If there's one things moms like to do, it's share information. We have our favorite car seat, stroller, toys, and more, and we're not afraid to tell everyone about them. Over the past month, we asked you to vote on your favorite things from 2011 — everything from the top push chair and celebrity baby name to the celeb mom you most like to follow on Twitter — and you weren't afraid to speak your minds. We now present you with the winners — LilSugar readers' choices for the best of 2011! Check them out!
This year brought a new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep lil ones facing the rear until they are 2 years old or they reach the height and weight guidelines on the seat. New (and seemingly always-changing) rules aside, your car seat is one of those major baby purchases that all parents stress about. Is it safe enough? Comfy enough? And let's face it, cool enough? Luckily, 2011 has brought some awesome car seats, both safe and sleek-looking! So what was your fave of 2011? Pick one of the options below or leave us a comment with your favorite.
Does the interior of your car look like a tornado ripped through it? Is the floor covered with cracker crumbs, discarded wrappers, and broken crayons? Circle of Moms member Megaly P., who has two preschoolers, says that every time she takes her car to be washed she's embarrassed by "all the crap" the attendants find in, under and around her kids' car seats. Not to be outdone, Tracey T. claims her car is "sooooo bad" she avoids valet parking situations altogether. Is it possible to rein in "the madness," as Megaly calls it? And if so, what's the secret to keeping the family car clean and organized? Here are four ideas to get you started.
1. Getting Organized
The first step to getting your car organized is to get it down to what I call "baseline." Wash the exterior, remove everything from the interior and clean and vacuum surfaces. Then decide what kinds of cleaning supplies you need to keep in the car all the time, and devote a specific space to each item, either in the body of your car or in a bin in the trunk.
My family uses a lot of paper towels, so we keep a roll in a little storage bin on the floor of the rear passenger's side along with a bottle of water for cleaning up spills right away. You may also need a hand-held vacuum or a lint remover.
Kids definitely make for car chaos, but they can also be part of the solution. If your kids want to help with clean-up but won't put the clean-up gear back in its proper place, just tell them, "This is Mommy's work." If they really want to help with clean-up, they'll learn to put the tools back when the job is done.
2. Staying Organized
Now what about all the stuff — snacks, drinks, activities — that your kids are constantly littering the car with? Circle of Moms member Sharon G. gave each of her kids a drawstring bag with instructions to "Pack it in, pack it out." They now tote their wrappers, juice boxes, and toys back out using these handy bags, and have developed a sense of responsibility for helping to keep the family car in order.
Circle of Moms member Casey has another suggestion for organizing kids' belongings in the car: keep one big bin for each child in the car and instruct your kids to stash all their stuff in it. Casey suggests plastic or fabric bins from WalMart; spacesavers.com carries similar gear. This way, they don't have to constantly drag things in and out, and they can find what they're looking for if they need to. She cleans the bins out every week or so, which beats the daily struggle of trying to clean up after every drive.
3. Removing Stains
Kids are messy. They track dirt and food into the car on a daily basis. While you can try to teach them good habits, such as not stepping on the back seat to get into the booster while wearing muddy boots, you can't always control the cracker and cookie crumbs, juice spills, and sandwich smears.
One product that I've found useful for treating food stains is Bac-Out Stain and Odor Eliminator, a natural cleaning product made from enzymes and botanical extracts. It works on mustard, ketchup, and other common food spills, and it has a pleasant lime smell. It even works on blood!
If you have a grease stain, skip Bac-Out, and head straight for CitraSolv, a natural orange-based de-greaser that works amazingly well, even on older stains. (This product is also good for carpets and rugs in the house.)
4. Removing Odors
Even kids who are potty trained have accidents, and urine leaves behind a strong odor, so you don't want it trapped in the fabric of your car upholstery. Nature's Miracle works well for removing odors from both upholstery and carpet without toxic chemicals. I discovered it when our cat was spraying the walls around her litter box, and now we keep a bottle in the trunk to use in the car.
If the smell or mess is confined to your child's car seat, read the tage to see if it's machine-washable. Many moms are afraid to wash car seat inserts that have foam backing, but Asia C. tried it after her daughter threw up in the car. Faced with the choice of throwing out the soiled cover or attempting a machine cleaning, she went ahead and put it through the machine. She now does it regularly and advises that the occasional run through the washer won't hurt a car seat cover as long as you air-dry it.
What tricks help you keep your car clean and organized?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.
Let's take a drive! With all of the activities kids have going on, the family car becomes like a second home. Mama spends hours a day shuffling the tots around from one extracurricular activity to the next — and searching for lost toys in between the seats! From tiny kicks on the back of your seat to junior screaming desperately for his sippy, driving with kids can be stressful. Make your car-pool drives a little more pleasant with the help of these five car accessories.
- Sunshine Kids Stow 'N Go Car Seatback Organizer ($10): Sippy cups, toys, and sunglasses! Oh my! A seat back organizer keeps all of your tot's backseat belongings tidy and visible.
- Kurgo Auto Tray Table ($20): Enjoy a meal, watch a movie, or play with your LEGOS! Your tots can engage in all sorts of activities while mom is driving if they have a tray table at their disposal.
- Prince Lionheart Two Stage Car Seat Protection ($22): Car seats can leave depression damage and scuff marks on the backseat of your car — especially if you have leather seats! Protect them with a durable car seat cover.
- SafeFit Kick Mats ($9): Kick away! Protect the back of your seat from dirty shoes with kick mats — it'll cost a lot less than having to get your car seats shampooed.
- Sunshine Kids Travel Pal ($14): Road trip! Let the kids bring what they want and keep it all organized — and within reach — with a travel pal. It even has special compartments for baby's bottle or your tot's sippy!
Buckle up, baby! Car trips with a kiddo can be quite pleasant — or sheer torture — depending on how well prepared mama is for the venture. From keeping baby entertained to protecting your little one from the elements, we've rounded up seven must-have car seat accessories to make mama's outings as stress-free as possible! Check it out.
One more good reason to send the kids to grandma's for the weekend! A study published in Pediatrics found that kids are actually safer in crashes when driven by grandparents than when driven by their parents. And not just a little bit safer — taking risk factors like proper seat belt use and type of car into account, the study concluded that there's a 50 percent reduction in injury risk with grandparent drivers.
Busy parents spend an awful amount of time in the car. How much do you know about carting your kids around safely?Take the Quiz
Mobile mamas know that moving a car seat from one vehicle to another is no easy feat. They're heavy, they're difficult to install, and they don't always fit in their allotted space. So it would seem logical that a company would create a version made for families on the move.
The Easy Car Seat ($92) is an inflatable version of the traditional forward-facing safety seat. Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the 1.5-pound booster "fully complies with EU and USA Vehicle Safety Standards." While I can see how carpooling mothers and grandparents would love the convenience of such a compact seat, I don't know if I could get past its raft-like design. What do you think?
For many parents, a tot's first birthday is not only cause for a party, but it is the milestone they use to switch their baby from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing one. Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics is revising their long-held recommendations and advising parents to keep their lil ones facing back until they turn 2-years-old, or they reach the height and weight guidelines on the seat.
Car safety recommendations have evolved significantly over the years. Take this quiz to see how much you really know about them.Take the Quiz
Nothing says Labor Day like a car full of loved ones headed for an end of Summer getaway or celebration. Before you brave the road with your precious cargo, check out these little-known safety tips! I spoke with Becky Michalkiewicz, the statewide child safety seat coordinator of the California Highway Patrol, who offered up this expert advice.
- Watch out for anything in your car that's loose, like toys. "It is important to make sure the environment of your car is the safest possible," says Michalkiewicz. "Make sure there is nothing that isn't strapped down because that becomes a projectile" in an accident.
- Don't clip items on your car seat, even something like a toy mobile. Attaching items that didn't come with your car seat voids the manufacturer's liability if you are in an accident and the car seat malfunctions.
- It may sound simple, but make sure you know how a car seat looks and sounds when it is installed correctly. Michalkiewicz said the CHP commonly sees car seats that are not attached at all.
If you need help, contact your local highway patrol. The CHP, for example, will schedule an appointment with a trained technician to check your car seat and how it fits your child.