Gear up for a visit from a new grandbaby

Your little angel is coming to visit for the first time, and you want to make a good impression. Your daughter has requested a few things – a car seat, crib and a vibrating bouncer (what on earth is that?). Off you go to the big toy store, thoughts of circa 1966 in your head when a car seat was “your lap”, and vibrating toys were for adults only.

You step through the doors and quickly realize you are out of your element. There are bouncers that rock, bouncers that swing, bouncers that soothe, bouncers that glide and bouncers that let you choose which of the senses you want to stimulate…and all of them vibrate. You look around for help and feel your confidence dwindle when you realize that the help are just kids themselves. You ask the first name-tagged pubescent adolescent with more piercings than grandchildren you ever hope to have, if he can advise you on a car seat.

“What kind of car seat do you want, ma’am?” he says. Realizing you have no idea, you coyly respond “What kind do you have?” “Infant, 3 in 1, forward facing, convertible, toddler, no-back booster, high-back booster, turbo booster…”

The plethora of baby equipment on the market is overwhelming, and it can be overwhelmingly expensive given that each visit from the kids brings a new list of necessities. And what to do with that barely used vibrating, rocking, anything but soothing, sensory stimulating bouncer post visit?

Before you attempt to become a baby equipment guru or opt to dust off the old highchair and crib you’ve been storing in the attic for the past couple of decades, you may want to think about renting gear from a baby equipment rental agency in your area.

Renting provides some definite advantages. First and foremost, you can never be sure if old or borrowed equipment has been recalled or meets today’s safety standards. Secondly, baby equipment becomes outdated quickly, and it’s likely that your children, especially first time parents, will want nothing less than what they have at home. Finally, rental prices are very reasonable (even cheap) and the companies deliver right to your door.

While the items and brands available for rent vary from company to company, most carry the essentials such as car seats, strollers, cribs, highchairs, booster seats, swings, and of course, the requisite vibrating bouncers. Not all rental agencies have the same high standards. To be sure the company you are considering has the standards and equipment that’s right for you, here are some questions you might want to ask.

• Do the products meet Canadian safety standards? Although products sold in the US and Canada are similar, only products that meet Canadian standards are legal in Canada.

• Does the company monitor for safety recalls and safety inspect their equipment between uses?

• How is the equipment cleaned? All equipment should be sanitized between uses using anti-bacterial non-toxic fragrance free products.

• How old are the items that you are interested in renting? Look for a company that updates its products frequently so you can be sure the items you rent will be similar if not better that the items your kids have at home.

• How long has the company been in business? A company that’s been around for a few years should have most of the kinks ironed out and you can feel comfortable that their equipment will be carefully selected and quality tested to meet the unique needs of travelers.

• If you’re renting a car seat, look for a company that offers a variety of brands. Car seats, children and cars all come in different sizes, and one brand doesn’t fit all. If you have a small car, make sure it can easily accommodate the seat you are renting. This is especially important if the car seat needs to be installed rear-facing. If you have a small child, look for seats with removable padding or a body pillow.

• Some of the more highly regarded car seats are difficult to clean and install. Ask the company what they look for in selecting a car seat. The most popular or expensive car seats are not necessarily the best ones to use for rental purposes. Ease of securing a child, ease of cleaning and ease of installation should all be factors that a company considers when making its selection. A company that’s been operating for a few years will have tried out a number of seats and will have found seats that satisfy their needs as well as those of their customers.

• When it comes to renting a stroller, keep in mind that the stroller your child has at home may not be the one that’s best to rent for their visit. If you’re going to be out and about all day, shopping, or even in and out of the car, look for a stroller that is small, light, has parent and child trays and a large storage basket.

• If you need to rent a crib, look for a company that rents folding cribs. Folding cribs come assembled and don’t need to be put together. Many companies rent standard cribs. However, standard cribs aren’t meant to be taken apart and put back together over and over and over again, and there’s a chance that doing so could lessen their safety.

About the author: Lesley Cherry is co-founder of Wee Travel Inc. Baby Equipment Rentals,, serving Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. She can be reached in Toronto at [email protected]. For Vancouver and Victoria inquiries contact [email protected]