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Since our crib section has received numerous hits from around the world, we’ve decided to give our 2 cents worth of critique on other baby products. We are urban dwellers so, for us, we had many requirements when deciding upon a stroller. First, it had to be compact since we live in a small house and don’t have the luxury of extra space. We also walk everywhere and we didn’t want a stroller to take up the whole damn sidewalk when walking and have people grunt as they have to pass some SUV sized suburban stroller! Second, it had to be light weight to carry it in and out of our house and around town in those quaint stores that invariably have steps into their shops. Third, it had to fold easily since we have a compact car and again, space is tight in our trunk. And lastly, it had to be visually appealing since we’d be pushing it along with us for at least 2 years!
Now we could have been snobs and decided on an expensive stokke stroller (I’m not going to lie, their high chair is at the top of our list) but as you can tell from our other product selections, we like high design but with an affordable price tag. We knew getting a stroller would mean it would likely be made in China (unless you could afford stokke), as are all other baby products but we wanted control in where it was being designed – so no Uppababy that are designed and patented in China. So unless we were going to buy a wooden stroller made by the Amish, we resigned to the fact that nothing is made in the USA anymore.
Since we’ve been waiting for a couple of years now for a baby, we’ve had a fair bit of time to research different strollers. At first we thought we’d get the Baby Jogger City Mini stroller (designed in USA). It fit all of our requirements: you could fold the stroller in half with one hand, it was small, had cool colors and was affordable. Even our favorite Mexican singer Lila Downs had one and she lives in New York City (she also adopted a baby!) But the more we thought about it, we realized we weren’t too happy with the City Mini. Our problem was twofold: the stroller would not accept a car seat unless you paid over $50 for a car seat adapter, which at that point made no sense since you could buy a Baby Trend Snap N’ Go for the same amount of money. Plus, the adapter didn’t let you fold the stroller in half, and if we decided to buy the Snap N’ Go then we’d have 2 pieces of equipment we’d have to store in our house. Our other reason stemmed from the fact that when we first wanted the City Mini they were still fairly new and hip. Once Babies R Us started carrying them, we saw them everywhere and we just plain lost interest in that stroller.
We stumbled along trying to find the next best stroller. We just happened to get an email about a new product and fell in love with it immediately: phil&teds smart stroller! The company is from New Zealand (if you order online, you will be billed from New Zealand so be sure to tell your credit card company that this is not a fraudulent purchase) and has very modern, sleek designs. It only comes in black so if you know architects you’ll know that black is the only ‘color’ that matters. They do sell extra padding inserts with fun colors if you want some flare. What we absolutely love about the product is that it’s very compact and yet still very versatile. You can reverse the seat to face you or face out with their verso adapter, which is not expensive at all. It will accept a car seat without an adapter and you can add a bassinet. We thought this was ingenious since most bassinet / stroller combinations are really expensive, whereas their peanut bassinet was very reasonably priced and could fold down flat when storing. Aside from the various adaptable configurations, the seat itself is an engineering feat. They designed a foam seat that is molded into one piece, so if there are any spills you can literally hose this stroller down! As for size, it’s super light weight and small enough for your mini cooper as they so keenly said on their website. This is definitely a great find that not many know about… you can tell this is a hipster stroller when you have the likes of Jack Black and Halle Berry sporting their phil&teds strollers!
Lastly, what struck a chord for us, was that they have a foundation that gives back to the community called phil&thropic. They have numerous different programs for children in need making our purchase even more worth it.
Who says big change cannot start off small? We don’t believe that and neither does punypixel, a new clothing line just launched by a good friend of ours. punypixel starts with the premise that no step is to small, “no matter how puny”, so they are thinking big! punypixel’s primary mission is to help children around the world by partnering with organizations that help make a difference in children’s lives. With the launch of their line of super cool, socially and environmentally responsible kids clothing, they are taking their first step towards making this mission a reality. For their inaugural project, punypixel has teamed up with Cradles to Crayons. With every purchase you make punypixel will be helping to fund Cradles to Crayons’ mission of providing necessary essentials to homeless and low-income children.
Way to go punypixel! We love the concept and all the PunyPixels, Leo, Irs, Sid, and Mike!
As the waiting game continues, we decided we might as well keep slowly accumulating the items for our nursery, so that we do not have to buy everything all at once. Therefore, the next item on our list became a mattress. As part of our post placement study, once we are matched with a child, the social worker must visit our home to see that the baby has a proper place to sleep. So we decided to do a little research before jumping in and buying a mattress. We spoke to some friends that recently had babies to see what they would recommend. Some of the recommendations we received were as follows:
1. Buy something that is not too heavy, so that it is light enough to lift each time you have to change the sheets after there is an accident.
2. Buy something that is easy to clean, again because of the accidents.
3. Buy an organic mattress. Since infants spend most of their time sleeping, it’s worthwhile to consider investing in an organic mattress to ensure there are no issues of toxic off-gassing and if possible also try and get a mattress that is breathable, to ensure the baby gets a good air flow in their sleeping area.
Finally after doing a lot of online research and several trips to the store, we discovered the Nook Sleep Systems Pebble Mattress to be a pretty cool mattress option. Nook Sleep Systems is dedicated to innovation. They look at the entirety of the mattress to develop a cohesive holistic design. They have taken the time to make sure that their mattress is well designed, breathable, non-toxic and completely organic. The internal core of the mattress is made of natural latex which is an open celled material that maximizes air flow through the core (for breathability which will allow more oxygen to the baby, meaning a better night of sleep) and the natural latex is hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and anti-mites (no nasty bed bugs!). The inner core is wrapped with organic wool which is a natural fire barrier as opposed to the harsh chemicals used in standard mattresses. The surface is made up of eucalyptus fibers and cotton to help remove moisture and promote breathability, and the best part is that no vinyl mattress pads are required since liquids will bead on the surface of the mattress, and they come in cool bright colors as well! Nook Sleep System products are Made in North America (this time it’s for real, on manufacturer’s website!) and they even offer twin size mattresses. Hopefully, they’ll expand their line to include double, queen and king size for us adults to enjoy as well.
We are members of Zulily (an online designer discount store) and they had the Pebble Mattress on sale for half the price so we jumped to make the purchase. It’s quite an expensive mattress so if you are looking at purchasing it, we strongly recommend to see if you can find a great deal online.
Unfortunately we have a correction to make about our previous crib post. The Loom Crib is actually made in China. After publishing the blog we sent the link to the customer service representative we were speaking with at Nurseryworks and she informed us that the Loom Crib is not made in USA but in fact made in China. This was surprising to us since a few websites selling the crib listed it as Made in USA. So the lessen learned is don’t believe what online stores write about the products they are selling (peddling!) and make sure to ask the manufacturer.
However, now we have to decide if we can live with a crib made in China or find something else. A friend of ours found a good tip in the book “Baby Bargains” which basically said that 90% of baby furniture is made in China so if the furniture company is reputable then likely the furniture made in China will be fine. That being said there are companies that don’t use China to manufacture their furniture, for example Oeuf makes their cribs in Latvia. There are a few small percentage that still make their cribs in the USA and most of them are over $1000 price tag. El Greco cribs though, which are sold through Land of Nod, are made in the USA and definitely below the $1000 mark.
As for what we are going to do, we aren’t sure. We read through the safety data of Nurseryworks and they’ve never had any recalls on their products, they are doing their part for the environment, and the design is quite nice. We have not decided what we will do, so we thought we would put the question to you.
Everyone knows, as soon as you have a baby, one of the major items to purchase is a crib, therefore it is one of the items you’ll probably spend the most time researching. This is typically a costly purchase, plus you have to make sure all the safety standards are met, so it makes sense to do your homework before you shop. When it comes to cribs we have heard all kinds of arguments for or against different kinds of cribs but for us this is an important issue, since this is where the baby will be spending a lot of time sleeping. We were struggling to decide if we wanted to invest in a more expensive crib or buy something less expensive from Ikea or Walmart. However, we soon found out that all the cribs at Ikea were recalled because of faulty mattress supports collapsing. This quickly eliminated Ikea cribs off our list. Our next option was Walmart but we were weary of similar quality issues and the cribs we liked, Baby Mod (sold at Walmart only, elsewhere it’s the exact same crib named Babyletto for $100 more) had nice modern lines but most of the reviews complained that the wood was too soft and was easily dented or worse could be chewed by the baby. Therefore one of our main goals was to try and find a good crib that was not made in China especially with all the safety issues for recalled products.
We set a few goals to help narrow our search: non-toxic crib, eco-friendly (if in the budget), made in the USA and if that wasn’t possible then simply not made in China, and finally a modern crib. We set a budget for $300-600, which made it pretty tough to find a crib that met our goals and is still within our budget, but we were convinced we could find a good deal online.
Oeuf cribs are marketed as eco-friendly cribs that are made in Europe and their most economical crib, the Robin crib, is within the upper tier of our price range. However, we were not entirely thrilled with the design of the crib, particularly the open slots on the side panels and the exposed hardware.
Nurseryworks cribs, a competitor to Oeuf, has the Loom Crib that meets our outlined goals and has a unique personal design. The Loom Crib is non-toxic, made of catalpa wood, which is a fast growing wood,
is made in the US (after speaking to the manufacturer we were informed that we received misleading information from some of the online suppliers and the Loom crib is in fact made in China) just squeezes into our upper tier budget level. But, as architects, what really appealed to us was the design of the crib. With typical crib designs, we dislike the rigidity of the repetitive vertical slats that seem to recall prison bars. What we loved with the loom crib is how the designers took the government required minimum spacing of the vertical slats and had some fun with it! Instead of equally spaced slats, they are varied to create visual interest. If you select the natural or dark finish the slats and wrapping trim contrast with the white side panels and frame. The hardware is neatly hidden and it’s a convertible crib with 3 mattress positions. The best part we found was that you do not need to spend the hefty price for the toddler conversion kit since the crib does not require it (whereas most do to keep the crib stable) to remain functional if the front side remains open. You could then buy an inexpensive guard and put it under the mattress and once your toddler is ready for a twin bed, the crib could be used as a day bed and still look great. Additionally, Nurseryworks has been very responsive to any questions via email. We are excited for our find and wanted to share it with everyone.
Earlier this year I attended the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York to take in the latest and greatest furniture products from around the world. After looking at hundreds of chairs, light fixtures, and tables, I came upon the most unexpected find. An amazing cradle designed not only to fit into any contemporary modernist aesthetic pallet, but designed primarily with the baby’s comfort in mind. Upon further discussion with the designer of the so-ro cradle, I realized that what made this cradle so unique was not just the beautifully crafted and designed cradle I saw on the floor of the exhibit hall, but also the amazing work that Ane Lillian Tveit has contributed in her dedication to the betterment of disabled children’s lives.
Ane Lillian Tveit was one of the designers featured in the Norwegian booth at the fair. When I first saw the cradle, I was immediately intrigued but I was not quite sure what it was. With its oblong design and sculptural quality, I thought it looked like a cradle but it was unlike any cradle I had ever seen. Fortunately Ane Lillian, an occupational therapist by training, explained to me the theory behind her design. She said, “Babies love to rock” and I was a bit confused. So she went on to explain how different motions, when perceived by the baby, can create different effects on the baby’s comfort. For example, the forward rocking motion of a rocking chair can have a calming or soothing affect on the baby, while side ways or lateral motion can often cause dizziness or discomfort. The so-ro cradle is designed to rock in a forward motion similar to that of a rocking chair, unlike the sideways motion of typical cradles, providing the baby a soothing effect that helps them fall asleep. The cradle is also designed with safety in mind and made with natural materials. Additionally, it is also made to be easily assembled and disassembled for easy storage.
What is not easily apparent at foremost, is Ane’s other work, as an occupational therapist. Ane dedicates much of her work hours to help make better lives for disabled children in Moldova, Eastern Europe, often described as the poorest country in Europe. Her work there has helped countless children by improving their living conditions and by helping contribute to their integration in the Moldovan society. In 2011 Ane was awarded the Children of the Earth Prize for her extensive work in Moldova.