Is Your Sunscreen Doing More Harm Than Good?

The Environmental Working Group’s annual report on sunscreen was released this week.  Citing poor regulation, overstated claims and the possibility of increased cancer risk; the report is enough to leave parents wondering if it’s wise to slather their children in sun block, after all. According to the EWG, the ideal sunscreen would block all UV rays effectively for several hours and would be formulated to prevent more damage than it causes.  But of the 500 sunscreens examined, it was found that only 39 met their standards for safety and effectiveness. The report criticises the FDA for insufficient oversight and regulation of sunscreen.  In 2007 the FDA proposed a regulation that would prohibit manufacturers from rating their sunscreens any higher than SPF 50 stating that, SPF ratings higher than 50 are “inherently misleading” and that “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful.” This regulation never came to pass and there are currently a number of sunscreens that are touted to have SPF ratings well in excess of SPF 50. In general, the SPF ratings on sunscreens overstate the protection they are actually giving.  According to the EWG report, “People don’t get the high SPF they pay for.  People apply about a quarter of the recommended amount.  So in everyday practice, a product labelled SPF 100 really performs like SPF 3.2, an SPF 30 rating equates to a 2.3 and an SPF 15 translates to 2.” The report cites that the use of oxybenzone, in sunscreen, is a health concern.  Oxybenzone is a chemical which penetrates the skin, enters the bloodstream and disrupts hormones. Even though these concerns have been floating around for a number of years this report contains a controversial new concern.  Many popular sunscreens may, actually, cause cancer. Newly discovered research indicates that vitamin A added to many sunscreen products may act as a catalyst to the cancer it’s meant to protect against. Vitamin A is added to sunscreen as an anti-oxident.  It is supposed to help slow the signs of aging in skin but may actually accelerate the growth of malignant skin cells. The EWG report claims that the research was conducted by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 and that, since then, the FDA has been sitting on the information.  The FDA denies this accusation. The report states that, “In that yearlong study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream.” Read the ingredient list on sunscreen before purchasing it.  The vitamin A derivatives to look for are retinol and retinyl palmitate. The best protection against the sun is avoidance.  Limit the time children spend in the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Dress them in a hat, long sleeves and long pants and seek out the shade whenever possible. – Jen R, Staff Writer Related Articles: SOURCE

Featured Review: Caribbean Princess

Even though my husband and I have been cruising for 10 years, sailing with kids adds a different level of challenges. From the planning, to the packing and the execution, every time we add another child to our family – each trip gets more difficult, especially when the airlines charge so much for baggage. We love to cruise because of the value offered in the vacation. Food, Entertainment and lots of great destinations make this our favourite way to travel. And like many who have been here before us – we are addicted to cruising! For our trip this year we decided to do the Caribbean Princess, sailing out of San Juan visiting St. Thomas, Tortola, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbados. For us, Princess Cruise Lines have been a reliable line that has delivered good food, comfortable accommodations and lots of fun at a good price. When choosing our cabin this year, I figured a mini-suite would be the best bet. For just a few hundred extra dollars this cabin offers 100sq ft more living space than a standard balcony cabin, a bigger balcony and a bathtub, which is a must for our boys. We also got an extra TV, a couch and some additional storage space. Once on board we were happy with our choice and so were our boys. Even though this cabin was much smaller than the hotel room we had been staying at prior to our vacation, it was still quite roomy and comfortable.

One thing I like about cruising is the pleasant staff that awaits you when your arrive. Everywhere we went there was always someone waiting to help if you are lost or needed something. This is especially helpful when you are traveling with kids. Having a waiter on the Lido deck help with getting a highchair, drinks or even condiments was like having an extra family member along for the trip. Like all cruiselines, Princess tidies your room in the morning and then again before bed. This was especially convenient as we would always mess the room up after returning from port and loved that it was clean again after we returned from dinner. For a week we called the Caribbean Princess home. Here is what we thought: One of my favorite reasons for cruising is the food and it was available somewhere 24 hours a day on our ship. Starting at 4am Princess offers pastries and beverages in the Cafe Caribe, with full breakfast service starting a 6am just across the hall in the Horizon Court. From this point on the buffet toggles back and forth between the two areas for 24 hour coverage. For those who are looking for more of a formal meal service, the dining room does breakfast(7am – 9am, lunch(noon – 1:30), tea(3:30 – 4:30) and dinner (5:30 – 10pm) everyday. We had our best luck with the kids in the Horizon court where we could get them their food immediately. Even though our waiter tried to speed up our service, dinner in the Palm dining room averaged about 90 minutes which didn’t go well with our 1-year-old.

Regardless of where we chose to eat, it was nice to see that Princess caters to those with all dietary needs. Vegetarian choices are clearly market in the menu and diabetic options, available at every meal. Something that was new for us this year was the Pelican Club. Because my son was not toilet trained when we cruised last time, he was not eligible for the kids club. As soon as we boarded the ship a newsletter was waiting in our cabin outlining all of the activities planned at the Pelican Club. Because my son has special needs I was skeptical about leaving him with staff who didn’t know him or how to deal with his quirky personality traits. After he saw the room he was really excited to participate so we signed him up and were pleasantly surprised by his experience. When we arrived each night to drop him off the staff welcomed him by name and took him over to get started with the evenings activities. He talked about the kids club all day and couldn’t wait to go each night. When there, the group did arts and crafts, played games, watched movies and even had a dance party. Each night he would appear at the door with a new toy or craft that he had made that night. This was definitely a bright light in the cruise for him as it was his time to play and act crazy.

Princess doesn’t really have a lot to do on board for kids so it was nice for us that he liked participating in the Pelican Club. When touring around we found that outdoor facilities for kids are sparse and the kids pool a bit small. Located on the 17th floor at the back of the ship, this 10ft x 10ft swimming space almost feels like an after thought. Underneath it, one flight of stairs down, is another tiny pool, a space to ride bikes and a spot for older kids to play ping pong. All very simple, nothing elaborate. And while this is fine for little kids, older kids may be bored with the lack of outdoor activities. Professional entertainment on board varied from full stage productions in the Princess Theater to artists singing their favorite Billy Joel or Elton John song in various lounges around the ship. Our favorite area was the Piazza. Every night there would be a variety of performers, like contortionists, illusionists, pianists and a steel drum band entertaining the crowds of passengers milling about the shops and bars. One night we were happy to come upon a hypnotist, who had the audience believing that they were on Jerry Springer and a comedian from Comedy Central. On previous trips we would have caught every show onboard, but traveling with the boys tends to split us apart – having one watch the show, while the other puts the two to bed.

To help with this Princess does offer babysitting services for a fee. While this is something we wouldn’t do, there were many families onboard that took advantage of this service. One attraction that was a hit with the whole family was the Movies Under The Stars. Princess has mounted a massive movie screen over the main pool that shows newish movies from 10am to midnight everyday. Flicks like Transformers 2, Star Trek, Night at the Museum 2 and Shopaholic could be enjoyed after dinner or while taking a dip in the pool. In the evening, Princess even puts special covers over their deckchairs and offers popcorn to those who would like to enjoy a snack and a movie ‘Under The Stars’. Another new experience for us was using the on board laundromat. Halfway through our trip I realized that a lot of the boys clothes were dirty, including the very important ‘blankie’. When I attempted to send some off to be cleaned by the ship’s dry cleaners I was told that I had missed the deadline and would have to wait until the following day. So I packaged everything up and headed 4 rooms down the hall to the laundromat. What a great room – especially for moms who don’t want to bring back a suitcase full of dirty clothes! For your convenience Princess has installed a detergent/softener sheet dispenser and for just $1.00/box. Overall our trip was nice. While traveling with kids is challenging, being a board a ship that has so much to offer made things a lot easier. I would recommend this ship for families looking to see the Caribbean without breaking the bank. To get your pick of cabin, book early. Even though we booked this trip in July most of the bigger suites were already taken. Pros:
  • very friendly staff
  • great food
  • wonderful itinerary
  • organized
  • nicely priced
  • slow, expensive internet
  • not enough outdoor kids amenities (in need of a splash pad or some water area that has more to do)
If you are looking to budget your trip out, here is what we did on each island along with their costs. St. Thomas – In St. Thomas we visited Coki Beach and Coral World. Coki beach is a beautiful swim/snorkel spot that is often overlooked by many. This crystal clear beach is calm (on most days), and the snorkeling is great. Coral World is nice, but somewhat expensive. $19/adults and $10/kids (3-12). The taxi ride(25minutes) was $10/per person/way, $5 for my oldest son Tortola – In Tortola we visited Cane Garden Beach. This beach was pretty, but a bit rough for the kids the day we were in port. We purchased the taxi off the ship and Chairs were $5ea from the beach vendor when we arrived. Taxi ride is 20-25 minutes $6/per person/way. Have a your camera ready – it’s a nice drive! The Market set-up at the beach offers some nice shopping. Antigua – In Antigua we visited Runaway Bay. Our Taxi driver dropped us off at the Lobster Shack, which used to be a hotel that didn’t re-open after the last hurricane hit the island. This small beach was nice because there is a break wall that keeps the water relatively calm. We liked that there weren’t many people on this beach and that the ‘Lobster Shack’ offered a nice menu for a reasonable price. Chairs $5 umbrella $10 taxi ride was about 10 minutes $3/person/way(kids were free) St. Lucia – In St. Lucia we went to Reduit Beach. This is the main beach and it was packed. While the water was nice the sand was a bit rocky leading into the water. Sand shoes are recommended here for sure. Chairs $5 umbrella $10 The taxi ride was about 10 minutes $8/per person return(kids free) Barbados – A new beach for us in Barbados was the Boatyard. We had heard a lot of great things about this beach and decided to give it a try. Admission is $10/per person , but it includes a welcome beverage, a chair with an umbrella, the use of the non-motorized motorsports and our cab ride back to the ship. I highly recommend this beach. It was clean, the water was clear and the atmosphere was great. Cab ride was $3/per person( kids free)

Child Clears Planes for Takeoff

Two employees at JFK’s air traffic control tower are under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration, after a child’s voice was recorded communicating with planes.

An air traffic controller, apparently, brought his child to work with him and allowed the child to communicate with pilots on an air traffic control frequency. The child successfully cleared two planes for takeoff. It is apparent that this was done under full supervision. It is reported that pilots were notified, in advance, that the child would be communicating over the radio. None of the pilots, heard in the recordings, showed any signs of being surprised or upset by the communications.

The FAA, however, is not taking the incident lightly. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement,

“This lapse in judgment not only violated FAA’s own policies, but common sense standards for professional conduct. These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable. We have an incredible team of professionals who safely control our nation’s skies every single day. This kind of behavior does not reflect the true caliber of our workforce.”

Dave Pascoe is owner of, a site that posts recordings of air traffic communications. The recordings are, primarily, used for pilot education. His site posted the communications in question.

Pascoe believes the incident has been blown out of proportion, “when you listen to any of the recordings, the situation in the tower is very controlled. There is no hint … that anyone was too busy or anyone was interrupting the planes. The kid cleared two airplanes. It was very controlled and I don’t think safety was compromised, nor should anyone be disciplined for this.”

Pascoe concedes, “Considering how skittish the public is, maybe it shouldn’t be done, but I think there should be a procedure to allow visitors in the control tower.”

Doug Church, spokesman for The National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement,

“We do not condone this type of behavior in any way. It is not indicative of the highest professional standards that controllers set for themselves and exceed each and every day in the advancement of aviation safety.”

The air traffic controller and his supervisor have been assigned to other duties pending the FAA investigation. – Jen R, Staff Writer


Featured Review: CARES Child Aviation Restraint System

Every time we travel by airplane we bring my son’s car seat so that he is safe and secure. Our guy is a bit of a mover so we fear that if he was in just a lap belt he may be able to undo it and try to move around the plane. The only problem with this is that the Car Seat is heavy, bulky and a pain to cart around the airport. In an attempt to lighten our load and reduce what we have to bag check, we chose to try out the CARES 5-point Child Aviation Restraint System on a recent vacation. Approved for use on airplanes traveling in North America, the CARES Restraint System is a lightweight belt that slips easily over the seat to create a harness similar to the one on my son’s regular Car Seat. Loops at the bottom of the harness slip through the airplane’s lap belt giving you the safety of a 5-point harness without the extra 30lbs the seat comes with. Not knowing what to expect, I informed the flight attendants of our plans to use the CARES harness as soon as we boarded our US Airlines flight. We were immediately told that we were not allowed to use the harness as it interfered with their seating. Thankfully CARES had included printed copies from Transport Canada and The Federal Aviation Administration’s websites outlining the child restraint system’s purpose, weight limit and sub-section code. At this point we were asked to leave the paperwork with the flight attendants and were told they would let us know if their ‘book’ said it was ok. After just a few minutes one of the ladies came to our seat and gave us the go ahead to use the harness with for our son. Shortly after that we had him buckled in. This harness is so easy to install. All we had to do was lift the tray table behind my son’s seat, slide the belt over the seat and tighten. To finish, we slid the bottom of the harness through the lap belt and we were ready to go. Having the CARES harness along for our trip helped keep everything in order without the bulk and extra weight. Our son stayed buckled securely for most of the trip, which gave me the piece of mind I am always looking for without the stress of lugging around an extra piece of gear. I highly recommend this harness to any parent looking to keep their child safe while traveling by airplane. It is beautifully designed, easy to use and convenient to store – all qualities parents-on-the go are looking for. Priced at $63 on Amazon

*Thank you to Kids Fly Safe for providing us with this Restraint System for our flight* STOCK PHOTOS

Bulky Winter Clothes Can Reduce Car Seat Safety

It’s cold out there! Temperatures across Ontario, this morning, range from a balmy -5oC in Windsor, to a ridiculously cold -29oC in Sioux Lookout. It’s the time of year when parents become preoccupied with keeping their children warm. Puffy awkward coats and snowsuits become a child’s day-to-day norm, conjuring the image of Randy in A Christmas Story crying, “I can’t put my arms down!”

Bundling a child under mountains of bulky outerwear poses a problem, however. His or her car seat harness no longer fits correctly.

Car seats are not designed to be used with bulky clothing. The more compressible the outerwear is, the looser the harness becomes and the greater the risk that is posed to the child. The worst case scenario is that, in a collision, the loose harness may result in the child being ejected from the car seat. The straps of the car seat harness need to fit snugly against the infant or child’s chest with no more than two fingers fitting between the strap and the shoulder bone.

So, what’s a responsible parent to do? The kids have to be warm but they also have to be safe in the car. The key is to remember that bulky, compressible clothing doesn’t belong under the restraint system of a car seat but it can go over it.

Toddlers, in forward facing car seats, need to have their heavy outer wear removed before buckling the restraint. Once secured, the coat can be put on backwards, with the child’s arms through the sleeves. Alternatively, the child can be covered with a blanket.

Infants, in rear facing car seats, can be protected with blankets and an elasticised car seat cover, after being buckled into their seat. The blankets cannot be tucked under the harness or behind the baby’s back. When using a seat cover, double-check that the baby is buckled into the restraint. It’s an easy thing to forget when it is out of sight.

Often, parents dress their children too warmly. Don’t use the temperature of the baby’s hands or feet to decide if they are cold. Instead, feel their neck or the small of the back and see if the baby is sweating. A hot, uncomfortable baby will start to fuss during the car ride and that’s not pleasant for anyone.

Remember the basics:

  • Adjust the straps of the car restraint so they fit snugly over the child’s chest and shoulders
  • Use bulky clothes and blankets above the harness; not beneath
  • Dress the child so that they are comfortably warm, not overly hot

Have a safe and happy winter. – Jen R.


Featured Review: Cybex Callisto

This Summer European baby gear manufacturer Cybex announced that they would be bringing their lightweight, high quality strollers, multifunctional baby carriers and award winning car seats to North America. Cybex’ collection is unique because 3 of their lightweight travel strollers accept an infant seat(Aton – available in early 2010) and carrycot, making it a great choice for birth to 3+ years. A few weeks ago I received a Cybex Callisto to test. Installation: Out of the box, all I needed to do to get started was pop the wheels on. Unpacking and installation only took about 5 minutes. Getting started: Opening this stroller is a breeze. Just unclip the locking latch and lock the frame in place with your foot. To keep everything straight Cybex also includes a great instruction manual with the stroller that shows all of the features and how to use them in detail. Features: The Callisto is loaded with many great features with the first being the spacious seat. For your baby’s comfort Cybex uses a 5-point harness that is covered at the top with a lightly padded headrest. My son loves this! The seat also has a one handed four position recline, which is both convenient and uncomplicated. The Callisto’s canopy is one of the tallest I have reviewed, measuring an impressive 27 inches from the seat to the top. When opened, it can be adjusted to 3 positions and extended with the extractable sun visor. I also like that it detaches at the back to allow air to flow through the stroller. Parents can also remove the canopy altogether by undoing a clip on either side of the stroller. Moms who like to shop or load their stroller up with stuff may not find the storage on the Callisto big enough. This under the seat basket will hold a medium size diaper bag, but not much more. It is, however, supported by a metal frame, which prevents your stuff from dragging on the ground. The Callisto offers a very smooth ride thanks to a set of four 6” wheels with real aluminum rims and a rear wheel suspension system. Like most strollers, the front wheels are swivel wheels with the ability to lock for strolling on gravel or uneven roads. When locking the stroller, there is a one-touch rear brake system that locks easily with just a step. I’m not sure if ours is just stiff because it’s brand new, but unlocking does take a bit of work. Folding the stroller is just as easy as opening it. The handle has a button that together with a switch on the back frame collapses the whole thing forward. I wouldn’t call this a one-handed fold, but it is definitely easy enough to do. For easy transportation, Cybex has added a handle on the side of the stroller. I love this and the fact that the stroller locks when collapsed. Nothing is worse that having your stroller fly open as you are moving it from one spot to another. The Callisto is a great multifunctional stroller for all parents. It is loaded with many features that make strolling comfortable for baby and easy for mom and dad. I would not hesitate to recommend this stroller to any couple looking for a feature-rich product that pushes nicely and stores easily when not in use. If asked, I would make 2 improvements, add a cupholder to the side(always) and make it so that the stroller could stand on it’s own. Additional features:
  • continuous, height adjustable handlebar for more mobility
  • central one-pull harness system
  • ultra-light aluminum frame
  • folded: L41 x W12.5 x H17 inches
  • price $349 – Available in 4 colors in the United States which are: Chili, Slate, Purple, and Indigo. (shown above)
*Thank you to Cybex for sending this stroller out for us to review*

Featured Review: Peg Perego Si Stroller

Peg Perego’s Si Stroller is an awesome lightweight stroller that has many full size stroller features. Weighing in at just under 17lbs, this compact, easy to operate stroller is a great fit for parents who need a product that will accommodate their growing needs. From birth it can be used as a travel system with an infant seat, then a regular day to day stroller that folds up nicely for traveling.

For the last few weeks we have been testing it from one side of the country to the other!

Here is what we found.

Installation – Out of the box the Si was pretty much ready to go. All I needed to do was clip on the storage basket and open it up.

If you have problems, the Si also comes with a great booklet that shows you everything your need – step by step.

Getting Started – Unfolding this stroller is really easy. All you need to do is unclip the lever on the left side of the stroller, give it a bit of a shake and then lock the bracket in the back.

Comfort and Features – The Si offers a lot of great features not normally seen in this stroller weight class. For safety, it has a five-point harness with the 2010 version adding a bumper bar. There is a 3 position(almost flat) seat recline, height adjustable handle bars and a 2 position foot rest.

For older children, the Si has a good size seat (13inches wide) and a high canopy that will keep taller toddlers(up to 45lbs) comfy without brushing their head. When opened fully, the Si’s canopy offers some of the best coverage I have seen on a lightweight stroller. Moms who want to keep track of their little ones will also like the peek-a-boo window.

Underneath the seat is a good size storage basket big enough to hold a large sized diaper bag. The only problem with this is that the basket will drag if your bag is too heavy. For this I suggest you strap your diaper bag to the handle bars and use the storage basket for lighter purchases, if out shopping. This works well if your child stays in the stroller. But not so great if you need to carry your baby. Because the stroller is so light, a weighted handle will cause the whole thing to tip backwards once your child is removed. While this sounds simple, it’s easy to forget. I have tipped this stroller quite a few times leaving the mall trying to rush.

Travel System – 2 cables that come with the 2009 version stroller allow the Si to be converted it into a travel system. While Peg Perego strollers are normally only compatible with the Primo Viaggio SIP 30/30 Infant seat, the Si will accept most car seats that have a belt path on each side.

Folding – To avoid confusion, Peg Perego has numbered the two levers needed to close the stroller. I love this! No guess work – just pull here first and then here. Once closed, this stroller stands independently and it also features a carrying strap on the side.

This makes the Si a dream to travel with.

Cleaning – While on a recent trip, an unfortunate event ended with a whole breakfast landing on the seat of the stroller. Surprisingly enough, for the amount of food that landed on it, the stroller fared quite well. But when I got home and started to take it apart to fully clean it, I was surprised to find that it doesn’t come apart. It looks like it comes apart, but it doesn’t, unless I wanted to get into unscrewing stuff, which I don’t.

Improvements – With anything, there is always a wish list of thing you would like see improved.

I personally would love Peg Perego to make a good cupholder. The tiny one that comes with most of their strollers doesn’t many beverage cups, including my re-usable water bottle. Also, having some part of the seat come apart for easy cleaning would also be a bonus for parents who will be using this stroller everyday.

Overall, I like this stroller and I would recommend it to any parent who wants a nice looking stroller that can go anywhere.

$232.00 on Amazon

Peg Perego Si Specs:

  • Width – 20″
  • Seat Width – 13″
  • Seat to top of Canopy – 25″
  • Ground to Handle – 41″
  • Stroller Length – 33.5″
  • Folded Dimensions – 39″ x 13″ x 13″
  • Front Wheel Size – 6.5″
  • Weight – 16.8lbs – to get this I weighed myself holding the stroller and then subtracted that number from my weight alone