About Me

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

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Quick Update!

It’s been a while, and I just haven’t had a lot of time recently to sit down and write much about anything, but I thought I’d post a quick update while I’ve got a moment and tell you what’s going on in the world of Summer Mama, The Hubby, The Boy & The Hairy Hounds of Hell!

Well for a start, I got some lovely new Flip It cups from Nuby UK for The Boy. They’re red with a race car design, which went down well as soon as he saw them, and they’re advertised from 12 months. They have a straw all the way down the length of the cup, a handy flip top to cover and protect the straw which means you can take it out and about with you, it’s specially insulated to keep the liquid inside cold (or warm) as required (though only for a limited time, it isn’t like a proper Thermos flask). The valve on the straw works by opening when the child uses the straw in the correct way, to encourage development for using straws rather than beakers or bottle teats, and so I filled one with water at lunchtime and gave it to The Boy.

As I’ve mentioned before, he is a creature of habit, and he wasn’t too impressed with the change in drinking method: He’s got the hang of tipping up a beaker or bottle to drink from, and he didn’t understand that with this style cup he just needed to suck the straw properly. For some time he was very amused with the way the straw pops up when you flip the top and spent quite a while giggling about that, but when he again tried to drink from it and couldn’t he became frustrated. I demonstrated for him how to work the cup and to be honest it is pretty precise the way you need to do it in order to get a mouthful of drink, but I guess that’s the point. After a few minutes of grumping, smacking his hands on the high chair tray and throwing the lovely red cup onto the floor several times, I handed him his familiar green Sport Sipper and he was content again.

Since then I start with the red cup, or have the red cup in the locality and give it to him when he wants a drink, but he still hasn’t really got the hang of it and prefers to use a normal beaker or his Sport Sipper still. It’s frustrating on one hand because the spout of the Sport Sipper needs replacing (I haven’t got round to ordering them, but I know they’re available on the Nuby UK site so I will do that!) but for now it means there’s no valve in the sipper so the water flows freely, which is annoying when your son likes to flood the tray of the highchair and smack his hands in the resulting puddle! I am sure we will get there eventually with the new cups, it’s just something new to learn, and there is so much else he is learning right now.

The Boy isn’t quite walking yet, but he’s doing well at furniture surfing and is standing up independently with the ability to lean down, pick something up and stand upright again. A couple of times he has done a couple of shuffle steps toward me, but only a couple and he either falls on his bottom when he realises what he’s just done, or else he quickly finds something to hold onto again. He has also discovered a passion for climbing, and will empty the big plastic boxes I use in his room as toy boxes, turn them onto their side and climb! As well as this when he is in the play pen he has discovered he has a Spiderman-like ability to climb up the mesh sides, holding onto the bar across the top and folding at the waist in an effort to escape. Lucky for me the play pen is actually a very solid Huack Baby Centre that I got an amazing deal on, and it is just as well I did as it has proved to be invaluable! (Highly recommended: Review to come soon!)

Although The Boy has been largely unimpressed with my efforts to get him to drink from a different type of cup, he has been very happy with my efforts to get him to eat. For a few weeks we have been struggling to feed a baby who doesn’t want you feeding him anymore, but who just likes to throw food on the floor if you allow him finger food to feed himself. It has been a bit of a nightmare as we’ve been going through so much wasted food as he decides he doesn’t want something after a single bite, so merrily throws the rest of it onto the floor. A while ago I stopped allowing the Hairy Hounds of Hell to roam free while The Boy was eating as dropping tit bits to them was too tempting and as a result our girl dog is now a fat girl dog! The Boy was, however, very impressed when I was sitting with him one lunchtime eating my lunch of scrambled egg on toast, and allowed him to sample some of the scrambled egg from my fork. He was thrilled by this development and as a result I managed to get him to eat two scrambled eggs and half a piece of toast, which was the largest meal I’d got down him in days (it was meant to be my lunch, but as other mums know when your child has shown interest in food after a while of not eating you’ll happily go hungry for them to have something!) Anyway I had overcooked as I was hoping that he’d want to share with me. The following day we went shopping and in Sainsburys I found a cute little cutlery set for a couple of pounds in blue with jungle animals on and brought it: Twenty minutes later in the Store 21 shop on the same retail park I found a plain blue fork and spoon set reduced to 99p, so I brought one of those, too, as I realised that an extra fork and spoon would be handy given The Boys history of throwing things onto the floor!

Back home, at dinnertime, we used the Sainsburys fork for the first time and The Boy ate more dinner than he had done in days. Since then he has not only been happier to eat with his new utensils, but he’s also become even more independent, and after you load the fork or the spoon up he’ll take it from you to feed himself (before clapping as if to congratulate himself for being so clever!) It’s a remarkable turn around and I’m so glad I thought of it. Rather than trying to take him back a step with his feeding and trying to feed him myself again, I should have been trying to encourage him forward as it is obviously what he was after!

The Hubby is taking advantage of having a couple of weeks off work to do some serious DIY. We have been building a collection of items over the last year or so for when we get round to decorating various rooms of the house and we never seem to have the time to do it, so he has been busy already this week shuffling around the kitchen set up and changing the crappy sinks in the utility room and the kitchen for decent ones, with nice new taps too! He’s planning on doing some tiling and some painting as well as having a thorough clear out and clean up of the entire space before he’s considering it finished, and he’s done very well already so far. One thing about The Hubby, he does tend to take his time to start on a project but once he starts he flies through getting it done and he doesn’t like leaving things half finished so I’ll have a new look kitchen by next week which is exciting. We’re not replacing the cupboards, or the worktop, but giving it a facelift which is a cheaper way of making it look better. A while ago The Hubby laid dark laminate floor in the kitchen and his plan is to continue that into the utility room as well, so it all flows nicely and looks good. I don’t know when he’s thinking of doing the hall/stairs and landing, or the spare bedroom, or our bedroom, but we’ll get round to them eventually I’m sure!

Ah well for now I’d better sign off … I’ve got a list of things as long as my arm that I really should be doing instead of sitting here drinking coffee and rambling on! Ho hum!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Update On Footmuffs!

As I said in a previous post, I wasn’t impressed with the size of the footmuff on the Maxi Cosi Mila pushchair. I did notice though that when looking at the Maxi Cosi website, they advertise the footmuff that used to come with the Mura as the ‘Maxi Cosi’ footmuff in general, and it will fit onto any of their brand pushchairs now.

Well, when I first got the Mura footmuff, I couldn’t find one anywhere in Tango Red – to match the Mura. Instead, I originally got a Grey Slice colour – this is an ‘old’ colour so it was cheaper too. The Grey Slice footmuff is the same style footmuff but was produced then specifically for the Grey Slice Mura, and the footmuff has the grey fleecy lining and the outer is black ‘shellsuit’ type fabric, more like a waterproof jacket than the heavier, more canvas feel of the Tango Red footmuff.

Anyway, I used it once on the Mura and it was great and everything but then as luck would have it I happened to find a Tango Red one, and got that. Originally I was going to save the Grey Slice one as a ‘standby’ in case the Tango Red was ever in the wash when I needed it, but then having realised that the size of the Mila footmuff was quite small, I decided to take the Grey Slice footmuff to my mother in laws house for her to use on the Mila, as it fits.

I demonstrated to her how to fit it – as she is an ‘easily confused’ type of person, as I think we’ve established with the whole can’t-fold-the-Zapp-chassis stories, however she was quite happy as I showed her that it wasn’t too bad although it was a bit of a fuss. I said that it was, and you couldn’t leave it in place if it wasn’t needed as there’s no real way of keeping it out of the way if it’s on the pushchair but not in use (unlike the Quinny footmuff, which the back remains in the seat without the front, to provide a seat liner) However as we are now in October I think she’ll be needing the footmuff on more often than off, so we shall see how it goes. Once it was in place and I harnessed in The Boy so she could see from start to finish how to do it, The Boy was then all geared up thinking we were going out somewhere, so he took a walk around in the garden with my father in law to keep him entertained for about fifteen minutes. Back indoors, I walked off and allowed parents in law to remove The Boy from the footmuff and the Mila, which they achieved relatively quickly although there were complaints about how much fussing about it was. Mother in law then started waxing lyrical about old-fashioned pram suits, like the sort The Boy had when he was really tiny, so you put the baby in that and into the pushchair rather than struggling to get a footmuff that’s more like a body bag into place before putting the child into it, but I said to her I hadn’t seen one I could afford in his size and that seemed to persuade her to stop worrying about what I hadn’t got and appreciate what I had! (After all, this is RRP £50 and once again she’s not paid me for it!)

Anyway it was a real success, so I thought I’d share my story that I can confirm the two-legged Maxi Cosi footmuff can be fitted well onto the Mila and does a fab job while it’s there – The Boy was content and warm and cosy as we stood in the autumnal wind watching his parade laps of the garden in his pushchair!

Friday, October 7, 2011


A couple of updates following on from recent previous posts:

I heard back from Tesco customer service last night. They’ve apologised for the problems I encountered when using their own brand disposable nappies and advised that should I purchase them again and have problems, I should return the remainder of the pack, plus proof of purchase, to my store for a full refund and for them to send the remainder of the pack to their quality team for inspection. In addition to this advice, they’ve also offered to send a £5 Tesco Moneycard for me to spend at my local store which is nice of them – but I won’t be purchasing their own brand nappies! Might see what clothing they have for The Boy!

Also, on Tuesday evening I placed an order with Nuby on their own website for a couple of items. I had an e-mail from them almost immediately with my order confirmation, order number and advisory about stock availability (all items in stock) On Wednesday morning I received a further e-mail saying my order had been dispatched and it arrived yesterday morning (Thursday) by Royal Mail ‘signed for’ delivery service. I am very impressed and will be writing a review for the new products once The Boy and I have used them – we got a 2 pack of the Red Car design Insulated Flip It cup for £5.49. In addition, at the moment (and for the whole of October) Nuby are offering free delivery on your orders to support Breast Cancer Care and the whole website is PINK to show their support. Well worth having a look!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Product Review: The Maxi Cosi Mila

How Much? RRP £200

I’ve said a couple of times in previous entries how much my mother in law hated the Quinny Zapp. She couldn’t get on with it at all, and every time we went to visit she would go on for a good half hour about why she hated it so much. I took the hint, and sought out a pushchair that ticked her boxes.

One thing she was fond of saying was that the fold/unfold was very complicated (for those of you who’ve never played with a Zapp before, it’s a very straightforward pressing of buttons 1, 2 and 3 whether folding or unfolding). I think her main problem was that it didn’t fold/unfold the way she expected it to – i.e. umbrella stroller style. She wanted something that reclined (she didn’t get on with the Xtra seat unit, either) and she wanted a four wheeler instead of the three.

The Maxi Cosi Mila seemed to tick the boxes, so like a dutiful daughter in law trying to appease the other woman in The Hubby’s life, I went off and brought one. Prior to purchasing, I was dreaming of a gorgeous colour – the Bleached Denim looked promising, but I was disappointed when I saw it in the flesh to find the chassis was quite a purple colour and the fabrics themselves more lilac than blue as well, and the overall look was very feminine. I then admired the Intense Red, til I remembered a conversation previously with the mother in law when she’d mentioned that another factor of the Rebel Red Zapp that she didn’t like was how ‘garishly bright’ the colour was, and after all this purchase was to please her. I eyed the Steel Grey, but decided against it as I knew she would only complain that the fabric was too pale and a nightmare to keep clean (she’s the sort of person who will bleach the sink on a daily basis to keep it bright white and who cleans and organises her kitchen cupboards every month to make sure they look nice and presentable when you look in them) The Dahlia Pink was out of the question for The Boy, so that left me with the Total Black. I picked up the box, paid my money, and off I went.

The Maxi Cosi Mila is designed for use from birth, with a fully lie-flat seat position for younger babies. It has a very nice compact fold (with the standard umbrella fold technique which makes it a one-handed fold, which is handy) It also has a storage lock which clicks on when it’s folded and ensures it won’t come unfolded while you’re carrying it. The Mila has rear suspension for a ‘smooth’ ride (more on that later!) and comes complete with a matching footmuff for chilly weather, adaptors for the Maxi Cosi Group 0+ carseats, raincover, shopping basket and sun canopy.

I wasn’t about to hand over this purchase without having a play with it myself, so I popped open the box upon my arrival home and unpacked it. The Mila comes pretty much assembled and ready to go – all you have to do is click the wheels into the chassis and it is very straightforward to do, and takes about 30 seconds. Once it’s unfolded and locked into position I found it didn’t feel particularly sturdy – but then I’m used to the Mura, the mother of all buggies as far as sturdiness goes – so I put the flimsy feel of the Mila down to the fact that it was simply a lighter weight pushchair and so was bound to feel a little less solid. The basket is a lovely large size, with space for plenty of shopping, and it is a decent shape too, with high sides so your shopping won’t fall out, and the base of it feels fairly solid so there’s no risk of it sagging down and dragging on the floor. The front wheels swivel, or if you prefer you can lock them with a little grey button located on the front of each wheel – not as convenient as some designs, as you have to bend down to the wheels to lock them, but once locked they are firmly in place and I decided this would please my mother in law no end.

To take the Mila for a test run, I loaded The Boy into it and stuffed the nappy bag into the basket. The weather was cool and drizzly, so I added the footmuff before putting The Boy into it and found that despite his age (he was 10 months old at the time) he almost reached the end of the footmuff. I know he is tall for his age, but surely the footmuff should be able to accommodate a child of up to at least 18 months old? There is a clever little design addition on the footmuff on the inside – a layer of plastic around the bottom end of the footmuff, so that if your LO has been walking around and has dirty shoes on, the plastic will protect the inside of the footmuff from becoming filthy, enabling you to wipe clean when you get home – but due to the small size of the footmuff I can’t see many children capable of walking around still being able to fit into it. Snug and cosy in the footmuff and with the raincover in the basket along with the nappy bag ready for the next drizzle that was sure to happen while we were out, we set off. I straight away didn’t like the fact that The Boy wasn’t facing me, but it’s the same with the Quinny Zapp and he seems to quite enjoy having a good nose about, so I tried not to dwell on that point. (After all, at no point did Maxi Cosi advertise a parent-facing option for this model).

Our town is what I’d describe as pretty average as far as bumps in the pavements, cracks in the roads, there’s some crossings with those knobbly style paving slabs up to the dropped curb edge and a section of cobbles at the front of a particularly old pub, it’s mostly fairly flat but there are some gentle slopes here and there, and usually in the Mura, The Boy is perfectly contented and comfortable as the Mura glides effortlessly over all the imperfections. The Mila, however, despite the claim of ‘rear suspension for a smooth ride’ really wasn’t offering a smooth ride. The Boy was wobbled and jolted, jiggled and bounced along as I struggled with the smallest of bumps (those paving slabs at the crossing were a nightmare) and at every tiny crack or uneven patch or curb I had to do the old stop-and-tip-backwards technique, which is something I’m not too familiar with, being used to the Mura which you can plough toward anything and it will bump up or down with minimum effort. I found it quite scary crossing the main roads, as I was still in the road putting the pushchair onto the back wheels and trying to get up the curb when a vehicle whizzed by behind me so closely at times I thought they were trying to pick my pocket! Mid-way through our maiden voyage, the rain started spitting so I pulled into the shelter of a shop front with a large porch and put on the raincover. Being brand new it was stiff and awkward, but no more than usual, and it fitted the seat well. However I was disappointed to find that the moment we stepped out of the shelter of the shop front, it flapped about a fair bit in the wind and to be honest I was quite concerned I was going to loose it – and it wasn’t a particularly windy day, certainly not compared to what I’ve witnessed in our time living around here! (For instance, a few weeks back the wind was so strong that it knocked over an ancient wall surrounding a local churchyard) We continued on our journey and reached our destination – I had letters to post, and the only post box in town I trust to be collected on time is the one on the front wall of the post office itself. As this is on a slight slope I took care to angle the Mila so that it couldn’t simply roll away down the slope, and I applied the brake before putting the letters in the post box. (Keeping one hand on the pushchair at all times, obviously, as per the user manual of not leaving the pushchair ‘unattended’)

A friend came out of the post office and we had a quick chat until The Boy became verbal so I bid her goodbye and we set off. I’d got a good few paces down the road when I realised I hadn’t released the brakes – yet the Mila was moving easily. I pressed the pedal to dis-engage the brakes and pushed forward, and while it was easier it certainly hadn’t been difficult to do with the brakes in the ‘engaged’ position. I stood there for a while, engaging the brakes and seeing whether there was something I’d missed, whether perhaps I hadn’t done it properly or if there was something I’d done wrong, but as far as I could tell the brakes really were that lazy.

The rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds, so I removed the raincover and put it back in the basket but left the sun canopy down to shield The Boy from the brightest of the sunshine. It’s a good size sun canopy and provided good protection – until The Boy realised he could get his hand out between the seat fabric and the sun canopy and was pulling at the fabric, waving at passers by and undoing the Velcro fastenings that join the sun canopy to the seat fabric!

On the way home, The Boy went very quiet and when I checked he’d fallen asleep, so I decided to try and recline the Mila to see how well that worked. The Mila has a very simple recline, a bungee cord on the back with a plastic toggle, so in the upright position the toggle is pulled as tightly as it can be on the bungee cord and to recline you gradually move the toggle down the bungee cord. I loosened it off and lowered it back, and it was easy to do but I’m not convinced that the toggle is strong enough for a much heavier child – for instance, up to the 15kg that the pushchair is meant to be able to cope with. We bumped and jiggled and bounced and wiggled our way home again and I must say I was so pleased to get home and be finished with my test run of the Mila. I was thoroughly unimpressed that this pushchair is RRP £200 yet I could have got the same quality with a cheap, £20 stroller. While I may not have got the footmuff and the raincover I don’t think they’ve been particularly well designed or made anyway so I wouldn’t like to guess how long they might last. I also noticed that despite the fact our journey had only been a short one – a couple of miles worth of walking around town – the wheels were already looking quite battered and worn.

To get the Mila back into the house, I either needed someone else to help me lift it up the two steps and over the lip of the front door, or I needed to pull in backwards. With my Mura, this is no problem – while the movement bounces The Boy a fair bit he does generally stay asleep if he’s already asleep, and the Mura can take a fair bit of rough handling and pulling backwards without complaint. The Mila is a different story – When we went out, my mum had picked up the front and I’d lifted the back to get it out of the door, and as we’d done so the footrest (where she grabbed hold of it) started to fold onto her finger, despite the fact the pushchair was fully locked out into position, and gave her a black ‘pinch’ mark where it had caught her skin. On the way back in, she decided she’d rather not risk that again and was trying to figure out how else she could grab it, so I said to her that I’d do it alone as I wouldn’t always have someone to help me anyway, and I wanted to see how well it would cope with the fairly simple task of getting into the front door. Upon pulling it backward just a short distance the rear wheels splayed out noticeably and when bumping up the steps and over the lip of the door it jolted quite a lot. While Maxi Cosi may say this pushchair is suitable from birth I would certainly not use it for a newborn or young baby for the jolt factor alone – after all, we’ve all been told how dangerous ‘shaken baby’ syndrome can be! And even if you used a carseat on the chassis, surely this kind of jolting could damage the carseat with the same type of hairline fractures they warn against if you drop or bang the carseat?

Once we had got The Boy out I removed the wheels and gave them a clean and hung out the raincover to make sure it was dry before packing the Mila back up into the box ready to go to the mother in laws house. I can’t say I was particularly sorry to see it go, either – I really didn’t rate this pushchair at all. Why would you pay so much money for something that performs the same as a much cheaper product? I was bitterly disappointed, but still I took it round to the mother in law the next time we visited.

She was thrilled. She got it out of the box, attached the wheels without worry and unfolded it with a single, simple movement. She loved the fact that it is a four wheeler, and she particularly likes it with the front wheels in the locked position (even though I really can’t get on with it like that!) She loves that she can load the shopping basket with daily essentials if she has to go to the village shop when she’s looking after The Boy, and she loves how easy the footmuff is to operate (she didn’t like the Quinny footmuff and for the life of me I can’t work out why she thinks the Maxi Cosi Mila footmuff is any different!) She also prefers the Total Black as it’s a nice, understated, non-attention-seeking colour and as my sister in law was pregnant at the time of the purchase she decided it was just as well to have black as it was neutral (as it turned out, my sister in law had a son too, so it wouldn’t have mattered if we got a particularly ‘boyish’ colour, not that there was one available in my opinion) For the 2012 collection I have seen the Checker Blue option which is a much nicer blue than the Bleached Denim and has a silver chassis instead of them trying to match it to the fabrics and not quite making it, and it looks much better. The mother in law also praised the nice large sun canopy (even though The Boy sticks his hands out the gap!) and the comfortable hand grips (more angled than the Zapp, but still hard plastic and, as far as I’m concerned, no more comfortable than the Zapp handles).  She hasn’t stopped complimenting it since we brought it, and she’s more than happy to take The Boy out by herself, with her dog in rain or shine now she has a buggy she’s happy with. (And yes, she does remove the wheels after each use to clean them!)

I don’t like the Mila: But she adores it – I guess it just goes to show that everyone’s different. The only trouble is now when we go round there if we all go out together I don’t like using her Mila so I end up taking my Zapp anyway which kind of negates half the point of her having a buggy at her house!

Follow Me On Facebook & Twitter!

Don’t forget, if you’re on Facebook or Twitter you can follow me for updates on the latest new blog posts!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Quinny Zapp Xtra

It probably sounds a bit mad to some people, but I didn’t like using my Quinny Zapp Limited Edition Black chassis with the Zapp Xtra seat unit on, as the Zapp Xtra seat unit framework is silver (to match the standard Zapp chassis) and I thought it looked odd to have the seat frame silver on an all black chassis. For this reason, my Zapp Xtra seat unit was relegated to the cupboard under the stairs for a while.

Meanwhile, my mother in law, who looks after The Boy sometimes, wasn’t getting on with the Quinny Zapp that I’d got to keep at her house. She didn’t get on with the way it folded and unfolded: She said the seat was ‘too upright’ and made The Boy look like he was going to slip out of it (even though he was always harnessed in when he was in it) and that between the harness and the style of the seat fabric The Boy looked like he was ‘dangling’ and uncomfortable. She didn’t get along with the fact that it’s a three wheeler (because she felt like it was going to tip to one side when she went up and down curbs) and she didn’t feel that it was particularly ‘solid’ if she left The Boy in it when he fell asleep while they were out and she wanted to ‘park’ him indoors and leave him to sleep (even though I kept telling her she shouldn’t do that anyway). She didn’t like it on ‘swivel’ front wheel option because she said it was “like an out of control supermarket trolley” but she didn’t like it locked because it is a three wheeler and it was then difficult to steer. Anyway she went on and on relentlessly about all the reasons she found to hate the £155 pushchair that I’d got to keep at her house, so I took it back again. (I ended up purchasing her a Maxi Cosi Mila, which she loves, more on that at a later point). So now I had a Zapp that was surplus to requirements as well as the Zapp Xtra seat unit.

The Zapp I’d got for my mother in law was a standard silver chassis with Rebel Red fabrics, so the silver chassis matched the seat frame of the Zapp Xtra seat unit and gave me an idea. I took the standard Zapp fabrics off the chassis and put the recline adaptors in place and then took the whole thing to my parents holiday home at the coast the next time we went to visit them there for the day. Folded down, the Zapp chassis fits nicely under one of the sofas and the seat unit stands in the wardrobe in the spare bedroom. Now I’ve got a pushchair there that can be used when we’re there or when my parents take The Boy there for a day or overnight which saves space in the car when you’re making the journey as you don’t need to worry about taking a pushchair, and I’ve freed up the space under my stairs again. My mum likes the Zapp (now she’s figured out the fold and unfold method!) she loves that with the Zapp Xtra seat unit she can have The Boy in ‘grandparent facing’ mode and she loves that she can recline it so easily. I got a Rebel Red Zapp footmuff (to go with the standard fabrics that were on it in the first place) which contrast with the Rocking Black Zapp Xtra seat unit and now even on the chilliest of days The Boy is snug and cosy in the pushchair when his nanny takes him for a cliff top walk after lunch! I also have a Rebel Red parasol and parasol clip for my own Zapp, which I keep in the boot of my car, so if we’re over there and it’s sunny I can use that on the Zapp Xtra as well.

In addition to this, when The Boy and I went to stay with my parents a few weeks ago, they took the Zapp Xtra back to their house from the holiday home for us to use – again it saved space in my car and meant I didn’t have to take a pushchair, but there was one there for us to use and it was compact enough that I stuck it in the boot of my car and it didn’t take up all the room available. I only used it once – when we went to visit a friend and couldn’t park anywhere near their house, so I had to park in a back street quite a distance away and walk to their house – but The Boy was snug and cosy in the footmuff and comfortable in the Zapp Xtra as we trotted about five or ten minutes to their house. I could have managed with him in my arms – just about, he’s quite a weight and a real wriggler – but it was more convenient to have him in the pushchair. Plus when we got to their house after playing for a while and wanting to settle down for a nap, I put The Boy into the Zapp Xtra and he dozed off and had a ten minute cat nap before we went back to the car to go back to my parents house.

For use like this, the Zapp Xtra comes into its own; lightweight, small sized and easy to manoeuvre, it is the ideal urban buggy for getting around. It’s rubbish on rough terrain (at the holiday home, mum goes for walks on the grass and its very bumpy, though that’s generally the point at which The Boy falls asleep I wouldn’t be happy with a young baby being in the Zapp Xtra on that kind of terrain) but it’s smart, nippy and practical for stowing in the car boot and popping into the shops or out to a friends house. I wouldn’t use it for long distance walking just for the fact that it doesn’t seem very comfortable for that – the handlebars are hard plastic which makes my hands hurt after a while, and for LO there isn’t any suspension and the wheels are solid so it’s a fairly rough ride. The addition of the footmuff on the seat unit makes it look a lot more comfy – whether this is imaginary or not – because you can take the front off the Quinny footmuff and leave a cosy, fleece liner on the seat it gives it a softer, more comfortable look. The only downfall of this product is the fact that by adding the Xtra seat unit and providing recline and parent facing options, Quinny have negated the point of the chassis being so small, compact and lightweight – the Xtra seat unit flattens down but doesn’t fold, so as well as the chassis you’ve now got a seat unit to carry around with you. The seat unit doesn’t fit in the travel bag, only the chassis will, so while the chassis can go into the travel bag and is suitable to put in an overhead storage compartment on an aircraft, in a coach or on the train, with the Xtra seat unit as well that isn’t going to be possible. Having said that I’m unsure whether they could develop any way of folding down the seat unit so that it does collapse into something more manageable for travel purposes.

I do like the Quinny Zapp Xtra, but let me put it this way, if it was my only pushchair I wouldn’t be impressed; as my ‘holiday’ pushchair (or at least, the pushchair at the holiday home) it is ideal. My faithful car boot companion will remain to be the standard Quinny Zapp as it does fold up so well and I don’t have a separate seat unit to worry about, and for my long walks, shopping in town, meanders through the countryside and day trips to the beach, you can’t beat the Maxi Cosi Mura 3. Lucky for me that I didn’t have to pick just one!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Disposable Nappies - Brand Vs Brand

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that a short time ago I took part in the Bambino Mio Seven Day Real Nappy Challenge, where The Boy wore one Bambino Mio reusable nappy a day for a week, to see how much money I could save just by using a single reusable nappy each day and to see whether I would be converted from a full time disposable nappy user to a full time reusable nappy user. It didn’t convert me fully, but I love using my Bambino Mio nappies when we’re at home: For the majority of the time I use disposables.

Early on in his life, I found Pampers nappies to be useless for The Boy – I don’t know whether it’s due to his tall, slender build or whether a lot of other people find the same issue, but I found every time I used them he ended up with a wet back (in the days when he slept on his back) and once when he had a bad tummy and the messy nappies were particularly messy, a Pampers nappy practically exploded under the strain of attempting to contain it, leaving me with a very messy baby, bed and changing area, as well as a lot of washing to do. Now he’s on the move, on the rare occasions I have used Pampers, I found they leak at the legs, too.

With my trusty Bounty packs obtained throughout pregnancy, I had lots of samples of Huggies and lots of vouchers for Huggies. Combined with various special offers at different supermarkets I stocked up and found them to be great. They don’t leak – even when he had a particularly bad tummy – they keep the wetness away from his skin so that even after an all night sleep of 10 to 12 hours he was dry and the skin wasn’t red, and they fit him well and move with him well now he’s active. I rate Huggies highly, but the only downfall for a family on a budget like us is the cost of them – while they are undoubtedly worth the extra pennies, I can’t afford to spend out for them all the time, though I do take advantage whenever I find them on offer and generally buy a box or two at once!

Seeking a more budget friendly alternative lead me to the supermarket own brand nappies. The closest supermarket to our house is Sainsburys, so I tend to go there for whatever bits I can’t pick up at Iceland for the weekly shop, and I found their own brand nappies very good. I always get the ‘dry’ ones rather than the ‘active’ ones, not only because the dry ones are a few pence a packet cheaper but also because I’ve found them to be just as good as the active ones now he’s on the move. Again, under testing from bad tummy they hold up well – we’ve had a couple of minor accidents but nothing as disastrous as Pampersgate! The Boy always appears comfortable in them and they keep him nice and dry, he doesn’t get nappy rash at all and a lot of this I credit to the nappies for doing such a good job of keeping the wetness away from his skin, particularly for those long overnight stretches. They fit him well, leaving no gaps and allowing plenty of wiggle room for his legs, and unlike some other brands (I’ve had the problem with Pampers and Huggies as well as other supermarket own brands) I’ve never had the tabs tear off while I’m trying to put the nappy on, nor have I ever encountered an issue where the tabs don’t stick properly. Say what you like about Sainsburys, but I really rate their nappies!

My office changed location while I was on maternity leave and when I returned, it was to the new office, which is located quite close to an Asda store. I’d never really experienced Asda that much – the closest one to where we used to live was quite a distance away and we never bothered going – so sheer curiosity got me through their doors initially after a day in the office and it turned out they were in the middle of a Baby & Toddler event. I purchased some lovely things at wonderful discounts (I did immediately sign up for the newsletter from Asda when I returned home, so now I get notifications posted to me about the upcoming Baby & Toddler events) and even though I picked up a big box of Huggies on special offer I also picked up a pack of Asda own brand nappies at the same time. After all, I thought, I may as well see if they’re any good, because if they are then it means I know I can pop in on my way home from work and grab some should the need arise, and not worry about going home and then off to Sainsburys. I found the Asda own brand nappies a little less marvellous than Sainsburys – I find they don’t seem to fit quite as well, so if The Boy sleeps on his back he can get a bit damp around the waistband (but it’s rare for him to sleep on his back now anyway) and also when worn for the overnight sleep they are very heavy and sodden by the morning and he generally wakes up a bit earlier when he’s wearing them, I think because he’s uncomfortable; Nine times out of ten, a change of nappy, some milk and he goes back to sleep for another couple of hours. Also when they’re that wet I don’t find they keep the moisture away from him too well, and a few times he’s had red skin where the moisture has been against him. (Probably not helped by the fact he sleeps on his tummy most of the time so he’s pressing into it). When all is said and done though, Asda own brand make a good second to Sainsburys.

While staying with my parents back in November last year with The Boy, their closest supermarket is Tesco, and as we were snowed in and our only method of transport was to walk, we certainly weren’t about to go trekking for miles to the nearest Sainsburys for the sake of the nappies, so we purchased Tesco own brand. About the same price, they appeared very similar to the Sainsburys and Asda own brand nappies, and I used them. When we went for a walk to visit a friend, I changed The Boy before we set off. Admittedly what should have been a 15 minute walk turned into an hour thanks to the snowy and icy conditions, but even so when we arrived I was stunned to remove The Boy from the pram and find his clothes wet underneath his snow suit, his nappy soaked through and even the inside of the snowsuit was damp. Fortunately I’d taken a spare vest and change of clothes with us, so I could change him and put the snowsuit on the radiator to dry out before we left again, and while I was surprised it didn’t for some reason strike me as being due to the nappies. I put it down to the fact that he’d drunk a lot that morning, the fact that he’d been awake for the whole walk so possibly he’d wet more than normal in a shorter space of time, the fact that because he was lying down on his back in the pram the nappy was under pressure to perform! After we got home, I took him upstairs for a bath and found that once again the nappy was heavy and sodden, his vest damp and his skin red and sore looking. Still I didn’t put that with the fact that he was wearing different nappies to normal, and we continued our stay and I continued using the Tesco own brand – though I made a conscious effort to change his nappy much more frequently than I usually did, going from every 3-4 hours to every 1-2 hours to ensure his skin remained dry and he didn’t get uncomfortable.

Back home, we returned to using our faithful Sainsburys brand, with the occasional Huggies found on special offer, and I didn’t think any more of it. Then again a short while ago I went to visit my parents. This time, although it didn’t snow, I didn’t worry about travelling to the local Sainsburys specially for nappies, I simply popped up the road to Tesco and picked up the nappies when I got a few other bits and bobs and didn’t think twice about it. I was down to the last two Sainsburys nappies, so I needed another pack, and it didn’t cross my mind to worry that they were Tesco and not Sainsburys branded. That evening my mum put him in his PJ’s after his bath, gave him his bottle and put him to bed: The following morning he was awake and screaming at five a.m, which is very unusual for The Boy – he doesn’t tend to scream when he wakes up, he tends to start chatting to himself or singing, and he certainly doesn’t normally wake at five in the morning. Mum got him up and out of bed and found that his vest was soaking, his PJ’s wet through, the sheets and blankets in the cot were damp and his skin was red and sore, leaving one very unhappy boy. She washed and changed him, and blamed herself “I obviously didn’t put the nappy on properly” she said to me once we’d calmed The Boy down, he was in clean, dry clothes and happily throwing his breakfast around the kitchen. I said to her, “Never mind” and didn’t think much more of it. Then later that morning, around eleven, I took him upstairs for bum change, bottle and nap, and again found the back of his vest and around the leg holes was damp, despite the fact he’d been changed at and again at and . Once again his skin was red and blotchy and looked quite sore; In fact it must have been sore, as he screamed blue murder the whole time I was cleaning him up and changing him. Usually he’ll happily lie there talking to you while you’re changing him, or else he’ll start on his bottle as if he’s waiting for you to finish! Each time I touched him with the baby wipe (Huggies fragrance free, ultra mild ones) he screamed a bit more, and there were tears pouring down his face and he went all red and sweaty. After a change of clothes, a fresh nappy and a bottle it still took much longer than normal for him to settle, and when he did he kept whimpering in his sleep and moving around much more than normal as though he wasn’t comfortable.

The next day I was changing him every hour or two to ensure that he didn’t get sore again (I coated him in Sudocream overnight which helped, though the nappy had leaked again by the morning). It was false economy as I thought I’d saved money on purchasing Huggies by getting the own-brand nappies yet because I was changing him so frequently I was getting through the packet twice as fast as normal. The day after that we were travelling home – a long, 100 mile journey in the hot sunshine, just The Boy and I in the car (The Hubby had travelled home a few days previously as we couldn’t leave the Hairy Hounds of Hell on their own for too long, plus he had work to get back to) Added to that, the fact that we got stuck in traffic at the usual spot (on the approach to the Dartford crossing) The Boy started whinging just as I was slowing down as we hit the beginning of the traffic – and he didn’t stop for some time. I passed him his bottle of water once we were totally stationary but it didn’t pacify him for long and soon he was chucking all his toys around in the back of the car, hollering and wailing and carrying on like he never had before in the car. All the talking, singing and turning the radio up didn’t help to chill him out and he continued creating a fuss for the next hour and a half (by which point I felt pretty stressed out too) Finally, twenty minutes from home, he fell asleep and I was intensely relieved!

However as soon as we got home, The Hubby came out to meet us as I parked up and once he got The Boy out of the carseat he frowned at me and said that he was wet. I presumed it to be from where he’d had the water bottle and had been fiddling with the valve while we were stuck in traffic, making it leak onto his lap, but we soon found once we were indoors that instead the nappy had leaked again. Despite me changing The Boy shortly before we set off, in the space of a two hour 10 minute car journey he was soaked through; his vest was wet all the way up his back and to his chest at the front: His trousers were soaked through and his top was drenched. Added to this his carseat fabric was sodden and even when I stripped it off the carseat shell underneath actually had a puddle of liquid in it – as though The Boy hadn’t been wearing a nappy at all.

After we’d washed him and put him in a fresh nappy and dry clothes, he was once again happier and pleased to see his daddy. The pair of them played for about an hour while I unpacked the car, cooked dinner and put the carseat fabric into the wash. Just before dinner, I said to The Hubby, “Better check his nappy” and he thought I was mad because he’d only changed The Boy an hour or so before – but sure enough, when he checked, the nappy was soaking and The Boys skin was red and sore. More concerning, The Hubby noticed something else – tiny crystals on the surface of the skin. The crystals that should have been contained within the nappy to absorb the liquid, and as the inside of the nappy appeared to be disintegrating the crystals had got stuck to his skin and were a nightmare to clean off, even with a baby wipe.

That evening we dealt with his nappy changes by doing it much more frequently than normal and putting lashings of Sudocream on him. Overnight I used a Bambino Mio reusable nappy as the disposables were so useless, and I went to Sainsburys the next day to pick up some of the usual ones. I’d had enough worrying about the Tesco nappies and the leaking, the crystals, the red, sore skin and the screaming and crying from The Boy as soon as I tried to wipe him clean when changing him. I’m so disappointed in these nappies I’m never going to buy them again, and I’d advise anyone else to steer clear, too. I have written to Tesco, though I haven’t heard back yet, if I do I’ll let you know here!

We Love Nuby!

As you may recall from a previous entry, Nuby UK sent me some goodies a while ago to use with The Boy and blog about my findings. The product we’ve used daily ever since is the wonderful One Touch Bottle & Food Warmer, which I would highly recommend to anyone looking for one – at only RRP £15 I think it is a bargain, looks so much more stylish and sleek than the other brand equivalents and the beauty of being able to put the bottle or food in and press the button then being able to wander off and do something else without worrying about it overheating is brilliant. During a visit to my parents a couple of weeks ago I decided against taking it as they have a different brand one at their house and it reminded me just how good the Nuby product is.

The Boy took very well to the Wash Or Toss beakers initially, however he quickly discovered that when he launches them from the highchair tray onto the laminate floor the lids tend to pop off and we end up with a mini flood every time. I started using the Sport Sipper instead and this is much better,  while he still throws it onto the floor rather than putting it to one side when he’s had enough to drink, the one-way valve helps prevent it from leaking. It’s also very handy when we go out as it fits nicely into a standard bottle insulator bag so it keeps his water nice and cool on a hot day, which given the recent weather is a must! Also when we go to visit friends with children of around the same age, the lime green Sport Sipper stands out amongst the various beakers that end up everywhere, which makes it easy for me to identify when it’s time to pack up & go home, but also makes it easy for him to see which one is his drink, which saves arguments!

His Teether Tugz Rabbit continues to be a firm favourite – when the replacement rabbit was sent his face lit up when I opened the package, and since then every time we go out it is securely attached to his carseat harness or to the pushchair. The Flip Flop book is a favourite of mine, as I take it everywhere in the car when we’re out and when we go shopping I can attach it to the supermarket trolley to discourage him from biting the metal bars, or the hoop on it means I can put it on the harness in his buggy and it won’t go missing. He goes through stages of wanting to chew a lot with the teething continuing, but even if he isn’t interested in chewing the book has crinkly pages, different textures and brightly coloured pictures to keep him entertained while mummy shops!

The Twisty Bugz teether stays at home and when his teeth are playing up it’s one of the first things I reach for to give him some relief – Not only does the purICE keep it colder for longer after it’s come out of the fridge, but the bright colours and clicky noises keep him happy and when the time does come to put it back in the fridge once it gets too warm to help at all he does get quite upset! We have a set of Icy Bite keys as well which are good, but I think the size of the keys makes it difficult for him to get them where he needs the relief now, toward the back of his mouth – They would have been fabulous to have when his front teeth started coming through though; I had a set of plastic chew keys for him which he always had with him while the front teeth were coming through, and they weren’t even cold ones!

All in all, we’re really thrilled with Nuby products in our household, I hadn’t heard of the brand prior to finding the Teether Tugz Rabbit in our local Tesco store but since finding the website and the Facebook page and increasing our Nuby product selection they impress me more and more each time. For the next baby I am considering purchasing all new bottles as we went for a different brand with The Boy and they’re really showing their age now, with the figures coming off the sides and discolouration despite thorough washing (and sterilising when he was younger) Also they’re so common it seems like everyone has the same ones, and the Nuby ones stand out a bit more and look a bit funkier, which is why I’m thinking I might get them! For the price you pay for Nuby products you get excellent quality, fantastic customer service and a product that looks good and will last, which I have found not to be the case with other, better known brands and their expensive products which fail very quickly and rubbish customer service! Added to this with most of the Nuby products you can purchase additional pieces from the website store, enabling you to ‘refresh’ many of the products when it starts showing signs of wear & tear or in preparation for the next child to use the product. I will definitely be taking advantage of the current free delivery from Nuby and am compiling a list of things I want to get for The Boy, so watch out for more Nuby reviews coming soon!

Don’t forget, you can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter!