Buying a Stroller –The Mountain Buggy Swift

D103492CHILLI000[1]Choosing a pram/stroller is one of the “big decision” items to purchase before your little one arrives.  There are so many to pick from with many different features and a wide range of prices.

I highly recommend:
a) Asking friends/other parents what they recommend
b) “Road testing” and asking for advice at a baby shops with a good range.

We went to our local Baby Bunting, came out with the Mountain Buggy Swift and couldn’t be happier with how it has performed over the last 9 months.  In addition to being impressed with it at the shop, we also had a few friends recommend it.

Things we considered:

1. Number of wheels/robustness – We went with a 3 wheeler as it was better for running (many good intentions!) with more suspension in the wheels and better direction control.  Mountain Buggy also has the larger models, the Urban Jungle and Terrain which have even better suspension but weigh more.

2. Weight – at 9.5kg it’s not the lightest stroller out there, but it is one of the lighter 3 wheelers, and light enough to lift in and out of the car reasonably easily.

3. Dimensions – Will it fit in your boot?  Important factor as you are not likely to change your car to fit your pram!  And is it narrow enough to easily fit down aisles at the shops?

4. Manoeuvrability – Take it for a spin to make sure you are comfortable with it

5. Adjustable handle – With quite a large height difference between me and my partner this was important.  We actually found that some strollers did not have a handle that went low enough for me

6. Applicable age – Not all prams can be used from birth, and many require purchase of a bassinet to be used from birth, thus requiring extra outlay of money.  We liked the swift as it could be adjusted to lie flat so that we could use it from day one.  There was also the option to buy a bassinet to go with it, but decided we did not need it. It can also be used up to age 6.

7. Tray – It can hold up to 5kgs and is a fairly decent size.  Amazing how quickly it fills up though!

8. Forward or rear facing? – One of the disadvantages of the Swift is that you cannot have your baby facing you.  There is, however, a peek-a-boo flap in the canopy, and the bassinet/carrycot is rear facing if you buy it.

9. Braking system – We wanted a system that easily locked out both wheels at once.  The Swift uses an easy to use foot brake which locks out both wheels.

10. Price – At $599 rrp ($499 on sale) it is a mid range stroller.  About half the price of the Bugaboo, but a lot more than the cheaper ones out there.

11. Folding – The Swift can be opened and close in pretty much one step, very easy to use.

12. Sun cover – The canopy with a fold out mesh visor is good on most occasions, but when the sun is particularly bright or low, the optional zip on sun cover has been a winner.  It is very common to see mothers out with their prams with blankets or sheets draped over them to block out the sun.  We found that we did not need to do that with the sun cover as it sufficiently blocked out the sunlight, while providing good airflow through the mesh material.

13.Other optional accessories – We also purchased the rain cover which fits really snuggly over the stroller, and a sheepskin liner to add extra softness and warmth for the baby.  There is also a Mountain Buggy sleeping bag you can get which looks ultra cosy!

14.More than one? – Another disadvantage of the Swift is that it is not adjustable to allow for 2 babies.  Although I notice that Mountain Buggy are just about to bring out the +One which will fulfil this need.

15. Travel – For travelling (especially travelling by plane), or even for day to day use, a lighter, more compact umbrella type stroller might be more appropriate.  One option is to buy a cheaper second stroller for this purpose, or you may want to consider buying such a stroller in the first place.  Maclaren, for example, make some excellent strollers that are just about as light as you can get, but still can be used from birth.

It can also be worthwhile having a look at the Australian Standards to see what other factors you might want to consider.

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Child First Aid

first-aid-signAbout a month ago I finally got my act together and did a first aid course.  I’d always been a bit intimidated by the thought of doing one, but knew it was an important thing to do.  Having a baby was just the added incentive that I needed.  Having done it, I am extremely glad I did it, and highly recommend it for those who have never done one before or would like a refresher.  I feel like I will have at least some clue should an emergency arise, and if nothing else, it makes me a little less nervous when my daughter gags and splutters while learning to eat solids.

Some of the ladies from my mothers’ group and I did it through a company called Child Revive First Aid.  They run courses in Melbourne, both for private groups at a location of your choice, and for the public at Mothercare Highpoint or Knox.  The basic first aid class goes for 2.5hrs (with a break) and is $45.  It covered CPR (with practical component), how to identify an emergency and what to do, choking, drowning and febrile seizures.  The course is focussed on baby and child first aid, but most of the concepts can be applied to adults too.  The instructors are practising paramedics so they are up to date and know what they are talking about.  Amanda at Child Revive First Aid was very accommodating when trying to organise our group.

Sorry for being a bit late with this, but I think if you subscribe to their newsletter by the end of tomorrow (1st June), you can go into a draw to win a double pass to a course.  Good luck!

Starting Daycare

Returning to work and abandoning my baby at day care was not something that I was looking forward to, and in fact delayed by a month.  I have now been back at work for 2 weeks, our daughter has been at day care for 3 weeks and luckily it has been a relatively smooth transition.  Here are some observations, pointers and thoughts on the experience so far.

Preparation

  • Familiarisation and orientation sessions – This is a really important one.  We were lucky enough to start off with about four 1-3 hour familiarisation sessions with me in the room, and with me outside the room.  This helped both baby and mother feel more comfortable about the change in routine and the idea of being separated.  Then there were a couple of full days before I went back to work, just like a dress rehearsal.  This way you can make sure or at least trial your little one is able to eat and sleep at day care.
  • Ask questions – If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask.  The staff are used to it, it will give you better peace of mind, and you will be ore prepared.
  • Feeding/Bottles – Have a plan for what you plan to do for milk feeds and preferably put it into action at least a few weeks beforehand.  Will you express or use formula, and will your child take it from a bottle?  How will your milk supply handle the change?  I keen to not have to express at work, so after much persistence we managed to get our bubby drinking formula from a bottle.  On the three days I work, I feed her first thing in the morning and at bedtime, and she gets two bottles at day care.  There is some engorgement, but mostly not the the point of being painful.  The other days of the week I breast feed all feeds and hope this is enough to keep my supply going.
  • Clothing – We went out and splurged on a set of clothes from Target, Big W and K-mart.  Kids get messy at day care (I saw one child literally covered from head to toe in food at lunchtime), so we wanted a set of robust clothes that could be messed up with food, dirt, paint, etc.
  • Labels – Label all clothing, bottles and anything else you pack for day care.  We were given a day care set of labels from Bright Star Kids and purchased an extra set of clothing labels.

At Day Care

  • Sickness – It is a pretty well known fact that your kids will pick up all sorts of germs from day care and will get sick.  After the orientation, our daughter came down with a cold, which then developed into an ear infection.  As a result mum and dad got colds too.  In the short time we have been going, there have also been notices of chicken pox, lice and conjunctivitis going around the centre.
  • Sleeping – I have been told it can take a month or so for our babies to get used to sleeping at day care.  It is a new environment, there is so much going on and other crying babies to contend with.  I figure, if she is really tired she will sleep, and if she doesn’t sleep so well at day care, it means she will sleep really well at night.
  • Learning – Your baby will get exposure to new toys, new people, other babies and activities that you don’t get a chance to do at home.  Surely this is a good thing.  The other day she was found in the sand pit at the end of the day.  I am sure some sand must have been ingested.  She has also just begun crawling.  Perhaps it is co-incidence, or maybe seeing other children do it gave her some encouragement.
  • Food – They get fed very well at day care!  Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon snack and optional dinner.  I think our daughter also eats better at day care because she sees the other children eating which encourages her to do the same.  She also gets to try some new foods which we haven’t given her at home and possibly also helps with the development of her eating by getting new textures.

Thoughts

  • Separation – Surprisingly we haven’t found the experience and separation too traumatic.  We have always encouraged our baby to play independently which may have helped.  And for my own peace of mind I remind myself that the people looking after her have a lot more experience with children than I do, they are professional and know what they are doing.  I like to think that the variety and new experiences she is getting help with her development.
  • The hardest part – I have found the hardest part of the day care experience is that on the days I work I really only get to see her maybe two hours a day.  It does make me sad and there is a bit of guilt that goes with it, but on the other hand it makes me really enjoy and appreciate the days that I do get to spend with my little munchkin.

The little moments

They grow up so quickly.  Seven months has gone, it is time to go back to work, and my little baby is becoming a beautiful little girl.  Every week she does something new that delights us or makes us laugh.  Here are just a few of  her little quirks that I have loved so far:

  • As a newborn, before she gave us real smiles, she would give me a secret little smile just as she fell asleep and came off the breast while breast feeding.
  • At about the three month mark, while on her back she would always have both arms straight up in the air with her hands in fists.
  • At about 4 months she went through a couple of weeks when she would blow angry raspberries when she was not happy.  Just like mini tantrums!Feb_Baby_20110207_20
  • At around 5 months she pouted for a couple of weeks.  Her lower lip couldn’t get any further out! 
  • She likes to raise both her legs high up and then bang them on the floor repeatedly.  From downstairs it sounds like a herd of elephants.  Today she raised them so high she hit herself in the face with her feet!
  • A couple of weeks ago she learnt to consciously open and close her fist.  For a few days she was doing it all the time, watching her own hand in wonder.
  • All smiles and giggles are wonderful, but smiles greeting you from the cot first thing in the morning are especially delicious.

What are the little moments you have loved?

Bottled success!

Back in January I blogged about the difficulty we were having with introducing bottle feeds for our daughter and how I wished we had used a bottle more regularly earlier on.  I have since read that in many cases, even with exposure to a bottle early on, some babies simply start refusing it after a while.  So perhaps mixing it up earlier on may not have worked (I don’t feel so bad about it now!). 

With the start of childcare looming the pressure was on to find some form of solution to our milk issue.  In the worst case scenario, we could always feed her milk from a cup as she seemed to have a lot of interest in drinking from a cup or  an “adult” drinking bottle.  Luckily, in the meantime, with a little patience, we have had success with feeding formula from a bottle. 

With the introduction of solids I was keen add some water to our little one’s diet.  Putting it in a bottle, she showed some curiosity in the water and possibly in being able to try and feed herself with the bottle.  At first she did not take much and she seemed to spit out most of the water that she sucked out.  But after a week or so she seemed to be drinking a little more, although it was hard to tell exactly how much she was swallowing.

Our first attempts at feeding formula from a bottle went the same way as feeding expressed milk from a bottle.  A bit of sucking, directly followed by spitting it out, followed by tears.  To get her used to the taste I started to mix it with rice cereal for her breakfast, and that seem to go down well.  Next, we gave her a small amount of formula from the syringe we use to administer her liquid vitamins each evening, which she always laps up eagerly, and that seemed to work too.  The next step was to feed her formula from a medicine cup which also was successful as she loves the “adultness” of drinking from a cup.  Finally, having had some success with water from a bottle, and formula from a cup, we decided to try formula from a bottle, and it worked!!  Cannot tell you how excited and proud I was!

I am hoping to be able to continue to breastfeed even though our daughter will be having bottles of formula at daycare starting next month, but will have to see whether my body adjusts.

What’s on the menu?

Jan_Baby_20110129_23

It was good to read Tamking11’s take on “Feeding the Masses”.  It is a relief to know feeding your children can be a struggle for everyone, and that even if your kids are somewhat fussy about food, they turn out ok.

When to Start

As with everything baby related, there is so much information and differing opinion on when is a good time to start on solids.  Over the years, advice has changed, but most recently 6 months seems to be the magic number – early enough to help satisfy up their growing bodies’ needs, but late enough to prevent onset of allergies.  Many sources also say that it is possible to start as early as 4 months if your child is showing signs of interest or needing extra feeds, although some are adamant about not before 6 months.  I did, however, recently come across a forum where mothers were starting their babies on crushed up rusks in milk at the 12 week mark which tends to go against what all the health professionals recommend.  There is also the theory that formula fed babies should start earlier than breast fed babies, at around the 4 month mark.

We decided to start our daughter on solids at four and a half months as she was showing a lot of interest, and opened her mouth if food was put near it.  It has been a gradual process of trial, error and persistence.  Sometimes she eats well and other times she doesn’t – hard to say if it is due to the type of food being served, where she is sitting (bouncer, play seat or lap), time of day, her level of tiredness or proximity to a milk feed.

When to Feed

The majority of reading suggests it is best to feed solids after a milk feed.  The reasoning for this being that at this early stage babies get nutrients from their milk and so it is best not to fill them up on solids before milk.  We wondered if this made much sense given the baby might be too full up on milk to want to try the solids at all.  Plus sometimes she would go straight to sleep after a milk feed so the timing would not work out at all.  I was glad to see this exact issues is covered by Robin Barker in Baby Love who suggests not to feed straight after a milk feed except in certain circumstances.  As a results I have completely relaxed on this issue, and just feed her solids when it fits in the day regardless of when the last milk feed was.

We started off with small meal a day, moving to two meals a day at the 4 week mark, and have recently moved to 3 meals a day at the 6 week mark.  I tend to find that she feeds best at the last meal of the day, around 5-6pm.

What to Feed

We started off with rice cereal.  Easy to prepare, nutritional and fairly bland.  Mixed with some expressed milk it made for a familiar taste for baby.  The first couple of days she was a little unsure and did not eat much, but by the third day feeding was a little more successful, and rice cereal remains one of her more favourite foods.  At the moment, we are trying to get her used to taking formula from a bottle with little success, but we have been able to mix it with rice cereal for one of her daily meals to get her used to the taste.

Next we tried mashed potato and then several purees of the milder vegetables, trialling each for a few days before moving on to the next.  I had heard that it can be better to start with vegetables rather than fruit because if a baby gets used to sweet tastes it may be harder to go back to the savoury tastes.  I should not have worried as we have since had much more success with the savoury than sweet.  Mixing the new vegetables with rice cereal or previously accepted vegetables has been a good way to introduce the new foods and keeps it interesting.

So far, here is what we have tried:
– Vegetables: Potato, carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, pumpkin (preferred roasted rather than steamed), zucchini, parsnip (no luck with this so far)
– Fruit: Pear (took several goes, and blending with rice cereal or other vegetables helped), apple (initially no success probably due to the use of Granny Smiths, have since used Royal Gala with more success, a friend also suggested adding a touch of lemon juice to cut through the sweetness, my mum suggested adding sultanas to take away the tartness), avocado, banana (hated it!)

Guidance

I borrowed Feeding your Baby and Toddler by Annabel Karmel from our local library, and found it to be a great source of information and ideas.  I definitely plan to purchase one of her many books to help with our future food adventures!

Which Nappy Next?–Follow up

Back in December I wrote about “Which Nappy Next?” which discussed infant sized nappies.  This post follows up on which nappies we tried and how they stacked up.

The Factors

If you look at on-line forums you will find different people highly recommend or highly dislike various nappies.  I think it really can come down to the size of your baby and what your needs are.  Our bubby is relatively slim, so perhaps this may have affected the results.  As each nappy covers about a 4-5kg range, different nappies will fit your baby better at different times as they grow.  And when your baby does a number 3 (most commonly in the car capsule in our case), nothing is going to contain it!  It may just be that certain nappies will minimise the damage better than the others.  Perhaps it is worthwhile trying different nappies as your baby grows, as you may find your favourite nappy may change.

The Nappies

Huggies – Newborn (<5kg), Infant (4-8kg) & Crawler (6-11kg) sizes – We found these to be the most absorbent and most reliable.  However, they are also the most expensive at about 33c a nappy when they are on sale.

Baby Love – Infant (3-8kg) – These were the best fitting and softest nappies, and only marginally less absorbent than Huggies.  Not much of a price difference though.

Snugglers – Small (<8kg) – Again, not quite as absorbent as the Huggies nappies, and not too much of a price differential, but do a reasonable job.  We found that their smallest size was too big for our baby until she reached the 6kg mark.

Mamia (Aldi) – Infant (4-8kg) & Crawler (6-11kg) sizes – Without doubt the best value for money at 25/27c per nappy.  Not as absorbent as the Huggies nappies, and not as soft or well fitting as the Baby Loves, but generally does what it needs to do.

Comfy Bots (Coles) – (Medium 5-11kg) – Found these to be way too big until our bub reached the 6.5kg mark.  Have only used these a few times and have been disappointed as they have leaked.  However, this may well have been because these occasions coincided with some number 3’s (poo explosions!).  Seem to do ok for your normal wees. (Update 29/3/2011: they have been more than fine since our baby has been on solids, but I am guessing the same will apply to all of the above trialled nappies)

The Solution (for us)

So in the end, we have continued to use Huggies overnight, for car trips, and for outings, with the Mamia nappies for everyday use at home.  However, I would also consider using Baby Love nappies in place of the Huggies nappies.

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