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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Maxi Cosi Opal - Better & Better!

Just a little update tonight – with regards to my Maxi Cosi Opal carseat.

For those of you who haven’t yet read my review, please pop along and have a look. The Opal is a fantastic carseat – The Boy was too tall to fit comfortably in his Maxi Cosi CabrioFix by the time he was nine months old, but I didn’t want to put him in a standard Group 1 forward facing carseat at that age. So I did some research, and found the Opal, which is a Group 0+ & Group 1 carseat combined. It means I can continue to keep The Boy rear facing until he reaches the maximum 13kg (at which point, in the Opal, he’ll have to go forward facing). So anyway, that’s all in the review, not what I wanted to talk about here!

Last weekend, The Hubby, The Boy and myself made a 100 mile journey to visit some family. The journey there was fine; we went to a party on Saturday night with my parents, who then took The Boy back to their house while The Hubby and I continued enjoying the party for some time. On Sunday, The Hubby was taken home by my dad, and The Boy and I stayed with my parents for a few more days, giving us the chance to catch up with more family & friends while we were in the area. We had a lovely time, and made the drive home on Thursday afternoon.

I packed up the car while The Boy was asleep, and when he woke I changed his nappy and he had lunch. I decided to leave him in pyjamas for the drive home as they’re more comfortable, and it was a warm enough day that he wouldn’t get cold. As it was just him and me in the car for the return journey I wanted it to be as stress-free as possible for both of us, so I changed his nappy again before putting him in the carseat and setting off with his Nuby UK sport sipper bottle full of water in a cool bag on the passenger side footwell ready for when he wanted a drink. I made sure his favourite toys were within reach, that I had the money ready in the ashtray for the toll on the motorway, and we set off.

As usual, when we arrived at the toll, there was slow traffic. As usual, The Boy went from his standard happy, singing self to a miserable wretch who was throwing his toys all over the place and screaming quite a lot. It was warm in the car and I was getting uncomfortable in three-quarter length leggings and a baggy t-shirt, so confined in his carseat I understood that The Boy was probably feeling even worse than me. It was early in the journey and he’d had a drink within the last half hour, but due to the heat I passed him the water bottle (we were stationary in traffic) and he contentedly slurped away for some time. After we got through the toll, the traffic cleared and we were cruising down the motorway again only a few minutes delayed.

The journey took us 2 hours and 15 minutes altogether, and I’d changed The Boy within ten minutes of putting him into the carseat and setting off, so when he was crying en route I took it to be him being fussy and not wanting to be in the carseat – as he’d enjoyed a good morning nap he clearly didn’t want to settle down and sleep for the journey, and his toys weren’t entertaining enough. I contemplated a couple of times pulling into the services to fetch him different toys out of the boot, but reasoned that if I did that he’d then expect to get out of the carseat, and if we did that it would put another half hour or so on our journey time. We were spot on for getting home about five o’clock, an hour before The Boy’s dinner time, so I wanted to get back for that time in order for The Hubby to spend some time with The Boy before his usual evening routine of dinner, bath & bed. After all, The Hubby and The Boy hadn’t seen one another for a few days, and I knew they’d missed one another.

So we continued straight home, and The Boy continued his noisy displeasure at being in the carseat right up until about 20 minutes away from our front door, when he suddenly turned off and went silent – sure enough, he’d gone to sleep. We got home, parked up, and The Hubby came out to greet us, just as The Boy was waking. The Hubby undid the carseat harness and got The Boy out, and then said to me, “The carseat is soaked.” Initially I thought it was from the water bottle, as The Boy had been flinging it about the place and chances were it had sprinkled a bit in the process. What I didn’t count on was when The Hubby – who by then had The Boy cuddled to him – suddenly said “He’s soaked.” To my amazement not only had the nappy leaked, but it had leaked so badly that The Boy’s vest was soaking and so were his pyjamas. I now faced the challenge of removing the carseat fabric to wash it.

Now, Maxi Cosi says that the Opal fabric is easy to remove. I was sceptical, I have to admit, but upon investigation I discovered it is secured onto the carseat shell using large size, strong poppers. I undid the poppers and the fabric came off in one simple movement. I left the head support fabric and harness pads in place as I had no need to remove those as well, but the entire carseat fabric just comes off easy as anything once you’ve undone all the poppers. The washing label inside the fabric said 30 degree wash, and I’m aware Maxi Cosi recommends either hand washing, or washing on a hand wash or delicate cycle in the machine. Well, I’m not one for hand washing anything, so I popped it into the machine on a 30 degree delicate wash. I didn’t put anything else in as well, as the fabric is Intense Red and I didn’t want to risk the colour running into anything else.

Maxi Cosi Opal - Intense Red

I was concerned at what appeared to be cardboard inserts in the sides of the fabric (to hold it snugly in place around the shell) but since the label said it was fine, I decided to go for it. After the wash cycle finished I put it on a rinse and spin to try and ensure as much water as possible was out of the fabric before I attempted to dry it. Once again, on advice from Maxi Cosi, I was not going to put the fabric in a tumble drier or hang the fabric in direct sunlight. I decided instead to rest it on the airer in the front room and it sat propped there as if it was still covering the carseat shell. What I’d thought was cardboard is obviously thin plastic as it remains intact.

I didn’t need to use the carseat for the next couple of days, so it didn’t really matter whether the fabric dried particularly quickly, but to my amazement it was completely dry within 24 hours of washing. While this may not seem very fast, considering the fabric was on an airer in my front room without the heating on I think this is pretty good; especially considering the padding in the fabric which I anticipated would make drying time longer.

While the issue with the seatbelt getting in the way still bothers me, the Opal is definitely a carseat I’d highly recommend for an older child. I’m not convinced it’s suitable for a newborn due to the way you have to post the baby into the seat, I think this would be very awkward for a child under 6 months old, but certainly as far as ease of use is concerned for fitting it and putting an older child in and tensioning the harness correctly (as well as adjusting the height of the harness) it’s dead easy and you can get it right every time without worry – some carseats can be hit and miss and you don’t feel confident, but with the Opal I am confident ten times out of ten. Now I’ve experienced removing, washing, drying and re-fitting the fabric it just makes this carseat even better for me. Maxi Cosi claim the fabric is simple to remove and clean because they understand that kids aren’t always the neatest of passengers, and they’re absolutely right!

(and FYI, despite the fact The Boy is now 13 months old and tall for his age, as he is still under 13kg he remains rear facing in the Opal carseat. Please don’t put your kids forward facing as soon as they reach minimum weight for a forward facing carseat – keep them rear facing as long as possible, it really is the safest way for everyone to travel, but since we can’t drive to work rear facing lets stick with keeping the babies safe for as long as possible).

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