Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Fisher Price Booster Seats

When people ask for recommendations for highchairs, on my Baby Led Weaning - Let your babies feed themselves page, the two most popular with fans are the Ikea Antilop highchair and the Fisher Price booster seats. While not specifically "highchairs", the booster seats can be strapped to an adult chair, enabling your baby to sit with you at the table. I think the reason why both these chairs are popular is because they are small - so a young baby is well supported in them and can also reach the tray with no problems - and they are also easy to clean… a very important factor in baby led weaning!

I have no personal experience with the Antilop highchair but we do have a Fisher Price Rainforest booster seat which I thought I would write a little bit about, for anyone who is considering which highchair to buy at the moment…
We purchased the booster seat when Lucinda was about five months old. I favoured a booster seat as we only have a small house so a large highchair would take up more space and also because my husband works away most of the time so I don't usually sit at the table on my own at mealtimes, preferring to just eat from a lap-tray in the lounge. I chose the Fisher Price Rainforest booster seat as I liked the removable play tray. Lucinda could entertain herself with that while I was cooking our meals and then I could remove it when it was time to eat.

The booster seat has mostly been used on the floor at home. I have put it down on a wipe-clean mat on the lounge floor for mine and Lucinda's informal mealtimes - but it has easily transferred to a kitchen chair when we have sat at the table to eat. We have also taken it out to restaurants so Lucinda has been able to eat from her own tray and we have known it has been clean. It has also been taken to Grandma's house on a regular basis.

Although it is only used occasionally now as Lucinda is nearly four, it has had almost three years of solid use. It has grown with her. She was very small when we first got it - only weighing around 11lb, as far as I recall. She was able to sit up without support but the chair is compact in such a way that it would allow a baby to sit upright if she still needed a little bit of assistance to sit for longer periods of time. It is not, however, suitable for babies who can't sit up unassisted at all.

The seat is moulded to shape and is slightly risen between the legs. The straps fasten between the legs and around the waist using a secure plastic clip. Lucinda still can't undo the plastic clip (and she is otherwise pretty dextrous!) but they are very easy for an adult. The tray clips on at either side of the seat and has three positions. The position closest to baby was perfect to start with. It was easy for even tiny six month old Lucinda to reach the whole tray as not only is it pulled in closely it is also at the appropriate height. The seat itself can also be adjusted to three height positions. This is very useful for toddlers to sit up to the dining table, with the tray removed, and eat from the table at a comfortable height.

It is very well made from rigid plastic. There are no flimsy parts and there are no nooks and crannies for food to get stuck in. When baby has finished eating it is very quick and easy to wipe the seat down and rinse the tray under a running tap. When eating out it is easily cleaned using baby wipes or Milton wipes, etc. It is also lightweight and convenient to transport to restaurants or grandparents' houses.

I have bought very few items of "baby equipment" but I can't recommend this booster seat highly enough. It has definitely been money well spent. It has been the only "highchair" we have used at home and it has served every purpose that was intended for it. It has also probably been used for twice as long as a regular highchair would have been as it is practical well into the toddler and pre-school years.

I don't think the Rainforest version is still available directly from Fisher Price, however it can still be found widely on the internet. There have also been other versions of the booster seats. I remember using a "lion themed" one at a baby show once.
The booster seat currently listed on the Fisher Price website is this one, which appears to be the same design apart from having a removable insert instead of the play tray...

Monday, 8 October 2012

International Babywearing Week

The 8-12th October 2012 is International Babywearing Week. Like other "weeks" it aims to raise awareness of particular practices that might not otherwise have much exposure.

Carrying your baby or toddler in a sling has been seeing a resurgence in popularity in much of the developed world over the last few years. When I started "wearing" Lucinda nearly four years ago it was rare to see any other babywearers. Other than men carrying toddlers in backpack carriers on long walks or spotting the occasional BabyBjorn style carrier, it was a tiny minority of parents who chose to carry their babies. Four years later and it is still in the minority - but so much more commonplace than it was. On most days out now I will see someone using a wrap or mei tai type sling. A few months ago I was very impressed when I attended a local childrens centre party with Lucinda and saw at least five mums using either a wrap or mei tai. I wondered whether it had anything to do with a natural/attachment parenting talk my friend and I did at breastfeeding group three years ago, when we demonstrated a range of slings. Several mums went on to purchase their own and started wearing their babies. Maybe we started a local trend? I like to think so!

But the truth is that it's nothing new. Many cultures would be baffled at the idea of pushing a baby in a pram at arms length or putting the baby down in a bouncy chair while they got on with their work. Those practices wouldn't cross their minds. They just tie their babies on and away they go. Millions of women in Africa, Asia, South America, etc, still go out to work in the fields, walk miles every day to find water and just go about their normal daily lives with their baby tied on their back.

I blame Queen Victoria! Her Royal Highness made all sorts of things "fashionable" - Prams being one of them. What started as a status symbol for the British upper classes spread throughout the country and indeed the Empire. Eventually, by the 1950s, prams were the baby transport of choice. And even I admit that some of them are absolutely beautiful - I love the big old Silver Crosses! But, realistically, I know that I would get very little use out of one. I have been totally won over by babywearing since I got my first mei tai.

There are countless benefits to babywearing, some of which can be found <here> but here are some less scientific advantages from my personal experience…

  • Space-saving - Slings take up a fraction of the space of a pushchair. I always keep one in the door pocket in the car for if little legs need a rest on a day out. Also possible to fit one in your handbag.
  • Better for rainy days - Having your hands free means you can hold an umbrella and keep both you and baby dry. Also don't have the problem of bringing a wet and muddy pushchair back into the house.
  • Shopping centre friendly - No need to find or wait for a lift. You can just use the escalator or stairs. This is also a benefit of slings if you live in an apartment and have stairs up to your home. Slings are easier in crowds. No need to fight your way through masses of legs with a pushchair.
  • All-terrain - All-terrain pushchairs might be able to go up hills and over rocky ground but they can't get over a stile! With your baby in a sling he can go wherever you go.
  • Close enough to kiss - When your baby is on your front you can kiss them loads!

What other advantages of using slings can you think of? Feel free to post them in the comments section.
I will leave you with some images of "International Babywearers"...

and me!...