The Hunt for a Travel Stroller

Since I really don’t have the time to go through the pros and cons here for the tons and tons of available strollers like I did for car seats before Ahan was born, I’ll get to the exciting final moments before clicking on the order button quickly.

Anyway, after spending a few days going through literally two days going through stroller reviews online for maybe 20 or 30 strollers, we finally came down to a choice between the Baby Jogger City Mini and the Joovy Kooper. The Joovy Groove was also a contender but was unavailable everywhere, probably because the 2009 models are all gone and the 2010s are about to launch.

Both these strollers are what I would call mid priced. We really didnt want to spend a fortune on the Mutsys, Phil and Teds or Valco Baby strollers. Not that the fortune gets you what you really want – a lightweight stroller that is easy to fold and has a large canopy. For a few minutes we almost decided to by a cheap throwaway stroller that would last us for one trip. At these times I always think about the money we have wasted before buying cheap-ass products only to be replaced by a better version when the thing dies.

Finally we settled on the Joovy for two primary reasons – 1) It was about 45$ cheaper and 2) We already have a three wheeled stroller good for walking and one not so important reason that the stroller looks fantastic and unique.

Also after a lot of deal hunting, we found a black Joovy for $160 at Stroller Depot and I also had a coupon for 5% off – holtrav09 – making the final price $152. The cheapest we found the City Mini was $195.50 at Albee Baby with their sitewide 15% off code 15off.

6 Month Baby Update on Everything Needed and Not

Ahan is now 7 months old and it is time to follow up with an update of what we needed in the next three months after my first post about the first three months.

Sleep

We really didn’t need anything extra for sleep. And if you are afraid like we were of trying the cry it out to get your baby to sleep through the night, don’t be! Just do it.

Changing

Diapers Pampers Swadlers We’ve stuck with the Swaddlers.
Wipes Lots Members Mark wipes were as good as the Huggies wipes.

Furniture

Hmm, no additions to furniture either.

Basics

Clothes Lots! You still need lots of clothes and now you need some going out clothes too. You can never have enough bibs.
Pacifiers Born Free We’ve stopped using Pacifiers completely now but for a while we did continue using the Born Free ones.

Travel

Car Seat Recaro Signo Since we started off with a convertible, we didn’t need to get anything new. Ahan still likes his car seat.
Stroller Mia Moda Energi We still use this stroller everyday. We are looking for a lighter weight one for travel and maybe I’ll make a new post on that sometime. But I’ll use this space to rant that stroller prices are ridiculous.
Baby Carrier Infantino, Sleepy Wrap Ahan now enjoys both the carrier and his sleepy wrap.

We still haven’t done much travel with Ahan. Look out for for the 9 month update 🙂 for more.

Feeding

Bottles Dr. Brown We still use the Dr. Brown. But I do have a warning for you. If you plan on using Dr. Browns, use the wide mouth ones. The standard ones are nearly impossible to clean perfectly. You need to use the stupid tiny brush that came with the bottles and you still can’t get everything out from the tiny parts of the bottle. It takes away twenty minutes of our life everyday just cleaning the damn bottle parts.

So if your baby doesn’t complain with Born Free or Playtex Drop-Ins , just go with those.

Bath

Nothing extra need for bath time here so far.

Playtime

Jumperoo Precious Planet This was our best investment we made. As soon as your baby can hold up his/her head completely, I recommend getting one of these. It is hours of fun for them. Ahan didn’t like TV (!!!) much and he couldn’t sit up or crawl until recently so entertaining him was very difficult. The jumperoo solved this problem. He really loves the thing. They have one at his daycare too and everyone there has figured out how much he likes jumping.
Toys Vtech – Learn & Discover Driver As soon as Ahan got comfortable with tummy time and sitting, he started enjoying this thing. He pushes all the buttons, turns the wheel and enjoys this completely.

Misc

Books Lots Still reading the same books. He still likes all of them. New favorites include Good Night Stories
TV Almost None Ahan didn’t really want to watch TV. We tried Baby Einstien and random cartoons on TV. The only one he would watch for more than 5 minutes was Handy Manny and that too not always.

If I think of anything else that I missed, I’ll update the list above.

3 Month Baby Update on Everything Needed and not

One of the biggest dilemmas us parents face is what is really required for our baby and what exactly is a waste of money. So here is our experience on everything we used and didn’t use in Ahan’s first three months. Ahan is now 4 months old. So this post has been one month in the making. I hope this helps some new parents!

Sleep

Product What We Got Needed?
Crib Storkcraft Chelsea Inexpensive, Looks Great with our modern theme. However Storkcraft was very slow to respond to a recall.
Mattress Foam You have the choice of Foam and Spring. We picked the Foam. If you select spring, make sure to get one with lots of springs.
Bedding etc. A sheet set (sheet + mobil + comforter), extra sheets

Changing

Diapers Pampers Swadlers Ahan was born a tiny baby and Pampers fit him much better than Huggies. So we stuck to them.
Wipes Lots We got a large box of Huggies wipes from Sams. We are going to try out Members Mark wipes next.
Changing Pad Countoured Changing Pad We use this about as often as we change him on the floor or bed with a disposable pad under it. However this is really useful for massaging the baby.
Disposable Changing Pads Adult Incontinence Pads Disposable Baby changing pads are completely useless. We got some as part of a baby starter kit and I wouldn’t waste my money on them at all. Adult incontinence pads (we got them in bulk from Sams), the kind they used in the hospital are really good.
Wipe Warmer Babies R Us brand We used this a few times but it’s really a waste unless your baby will spend its first three months in winter. Wipes dry often and you need to put water in. Plus Ahan really didn’t mind cold wipes at all. As long as he was changed when his diaper was full he was as happy with cold wipes as warm wipes.

Furniture

Storage South Shore Color Motion Looks great. Very Sturdy. Was a little hard to put together because a part was missing that made it easy to hammer in the channels. After a call to South Shore, we were told to hammer the channels and they were really much tougher than we imagined.
Bouncer Baby Bjorn 123, Basic Bouncer The Baby Bjorn came highly recommended from online reviews and for the first two nights Ahan wouldn’t sleep in anything else! After that he wouldn’t even sit in it until his third month was over. Now he loves the thing. He hangs on to the bears and tries to sit up (at 4 months)

While Ahan wouldn’t sit in the Baby Bjorn, we tried this very fancy swing to see if he liked that. The swinging was too fast even at its slowest for a tiny baby so we gave it back and got just a basic seat for him to sleep in.

Basics

Clothes Lots! Most clothes came as gifts to us but you really need lots of onesies. You don’t need too many fancy clothes because it is very difficult to go anywhere with a baby anyway.
Pacifiers Born Free We tried playtex and Born free. Ahan likes the Born Free. YMMV though. Ahan is not really that much of a pacifier fan. He’ll take one sometimes when he’s really crying but he just treats it as a game where he spits out the pacifier and demands it back. Once in a while we used a pacifier to get him to sleep and a few to times to make him stop crying but holding him and walking around was always the faster option.

Travel

Car Seat Recaro Signo This is the only thing that you really have to have before your baby is born. We picked a convertible directly. More on that in my post on car seat selection.
Stroller Mia Moda Energi Since we skipped the infant seat, we needed a stroller that could take a newborn. We wanted a lightweight, small stroller but most of them take kids 3+ or 6+ months. So we ended up with this one. It is a really nice looking stroller. It is a bit heavy and has some trouble turning right on smooth surfaces (e.g. mall floor) but otherwise is very comfortable to sit in.
Baby Carrier Infantino, Sleepy Wrap Ahan liked the infantino for a while but now in summer it is too hot and at three months he was a little too big to face inwards and couldn’t hold his head well enough to face outwards (he loves being held facing outwards). The sleepy wrap thing is a miracle. Ahan just faints in it.
Diaper Bag Eddie Bauer Mini We have only this diaper bag and the only thing that makes it special as compared to a large purse for Parchayi is that it has bottle holders on both sides.  We originally planned on buying this one and the Columbia backpack diaper bag so that I can carry it too but I’d say diaper bags are highly overrated. You can fit all the baby stuff (a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, milk, changing pad) in anything – purse, laptop case etc. and there is no need to buy a special diaper bag.

Feeding

Bottles Dr. Brown These came highly recommended. We tried Playtex and Nuk but Dr. Brown seemed better. Playtex dropins don’t work with a bottle warmer (based on online discussions, not real testing) but if you can use them it will save you load of time in washing bottles.
Bottle Warmer First Years Night and Day This thing really works fast. Keeps bottles cool and heats them up fast and to the correct temperature.

Bath

Bathtub First Years Bath Tub This tub works well for us and Ahan really enjoys his bathtime.
Misc Body Wash, Shampoo

Misc

Toys None In the first three months Ahan wasn’t even interested in the one or two colorful noisemakers we got as gifts. Just show him anything, magazines, book covers that was sufficiently bright was entertaining enough for him. He liked listening to music and was soothed by certain kinds of music like classical guitar.
Books Lots Ahan really loves books. His favorites are a book about a red dog called Clifford and a book called Llama Llama Red Pajama.

If I think of anything else that I missed, I’ll update the list above.

Car Seat cont’d

SALE!! Recaro Signo Style Car Seat In Midnight Desert Finally went to Babies’R’Us and looked at the car seats. As far as looks go they mostly looked identical and other than the black seats they are all mostly ugly. Also between my last post and now, we found one more contender – The Recaro Signo. This one seems to have equal or better specs than the Evenflo Symphony and the First Years True Fit, which were my top contenders. Also it looks better than those too so Parchayi is all for this one. Unfortunately this is not in local stores so we can’t look at it in person but I’m now tired of looking at seats and strollers so this one is it! It is more expensive than the True Fit and the Symphony but for something that will last as long, whats an extra $50?

If you don’t care about color, The Signo is cheaper than Amazon at Tinyride with free shipping, no tax nationwide.

Baby Shopping Part 1 – Car Seat

Update: After reading this post, also read my other post about the Recaro Signo

As first time parents we are completely clueless about what we really need and what is a waste of money for our baby and we have spent many evenings figuring out what car seat to buy, what stroller to buy and are still unsure. In this series of posts, I’ll summarize all my research and over the years experience with whatever we buy.

Our first question was should we buy a convertible seat from the start or should we buy an infant seat to start with and move to a convertible later? The advantages of the infant seat are that it is easy to carry around with you and you can attach it to a stroller (that would also make a difference in stroller choice, which is another post altogether) without waking the baby up. The disadvantages are that you need to get a stroller that you can attach car seats to and those strollers are heavier. Also you need to get a bigger seat later anyway. What we thought about this is we’ll start with the convertible seat and if neccessary we will get an infant seat later.

Now comes the choice of convertible seats. There are so many to select from – it is a nightmare. But after reading a lot of reviews and checking out forums the choice came down to the Evenflo Symphony, Evenflo Triumph Advance, True Fit and the Britax convertibles – (Roundabout, Diplomat, Marathon, Decathlon, Boulevard).

The Evenflo Symphony is a true all in one seat. Has good reviews except for unusually large babies. This is a relatively newer seat and has fewer reviews than other seats. Here is a big discussion on the seat, where some people recommend buying an Evenflo Triumph Advance instead of this seat and a booster separately later, however if you read all the way to the end you will find happy users. Also the Symphony comes with something called SureLATCH which makes attaching the car seat very easy and has got a lot of praise. From all the things I have read, the most important safety rule is to make sure that a seat is attached right.

Reading the above thread was the first I ever hear of The First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat, which is another all in one seat and has great reviews and people wishing they knew about it before so they could have saved some money and not bought so many seats. Both the Symphony and the True Fit are “easy to install” according to most people but there are always a few whiners who find it difficult and want you to get a Britax because it is supposedly easier to install.

Next Up is the Evenflo Triumph Advance, which is the holy grail of budget convertible car seats. The Triumph Advance is different from the older Triumph and has many new features making it even if not better than the Britax seats. The Triumph Advance comes in three flavors – Deluxe, LX and Premier. I’m not sure what the difference is because the descriptions on the Evenflo website are all identical. The price is not so there must be some difference. I’ll update this post if and when I actually compare all of them (if they are available in one place). This is one of the most favorably reviewed car seats and amongst the safest rated. There are a few whiners about it’s knobs, I’ll know it when I get to actually see and use those. But otherwise people love the infinite adjustable no-rethread (=car seat doesn’t need to be removed to adjust) harness.

Finally, we come to the Britax convertible seats. Britax seats generally have few or no negative reviews and the only complaint is the price difference between the Evenflo Triumph Advance which most people say is comparable to the Britax Marathon/Decathlon in everything but price. Anyway, the Britax website is full of Buzzwords where every little feature has been given a name. Here is a comparison of Britax convertibles on their own website. This will show you that there is nothing really great about the Britax Marathon (or it’s smaller cousin the Roundabout) and you would be better off with the Britax Decathlon which is about the same price and has a toddler pillow, infant pillow, multi-position buckle strap. Also if you are willing to settle for disgusting colors, the Britax seats become cheaper. However neither the Marathon nor the Decathlon have TSIP (true side impact protection aka deep side walls + adjustable headreast), which brings us to the Britax Boulevard (and it’s smaller cousin the Diplomat), the most expensive of the Britax seats, the only ones with TSIP and a no rethread harness. However to get all these features, I’d rather get an Evenflo Symphony or The First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat. If you get the Boulevard, you lose the adjustible buckle positions too.

So feature wise all the Britax seats are lacking something but the reviews all can’t be wrong. I’ll probably get the Evenflo Symphony or the The First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat but if our baby feels uncomfortable in it we’ll make it test drive a Britax to see if it really feels better.

Note on Prices: I have hunted for the cheapest Amazon (sold by Amazon) prices for the Britax seats and some of those prices are closeout prices. The seats will probably be more expensive when you buy them.