Dec 11, 2008

CARES Harness Review

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Shelly Rivoli of Travels with Baby. Shelly is an authority on traveling with kids and has written an excellent book that you can purchase through her website. You wouldn't believe all the places they've been with the kids in tow!

She recently borrowed our CARES harnesses for a trip with her two girls, 4.5 and 2.5 years old, and wrote an excellent review of the system, including it's positives and negatives that I want to share. If you're not familiar with CARES, it's an excellent alternative to carrying your child's car seat on board an aircraft that keeps them safe and secure. Read Shelly's CARES harness review on her Travels with Baby Blog and check out her other first-hand travel tips!

If you're ready to try one out, rent it from us today! We ship our CARES harness rentals to your location nationwide. Find out how to get a FREE rental through our current special.

Nov 22, 2008

Hotel Crib Safety

As the holidays approach, many of us will be staying in hotels and resorts while away from home. Before letting your child sleep in a hotel's provided crib, check out a few safety items first. In a random test performed by Safe Kids USA, 4 out of 5 cribs were deemed unsafe due to various hazards. The biggest issue is that over half the time, cribs are made up with adult sheets and bedding which can come untucked and twist around a child. Most cribs were found to be defective, damaged, or even recalled. Read more about hotel crib safety here, or better yet, rent a crib or pack n play from Sweet Pea Baby Rentals or a local baby equipment rental company in the area you're traveling to. Rental companies have your best interests at heart by regularly maintaining, sanitizing, and providing appropriate bedding for their cribs.

If you do use a hotel provided crib, here's a few items to check before putting your child to bed:
  • Is there appropriate crib-sized bedding? Consider bringing your own fitted sheet with you.
  • Is the mattress support secure? Lift up the mattress and check it out.
  • Are there any loose screws or latches?
  • Are the bars more than 2 3/8" apart? A soda can should not be able to pass through the bars.

Nov 18, 2008

World-Wide Rentals

The baby equipment rental business is a great niche with companies operating world-wide. Most were born out of moms and dads trying to fulfill a need that they encountered while traveling with their own family. Where ever you are traveling this holiday season or beyond, look up a rental company from one of these directories:

Nov 5, 2008

Strollers, strollers, strollers!

Having run Sweet Pea Baby Rentals for over a year now, I've had the opportunity to try out several different strollers. I think at last count, I actually have owned 15 different strollers! I thought I'd post a quick run down and review some of them, including the ones we currently rent.

Full Sized:

Bumbleride Flyer - A bit heavy for me but the manuverability is great. I loved the reversible handle so baby could face me or the world, and the lockable swivel front and rear wheels were nice too. Height adjustment on the handle was good and manuvering department store racks was easy with both sets of wheels in swivel mode. It came with a lot of accessories for the price too.

Chicco Cortina - A little lighter than the Flyer and a lot of similar features. No reversible handle though and no unlocking swivel real wheels. It was very comfortable for my daughter and the snack tray on the front was great. It's pretty large when folded though.

Peg Perego Aria - I know a lot of people love these strollers, but it wasn't my favorite. It was difficult to manuver with one hand and felt a little flimsy. Maybe it was the light wieght of 9 lbs, which makes it great for carrying and lifting in and out of the car. It does fold quite small too. The snack tray is nice on the front as well but the canopy is pretty small and doesn't do much for the sun.

Phil and Ted's Classic (in rental inventory now) - Have had this one for about a month now and I like it a lot. No snack tray provided and it's a little on the hefty side weight wise. It does fold pretty easily and is of reasonable size for a three-wheeled stroller. I absolutely love that it's convertible to a double stroller with the doubles kit attachment. The harness has a wide range of adjustment but the canopy could be larger. Height adjustable handle is nice to have on this entry level model as well. It pushes very easily with one hand and is smooth. The air tires keep it quiet on city sidewalks as opposed to the clunking of standard plastic stroller wheels. The lockable front swivel wheel could be suitable for light jogging as well.

Umbrella Strollers:

Chicco Capri/C6 - This was my first umbrella when my daughter was old enough to sit up alone. It served it's purpose and made many a trip to the mall. For me, the handles were a bit too short and I kicked the wheels a lot. It was unsteerable with one hand too but it was much better than the basic Cosco/Kolcraft/etc umbrellas. The recline was minimal but it was better than nothing.

Maclaren Quest (in rental inventory now) - If I had only known how much better this one was, I would have sprung for the extra $100 over the C6 a long time ago. I held off for a long time because of the cost but after the last fateful trip to the mall where my back was killing me when we got home, we picked one up on sale at our local Babies R Us, and have been loving it ever since. It's easy to manuver with one hand and the handles are tall enough that I don't kick the wheels. I selected one with a black canopy because as with most umbrellas, the wheels hit the canopy when closed and it make unremovable stains. A lot of the Maclaren's have white or light colored canopies that look pretty dirty after only a couple uses. The recline on the Quest is nice, but I find we don't use it very often. I probably would have gotten the Volo instead, had I known since that's pretty much the only difference. One last think I love is that I don't have to bend down and unhook the latch to fold it. It can all actually be done with your foot!


Baby Trend Single Jogger with swivel wheel - I purchased this one at Target and it was ok, as long as you weren't actually trying to jog. When running, the entire stroller seemed to shimmy as if a wheel was out of balance or something. I got a replacement wheel from Baby Trend and it still did the same thing. The stroller was decent for the price of $99, but not great. It folds rather large and is awkward to put in a standard sized trunk. If you're main goal is to stroll the neighborhood, not jog, and not put it in your car, then it's a good deal. Otherwise, I'd opt for something better like the Phil and Ted's or a BOB. The folding mechanism got pretty sticky after a few months and had to be regularly maintained too.

Baby Trend Double Jogger with swivel wheel - This model is only sold at Babies R Us as far as I know. It was a decent double jogger but the children tended to slide together toward the middle because of the design. It did have independent recline on each seat and was actually not that bad for weight in terms of a double stroller. I didn't have any real complaints about it but it wasn't extra fancy or anything. It was pretty easy to push one handed and the fold was not bad in terms of size.

BOB Sport Utility Stroller (in rental inventory now) - Wow! What a difference between the cheap joggers and this one. It's fixed front wheel is suitable for walking or jogging but has to be lifted off the ground to turn the stroller. It has built in suspension for the child and some adjustment to how it tracks when moving. A hand brake is a nice feature for running and the foot break is the easiest I have ever used. The flip of one single bar locks both wheels and it's acutally unlockable while wearing flip flops, so you don't have to bend down and use your hand on the dirty brake. Being in Arizona, this is an important feature where flip flops are worn year round by nearly everyone! I've nearly broken a toe on many a stroller trying to unlock the brakes. One of the best features is the huge two-stage canopy that will shield your child from the harshest of summer days here in the Valley of the Sun. It is a bit bulky when folded due to the 16" rear wheels and fixed front wheel, but if you have the space and the funds for the $299 entry price, it's a great stroller.
BOB Revolution Duallie (in rental inventory now) - Again, another WOW! This is an extremely nice double jogger with a swivel front wheel. Many of the same pluses as the review for the single are noted, along with a swivel front wheel. Once again, the canopies are amazing and it also features lay flat recline for newborns and naps, along with attachments for some popular infant car seats, snack trays, etc. A good alternative if you don't need the big 16" offroad tires, is the 12AW model which features 12" aluminum wheels, saving space and weight.

Double Strollers:

Graco Duo Glider LXI - A great tandem double stroller, compatible with many infant car seats that can be used two at a time for twins. Folding is easy and steering is as well. The drop down basket in the back is ingenious when the rear seat is reclined all the way down. Comes with adult and kids snack trays and folds to a reasonable size for transporting. A great mall cruiser or neighborhood walker.

Joovy Caboose (in rental inventory now) - A sit/stand type stroller that's very manuverable. It's a little heavy but there is a ultralight version that's been made since I purchased mine. The fabric has held up well and it's compatible with most infant car seats.

Oct 26, 2008

Delta Crib Recall

Last week, Delta Enterprises announced a major recall of over 1.6 million cribs with the drop side trigger lock design. Cribs manufactured up to January 2007 were affected including the popular Jenny Lind style that many equipment rental companies use for their no-tool asssembly. Sweet Pea Baby Rentals uses this style of crib however we have checked all of our models and NONE of our cribs are affected. We assure you that our cribs are safety checked before and after every rental and preventative maintenance is always done as well. To read the entire recall notice with model numbers see this article published by WebMD or visit Delta's own site at

Jul 7, 2008

CARES Kids Fly Safe Aviation Restraint

If you haven't heard of the CARES restraint yet, definitely check it out if you'll be flying with your toddler or pre-schooler in their own seat. The CARES system is a great FAA-approved product that allows your child to be securely buckled in to their own airplane seat without you having to lug a car seat on-board. Weighing just 1 lb and having it's own 6" carrying sack, it's easy enough to put in your diaper bag and carry on. It's designed for children 22 to 44 lbs who sit forward facing in their regular car seat. The system gives your child a secure and adjustable 5-point harness by slipping around the back of the airplane seat and utilizing the seat's lap belt to complete the system.

Maybe you'll only take one or two airplane trips with your child before they're able to safely use only the airplane's lap belt (which the FAA recommends is 40 lbs) and you don't want to invest in an item that will only get a few uses. Or, maybe you do make frequent trips with a toddler but you'd really like to try it out before purchasing one for yourself. In either case, our rental program is a perfect solution. The CARES system is available for rental daily or weekly through Sweet Pea Baby Rentals. We can ship your rental anywhere in the US or Canada so you don't need even need to be traveling from the Phoenix area to take advantage this great product.

We also offer a combination package of a CARES harness and a Safeguard Go folding car seat if you happen to be traveling to a destination that doesn't offer baby equipment rentals, or if you want to avoid extra baggage fees and possible damage by checking your full sized car seat. The Safeguard Go folds into it's own compact carrying case, small enough to be stowed in an overhead bin. The Go is not FAA-approved for air travel as it must utilize the top tether to function properly, which an airline seat does not have.

View all of our rentals for air travel, including the CARES, Safeguard Go folding car seat, Go Go Kidz Travelmate, and the Sit N Stroll at

May 16, 2008

Kid's Events Guides

Here are a few links to some current Phoenix-area kids activities. The sites are updated often so they always contain current events.

Mom's Zone
Southwest Valley Parent
Phoenix Kids
Bear Essential News

Apr 12, 2008

Outdoor Shopping with Free Kids Entertainment

Here's something fun to do with the kids even when it starts to get hot outside. My 18 month old daughter and I stopped by the Westgate City Center outdoor shopping area located off of Loop 101 and Glendale Rd in the west valley today. We watched the fountain water show, checked out some shops and restaurants, and visited the kids water play area. Although she was a little too small, she had a blast watching the other kids run through the small fountains (not those shown in the photo!) and got close enough to get splashed a few times. There is a good amount of shaded area surrounded by grass and many plush patio chairs for parents to sit and watch. Make sure you bring a towel or a change of clothes as your kids won't be able to resist getting wet. There's also an AMC movie theater plus it's located right next to the Arena and our new University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play. Stadium tours are also available many days.

Mar 28, 2008

Play Places

Makutu's Island
6919 W. Ray Road ~ Chandler, Arizona 85226 ~ 1-877-MAKUTUS

Makutu's Island is a 20,000 square foot, multi-level indoor playground made for children and adults (yes, you can play too). While Makutu's Island can get loud, there are places for parents to sit back and watch. You know your kids are safe climbing the multi level play structures with attendants on hand and coded wristbands. So let them climb, slide and race while you relax. Or you can join in on the fun. Admission $8.50 children (1-18), $3.50 adults (18 and over).

Tours and Towns

Shamrock Farms Tour
40034 W. Clayton ~ Stanfield, AZ 85272 ~ 602-477-2462

Shamrock Farms is the largest family-owned and- operated dairy in the Southwest. When you tour the working dairy farm, you’ll see firsthand the pride that is put into everything Shamrock makes. Reservations are required. Children 2 and under are free. Admission $9 adults, $6 children, $7.50 seniors.

Rawhide Western Town
5700 West North Loop Road ~ Chandler, AZ 85226 ~ 480-502-5600

Anyone who grew up in Arizona has fond memories of this 1880's-inspired western town. Rawhide's new location at Wild Horse Pass might throw some of us old-timers off, but the fun is sure to be the same. Take the kids on a stagecoach or train ride or watch a live showdown on Main Street. Burro rides and panning for fool's gold will give the buckaroos something to talk about for months. Admission is free but attractions require tickets at $4 each. One day unlimited passes are $15 per person.

Science and Museum Fun

The Arizona Science Center
600 E Washington Street ~ Phoenix, AZ 85004 ~ 602-716-2000

Located in downtown Phoenix, the Center features an IMAX theater, over 300 hands-on exhibits, and a 200 seat digital planetarium. Explore more than 300 hands-on exhibits in five themed galleries. Check out Preschool Science, specifically for children ages 3-5! Children ages 2 and under are free with a paying adult. Admission is $9 adults, $7 children, $7 seniors.

Challenger Space Center
21170 N 83rd Ave ~ Peoria, AZ 85382 ~ 623-322-2001

The Mission of the Challenger Space Center is to inspire, excite and educate people of all ages about the mysteries and wonders of space, science and the universe in which we live. Check out the preschoolers program, Public Space Place. General admission prices - children 5 and under are free, $6 adults, $4 students and seniors.

Phoenix Area Zoos

The Phoenix Zoo
Voted one of the nations top 5 zoos for kids!
455 North Galvin Parkway ~ Phoenix, AZ 85008 ~ 602-273-1341

Visit this 125 acre zoo, home to over 1,300 animals, and also see over 1,200 varieties of plants! Enjoy 2.5 miles of walking trails, playgrounds, and shops. An interesting note about the Phoenix Zoo - it was started by the famed appliance family member Robert Maytag in 1962. Children under 2 are free with a paying adult. Admission is $14 adults, $6 children, $9 seniors. Summer rates may be reduced. Check the Phoenix Zoo website for details. Coupon

The Wildlife World Zoo
16501 W. Northern Ave ~ Litchfield Park, AZ 85340 ~ 623-935-WILD

As one of only a few nationally accredited, privately owned zoos in the United States, the Wildlife World Zoo features Arizona's largest collection of exotic animals with over 2,400 individual animals representing more than 400 exotic and endangered species. Visit the zoo babies including the baby white tigers and see an all-white albino alligator! A personal note, most of the zoo's trails are dirt or gravel so expect to be a little dusty when you get home! Children under 2 are free with a paying adult. Admission prices are $16.99 + tax adults, $8.99 + tax children. Coupon

Out of Africa Wildlife Park
3505 West Highway 260 ~Camp Verde AZ 86322 ~ 928-567-2840

Although Out of Africa Wildlife Park is NOT located in Phoenix, it is about a 90 minute drive north to the small town of Camp Verde. Out of Africa Wildlife Park is an opportunity to see animals from all over the world, especially Africa. Visitors enjoy an authentic replica of a real African Safari in the Serengeti. Out of Africa is home to over 400 wild-by-nature, animals. The park is only open Wed-Sun 9:30am-5pm. Children under 3 are free with a paying adult. Admission is $32 adults, $20 children, $28 seniors. Coupon

Parks for Family Fun

McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
7301 E. Indian Bend Road ~ Scottsdale, Arizona 85250 ~ (480) 312-2312

Take a ride on the miniature train, the carousel, or just enjoy the park, playgrounds, and shops. We love visiting this park because it's so much fun for the kids (and adults too!) Admission is free, children under 3 ride free with a paying adult and ride tickets are just $1. The train ride is 2 tickets and carousel is 1 ticket. You can't go wrong with a train ride for just $2! Our daughter really enjoyed the long ride around the park's playgrounds and the sound of the train's whistle as we crossed the sidewalks.

The Desert Botanical Gardens and Spring Butterfly Exhibit
1201 N. Galvin Parkway ~ Phoenix, AZ 85008 ~ 480-941-1225

The Spring Butterfly Exhibit runs through May 11th and highlights the beauty and diversity of North America’s butterflies. Expect to see Giant Swallowtails, Great Southern Whites, Zebra Swallowtails, Queens, Julias, Painted Ladies and Malachites among others. Friendly Garden volunteers, or “flight crews” will be on hand to answer questions and share information about the butterflies and plants. There are special display areas featuring butterfly host plants and a Discovery Station where you have the chance to see our scaly-winged friends up close.