both the stroller base and car base. This innovative round base is where the Orbit gets its name. Peoples' eyes nearly pop out of their head when I demonstrate this feature, even people who don't have kids. I have found three great advantages to this system. First, it greatly eases putting the car seat in and taking it out of the car. Unlike a traditional car seat that must be placed in rear facing, the Orbit can be placed in with the seat facing you as you get the baby situated, and then spun and locked into the rear facing position. And all this is accomplished with pulling a simple lever incorporated into the seat's handles. This spin feature is also useful in two other situations: restaurants and sun/wind exposure. In restaurants, we are able to park the stroller next to the table and spin it so Pooka can face the us. In sunny or windy conditions, we have rotated the seat to face away from the exposure and keep her protected.

Other features we love are the ample sunshade (we haven't needed one of those extra-large sunscreens you see added to many strollers) and the paparazzi shield. My husband found the shield particularly useful when Pooka was very little to keep curious people from sticking their heads or hands into the stroller to see the baby. Anyone who lives in an elevator building will appreciate this feature. It is also a UV shield, which can be useful when the sun can't be avoided.

Alright, enough gushing for now. Strollers are a very personal choice, as every family has different needs. If you are like us, and spend the week walking in the city and the weekend driving in the country it is hard to imagine a better choice. The Orbit has been worth every penny! By the way, did I mention the two built-in cupholders? Oh, and the system grows with you, so you can graduate to the Toddler stroller and car seat when the time comes, and there is a bassinet for the early days (which we didn't get). And there are many more great features that I won't list, so check the Orbit website!

Who's that girl?

Who is Pooka? Pooka is the nickname for our 3 1/2 month old daughter, the single most amazing thing life has ever offered me. Well actually, her full nickname is Pooka Rooka, and I have no clear idea where it came from. It developed in the early weeks when we were still quite sleep deprived, and despite trying out dozens of endearments during that time, Pooka seems to have stuck.

Why create this blog? It is not to share humorous stories of baby or navigating Manhattan Mommyhood, although I'm sure these things will figure in at times. It's main purpose will be to share whatever interesting gear, gadgets, classes, etc. that Pooka and I use or come across. Nine times out of ten a conversation with another new mommy ends with "I'll send you the link to that." Equally as common, people will stop me in the street to ask about our stroller (the Orbit) or our baby carrier (somehow I've ended up with 5 different ones). So in an effort to condense and share my knowledge of products and how they have worked (or not worked) I've decided to put it all down here. I hope you will read and enjoy as I add reviews and information about the things that make life with Pooka easier/better/more fun!