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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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Product Review: Quinny Bag

I am not the type of woman who has an excessively large number of bags or shoes; I’m not a particular fan of shopping for things like that, I don’t actively seek out particular brand labels or desire the latest celebrity craze. I’m happy with practical and functional, and for this reason for some time I have used a £15 rucksack from Argos as the nappy bag for The Boy.

When I purchased the travel system prior to his birth, I opted to have the Maxi Cosi bag that was available at the time to ‘match’ the Mura. (This has now been replaced by the Flexi-Bag to go with all the Maxi Cosi range). Unfortunately despite it seeming quite promising – it comes with a changing mat, it has insulated pockets at either end, a pocket in the back with a tag for your keys to be attached to and a pocket inside – I never found it was quite big enough.

The bag itself is made of tough canvas fabric, and while practical this offers no ‘give’ so when trying to cram in a change of clothes, nappies and nappy changing necessities, bottle of milk and beaker of water, etc etc etc, I simply found there wasn’t enough space. When I attempted to streamline my nappy bag by removing the change of clothes, I always found I needed them and a day out was cut short by a nappy leakage drama, wet clothes, and us returning home quickly to change The Boy; Likewise if I ever dared step out the house with only one spare nappy, The Boy would require two changes within the first hour out of the house, and we’d be forced to return home or buy more nappies while out. The pockets were so tight on space that my house keys (three house keys and one keyring) wouldn’t fit in the gap and I certainly couldn’t get my purse in there along with the stuff for The Boy, which meant carrying about a handbag for myself as well as the nappy bag for The Boy, which doesn’t suit me at all! I’m by far a ‘less is more’ person!

During my pregnancy, a friend had got me a Bebe Confort changing bag – she is a huge fan after having the Loola travel system for her first born, and she’d got it with the bag and found the bag invaluable. It has a more rounded appearance, with a removable insulated bottle cover, a changing mat, handy pockets and even an additional space you can unzip to make the bag deeper in appearance, which is another little separate space ideal for storing snacks if you’re out. However, while I got along well with the removable insulated bottle cover, which I used constantly and still do even now, I found the bag itself still not quite satisfying my needs. Add to this neither bag sat particularly well on the Mura pushchair itself (especially when using with the carrycot or the seat unit in parent facing position) I looked around for alternatives.

Staring me in the face was the perfect practical solution – a rucksack. Plain black, it was designed with a net pocket on one side (perfect for holding a beaker of water or a bottle of milk in the insulated pocket from the Bebe Confort bag) a mobile phone pocket on one strap (so that it would be against your chest if you were wearing the bag, but as I hung it over the handlebar of the Mura this pocket was by my hand as I held the handlebar) The front pocket provided ample storage space for all changing necessities, including little elasticated pockets meant for pens that I used to store water free hand sanitiser and sun cream – a separate plastic front zipper section in this front pocket was perfect for storing wet wipes and Bepanthen wipes (invaluable if your small person ever suffers nappy rash, so much easier to deal with when you’re out than the cream itself) The main part of the rucksack was separated into two parts – the back section I used for a change of clothes for The Boy, sun hat, fleece, blanket and sun glasses, the front section I used for my purse, camera and his lunch bag as we never go anywhere without a selection of snacks!

For months, I have got along fine with this arrangement. However a little while ago I noticed the changing bags launched by Quinny …

L-R - Light Sand, Shadow Grey, Round Black and Square Black

Hailed as luxurious, beautiful, practical and functional, I adored them from the first time I saw them. The special added touches really appealed to me – the lining of the bag is the purple Quinny logo on silky feel fabric, the zippers are chunky trendy O shapes with the Quinny ‘Walk Your Way’ slogan printed around them and I liked that they were suitable to use as a combination handbag and nappy bag, since this is something I feel comfortable with. Here’s what Quinny themselves have to say about the bags …

After working myself into a salivating frenzy over these utterly gorgeous bags I then had to stop myself clicking ‘Buy Now’ when I realised the RRP - £80. Gulp. These bags are not for the end of the account balance that I tend to play in! I continued to covet but carried on with my rucksack, not entirely convinced my life would be complete without a Quinny bag but not able to do much about it.

Mother’s Day on March 19th this year I received a Number 1 Mum keyring from The Boy and a handmade card. I was happy, he was happy (or should that be oblivious?) I thought no more of it until I got home the other night and The Hubby was looking rather pleased. He announced my Mother’s Day present had finally arrived, and when I was flummoxed he explained that he’d ordered it before Mother’s Day but it had been out of stock til a couple of days later. It had arrived while he’d been at home, and he proudly presented it to me.

Inside the package was a gorgeous Quinny Square Bag …

It has a pocket inside each end which is insulated for storing bottles or drinks: There are plenty of spacious pockets inside, even a removable pacifier pocket has been included, and the bag feels well made and durable – it looks and feels like a proper quality product. I loaded it up with all the nappy bag items – and there is plenty of room for everything! (Including my purse, camera, keys and mobile phone!)

There are even poppers on the adjustable shoulder strap …

So that you can attach the bag to your pushchair chassis by making a loop using the poppers …

Now the official line is that Quinny don’t recommend you hang anything from the handlebar of the chassis – fear of tipping, etc etc – but they obviously know every mum does hang stuff from the handlebars and nine times out of ten it is the nappy bag. What I’ve found great is that this simple way of attaching it onto a Quinny chassis means that I can fit it nicely onto my Mura chassis and it slides into position directly behind the seat unit (Now The Boy is world facing it isn’t a problem – in parent facing mode this would mean the bag is in his lap!) The weight of the bag in this position is directly above the large back wheels, so the chassis isn’t being weighted in an unfamiliar or unstable way, and it remains perfectly stable at all times with the bag attached. The bag is at the right level for me to not hit my knees as I’m walking, to reach it without stooping down too low and reach it easily enough that I’m not scrabbling about for ages in a shop trying to get my purse out.

I love my new bag, and it’s so beautiful I will be able to take it to the wedding and it won’t look awful next to our posh wedding clothes!

I have discovered two down-sides to this bag though. The first one is that the poppers don’t seem to click together if you’re trying to do it quickly or not quite the right way – you have to be very exact and they click together – otherwise they pop undone and the nappy bag falls like it did twice to me the first day I took it out! The second down-side is that the circular shapes on the zipper to hold the funky Quinny keyring zip-tag in place doesn’t seem to have been closed very well – the one from the main part of my bag has already come off and been lost while we were out on our travels, and the one from the pocket came off when I undid the pocket the other day, so I put that one back on and have a keyring to use for the other zip but as you can imagine I am quite disappointed that I’ve already lost one of them! It’s my own fault though I noticed that it looked like it probably would come off and I didn’t do anything about it before the maiden voyage and when we got home it had gone!

These bags are definitely a luxury item and not a necessity – but if you’re going to go for a good nappy bag with plenty of space but that looks good on you as it is practical, I definitely think these bags tick the boxes. Available in four different colours/styles, the Quinny bag is a gorgeous treat for any mum!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Maxi Cosi Opal Goes Forward Facing!

When The Boy was nine months old he became too tall to safely continue using the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix carseat. They recommend the harness is no more than an inch below the height of the shoulders, and after a growth spurt one day it was definitely more than an inch for The Boy. I was faced with a dilemma – at nine months old, and not even 10kg, I didn’t want to even consider a Group 1 carseat; He was far too young for that. However, I also knew that any other Group 0+ carseat would suffer the same problem as we’d found with the CabrioFix – it simply wouldn’t be long enough to accommodate him safely. I did some research and discovered that Maxi Cosi had launched a combination carseat Group 0+ and Group 1 called the Opal (Review Here). This meant the seat was suitable to use from newborn right up until the child reached a maximum weight of 18kg and required a Group 2/3 High Back Booster seat instead of a carseat with an integral harness. The combination of groups meant that the Opal answered my needs; the seat was designed to be suitable for a child of up to 18kg, which is around three and a half years old, so it is a fair size seat, chunky and tall so the child can easily see out the windows. As it is also designed to be used from newborn, though, you have an adjuster on the front of the seat, allowing you to widen and narrow the wings down the sides of the seat, enabling you to ensure the seat fits snugly against your child for optimum protection. The Opal can be used as a rear facing carseat from birth to maximum weight of 13kg, and then used as a forward facing carseat from 13 to 18kg. This combination of the size of seat and the crossover of Group allowed me to keep The Boy rear facing in the Opal until he reached 13kg – which considering he was too long for the CabrioFix by nine months old I am very proud to say he continued to travel in the car rear facing until he reached eighteen months old.

I am a fan of ERF, by the way – I think it’s far safer to keep children rear facing for as long as possible. Unfortunately my car is not suitable for a standard Group 1 ERF seat – I have had every one physically fitted (by members of staff and by myself, as I am carseat fitter trained) and not one ERF seat is suitable for use in my car that is currently available for sale in the UK. I kept The Boy rear facing for as long as I possibly could in my car, and I’m proud of how old he was before we made the switch to forward facing.

You have to remove the Opal carseat and change it from rear to forward facing and re-fit it, so it seemed like a bit of a momentous moment when it happened. The Hubby took advantage of our removing the carseat and cleaned the car inside and out. He commented about the marks on the rear seat and the seatbelt from the carseats, but it isn’t something that concerns me; I would rather ensure my child is as safe as possible in a carseat fitted as tightly as it can be with a three point seatbelt than worry about marks being left. A car is a car and my child’s life is far more important! Anyway once he’d cleaned it and hovered it all the marks on the seat were hardly visible. I took the opportunity to wash the carseat fabrics and was again amazed at how well they come out of the machine (handwash cycle, 30 degrees, Fairy Non Bio, they’re the Intense Red colour and they come out as good as new) the fabrics dry really quickly too – they remain in a carseat shape which is odd, so I stand them up on an airer in front of a radiator and within a couple of hours they’re good to go again. I left them overnight to ensure they were properly dry, then put them back on the seat. I set up the seat in the forward facing option and went out to the car.

As I hadn’t fitted the seat forward facing since my training I thought it would be awkward to do but it’s very easy and bearing in mind how fussy I am it was so quick to fit the first time I did it that I couldn’t believe I’d done it properly, so I took it all out and started over again! I still love how you can hide the seatbelt under the fabric popper section on the back and it feels good and sturdy when it’s in place properly.

Now forward facing, there are recline options available. As I know it’s safer for The Boy to be as reclined as possible in the event of an impact now he’s sitting facing forwards to protect his neck and back as much as possible, I have kept the seat in the furthest reclined position – it doesn’t look that reclined, until you sit it upright and you realise it is quite reclined. The Boy looks chilled out, laid back and relaxed in this position. I did notice though that despite it being reclined, when he falls asleep his head does roll forward and he ends up with his chin on his chest. I know he’d wake up if he was immediately in pain or having difficulties breathing, but my concern is if we go on a long journey and he sleeps like that for a long time, it’ll be sore when he wakes up and that’s not going to be fun, so I have brought him a Safety 1st Nap & Go carseat pillow which was recommended by a friend.

In addition to this, I find it much more difficult to get him in and out of the seat now it is forward facing. It’s too high to allow him to climb in himself – he simply can’t reach that far – but at the same time the ‘wings’ at the side are very deep, and that makes it very difficult to get him in now because you have to try and reach around the wings and slot him into the seat. Maybe it’s because I still use it on the narrowest setting, as he is so tall and slender, and if it was on a wider setting this could be less of a problem as the wings wouldn’t be so upright. Between the height of the door opening on my car, the plastic hanging/grip bar above the door and the angle I have to try and get him into the carseat it’s a bit awkward. There's also the fact that now he is forward facing he slides down the fabric slightly as we're getting him in, which leads to the fabric rucking around his lower lumbar region, which he fusses with and moans about unless you deal with it right away, which is a pain!

On the up-side, now forward facing it is much easier to get the harness properly tightened up first try. I don’t know whether it was just the wrong angle when rear facing, but it seemed to stick every now and then and would take two or three goes to get it properly tensioned and tight enough. Now I do it once, it slides through smoothly and it’s properly tensioned and we’re ready to go.

I still wouldn’t recommend this seat for someone to use with a newborn baby simply for how awkward it would be to get a newborn baby into any seat already fixed into the car – that’s the whole point of infant carrier carseats! I loved this carseat for keeping The Boy rear facing from nine to eighteen months old, but I must admit now we’re using it forward facing I am loosing a little bit of love for it.

A good friend of mine has the Axiss and absolutely loves it; my sister in law has already purchased an Axiss for when her son requires a Group 1 carseat; I was in Sainsburys supermarket the other day and the lady parked in the parent and child bay directly in front of me came out of the store, popped her toddler son into the Axiss and had him ready to go in no time. It’s a brilliant idea, because it must be so much easier to get them into a seat facing you directly than trying to slot them in at a sideways angle; having them facing you to get them into the seat also means you can be confident the harness is done properly as you haven’t got to feel around the side that you can’t see like you do with a regular carseat at a sideways angle to how you’re standing beside the car. I really like the Axiss, but I’m determined to see whether I can overcome my problems with the Opal first, as I really do like the look of this carseat and the quality feel of it. It’s a chunky seat, heavyweight and it sits firmly in position, whereas the Axiss appears taller and slimmer (though potentially that would make it more suitable for The Boy). I will continue with the Opal for now, but I am already thinking of donating it to my mother in law as it’s a combination seat it would be useful for her as it would mean she can use for The Boy as well as The Nephew, and the number of times she is likely to use it means that it doesn’t have to be the easiest or quickest thing in the world to do because it would also be one of the rarest!

On the whole I think the Opal covers a very good market – I would have had to put The Boy in a Group 1 carseat at just nine months old without a crossover Group 0+ and Group 1 carseat like this to fill the gap. However, as a forward facing carseat I don’t feel it meets the standards set by the others available. It was brilliant to be able to keep The Boy rear facing for as long as I did, but I don’t think my Opal love affair will continue as long as it should. This carseat is suitable until The Boy reaches 18kg (approx 3.5yrs old) I’m not convinced I can live with it for that long!

Product Review - Maxi Cosi FamilyFix base, Pebble (Group 0+) and Pearl (Group 1)

Both my parents have newer cars than I do. They both have IsoFix points, three point seatbelts in the centre seat, top anchor tethers and approval pretty much across the board for any type of IsoFix fitted carseat to be used in any of the three rear seats – and that’s in both their cars.

When I discovered I was pregnant, their idea was simple – to purchase a good quality carseat system suitable to use in either car and made to last for a long time. It’s reasonable to expect that another child may join the family within the recommended five year life expectancy of the carseat so they wanted something that would be useable as long as it was looked after.

After checking both their vehicles on the website and confirming suitability with a physical fitting from a trained member of staff, they purchased the Maxi Cosi FamilyFix base along with a Pebble and Pearl carseat in Jet Black. The Mother was won over by how comfortable and cosy the carseats looked, she saw a baby in the store in a Pebble when they went to buy it and she melted at how the baby looked all snug and safe and that was it for her.  The Father was impressed by the pretty lights and chirpy sounds.

The FamilyFix base is fitted with IsoFix points only – unlike its predecessor, the EasyFix (which can be fitted with IsoFix points or the three point seatbelt). The first green light comes on and the ‘yes’ beep sounds when you connect the base to the IsoFix points and they are both correctly connected. The second is once the support leg has been adjusted and is in the correct position, and the third is when the seat is placed onto the base and locked in successfully.

The FamilyFix base can be used with the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix or Maxi Cosi Pebble (both Group 0+ carseats, from birth to 13kg) and the same base can be used with the Maxi Cosi Pebble carseat (Group 1, from 9-18kg) While both the CabrioFix and the Pebble can also be fitted without a base, using the three point seatbelt in a vehicle, the Pearl can only be fitted with the FamilyFix base.

When The Boy was little we went out a few times in either of my parents cars, and to be honest I normally used our own CabrioFix in the FamilyFix base instead of using their Pebble. This was only for the fact that the CabrioFix was in our house, so we’d put him in the carseat to get him out to the car and then lock the carseat into the base. The times we did use the Pebble, it proved a very good little carseat.

The Pebble is an updated version of the CabrioFix – you can see the similarities in the styles, but instead of the CabrioFix headhugger which is an upside down U shape which is also attached to the lumbar support cushion fabric, the Pebble headhugger reminds me of a polo mint. Much more easily adjustable and capable of hugging much smaller heads than the CabrioFix, the headhugger contrasts with the colour of the Pebble harness pads and carseat fabrics for a modern, contrasting style. The Pebble harness is a ‘easy out’ harness, which means that it is spring loaded at the shoulders so when you click that red button to release the harness it opens up and effectively out of your way. This helps to stop the baby from getting their arms caught in the harness, which I didn’t find a problem with The Boy in the CabrioFix when he was very young but as he got older and started flapping more when he was excited about arriving somewhere, then I understood the appeal of a harness that got out of your way! The Pebble is also very easy to adjust the harness height – you unlock the headrest by depressing the button on the back, and you can move the headrest up and down, so adjusting the harness height in one easy movement. This makes it very easy to ensure the harness is no more than an inch above or below the height of the child's shoulders (where a correctly adjusted harness should be).  When used with the FamilyFix base, it can gradually sit more upright, providing an extended lifestyle of the carseat by continuing to provide ample leg room as baby gets older, enabling you to keep baby rear facing for longer (max weight 13kg in this particular carseat – my son didn’t reach 13kg til he was 19 months old) Like the CabrioFix, the Pebble can be fitted onto most Maxi Cosi or Quinny chassis to form a travel system. (Check the specification of the particular chassis you have for confirmation)

The only Group 1 carseat currently suitable for use with the FamilyFix base is the Maxi Cosi Pearl. The Pearl can only be fitted with the FamilyFix base, so if you have a car without IsoFix that is regularly used for transporting your child, this option is not for you, as you would need an entirely different carseat fitted with the three point seatbelt, which the Pearl does not have the option of doing. The Pearl is a forward facing Group 1 carseat, suitable from 9-18kg. The Boy first used the Pearl when he was a year old, because at that point he was too long for the Pebble (even making use of the FamilyFix recline positions) and I didn’t want the fuss of moving my Opal from my car into my dads when he had the FamilyFix base and Pearl ready and waiting. I was nervous at The Boys first forward facing journey, but I kept him reclined and he was excited about the different view.

Again, the Pearl offers a modern appearance and has the same ‘easy out’ harness and can be purchased in a range of colours to match the Pebble, so if you have two children of different ages they can use matching colour carseats. My parents went for the Jet Black as it was gender neutral, and went well with the interiors of both cars (one featuring black leather, one with the standard Vauxhall grey) but there is a wide range of colours available in the Pebble and Pearl range, though the collection colours do vary year to year so there is no guarantee that the colour you choose now will still be available next year. The Pearl with FamilyFix base offers a range of recline positions and the same easy way of adjusting the harness height as the Pebble.

I find the whole system very easy to use and customer friendly – it gives a visual as well as audible indication that fitting is correct which provides plenty of confidence. The only thing I do find is that when going around corners in my dads car the support leg indicator goes off and on again as it struggles to keep a footing – but I think this says more about my dads driving than it does about the base. The harnesses on the Pebble and the Pearl are very smooth running and easy to tighten correctly, though my mum still needs additional encouragement to do it up properly (Remember, if you can fit more than one finger between the child’s chest and the harness then it is too loose!) The times we have used either carseat, The Boy has always been comfortable and secure, and I am pleased with this system on the whole.

Verdict: Though expensive, worth the extra money if you can afford it for ease of use and for the fact that you can be confident you’ve fitted the seat properly. However if, like me, you’ve got an older model car without IsoFix points this system isn’t for you.

Maxi Cosi Mura - The Sun Canopy Saga!

Regular readers will know how much I love my Maxi Cosi Mura. I have a 2010 Tango Red model which has done many miles off road travelling down muddy pathways, through dense forests, as well as trekking round the shops and negotiating small spaces with ease that is at odds with the sheer size of it. I used it with the Mura carrycot when The Boy was first born, then when he was six months old I packed up the carrycot and he started using the seat unit. The footmuff was brilliant from the time he was six months old right up until he was seventeen months old (and he’s tall) so it is a worthwhile investment if you’re going to be using the pushchair a lot in colder weather – we do a lot of walking regardless of the weather, so it was important to me that the pushchair I chose was going to be good in all weather, which brings me onto the issue I have right now with my beloved Mura.

It has a lovely big sun canopy, and a third panel which counts as the additional sun visor brings the canopy on the Mura right over the top of the child to the point where they can’t see directly ahead if they’re sitting upright. I find the additional sun visor helpful when The Boy is asleep, as it means I can completely shade him over and he sleeps well, but the problem with the sun visor is that because it blocks his view, if he’s awake, The Boy fiddles with it, and pushes it back out of the way. The sun canopy itself is clipped into place on either side of the Mura seat unit with two plastic brackets, and just above each bracket is a curve of plastic coming out of the Mura sun canopy fabric. On the 2010 model Mura, you have to ‘open’ both these locking mechanisms by pushing them out, away from the seat unit, and at the same time bring the sun canopy forward, because as soon as you let go of either latch it reverts into the ‘locked’ position. It’s a tricky process and there’s definitely a knack to doing it! But when the seat unit was in the parent facing position, it was just a little niggle and not something major.

One day The Hubby took The Boy out while I was at work, and when I returned that evening he said to me he’d had some trouble with the hood of the pushchair. The lock on one side of the sun canopy had got stuck, the canopy open, when they were out and he was trying to fold the canopy back to the closed position so that he could get The Boy out of the pushchair. He’d fiddled for ages with it trying to get it to work, until finally it popped off the side of the seat unit. He tried to get it back on, and couldn’t – upon closer inspection we found the bracket had bent out of shape, so it no longer would clamp into position where it should. It was also still in the locked out position on one side, and wouldn’t unlock.

Fortunately for us, we were still under warranty (12 month fabric warranty) at this point so a replacement was ordered. In the meantime, I did manage to bend the bracket back into a make-do that worked while we waited. When the replacement arrived, I checked it over and it was all OK, but as I’d managed to get the original back to something that did the job I decided not to put the replacement on immediately. After all, if it had happened once it could happen again!

Three months later, it happened again, and the original sun canopy popped off the seat unit again, the bracket once more bent out of shape. This time both sides got stuck, and both brackets were damaged, so we threw that sun canopy and put the replacement one on.

I had The Boy in the Mura parent facing up until very recently, because when we go walking I can get caught up in my surroundings and forget that someone else is there with me if I’m not looking at him, and I was conscious that if he was world facing it would be harder for him to hear me, he couldn’t see my facial expressions and be able to communicate back, and I wouldn’t be able to see if he fell asleep (or was ready to). Eventually I had to bite the bullet, as the footrest on the Mura is fixed to the chassis at the front, rather than being attached to the seat unit like it is for many other models. As The Boy got older, he had nowhere to rest his feet, so he’d hook them up and over the chassis handlebar sides or else he’d put them on the back wheels, causing us to come to a very abrupt standstill! I put the seat world facing a while ago and he seems happy with it – he hasn’t fallen asleep world facing yet, though he was becoming less likely to fall asleep while in the pushchair anyway – he’s just too nosy right now!

The immediate problem I found was that as soon as the seat was world facing, the locking mechanism to open and close the sun canopy was in line with the chassis handlebar sides. It was physically impossible for me to fit my hands in the gap, unlock the sun canopy mechanism and open or close it. Instead, I have to recline the seat back, to ‘reveal’ the locking mechanism, sort out the sun canopy and then put the seat back into the position The Boy wants to be in – normally as upright as possible! But because of how low the sun canopy comes, and the fact that it locks in position, you can’t do that and then get The Boy into the seat – you have to get him in the seat first – so then you recline it back and he’s fussing and flapping and worrying that you’re going to try and walk around with him lying back, which he really isn’t keen on doing anymore. Then once you’ve fussed with the hood and you put the seat unit back up again, you realise that the top of the hood is actually resting on The Boy’s head.

He is a tall child for his age – he’s around 88cm I think, but he won’t stand still long enough at the moment for anyone to check, I’m going by clothes sizes! However, he is still only nineteen months old, and the Mura is advertised as suitable for up to around three and a half years old (15kg) 

We went out yesterday on a fantastic walk – we left the house by noon and we walked for four hours in gorgeous sunshine (both of us coated in sun cream, him with hat, both of us with sunglasses and the sun canopy was up/out on the pushchair. We had a marvellous time and when we got home, I went to close the sun canopy and found the left side locking mechanism was sticking. I reclined the seat to access it, causing The Boy to become quite annoyed and start to flap around, but despite my efforts I couldn’t unlock it properly on the left side and it eventually popped the bracket off the seat unit fixing. Both brackets were bent out of shape, and there was no way of getting it back onto the seat unit as damaged as it was.

Fortunately for me, loads of other people have encountered this problem with the 2010 model as well, so a new design was brought out in 2011, then a further new design for 2012. I now have a 2012 style sun canopy which fits onto the rounded part of the seat unit (near the top) with plastic clamps, the fabric is ‘pinned down’ the side using elastic loops. It has a much better mechanism where you don’t have to mess about unlocking things to move the sun canopy, it’s just a standard push and pull to open and shut style sun canopy! As this design sits higher on the seat unit, it provides The Boy with much more head room so once again the Mura looks like it will be able to contain The Boy for much longer yet (it was starting to look silly because his head touched the inside of the old sun canopy). The section at the back now has a plastic catch to hook it in place and hold it there so you can’t over-pull the sun canopy and have it pop off the back of the seat unit, like it used to with the old one. It’s made such a difference to me, as silly as it sounds, because I no longer have to fuss about opening and closing the sun canopy every time we go in and out of shops, its much easier to live with than the old one and I’m happy that The Boy is more comfortable too because he has that extra bit of head room! It hasn’t compromised coverage at all, though I do find that if you recline the seat the hood stops protecting much, so I would definitely recommend a parasol for naps on sunny days, or a carrycot attachment for younger babies to keep them cool and shaded.

If you have a 2010 Maxi Cosi Mura and your sun canopy is broken due to the lock/unlock gets stuck and the brackets bend, I recommend you return to your retailer with proof of purchase and the damaged sun canopy so they can contact Maxi Cosi for a replacement sun canopy. I couldn’t get the 2012 style in Tango Red (the colour of my Mura) but I got it in Total Black instead and it looks fine (the Intense Red colour is too bright against the Tango Red seat fabric) My situation was resolved promptly and without fuss, and The Boy and I are thrilled to be able to report that we went for a lovely long walk this morning and thoroughly tested the sun canopy and found it performed very well!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 15 - Tearless Teething Hazelwood Necklace

The Boy has been wearing the Tearless Teething Hazelwood necklace for 15 days now, so I thought I’d post a quick update to let you know how we’ve been getting on.

Since the two instances early-on in wearing the necklace, it hasn’t come off at all. Whether those instances were both The Boy pulling at the necklace or whether I hadn’t done it up tightly enough I’m not sure. We were fortunate enough that both times when it came off it was still close by, so we didn’t loose the necklace, and since those times it has remained in place securely throughout his everyday, normal activities.

The Boy hasn’t complained as he normally does about teething pain – he rubs his face, holds his ears, sits there working his jaw as though he is chewing – he hasn’t done any of that, but whether it’s because he’s not in pain because of the necklace and he is teething, or whether it’s because he’s not currently cutting any teeth, I’m not sure. At 19 months old he has a pretty full set of teeth already, all the front ones are in and that means I can’t safely see clearly all the way round the back so I’m not sure how many haven’t cut through yet! Recently he has been dribbling quite a lot and looking quite red-cheeked, which is usually a sign of him teething, but he hasn’t been concerned by it.

His nappy rash has completely cleared up – it is completely gone, not a mark on him, if you didn’t know you’d never guess how bad it was a couple of weeks ago with the bleeding spots, the lumpy, bright red skin – and as it doesn’t hurt anymore when you’re cleaning him up if he has had a dirty nappy, he’s perfectly happy just to lie back and let me get on with it – most of the time. I have to say that he now seems to be totally fine when it’s just me and him – he lets me get on with changing him, dressing him, whatever, without too much fuss at all, and he wanders off quite happily afterwards to play. It seems to now be when his daddy gets home from work he’ll then act up and throw a tantrum – either to me, because daddy is there now and he wants daddy’s attention and not mine; or a strop at daddy, simply because he’s not been there all day and The Boy maybe feels he should have been! When we were at my in-laws house last weekend, The Boy was wearing dungarees and the poppers on the legs kept popping open because he was running about and climbing on and off the sofa so much, and between trying to do those poppers up and changing his nappy, he threw a huge tantrum every time. I’m thinking now these tantrums are less to do with being in pain, or being uncomfortable, and more to do with knowing where his limits are with me but wanting to test other people a bit more!

We even had a break-through the other day when I was playing with him in the front room, up until now all he’s done is shaken his head ‘no’ for whatever question you ask him, but I paused playing and said, “Have you done a poo?” and he went to shake his head ‘no’ then thought about it for a second, nodded slowly ‘yes’ and pointed to his bottom! He then walked upstairs and into his room, was calm and co-operative the whole way through changing his nappy and it was done quickly and easily.

His eczema has been another matter. In the fortnight running up to him starting to wear the Hazelwood necklace, it had flared up really badly again – he mostly gets it on his back, concentrated around the lumbar region, but when it’s bad it also affects his legs, particularly the backs of his knees, and his arms, particularly the inside of his elbows – classic eczema! Prior to him starting to wear the necklace he’d had a week course of steroid cream to try and calm it down as it had flared up so badly, the steroid cream did the trick very quickly and after the week course the eczema was practically gone. We returned to using normal Oilatum lotion, and then when he started wearing the necklace I was hoping it would help get rid of any signs of eczema at all. While his eczema is a hell of a lot better than it was, it hasn’t cleared up totally, some days it just feels a bit bumpy and rough on his back, other days he’s scratching at it and it’s become red, lumpy and sore. It hasn’t flared up again to the point of him being covered, it is just the bit on his back that is always the worst patch – there’s a line which is just under the waistband of his nappy which seems to get quite sore, and his left shoulder too. These two patches are still evident, and I’m using Oilatum cream daily in an effort to make them less itchy to discourage him from scratching at it. I honestly couldn’t say whether the Hazelwood necklace is preventing it from getting worse again, or if it’s just because I’m being vigilant with it because it got so bad last time and I don’t want a repeat performance.

I think ultimately this is my issue with the Hazelwood necklace – I can’t prove for sure one way or another whether or not it is helping. For all I know he could be screaming in pain with teething, have awful nappy rash and really bad eczema without the necklace – or, it could be a case of he isn’t currently cutting a tooth, his nappy rash could have cleared up anyway as his nappies aren’t so messy now, and his eczema could have been going into a phase of not being so bad. My plan at the moment is for him to continue wearing the necklace until we reach the end of three months – this is how long they advise that a Hazelwood necklace is ‘good’ for. If, at the end of three months, the nappy rash flares up, the eczema becomes worse and he complains about his teeth again then I would be persuaded to think that the Hazelwood necklace has helped.

Our journey continues!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Days Six + Seven - Tearless Teething Hazelwood Necklace

Days Six & Seven haven’t been what I think of as ‘normal’ days, so I’m not sure whether this hinders being able to tell if the Tearless Teething Hazelwood necklace is doing something, or actually enhances the idea that it is doing something.

I say not ‘normal’ days as The Boy has been unwell. Not another cold, no vomiting or diarrhoea, but a raging temperature, shivering, and obviously not feeling himself as he cuddled up both days on the sofa watching TV with his Daddy and not really doing much else at all! Usually he’s such a busy child, always rushing about doing something, to see him so uncharacteristically quiet, despite the fact it was nice to see him cuddled up with The Hubby, it did concern me how ill he was. He wasn’t interested in eating anything, even refusing chocolate cake and biscuits when offered, a sure sign he was under the weather even without the temperature, and he was quiet in general, not chattering away nineteen to the dozen like he normally does (not actual words at the moment, just his own jibber-jabber like kids do) Both days he slept a lot, and both nights he was difficult to settle, moaning in his sleep around midnight and waking very early in the morning. (Though he was settling again afterwards and going to sleep again)

Usually when The Boy is unwell, his eczema or his nappy rash gets worse, or they both do. Technically speaking I’ve always blamed the nappy rash side of it on the fact that when he’s unwell he tends to have more messy nappies, and a side effect of that is going to probably be nappy rash, no matter how careful you are to clean them up quickly, when it’s happening four or five times a day they get sore! And with the eczema, well I know myself that if I’m run down or tired or unwell, my eczema gets worse, so it seems natural to presume that his will be the same.

On this occasion, however, despite being unwell The Boy doesn’t have a trace of eczema or nappy rash. To be fair, he hasn’t had many messy nappies as he hasn’t eaten much, so this could account for the lack of nappy rash, but then the eczema is also so much better that last night after his bath, we didn’t put any Oilatum lotion on him – it wasn’t needed. I’m reluctant to continually coat him with creams and lotions for his eczema so if it isn’t needed I don’t use it, and at the moment it isn’t needed. I’m pleasantly surprised by this; when he is unwell is usually the worst time for his eczema to flare up again due to the added discomfort of the itching, but this time he hasn’t been bothered by it at all.

I’d like to think that the Hazelwood necklace has taken affect now as we reach the end of the first week of him wearing it, but honestly I think only time will tell for sure. I’ll keep you updated!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day Five - Tearless Teething Hazelwood Necklace

Day Five of The Boy wearing his Tearless Teething Hazelwood necklace was a fairly lazy day. While we were up quite early we lounged in our PJ’s on the sofa – me with the laptop going, him playing with a selection of vehicles with wheels!

His first nappy change of the day had been wet but not dirty – his necklace was still in place when I went into him and he had woken chirpy and chatty. He nattered away contentedly while I worked, and we took a break for a late breakfast at about half ten. I decided to change him for good measure, but the nappy was only wet and not dirty. Since he hadn’t had a dirty nappy all day yesterday, I was beginning to get concerned that he’d gone too far the other way and was now constipated, so for breakfast he had whole-wheat hoops, and a handful of sultanas and apple. After eating as much as he fancied, The Boy tipped the bowl of whole-wheat hoops over himself (comedy moment – The Boy giggling away as milk drips from the end of his nose and I notice absent mindedly that he has a whole-wheat hoop in his ear) He was attempting to drink the milk from the bowl – but the cereal wasn’t finished yet and he didn’t touch the bowl to his lips – he’d just brought it closer to himself and tipped it. As a result once I extracted him from the highchair and brushed off the stray whole-wheat hoops I realised he needed a change of clothes. Upstairs, his nappy wasn’t even wet, so I dressed him and we returned downstairs.

At this point, I’d like to say that first thing in the morning this morning his eczema was almost non existent on his back – normally the worst affected area – he had small patches, about the size of penny pieces, that were slightly dry and scaly to the touch, but it was a huge improvement over this time last week and a massive improvement in comparison to the day before he was prescribed steroid cream for a week. His nappy rash first thing on Day Five was still slightly pink, but the raised bumps had disappeared and so had the bleeding spots. He was compliant and content each time I changed him and the whole ‘nappy changing’ experience has gone back to the stress free routine of old, rather than the screaming fits we’ve been having more recently. Still, eczema and nappy rash is present, so I am continuing to use his Oilatum cream and nappy rash cream. Should either or both the conditions clear up completely, I will stop using the appropriate cream and see whether we have any issues, but at the moment I don’t feel it is fair on him to cease using the lotions, as it clearly makes it more comfortable for him once they’ve been applied.

Anyway, the day wore on and we lounged around, mid-afternoon I took him upstairs for a nappy change because I thought I could smell a dirty nappy. Any fears of him being constipated flew out of the window as I discovered the nappy was pretty gruesome – he was definitely not constipated. However while he wasn’t exactly happy to have me cleaning him up, it wasn’t a screaming battle of wills with him kicking me and trying to grab at the contents of his nappy with his hands; he simply moaned a bit but on the whole he laid there and allowed me to do what needed doing. The nappy rash was slightly more obvious again after the clean-up, but still wasn’t bright red, or bumpy, or bleeding. I applied more cream, a fresh nappy, and he went down for a nap.

After his nap his nappy was wet, so I changed it, and the nappy rash had gone back again to a paler pink. One fresh nappy later we were downstairs playing; eventually play time turned into dinner time, and after dinner we went upstairs to play before bathtime. On the way upstairs I thought the bottom of his jeans felt wet, but then when I felt it again I couldn’t find it, so I thought I’d been mistaken – half an hour of playing later, The Boy began to wiggle about and pat at his bottom as if he was uncomfortable. By that point I was running the bath, so waited until I was ready then went to change him. For the second time today his nappy was awful – the bottom of his jeans had been damp as I suspected, unfortunately. The cuffs around the leg holes of his vest were marked and the nappy had obviously had a hard job containing everything (no disrespect to the nappy – I’m not sure many others would have done as good a job under the circumstances!)

Cleaning him up was difficult, as he kicked about a lot more than he had done all day and made more of a fuss about it, but initially I didn’t think the damage was too bad – again it was pinker than it had been, but no raised bumps. Unfortunately a moment later I noticed a spot of blood swelling from the skin – so he hadn’t escaped completely unscathed, and another moment later there were a couple more blood spots I could see. After his bath, I applied Oilatum cream to his torso as his lumbar region and left shoulder appeared worse than they had done earlier in the day. I put nappy cream on his nappy rash as that also had become worse again. Having said that,  the nappy rash isn’t anywhere near as bad as I was thinking it would be when I first saw that nappy!

Once in his PJ’s and cuddled up in the glow of the night light, The Boy seemed perfectly content to drink his milk and slowly drift off to sleep. His nappy rash is vastly improved and so is his eczema, though at this point I don’t feel I can conclude it’s because of the necklace particularly – while it seems co-incidental that this improvement has occurred this week, perhaps it would have happened this week anyway, following our rigorous past four weeks of applying the Oilatum cream on a twice-daily basis. We’ll have to see what happens!

Tearless Teething - Hazelwood Necklace - Day Four

Day Four of The Boy wearing his Tearless Teething Hazelwood necklace was a fairly busy day. He woke shortly after 7.30 and when I went into him he was immediately pointing at the floor and saying “Gone” (or at least, he made a noise that sounded like that). I saw the necklace lying on the floor beside the cot, coiled snake-like where it had fallen. Picking it up, I examined it, but it didn’t appear damaged – again it appeared the clasp had opened and it had come off, whether this was due to The Boy pulling at it until it came off and then dropping it over the side of the cot I’m not sure!

As I was examining it, I noticed that there was some hair caught around the clasp. The Boy has quite long hair, and it looks like I’d inadvertently caught a single hair when I did up the necklace after it came off at Wednesday club. I don’t know whether that’s why the necklace was annoying The Boy and he pulled at it, or whether he decided to remove it for another reason, but anyway I removed the hair from the clasp and after checking it all appeared to be undamaged I put it back around his neck. The Boy has got very used to this now, and he will drop his head forward while I do up the clasp at the nape of his neck. I took care to make sure there was no hair caught in it this time!

His nappy was wet but not dirty, his sore bottom was loads better than it had been but there was still some nappy rash there, and likewise on his back while the eczema didn’t look bad at all, I still applied the Oilatum cream as normal.

That morning, my mum came round and took him to Friday club. It’s a group of children up to five years old, and while The Boy is one of the youngest there he loves to run around and play with the bigger kids, so it can get a bit hectic at times and sometimes a bit rough. Anyway this time was no different, and he was running about playing with the others for the best part of two hours before they left. Since The Boy is now very keen on walking, mum pushed the pushchair into town and then let him get out and have a walk around with her and they fed the ducks and had a picnic lunch. When they got home, The Boy was exhausted and went straight to bed for a nap. After that, he woke up and spent some time playing with my mum before The Hubby was back from work and I started dinner, mum left, and we got on with our evening as normal. At bathtime I noticed that both nappy rash and eczema were improved further, though the eczema was bothering The Boy last night and it hasn’t done for a while, he was actually scratching at it again and rubbing his back on the doorframe! Again I applied the usual creams, and he went to bed. Throughout the day, despite a lot of activity, the necklace didn’t come off again so I think previously when it has done it has been because of The Boy pulling at it. I discourage him from touching it too much but I don’t want him to think he’s not allowed to touch it – it’s on his neck after all! At the same time I’m conscious that I don’t want him constantly fiddling with it, because it makes it more likely to come off and the more that happens the weaker the clasp must slowly become.

His nappy rash and eczema is almost completely cleared up now. We’re still having occasional tantrums over nappy changes, but its no longer the huge battle it was before, and his skin overall appears to be smoother – he’s had a dry patch on his cheek since he was tiny that sometimes just feels a little rougher than the other cheek, but in the last few days that seems to have gone and I haven’t been remembering to apply Oilatum cream there as regularly as I do on his back (Mainly because if he isn’t feeling co-operative I’m scared I’ll get it in his eyes while he’s twisting about and shaking his head!) Is it coincidence or is it the Hazelwood necklace? I’m still not sure!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tearless Teething - Hazelwood necklace - Day 3

Day Three of The Boy wearing the Tearless Teething Hazelwood necklace was a lazy day for us in as much as we didn’t go out. Though the weather was gorgeous and I would have loved to have gone out and made the most of it with a walk through town and feeding the ducks, unfortunately I had to work, so on the whole while we were up and dressed and started our day relatively early, we didn’t really do much physical activity!

Our day started at 8 and while The Boy had a very wet nappy it wasn’t soiled. His nappy rash at this point was very sore still but I applied another layer of nappy cream and noted that it was much better than it had been for almost a week. The spots that had bled yesterday were now very red but no longer bleeding; what had been very red yesterday had calmed down a touch. On his back, his eczema seemed to have improved since bedtime last night – it was still there, and I still applied Oilatum lotion as usual before getting him dressed, but it seemed to me that it was also better than it had been.

The Boy mostly watched TV and played while I sat at my laptop and did the work thing. We took a break at 11 for a late breakfast – I took him upstairs to change him first and he’d soiled the nappy but it wasn’t as loose as it had recently been and even though he did react when I cleaned him up it wasn’t the screaming fit like he’s been having over the last few days about nappy changes. I made him scrambled eggs in an effort to calm down his recently over-active tummy. He ate well, and we settled down again for another couple of hours. At we stopped and had lunch, and after that we played for a while upstairs before I decided to try and settle him down for his nap. I asked him if he wanted a nappy change and he walked to the changer, turned to me and lifted his arms up to demonstrate he wanted to get up, so I took this as his signal he wanted a nappy change and did so. There was no screaming tantrum and he was quiet and calm as I changed him – it was only a wet nappy but even those have been eventful recently! I noted that the nappy rash was slightly more improved again. I gave it another coat of nappy cream and put a fresh nappy on him before putting him in the cot/bed for a nap.

He slept well, and I had to go and wake him at 5.30. Usually when I have to wake him up he is in a foul mood, he much prefers to wake when he is ready, but this time he woke in a good mood, and was again quiet and calm as I changed his nappy – once more just wet. The nappy rash looked no better but no worse. I put a fresh nappy on him and we went downstairs.

While The Hubby and I ate dinner, The Boy danced around the room and hardly touched a thing, but he had eaten well throughout the rest of the day so I wasn’t too worried how much dinner he ate as he’d already had a good days worth of food. (Sometimes he’ll eat far less, which can be worrying, but as my mum says, no child will deliberately starve himself) After dinner we went upstairs for last playtime, bathtime and bed.

When I stripped him ready for the bath I noticed that the nappy rash appeared better again. The eczema on his back is still there, but much less noticeable than it was three days ago. After his bath I again used nappy cream and Oilatum as usual. The Boy was once again calm and content as I changed him – a complete turn-around from Monday!

It could be a coincidence that things are starting to improve, or it could be the Tearless Teething Hazelwood necklace, I’m still not entirely convinced; but then again I can’t deny that there has been an improvement since he’s been wearing the necklace, and that seems like a big coincidence considering that for the last few weeks his eczema has been bad with the exception of when we were using steroid cream a couple of weeks ago. Stick with me for updates about how things go!

Tearless Teething - Hazelwood Necklace - Day 2

Day Two of The Boy wearing the Tearless Teething Hazelwood necklace was a busy day full of activity.

We were up early and once again The Boy had a dirty nappy and a very sore bottom. Changing him wasn’t as bad as it was the night before, but it was still a difficult task! I applied more nappy rash cream and worked out how long the necklace had been on for – less than 24 hours at that point, so I decided it wasn’t long enough to say I’d given it a fair try and it wasn’t helping! I got him washed and dressed, then sorted myself out, packed a bag and put him in the pushchair, and we battled against wind and rain to our regular Wednesday-morning group (he munched breakfast biscuits on the way!).

We got there and as usual I had to work quickly to free The Boy from the pushchair and the confines of his jacket and hat as he was keen to jump in and start playing with the other children. At 10 they stopped for a snack and I was a little concerned when I saw it was all fruit. Usually I try to give The Boy plenty of fruit and veg throughout the day, as he can be such a fussy eater at mealtimes, but given how sore his bottom had been and knowing what an affect fruit can have on him, I was a bit worried. I put a variety of fruit onto his plate which he quickly polished off, but then he helped himself to more and I had to eventually put a stop to it – he has a passion for grapes, but his already sore bottom told me it wasn’t a good idea for him to eat too many of those! He didn’t seem too fussed by the end of snack time though, and was soon running around again happily.

At snack time I removed his sweater because he was beginning to look a bit hot and rosy cheeked, and at that point his Hazelwood necklace was still in place. It tucked nicely under his t-shirt though, so it wasn’t hanging out for him to fiddle with or for it to get grabbed by another child or caught on something while he was playing. He hadn’t paid it much attention and I didn’t give it another thought until when we were getting ready to leave. The necklace was gone.

After searching the play room, concerned that it may have broken and left pieces on the floor which a child may pick up, and also wanting to see whether the necklace was still in a useable condition since I’d had less than a full days wear out of it, I then frisked The Boy and found that the necklace had come undone and fallen into his vest! I checked it over and it appears to be undamaged – it hasn’t broken anywhere, the clasp still functions and it is in one piece, so I’m not sure whether that is how it is meant to come undone under pressure and something had happened I wasn’t aware of during his time playing, or whether it had worked loose and come undone. Anyway I put it back on him and did it back up again tightly. This means that for an unknown period of time throughout the day, between 10am and 12pm, the necklace wasn’t fastened around his neck, but it was against the skin on his back (in direct contact with where some of the worst of his eczema is) and looking at the company website that may have been more beneficial as they say to wear the Hazelwood as close to the affected area as possible!

He wasn’t very interested in lunch when we got home, which I put down to all the fruit he’d scoffed at snack time and all the running around he’d done making him more tired than usual earlier in the day. Sure enough when he was put down for a nap shortly after one, he fell asleep almost immediately. Usually his nap time isn’t til about three. However he woke up just before three so his nap wasn’t as long as usual, but again he had a messy nappy that needed to be dealt with, and I’m fairly sure it was the discomfort of that which caused him to wake up, as he was still rubbing his face and acting like he was tired for some time after waking up.

Again the nappy change was challenging because by this point the rash was open and bleeding. He was screaming, thrashing around and generally making it very difficult to get him cleaned up and sorted out, though obviously I understand why he was behaving this way! Once he was sorted out I again used a very generous amount of the nappy cream which has always worked well for him in the past but which doesn’t seem to be doing much this time around. I made a mental note to give him some foods to actively bind him up a bit since the loose movements had been ongoing by this point for three days and wasn’t improving, and each time it made the nappy rash worse.

Over the course of the afternoon, another two messy nappy changes, another two temper tantrums and tears over it being done. That evening as usual he had a bath, and as usual after his bath I coated his bottom in the nappy rash cream and coated the rest of him in Oilatum lotion.

In a previous blog entry I wrote about the skin problems The Boy has, and how we’ve been using Oilatum to keep his eczema under control. Recently he was prescribed a steroid based cream to use for a week due to a particularly bad bought of eczema – the steroid based cream worked brilliantly, cleared it up almost entirely within three days, and after a week of use it was practically gone. Unfortunately since swapping back to the Oilatum lotion again patches have returned, though at this point not anything major in comparison to what it has been like in the past. The Tearless Teething ladies at the Baby Show stand where I brought the Hazelwood necklace from assured me that eczema was a very common complaint due to the acidity levels in the body and that plenty of other Tearless Teething customers had found that the necklace helped clear it up by stabilising those acidity levels. At the point of getting The Boy into his pyjamas following his bath last night, I could see no improvement to the eczema on his back, nor any worsening. I applied Oilatum cream as normal, being careful to avoid the Hazelwood necklace (I was advised by the Tearless Teething ladies that Oilatum should not be allowed in direct contact with the Hazelwood necklace, and while they did explain to me why at the time I can’t honestly remember now so that’s something I’ll have to ask them to clarify again!)

So, at the end of Day 2 I can’t see a radical change – the necklace was placed on him at on Day 1 and by bedtime on Day 2 his nappy rash was still very sore and his eczema still evident. Let’s see how we progress in the days to come!