Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Quinny Zapp & Maxi-Cosi Pebble

As much as I adore the Maxi-CosiMura Plus, for taking out in the car it just isn’t a practical option for me every time. For instance if I’m popping to the shops with Baby A, the Mura Plus chassis and the Folding Carrycot takes up all my boot space, so I’d have to put my shopping in the car itself.

It’s times like this that the Quinny Zapp comes into its own. I have a 2010 Limited Edition Black Zapp chassis and like all Zapp’s, it came as standard with the adaptors to use the Maxi-Cosi carseat with it. The original style Zapp isn’t suitable from birth and there isn’t a carrycot accessory for use with it, so the only way of using this product for a baby under six months is to use in combination with the carseat. Please Note: Original style Quinny Zapp is no longer offered for sale in the UK. 

Baby A travelling in style; Maxi-Cosi Pebble 2015 Denim Hearts with matching Footmuff
Used in combination with Quinny Zapp 2010 Limited Edition Black chassis

Included in the box with Quinny Zapp is the Zapp raincover, Zapp shopping basket and Zapp adaptors which are used for Maxi-Cosi carseats only – There is no carrycot option suitable for use on the Zapp chassis.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m not a fan of babies being in carseats too much – they’re designed for safe car travel, not for baby to be crammed into all day every day, and Maxi-Cosi recommends no more than 2 hours in the carseat before baby is given the opportunity to lie flat, stretch about and generally wiggle freely for a minimum of 20 minutes. However sometimes, it is handy to attach the carseat to a chassis. It saves me struggling to carry the carseat for a start – my back doesn’t take kindly to carrying it too much; and it provides a smoother journey for baby, rather than the bouncing of the carseat being carried about.

The Quinny Zapp chassis folds down very compact and is incredibly lightweight, thus making it the ideal ‘car’ pushchair for me. I leave it in the boot and basically forget it is there. Those times I need it though it is invaluable.

With hard rubber compound wheels the Zapp is notorious for the ‘clunk clunk’ noise as you’re pushing it – every change in surface, every crack in the pavement, you can hear with this one; subtle and quiet it is not. However the three wheel design with front rotating swivel wheel (which can be locked if preferred) does make it lovely and smooth to push over smooth surfaces. If you’re in a shopping mall it’s like cutting through butter with a warm knife, and you can turn a full circle on a ten pence piece – if you’re off for a trek through the woods or live in an area with a lot of cobblestone streets, possibly not the wisest choice. You do have to be careful with the Zapp; it is very lightweight, so don’t try to go up or down curbs by tipping it onto the front wheel unit – again, I would say common sense dictates that you tip it onto the two back wheels to distribute the weight before attempting curbs, but it’s a habit I got into years ago when using the pushchair with J and perhaps not something everyone would automatically think of. Quinny do not recommend that you hang any items over this chassis, particularly because it is so lightweight there is a very real risk of additional weight, particularly over the hand grip connector bar, making the product tip. Again I will hold my hands up and say that I have hung a nappy bag over the handlebars many times, in fact when J was pushchair age I deliberately overloaded the Zapp without him in it to try and make it tip, and I failed to do so until I literally pulled on the weight hanging from the handlebars, but to err on the side of caution Quinny will advise you strongly against doing this. I hang bags on the chassis at my own discretion and when in use  I would not let go of the handlebars.

The Zapp has a small shopping basket which to be honest isn’t particularly useful for carrying much more than your raincover and perhaps a small drinks bottle, but hey we’re not talking about a pushchair designed for walking to the supermarket and doing your weekly shop with, we’re talking about a compact, lightweight run-around designed for convenience and ease of use.

The Zapp model I have is the 2010 model so it has three steps to fold / unfold – newer models have an additional fourth step to make it easier, but to be honest I’ve never had an issue. Despite not being used since J was three, when I got the Zapp chassis out of storage I gave it a thorough clean with furniture polish and a soft cloth and it was as good as new (Note: Do not use oil based lubricants to clean your chassis as they can leave sticky residue which can then attract more dirt and debris which causes friction, creating problems with fold / unfold action) I have developed quite a neat knack with my Zapp chassis of clicking button one, pressing button two and flicking the chassis outward snapping both side knuckles locked solid and bringing number 3 section up and into locked position in one fluid movement.

The Zapp chassis has left Brake Off pedal and a bright red right Brake On pedal. I’ve always found the brakes on the Zapp very strong and reliable, but sometimes the Brake Off doesn’t release the brakes the whole way and as you start walking you notice the pushchair feels heavier than normal and the rear wheels aren’t turning properly. Whenever this has happened I have just put the brakes back on again and then pressed the Brake Off pedal more definitely and it has resolved the issue.

As I have the raincover for  the carseat (compatible with Pebble Plus, Pebble and CabrioFix models) this makes the Pebble and Zapp combination very handy, as even in bad weather I can add the carseat and off we go with no fuss and I don’t have to worry about Baby A getting soggy. As a rule he falls asleep in the carseat the moment we drive anywhere, and being able to remove him from the car and get to where I’m going without disturbing him is a definite bonus for me. The other week Daddy P and I had an appointment at the bank – Baby A fell asleep in the carseat in the front room before we’d even got him into the car; we drove to the bank, put the carseat on the chassis and went in for our appointment, came out and popped into a couple of shops, returned to the car and put him back in and drove home and he only woke up when we parked up again at home, so he didn’t even notice we’d been out at all.

The Pebble carseat has memory buttons on it, which means when you’re using it in combination with a Maxi-Cosi or Quinny chassis you can press the buttons and they’ll stay depressed until you lift it off the chassis – meaning you can do this one handed which is dead handy. When putting the carseat onto the chassis there is an audible ‘click’ noise when it is correctly positioned and locked in place, which is reassuring and gives confidence that you’ve got it all set up properly.

I’ll continue to use the Zapp combined with the Pebble in this way until Baby A is too big for the Pebble, when I’ll put the Zapp fabric back into the chassis and use that instead. It doesn’t have a recline or parent facing option, so it isn’t suitable for children under six months old, but it remains for me the ideal ‘car’ pushchair as the addition of the seat fabric and sun canopy makes little difference to the overall size of the pushchair when folded. You can also get a Zapp travel bag which keeps the product neat and tidy and can be used for the standard Zapp or the Zapp Xtra 2 model and which makes it easier to carry as well (the bag as a carry handle)

 Peace N Love

Mummy P

Maxi-Cosi Mura Plus

Thanks to the improvements on the Maxi-Cosi model upgrading from the original Mura to the Mura Plus was a no-brainer for me. All the niggles I'd had with the Mura - though I loved it - had been improved upon, and once again when I found out I was pregnant with Baby A the only choice I had to make was which colour to pick.

Maxi-Cosi Mura Plus 3 2015 Denim Hearts
The Maxi-Cosi Mura Plus offers foam filled wheels instead of air filled, so no need to pump up the tyres or worry about potential punctures wherever you’re adventuring to.

The sun canopy is enlarged and comes further around the seat unit, with an extra popper to unclip for even more coverage when needed, providing much better protection for baby whether from sun or wind.
There’s an elastic loop on the back of the sun canopy to hook onto the seat unit and hold it firmly in place. It’s much smoother and easier to unfold / fold than the older style, and it can be done one handed and quietly.

Back of seat unit - the small grey button for seat recline adjustment,
and the black surround where the sun canopy hooks in place

The seat itself remains about the same dimensionally but the change in design gives it a squarer, more spacious appearance than the original Mura, (though I found the seat unit ample size even once J reached the maximum weight limit of 15kg at almost four years old and being particularly tall) The seat adjustment clunky metal bar has been replaced with a grey button on the back of the seat that you grip and hold in to adjust the seat angle – it’s much quieter, smoother, and looks neater.  It still offers an adjustable handlebar so it’s easy for me to push as well as Daddy P, who is six foot something and when he’s walking has a very long stride (some pushchairs offer a high enough handlebar but then he trips on the rear assembly)

Included in the box - Mura Plus raincover, Mura Plus shopping basket and Maxi-Cosi carseat adaptors (which are also used to fit the Folding Carrycot to the chassis)

Baby A is 9 weeks old now, so I haven’t used the seat unit so far – though it is suitable from birth, I have the Folding Carrycot as it’s my personal preference and I will use that until he is too big for it. Already he is a long baby, and I don’t think it will be big enough beyond four months old. (That is the same age J was when he became too big for the old style Mura Carrycot).

Maxi-Cosi Folding Carrycot 2015 Denim Hearts

The Folding Carrycot is an additional accessory, but again my personal preference is for newborns to be in a carrycot. Much more compact than the old equivalent, it has a sleeker, more modern style and folds down for ease of transportation. The mattress is double thickness and feels very luxurious and comfortable – its thicker than the mattress in the Moses basket! You can remove the cover for ease of washing, though I always use a Moses basket fitted base sheet on it anyway. The carrycot is easily removed from the chassis by pressing the buttons on either side and lifting it off the adaptors – its very lightweight (4.65kg) so it’s not a great hefty thing to carry about. Once folded, it’s a compact 16.5cm thick, so very easy to carry.

The raincover for the Folding Carrycot was incredibly difficult to get on the first time I used it. However, I’ve now used a couple more times, and it’s a lot easier, so I think it was just where the raincover had been folded since production and the crease lines had taken out valuable centimetres of space. (Top Tip – Hang raincovers out on the line to drop out the crease lines and get rid of that horrible plastic smell before you use it on your pushchair / carrycot) It now fits on very easily and provides excellent cover. It has waterproof navy fabric around the base of the carrycot and over the sun canopy, and then a see through section over the front of the carrycot. There’s a zipper around the edge of the sun canopy to be able to open the raincover easily while it’s fitted; I find this very useful when I’m in shops so Baby A doesn’t get too hot in there, without having to remove it completely every time you go into a shop when out and about.

The Mura Plus is my ‘walking’ pushchair, so I haven’t used it with the Pebble carseat but it is compatible with the adaptors included. As the carrycot folds so compactly (and very easily with the grey handle on the underneath) the times I have gone out in the car and wanted to take it with me both the Mura Plus chassis and the carrycot fits into the boot of my car. I do have to remove the rear wheels of the chassis, so a carrier bag is a must for containing them after a muddy walk! When he was four weeks old we went to a local fun day and I took the Mura Plus and carrycot, and he was warm and comfortable for hours – even the uneven terrain of the field we spent the afternoon walking around didn’t jostle him too much and he slept contentedly the whole time. I love that the apron has zippers attached instead of poppers as its much quicker to undo / do up, and you can’t loose the apron as it’s attached to the carrycot and can’t be forgotten anywhere. The sun canopy has an additional sun visor section at the front of it which is really handy for these autumnal days with the sun low in the sky. The top of the apron has poppers to do it up on the inside of the sun canopy hinges and provides an extra three inches or so up from the level of the apron, and this combined with the low sun visor means no sun is going to disturb baby’s sleep.

Maxi-Cosi Folding Carrycot with sun canopy and additional sun visor down

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble is also purchased separately, and it’s important to get a physical fitting done prior to purchase. As I’m carseat fitter trained myself I confirmed that the Pebble fits using the 3 point seatbelt as well as when using the EasyBase2. I don’t have IsoFix in my car, so the EasyBase2 makes it simpler for me – instead of fitting the carseat with the seatbelt every time, I fit the base with the seatbelt and then click the carseat on and off. The EasyBase2 is suitable for use with Pebble or CabrioFix carseat models. As this was previously used in my old car, I had to re-confirm suitability for the base in my existing car, and as there is a fake floor I contacted Toyota to discuss with them. The Pebble is FAA approved for use on board aircraft, and is suitable for babies from birth to 13kg. (Note: Baby becomes too tall for continued use of the carseat if their head crowns over the top of the carseat shell)

You can find my Maxi-Cosi Pebble review here.

The Mura Plus chassis itself is a fairly chunky 15.5kg (including seat unit) so not ideal for lifting in and out of the car boot on a frequent basis, but as I say I use it as my ‘walking’ pushchair so I’m rarely lifting it into the boot anyway. On the times I have, I’ve wheeled it up to the car before folding, removing the rear wheels, and lifting into the boot, to minimise how long I’m carrying it for.

In town, despite its size, the Mura Plus is easy to steer thanks to the rotating front wheel unit – this can also be locked in position if you prefer which is very good for travelling on sand, shingle or in the snow. Even though the Mura Plus is a chunky beast the foam filled tyres, rotating front wheel unit and foam padded single handlebar keeps it feeling lightweight and easy to control. The shopping basket offers a fair amount of space, at the moment I keep the carrycot raincover folded in it, and the rest of the baby stuff is in the nappy bag hanging on the handlebar (Remember, Maxi-Cosi do not recommend hanging a bag on the chassis at all as it has not been tested / approved for this – I do this at my own discretion and do not let go of the handlebar while baby A is in the product)

On rough terrain the Mura Plus comes into its own, gliding over bumps and lumps easily and your baby isn’t getting rattled about like mad no matter where you’re heading. The single handlebar means I can push it one handed on more even ground – handy for the school run, as it means I have a hand free to hold onto J! – but on rougher terrain you’ll need both hands to keep it under control or it will bounce off the direction you’re heading in.

I recommended the original Mura as I loved it so much, and I have to say, particularly with the improvements, I love the Mura Plus even more.  Highly recommended from Baby A and myself!

Peace N Love

Mummy P

Maxi-Cosi Mura

When I was pregnant with J (born August 2010), I’d been working for the company for a few years, and before I saw two lines appear on a test I knew if it happened that I would choose the Maxi-Cosi Mura pushchair. When it happened, I ordered the Tango Red colour from the 2010 Collection, and as well as the Mura I had a Mura pram body for when he was new-born and a CabrioFix carseat to be used with EasyBase2.

Maxi-Cosi Mura 2010 Tango Red

The Mura isn’t for everyone, but it was definitely the right choice for me. Our town is close to our house and there’s plenty of off road exploring to be done quite locally. It’s a chunky beast, but a small folding product to fit in the boot of my car wasn’t a priority for this – my main, ‘walking’ pushchair. It had large size air filled wheels, and I took it through town, off road, through mud, snow and sand, and never had an issue with it coping. For times when I did want to take it in the car, despite the size of it and the fact that I owned a VW Polo at the time, it did fit. I had to remove the seat unit and the rear wheels, it was a weight to lift so for the first few weeks after delivery it wouldn’t have been possible (but I didn’t drive for 6 weeks afterwards anyway) but once the chassis was in the wheels dropped in at the side and the seat unit laid over the top.

Maxi-Cosi Mura 2010 with Mura Carrycot Tango Red

As a three wheel model, the turning circle was small and neat, even though the Mura itself is a fair sized chassis. I know a lot of people complain about three wheelers not seeming stable, but I never once had an issue with the Mura – you just have to remember that as a three wheeler you can’t drop it down forwards, which is common sense really – when going up and down curbs, push down on the handlebar and spread the weight over the two rear wheels, and it won’t tip. The Mura always felt solid, good quality and it survived much – I used it with the pram body until J was four months old, but as a long child he then needed to use the seat unit. The pram body was suitable for use up to approx. 6 months, 10kg or when baby can sit up, whichever comes first, but as I say J was very long from the start and had to stop using both the pram body and the Moses basket at four months old.

The shopping basket was a good size, and I could fit two very large drinks bottles in there along with a bag of shopping. I frequently went to the local shops and got a few bits each time, though I wouldn’t have fancied trying to fit a weeks worth of shopping onto it and carry the remainder, but again that wasn’t something I needed to do. I had my car for going to the shops if I needed to, or else I’d order online.

Maxi-Cosi don’t recommend hanging anything on the handlebar as the product hasn’t been tested / approved for use with additional weight hanging on the chassis, but I must be honest and say I did. I would never have hung a bag on it and let go of the handlebar, but I would regularly hang the nappy bag over the handlebar and if I went shopping the bags would end up in the shopping basket or tied to the handlebar.

The Mura seat unit is lie flat, which means it is suitable from birth – my personal preference was to use a carrycot for the first few months, but this isn’t a requirement – The first time we took J out in the seat unit was the 1st Jan 2011. It was a cold day and he wore a snowsuit as we walked around town alongside the river.

The sun canopy wasn’t great – it wasn’t the easiest to open and you couldn’t do it one-handed, which was a pain. After a few months the framework buckled and it was replaced; it wasn’t a particularly deep sun canopy, and while it was great when the seat unit was sitting upright, as soon as it was reclined it didn’t offer much protection and I often felt it could have done with being larger, to shield the child more from sun and wind when they were reclined (and so, more often than not, when they were sleeping)

There was a bar across the back of the seat unit which you lifted to unlock the seat for recline / sitting upright. I found it quite stiff and loud – if J dropped off to sleep and I had to drop the seat unit into a lying position the loud ‘clunk’ noise and the jerking of the back of the seat as the stiff bar was moved normally woke him up again.

To go with the seat unit I also had the Mura Footmuff. It was a quite different design to other footmuffs – it had legs, a wrap over top and a hood. Zips on the Footmuff opened up the sides of the top if you wanted the child’s arms to be free, and the legs could be unzipped to free their feet as they got older, allowing it to be used for longer.

Maxi-Cosi Mura Footmuff 2010 Tango Red

While the CabrioFix carseat can also be used on the chassis as well this wasn’t something I did; if I was going to the shops I’d take a smaller chassis as it would only be a quick journey and if I was going somewhere for a walk I’d take the carrycot or seat unit because I don’t like relying on the carseat too much for things other than car journeys.

Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix 2010 Tango Red

The raincover was a bit of a faff to get right. In sudden quick downpours it could become the stuff of nightmares but I became adept at doing it after a while (though others struggled through lack of practise) It fitted well but had lots of Velcro ties to do up, which made doing it slow process and more difficult in gusty weather as you just couldn’t grab hold of it all quickly enough. Once in place it covered well, and J never once managed to kick it off (despite his best efforts!)

I used the Mura regularly until J started nursery, a few weeks after his third birthday. It was used maybe once a week after that for long walks up until he was a few weeks away from his fourth birthday. The tyres needed pumping up quite often to keep the pSI correct and make sure it was as easy and light as possible to push, but we never had to patch a puncture or change a tyre / innertube.

When we stopped using the Mura I did feel quite sad. Packing it away after cleaning it I noticed it was still in really good condition, despite the years of heavy use. I really rate this product and when I saw Maxi-Cosi had updated it with some improvements I knew I had to get a Mura Plus for Baby …

More Coming Soon ...

Peace N Love

Mummy P x x x x

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep - Book Review

I received our copy of the book on Monday and tried it out on J that night. I felt a bit silly reading it as some of it doesn't flow too well (like when you keep saying Now). He kept wanting to sit up and look at the pictures and was miffed when I told him no - he said, and I agree, what is the point of a kids book with pictures in it if the kid is not meant to sit up and look at them? Also at one point I read a sentence which said about being so tired and I had to yawn - he looked at me and said, “You’re very tired tonight aren’t you mummy”  but at that point there was no sign of him drifting off. A moment later we got the giggles because I had to say his name and he was so tickled that the book ‘had his name in it’ that he started giggling and once he started I was off as well. I thought to myself no way is this going to work. We were both giggly and he had been really hyper before bed and I thought this is going to be an epic fail.

I carried on reading it anyway because you never know, and within the next couple of minutes I looked up and he’d fallen fast asleep in the position he’d been in during his giggling fit. I stayed and finished the story as directed, and he didn't stir again.

Usually he would take much longer to settle down to sleep - usually I would leave him awake and he would chat to his toys or read them a story - so it made a change to leave him fast asleep last night, and within an hour. He was asleep about halfway through the book. Also he would usually be awake and come into our bed around four or five in the morning - he came into our room at 5am and told Daddy P he had lost his favourite toy, Daddy P went into his room and found it and he had already climbed back into bed and was half asleep by the time daddy handed him back his toy. He slept through til 7.15 this morning and only woke up when his Daddy went in to wake him up - usually he would be woken by the alarm at 6.30 as he is normally in our bed by then. He was bright and energetic this morning and when I asked him he said he’d slept really well.

It was Daddy P’s turn to do bedtime the next night and when he reached for the same book J said he didn’t want that story again because I’d read it last night. Daddy P said that he wanted to read it so it was read again but already J is growing bored of it and wants a different book - usually we would read something different each evening, whether it’s a different short story or a chapter of a longer book - he is not used to hearing the same story night after night and I can see the repetitiveness of this getting to him quickly. He was kicking at the book from under the covers and was fidgeting and talking to his toys instead of listening. When I spoke to my husband he said he found the repeating of the word Now interrupted the flow of the book and he found it quite a wordy and boring story. He slept through without waking and this morning came into our bedroom at ten to seven with his usual morning mad-hair and a cheeky smile, Tiger tucked under one arm, rubbing his eyes with one hand and “Morning Mummy!” in his cheery way. He certainly seems to be sleeping well.

At this point I am not sure whether it is a good sleeping aid or just really boring and that’s why it works, but I am willing to continue trying and will update you on how it goes.

Day 3 – My turn again to do the bedtime routine. I’d had a difficult afternoon and evening with Baby A being very unsettled and we didn’t end up having dinner until much later than normal; when J and I went upstairs and he was ready for bed I picked up the book and he looked really upset and said “Not again! It’s boring all the time!” so I asked what he would prefer and he said Harry Potter, and because he’s been so good today and I was so exhausted myself I didn’t want to argue with him, so I agreed. The author of the book would probably say this defeats the purpose and I should have read the same book again anyway, but there we go, this is me being an imperfect parent and muddling through as best I can. The poor kid was shattered anyway as it was past his normal bedtime, and he was asleep within about five minutes of me reading. Whether he sleeps as well tonight as he has done the last couple of nights I don’t know, only time will tell.

I received my copy of The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep free of charge from Made For Mums in order to do a product review; I have not been paid for this review – the opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Tiny Love “Tiny Hug” Baby Carrier

When I was pregnant with J, I was really keen to get a carrier for him. It never happened, because I couldn’t find one that I liked enough, one that held baby in a good position with plenty of support (I hate ‘crotch danglers’); one that fitted me as well as Daddy P; one that wasn’t difficult or fiddly to adjust and put on and one that would offer longevity of use.

When I was pregnant with A, I was introduced to the Tiny Love range. Included in this collection is a baby carrier called Tiny Hug. I was immediately smitten.

Suitable from 3.5kg-18kg (7lbs 7 ounces up to 40lbs) this carrier is available in black or natural, and is lined with a soft touch fabric. For small babies (up to 5kg / 11lbs) there are additional straps to keep babies legs in optimum position. With babies up to four months old you should always carry them on your front, facing in to your chest. The part of the carrier that is against the babies back is lovely and firm and feels like it is really holding them well and supporting their back properly. Their legs are tucked up and into the fabric at the bottom of the carrier against your tummy in a natural position (Baby A automatically got his legs into the right position without me having to adjust him in any way) There is a chest strap to go over the front of baby to ensure they are securely held in the carrier with no chance of them wriggling too low. The chest strap and the strap which does up on the adult is easy to adjust for your size with sliders to find the best position to suit you and your baby. You can continue using the Tiny Hug carrier with baby on your front facing in until they reach 12 months old – as they get taller the fabric can be folded out of the way to free their legs, first in frog position then in legs around waist position, while still providing fantastic support under their bottom and on their thighs, no ‘crotch dangling’ going on here.

If you prefer, from four months, you can use the carrier on your back. Personally I would use it on my front for as long as possible so I can see baby, but that’s my personal preference; it’s nice to know you have plenty of options with this carrier depending on what you’re doing. When you’re using the carrier on your back there is even a little mirror on the shoulder strap for you to be able to unhook it from the little hidey-hole and check on your child whenever you wish to without having to stop and take off the carrier.

The carrier is fitted to the adult with two straps like you would get on a back-pack. Added security to ensure the straps don’t slide off your shoulders comes from an additional horizontal strap which goes between the two back-pack straps. When using the carrier on your front, this strap is on your back. Initially I found this really awkward to do alone – then I realised that I hadn’t got it adjusted properly and it was too high up, putting too much pressure on the base of my neck, so once I adjusted it I found it much easier to do (like a bra strap, except instead of a hook and eye fixing it’s a nice solid plastic clip which clicks reassuringly when you’ve done it up properly)

In the instruction manual it shows putting baby into the carrier before putting the carrier on yourself – I thought this would be really awkward, but it’s so much easier to do than I imagined. I place the carrier on the bed or sofa and lie the baby into it, do up the straps and then lift the carrier onto myself. Once it’s done up it feels secure and comfortable, and baby is at a good level in front of me – he isn’t stuffed down too far making me feel like I am going to suffocate him, but he is contained enough within the carrier for me to feel comfortable that his neck is well supported.

So far I’ve used the Tiny Hug for the school run and for doing housework. Baby A is a much more cuddly baby than J ever was – while J was the sort of baby who wanted to be put into his Moses basket and left when he was ready to sleep, A is the kind of baby who much prefers constant contact. It can be more practical for the school run than the pram – especially if I’m pushed for time, as it’s faster to get in and out of the house with him in the carrier as well as over the barrier between our cul-de-sac and the main road heading toward J’s school (with the pram I have to walk the opposite direction the length of our road to where the barrier ends, and join the main road there to walk back on ourselves the other side of the barrier, which isn’t much but adds another five minutes to our walk); When I’m trying to do some housework and A is crying every time I try to put him down anywhere, then I put the carrier on and he’s happy – and normally falls asleep – while I carry on.

The downside is that I can’t get him in or out of it without him waking up, which is a shame, since he does normally fall asleep in it, but then it’s not a huge downside and to be honest I don’t think there is a carrier which would allow me to put him in / take him out without him waking up. To begin with I wasn’t sure about how it would affect my back by carrying him, but it distributes the weight better across my shoulders than carrying him normally so it’s probably not doing as much damage in that respect. The clip is quite fiddly to do up when you’re carrying baby on your front, particularly if (like me) your hair is at a length where it can get caught up (ouch!) but it’s something you get used to quickly and once you have the knack it really isn’t too bad at all. 

He stays nice and warm despite the chilly morning school run wearing a sleepsuit, thin jacket and a hat (with a vest underneath obviously) as he is well wrapped in the fabric and cuddled against my chest. At this stage his legs are completely contained in the fabric, as he gets older and they stick out I’ll probably need to dress him properly, but for the time being it’s easy to put him in there first thing without worrying about that. I put it on before I put on my coat, so that if necessary I can wrap my coat around the carrier and contain him within that, though it hasn’t been needed so far as the colder days creep in that might be something I do.

I also got Daddy P to have a go wearing it the other day and though he didn’t take it for a test run he found it easy to adjust and he seemed quite impressed.

I do rate this product and for anyone seeking a baby carrier I would recommend they add this one to their shortlist. As always I recommend try before you buy, but I am very happy with this item and can see it being well used. It's sold for around £75 which is a fair size price tag, but you do get a very high quality, weatherproof baby carrier (the outer fabric is water resistant) which can be used until baby is around 36 months old.

Click the link for the Tiny Love website and Tiny Love Facebook page. You can also view product videos on YouTube.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

“The Carseat - Maxi-Cosi Pebble & EasyBase2”

When I was pregnant with J, I chose a Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix carseat in Tango Red (2010 Collection) and a Maxi-Cosi EasyBase2 (since my car didn’t have IsoFix, but I wanted the convenience of a base). I had the carseat with an Ecru colour summer cover (that’s cream to you and me) and a matching Tango Red Footmuff for the colder weather. My review for this can be found here.

This time around, though my car (updated since then) doesn’t have IsoFix, I decided to get a new carseat. The Maxi-Cosi Pebble can also be used on the EasyBase2, so I chose this model, and after much deliberation I decided to go for the 2015 Limited Edition Denim Hearts colour. Once again, I have a summer cover (Cool Grey) and matching Denim Hearts Footmuff for the colder weather. I love the fact that Maxi-Cosi do carseat footmuffs for the infant carrier carseats, as you can be confident that baby is warm enough without risking their safety; the harness goes into the Footmuff, allowing you to tension it correctly around baby, then zips up over the top of the harness. You should never put a child into their carseat wearing a winter coat or snowsuit, as this will prevent the harness being correctly tensioned to keep them safe in the event of an impact. I love the Denim Hearts design because it’s great for boys or girls – a stonewash denim blue colour, with soft grey trim and bright orange details along with cream colour hearts stitched into the fabric. The headhugger for the Pebble is in soft grey fabric (it feels like t shirt material)

The Pebble is a Group 0+ carseat, which means its suitable from birth to 13kg under R44-04 standard (for rear facing use only).  The EasyBase2 is suitable for use with Pebble or CabrioFix carseat models. As this was previously used in my old car, I had to re-confirm suitability for the base in my existing car, and as there is a fake floor I contacted Toyota to discuss with them. The Pebble is FAA approved for use on board aircraft, and is suitable for babies from birth to 13kg. (Note: Baby becomes too tall for continued use of the carseat if their head crowns over the top of the carseat shell)

The Pebble handlebar should always be locked in the upright position for use in the car, as it forms a rollcage around baby in the event of a rollover accident, and it also distributes the force of a side impact across the bar, rather than jolting baby. As well as that, it has two other settings – the second of the settings is at the halfway point, meaning easy access to baby but the shape of the carseat itself allows for the carseat to be rocked; the third setting is right down, again allowing easy access to baby but this one preventing the carseat from rocking at all.

The Pebble has memory buttons, which means when you use it in combination with a Maxi-Cosi or Quinny chassis you can push the buttons and they’ll remain unlocked to make it easier for you to lift off the chassis. Remember though if you do use your carseat on a chassis the recommendation is that baby remains in the carseat for a maximum of 2 hours before having a minimum of 20 minutes out of the seat to allow them to lie flat / wriggle freely / stretch out. I like the convenience of the carseat being able to go on the chassis I use, but I only use it this way for quick journeys, if I’m planning on being out for a long time then I would have an alternative from-birth option available. Likewise, if your car journey is going to be more than 2 hours you should plan for stops along the way to allow baby some time out of the carseat.

The Pebble has an integral sun canopy which is stowed away under the lip of rubber around the edge of the seat to keep it safe. When you want it, just peel back the rubber and pull out the sun canopy, then use the hooks to attach it onto the carry handle.

The Pebble has a circular headhugger which can be easily adjusted from small to large size as required for the best fit of your baby; The lumbar support cushion keeps the seat size small for newborns but can be removed once required to provide more space for baby. The harness has innovative stay-open design which makes it much easier to get baby in and out of the carseat.

The quality of this product is apparent – the fabric is good quality, it is well designed with lovely finishing touches and it feels and looks like a product of high standard. You can be confident of the safety of the carseat, and added to this the ease of use, whether fitting with 3 point seatbelt or using a base, and the fact it can be easily added to a wide range of chassis for use as part of your travel system, and I think this product is an all round winner. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

“There’s A House Inside My Mummy”

Upon discovering I was pregnant, I was keen to help J understand what this meant not only for once baby was born, but for the duration of pregnancy – why I would be more tired than normal, the growing bump, etc, and I needed a child-friendly format for him to understand.

My cousin had already experienced this as her younger child has just turned a year old. I was talking to her about it and she recommended a book called “There’s A House Inside My Mummy”. I found it on E-Bay and purchased it on her recommendation. It arrived a couple of days later and I am pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.

With colourful images and simple language, the book was ideal for helping explain to J what was going on. As the language was easy to understand, J was able to read the book himself, often choosing to read it to me and Daddy P, as well as asking for it to be read to him.

After reading it I would ask him whether he had any questions, or whether there was anything he hadn’t understood, which helped generate questions from him and discussion about the pregnancy including any concerns or worries that he had. It turned out that J had a big thing about me being poorly while nobody was at home to look after me (when Daddy P was at work and J was at school) and this lead to a few mornings of him becoming very upset when I dropped him off to school as he was worried I would be poorly at home alone. The book helped me to explain to him that it wasn’t that I was poorly-sick as he understood it, but rather I was poorly due to the changes going on in order for the baby in my tummy to grow (I had horrendous morning sickness up til 20 weeks that wasn’t limited to mornings only and I was being sick frequently throughout the day – the only time it paused was when I was asleep) I didn’t want him to blame the baby for making me sick, but at the same time he needed to understand it wasn’t that I was unwell in the sense of the word that he understood it to mean. At 20 weeks I was prescribed anti-sickness medication from the GP which resolved the situation.

Along with reading the book and talking about it, I also encouraged J to feel the bump so he could feel his baby brother kicking, he came with me for a couple of the scans (I had quite a few done!) and he helped me choose things for the baby so he felt involved. I got him a top to wear once baby was born – “Worlds Coolest Big Brother” – and a gift ‘from baby’ which he was given the first time he met the baby. It helped him feel more involved, understand what was going on a lot better, and I’m proud to say that (so far) we’ve had no issues with him being jealous of baby, or getting worried about anything to do with the pregnancy / baby coming home. In fact, he tells me on a daily basis that the baby is “so sweet” and “so cute” and he asks whether he can hug the baby several times a day (unless there is a dirty nappy involved, in which case he will simply announce that he is “outta here” as he scoots off through the door of the room without a backward glance.)

I highly recommend this book for parents expecting another baby – it’s really good and even if you won’t get further use out of it once this baby is born, you know you’ll be able to pass it on to family or friends expecting their second (or third, or fourth ….) or drop it into a charity shop when you’re done so another family can enjoy it.

Definitely one of the best, most read books in J’s (vast) collection. Five out of five from us!

Peace N Love,

Mummy P

X x x 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

“A Bump Called Bob”

The morning of my 20 week scan, I was still in two minds about finding out whether bump was a girl or a boy. We never found out with J, and I still remember the moment clearly when Daddy P saw (after he was born) and said to me, “You were right” – and I don’t remember clearly a whole lot else about that time. It was exhilarating and exciting to wait to find out, and part of me wanted to do that again this time round.

However, on the other hand, part of me wanted to find out. If bump was a girl, I would get rid of all (most) of the bits I’d held onto from J and get a new-born wardrobe tailored toward her. Being able to tell J about his baby brother, or baby sister, whichever way round it was, would make it easier to discuss things with him and get him more used to the idea before baby arrived. He would be able to help me choose things specifically for baby.

Right up until the moment the lady started the scan I hadn’t made my mind up but then I thought to hell with it, I’m not going to do this again and I didn’t find out last time so let’s do it differently this time round and I said to her if it’s possible to tell me I’d like to find out.

Bump had different ideas. The 20 week scan, as you know, is an anomaly scan, so the sonographer needed to find certain things and tick certain boxes to confirm all was OK. Bump wasn’t in the right position for her to find and check all she needed to, nor was bump in the mood to let us in on the secret of whether J was going to have a baby brother or a baby sister. After 45 minutes of scan, the sonographer gave up and booked me in for another scan at 22 weeks. I left feeling pleased all was OK so far as she could tell, a little nervous that she hadn’t been able to confirm what she needed to, and a little disappointed that I still didn’t know bump’s secret.

The next appointment was on a date when J was on holiday from school. Daddy P and I made the decision to take him with us, to include him in the pregnancy as much as we could, to let him see baby and understand a little more. Unfortunately we were delayed getting into the scan to start with, so J had become bored and difficult at the wait, despite the fact I’d deliberately taken a little back pack for him with cars, little books to read and sticker books. We got into the room, and it was the same lady, so she started off and we were laughing and chatting and the atmosphere was relaxed.

To begin with, it held J’s attention, but once again bump was in an awkward position and the sonographer still couldn’t see what she needed to. She asked me again whether I wanted to know the secret, and I said yes, if it was possible. She smiled and had a check.

At that point J became bored of the scan as it had been going on for a little while and he wasn’t as interested as I had hoped he would be. He got off Daddy P’s lap and wandered off past the end of the couch I was lying on and where the sonographer was sitting and he went straight to the computer on the desk in the corner. Once he realised that at that end of the room was quite interesting he didn’t want to go back to Daddy P and the situation escalated quickly with J and Daddy P having a stand off about J doing what he was asked. In amongst it all, the sonographer looked at me and said, “I’m not sure, because the cord is between the legs, but I think, most probably, boy,” And despite the fuss of the two boys I already had bickering in the background I felt my heart burst.

The sonographer still hadn’t been able to check all she needed to, so the scan continued. J continued making a fuss, so Daddy P ended up having to take him out of the room. The room was nice and peaceful and she looked carefully and managed to see everything she needed to as bump shifted around. She checked again and said to me, “Yes, that’s a better view, I’d definitely say boy,”

While J’s meltdown only escalated, that’s a whole other story I won’t go into here, but for the rest of the day all I could think of was this second precious son I carried and all the overwhelmed feelings of how would I cope with two sons, and how wonderful two sons is, and how brilliant that my boys would have almost exactly five years between them, and how scary to go back now to the new-born days when J is an independent child now who likes to do as much as possible for himself. When I put him to bed that night, I asked him what he thought about the news that he was going to have a baby brother.

He threw his arms round me and told me he was very pleased about that, because he wanted a boy baby. We spoke about it for a little while and then, since Daddy P and I had already discussed names, and the fact that we couldn’t agree on a boys name, Daddy P asked J what he thought would be a good name for his brother.

J scrunched up his face and thought for a moment, then replied, “Bob.”

And so the nickname for this bump was born. This is Baby Bob.

Friday, 17 July 2015

“Waiting For A Delivery”


It’s always the way, isn’t it. You place an order for something, or make arrangements for something, and then something else pops up and interferes with your brilliantly made plans.

I ordered a product weeks ago. Months, even. It was out of stock, and has been since the order was placed.

Yesterday I got the e-mail I’d been waiting for – it was in stock, had been dispatched, and would be delivered to me by courier today.

Unfortunately, today I have a hospital appointment, so there will be a portion of the day I’m not here. It would be just my luck for the delivery to arrive while I’m out. (Because they can only say delivery will be “between 9am-5pm” and can be no more precise than that)

As the time I have my hospital appointment means I may not be home in time to collect J from school, I’ve made arrangements with my mum, who is coming up to my house as I write this (she’ll be on the M25 at the moment) so that if I’m still at hospital, she will go and collect J from school. This means even while I’m out, she will be here to accept the delivery I’m expecting.

What are the chances that the courier will arrive during the 10 minutes while mum is collecting J from school before I am home from the hospital? Or that I pull the car into the back garden just as the courier rings the front doorbell?

I’m going to have to keep my fingers crossed; I don’t want to miss this delivery because I’ve been waiting SO VERY LONG for this product to arrive! Product review coming soon!

Wish me Luck,

Mummy P


Monday, 13 July 2015

“Duxford Air Show”


Grandad P, Daddy P and J spent the day at the Duxford air show. Judging by the fact all three of them were utterly exhausted (in that contented, happy kind of way) by Sunday evening, it would seem that they all had a good time.

Daddy P took J’s ear protectors, and this was the first event he’d had them for, so I was interested to know how he got on with them. Obviously with it being an air show, I was thinking they would be most needed by J for when he was around the aircraft in flight – but while he did wear them a few times for that reason, the main success was in getting him to use the public loo, since there were those ‘Blade’ style hand driers which are quite loud and which always freak him out the most. Daddy P reported once he put the ear defenders on, J was quite happy to go into the loo and use it without worrying about the noise of the hand driers at all.

Grandad P got J a red aircraft which he refused to let go of last night once he got home, it came upstairs and joined J in bed to start with last night. I removed it before he fell asleep but wasn’t allowed to move it too far away from him; it had to sit on the chest of drawers where he could see it all night – and this morning he took it to school with him for show and tell. In the playground before school he was quite proudly showing it to all his classmates before school started.

J was quiet and cuddly last night when they got home – it had been an early start and a long, busy day for them – after eating some dinner I got his bath sorted out early and he was asleep in bed by 8pm (which is really his ‘proper’ bedtime, but for a bath-night it’s rare that he’s actually in bed by then, nevermind asleep) Both Daddy P and Grandad P were asleep on the sofa early (Grandma P sent me a photo after I sent one to her!) so I think a good day was enjoyed by them all.

Daddy P said that J’s behaviour was really good overall, something which Grandad P had also said to Grandma P, with only a couple of moments when he started to get carried away. I’m so pleased that the three of them had the opportunity to do it. I’m hoping times like that won’t be so few and far between now Daddy P and Grandad P have done it once and it’s been fine, maybe it’ll encourage a few more days out for them!

So for the first test run of the kids ear defenders, while it wasn’t so much the noise I’d anticipated that he’d want to cut out, I think we can call them a success because they did cut out noise that J wanted to, so that’s a plus – it stopped him bolting, which was my main concern when he feels overwhelmed by noise, and that’s what I wanted. So far, so good. Obviously now they’ll be part of our luggage when we go out, so we can update as needed, but in my opinion so far, if you want a decent set of ear defenders for kids, you could do worse than these. Ordering is straightforward, product arrived promptly, in good condition (brand new / boxed) with good packaging. Product is solid feeling (well made) good quality / well-padded and comfortable / folds small. I would recommend these.

Peace N Quiet,

Mummy P x x x 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

“Mummy, It’s Too Loud”


From a young age, J has often complained about certain noises. For as long as I can remember I’ve had to be careful about hand driers in public toilets – even someone else using them can send him screaming off into a corner holding his ears and it can take him some time to calm down again afterwards. He went through a phase of hating the hairdryer and the hoover at home – now he will tolerate the hoover as long as he has warning of me preparing to use it, and on the understanding I don’t use it in the same room he’s in; with the hairdryer he is now happy to let me use it on him, but again it’s only on his terms – if he wants me to use it to dry his hair, and we have to count “1,2,3” before I switch it on and if at any point during the process he asks me to turn it off I have to do so quickly, or else he’ll freak out.

Other triggers I’ve found is the noise of a busy main road – the cars etc rushing back and forth is OK for a while, but quickly overwhelms him if it’s constant; the noise of helicopters is fascinating for him for a short time, but again it will quickly get too much. Sometimes, crowds of people is too much for him to cope with – other times, he’ll happily deal with it. I’ve found a lot of it depends on how tired he is, how much he’s already dealt with over the day, and also what his focus is – when we’re in McDonalds for instance he’ll deal with the noise of people talking, the beeping of the tils and the cooking equipment, the noise of the speakers for the drive-thru and the music playing, because he is focused intently on his Happy Meal, his toy, and his balloon – but if I take him into a ‘normal’ restaurant with no distraction, for instance when we’re seated and waiting for our meal to arrive, or in that aching long gap between main course and dessert, then the noises of his surroundings become too much and he’ll hide under the table covering his ears, or his go-to option tends to be to run, and try to escape the situation.

Sometimes, I find it’s not worth getting him worked up and upset and I will avoid the situation to avoid him having a rough time. Other times, it’s an important situation, such as a birthday meal or other special event, and we’ll go and deal with it but it takes careful planning – I’m never without some Lego to keep him amused, or a book we can read together, even a small packet of crayons or pencils and a colouring book to pass the time. When sitting somewhere I’ll try to sit us in a corner if its possible, and let him sit with his back to the wall and in the corner seat – not only does this seem to help make him feel more comfortable, but it slows down his progress if he does default to the ‘run’ setting, which can buy me valuable seconds to get up and catch up with him myself if necessary.

One thing I wasn’t aware of was how common this hyper sensitivity is amongst people on the autistic spectrum. I found this article enlightening and realised that once again J aligns with ‘typical’ characteristics of ASD.

A few weeks ago, Grandad P asked J if he would like to attend Duxford air show with him, and Daddy P. Initially J wasn’t too keen on the idea – it’s a totally new concept to him, he’s never been to an air show before as I was aware that the huge crowd and loud noises would be overwhelming to him – but he’s almost five now, and Daddy P went to air shows a lot with his dad as a child, as I did with my grandad, and it’s something we both associate with happy childhood memories, something I don’t want to deny J of. So we spoke about it some more, Grandad P showed J some models of aircraft that will be at the show and explained a bit more about it, and J liked the sound of it so by the end of the afternoon he was excited at the prospect of a day out with daddy and grandad.

My concern remained the large crowd and the noise. After all, if it was billed as a fun day out the last thing I wanted was J to become overwhelmed and either have a meltdown about it or run off, both of which would be bound to put a dampener on the day. I spoke with Daddy P about the idea of some ear defenders, and he agreed that sounded like a very good plan.

I ordered these from E Bay, and they arrived within a few days of placing the order. They’re a bright, funky colour, they’re sturdy and appear to be designed with comfort and practicality in mind. I was very pleased when they arrived.

So far J has only tried them on in the house, and he said they made everything sound funny – well I suppose they would, as they minimise sound so in an already quiet environment it must be a bit disorientating having sound minimised even more. I’ve explained to him though that he’ll take them with him when he goes to the air show, and if he feels that the noise is getting a bit much, and he’s getting a bit overwhelmed, he needs to tell daddy or grandad and they can help him put his ear defenders on to help him have a bit of peace and quiet without having to leave the situation completely, because I want him to see the aircraft in flight and enjoy the show, to not miss out on the point of the air show because of the noise that comes with it. The fact that the pilots will also be wearing ear defenders is something I’m hoping will encourage him to put them on, as it won’t seem out of place to be wearing them if he sees other people wearing them too.

The air show is this weekend, so I’ll let you know next week how he gets on!

Peace & Love

Mummy P