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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

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!




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