Friday, September 19, 2014

10 Car Seat Safety Tips for Child Passenger Safety Week



We are wrapping up Child Passenger Safety Week and wanted to create this post as a resource for parents and caregivers to refer back to throughout the year- not just during this one special week! We asked some of you to share your own car seat safety tips on our Facebook page and got an overwhelming response, so we decided to compile some of these tips and add some of our own. Read on and keep those little ones safe!

Tip #1: Check your car seat's expiration date.
Over time, the materials that car seats are comprised of can begin to break down, causing the car seat to lose its effectiveness in a crash. Check your instruction manual or call the manufacturer to find out how long your car seat is good for.

Tip #2: Harness your child in properly.
The straps should be at or below your child's shoulders when rear-facing and at or above your child's shoulders when forward-facing. Be sure that the chest clip is positioned on the child's chest at armpit level and not on the belly. If you are in a crash and the chest clip is not positioned properly, it's possible that internal organs could be damaged or the child could be ejected from the car seat. Lastly, ensure that the harness is tightened to fit as "snug as a hug"! If you are able to pinch any portion of the harness (either on the shoulders or at the hips), then it is not tight enough!

Tip #3: Remove all coats and snowsuits before buckling in.
Jackets, coats, snowsuits, and layered clothing has the potential to compress in a crash, causing the harness to be too loose on your child. Harness or buckle in, then cover up with a blanket or a backwards coat.

Tip #4: Rear-face until your child reaches the rear-facing weight or height limit (or at least until age 2)!
When a child is rear-facing, the car seat acts as a cocoon and minimizes the forces that impact the child in a crash, thus keeping your little one safer. Don't worry if their legs seem too long- a broken leg is better than a damaged spine or cracked skull, right? Just have them sit indian-style to be more comfortable.

Tip #5: Never, EVER put a car seat on top of the seating area of a shopping cart.
All it takes is one slight nudge to send this car seat tumbling to the ground. It's always best to put the car seat in the actual cart area to ensure that there is no way for it to fall out.

Tip #6: Do not use after-market products.
Products that did not come with your car seat, were not made by the manufacturer for your specific car seat, or have not been tested by the manufacturer with your specific car seat could affect the car seat's performance in a crash. Stay away from them, unless the manufacturer gives you its approval.

Tip #7: Don't allow your child to ride without a booster seat too soon.
Although they may complain about being in a booster, they must meet five requirements before it is safe to upgrade to using only the vehicle seat belt.
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
3. Does the seat belt cross the shoulder between the neck and the arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Is the child mature enough to stay seated like this the whole trip?

Tip #8: ALWAYS use a car seat.
No matter if you are on vacation, in a taxi, or just driving thirty seconds down the street, you should always use a car seat. It only takes second for an accident to occur.

Tip #9: Read both your car seat instruction manual AND your vehicle instruction manual.
Both of these manuals have tons of information and can tell you exactly how to install your car seat properly in your specific vehicle. Your vehicle may have special installation instructions or requirements that you would not be aware of otherwise.

Tip #10: Consult a CPST.
When in doubt (or even when you think you've installed correctly), visit a local car seat inspection station to have a certified child passenger safety technician check your installation. To find one near you, visit www.safercar.gov. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes, especially when the safety of your child is involved.

Obviously, there are so many other tips we could include here, but these are some of the mistakes that we commonly see. As always, be sure to strictly follow your instruction manual and reach out to the manufacturer if you have questions.

What other tips would you add to this list?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Potty Training Tips That You Can Live With


Are you in the potty training phase?  Have you been reading about different tips and methods that you can try?  Do you feel overwhelmed?  I will admit that I do.  I am in the process of potty training my fourth child and I still find it such a hard time in life.  I have tried and utilized different methods with each child.  Just when I think that something is going to work, it generally ends up failing which can be so frustrating.  

I wanted to talk about something a bit different than the tips and methods that you have already probably read about.  I wanted to share with you tips for making potty training as stress free and simple as possible.  

Tip # 1 – Remember that Each Child is Unique
Since I am a mom of four I am often asked for advice by my friends who are first time parents.  One of the things that I always get asked is when they should start potty training and I have to answer them with “I don't know.”  Then I go on to tell them that each child is different and unique and that you have to choose to potty train with each one when they are really ready.

Tip # 2 – Be Calm and Patient
Patience is not a virtue that I have been blessed with.  In fact most of the time I am pretty speedy and like to just get things done quickly.  I have had to learn how to be patient and how to remain calm when I am potty training one of my kids.  If I am not patient and push too hard they seem to resist more.  Likewise if I am not calm and get overly excited it seems to freak them out and can even cause them to regress. 

Tip # 3 – Talk to Your Child 
One of the biggest mistakes that I think that parents make is that they determine a child is ready for potty training based on their age.  Some children develop differently so for me it is important that I discuss the potty chair, going potty and the process with my child.  I have had one child fully potty trained by the age of two and one that was almost three and a half.  So it really does matter a lot what they can comprehend and whether or not they can tell you that they actually have to use the bathroom.

Tip # 4 – Start Slow 
Let your child pick out a potty chair or have a new one sent to them.  I know that it might seem dumb to buy a new potty chair when you already have one but for us their own new potty chair is what helped each one of the kids learn how to go potty.  For this reason I would encourage getting rid of the potty chair after your child is done, even if you believe strongly in saving all of your baby/toddler things for the next child.

Tip # 5 – Don't be Afraid to Try Something New
If you are trying one method you might feel like you have to be consistent.  However if that is not working then it might be better to quit all together, wait a while and try something completely different.  This can really help speed up the process with a child that has been resistant to one method.

Tip # 6 – Choose a Method that Fits Your Lifestyle 
Another huge mistake that I have tried in the past is a method that has worked for one of my children.  However since our life is constantly changing there are many reasons why some methods would not be right at this time for my youngest child.  I have to remember to choose the method that is going to best work for the child whom I am working with.


As you can see there is no right or wrong way to potty train your child.  Remember too that something that works for one of your children might not work for any of your other children.  Be patient, calm and respect what your child is telling you and your potty training experience can be a stress free time that you can enjoy with your child.

Amanda Walton is a stay at home mom who works as a blogger and writer.  You can check out her blog Simply Shawn N Jenn or check out her ebooks.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Traveling With a Baby? These 15 Tips Can Help


There are many things that you can do to make travel with an infant easier.  As a mom of four who has a mother in law that lives over eight hours away I am seasoned in traveling with babies. 

I know so many people who are afraid of travel with their little ones or overwhelmed at the thought of having to go somewhere far away.  So when it comes to taking trips they avoid it at all costs.  Traveling with your baby does not have to be stressful and you can really have a great time.  These tips can help to relieve some of the stress and make traveling with your little one more enjoyable.

Tip # 1 – Plan Ahead and Pack Accordingly
No matter where you are going weather can change and you might have a need for something that you did not see.  Pack extras like jackets and off season outfits so if the weather changes you are up for everything.  Also think about how many days that you are going and always add extra clothes.

Tip # 2 – Make Travel Fun with New Toys or Books
All children love toys and books while they are on the road.  When your baby gets bored it will challenge you to keep them entertained.  If you have small toys and books that they have not seen before then you will have an easier time getting them interested in something.

Tip # 3 – Technology Can Be Lifesaving
As a parent I do not like to rely on technology all of the time.  However when we are traveling technology can be a lifesaver.  All of our children have loved tablets and being able to watch cartoons while traveling.  If it is something that you do not often do they are going to enjoy it even more.

Tip # 4 – Choose Your Travel Clothes Wisely
Choosing the clothes that your little one travels in wisely is a must.  You want something that is going to make diaper changes quick and easy.

Tip # 5 – Travel with a Copy of Your Baby's Birth Certificate
Having a copy of your baby's birth certificate with you when you are traveling is a must.  It can make it easier to bring her in and out of the country if traveling abroad and can make airlines or trains a breeze when traveling in the US.

Tip # 6 – Choose Longer Layovers
I know that you want to get where you are going as quickly as possible.  However by choosing the longer layover times you will give your baby time to stretch and play while waiting on the next flight. 

Tip # 7 – Take a Travel Bed with You
You might be tempted to use a crib or hotel portable crib because of the ease but these are not always up to date with safety regulations.  So instead choose to take a small portable bed with you.  There are options that are much smaller than a play yard that can fold into a small size and even be stashed in a suitcase.

Tip # 8 – Be Patient
If your baby is getting cranky or upset then it is likely that they have a need.  Try to think about what you would do differently at home and how you would handle the time/situation.  Keep calm and be patient while trying to assess their need.

Tip # 9 – Set Up Your Space
When you arrive the first thing that you should do is set up your space to make it as comfortable and home-like to your baby as possible.  This can help your baby to relax and not feel the anxiety of being in new surroundings.

Tip # 10 – Wear Your Baby
You can wear your baby to help keep yourself hands free while navigating through different places.  This can be lifesaving when your baby is constantly surrounded by new people because they will feel comfortable being right next to you.

Tip # 11 – Stick to Your Routine
Sticking to your routine is very important when traveling.  For me personally this is something that I have always done but sometimes I get odd looks or someone will make a comment.  However if you have seen my children when we did not stick to our routine then you would completely understand.

Tip # 12 – Do What You Know is Best for Your Baby
I know when traveling to see family that it can be tough to keep your baby on a routine or to keep him or her from being passed around.  However sticking to your guns and doing everything that you know is best for your baby will help you feel comfortable enough to travel again.

Tip # 13 – Set Up Different Areas in a Hotel Room
Having different areas set up in a hotel room can be lifesaving.  There are four distinct areas that you want to have set up as soon as possible after arriving.  These include: 
1.   Changing Area – Have everything you need for effortless diaper changes in one area.
2.   Play Area – Pack a sheet with you and designate a specific area of the floor as a play area.  This will help baby not to be confused and want to play in their sleeping area.
3.   Sleeping Area – Have one spot designated for bed time or time to sleep.
4.   Kitchen Area – Have everything set up in one area for quick bottles, snacks, and/or meals.

Tip # 14 – Know Your Airline's Policies
When traveling on an airline call ahead of time to ask about car seats and strollers.  These items are generally free to take along with you and most of the time they can be gate checked if you need them while at the airport.  Knowing ahead of time what your airline allows and will do is very valuable.

Tip # 15 – Give Your Baby the Right Nap Environment
Some babies will sleep while you are baby wearing, in a car, or in a stroller.  Others will not.  Know your baby and if yours is one that needs to be at home to nap then plan on taking turns at the hotel room for naps.

Traveling with your baby can be a stress free and enjoyable experience that creates memories for you to cherish.  These tips can really help you to feel like you know what you are doing and can help you be prepared for anything while traveling with your little one.




Amanda Walton is a stay at home mom who works as a blogger and writer.  You can check out her blog Simply Shawn N Jenn or check out her ebooks.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kid-Friendly Sushi Recipes


Lots of little ones enjoy watching mommy and daddy eating sushi with their chopsticks, but they might not be quite as keen on the idea of eating raw fish. We went on the hunt for some fun, kid-friendly "sushi" recipes to satisfy your kiddos's crave for Asian-style cuisine. Enjoy!

Veggie Sushi- healthy, fresh, and delicious!
Photo by James Tse from CanadianFamily.ca
Just slice up some cucumbers lengthwise and add some cream cheese and your favorite raw vegetables... a perfect summertime snack or lunch item. Full recipe here.

Peanut Butter & Banana Sushi- a sweet treat!
Photo by PeanutButterBoy.com
Smear some peanut butter across a whole wheat tortilla, wrap it around a peeled banana, drizzle with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon, and voila- You have a very yummy sushi that your kids will go *bananas* for! Full recipe here.

Sushi Sandwich- a twist on an old favorite!
Photo by DomesticCharm.blogspot.com
Tired of your regular old turkey or PB&J sandwich? Mix it up by rolling up all of the ingredients in a slice of bread instead of layering. Be sure to incorporate lots of veggies and meat for maximum flavor. Full recipe here.

What better way for your children to eat these fun sushi recipes than with the Combi Chopsticks Training Set

The Chopsticks training set is designed to adjust to your child's hand growth while teaching him or her to use chopsticks properly. This three-stage item converts from children's chopsticks with full support to a normal set of plastic chopsticks. As an added bonus, they are microwave and dishwasher safe! You can purchase them now on CombiUSA.com for just $9.99. 

Want some pointers on how to make your own "adult" sushi? Check out PBS' step-by-step instructions with visuals: How To Make Sushi with Step-by-Step Breakdown

Monday, May 19, 2014

Combi Day 2014

Each year on May 16th, Combi employees celebrate Combi Day as a way to honor the global Combi brand and give back to the community.

Combi's parent company, Combi Group in Japan awards one individual the "Combist" award each year on Combi Day. Each Combi branch gets to nominate employees who embody key characteristics that are important both inside and outside of the office. Once each Combi division submits their nominees, all Combi employees in the world vote to select that year's Combist. Combi USA was pleased to nominate Rodney Pipkin, our Warehouse Supervisor, and Tanika Snyder, our Accounts Payable Clerk for the award this year. We celebrated their accomplishments with a staff breakfast this past Friday morning. Rodney and Tanika were also presented with certificates and Combi souvenirs as tokens of appreciation for their dedication to the company.





In addition to honoring and celebrating our colleagues, we also see Combi Day as an opportunity to give back to our community. Located in Charlotte, NC, we chose to donate items to our local Safe Kids chapter for use at an upcoming car seat check event. We donated goodie bags filled with fun Combi items for each parent or caretaker to take away from the car seat check. Safe Kids also plans to fill the bags with educational materials containing car seat safety tips. 


Combi Day is always such a fun time to recognize those at our company and in our community who are going above and beyond what is required. If you could give back to any organization in your community, which organization would you choose?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Look Up

OK, we admit it. We're incredibly guilty of using and relying on our smart phones WAY too much and we're sure some of you can relate. We came across this spoken word film created by Gary Turk that really drives home the idea that "social" media and technology ultimately results in us spending more time alone and becoming more and more disconnected from other human beings.

We think this is something super important to consider, especially for parents. Children often copy what mommy and daddy are doing. Children learn from their parents. If we are teaching them to rely so much on their mobile devices rather than relying on one another, what are they really learning? Do we want them to live in a world where people spend more time on their phones than forming relationships with those around them? Just some food for thought. Would love to hear your opinions in the comments below!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Tips for New Parents

  1. BE YOURSELF! No one knows what's best for your child except you, so do what you feel is right in any situation and don't let others get to you if they don't agree.
  2. GET SLEEP WHEN YOU CAN. Take advantage of those rare nap times or visits from grandma. You'll thank us for this advice during your 3AM feedings.
  3. DON'T SAY NO TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO HELP. We know you'd like to be SuperMom, but let's be honest- motherhood (and fatherhood!) is hard work! There's no shame in getting a helping hand from others who love you and your little one. They most likely would love to be around your new bundle of joy anyway!
  4. PREPARE YOUR MEALS IN ADVANCE. When baby comes, all of your attention is focused on him or her and all your personal needs (including food) are no longer a top priority. You likely won't have time to cook, so make some meals ahead of time and store them in the freezer until you're ready to chow down.
  5. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Like we said in #4, a new baby means mommy's and daddy's needs are put to the side, but this doesn't mean that you should ignore them either. Be sure you're eating nutritious foods, getting *some* rest and paying attention to your health. Being sick with a newborn is no fun!
  6. DON'T BE ASHAMED TO ACCEPT A HAND-ME-DOWN. We know- baby gear is expensive. Go ahead and purchase the items you've been dreaming of, but don't break the bank getting every latest, hottest item on the market. Turn to others who have children a little older for non-essentials. We bet they have a lot of stuff they'd like to get rid of!
  7. DON'T PANIC! Parenting is challenging and frustrating at times, but stay calm! You can do it and will make it through every tough time you have along the way. It will be worth it.
  8. TAKE YOUR TIME FINDING A BABYSITTER OR DAYCARE PROVIDER. Every mom and/or dad dreads going back to work after a maternity/paternity leave. After all, who wants to leave their snuggly little baby for the ENTIRE day?! Take your time deciding where you want baby to stay while you are away at work. Find someone who understands your parenting style and values. If you're comfortable and happy with your little one's caregiver, you will be more productive during the day and will find yourself worrying less. 
  9. LEARN THE DO'S AND DON'T'S OF CAR SEAT SAFETY. We cannot stress this enough! So many parents are uneducated about car seat safety. Read your car seat instruction manual thoroughly to ensure that you are installing properly or consult a local CPST for help. Be sure the harness fits snugly and all buckles/clips are positioned correctly. Know that car seats are designed for use either in a car or a stroller (unless otherwise stated in the manual) and you should never place a car seat on/in a shopping cart, countertop, bed, etc.
  10. SAVOR EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. Enjoy the laughs, cries, dirty diapers, long nights, first steps and everything else in between because it will be gone in a flash! You will be a parent forever, but your little one will soon not be so little anymore. Take advantage of every good and bad minute you have with your baby!
Tell us below: what tips for new parents would you add to this list?
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