Milk Kefir for Children: Excellent Probiotics and a Milk Allergy Cure?

In case you have not read some of the other articles I’ve published on this web site, I should begin by saying that my son had terrible colic, was diagnosed with severe GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) at 2 month of age, and was diagnosed with a bad milk allergy by his 8th month. At the writing of this article my son is 3.9 years old.

Six months ago my wife started looking into Milk Kefir as a treatment for some health issues she was experiencing; she also thought that my son and I would benefit from its consumption. Instead of trying to list the various health benefits in this article, I’d like to point out that it has a very high concentration of probiotics and has been alleged to aid digestion, lower cholesterol/blood-pressure, and incite world peace. I let you guess which of those is an exaggeration of the truth. The following links might educate you better: Wikipedia’s Kefir Page and Comprehensive Kefir Information from a believer

Milk Kefir Grains (Mother Grains)

About 4 months ago we started put teaspoons of Kefir Cream Cheese in my son’s juice once or twice a day. Kefir Cream Cheese is made by removing much of the whey from Milk Kefir in order to thicken it, concentrate many of its nutrients, and reduce its lactose content. We used such small amounts to both ease him into the taste (which is a little like a sour yogurt) and ease his digestive system into regular dairy consumption. Steadily we increased the content until about 3 weeks ago we started giving his up to 3 ounces of Kefir Cream Cheese mixed with 4 ounces of juice. Lex appropriately calls it “milk juice”. He often requests it throughout the day and I estimate that he consumes up to 7-9 fluid ounces of concentrated Kefir Cream Cheese per day.

The Proof is in the Pudding

On his current diet of Milk Kefir Lex can now eat any quantity of and variety of cheese without any digestive issues. Three years ago, the smallest trace of any dairy product gave him endless diarrhea. We no longer give him daily does of Culterelle Probiotics. We expect that 20+ friendly bacteria strains in Milk Kefir are more than enough for our son. Honestly, Lex is the most regular that he has ever been.

Perhaps coincidentally we were able to reduce his GERD PPI medicine by half for the first time after after Lex was taking Kefir for two months. This was totally unexpected after so many previous failed attempts. I can’t help bu think there is a connection between this wonder food and the improvement in his reflux.

We recently went on a cruise and for some very foolish reason we did not take any Milk Kefir or Kefir Cream Cheese; we took some Soy Milk instead. Bad idea. Firstly he would barely drink it. Secondly, although we resumed giving him 1 capsule of Culterelle probiotics each day, Lex developed a bad case of diarrhea. We are almost certain it came from all of the cheese and deserts that we let him eat while on the cruise. When we cut off the cheese and dairy-containing desserts Lex returned to normal. I am almost certain that if we had been giving him Kefir Cream Cheese as regularly as we do at home that he would not have had any digestive problems. Needless to say, when we got home we were all happy for him to get back on his super probiotic-fortified milk Kefir.

Conclusion

I was skeptical of Milk Kefir and all of the miraculous claims that my wife told me about, but after what I have witnessed I now cannot deny that it has helped my son greatly. He likes the flavor and I know that he loves the ability to eat regular cheese and even regular ice cream without getting diarrhea or bad gas. Even I feel better when regularly eating it and it has lowered my wife’s cholesterol as well! Has it cured my son’s Milk Allergy? No, but it is treating it, or rather it is controlling it and permitting him to eat, within reason, as all of his other friends do without any concerns. We don’t even tell others that he has a milk allergy anymore and we don’t worry about him being offered or finding dairy products.

Update – Lex Age 5.2

We now give Lex just about 1/3 cup of straight milk kefir mixed with about 3/4 cup of 100% fruit juice. He seems to like it and it mixes more smoothly. He seems even more regular now than before and more importantly he seems to have no trouble with the occasional ice cream or chocolate milk. We still add KAL Crystal Calcium to the “shake” and also supplement every other day with those Calcium Gummy Bears.

 

Enjoying Tokyo with Your Toddler and Seeing a Side You Wouldn’t Otherwise (2 of 2)

PLEASE NOTE: If you haven’t yet read the first part of the Article (part 1 of 2) then I highly recommend that you start there first.

The following is a continuation of the lit of places that I have enjoyed in Tokyo with my 3-year-old son and I highly recommend that you and your toddler, pre-schooler, or older child explore them together.

Kameido Sun Street


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Fun on Kiddie Train at Kameido Sun StreetSun Street Kameido (link) is a swirling cluster of mall stores generally geared towards children and parents. On the weekends they have a train for the kids. Towards the back there is a big slide and in the middle there are often free concerts and games for the kids. They have a great pet store, Sizzler, a grocery store, homegoods oriented Daiso (100 Yen store chain), a nice 300 Yen store, a store with affordable kids and mother’s clothing, lots of coin operated rides, etc. My son generally loved going there. There is a Toys R Us, probably the largest one in the area. If you want to get a feel for

Shinjuku Times Square


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South Shinjuku Times Square Tokyo JapanThe satellite view of this area is a bit scary, but my son loved exploring all of the different views from the ground as well as the views from the top of the Takashimaya department store (east side looking out over Tokyo) and from the Hotel Restaurant floor (18?) just west of Francfranc. Krispy Kreme is just north of Francfranc and he loved that place (especially the free donuts given while in line). The Christmas lights here are amazing. It is fun to watch the trains below. There is a big bookstore with lots of kids books just south of Tokyu Hands. The Takashimaya department store has lots of fun toys out to play with and there is a small park and fountain on 12th or 13th floor.

Shinjuku Station Department Stores


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Department Store Rooftop Amusement ParkMany of the department stores in Tokyo are wonderful for two reasons: they have handicap bathrooms with wonder changing tables and they have great toys that your children can play with. Our favorite department stores where Tokyu (Shibuya), Odakyu (Shinjuku), Keiyo (Shinjuku), Takashimaya (Shinjuku), and any other department store with Bornelund store. If you are looking to purchase any Japanese toys and you want the best deal I would head to Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara for the very best prices and Toys-R-Us for almost as good a deal. In most cases, your child will enjoy Toys-R-Us and their surrounding locations much more.

NHK Studio Park / Yoyogi Park / Meiji Jingu Shrine


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A northern walk from Shibuya, or a quick jump on a “Hachiko” bus from the station will bring you to Tokyo Meiji Jingu Shrine with Toddlerthe NHK Studio park. This national television station has created a theme park which shares a little of their world with the public. I have been twice and I can say that my toddler enjoyed it as much as I did. Just to the north of the NHK studios begins a long, wide sidewalk that leads you to Yoyogi Park. This park is pretty good. Very big, lots of paved trails, lots of trees, lot of grassy areas, lots of benches, lots of ponds. My son really enjoyed this one, and it is just the prelude to the must-see Meiji Jingu Shrine. Bring an ERGO baby carrier, or an off-road stroller for that hike.

Ginza, Clocks and Sony Building


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The Sony Building may be quite interesting to some children. My toddler loved the annual aquarium event (Early August).Sony Building Aquarium He also enjoyed exploring the first few floors and watching a movie up on the top floor. The Yurakucho station is interesting and you can find a Krispy Kreme in one of the small underground malls. There are some great clocks in Ginza and some are animated in the afternoon (I forget which hour, its either 4, 5, or 6 PM).

Roppongi Hills Park


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The park behind the Roppongi Hills buildings is interesting. It has a slide that is sort of like a pyramid and swings that are safe for very young toddlers. There is a pond here and a basketball court. The inside of the main building (the mall) is interesting as well. If you go to the basement you might be able to find those $100 mangoes, grapes, and $300 square watermelons. In the passageway/breezeway there are lots of free cultural events; look for announcements and plan a return at night.

Tokyo Tower


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Tokyo Tower vs ToddlerMy son loved the “bounce house” up on the 3rd or 4th floor called “Nipponland” (as I recall). Entrance fee covers the first 30 minutes and then you pay a little for each additional 10 minutes. They have a pool of plastic balls, lots of bouncing, annoying blaring music, and those huge soft blocks. The roof of the building under the tower has a kiddie amusement park (a bit better than those found on top of some department stores).

Hibiya Park


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This park is near the Imperial Gardens and very much in the middle of Tokyo. It has a nice hill to climb, and Liberty Bell replica that was given to Japan, and some of the best swings in Tokyo. The park really helps balance out the more crowded parts of Tokyo with its spaciousness. The concrete animals are an interesting feature.
Closest Stations: Kasumigaseki and Hibiya

Tokyo Metropolitan Children’s Hall (Tokyo-To Jido Kaikan)


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Toddler Play Area at The Tokyo Metropolitan Children's HallIn the area between Shibuya and Omotesando stations there are two large buildings dedicated to children and the exploration of their world. One is called “The Children’s Hall” and the other is called “The Children’s Castle“. The Children’s Hall is free and, having visited both I, it may be just as good or even better depending on your child’s interests. The Children’s Castle seems to receive more Japanese children, but my son and I always felt very welcome exploring all of the different rooms and stations. We enjoyed the play room of course (indoor playground, toy trains, etc.), loved the music room, learned in the art room, romped around on the roof, built cool wood projects in the basement, ate delicious onigiri in the cafeteria, and loved discovering all of the rest of the games. It can get crowded in the afternoons, but in the mornings you will have the place to yourself and be welcomed by the warm smiles on the women and security guard at the front door.
Closest Station: Shibuya, exit 13a. If you are exploring Shibuya on the surface the easiest way to find The Children’s Hall is to located Tower Records (big yellow and red building) and then head east on the road on it north side. Go under the JR tracks and after you pass Meiji-Dori, pass the “cocoti” store, and head up the hill just a little a ways, you will see The Children Hall on your left.

Helpful Online Resources

 

Enjoying Tokyo with Your Toddler and Seeing a Side You Wouldn’t Otherwise (1 of 2)

In every place that I have lived or visited since Lex came into my life I have found great appreciation for the information I have received which helped me find new places and new ways to enjoy the location. Discovering these places with Lex has helped me see the location from a different perspective, often making an old place seem new again, like turning old stomping grounds into unexplored frontiers. Lex did this for me with Portland, Oregon and with Tokyo, Japan. In this article, I would like to help others enjoy and explore Tokyo with their toddler (or young child) and I invite all comments and suggestions that you may have on the topic.

Covering the Basics

You can’t really enjoy anything until you met your child’s basic needs. So let me break it down for you quickly:

Diapers: The cheapest place to get diapers is almost always at Toy’s R Us. There are located Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City, Kameido’s Sun Street, Shimura San-Chome, or at least those are the ones I have been to. The ones at Sunshine City and Kameido are the best locations because there is plenty for your little one to do in the area. Toy’s R Us usually posts the price per diaper, but calculate it, all of the pull-up brands they sell are great and perhaps the Genki brand are the best if you must have the best. Know your child’s weight in Kilograms. “Big” is the size Lex wears as a toddler. FYI, any larger supermarket with a sale on diapers will probably have a good price too.

Wipes: I don’t like Japanese brand wipes. Bring your favorite wipes if you can, if not get to a Costco. Otherwise, make do with the Japanese ones.

Changing Diapers: Diaper changing stations accessible to fathers are limited to very family-oriented places such as Toys-R-Us and Kameido SunStreet (see below for more info) and handicap bathrooms of upscale department stores. A good spy always knows his exits and a great parent always knows where to find a location to change stinky nappies. By the way, pack freezer Zip-Loc bags with you, because no one wants to smell your child’s masterpiece.

Food and Drink: Toys-R-Us sells lots of feeding products, juice boxes, and formula (I think). American fast food can be found nearly everywhere, including in most convenience stores.

Miscellaneous:If your little darling is attached to a certain sippy cup, bring 3 or 4 backups. Otherwise feel confident that you will be able to find any other thing you need. Toys can be found at their lowest prices in Yodobashi Camera (Akihabara, a.k.a. Akiba) or for a little more at Toy’s R Us. Bring a compass, or get one at a 100 Yen shop. North with me the Kanji highlighted in a different color. The compass will help you know which way to go when you will undoubtedly get confused (especially when taking subway trains). Get an ERGO baby carrier and keep it with you at all times for safety, comfort, and sanity.

Imperial Resident Park


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My son loved this park and I enjoyed it a lot as well. Park Near Imperial Garden, Rock FountainIt has a lot of swings, a nice wooden play structure (off to the North side, watch out for the roller slide, a pinching hazard), a very nice and large granite rock wading fountain, a fenced/covered sandbox, and more. The park has a large sports practice field and even a basketball court too (as I recall). The park is quite spacious and generally a treat to visit.
Closest train station: Shinanomachi

Hiroo Park


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Just north of the Hiroo station, across from the National Azabu supermarket (lots of foreigners shop there for homeland favorites), there is a great park with a big pond, ducks, ancient style bridges, waterfalls, docks, great fall foliage, and lots of paths. There are no playground structures here, but the kid won’t miss them.

Hiroo Playground


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Hiroo Playground Tokyo JapanThis is a nice playground just south of Roppongi and north of Hiroo. It sits west of the Kogai Elementary School on Gaien-nishi Dori. It has a large sandbox area and a very large wooden play structure with a zip line that can be fun for older kids.

Mita’s Pirate Boat Playground


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It seems that all parks in Tokyo are unique, but this might be one of the most unique from a child’s point of view. It has a wooden pirate boat buried in the sand and ready to be played with by imaginative buccaneers.Pirate Boat Playground Tokyo Japan This park is literally hidden, but somehow it has been found by many locals. It is just South-East of the Mita subway station and it right along the unmissable JR lines that pass every minute or less. There is a fountain that runs during the day which is also quite unique and would be nice to run through on a hot day. Just under the JR rails to the south east of the park is a larger more spacious park with some different playground structures. Lex and I often hit one and then the other with every outing in this direction. If you have a bike or take Taxi then you can easily head north from here and hit the Hinode pier and take a nice boat ride too, making for a wonderful day out.

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Hinode Pier/Odaiba Seaside Park


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Hinode pier is not much to look at, but the water bus/cruise ride is amazing.Odaiba Beach I recommend a round trip ticket to Odaiba Seaside Park where you leave in the morning or afternoon and return later at night under the lights and stars. Odaiba Seaside ParkSure you could get there on the Yurikamome line, if you do get the front seat if at all possible and your child will love it, but taking a water bus/cruise is so much nicer and not really much more expensive. My toddler loved playing at the Odaiba beach with the locals and getting lots of attention from the teens and twenty-somethings. The Ferris Wheel is a must see (very safe for children) and there is a fun, large children’s store in Venus Fort (with Totoro’s cat bus, fur and all). Of course, closer to the beach they have lots of arcades and other fun happenings.

Ikebukuro Sunshine City


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This is a huge indoor mall with some interesting destinations that toddlers and children in general can find quite interesting. My 3-year-old Lex loved exploring all of the different Cars in the Toyota Auto Salon Amlux. Even at his age, he enjoyed much of the very affordable indoor theme park called “Namco Namja Town” (link to some info). There is a planetarium and an aquarium but we never made to either. Read more about it here. There is a Toys R Us (way in the back) here and some good deals can be found on clothing too in some of the other stores, especially if they are selling clothes in the kiosk areas. Tokyo Disney tickets can be bought here too, but not sure what the benefit is to buying them there.

(continue on to second part of this article, click here)

 

Creative Designer Pacifer Straps, Binki Clips, & Other Essential Baby Accessories

A relative of mine has recently introduced me to their new online shop of baby accessories. At first I was not sure what to think, I was concerned that she was pouring a lot of time into a new business that wouldn’t really go anywhere. Well, I was quite wrong. Apparently her Designer Pacifier Straps and Binky Clips are selling themselves and at her current prices they are steals. Her shipping is dirt cheap too, so I can see why her store is already off to a great start.

Creative Pacifier Strap, Look It’s a Tie!

Designer Pacifier Strap

Designer Pacifier Strap

My favorites are the ties. Of course, I only have Lex and so I am partial to the more “manly” baby accessories. I only wonder why no one has thought of this before. It looks great and it has class, something that I think a lot of little guy and girl accessories are missing.

Something for the Little Ladies Designer Binki Clips

Designer Binki Clips

Designer Binki Clips

For the more feminine angels there are quite a few options available. Here is one that caught my eye. These really bring some elegance to to your pretty little angels.

 

Headstrong Toddlers: Parenting, Teaching, and Learning

Our darling little Lex has progressively become rather difficult in the last couple months. He is still two, but will turn three soon. I’ve found myself suddenly caught ill-prepared to deal with this stage of development. It is humbling. I thought I was doing a pretty good job, but lately it seems that for the past six months I missed some good opportunities to start providing better behavioral guidance. For example, giving him juice when he demanded it, just because I was pleased he could finally use “his own words” and express his desire. Now I am suddenly discovering that I need more developmental help than he does.

I have to try and resist with all of my will the urge to slap his hand and yell at him “No HITTING!!!”. Yes, it is ludicrous. I am the adult here and I know that example is the best teacher, and especially that bad example will override almost any other form of teaching. I need to step up my game fast before my own parental deficiencies harm my child’s development and even my marital stability.

Anyway, I have started searching the web for some help. I am also turning to my siblings for help. Some are in the same stages and some of them are ahead of me by years. I need all of the help I can get. Here are some of the published articles that I have found quite useful so far (this list should grow over time and I am open to suggestions):

 

A Review of the Best Carrier in the World: The ERGObaby Carrier

My Only Regret Is That We Didn’t Buy It Sooner

I have been meaning to write this product review since I first started this web site. There are a very limited group of products of which I can say that my only regret is the I didn’t purchase the product sooner. In fact, I think I have said this about our Amby Baby Hammock Motion Bed, my Casio wristwatch with a built-in compass, my Sony PSP, our Baby Björn Travel Crib, and our Ergo Baby Carrier. I truly do regret that we did not purchase it before our son, my wife, and I had to suffer through all of those other carriers. I hope this ERGO Baby Carrier review helps spare you the same regret!

Suffering Through Other Carriers

Lex has always feared the vacuum, but never when he is in the Ergo Baby Carrier

Lex has always feared the vacuum, but never when he is in the Ergo Baby Carrier

Let me be frank with you, I strongly supported and drove the purchase of our Baby Björn Active/Sport. It was supposed to provide extra comfort and somehow bring about world peace. Instead of living up to any of our expectations it caused backaches, neck aches, overheated baby, pinched baby legs, sore skin around the legs and crotch (baby not me), and very long adjustment times for each time my wife and I wanted to switch wearing it. The only expectation that was met was that of the Baby Bjorn’s high resale value. Fortunately, we were able to unload it for $20 less than what we paid for it new. I expect that our Ergo Baby Carrier has a very high resale value because the very few used ones we have found for sale have an asking price at just about 90% or higher of retail. This makes it an excellent and nearly risk-free investment.

We tried some less expensive slings too, sold by Target, when our son was an infant and those were just terrible for everyone involved. I should add that my petite wife, more than I (5’11’, 165 pounds, me, not my wife), found the Baby Björn carrier to be extremely painful and not user friendly.

Web Research Revealed Rave Reviews of an Unknown Product/Company

Staying Dry and Comfortable with the Ergo Baby Carrier ReviewIt was my wife who began to research the web (early fall 2007) and seek out a better alternative. What she found were great reviews spread around here and there of a product and company that we had never heard of. The product wasn’t the cheapest (it seems to me that it was $92 USD at the time) nor did it seem to be marketed very much either, but it seems that it didn’t need to be because it sold itself. The web site of the product’s manufacturer did not have the latest and greatest bells and whistles (then, it is pretty cool now), but it did tell us which local stores we could visit in order to purchase their product. After a short confirming phone call, we jumped in the car and headed straight down there.

It was a small locally owned baby boutique that we had never before visited, but they stocked lots of different colors of this newly discovered baby carrier (the complete opposite of Babies R Us, Walmart, Target, etc.). We were also able to pull it out of the firm vinyl bag and test it out with Lex. They gave us a few pointers, but my wife more or less took over because she had watched some online videos already. The Ergo Baby Carrier came with an instructional DVD (which I watched later) which seemed only necessary for the side/hip mounted position (which we have NEVER used).

It Sold Itself, Love at First Use

We both immediately liked the Ergo Baby Carrier and my wife had already decided that she wanted the “camel/camel” color because from experience with other all cotton products she expected it would look the best over time, or rather that it would hide any color fading better than the darker colors available at the store (from use and washing). Now, looking back, I can tell that she was right; it still looks great 2 years later. I should point out here that the version we purchased is not the current generation of the Ergo Baby Carrier. I will point out the important distinctions below.

Ergo Baby Review: Feeling Comfortable and Secure in the CarrierAt this time, Lex was about 10 months old (about 24 pounds) and he fit perfectly in the carrier. The hood/headrest fit him perfectly too. When mounted in the front my wife would often sit down on the train without any problems or discomfort to her or Lex. Lex was comfortable enough that he began falling asleep in the carrier too (he couldn’t in the Baby Bjorn any longer).

Which Is Best, Putting My Baby/Toddler in Front or in Back?

Back then and even up until now (almost 3 years old and 31 pounds) it has always seemed equally comfortable to mount Lex in the front or on the back of the ERGOBaby Carrier. Of course, getting him in the “backpack” position took more delicacy when he was younger and usually required another helper. Now, at age 2.8, I just grab both of his wrists with him standing in front of me facing away from me and I swing him around and up on my back. Its a collaboration between him and I that usually entertains curious on-lookers and the occasional good Samaritan who offers to help. Depending on his mood he may prefer to ride in the front, but usually the back is his choice and for walking, shopping, and even biking the back is the only way to go!

Comfort and Security, Enough to Fall Asleep

Lex stopped sleeping in public long ago, in fact, until recently his last nap outside of this crib (or portable crib) occurred in the ERGOBaby Carrier at Disneyland on Christmas 2007 with my wife (mounted in front). This spring during a walk in the desert, in the midst of a rather active adult conversation, Lex got tired and begged to be put in the carrier. I mounted him in front and he fell asleep immediately outside of his designated bed for the first time in 1.5 years. Since then, he has fallen asleep in the Ergo Baby Carrier almost every time he skips his nap and we go out for a bike ride.

Using the Ergo Baby Carrier in Lieu of a Bicycle Child’s Seat

This is the Bicycle Use that I discuss in my Ergo Baby Carrier ReviewYes, I ride my bike with Lex in the ERGOBaby Carrier, or just “carrier” as he calls it, in the backpack position (this is an entirely independent review and as far as I know ERGOBaby does not recommend this use, just to be clear). Lex wears a helmet and shoes and I put all kinds of flashing lights on the bike. Also I use the plastic D-shaped loops for the hood straps to hang a reflective sash/belt across the main back of the carrier.

After lots of testing, especially at slower speeds and uneven terrain I found that the Ergo Baby Carrier provided a superior solution for mounting a child on a bicycle. Rear and front-mounted child seats made the bicycle unstable at low speeds and provided my son with extra leverage to throw off the balance when he inevitable shifted his weight. Additionally, all of my research identified the most common cause of bicycle child seat accidents occurred when the bike was parked. Putting my toddler in the rear-mounted ErgoBaby Carrier solved both of these issues considerably. It also makes it easier for me to continue on my way without the bicycle if Lex falls asleep as he is already strapped to me.

Flaws, Downsides, or Negatives of the Ergo Baby Carrier

    I am going to list in bullet form the downsides of the carrier and list how I think these have been addressed:

  • The buckle on the shoulder straps falls down all of the time. Our Ergo Baby Carrier is not the current version/generation. From what I can see, but have not yet tested, this flaw has been fixed in the current version being sold by most retailers. I highly recommend you ensure that you are buying the current generation before you put your money out for what I call a defect in design. Anyway, the buckles are on loops that can be adjusted up and down the shoulder straps so that they can be placed where they are most comfortable for you and your baby. This flexibility comes with a price, they can easily slide down off of the padded should straps and down to the adjustable strapping making them very hard to reach when you forgot to check them and you already initiated blast-off with your child.
  • The hood is too short.
    See our reflective sash addition and the annoying hood that always gets in the way

    See our reflective sash addition and the annoying hood that always gets in the way

    While the hood was useful as both a head support and light blocker when Lex was a baby, it is now useless and has been for the past 1.5 years. His head now sticks out beyond its reach. It would be great it the length of the hood was adjustable or if it were removable. Right now all it does is make me want to cut if off when it inevitably falls out of the little pouch, drags on the floor, and catches on things. It is sometimes a safety hazard. I could not tell you if these issues with the hood have been addressed.
  • It is a bit spendy/pricey. This is true. It is nearly as expensive as some cheap cribs and car seats. Nevertheless, if you plan to use it even once every two weeks until your child weighs 40 pounds then you will get your money’s worth. Nothing I have tried made me feel more like my son and I were as securely and naturally fastened together. Like I said, I use this on my bicycle even. Also, you could always put it on Craigslist or Ebay and get back most of your money, so this makes it a great bargain in fact.
  • Your child cannot face outwards. This is true and I think it is part of what make the design work. Comfort and security seem to be the requirements that ERGOBaby was working towards with this one. Maybe they should engineer a different outward facing front-mounted one. It might actually sell based on the reputation of the original, but I doubt it will be as comfortable and might actually harm the brand.
  • No product upgrade program. As you can tell by now, I really wish I had the latest model/version/generation of the Ergo Baby Carrier. It was NEVER worth waiting for, but I might spend a little more to upgrade mine if such an upgrade/trade-in program existed. Maybe I should Ebay ours and buy a newer replacement. Hmm…

Product Enhancement Wishlist

    These are not flaws, but just a list of improvements or enhancements that I would like to see made to this already awesome product. Nothing is perfect after all.

  • Carrying case included: It would be great if the carrier could somehow be rolled up into a attached carrying case (perhaps an enhanced hood).

Notice the dangling hood and the reflective sash that is nearly covered by it.

  • Reflective/Safety Version: As you can see in this photograph I have attached a reflective sash to my Ergo Baby Carrier in the D-shaped loops, there are only one of these in the current version so this safety hack wouldn’t work without some sewing. Would it be better if ERGOBaby sold one that had reflective markings on the shoulder straps, back, and waist belt?

Conclusions

The Ergo Baby Carrier is truthfully a product with which my only regret is that I didn’t buy it sooner. Every time I decide against taking it on a trip or I forget it, I regret that too. It crunches up small enough that it is quite portable and it is comfortable enough that often I just walk around alone with it on while my Toddler terrorizes the merchandise, wildlife, loose gravel, water puddles, grave stones, and smiling innocent bystanders. I hope you find this ERGOBaby Carrier review useful. My son weighs about 31 pounds and he still loves to ride in the carrier and even nap in it. I want him to keep growing, but I don’t look forward to the day he can’t ride in the ERGOBaby Carrier any more.

 

Exploring Tokyo by Bicycle Made Easy by Tokyo Rent a Bike

In a recent visit to Tokyo, one of my favorite destinations, I had an urge to explore Tokyo differently than I had before. Already different from my previous visits, I was accompanied this time by my 2-year-old boy, Lex. I had already conquered the subway and train system, knew how to decipher Tokyo’s cryptic address system, and I had lost myself on foot in many neighborhoods. So you would think doing it all again with a toddler would provide enough of a different perspective and challenge.

Well, you would think wrong. It took us both little time to find all of the hot-spots for toddlers (department store toy stores and miniature rooftop amusement parks, Kameido’s Sun Street, handicap bathrooms {because of their changing tables and toddler restraining seats}, Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown, Tokyo Tower, and countless hidden playgrounds) and it was not long before the novelty of train riding wore-off for Lex.

Bike Wanted

Mamachari Baby!At first we watched with envy mothers and children zoom from place on their “Mamachari” bicycles while we trudged along sweating (well, the sweating was mostly me because I was carrying Lex everywhere, for speed and safety). An acquaintance made at Shibuya’s Tokyu Department Store (great for kids) suggested I should just buy a bike on Craigslist and resell it when I was done as this would probably save lots of money over renting a bike. I thought their idea had merit except for two points: I wasn’t planning on renting the bike for long and bikes with child seats are rare on Craigslist and Gaijin Pot.

Where to Rent a Bicycle in Tokyo

A third point also pointed me away from purchasing a temporary bike, I discovered Tokyo Rent a Bike. Not only did they rent bikes for as little as ¥600 per day, they gave discounts for renting for 2 days or more. We first contact Tokyo Rent a Bike because they seemed to be the most straightforward show in town and they had the best price. The website was in English and so I thought it would not hurt to shoot them and email and ask if they rented a bike with a child’s seat.

The extremely kind director of Tokyo Rent a Bike, Neil Garscadden, sent me a picture of the child seat with his very prompt reply and told me that it was definitely for rent. I asked him to hold the bike for me for the next day and he immediately confirmed that we would.

Lex and I made our first trip to Naka-Meguro station and headed directly to the Tokyo Rent a Bike office. We found it without any problems, unless you count our failure to read instructions and end up ascending the wrong building as a problem. Anyway, Neil met us below and pointed out the bike immediately before we went upstairs to the office. We spent only a brief couple minutes in his office filling out a simple form with our info and leaving our ¥900 (we got a bike with gears, the childseat rental was FREE!). Neil even threw in free helmets for us both.

Neil showed us how he had outfitted his nice “city bike” to be a “mamachari” bicycle for us, with the full coverage kick-stand that is essential with child seats. He even ran back to the office to get us some maps and gave us some quick and nice instructions to help us get back home to Jingu-mae. He recommended we stick to the sidewalks and use the bell as we came up on pedestrians. We followed his advice.

A Bump in the Road

This way Da-daOn the way home, we had a flat-tire. It must have been all of that construction near Shibuya. Anyway, we had reached our “hood” and so I knew a good backstreet to walk the bike down. Naka-Meguro hadn’t seemed so close on the train maps, but without a flat tire we would have reached Jingu-mae / Harajuku in less than 25 minutes. I called Neil and he told me how to get it fixed easily. He even offered to come out and fix it if I had any trouble getting it fixed locally. He swore he had never had anyone get a flat and I believe him, because as it turns out it wasn’t really a flat but a lost valve.

After Lex’s lunch and subsequent late nap we set out to find a shop that fixes flats and we hit gold right off. We hadn’t noticed at the time Neil’s message on our phone offering for us to keep the bike for free for an extra day or two because of our inconvenience. After the tire was fixed we headed straight out toward Roppongi and Hiroo. Our first stop was the huge, beautiful, and mosquito-infested Aoyama Cemetery. Lex loved riding through it and running around it just as much: chasing kitties and inspecting the bike a little too. Checking the wheels for integrity.

Destinations and Discoveries

Along the way we found a fantastic playground and we never made it any further. Lex wouldn’t budge and a quick text message to Neil revealed his invitation to keep the bike for at least another day due to our troubles and delay. I was thrilled to keep it another day and in fact I started fantasizing about all of the cool destinations we could visit and unknown locations we could discover with our new wheels.

Our Only Regret Was That We Returned It Too Soon

When it came time to return the bicycle we were reluctant to let it go. Tokyo Rent a Bike had it perfectly tuned and it was probably only a few months old (or so it seemed). It got us safely to where we needed to go. It had good reflectors and a front head light powered by a dynamo. It rode great and looked just as good.

Sayonara and Thank You Tokyo Rent a Bike

Cemetery PathwayWe forgot our map on our return trip to Tokyo Rent a Bike’s Naka-Meguro office, but we knew the general direction and milestones along the way. As we walked away from the office and toward the train station, we felt like just another couple sweaty foreigners in Tokyo. Having a bicycle to cruise the sidewalks/streets and mingle with the natives made us feel special, like insiders. Thank you Tokyo Rent a Bike for making us feel special and effortlessly making our trip to Tokyo much more special than it would have been otherwise.

 

The Impact of the Unlived Life of the Parent

Carl Jung, Swiss Psychologist, stated that:

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”

This statement is quite profound. Is it a grant of permission, a justification, for a parent to live their life the way the want to? Perhaps, with many qualifiers, yes it is.

Exploring this train of thought then it would seem to say that if your children are not harmed, neglected, or deprived by the life you truly want to live then they will benefit from you living it. When thinking of the inverse, a life unlived, then the truth of Jung’s statement become more clear.

A parent who puts their life on hold indefinitely, who feels unfulfilled, or who longs for a different life will always have feelings of resentment, emptiness, complacency, stress, and even hopelessness with their heart. Children are innately empathetic; they can sense the sincerity and true feelings of others. Indirectly they will also experience less than 100% of who their parent is. The parent may direct at least a portion of those feelings at their children. They may even blame the children for bringing about at least in part inability to live their lives.

What are the possible unlived lives we are speaking of for parents. They may be unpursued education, career opportunities, hobbies, social relationships, or romantic relationships. In many cases such pursuits are postponed partially in the name of parenthood and its demands. Carl Jung tells us that making such choices for the benefit of our children will harm them psychologically.

Perhaps I assume that they will harm them, therefore let us state that deferring life choices will ultimately strongly influence children. The single quote, taken from its context is all that I have now. Nevertheless, I logically assume that the strong influence would be a negative one.

What life have I not lived that maybe harming my son? Social relationships stand out as a deficit that I sometimes long for. To be honest that “life” went unlived after marriage, long before my son came along. Therefore, I can’t even logically blame his existence or demands of my time for this life deficit. Nevertheless, I could, ultimately for his benefit and that of my wife, seek to develop a portion of this unlived life. We may all become more complete as a result.