Toddler Thursday: Two Year Check Up + Milestones

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Last week was our 2 year check up.  I am desperately awaiting the once a year days.  We went from every other day when we first brought Jane and Emma home from the hospital 2 years ago, to twice a week, to once a month, to every 3 months, to every 6 months, and here we stand.  Some of the things that we look forward to these days at each check up include:

Weigh-ins.  The girls went from not even being on the growth chart at under 5 lbs each when we brought them home, to quickly gaining weight and staying steady.  At this past visit they weighted in at around 25 lbs., which is in about the 40th percentile for their age.  Tell you what, I’m just happy that they are ON the chart!

girls

Height checks.  Let me start by saying that I am pretty short.  I am only 5’2″, and my 6’3″ husband picks on me constantly for not being able to reach things on the middle shelf.  I am prefacing my daughters’ current measurements this way because they are only in the 10th percentile for their age.  They are peanuts.

Different Developmental Checks.  I had to fill out a very involved developmental survey prior to going to our appointment.  They asked about walking, running, jumping, different reactions in situations, speech, etc.  Turns out that not only are Jane and Emma just fine, but a bit ahead for their age.  They are speaking in simple sentences and following directions (sometimes), and can even “dress” themselves (although the clothes are usually backwards by the time they are finished, IF they haven’t thrown a total s-fit in the process).

janey

Vaccines.  There.  I said it.  The word ‘vaccination’ seems to have become a dirty word in Mommyville, but having our children vaccinated was not even a discussion that Hershey and I had.  We just said “YES” when they asked us in the NICU.  And we’ve followed the recommended schedule closely ever since.  And although we didn’t actually get any vaccines DURING this visit, the girls are scheduled for their 2 year old vaccines next Tuesday and we have to schedule some blood labs for them in the coming summer months.  Never a fun time when Daddy has to hold the unsuspecting ladies down and Mama cries even more than the girls do, but such is life.  They forget about the shots before we walk out the door, and usually only run little TINY fevers a couple of days afterwards, along with the crankiness and weepiness that is typical.

I like to ask every question that I can think of during these visits, knowing that the doctors specifically put aside extra time for wellness check ups.  This time around, I asked about

  1. eating (toddlers are only expected to eat one GOOD meal a day, and if they throw the other 2 meals all over the floor, “it’s ok, and normal”);
  2. milk (switch to lowfat at this stage, as they no longer need the full fat for their brain development and the cholesterol is no good for them);
  3. pacifiers (try to get rid of them, as they are damaging their pallets);
  4. SLEEP (toddlers at this age are expected to get 12 hours of sleep a day, between nighttime sleep AND naps, and getting up at 6:00 every SINGLE morning is “normal” – ACK!!!)
  5. potty training (get a potty seat for the toilet and spend some naked time in the summer, but understand that in America the standard age for potty training is 3 years old, so not to push them or get discouraged if it doesn’t happen now because 2 is considered “early” in our culture); and
  6. dentist visits (yup, it’s time!).

I was happy to hear that Jane and Emma are in the normal range, even a bit ahead, considering they can sing their ABCs from start to finish, count to 14, and are even starting to be able to identify letters.  Another thing that they do now that I think is REALLY cool is that they sit and read by themselves, reciting the words on each page of their favorite books the way I did when I was itty-bitty.  I’m hoping that this means that I have trained little fellow readers, because I am DYING to have someone to talk about books with, as my students are all sick of hearing me talk about how much I love reading!

emma reading

I also had to ask about the CONSTANT fighting, as the girls seem to have some sort of the-first-rule-of-baby-fight-club-is-that-you-don’t-tell-mama-it’s-baby-fight-club-time pact going on.  We were also assured that this is “normal”.  Not so sure about my hair loss due to baby fight club, though.

crash

What are some milestones that your little ones have reached that you are super excited about?  Anything shock you?  Anything worrying you?  I’d love to hear from you!

We are almost done with the school year which means that it’s almost summertiiiiiime, when the living is easyyyyy….

Happy Thursday, friends!

Celebrate Multiples with the TODAY Show on June 22

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Do you live near New York City? Do you have multiple friends or MoM friends in the area?

The TODAY Show is kicking off a series looking at the joys of being a multiple and want you to be part of the celebration! June 22, 2015 is the big day.

I have a feeling this is going to be the next biggest thing after Twins Days in Twinsburg.

Here’s what the TODAY Show has to say:

We want to fill our plaza with twins… triplets… and quads on Monday, June 22nd. Adults, teens, tweens and babies all invited! So, if you’re a mom of multiples or a multiple yourself come on down and help us show off the bond you have.

If you know you can make it – pre-register so we can look out for you! Here are the instructions:

  1. Go to http://visit.today.com/
  2. Click “RSVP” at the top of the page.
  3. Create a TODAY account by filling out the information you see on the screen. Then, press “Next” at the bottom of the page.
  4. When prompted to choose the date you’re coming. (Choose June 22).
  5. When prompted to select a reason for coming, please choose “Other.” Below that, please write TWINS and provide a short description about you and your sibling(s).
  6. Below that, check whether or not you have special needs, and whether or not you’ve visited the plaza before.
  7. In the “Upload Photo” spot, please upload a file of you and your sibling or your multiples.
  8. Press “Complete RSVP” — and you’re done!

If you end up going, drop us a note to let us know about the experience. We’d love to hear all about it and see your great photos!

Spread the word!

Show up in NYC to join other twins, triplets, and quads for the TODAY Show. June 22, 2015. RSVP at http://visit.today.com/.

Twinfant Tuesday: Baby Bottle Care

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We’ve written quite a bit about our infant feeding experiences here on HDYDI, but I realize that I’ve neglected to discuss my bottle feeding experiences. That realization wasn’t a surprise. As I’ve told you before, much of my identity as a new mother was tied up in breastfeeding. Baby bottles were up there with gavage tubes on the list of things that I’d rather forget.

The fact is that baby bottles are genius.

A baby bottle can allow a father to feed a child. A baby bottle can allow a working mother to provide her child with breastmilk when she can’t be with her baby. A baby bottle can allow the bond of feeding between a mother and child when breastfeeding isn’t an option.

It’s been nearly 8 years since my daughters moved on from bottles, so I’m not the person to tell you about the newest and greatest development in baby bottle technology. What I can tell you is that, like every other aspect of parenting, it’s not just about what you like. You’ll have to take your child’s preferences into account. With twins, that means two sets of children’s preference, and they may like different things.

With M and J, we used Playtex VentAire bottles for formula and Playtex Nursers with Lansinoh storage bags for expressed breastmilk.

Baby bottles are for formula and expressed breast milk alike.

Once I returned to work, J and M went through 6-7 bottles a day, each. Every night, I had 12-14 bottles to wash. During my limited hours home, I had to breastfeed, eat, occasionally shower, complete household chores, and do that thing where you lie down and close your eyes. I’ve heard it rumoured that it’s called “sleep”. That last thing I wanted to spend my time on was scrubbing bottles.

Since all the bottles we used were open at each end, a bottle brush wasn’t a necessity. I didn’t use it much once the babies had outgrown preemie bottles. Instead, I used my dishwasher.

I had three of these handy dishwasher baskets. All the small parts associated with baby bottles and breastpumps fit in the basket for dishwasher cleaning and disinfection. I was a master of placing all the nipples, rings, bottle valves, pump valves, and lids so that each one was fully exposed to water.

This basket holds small bottle parts for dishwasher disinfection.For the first several months, I would take the washed bottles out of the dishwasher and boil them in a pot of water for disinfection, but over time, I grew to trust the High Heat setting on the dishwasher. Before long, the girls’ immune systems had built up to where disinfection was no longer called for. After all, they were getting plenty of immune exercise from their time a group daycare.

For simplicity, I assembled rings, nipples and lips and stored those stacked beside all the bottles. That way, there was no need to spend time unscrewing bottles or pulling through nipples when it was time to feed.

What are your timesaving tricks for life filled with baby bottles?

Twinkly Tuesday – June 16, 2015

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Skip to Tuesday Twinklers | Skip to rules | Skip to participant badge | Skip to this week’s links

Welcome to this week’s Twinkly Tuesday, the link party hosted by Sadia here at HDYDI, Caro of The Twinkle Diaries and Lisa at Mummascribbles.

Meet new people, share your posts, and read blogs you might never come across elsewhere. Twinkly Tuesday participants are generous commenters and talented writers.

Each week Lisa, Caro, and I choose a favourite post. If you have been featured, be sure to claim your fame by adding the Twinkly Tuesday Twinkler badge to your blog.

My Tuesday Twinkler for the week is from Carry on Katy. Katy wrote a hilarious piece in praise of her gargantuan feet, complete with her signature illustrations.

Why having big feet is great.

Lisa’s Tuesday Twinkler this week is from Confessions of a Ninja Mom, where Amy talks about the maternal skills she imagined, as a child, that all mothers had: the handmaking of Halloween costumes, baking, and so on. How do you measure up to your own vision?

Ninja Mom's thoughts on what she thought motherhood meant.

Caro’s Tuesday Twinkler is from Little Hearts, Big Love. Louise describes one of those difficult nights where your toddlers don’t let you get anything done or get any sleep. Of course, that always happens when you have the most to do.

Catching-up-on-blogmin-02

Take a moment to visit these posts, if you can. We would love it if you paid a visit to the other host links, and any others that look interesting.

On with this week’s link-up!

Link two posts, old or new, that you think deserve more readers!

Twitter: Be sure to mention me — @hdydi or Caro — @twinklediaries, on Twitter and please use the hashtag #TwinklyTuesday. We’ll be sure to retweet every tweet tagged!

We’ll also visit everyone’s posts and leave comments between us.

Pinterest: I’ll pin every post with an image to the primary Twinkly Tuesday Pinterest board and repin the top pins on the HDYDI Twinkly Tuesday board. Send an email to mummascribbles@hotmail.com or tweet her your email address and she’ll add you to the primary board. No more than 2 posts per week please!

Each week, all three of us pick our favourite posts which will be featured on the following week’s Twinkly Tuesday page.

There are a few easy rules to follow, to ensure that everyone’s posts get the attention they deserve. Please do make the effort to abide by the rules, in fairness to the vast majority who do. We have been forced to block participation for repeat offenders who haven’t responded to multiple reminders.

  • Link up to two posts per week — old or new.
  • Please be kind enough to add our badge to the bottom of your post/s. (Scroll down for the code.) If you haven’t (yet) been featured, please make sure you’re using this badge and not the featured one.
  • Please comment on at least two other posts including the one directly before yours. Visit and comment on as many others as you can. Of course, checking out the hosts’ posts would make us feel very loved.
  • Please use #TwinklyTuesday in your comments so people know where you found them!
  • By linking up, you give us permission to use images from your blog if featured. You also allow us to add you to a mailing list to receive a weekly announcement when Twinkly Tuesday opens.
  • The linky will close at 23.55 GMT on Friday.

We look forward to reading all of your fantastic blog posts and seeing you again next week! Remember to grab our button!

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Identical Twin Confusion

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Categories Identical, Older Children4 Comments

It’s hard to a mother to see her children the way the rest of the world does. While I know that my daughters are monozygotic, I forget that the casual observer sees them as looking alike. They look so different to me.

Today, we went to the local YMCA so that I could exercise while M and J went into the pre-teen lounge. We all had to scan our IDs to enter. J skipped in ahead of me and scanned her card. Beep. M scanned hers. No beep. She asked whether her card had been recognized.

Simultaneously, the YMCA employee at the front desk and I responded. I said, “I didn’t hear a beep” just as the employee looked at her screen and said, “Yes, it went through.” M ran off after her sister.

The employee smiled at me. “She got to the desk before you, right?”

I smiled back. “No, that was her identical twin.”

We laughed. And I remembered that to so many people, my daughters took like one person.

Twins J and M in their dance attire. They look completely different to mom, but not to the casual observer.

Readers with monozygotic (identical) multiples, do people ever fail to recognize that, as another daycare mom said to, “There are two of them!”?

Toddler Thursday: Parenting After Teaching

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PARENTING AFTER TEACHING

I think I’ve come to the realization that parenting really isn’t easy. But really, what role is? In my life, I’ve been a mom, a wife, an actress, a 4th grade teacher, a kindergarten teacher, a 2nd grade teacher, a preschool camp counselor, an essential oil educator, a blogger, a lamp shade salesperson, a purse distributor, a camera store and film developer, a paralegal assistant, a daughter/sister/cousin/niece/granddaughter, and countless other “roles.” So I think I can honestly say that all of them have their shares of ups and downs. Yet, I find that I constantly can pull from one to help the next role in my life. So while it seems like I have done vastly different things in my life, I find that the skill and experiences all help each other.

Take teaching and parenting: both involve working with children and educating them. Teaching is supposed to focus on teaching knowledge while parenting is teaching skills and behavior. Yet anyone who knows a teacher, has been a teacher, or has seen a teacher in action knows that there are far more life lessons in a classroom (especially an elementary school classroom) than book knowledge.

Classrooms are filled with with why and how. They have investigations and real-world experience. They allow questions and behavior- and life-lessons in dealing with our best of friends and our worst of enemies. And teachers (at least good ones) help facilitate the child in these experiences.

Parenting, likewise, is also filled with why and how. There are explorations about the world around you (both near and far) and field trips (even if it’s just to the local grocery store). They allow questions and behavior- and life-lessons in dealing with our best of friend and our worst of enemy (sometimes Mom, sometimes Dad, sometimes Sister/Brother, and sometimes even the dog). And parents help facilitate the child in these experiences.

In my classroom, I loved my students. We laughed and cried and celebrated milestones together. They were my children. I had high expectation of them, and because of the love and respect and community that we built in between those 4 walls, they rose to meet them. I’m not saying it was perfect, but I helped my children accomplish great things.

Teaching has certainly been a great precursor to parenting. But I was never prepared for how unconditionally I could love my own little humans so much. How my stern (sometimes called “strict”) teaching/parenting style would go out the window the moment they looked up at me or called me “mama.” How I want to protect them over all other things.

But through teaching, I also have seen many different parenting styles and the way that parenting styles influences children and how they act and learn. I know that I am ok being stern, but loving. Informative, but kind. Allow independence, but supportive. It’s a balancing act, but by parenting in this way, I feel like I can bring out the best in my children.

Twinfant Tuesday: Are Newborn Twins Aware of Each Other?

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Mothers of infant twins sometimes ask when they can expect their babies to start interacting with each other. Anecdotally speaking, it appears that this is yet another thing that varies wildly between different sets of twins. It seems quite common for a newborn infant to seem quite unaware of the existence of his or her twin.

My monozygotic daughters, though, always appeared aware of each other. They were separated for 20 days after birth. As soon as J left the NICU to join her twin M at home, she made it perfectly clear that she was aware of her sister, at some level.

I placed both babies on a blanket on the floor, a few inches apart.

Newborn twins, placed a few inches apart, find that expanse to be far too wide for comfort.

After a diaper change, J stretched and wriggled…

Newborn twins, reunited after their stays in the NICU, seem to seek each other out.

…and wriggled and stretched, until she was squished up against her sister. Only then did she fall asleep.

Newborn twins seek each out the comfort of their wombmate.

In nearly every photograph I have of M and J together their first few months, their heads are turned toward each other.

These weeks-old twins turn toward each other instinctively.They both liked to fall asleep holding onto Sister’s hair. As you might imagine, this didn’t often end well. I took to placing a fuzzy blanket above their heads when they were particularly stubborn, to give them both something to hold that didn’t also pull on the other’s scalp.

When did your multiples seem to become aware of each other?

Twinkly Tuesday – June 9, 2015

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Categories Parenting Link Up, Twinkly Tuesday5 Comments

Skip to Tuesday Twinklers | Skip to rules | Skip to participant badge | Skip to this week’s links

Welcome to this week’s Twinkly Tuesday, the link party hosted by Sadia, Lisa and Caro. You can find Caro at The Twinkle Diaries, Lisa at Mummascribbles and Sadia right here at How Do You Do It?.

Meet new people, share your posts, and read blogs you might never come across elsewhere.

Lisa, Caro, and I each choose a favourite post weekly. If you have been featured, be sure to claim your fame by adding the Twinkly Tuesday Twinkler badge to your blog.

My Tuesday Twinkler for the week is from Confessions of a Ninja Mom. Amy wrote about how birthdays become far more meaningful than just an excuse for a party when we enter motherhood. As she put it, her children’s birthdays are a “reminder of the greatest joy that has ever entered in to my life.”

Beautiful thoughts on why birthdays matter, from a mother's perspective, from the Ninja Mom.

Lisa was travelling last week, so we’re letting her off!

Caro’s Tuesday Twinkler is from Domesticated MOMster, where Trista shared survival tools for her daughters… and all women. My favourite was, “Never walk in anyone’s shadow, for you are the light.” There are 24 others, just as good.

Advice to women from a mother who cares at Domesticated MOMster.

Take a moment to visit these posts, if you can. We would love it if you paid a visit to the other host links, and any others that look interesting.

On with this week’s link-up!

Link two posts, old or new, that you think deserve more readers!

Twitter: Be sure to mention me — @hdydi, Caro — @twinklediaries, or Lisa — @mummascribbles, on Twitter and please use the hashtag #TwinklyTuesday. We’ll be sure to retweet every tweet tagged!

We’ll also visit everyone’s posts and leave comments between us.

Pinterest: I’ll pin every post with an image to the primary Twinkly Tuesday Pinterest board and repin the top pins on the HDYDI Twinkly Tuesday board. Send an email to mummascribbles@hotmail.com or tweet her your email address and she’ll add you to the primary board. No more than 2 posts per week please!

Each week, all three of us pick our favourite posts which will be featured on the following week’s Twinkly Tuesday page.

There are a few easy rules to follow, to ensure that everyone’s posts get the attention they deserve. Please do make the effort to abide by the rules, in fairness to the vast majority who do.

  • Link up to two posts per week — old or new.
  • Please be kind enough to add our badge to the bottom of your post/s. (Scroll down for the code.) If you haven’t (yet) been featured, please make sure you’re using this badge and not the featured one.
  • Please comment on at least two other posts including the one directly before yours. Visit and comment on as many others as you can. Of course, checking out the hosts’ posts would make us feel very loved.
  • Please use #TwinklyTuesday in your comments so people know where you found them!
  • By linking up, you give us permission to use images from your blog if featured. You also allow us to add you to a mailing list to receive a weekly announcement when Twinkly Tuesday opens.
  • The linky will close at 23.55 GMT on Friday.

We look forward to reading all of your fantastic blog posts and seeing you again next week! Remember to grab our button!

Grab buttons for Twinkly Tuesday

Here’s how to add our badge to your site. Enter HTML editing mode on your post, sidebar, or page. Copy the code in the box below and paste it into your site in your code/html view. Save and publish. That’s it!

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Fairness in Parenting – Fair Is Not Equal

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“It’s not fair!” is the child’s rallying cry, often accompanied with a stomped foot or protruded lower lip for emphasis.

How often do your children say, "It's not fair?" Do they really mean, "It's not equal"? That's probably true. In our efforts to make things fair we don't make them equal.

My response? “No, it’s not equal. ‘Fair’ and ‘equal’ are not always the same thing.” Or, far more often, my daughters hear me say, “Fair is not equal.

I aim for fairness in my parenting. There’s plenty of unfairness in the world. My kids should be able to rely on me to be fair… and they do. As far as I can recall, I’ve always been able to respond to accusations of,  “That’s not fair!” with an explanation of how I determined the perceived inequity to be fairness.

For example, when M tells me she hasn’t had her share of snuggles, I will remind her that she received an hour of my undivided conversational attention while J read by my side. When J tells me that M gets away with more instances of rudeness, I point out that M finds it harder to control her impulses, so my expectations of J are higher. J also gets more benefit of the doubt in arguments between the sisters because of her track record of telling me difficult truths. When J asks why I always ask whether she’s remembered to write her name on her homework, I tell her it’s because she forgets more often than not. When I ask M to double check whether she’s answered every question on her homework before I even look at it, it’s because I know that’s a weakness.

I suspect it’s a lot easier to be fair to same-gender twins than to children of different ages. I can imagine that a younger child might perceive an earlier bedtime as unfair, not realizing that the older sibling had to slog through early bedtimes at the same age. However, demonstration of parental efforts toward fairness over time should earn our children’s trust.

The world is not fair, I tell my girls. It’s not fair that their parents are divorced while other kids have parents who will stay married forever. It’s not fair that they have three mommies to love them when others get only one. It’s not fair that learning comes so easily to both M and J, while their friends struggle with reading. It’s not fair that I can fit comfortably in an airplane seat while other people can reach the top shelves in my kitchen without needing a stool. A completely fair world would be rather boring.

I shared with my daughters my recollection of part of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron“. In Vonnegut’s dystopia of 2081, in an attempt to make everyone equal, strong people are made to wear weights and smart people have their thoughts interrupted by distracting sounds to bring everyone’s abilities down to the same level.

Fair isn’t equal. And life isn’t fair. But we parents can be.

Shopping Cart Safety

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I take my daughters’ safety very seriously. When parent friends were turning their kids forward-facing in the car as soon as they hit their first birthday and 20 lbs, I kept mine rear-facing until they were well beyond two years old and beyond the minimum weight to be turned forward-facing legally. In fact, I would have kept them rear-facing longer if I were as good then as I am today at standing my ground with my (now ex) husband. They were in 5-point harnesses until the end of second grade, and only moved to boosters because their grandparents said that they didn’t feel comfortable installing car seats in their car.

The reasons for keeping young children in rear facing car seats are well documented. I won’t bother going into them here.

Car seats and grocery carts aren't designed to fit together. Consider placing a seat in the main part of the cart instead of across the handlebar and seat area.

I’ve read the manual to every car seat we’ve had, all the way through. The Graco Snugride. The Britax Marathon. The Diono Radian. The Graco Turbobooster. The Graco AFFIX. Yes, I keep all my manuals and refer back to them often enough that I know where they all are. I’m that person who read the entirety of the manual to my sewing machine before I loaded the first bobbin.

The Snugride manual said nothing about my infant bucket seats not being safe in shopping carts… and I made the mistake of assuming that they were safe. Sure, I’d seen the carts with built-in baby seats and figured they were handy for a lot of families. My two babies weren’t going to fit in that one seat, though. I was so proud of having figured out that I could fit one car seat in the child seat area and the other seat sideways across the main cart area. I had plenty of room for the actual groceries under the cart.

Shopping carts can pose a safety risk for young children. Educate yourself.

In the years since my daughters have outgrown bucket seats, I have learned a lot more about car seats and shopping carts. I’ve read all about the tragic death of 3-month-old James Anderson Berg in a car seat/cart accident. It’s not terribly uncommon for carts to tip. This video, despite its happy ending, is terrifying even for those of us who wouldn’t dream of leaving a 5-point harness unbuckled.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Do not place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart.” They have some relatively ridiculous “safer ideas” (at least for this home cook and single mother of twins) about leaving kids at home when shopping, but the rules are solid.

If you decide to put your child in a shopping cart anyway, then follow these rules:

  • Place your child in a safety belt or harness at all times when in a shopping cart.
  • Never leave your child alone in a shopping cart.
  • Do not let your child stand up in a shopping cart.
  • Do not place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart.
  • Do not put your child in the basket.
  • Never allow your child to ride on the outside of a cart.
  • Do not allow an older child to climb on the cart or push the cart with another child in it, because it is very easy for a child to tip the cart over.

Although we never suffered an accident, I wouldn’t put a baby seat in a cart’s seat area if I were to do it over. The Jenny Evolution has some ideas for dealing with singleton infants at the store, and you can check out our thoughts on making it through a shopping trip with multiples.

I encourage you to educate yourself and take a second to think about how you’re comfortable using shopping carts for your infants. They’re a wonderful convenience, and it’s not too hard to use them safely.