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When my son arrived at 31 weeks + 6 days, I felt completely unprepared. We had not finished researching or purchasing baby equipment. We had canceled our baby showers due to my hospitalization. We had no car seat and no idea how to install one.


In the two and a half years since our discharge, I have gotten lots of experience traveling with my NICU graduate and completed a training program to become a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST).

Here are all the tips I wish I knew back then:

1. Confirm that your car seat is approved for low birth weight*

Many NICUs do not have a minimum discharge weight, so you may find yourself coming home with a very small baby—sometimes in the 4-5 pound range. Therefore, it is important to research any potential car seat and confirm that it is safe for babies in this lower weight range.

For example, the Graco SnugRide 35 (a popular infant seat) is approved for use with babies as low as 4 pounds. In contrast, the Chicco Nextfit (a popular convertible seat) is approved for rear-facing babies starting at 5 pounds. Both infant seats (rear-facing only) and convertible seats (used rear-facing) are safe for newborns.

*Many NICU graduates are able to safely use traditional car seats. However, some babies with certain medical conditions may require a car bed or other arrangements for safe travel. Those travel decisions should be made in collaboration with your child’s medical team.

2. Read your manuals

In the NICU you may find yourself with some downtime (either during or between visits). In that case, your car seat and vehicle manuals make great reading material! Okay, so the manuals may not look like page-turners, but they provide life-saving information and should be read thoroughly before installing or using a car seat.

Every vehicle and car seat is a little different, so check your manuals for the details on the following:

  • Car seat manual: Age, weight, and height requirements for safe usage; car seat components; proper installation and vehicle seating positions; correct harness usage/placement; and safe cleaning/maintenance of the seat.
  • Vehicle manual: Airbag locations; proper vehicle seating positions for car seats; locations of lower and tether anchors (LATCH); and proper seat installation.

3. Resist the urge to bundle (under the straps)

When you have a NICU grad (e.g., a premature baby) that gets cold easily, your first instinct is to bundle them up—at home and definitely on the road where they may be exposed to cold weather. But I’m telling you to resist the urge.

For maximum protection in a crash, you want the car seat harness to be fitted as close to your child as possible. When they wear a snowsuit or other thick outerwear, you end up fitting the harness to the clothes—and those clothes can compress during a crash and leave the harness too loose. A loose harness can lead to extra crash forces on the child and in the worst case scenario—ejection from the seat.

There are many safe alternatives to keep your child warm in the car like lighter fleece clothing under the straps and blankets and shower cap style covers that fit over the seat and do not interfere with the harness.

4. Secure medical equipment

If your baby is ready for discharge but still needs a little extra help, you may find yourself heading home with medical equipment such as oxygen tanks and apnea monitors. This equipment can be heavy and therefore has the potential to be a projectile during a crash and injure your child.

Before leaving the hospital, take some time to evaluate your vehicle and see how best to stow medical equipment (or other potential projectiles). You should identify all storage compartments, cargo spaces and strategies for securing items. Using bungee cords can be a great solution.

5. Save money and skip the aftermarket products

There are a lot of products marketed to parents to make their child’s car seat more comfortable—like cozy harness covers and infant inserts. These are non-regulated aftermarket products and are not recommended for use with your seats.

First, these were not crash tested with your seat, so we have no idea how they will perform during a crash. Second, many of these products interfere with the safe functioning of your seat, and some can actually put your baby into an unsafe breathing position.

But don’t worry, there are safe alternatives. For example, if you are concerned about your baby’s position in the seat, skip the aftermarket products and use rolled up receiving blankets to get them in a better position.

6. Keep the chest clip on the chest

The chest clip (or retainer clip) is designed to keep the car seat straps parallel over the torso during a crash. To work properly and keep the child safe, the clip should be placed at armpit level. A helpful visual can be found here.

After you tighten the straps and correctly place the chest clip, do the “pinch test." You should not be able to pinch any excess strap webbing at the shoulder or hips once the harness is buckled.

7. Have your install checked by a certified tech

Even if you’ve read your manuals and practiced installing your seat, you may still be unsure about the safety of your installation (or that seat may still move back and forth more than 1 inch no matter what you try).

I always encourage parents to make an appointment to have their car seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). CPSTs are not car seat installers. They are educators. They will teach you how to safely install and use your car seat. They will show you how to properly harness a baby and answer any other questions you may have.

Be sure to mention any special needs your child has (low weight, medical equipment, etc.), and they can offer additional resources.

If you aren’t sure how to find the closest CPST, here are a few ideas:

Congratulations on your discharge from the NICU! I hope these tips help keep your NICU graduate safe and healthy on your many adventures together.

Originally published by Leah A. Roman on GrahamsFoundation.org.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna

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2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna

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3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95

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4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna

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5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna

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With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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