4 March 2015

Our car seat dilemma - part 2- Can we fit 3 seats in our car?

So I wrote earlier in the week about the car seats that we currently use and the fact that with baby number three on the way that we needed to figure out if we needed to get a bigger car or could we fit three car seats into our current car with a little planning- you can read that post here.

As I said we have a Renault Megane Scenic which is quite a roomy 5 seater car with space in the back to comfortably fit the two child seats we currently have and an adult in the middle, we hoped as the back seat was so roomy we would be able to buy a slim fitting high backed booster seat for Little 1 to move into so that Little 2 could have her Britax Evolva car seat and Little 3 the Britax First Class Plus seat that she was in. 

I have said before that I will not compromise on car seat safety and took it upon myself to do a little (ok, a lot) of online research before we made any decisions or expensive new car purchases. I am of the opinion that simple booster seats are NOT all that safe for a 5 year old, Little 1 simply does not have the weight to hold the seat steady and there is no protection for her at all in the event of an accident, just watch the crash test clips online and you will see what I mean. I am not saying that I don't think they are suitable at all, for an older child who just needs a little boost they are probably just fine, I just think a high backed booster seat is much safer and is the only thing I will consider for Little 1 at the moment.

I spent a week of evenings looking online at what was available to us to suit her height and weight, I read countless reviews and joined a well know ratings site to see what they had to say too. The width of the seat was very important to us as it had to be slim to fit in the back of the car with the other two seats (both being quite wide themselves) and I came up with a shortlist. Several of the seats I would have really liked like the new Britax Advansafix were out of our price range and others were just going to be too wide even though I really preferred them like the Britax Kidfix and the Donio Monterey so it would come down to trial and error and what would fit unfortunately. I was going to have to compromise on the safety of the seat to fit three in our car but there was no way I was going to just get a cheap booster seat or the cheapest high backed booster out there having read the poor safety reviews.

Armed with my shortlist of narrower seats to try we headed over to a top mother and baby store and enquired about trying a few car seats in the back of our car. As soon as I mentioned fitting 3 seats in the back, the shop assistant said it couldn't be done safely, something about having to have 3 inches between the seats so they didn't touch each other in a crash and some alarming thing about the middle seat being forced up through the roof in a side on collision, whaaaat?!! I know several people who have had three in the back at the same time, surely they didn't all have huge cars! She wouldn't even come and look at our car and instead offered us the solution of seating Little 1 in the front seat and deactivating the airbag.

I wasn't keen on this idea myself, deactivating the airbag for us was not a simple affair of a button on the dashboard or a little key thingy on the side as in some of the newer cars, it actually meant taking it to a dealer and paying to have it deactivated. I didn't like this idea for several reasons, firstly I didn't want any of my children in the front of the car really anyway (I feel the back is safer). Secondly, where did we then stand on the car insurance front and what about selling the car in a year or two, we'd have to pay to have it turned back on. And thirdly, the Little ones are only in the car on weekends/holidays as Daddy uses the car for work in the week, what about the protection of other people in the front of the car? Daddy takes my brother, Uncle M, to and from work every day so he is in the car 10 trips a week as well as the odd bloke Daddy gives a lift to from skittles each week, what if there was an accident?

I began to research this online and didn't really like what I was reading about airbags and having a child in the front seat. We then happened to go to a big police open day thingy near us and I popped into the road safety team stand to have a chat with them about it. The first thing the man said was 'Don't ever do it', he told us that unless you physically remove the detonator from the airbag it can and often will still go off in the event of an accident, even if it is deactivated. He said that sometimes they can explode in an accident as they can't do what they are supposed too meaning the whole dashboard can explode, he said never to deactivate an airbag and told us to talk to the firemen. The echoed what he said and said they had seen some terrible things so that was it decision made, there was no way Little 1 was going in the front seat with or without the airbag.

We started to think that we were going to have to get a new car sooner than we had liked and I began to look into 7 seaters. It wasn't really a financial option for us at the moment so we decided to pop into another well known store that sold a range of children's car seats and see what they had to say. They listened to what we said and allowed us to try several of their high backed booster seats in the middle of our car with the other two car seats set up as we would have them when Little 3 arrives (the Britax First Class rear facing on one side, and the Evolva on the other.) We knew that our rear seats can be removed from the car and run on runners so we slid the middle seat forwards 6 inches to give a bit more room for the wings of the seats. The first two seats were too wide and the side wings got in each others way but the third seat we tested fitted well and the wings didn't touch, we were also able to plug in the seat belt without losing the skin off our knuckles, although Little 1 won't be able to do it herself as it is a tight fit.

This was the seat that we bought, it isn't fancy and is quite slim so I am not sure how long Little 1 will fit comfortably in it but it is a high backed booster with plenty of padding and not one of the ones with the naff safety ratings, so I am happy. We shall be changing our car in year or two anyway so we can get a better seat then if needs be. Little 1 loves the idea of being in the middle and able to look out of the front window and pass things to her siblings, so car seat dilemma sorted, three children safely secured in the rear of the car and we didn't spend loads of money, phew.

(I will add a picture when the car is on the drive so I can take one!)

Have you had any trouble fitting child seats in your car? could you fit 3?

2 March 2015

Our car seat dilemma - part one

Back in the summer when we were just a few months into this pregnancy my thoughts turned to the logistics of fitting 3 child car seats into the rear of our car, three children in car seats all at different stages, did we need to purchase a new car in the new year before the arrival of Little 3 to fit them all in? We currently have a Renault Megane Scenic which will need to be replaced in a year or two anyway but could we fit everyone in and make do for a year or so while we saved up for a 7 seater car?

I am hot on car seat safety and will not compromise on the safety of our children unless I really had to in an emergency, it is just not worth it and I would never forgive myself if anything were to happen. I like the idea of rear facing for a bit longer and keeping the child in a 5 point harness and a seat with side impact protection for as long as possible.

When Little 1 was born in 2009 she initially used the infant carrier that came with our travel system and clipped into a base safely installed in the car but that is when the problem started. Every time she was put in the seat in the car from only a week or two of age (not when it was attached to the pushchair) she screamed and I mean screamed for the whole car journey until she either fell asleep or we arrived at our destination, I used to sit in the back of the car with her and sing or hold her hand and try to stop it, it must have been very distracting for Daddy driving. It wasn't until one day when she was about 2 months old and had fallen asleep in the seat that I realised her chin was on her chest and she was breathing a bit funny, being a small baby (born less than 6lbs) I realised that the angle of the seat was too steep and we needed something else, she must have been trying to tell us she wasn't comfortable. We quickly went out and bought one of the seats with great reviews (at the time, but still a good one now!) a Britax First Class Plus which covered from birth until age 4 and was rear facing until around 15-18 months. At the time extended rear facing seats were not on the UK market or information readily available on the subject and as a first time mum I didn't really know anything about them. 

Our First Class Plus in newborn mode

From that moment on she never cried in the car and was much more upright, higher up and slept peacefully in the seat, we never used the infant carrier again in the car. She remained in that car seat rear facing until she reached the maximum weight for the seat rear racing at around 17 months, many of our friends asked why she was still facing backwards when they had placed their 9 and 10 month old children forward facing as soon as possible and I always replied because it was safer. She continued to use the First Class Plus forward facing until her sister came along when she was 2 years and 4 months old and we reclaimed the seat for her to use from birth.

I did some online research (3 years ago now) and we moved Little 1 into the next stage seat, another of the recommended and highest ranked seats (again at the time) that would last until she was much older and used a 5 point harness for a good length of time (again extended rear facing seats were not readily available and I still didn't know much about them so went with what I thought was the next best thing). The seat we bought was a Britax Evolva 123, this seat is forward facing and is suitable from age 9 months with a 5 point harness, however I would not put such a young child in a seat like that as it is very upright and personally I feel far too young to go forward facing. It can then be used from 18kg with an adult belt as a high backed booster until it is outgrown at around age 11. At almost 2 and a half when she moved into it, Little 1 was about the right age I feel for this seat, she was comfortable and it supported her if she slept and the seat offered excellent head and side impact wings as well as a decent 5 point harness that would last.

The only pic of the evolva I have! (a car picnic)
Little 1 still uses this seat (she will very shortly have to vacate it for Little 2 to use with the 5 point harness so that Little 3 can have the First Class plus from birth). At 5 years old she is still comfortable in the seat and has lots of room, she reached the 18kg weight limit for the 5 point harness at around Christmas just after she was 5 years old and we switched her to the 3 point belt, she is rather sensible in her seat but now she can move and loosen the belt herself she has a tendency to lean forwards to reach things or her sister and we have had to stop the car several times and tighten her belt. I have to be honest and say however I would still prefer her to be in a 5 point harness for a bit longer. The only downside we have found to the Evolva is that is is a very wide seat (also a big plus too), our car is quite big and you can still fit an adult fairly comfortably in the back between the two child seats but fitting three child seats in the back between these wide seats is another post!

I would have loved to buy an extended rear facing seat this time around, there are lots on the UK market now and many that Little 2 could be using too, I have seen one that even Little 1 could be using and another where she could be in a 5 point harness still for another good year at least but unfortunately, being a stay at home mum, we can not afford any of those especially when there isn't anything wrong with the car seats that we already have!

Check back soon for part 2 of our car seat dilemma, did we manage to fit 3 seats in our car?

28 February 2015

Little 3's nursery (gender spoiler)

So it really won't be long now before Little 3 makes an appearance, I am due in a week and have been suffering a lot in the last 2 weeks with backache and braxton hicks, rising blood pressure and waking in the night with some really uncomfortable sensations so I am hoping HE (yes we are having a little boy!) will arrive soon and not keep us waiting too long.

As we already have two gorgeous little girls, knowing that we will stop at three children and that we are having a little boy has made one Daddy very happy, he literally could not wipe the cheshire cat grin off his face after our 20 week scan so everyone knew what we were having just from looking at him when he returned to work afterwards! I had convinced myself that Little 3 would be another little girl, I was quite sure of it, and that was perfectly lovely (as I love my girls) but I know Daddy secretly wanted a son. It did actually take me a few weeks for it to actually sink in that we were going to be having a baby boy, I'm not used to boys! 

The last couple of months have been quite strange, nice but also like a kind of end of an era feeling, sorting through the girls old baby and toddler clothes and tiny girly bits and bobs. Some we have given away to a friend expecting a baby girl (it was hard to see some of the lovely dresses go I can tell you), others I have sold on ebay and others I gave to charity. I had a little fun in the January sales buying a few babygros, outfits and tops etc in the sales and picking up a few new bits we needed and the odd boy thing here and there using the money I had made so along with all the neutral things we already had, he will have enough clothes to get us through the first few months.

We finished the nursery a couple of weeks ago and I just wanted to share a few pictures with you. Before it was a nursery this room was the office with two blue walls and 2 green walls and blue curtains so once we had found out that we were having a boy we decided not to repaint it (as it was done not that long ago when the extension was built anyway). We had a neutral jungle themed nursery for Little 1 and 2 which was pale green and pale orange and was used by both the girls and then redecorated into Little 2's girly bedroom last year. The jungle bedding and curtains etc didn't really go with the blue of the room and I had seen some blue and green nursery things that I liked in a catalogue so we decided to not use the jungle things this time and just set up a little boy's room instead hoping not to have to redecorate until he was a bit older.

Wall stickers, Rug, Sheets and matching sleeping bag (not pictured) all from Vertbaudet.
Blanket and cuddly toys - from our old jungle nursery originally from' Babies r us'
Storage Unit and boxes, chest of drawers- Ikea

This Little one will also be wearing cloth nappies - there will shortly be a post on that - I couldn't resist sharing a photo of my new nappy stash, all ready and waiting to go too!

26 February 2015

Alfie and Grandma- A book review

It is no secret here on my blog that the Little ones love books, both girls have a shelf of them in their rooms and there are also many downstairs, we take the time every night to read several bedtime stories to our girls and often a few in the day too. Little 1 has taken to reading in her reception year at school like a duck to water and wants to read us her school book every night still, several months on from starting school which I love. 

You see, I love books too. I usually have one on the go on my kindle and will often go up to bed and read, usually for a lot longer than I had intended or for just one more chapter and end up regretting staying up so late as I try and drag my bleary eyed self out of bed in the morning! As a child I loved to read, I always had a book on the go and had many a favourite author and must have read hundreds of books. We were recently asked to review a book by an author who I remember from my childhood days, Shirley Hughes.

Shirley Hughes has been illustrating children's books for many, many years and wrote her first book in 1960, many other successful stories followed including her 'Lucy and Tom' books and the 'Alfie' series both of which I used to read myself. In 1999 she was honoured with an OBE for her outstanding contribution to children's literature and has won numerous other awards for her writing and illustrations too.

This is a little video of Shirley Hughes introducing her character 'Alfie' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3m6ibi6G0k

Her latest book, which is being released today is another from the popular 'Alfie' series titled 'Alfie and Grandma', it's a lovely collection of three stories about Alfie and his Grandma and would make a lovely gift for that special grandparent to share with their grandchild this coming Mother's day (March 15th this year).

Nanny came over to read the book to the Little ones for the first time, the girls have a close relationship with her and I thought it would be lovely for them to share the book together. They all snuggled up on the sofa and read the stories about a lost pet, Alfie saving the day and having an explorer adventure with his Grandma. 

The stories are lovely and well written, the girls listened intently as Nanny read to them, you can see by their faces how much they liked the stories. The book is also full of beautiful illustrations which capture their imagination and help to tell the stories well, there was lots of discussion about the pictures and we have re read the book several times in the past few days so I can see it becoming a new favourite here.

Alfie and Grandma is released today in the UK, If you would like to purchase the book you can click below to follow this link to Amazon:-

N.B We received a complementary copy of the book and an 'Alfie' activity pack in return for this post. I do not receive anything from you clicking the Amazon link in this post.

23 February 2015

What to do with a toddlers used birthday cards

Now that I am nearly 9 months pregnant, I have been finding it a little hard to do some things with Little 2 in the day while her sister is at school, it has become increasingly difficult to sit on the floor and play with her for long periods of time as I totally seize up and my hips and back really hurt on getting up so I have tried to think of short activities that she can enjoy to keep her entertained and mummy can do with her while sat more comfortably at the table.

I have also been thinking about how much she loves getting messy, being creative and how much she wants to be a big girl and use scissors and gloopy glue on a daily basis. I thought of this so simple activity using her left over birthday cards that we could do together and as I predicted, she loved it.

The pictures tell the story it was so easy, we cut out all the lovely pictures on the front of her birthday cards, she started to do it herself but didn't find it very easy on the tough card. I couldn't find the proper children's scissors (the ones she is holding had quite big finger holes) so I ended up doing it for her as she got happy using lots of glue and sticking the pictures on the paper and a few sequins I had too.

I love the fact that something that took only 10 minutes and very little effort on my part really meant a lot to her, you can see how engrossed she is by the look on her face and how pleased she was with her creations.

What quick and simple activities do you do with your child that we can do too?

20 February 2015

Comforters- getting too old?

It is no secret that both the Little ones have comforters and have done since they were born. Little 1 has Humphreys corner ones with Humphrey cuddling a blanket called 'Humphrey' no less and Little 2 has pink rabbit ones she calls 'bunny'. The girls and I went shopping the other day and bought some for the baby, they are little brown teddies holding onto a blanket with stars on and really sweet, the girls and I have decided they will be known as 'Ted'.

We have bought all our children comforters and I am glad we did, they have been very useful at times such as settling at night, starting nursery, and going on holiday or sleeping at Nannys and are still in daily use with both the Little ones. 

Little 1 had a yellow one and a white one when she was born, both Humphreys corner and very similar but it became very apparent at about 11 months old that only the yellow one was good enough so we had to source another off ebay pretty quick before we got into problems. I have always been hot on rotating the comforters and washing them often (I really don't like children with smelly or dirty comforters, I think it is horrid) so the girls have never got attached to a particular one, just the colour in Little 1's case. The white one was relegated to her pre-school bag and was left there with her spare clothes just in case she got upset or fell over while she was there (as she didn't generally take one with her or have one there) and will now only be accepted if both the other two are covered in vomit or something equally revolting and not clean yet! 

Humphrey- looking worn!
Humphrey is now 5 and a half years old and has seen better days, the yellow has faded, his blanket has had a few minor repairs and a major reattachment on one once when it got trodden on and pulled, there is an area Little 1 likes to rub when she goes to sleep that is pretty threadbare and I think may need repairing soon, his tuft of hair has gone and his trunk is flat now too but he is still very much loved.

At 5 years old Little 1 goes to bed with Humphrey every night without fail and brings him down every morning, some days he tends to be left on the sofa for the day until bedtime, but others he is a much loved toy and is well played with, he has been on many adventures. We held a birthday party for Humphrey recently at Little 1's request too! Little 1 still needs her comforter when she is ill or tired and sometimes when life just gets a bit much she can be found holding him with her fingers entwined in the blanket. I did think before she started school and turned 5 that maybe she ought to be encouraged to give him up but then I thought it was going to be a big time of change for her starting school and having a new sibling, a time when she will need her comforter and why should she have him taken away anyway, surely she will gradually give him up as she gets older. Humphrey doesn't tend to leave the house unless we are going away overnight or staying out late and she might want him in the car on the way home. He does sometimes take a trip in the car with us but it is a rule that comforters are left in the car when we are out, heaven forbid we lost one!

Little 2 has a much deeper attachment to her comforter at the moment, you see she is a thumb sucker and thumb and bunny go hand in hand. If she wants to suck her thumb she has to have bunny, it just isn't the same without him, she holds onto his ear with her thumb hand and gently rubs it on her nose! She has just turned 3 and we are beginning to think about how much she sucks her thumb, she generally does it when she is in the car, pushchair or sat watching tv as well as in bed. If she is doing any of these things without bunny she does not suck her thumb but always seeks him out after a few minutes. I am hoping that by weaning her from having bunny in the car and her vacating the pushchair for the baby therefore not having bunny (as comforters are not allowed out of the house otherwise) that she can begin a slow detachment not only from her thumb but from bunny too.

She is a funny little thing and really likes a clean bunny, as I said I like to wash their comforters regularly, and having bought 3 of them so there was always a clean one available and with Little 2 having a tendency to get the ears grubby from holding them on her face, I usually throw one in the wash every couple of days. This has, in the last few months, led to her wanting a 'sniffy' clean bunny that smells of washing powder, she can't make it more than 48 hours without wanting a clean one! I'd rather this though than not being allowed to wash them at all, having 2 children and doing lots of washing each week means it is quite easy to always have a clean one. 

What is your opinion on comforters, should  encourage Little 1 to give hers up? Do you have a favourite toy that was very important to you when you were young?

17 February 2015

There is so much more to bathtime than just getting clean

Every tea time one of the girls will ask 'Are we having a bath tonight?' If the answer is 'yes' it is met with cries of 'yeah' at rather a loud volume, if I say 'No' then they are rather less pleased but accept the decision and ask if they will be having one the next day. I tend to bath the girls every other day unless they have been particularly active or grubby when there will be an extra one, I can't say that I ever thought they would love bath time as much as they do. There are always wrinkly fingers and toes and cries of '5 more minutes' and much joy and squealing as we attempt to wrestle them into their pyjamas.

They are still of an age where they have a big bubbly bath together with squirty things and pots to tip and fill as well as a little plastic doll each and are occasionally allowed the water pistol! I am sure it won't be long before Little 1 declares she is too old for a bath and will want a shower by herself instead but little 3 will then be around to take her place with her sister. 

I have at times thought about the bathtime experience and how it is more than just getting clean and fresh, the girls spend ages learning with their little pots tipping and filling, lining up various lids on the bath side and pretending they are cooking or making potions. They have learnt about floating and sinking as well as cleaning their dolls and also take joy in playing with the bubbles too especially Little 2.

When they were babies, bathtime was all about getting clean but also a time for bonding, we used to talk to and smile at the girls while washing them and sing nursery rhymes and songs while we tickled fingers, tummies and toes. Bathtime has evolved since they were tiny but it is still an important time in our house with plenty of conversation.

JOHNSON’S® has just launched a new, and a first for them, global campaign #somuchmore which and aims to get parents to understand that bathtime is 'so much more' than just a bath and getting clean.

Bathtime contains many multisensory elements proven to aid better cognitive development for babies and toddlers in their first 3 years. JOHNSON’S® have a tv advert which illustrates this if you fancy giving it a watch and they've rounded up some facts which demonstrate this too:
  • Parents in the uk bath their children for the longest amount of time (26 minutes)- the average bath takes 23 minutes, with the Philippines spending the least time washing their children (18 minutes).
  • 92% of mums in the UK say they are primarily responsible for bathing the children in their household.
  • Babies bathed with a fragranced product displayed: 30% more engagement cues with their parents after the bath and nearly 25% less time crying before sleep.
  • Playing with bubbles helps babies develop hand-eye coordination.
  • Splashing helps teach babies cause and effect.
  • Listening to bath time music can help stimulate parts of the brain responsible for memory.
The Little ones love to have a bath and will spend ages in there if we let them, lots of wrinkly fingers and toes in our house! When Little 3 comes along it might be a bit of a squash in there, they might have to take it in turns but I'm sure all three little ones will continue to enjoy their baths.

Does your child like to have a bath? What multisensory experiences does your child gain from bathtime?

N.B In return for this post JOHNSON’S® sent us some bathtime goodies.

12 February 2015

Paperbag crafting

At Christmas the Little ones had lots of crafting sets and activity sets given to them, this was great as it is what they really love to spend time doing. I like to do these activities with them, they are good for a bit of quiet time in the afternoon and at the moment, being heavily pregnant, getting down on the floor and playing with them down there is not the most comfortable thing for me to do.

One afternoon Little 2 chose to make a paperbag animal crafting kit she was given. It was a simple mess free affair of precut shapes and sticky fixers, Little 2 chose her animal and enjoyed poking out all the pieces.

She was then very careful peeling the sticky tabs off and sticking all the bits on where they needed to go, she insisted she could peel the backing bits off herself, which she did with a lot of concentration.

Her first creation was the panda and then we moved onto the lion.

She was rather pleased with the outcome and played with her puppets for quite a while.

When Little 1 got home from school she was 'allowed' by her little sister to make one too, as her topic this term was dungeons and dragons she chose a dragon and took it onto school the next day to show her teacher.

There were 6 puppets in the box so we have 3 left to make another day, the only issue was we had 2 of the monkey press out pieces and no elephant ones (the box had 6 different animals on it) which had to be the one Little 2 chose to do first but she was easily persuaded to do the panda instead and we managed to avoid a crisis!

I love simple clean fun like this, what do your children like to do?