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Rear or Forward-Facing?
Child car seats that are "forward-facing" face the same direction as the driver. "Rear-facing" child car seats face the back of the automobile. Because the primary job of a child car seat is to restrain a child in case of an accident, the rear-facing seat does extra-duty by spreading the energy of a crash across the child's strongest body part: his or her back. As children grow older (and stronger) it's appropriate for them to face forward. But until they're one year old and at least 20 pounds, it's important that your child be in a rear-facing child car seat, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians.

Infant Car Seat or Convertible Car Seat?

First, consider that infant car seats are smaller, which means a better fit for a little baby. And infant car seats like the Graco® SnugRide® snap into a base, so you install the base in your car and then snap the infant car seat in and out as necessary. This means you can have a base in each automobile, and share one infant car seat between them. Plus, the seat also doubles as a carrier for easy transport to and from your automobile.

Secondly, you'll find that our SnugRide® infant car seats are compatible with most models of Graco® strollers. This means you can take your SnugRide® infant car seat out of the stay-in-car base, click it into the stroller, and go - without disturbing your sleeping baby. You will appreciate this convenience when you're on the go.

 

Infant and Convertible Car Seats: Key Features

Seat Angle. One of the most important aspects of a rear-facing car seat is the ability to attain the proper seat angle. Your baby's head and neck should be fully supported when driving, so the ability to control the installed seat angle of a car seat in a rear-facing position is very important. Look for an adjustable base that allows you to more easily install the seat with level indicators that show the proper seat angle for your car seat. (all Graco® infant and convertible seats come with level indicators).

Head Support. Along a level indicator, you should look for a soft head pillow, which adds head support and cushioning for infants. Make sure the head pillow can be removed in order to make room for your growing baby.

Weather Protection. If you want to keep bright sunlight away from your child, buy an infant seat with a canopy; if you're worried about cold or rain, a boot will help keep your tot snug and toasty.

Snug Fit. Seats usually feature a 5-point harness to keep your child snug. Certain car seats feature front adjusting harness straps that make it much easier to adjust the fit of your child's harness. Harnesses should fit snugly: you should only be able to fit one finger between your child and the harness.

 

When is it time for a Booster Seat?

There are two types of booster seats: those that come with an integrated harness, and Belt Positioning Boosters, which use the automobile's lap/shoulder belt to keep your child secure. Why might you pick one over the other? Harness Booster seats provide you the opportunity to keep your child in a harness longer. Belt Positioning Booster seats are generally considered "more grown-up" seats that keep your child secure and work with your automobile's lap/shoulder belt to restrain your child.

Features that matter to kids and parents include hideaway cup holders for drinks and storage places for important kid stuff like toys or videogames. Some models include deep side-wings and a high back for added comfort and support. A height adjustable headrest is a nice feature because it grows with your child and helps with proper seatbelt positioning.

Sometimes kids want to grow up too fast, and they don't want to sit in a booster seat any longer. In that case, there's the Graco® TurboBooster® - a youth booster seat that comes in cool fashions and colors, and converts to a backless booster where the back of the booster can be removed leaving only the seat. Backless booster seats are for kids a little bit older and bigger. It's totally kid-approved!

Choosing A Stroller

Every baby needs a stroller, but which one will fit best with your lifestyle? Well, the first thing to know is that most parents own two or three strollers during their child's infancy: a light one for errands or travel, for instance, and a heavy-duty model for long walks around the park or trips to the mall. Most strollers are designed for children up to 40 lbs and 4 years old. Most children start walking on their own around age 3, but having a lightweight stroller around during the 4th year for those times when little legs get tired is a good idea.

Consider a Travel System

First, if you are also planning to buy a Graco SnugRide® infant car seat, you might want to look into a travel system, which includes an infant car seat, which doubles as an infant carrier, a stay-in-car base, and a compatible Graco stroller. A travel system provides ease in getting your infant from place to place. When you're headed for a trip just click your SnugRide infant car seat into the stay-in-car base in your automobile, then when you get where you're going remove the SnugRide infant car seat from its base and click it into your Graco stroller -without having to worry about waking your napping baby.

Features to look for:

Recline. Reclined stroller seats offer support and comfort for your child. Different strollers recline different amounts. Some strollers offer total recline, so that your baby is essentially lying flat. This provides maximum stability and support and comfort for infants.

Storage. When you're traveling with your baby there's always a lot that needs to come along, from changing pads to apple juice. Some strollers offer storage options, allowing you to keep needed items close at hand.

Foldability. Strollers have different ways of folding, with some requiring more steps than others. The ultimate in foldability is the one-hand fold: a real convenience for moms and dads who need all the hands they can get.

Lifestyle Options. When you shop for strollers you'll find a variety of options that are intended to match your lifestyle: jogging strollers with tether straps for when you're exercising (a favorite among fast-moving dads), lightweight strollers that fold up and easy to carry and perfect for on an airplane, strollers that recline, and more.

Playards

As a new mom or dad, you'll always have your baby by your side. But what about those times when you need a few minutes to complete a chore or get some work done? You need a convenient, comfortable and, fun place for your baby to spend time. A playard is an enclosed space that gives an infant a place to play or nap. Many playards come with extras, like lockable rolling wheels to make it easy to move the playard around the house, bassinets, changing tables, or toys and mobiles. All playards fold up, but some are lighter and more portable than others.


What do I need?


A playard should be sturdy but light. Mesh sides are a must, because they let in light and air and let you keep an eye on your little one. A playard should fold down to a size that's easy to carry and stow on long trips, and it should be easy to fold - look for push button fold.


Some playards come with additional features. For the youngest children (under 15 lbs.), a bassinet gives them a comfortable place to nap. Because babies do more than play and sleep, buying a playard with a changing table is a good idea. If you'd like to spend time outside with your little one, a canopy will keep out the sun, and some canopies are treated to keep out UV rays. And if you're going to move the playard between rooms, it should be narrow enough to fit through doorways and have two locking wheels. Other extras include attached toy bags.

In addition to these practical features, there are extras that can help your child's development. A mobile helps their eyes focus. Attached soft toys make playards more fun, and some even play soothing lullabies and classical tunes and include a tiny night light to give you just enough light to check in without waking up your little one.


Traveling with Your Playard
If grandma's house hasn't been "baby-proofed," the thought of your little one crawling out of sight or getting into trouble can make it hard to enjoy a visit. One way to avoid this worry is to bring your playard along, but many parents find that it's easier to just keep a spare, basic model playard in the trunk of the car so it's ready any time.

Is it right for my baby?
Graco Pack 'n Play playards are intended for any child less than 35" tall and less than 30 lbs in weight. Once your child can climb out, do not use the Pack 'n Play playard.

Pack 'n Play playards are intended for naps and play time, but are not intended to replace a crib. Do not add extra mattresses or soft bedding into the Pack 'n Play playard. Instead, if it's chilly, consider dressing your baby in a warm footer sleeper.

Because babies will be babies, Pack 'n Play playards are designed to be easy to clean. Fabric can be easily wiped down, and plastic parts may be wiped clean with a damp cloth or sponge and household soap or detergent (do not use bleach). The carry bag can be machine washed in lukewarm water.

 
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