Newborn Mum: Baby’s Valco Chariot

Posted by Lyndal on Thursday May 26, 2011 Under Baby Travel, Newborn

After extensive research that would rival many a post-graduate thesis, we made a decision on a buggy for Baby: the Valco Baby Matrix Dart Plus. In taupe. Husband’s choice of colour: but now that we’ve got it, I have to confess that I’m glad I trusted his uncharacteristically stylish judgement.

So, we’ve had the baby – and the pram – for a full month now and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. On both counts. A review of my baby would be overwhelmingly gushy, so I’ll stick to commentary on the fab three-wheeler from Valco instead.

The pram itself

It may not be the lightest option on the market at 11.5kg, but it really is just so easy to fold up and put away, and a dream to wheel around. It folds up in two easy steps, and opens in one. It fits fabulously in our boot because it isn’t too long or too high. While the bassinet does take up some space in our boot, it is fantastically spacious for our newborn baby. She finds the bassinet so comfortable and does tend to sleep well in the bassinet (as you can see from the picture).

The Valco Matrix Dart maneuvers around corners and niggly little shopping aisles with ease. There are three main modes for this tri-wheel pram. The first mode is to lock the front wheel to straight, the second is to allow the front wheel to swivel and the third is to lock the front wheel to a 45 degree angle. All three modes are useful in different situations. For instance, the third mode may be useful for additional stability when a toddler seat (and toddler) are added to the pram (not happening any time soon).

We’ve tried the wheels out in a few settings – and they’re terrific. I mostly use the swivel setting, because it keeps a really straight path if you steer it that way, and then you can move around obstacles easily. The Valco Matrix Dart comes with a pump – so you can give your tyres a boost at any time!

Baby’s little chariot has ventured over grass, pretty hard going gravel, sand at the beach (no joke, it even works on sand – although I give it a good clean afterwards), on footpaths and we’ve had the pram inside the house (it tucks away quite neatly). Dad has taken Baby for a stroll at a nice leisurely pace. I have powerwalked to the shops and managed to get the buggy over stairs, footpaths and bumps along the way without Baby losing a wink of sleep. We’ve also taken our stroller out in various environments: grandparents’ house, inner city cafes, shopping malls and parks – and it really does just work well no matter what. It’s not too big, not too small, not too cumbersome. Bit of a Goldilocks thing.

I love the handle, which adjusts to different heights to suit Mum’s, Dad’s, Grans – and to enable you to rock the buggy comfortably when sitting so you can settle the little one when out and about. I also keep the peek-a-boo window open all the time. It’s made from a lovely mesh (not clear plastic) – so again, it lets air in to Baby but also lets you spy on what shenanigans she’s up to in there. There is additional ventilation at the back of the pram near the pouch too.

The pouch located at parent level is great for your wallet, phone, car keys, with plenty of room for a spew cloth, antiseptic wipes and a digital camera. So you really can go out for a walk bag-free (which makes life so much easier). The shopping cart at the base of the pram is easily accessible and does accommodate quite a bit, mind you. This Newborn Mum has managed to comfortably fit supplies for dinner, additional groceries, baby’s gear like her portable change mat, wipes, creams and cotton balls all in the cart at the base of the pram.

The brake is nothing short of a dream to operate. Flick it up with your toe, and down with your toe. It doesn’t catch. It’s not hard to get to. And you don’t need foot muscles that are steroid-enhanced to operate it. Another really nifty safety feature is the wristband, which I make it a policy to use given that in my sleep deprived state, the buggy really is likely to get away from me if I absent-mindedly forget to engage the brakes.

All Weather Newborn

The material is durable and weatherproof, keeping Baby protected and snug – ready for all weather. A neat accessory for the pram is the Valco Baby Universal Protector which has recently reviewed.

My husband has joked that when the bassinet canopy is up, and the pram canopy is the folded over the top of this, Baby’s little chariot looks like The Nautilus. So she really is so well protected in there! Mind you, the canopy of the pram does have an expand-a-hood, which not only gives additional protection and shade to Baby when seated in the main section of the pram, but provides even more airflow to little newborns kicking back in the bassinet.

The Bassinet

I have to confess that although the step-by-step assembly instructions for the rest of the buggy were really easy to follow, in my sleep deprived state I struggled with the bassinet instructions. Once sorted though, it has been a fantastic asset. Great to take to a friends’ place for dinner, and also terrific in that – if you’ve been out for a walk and Baby is settled and sleeping peacefully – rather than bring the whole buggy inside, you only need to lift out the bassinet and Baby won’t be disturbed.

There is a very simple but essential little wrap Velcro strap inside the bassinet, which provides additional security and peace of mind knowing Baby won’t move around in the bassinet while you’re on the move. The cotton lining is lovely and soft, easy to remove and wash and the cover can be removed too.

In short: I love this pram. I say that unabashedly. And that’s from the mother of a four week old who hasn’t slept for more than four hours since her little darling was born…so you know I speak honestly. I simply don’t have the time or the energy to be diplomatic or gushy about much at the moment.

The Valco website is a great resource for more information on the Valco Matrix Dart and Valco Baby Accessories.

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Newborn Mum: BabyBjorn Babysitter Balance

Posted by Lyndal on Thursday May 12, 2011 Under Newborn

The BabyBjorn Babysitter Balance has been wonderful to soothe my three week old Baby, who is suffering with wind after feeds. One of her favourite ways to be comforted in these early weeks is to be gently rocked in the BabyBjorn Babysitter Balance. Rocking is not only soothing and fun, it’s surprisingly good for Baby’s development. When my newborn rocks herself – she is practising her balance and motor skills.

In true BabyBjorn style, the design is both comfortable and highly functional. It’s ergonomic design allows the seat to mould to Baby’s body. The BabyBjorn Balance supports Baby’s neck and head too.

The BabyBjorn Babysitter Balance has three seating settings, suitable for various stages and various activities: Play, Rest and Sleep. It is important to note the maximum weight for each position varies. For the ‘Sleep’ setting the maximum weight is 7kg, for the ‘Rest’ setting the maximum weight is 10kg and for the ‘Play’ setting the maximum weight is 13kg. So the BabyBjorn Babysitter can grow with your child and when a child is old enough to sit up for themselves, it converts to a comfortable chair.

At the moment Baby is seated on setting A, which is ‘Sleep’ and most suitable for newborns. Settling Baby in the BabyBjorn Babysitter Balance means that I get a chance to rest my arms and get a chance to relax, rock and interact with Baby.

The materials used in the BabyBjorn Babysitter Balance are soft and durable. The cover is reversible, easy-to-remove and clean, and the safety harness unbuttons easily. The soft padding around the frame gives a snug feeling. The frame rests firmly on the floor with anti-glide strips which also protect the floor. The BabyBjorn Babysitter Balance has floor measurements of 39x79cm and I’ve found it wonderfully space efficient.

It folds away neatly to be stored flat or standing and is great when space is an issue, and it is available in tasteful colour schemes which integrate with the grown up parts of the house.

Accessories available for the BabyBjorn Babysitter Balance, include the BabyBjorn Wooden Toy, which features brightly coloured wooden figures that spin around. Another neat accessory is the BabyBjorn Cozy Cover which is made from soft terry cloth which is warm and comfy for Baby. To find out more about the full range of BabyBjorn products visit the BabyBjorn website.

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Newborn Mum: birth day music

Posted by Lyndal on Wednesday Apr 13, 2011 Under Newborn

One of the many recommendations you’ll get for baby’s big welcome to the world day is to play music during labour.

Now, I know everyone says that classical music is wonderful in that it relaxes you and elevates the senses, and I’m sure that’s true for many. I love classical music – I love listening to it, seeing it performed, and having it play while I enjoy a delicious dinner and glass of wine. But I think given the task at hand, ethereal compositions from history’s greatest may be lost on me. Death metal might be more the ticket – but potentially not a welcome aural addition to the ambience at Hornsby Hospital or other Mums going through labour at the time.

So I’ve started to put together the playlist for the big day and thought I’d share, and wondered if others would like to do the same. My labour soundtrack comes with this disclaimer: I never claimed to be fashionable in my music tastes. I like what I like.

  • Untitled – Interpol
  • Street Fighting Man – The Rolling Stones
  • Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
  • Learning to Fly – Tom Petty
  • Lock It – Falling Joys
  • Goodbye – The Sundays
  • Jungle – Emma-Louise
  • Charlotte’s on Fire – Cocosuma
  • 8 Ball – Underworld
  • Intro – The xx
  • Heart Skipped a Beat – The xx
  • Here’s Where the Story Ends – The Sundays
  • Marlene on the Wall – Suzanne Vega
  • Stewart’s Coat – Ricky Lee Jones
  • Nothing New – The Waifs
  • London Still – The Waifs
  • Chariot – Page France
  • Keepsake – State Radio
  • Sleep – Azure Ray
  • In the Waiting Line – Zero 7
  • For the Widows in Paradise – Sufjan Stevens
  • Holland – Sufjan Stevens
  • Forever – Ben Harper
  • Silver Lining – David Gray
  • Rinse Me Down – Bombay Bicycle Club
  • Fairytale Lullaby – Bombay Bicycle Club
  • Word by Word – Bombay Bicycle Club
  • Cotton – The Mountain Goats
  • Just Like Honey – The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • Suzanne – Leonard Cohen
  • Labour of Love – Frente!
  • Plans – Birds of Tokyo
  • Caring is Creepy – The Shins
  • My Fear #2 – Cloud Control
  • New Slang – The Shins
  • Meditation Song #2 – Cloud Control
  • Weird Fishes – Radiohead
  • High and Dry – Radiohead
  • Gagging Order – Radiohead
  • House of Cards – Radiohead
  • Heartbeats – Jose Gonzales
  • I giorni – Ludovici Einaudi
  • Reverie – Ludovici Einaudi
  • Reckoner – Radiohead
  • Shiny Happy People – R.E.M.
  • Planet Telex – Radiohead
  • Careless – Paul Kelly
  • Air a Danser – Penguin Café Orchestra
  • Tiny Dancer – Elton John

I’m missing a few here that really could lighten the mood methinks, like Fleetwood Mac. Or the Beastie Boys actually might be more appropriate. Any suggestions welcome.

PS: I am well aware that it is hilariously naïve to even think for one minute that I’ll remember to pop on the CD in the birthing suite when the time comes, but hey, you’ve got to go in with your hopes held high.

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Newborn Mum: baby’s room – part one

Posted by Lyndal on Sunday Apr 10, 2011 Under Newborn

This little haven for baby could have previously been a study or office, or it’s a specific bedroom you have in mind, or you’re working with a temporary and space constrained arrangement. I’m in the latter situation, so every inch and potential source of storage counts.

Baby Kingdom Nursery FurnitureThere are essentials to a nursery that have to be your first priority when you’re not working with palatial luxuries. These are some of them:

  • Somewhere for baby to sleep: from newborn to about four months, then four months to toilet training age, then onwards…
  • Somewhere for baby to be fed
  • Somewhere for baby to have a bath
  • Somewhere for baby to be changed
  • Somewhere for storage

Then there’s making it all look nice, and decorating is definitely the fun bit.

I got my baby kit induction at Baby Kingdom, where they have prototype nurseries set up so you can see how all this stuff fits together. So this blog is a focus on somewhere for baby to sleep.


Sleepy time

I’m slightly amused by the need for a cot, given that all you hear is that babies never sleep. But you do need one sooner or later. Baby’s sleeping arrangement is an important investment. You might want to think beyond ‘just a cot’, especially given that you can plan for up to about three years ahead – and convert the furniture for other uses beyond that – and save yourself a bundle.

You can go for high quality wood and an obvious top-of-the-range quality or for a more budget conscious solution. They really do all look great.

Many cots upscale to become toddler beds. There are chests of draws that can accommodate a change table top, then later a hutch with bookshelves – great for adaptable storage so you can just top it up as you go and as your needs and space constraints change.

For my money, I love the Tasman Eco and King Parrot products – but then I’m working with a nursery space that needs to accommodate well proportioned options. Also, if being environmentally conscious is high on your priority list, I have to say the Tasman Eco range is great.

Tasman Eco has not only thought about adaptability in your home, but that grandparents will also be a big part of Baby’s life too. So their cots are designed to transform from chaise lounge to cot and back again. I’m leaning towards the Siena in white. Which would look lovely at my Mum’s place. For my place – when we finally get one – I quite like the Tuscany.

In the King Parrot range I like the Yarra and the Daintree cots. It’s great that this stuff is made using Queensland timber, too, so less on the old carbon footprint, a homegrown choice and it’s a good middle of the range solution that is still of a really gorgeous quality.

Both Tasman Eco and King Parrot have excellent warranties too and you can have a cot-and-mattress bundle deal on some of them at Baby Kingdom.



You can go for inner spring, foam or latex mattresses. I like the Tasman Eco latex boori mattress, which is very reasonably priced.


In the beginning

As a starter for the first four months, I love the Tasman Eco Amore bassinette and King Parrot Cub bassinette. I am also thinking about a Moses basket from Mothercare.

Having a bassinet or Moses basket is a very personal choice. It’s absolutely fine to put your baby straight in a cot, in fact I’ve heard many people recommend that it’s easier in the long run because there are no transitional issues later. I’m just one of those people that would quite like Junior to feel snuggly for the first few months and to be able to move them around the house with me throughout the day. But it is not essential that you have a specific newborn sleeping option – a cot is fine.

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I’ve recently shifted back to Australia from the UK in preparation for my first child. Figured family and friends could come in handy. So in addition to expecting Baby Number One in the frighteningly near future, I’m also reacquainting myself with a country that looks the same but feels different (or it could be me), and all the jargon, tricks, products and advice about ‘shopping for baby’.

What makes it even more fun are the exasperated eye rolls you get if you don’t know about something and the assumption that – because you’re a woman – you should. I’d be forgiven for finding a cave to hide in for the next year. Like many new Mums, I haven’t got a clue. It’s all new and daunting.

I quite like my creature comforts, so I’ve opted out of the cave solution and instead went in search of help. I found it at Baby Kingdom at Bankstown in Sydney where I learned more in one hour with their sales team than I thought I would ever know.

For a start, I have to say this store is designed with sanity in mind. Actually, that’s a fib. It’s designed with insanity in mind: particularly the confused, sleep deprived and nervous insanity of new parents who don’t have the headspace to cope with a poorly disorganised store. Here you will find a neatly organised, one-floor space that tenderly guides you to what you need for feeding, getting your baby on the move, dressing and protecting your baby from the elements, and sorting your nursery space.


Babies have to eat

We started in the feeding and care section – right near the entrance. Here we found the breast pumps, the dummies, the bottles, the formula, the sterilisers and the countless other items I’m preparing myself to term as ‘necessities’ in the coming months. You can sleepwalk in, grab, pay, go.

I’m toying with the notion of a breast pump, but don’t know if I’ll need one yet so holding out – but the advice on electric versus manual was straightforward, human and honest. Basically, I’m not going to be in the mood for manual labour and some nifty person far better at maths than I has taken the time to sort an electric option. I say that’s a winner in my book. So I took notes. At the moment the Avent Electric is looking like an option, but we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted in late April.


Getting baby around: Prams, buggies, strollers etc…

Then there was The Buggy. Or Pram. Or Stroller. Or Integrated Travel System. Or Hydrogen Fuelled Infant Rocket. Honestly, my head was spinning on the Big Buggy Dilemma. In any case, I was eased into this with an explanation on a few key factors that I found helpful as criteria for this monster purchasing decision.

There are a few options on baby carriers and slings as well. I’m eyeing up the Baby Bjorn Active myself.


A place for baby to sleep

Then it’s time for the nursery – a whole other story. But it should be said that there isn’t just the cot to consider: linen, mattress protectors, night lights – it’s all there.


Babywear and grooming

You also have accessories, baby grows, grooming and skincare to consider. So there are the lotions, bathing, clothes and of course, nappies and associated products for taking care of a key preoccupation in early life.

Oh my, and then there are the toys. Which is a whole other adventure.

For the minute, I’m enjoying the fact that I actually understand all this a little better and had it explained to me by friendly, helpful and thorough people. They didn’t stare at me aghast that I don’t have the magic microchip that allegedly equips every female with immediate encyclopedic knowledge about baby kit. They have an online checklist too.

If I wasn’t eight months up the duff, I would have invited my newfound best friends out for a glass of wine in thanks.

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Newborn Mum: learning the not-so-ante on the natal

Posted by Lyndal on Monday Apr 4, 2011 Under Newborn

I’m a reader. If I don’t know about something, I look it up and source about 100 different pieces of information so I get a bit of the picture, or I do a course, and then I swim in a sea of bewildered information overload.

I read a bunch about childbirth in the middling months of this pregnancy caper and one month out from the big unveiling, I had forgotten everything. So Hubby and I signed up for an antenatal class at our hospital of choice, and I’m happy to say it was Hornsby in Sydney’s northern suburbs – because it was really good.

I liked the fact that the class gave me a sneak preview of just how clumsy and clueless I am with this whole parenting thing before I actually have a living, breathing infant in my hands. My expectations have been effectively managed on that score, which is a good thing: I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I get it right this way. It also helps to translate the nicely written step-by-steps books give you and put them into action…you know, before you actually go into action.

Our teacher was pretty human and open on the whole labour thing, and she was encouraging and funny. A good approach. It sounds to me like a sense of humour is needed.


Antenatal etiquette

Our group was told upfront not to bring the gory nightmare stories to table, and I think that’s fair enough. You don’t want anyone screaming and running from the class.

Mind you, there are some pretty messy questions you want to ask and I had no way of knowing what the scale was from ‘horrific’ to ‘informative and anatomically correct’. Kind of hard to guess. So you preface everything with: ‘not to alarm anyone’. Which, of course, immediately it does because you’ve set the tone. I’d welcome any suggestions on how best people can phrase their scary questions.

My question was related to what happens if you tear from A to B. I did the ‘preface thing’ and was advised not horrify people, so I didn’t ask. Reserved it for my OBY.

I have no idea what anyone else was thinking and if it was as gory, or even more so.

I also pretty much jumped in boots and all and wanted to know just how early I can ask for the drugs. There is a big focus on active labour – and with good reason. I’m in awe of those that go in with stoic dedication to unassisted birth. Respect. But allow me to speak plainly: I’m a chicken with pain. I wanted to know when and how I could make it stop if I just wasn’t coping. And you know what? I think that’s ok. And you get that information, so that’s a good thing.

I have heard tales of poor antenatal class etiquette. These include:

  • Any stories of rare and possibly mythical phenomenon – including eyes popping out. And I don’t think this is limited to the antenatal class – this goes for general chit-chat with an expecting parent. You do not need to tell someone who is a month away from this process such frightening stories. I’m pretty sure if it happens to them, the pre-emptive yarn will be of no great help anyway.
  • Telling incredibly sad stories of loss or near death experiences. It is tragic and terribly upsetting that this should happen to anyone, but it is also important to approach this experience in the hope that it won’t happen to you. Pollyanna though it may be: think good thoughts.
  • Telling tales that give people a sense of mistrust in the hospital, birthing centre, medical practitioners or midwives they will need to trust to some extent. We’ve all heard these stories. I would say the reality is that most of these specialists are great, and some suck at their jobs – just like any other profession in the world. Giving people the benefit of the doubt and going in with an attitude of mutual decency – I am told – is your best bet. Of course, if someone is really rude and nasty to you when you’re at your most vulnerable – and without good reason – I say you, your significant other or birth partner have every right to set them straight. Fair’s fair.


Some good pointers

Among other things I quite liked that one’s hospital bag should include some sugary sweeties to give you an energy boost. I ate all my musk sticks from Kmart within a week of buying them, so I need to restock. I was reassured when I read Kaz Cooke’s ‘Up the Duff’ that she did pretty much the same thing.

Other tips included:

  • Water is your friend. Drink it. Shower in it. Bath in it. Use it for sitz baths afterwards when your bits and pieces are tender.
  • Tennis balls are great for lower back massage. Who knew?
  • It’s not the best idea to try to drive yourself to the hospital. Also, have a few back-up plans for transport if your birth partner can’t get you there. Apparently cab companies aren’t too chuffed at the idea of shuttling ladies in labour to the hospital. Though, I can imagine the cliché cabbie debate on Alan Jones, the footy, immigration and election results would take an interesting turn when the contractions came in thick and fast.
  • You can tear disposable nappies. I did. It’s ok and it doesn’t make you a substandard human being. Get another one.
  • There’s a bit of a trick to holding a little body at bath time. I dropped my practice Cabbage Patch Kid and also had too much pressure around its neck. It’s comforting to know that real life babies apparently have this cool thing called ‘dive reflex’. So you’ll freak out way more than they will if they do take a plunge. Fortunately for me, Hubby was a natural at the bath grip, so there’s one chore he now owns.
  • You can dampen and freeze nappies to use as ice packs for when your milk comes in and your boobs hurt. A good cheeky trick.
  • Your baby will look weird when it first comes out and for a couple of days thereafter. The films are telling us porky pies. They get cuter with time.

There was a bunch of other information on all sorts: breastfeeding, Caesarean birth, support if you suffer with post-natal depression and how to spot it, time management, what support to look for from family and friends, and the all-important baby sleeping, eating and pooing patterns.

Our hospital has a staggered programme over a number of weeks, or you can do the express course over two weekends (which we did). They also have a lactation consultant – which I may yet make use of. You can also do private courses, or a course that suits your particularly health or spiritual philosophy. They’re all out there.

In short, I recommend doing a class. As much as anything you can tell anyone with a horror story (which seems to have no benefit aside from scaring the living daylights out of you) to keep it to themselves because your teacher told you so.

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Newborn Mum: the big buggy dilemma

Posted by Lyndal on Friday Apr 1, 2011 Under Baby Travel, Newborn
The big buggy shopping spree.

NewbornMum looking to solve the 'big buggy dilemma' at Baby Kingdom

Now here’s a topic that people have evangelical opinions on: the big buggy purchase.

For the record, feel free to interchange ‘buggy’ with: pram, stroller, travel system, babymobile…and the list goes on. In general, I’m referring to something with wheels and a small body-containing compartment that people push their very young children around in.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not scorning the close-to-religious attachment parents have to their buggy of choice: particularly if it’s a good choice. These contraptions can be the deciding factor that will have you rating your experience of stepping out with Baby along a spectrum of ‘blood curdling nightmare’ through to ‘piece of cake’.

I found shopping for one to be one of the most difficult purchasing decisions I have ever made in my life. I’m not kidding. It outstretched my wedding gown, car and various rental property choices for pure stress value. Sounds insane, I know, but I’m not alone.

Firstly, everyone has an opinion – and they’re all valid because they come from experience. Secondly, there’s just so much choice and so many variables involved.


Buggy considerations

There is a lovely lady at Baby Kingdom in Castle Hill, Sydney, who put it to Hubby and me like this:

  • What’s your budget?
  • What’s your lifestyle? Indoorsy, outdoorsy, jogging, shopping, urban, rural, car drivers or using public transport?
  • How much can you handle lifting? Including if you fall pregnant while you’re still in ‘pram mode’ with your first (or second, or third)?
  • What car do you drive and how big is the boot?
  • What sort of space do you have for storing it at home?
  • How many kids do you plan on having?

Then she got to work with us. And she was terrific.


Buggy rationale

We like to go for walks, sometimes in parks and certainly along the beach or at least along roads that run alongside the ocean. So we need weather protection for Baby – in the cold and in the heat, as well as good suspension on the wheels and tyres for various terrain. We also need storage compartments to carry around the 8,000 varieties of paraphernalia you need to get you from A to B.

Three-wheeler options also seemed to be easier to maneuver, so we decided on that configuration.

We’re not millionaires, so something middle-of-the-range, and a really good deal at that, was really what we were looking for. We don’t drive a massive car. We got ourselves a Subaru Forester, which is pretty generous on size, but then, we also don’t have much space at home for storage when the buggy isn’t in active service.

We also would use this contraption for shopping, and ideally (in my dreamland utopia of parenthood) provide our darling little bundle with the comfort of somewhere to sleep. They do sleep occasionally, right?

I’m not the strongest woman in the world. In fact I have no upper body strength to speak of. Now, I’m told that will change, but in the immediate future my wimpy self needs a pram she can actually haul into the car.

We are planning on possibly having more than one little bundle of joy, but rather than get ahead of ourselves, a dear friend advised me that she often pops the newer of her children in a sling whilst older sibling either sits in the pram or, more recently, walks alongside. Sounded reasonable to me. So I stopped looking at tandem arrangements – not that I don’t think they’re quite a nifty solution.


Buggy of choice

I don’t know why, but there was just something about the Valco Matrix Dart style that appealed on sight. But I also had very reliable and sensible friends chanting the mantra of Mountain Buggy, Quinny and Bugaboo. So investigation was required.

Phil & Ted’s Explorer seemed like quite a good option. Neat little bassinet attachment and, of course, it has the adaptability of a toddler seat or inline options made this a good choice to accommodate the as yet unmade Baby Number 2. I loved the easy access shopping cart and that it folded down so magically. I just wanted a bit more in the way of canopy cover and an easier mechanism on the brakes.

We wandered over to Mothercare at Castle Hill, where they had a great package on their My Choice three-wheeler. The package pretty much gave you everything – rain cover, bassinet: the whole deal. It was very modular, so you just removed or replaced the components as you needed them and it has to be said, the design is lovely. Again, I’d like a little more in the way of a canopy (personal preference). But this was definitely a contender.

Big in the way of a canopy is the Baby Jogger City Elite. Their three-wheeler was terrific. Good storage space for shopping. Oh – and the one click fold is a dream. Really. Not to mention that the brake is on the handle and out of reach of little fingers – so easy for you, and safe for Baby. Just fab. The seat folded down for a newborn, which is great, but I wanted a bassinet (again, just a personal preference from a novice – scoff if you will), and that was in addition to the package at the time. I would recommend this stroller if you’re not married to the idea of a bassinet. Really good buy.

Back to Baby Kingdom, where I ogled the Quinny, Bugaboo, Emmaljunga and Stokke ranges. They are all utterly gorgeous, but I have to confess I didn’t really try them out to their full potential because they were out of our price range. What did occur to me – particularly with the Emmaljunga range – is that if I lived somewhere with a really cold climate they would definitely be the buggy of choice. They all just had beautiful design features, high-quality fabric, and I loved that the Quinny handle allowed you to have the baby facing you or looking outwards.

Baby Kingdom also had a great deal on the Mountain Buggy Swift at the time, which was going for $AUD599 with the bassinet thrown in. The Mountain Buggies look great and their colour spectrum is really funky and vibrant. I loved the fact that it weighed 9.5kg and can take up to 35kg in weight, and the fold-down procedure was really easy. Great brakes too. Our only hesitation here was that it folds down flat and compact – which is terrific – but the length took up the entire boot floor of our car. I loved it though, and we really very nearly bought this. It was our number 2 choice.

The Valco range includes the very neat and compact Ion and Ion Plus. The Ion Plus would have been our choice as it includes the bassinet. If we were only looking to be just indoors or sticking to paved surfaces, this was just the ticket. So incredibly lightweight (8.6kg) and folded down to next to nothing: great for those of us who are sans muscles. Hubby just wanted a bigger handle, and the wheels may not have coped with our walks. So went a bit bigger… and encountered the Valco Matrix Dart Plus.

Loved it. The hood expands, pretty much entirely sheltering your little one in a safe little cocoon and it can take up to 22kg in weight. The brake is really easy to use. Great storage pocket at parent height, and a generously sized shopping compartment underneath baby. It does weigh 11.5kg, but I guess I’m just going to have to harden up. It folds down in two steps so that it’s sort of compact in a boxy way, which suited our car boot as it left room for shopping and other bags alongside it. The bassinet is currently included in a deal at Baby Kingdom – a nice price at $AUD499.

I allowed Hubby to select the colour choice, given I’ve chosen everything else. He went with taupe. See, I would have gone with the grey…but you’ve got to let the boy have some say. Or do you?

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Newborn Mum: buying a car for baby

Posted by Lyndal on Thursday Mar 31, 2011 Under Baby Travel, Newborn

It would appear from the title of this blog that I’m expecting a highly developed child who will trot into the RTA and go for their provisional license at six months of age. Not so. Mind you, how much easier would life be if this was possible?

Science fiction aside, a new car is going to be a necessity for this ‘soon-to-be-Sydney-Mum’. Baby needs to be moved from place to place and until Sydney’s public transport system improves about one million fold, car it is for the time being.

I would like to opt for a more compact car or better still a hybrid or electric car in an effort to reduce my impact on our fragile planet. The former is no longer practical. The latter is not affordable (for the moment anyway).

So it was with much sadness that I embarked on the trudge around Sydney’s various car dealerships in search of a good second-hand car to do the job. The experience was – as always – every bit the soul-destroying demonstration of chauvinism I always fear it will be. I largely went it alone…unless you count the bump, which I don’t think effectively communicated my ‘empowered female’ attitude at all.


Car advice for baby

I asked around in advance for what I needed to keep in mind, and got a bunch of advice – including thoughts on specific brands and their mechanical prowess that made absolutely no sense to me or registered on the ‘care much radar’ at all.

However, helpful advice from seasoned parents included:

  • Make sure the boot accommodates not just the buggy or pram or stroller or whatever you call it, but your shopping and any other stuff you need to put in your car too. Including yourself.
  • Ask about the anchor points: Where are they? Do they reduce the boot space? Are they easy to get to?
  • Four doors are a must. How often have you seen a poor parent bending their spine into the shape of pretzel around car seats to get to the capsule and waking/possibly dropping/certainly disturbing their blissfully slumbering infant in the process
  • Auto vs Manual: a heated debate. More stuff goes wrong with an automatic. The stop-start of a manual combined with the eight-arm dexterity and rearward-facing eyes required of new parents may not be the best. Jury is out. Mine was, anyway, to lunch I think.
  • Seats that fold down are a good thing. The space needs to be flexible, and so do you.
  • Side opening boot doors are a preference – easier to maneuver when you’re short on hands, but upward opening is ok if the lip of the boot is low. Big fat tyres on the back of boot doors aren’t really an appreciated design feature when you’re already laden with various heavy items.
  • Low boots win, high lips on boots not a great thing. Heaving that buggy in and out of a car is going to be the bane of any parent’s existence, so access is key. Also a friend pointed out that that a low and roomy boot allows you a little space for an emergency nappy change. Quite nifty!
  • Consider safety very carefully. It’s important. You’re transporting very valuable cargo here.
  • Central control on window and door locks is a great feature. Curious little hands do get the hang of these things quite quickly.


Car for baby: the expedition

I don’t cry easily, but a hideous man from an unnamed car dealership in Auburn in Sydney’s western suburbs had me there.

It was a 32 degree summer’s day, I’m eight months pregnant, had driven there on the Sunday because they advertised they were open then – and weren’t. Returned on the Monday (in equally scorching temperatures) and asked to test drive one of the cars and mentioned my husband would come with me in the afternoon to take a look if I liked it. I was told it was too much hassle to take the car out twice in one day and to come back later. I didn’t.

Twenty or so dealerships later and a few private sale investigations and we had the following shortlist:

  • Suzuki SX4 Crossover: really fab car, but the boot was too small for pram et al.
  • Holden Zafira: suited our needs in every way, but the seat sits too high for my short little arms and I had to reach down to get to the handbrake. Fine for the longer limbed of us. They don’t make this anymore, which is a shame.
  • A Toyota Corolla Ascent wagon (up to a 2005 model): great little car with a fair sized boot…if you can find them. They’re like hen’s teeth.
  • The Subaru station wagons – Liberty or Outback: just fantastic, really. Great sized boots, safe cars, roomy cabins, run like a dream. A little pricey for our budget, but if I had a bit more cash I’d go for it.
  • Subaru Forester: as with the station wagons of same brand, great car and sort of between a station wagon and an SUV. Besides, the in laws drive one and they make sensible choices, so there was a good family endorsement there.


The decision

I got a call from the lovely Seddon at AMR Motors in Petersham, located in Sydney’s inner west. Seddon seemed to defy the entire stereotype of car salespersonship that I had encountered previously and I honestly thought I was hallucinating when we went to meet him. He was decent, and straight talking and helpful. I asked the Hubby to pinch me, but I was in fact awake. So then I asked him to please stop pinching me.

Seddon had a great 2002 Subaru Forester in impeccable condition with just over 70,000 kilometres on the clock and going at a great price. We drove it. We measured the boot. We went for a little spin. We bought it.

I do feel like I’m driving my parent’s car because it’s all so roomy and grown up. So I keep expecting to be asked for the keys back. Then I realise we’re ‘The Parents’ and that freaks me out even more. Anyway, it won’t be roomy for very long. I’m about to fill it with a buggy, a bassinet, a capsule, a baby and bags and bags and bags and bags of stuff.

Watch the films on YouTube: Subaru Outback, Subaru Liberty, Subaru Forester.

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Happy New Year Babes of 2010

Posted by Diana on Friday Dec 31, 2010 Under Newborn

I think we’ll all remember 2010 as the year which we started an amazing journey with our new babes.

From cradling them as a new born, wrapping them in swaddling, seeing them recognise our faces, watching them discover their own hands and feet, hearing their first laugh, watching them roll over, seeing their first smiles and hearing their first words. It has been an incredible year.

As the dawn of 2011 approaches we look forward to seeing them steadily sit up, crawl and eventually walk. Their speech will undoubtedly develop and we may even hear a sentance or two from our babies in 2011. Their eating skills and tastes will develop. This time next year, we will be blown away by the progress they have made!

So Happy New Year Babes of 2010 – we can’t wait for the adventure that lies ahead in 2011!

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