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Thursday, August 19, 2010

unofficial product reviews - part one

OK first a little 'disclaimer'...I have not been compensated in any way for my opinion on these products - just wanted to share!

First product:
Chicco Cortina stroller with Chicco Keyfit infant car seat

I bought this system after reading several online reviews, and of course after physically testing the car seat at the store to make sure it would FIT in my little car (2007 Honda Civic Hybrid).  Of course I made sure it exceeded the safety standards, as well - which should really go without saying.

The assembly of the stroller was incredibly easy, even though it involved several parts.  There were clear drawings to follow every step of the way, and the instructions made perfect sense.  Personally, I like a little more detail in the written instructions, but the simplicity in these probably appeals to MOST mommies (and daddies, who are most likely going to be doing the assembly....)

Both the car seat and the stroller have very easy child restraint buckles.  The stroller even has a 5 point harness, instead of the typical 3-point harness seen on a lot of full-size strollers.  This is important to me, as I am a school crossing guard and DAILY see idiot drivers ignoring the crosswalks or running stop the event of a collision, the most dangerous thing to a baby in a stroller is not the impact from the car itself - it is the impact with the GROUND when the baby is thrown from the stroller due to inadequate (or improperly fastened) restraints.

The base for the car seat was very easy to correctly install in my car, using the LATCH system (which, by the way, I did not even realize that my car HAD until I read about it in the car seat instructions!)  The 'level' display to check for proper angle is easy to read from either side of the base, and the adjustable foot makes it fast and easy to adjust if the angle is not right.  In fact, this part was SO easy, I am pretty sure that I could do it while holding a baby, or at least wearing him in a front-pack carrier or sling.  The base would normally be a one-time install, but if you have more than one car and don't buy the optional 2nd base, you would probably want to move the base any time you are changing cars.  The car seat CAN be used without the base, but it is harder to ensure proper level without the base.

One thing that really excited me with this car seat vs. the ones I used for my first three children is how EASY it is to adjust the shoulder straps as the baby grows.  There are 'newborn' inserts to pad the seat for a tighter fit for small infants (up to 11 pounds) and both inserts can be removed without taking the whole car seat apart.  As baby gets taller, shoulder straps can be adjusted without having to do any complicated threading of the straps through a series of holes and loops - my old car seats were all a PAIN in that area.  The pull-strap on the front (at baby's feet) makes it simple to tighten the shoulder harness with baby in place, and the lever that loosens the straps when taking baby back OUT is easy to access.  I've seen several models that sort of 'hide' this lever or make it hard to reach - so glad Chicco doesn't do that!

Of course the car seat locks securely into the base, as well as into the stroller (I actually saw a woman pushing a stroller at Costco last week, with her infant car seat/carrier perched on top of the stroller - but not fastened on in any way....she took a corner too fast, then stopped suddenly, and her baby's carrier actually fell OFF of the stroller onto the floor!  Baby was not hurt, was simply scared, but that mom needs a little safety lesson or two....).  The lever to release the car seat when lifting it out of the base (or the stroller) is also really easy to access.

The stroller itself is easy to fold one-handed, and it opens up one-handed, as well.  The handle adusts for comfort depending on the height of the person pushing it.  The canopy could be larger, but does offer reasonable shade over baby.  The parent tray at the top has a cup holder and a small compartment for keys or sunglasses, and the child snack tray in front of the seat has two cup holders and a shallow recessed area for baby's snacks.  The best part of the child's tray: It has an insert that can be lifted out for cleaning!  The front double-wheels swivel for easy one-handed turning in tight spaces (for you mall-walkers out there!) and they can also be locked into place for better control on rough surfaces like grass or gravel.  The brakes can be applied/locked at the rear from either side, with a single tap of the foot. 

For me, there are two down-sides to the stroller:
1) for a full-size stroller, the cargo basket underneath is really quite small, and
2) this stroller takes up my entire trunk space!  OK so that one is really a gripe about my CAR, not the stroller.  :)

But aside from those two factors, so far I absolutely LOVE this whole travel system!

It is a little pricey, but you really do get what you pay for - I HIGHLY recommend it.

Next product review:
Baby blanket and binky-leash from "Baby Battle Rattle" on

(photos are from the etsy page for BabyBattleRattle)

I bought a custom baby blanket from Baby Battle Rattle, and got a 'binky sling' too.....

The blanket is made with a super-soft minky-dot fabric on the back, and the same fabric in squares on the front alternated with squares of USMC 'desert mar pat' fabric.  It normally comes with either pink or blue minky dot fabric, but I specifically requested a lime green fabric instead; this was to match our current nursery  colors, and to keep the blanket gender-neutral, making it easier to pass on to another baby when we are done with it.  The expectation that it will be handed down was my reason for NOT adding the optional custom nametape (though that would have been SO cute!)

My blanket is pictured above, with the teddy bear in the car seat :)

The quality and craftsmanship on this blanket were both AWESOME, but I was really disappointed to see how small the blanket actually is.  I didn't ask ahead of time about dimensions, and they weren't listed on the etsy site, so this is really my fault for not even ASKING how big the blanket was.  In the pictures, it looked more like a crib-size blanket, but in reality it is smaller than most receiving blankets.  The double-layer design makes it too warm for baby to sleep with here in so-cal, but it will be a great car-seat/stroller blanket this winter, for sure!

The 'binky sling' is exactly what it sounds like - it fastens to the handle of baby's pacifier at one end, and then fastens to the car seat, or stroller, or baby's shirt, on the other end - so if baby spits the binky out, it sort of hangs there clipped to whatever surface you choose, rather than dropping to the floor.  In this case, the binky sling is made from a military uniform nametape, which I thought was a REALLY COOL idea!

One thing I don't like about this one - and I intend to fix this - is that the velcro on the end for the binky does not fasten well - it looks like both sides of the velcro are the 'rough' part, instead of one rough surface clinging to one fuzzy/soft surface.  I have plenty of velcro squares (and circles, for that matter) so I will be fixing this by hand ASAP.

Overall, I recommend this seller, as she was flexible with me when I wanted a custom color, and she made and shipped the item right away, as soon as I had paid for it.  I thought the blanket - given its small size - was overpriced at $35 (plus shipping, which I felt I was overcharged for), but still know that my husband will LOVE it.

Now this makes me want one of those cool diaper bags made from hubby's old uniforms :)  Anyone have an etsy seller they can recommend specifically for this?

***UPCOMING REVIEWS:  Sony baby monitor, Summer Right Height Bath Center, Avent Isis Manual Breast Pump, and the Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail***

1 comment:

  1. Love reading your reviews! That's the same travel system that we are going to get (we opted for the keyfit 30 though) so makes me feel even happier that someone I know loves it. I know you already got the minky blanket but this website has some amazing discounts if you want another one or any other minky products. I got a little hat and mittens for free, only paid $5 shipping. They have a lot of different color combos as well.
    Maybe you've already heard of Jane Wayne Designs. I'm not sure if she specifically does diaper bags but I bet she would if you emailed her....or maybe you can find one you could use....she has a ton of different designs. She'll even personalize with hubby's name tags. Have fun shopping! :)
    Can't wait to read how you like the Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail!