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Tips & Guides
Swing sets come in a variety of sizes and materials. Before you make any purchase, you should read these guidelines to ensure the safety and happiness of your children.
1. Measure the Size of Your Yard
You don't know how many returns have to be made due to a swing set being too big for a backyard upon bringing it back home.
Which is why, above everything else, the first thing you should do is to MEASURE the size of your backyard!
- Where do you intend to place the swing set?
- Will you still have space for other activities?
- Is there enough room for the dog and children to run around or ride bikes ?
- Any pool expansion in the future?
These should all be considered before you get a swing set. You will thank yourself for planning this out in the future. So MEASURE!
2. Swing Set Features
The very basic features of a swing set will usually include a swing and a slide.
In terms of swing, there is the baby swing, the glider or half-bucket swing for babies/toddlers. For older children, there are the buoy balls, tire swings and sling swings.
Then there is the monkey bar, ropes, tunnels, tires, sand pit or even fancier - a fort. So really, the combination is pretty endless!
So, think of what your children will like. Bring them to a park or a neighbour's house to test first and see what they like. This will help you choose the right swing set that your child will like.
It is always best to look for baby and toddler features that can be converted as your child grows.
Also, it is always a good idea to get double swings so that children can swing at the same time without having to take turns!
One extra tip: tire swings are more likely to collect rainwater which may invite nesting insects such as wasps so make sure regular cleaning is done if you're getting one.
The most common materials found in swing sets are plastic and wood.
The formal is less expensive and there is no need to worry about splinters, wasps and constant maintenance; while the latter is environmental friendly and easy to repair.
If budget is a factor, plastic is your go-to choice because they are generally less expensive (but still, is very safe). Note though, you will not be able to customize as freely as you want with plastic models.
With wood, there are several types with redwood and cedar (red or yellow) being the most preferred options due to their strength and durability. Also, they are resistant to rotting and are less likely to draw insects.
Try to avoid pine wood because it tends to deteriorate quickly. In fact, some models have been recalled by manufacturers due to the rotting elements resulting to fall hazards for children. You do not want that, so don't buy if it's pine wood!
4. Product Meets Safety Standards
Generally, there are no mandatory standards that manufacturers must follow.
It is therefore your responsibility as parents to safeguard your children against poorly made swing sets. Here are what you should look out for:
- Make sure there is no opening less than 3.5 inches or greater than 9 inches (prevent head entrapment)
- No metal slides. This can cause a burning sensation on children's skin if the weather is hot and there may be cutting hazard near the sharp edges
- Make sure there is no swing hanging from monkey bars (prevent entanglement)
- Check that there is no moving parts that may pinch or crush fingers (usually toddler gliders or swings with removable trays)
5. Read Reviews
Do your homework.
We cannot stress enough how important it is that you read as many customer reviews as you can before you buy any product.
You will be able to find out more by reading about other's people real-life experience, what they like, what they don't, what are they complaining about etc.
There are tons of reviews about swing sets just a simple click away on the Internet, for instance, you may want to start with this one first!
Swing sets are not the only entertainment unit you can provide for your child.
There are many other outdoor activities that you can encourage your little one to participate in - not only are they fun, they also help develop your child's reflective and athletic motor skills too!
Do you ever feel confused by the variety of bottles (and brands) available in the market? Anti-colic, anti-reflux, anti-choking ... what are they and what's their difference?
Here, we will break down some of the most asked questions. Most importantly, we will list out what are the vital criteria to look for when choosing the best baby bottle for your little one.
Features to Look At
There are many different aspects to consider when you're buying your baby's bottle. Some babies take to a particular type of nipple or bottle while others outrightly refuse a different brand.
Before you even choose a bottle, there are 4 important criteria that you should look at. Get them right and it may just make your job of finding the right one for your baby so much easier.
While different brands can have different design for their bottles, they generally do not divert too much from the following 5 types:
Standard bottles: These are your traditional baby bottles. They work well for most babies and come in a variety of materials (see next criterion).
Angled-neck bottles: These have a bent neck which is meant to prevent air from filling the nipple. They are more suitable for gassy babies and make feeding easier but the angled part may be difficult to clean.
Disposable liners bottles: Similar to angled-necks in that it is aimed to reduce gassiness but this is done via a plastic insert (that holds an individual pouch of milk) which will collapse when baby drinks. Convenient and hygienic in that you use and toss each bag but not exactly eco-friendly.
Wide-neck bottles: These are short and squat and have a wide opening, which naturally means a wider nipple too and they are to echo the breastfeeding experience. Ideal for babies transitioning from the breast to bottle and is also easy to clean due to the wide opening.
Vented bottles: Another type that is meant to help prevent gas, these ones include a built-in tube to prevent air pockets from forming in the bottle or nipple. Effective but the vents and other extra parts can be harder to clean.
Plastic may be the most common material found in baby bottles, but there are actually other materials such as glass, silicone and stainless steel which are gaining increasing traction in recent years.
The third criterion to look at will be the nipples. Choosing the correct nipple is actually more important than you think - it prevents numerous conditions and risks such as:
- Delayed speech
- Nipple confusion
Most bottles offer a variety of nipple sizes, which are actually defined by their flow (i.e. how fast or slow the milk comes out) and this is controlled by the size of the hole in the nipple.
Stage 1: Also known as slow-flow, this is meant for newborns (including preemies) up to 3 months as drinking too fast may result in choking or overeating.
Stage 2: As babies grow older, they can suck more effectively and are able to handle quicker and larger flow of milk. This is when you can switch them to Stage 2 (medium-flow), when they are around 3-6/ 6-12 months.
Stage 3: Most babies actually stay at Stage 2 indefinitely and move straight to sippy cups but if you notice your baby seems to be pulling hard on Stage 2 nipples, then it is advisable that you move to Stage 3 - the fast flow nipples.
These stages/sizes are usually marked on the rim, along with baby’s recommended size and age range for each stage. Don't worry too much about them though, use these markings as guidelines only adjust accordingly to your baby's growth and situation.
You should also know that nipples generally come in either latex or silicone varieties. The former are softer and more flexible but they don't last as long (some babies may be allergic to them) while silicone ones are firmer and are able to hold their shape better (and longer).
D. Bottle Size
Last but not least, you should look at bottle size. With this, just remember one formula: small --> big.
The reasoning behind this is very simple - newborns do not need as much milk as older babies. Most newborns drink up to 4 ounces in a single feeding, so smaller bottles are a great fit (also easier to hold).
As babies grow, you will need bigger (8 ounces or larger) bottles as they drink more now, but at less frequent feedings.
You can certainly buy smaller capacity bottles first, then purchase the bigger ones later.
Or, if you want to be more economical, you can select bottles with larger fluid capacity, then adjust the flow by changing the nipple size accordingly (see above). This way, you don't need to change the entire bottle - certainly a wiser option financially.
What Price Range Are We Looking At
For once, price isn't the deciding factor when it comes to baby bottles.
You see, unlike other baby products, the price of baby bottles does not vary much among different brands. For example, see this starter set and this of a similar nature - the difference is less than a dollar only.
In general, we are looking at:
Traditional glass / plastic bottles
$4 - $10 per piece
$13 - $17 per piece
$13 - $20 per piece
Starter sets / gift sets
$30 - $90
So, pricing isn't something you need to consider when it comes to choosing the best baby bottle for your baby. Rather, it is the above mentioned criteria that should be given attention to when you're making your decision.
Why Choosing The Right Bottle is So Important
A straightforward answer to that is just so your little one will take the bottle, and be able to feed comfortably without any side effects.
Sounds pretty easy, isn't it? Until you've tried it yourself.
Let's take breastfeeding babies for example. Select the wrong nipple or bottle, your baby might reject the bottle altogether. Of course, there are those who will take any bottle with a smile and if this is your little one, lucky you!
The flip side of the coin, and what's worse, is that the wrong bottle or nipple may cause nipple confusion, resulting to baby rejecting both the bottle and breast, and that, is every mother's nightmare.
"Which is why when it comes to breastfed babies, you have to be extra careful when selecting your bottles. "
So much so, there are specific bottles dedicated to breastfed babies that are designed to closely mimic the feel of nursing to make it easier to transition a breastfed baby to a bottle,.
Another reason as to why it is so important that you choose the right baby bottle for your little one is to avoid gas, colic or spit-ups and that, applies to all babies regardless they are breastfed or not.
There are certainly babies who do not suffer from any of these side effects but then again, there are those whose colicky or gassy issues can only be resolved by using certain bottles.
It can be overwhelming, we admit, especially if you are a first-time mother, what's with being presented with so many choices when it comes to baby bottle selection.
Our advice? Narrow your choices down to three or four different bottles to try out before you commit to a bunch of the same type of bottle, and see what works from there.
Different babies prefer different shapes, sizes and textures, and it can be hard to know which one will work for you until you actually use it. So start with perhaps 2 different brands of newborn starter sets, check reviews online or ask friends for recommendations.
Just know this: there is no one universal 'best baby bottle' that fits every baby. In other words, there is no straight/fool-proof formula for success when it comes to babies and bottles. It will be a trial and error process.