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Just Call Me Dad

Fatherhood in the 21st Century

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Category: Child Safety

Storkcraft has released a voluntary product recall on more than 535,000 cribs in both the United States and Canada. The bracket that holds the mattress platform in place can crack and break, causing the mattress to fall. This potentially deadly situation could cause your child to get stuck between the mattress and the crib rail.

I would urge all of you to inspect your cribs for damage. Storkcraft is replacing these brackets with a sturdier model at no charge, whether your brackets are damaged or not.

U.S. CPSC Recall Data
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09093.html

Canadian Health Canada Recall Data
http://209.217.71.106/PR/recall-retrait-e.jsp?re_id=617

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Protecting Your Electrical Outlets

Childproofing seems to be a never ending task. Thankfully, we have been able to avoid having to baby proof the kitchen and bathroom (the kitchen is gated off and we keep the bathroom door shut), but we have done the rest of the so called ‘right’ things in our house.

One particularly difficult area we had was an electrical outlet near our television. Due to someone’s poor planning when the house was built, the corner in the living room that is perfect for a television is also four feet away from an electrical outlet. This wasn’t particularly a problem before Nick was born, but of course an extension cord is like crack to babies. My wife and I looked at outlet covers at a dozen stores, and we managed to figure out something that worked for us.

The solution was twofold. First, we covered the outlet with this ingenious little item: Safety First Outlet Cover

This outlet cover has a base plate that is screwed onto the outlet once you remove the existing outlet cover. You plug your cords into it, and then the outer cover clips into place. Not only can Nick no longer stick anything into the outlet, but he can’t unplug the TV either. The hole at the bottom for the cord to pass through is a little small; I had to make it bigger to fit my power bar cord through, but it works great. The cover is really difficult to get off, it’s a two handed job for Dad.

Then, to deal with the cord, I used the Wiremold Cord Cover sold at the Home Depot. This stuff sticks to the wall with adhesive tape, and a cord slides inside of it. There are all kinds of inside and outside corners available, as well as 90 degree bends. I ran the cover straight down from the outlet to just above the baseboard, then used a 90, and then ran the cover along the baseboard behind the TV cabinet. It works great. Our trim is white, so it looks fine, but I believe the packaging said it was paintable as well. Amazon has photos and information here.

The rest of the outlets I covered with what I thought was the best product on the market. I had read that the little plastic push in outlet covers were dangerous because kids can pull them out and choke on them. I found the Mommy’s Helper safe plate. This design has a spring loaded cover that slides left and right over the outlet. In order to plug something in, you insert the blades, then slide to the right, then push the plug in the rest of the way. When you remove the plug, the covers automatically slide back to make it safe. The springs are surprisingly strong, so I don’t think Nick could push them over AND stick something in. Mommy’s Helper Safe Plate

So, that’s my electrical baby proofing story. I’d love to hear from some of you out there regarding what you did for electrical safety in your house.
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With Halloween coming upon us quickly, I thought today might be a good time to remind everyone to make sure that we keep the safety of our kids in our minds. I received an email from the National Fatherhood Initiative with a list of things to watch out for.

You can view the list here: http://www.fatherhood.org/de102908.asp

Well, Nick managed to get his first goose egg on his forehead. He was running down the hallway, turned around, tripped over his feet and took a nosedive right into the corner of the wall. The tears appeared instantly, and the screaming followed closely behind. (He’s okay of course, or else I wouldn’t be writing about it, I’d be at the Hospital.)

It was not a pretty experience. I wasn’t in the room when it happened (he was playing with Mom), but I saw the aftermath. Oddly, I was listening to a radio program this afternoon at work, and the commentator was talking about how he felt when his son broke his leg while skiing. Then I get home, and my kid gets an injury.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way comparing a broken leg to a bump on the head. And I know that there are plenty of parents who have much worse things happen to their kids. All that I’m saying is that this is the first time that I have experienced anything like this, and frankly, it’s scary and sickening at the same time.

My wife and I were talking about the incident after he went to bed, and frankly, we evaluated our performance as parents. We have a son. In the coming years he will probably fall out of the tree in our front yard, fall off his bike, fall of a dirt bike, get hit with a baseball, etc, etc, etc… There is no shortage of ways for kids to hurt themselves in this world, and that doesn’t even take into account the negligence of others. There is a lot of talk about ‘keeping your children safe’, but that is really just a euphemism for ‘doing everything you can to minimize their risk of injury’.

We assessed the situation, there was nothing that we really could have done to prevent it, and comforted him after the fact. I don’t think there was anything else that we could have done. By morning, the swelling will probably be gone, and life will go on. I just hope we can handle a skinned knee this well.

A few weeks ago I posted a story about choosing the best stroller. One of my criteria was that it was compatible with a good infant car seat. We ended up choosing the Peg Perego Pliko P3 stroller. I didn’t mention anything about the actual car seat that goes with it at the time, so I’ll fix that right now.

The matching car seat is called the Peg Perego Primo Viaggiocar seat. There are several things that we like about this chair. First, it’s one of the highest rated car seats on the market. Second, it has a base that stays permanently in your vehicle, and the car seat simply clips into the base. It actually couldn’t be any easier to put the seat in the car and remove it. It clips in with a gently push, and comes out by just pulling a little lever on the seat.

Even better is the fact that the car seat is rated to be used without it’s base, attaching it to a car with a seatbelt. This is really handy when visiting other people or travelling, as you can jump in whatever car you need to without the need to swap bases out or add any equipment to another car. It would also be fantastic for use in a Taxi.

The Primo Viaggio is also available in a whole range of colors to match the interior of your car, or simply to compliment a color scheme that you have in your mind.

The one down side is that the car seat is only rated for a baby that weighs up to 22 lbs. However, we found that by the time Nick hit 22 lbs, we needed up upsize him to a bigger car seat anyhow, so this wasn’t really much of an inconvenience. In short, if you are looking for an infant car seat, I highly recommend this one.

One of the things we knew we were going to need was a stroller. Since we wanted to get one that was part of a travel system, so that our infant seat would click into it, we knew we were going to have to spend a few bucks, but we reasoned that we would be able to use the stroller for a long time. Stroller shopping was fun, but was complicated. Our initial research told us that we wanted/needed four things:

1. It had to fold down small. We have a smallish car, and didn’t want the entire trunk to be filled with a stroller.

2. It had to be easy to use. This included strapping Nick in, folding it down, as well as steering the unit and driving it over obstacles.

3. If possible, we wanted it to look cool. What can I say – we’re going to be pushing this thing for years to come, no point in looking bad while you do it.

4. It had to be compatible with a safe and easy to use car seat.

We toured all of the baby stores in our city to look at strollers; we pushed strollers around the stores, we folded them up, we unfolded them. We went online and read reviews. We went back to the stores and talked to different salespeople. In the end, we decided on the Peg Perego Pliko P3 stroller.

The Pliko P3 is great. It has large wheels to roll over obstacles, suspension in the rear for a smoother ride, and the matching car seat clips right in. It’s available in lots of different color combinations, so it looks cool. Best of all, this stroller is ridiculously easy to fold up. Pull two little triggers (one with each hand), reach down to the handle, and pull. The entire unit folds down. It literally takes less than 5 seconds to reach down, collapse the unit, and drop it in the trunk, all without ever having to bend over. Setting the unit up is almost as easy; pull the triggers, step down on the back, and then check to make sure the legs have clicked into place. It takes a bit longer to set up than to take down, but once you’ve done it a few times the time to set up is really just a few seconds.

This is one of my favorite baby products. Oh yeah, it’s even got a cupholder on it.

Peg Perego Pliko P3 Stroller at Amazon.com

My wife and I really had a hard time deciding which safety gates to buy for our house. We have only one flight of stairs down to a basement, which should make the task an easy one, but of course, it wasn’t. We also have a cat in our home, and the cat’s litter box is in the basement, but her food is all upstairs in the kitchen. We felt it would be inconvenient to lock the cat in the basement all the time when we spend most of our time upstairs, and moving the smelly litterbox upstairs was out of the question. Also, we thought that the cat would probably be able to jump over the gate from the steps, but would probably hurt itself jumping over the gate and landing on the stairs going down.

Since the stairs are accessed from the kitchen, and kitchens are child-safety nightmares anyhow, we decided the best course of action would be to simply gate off the kitchen completely. This added an additional cost, as our kitchen has two entrances to it, but we felt the cat could easily jump the gate on a level floor, and it would make our home safer by removing the kitchen as a danger, so the price would be worth it.

There are a whole pile of gates on the market, some good, some bad. After a lot of research, we finally settled on the Safety 1st Smartlight Stair Gate. It is adjustable to fit a wide range of doorways and openings, is mounted permanently to the frame of the opening, and is mostly built of out metal. The hinges and latches are plastic, but they have had a fair bit of use and seem to be holding up well. The other thing I like about this gate is that I can easily step over it. I’m 5’11”, and have no problem with it installed at the standard height. Since these gates are installed in high traffic areas of our house, it’s nice not to have to open and close the gate each time. The gate has a motion activated light built into it, but this wasn’t a concern for us so we never put batteries into it.

We found it at Sears, but I’m sure there are a number of places it is available at, including Amazon.com.