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Despite having a perfectly good condition first stage car seat, left over from my son, when my daughter was born my family decided as a surprise to buy me a new seat, we knew that I was having a girl and when my husband came to pick me up on the morning after I had given birth he produced a gorgeous, brand new pink car seat just for our little girl.
The Minnie Flower Carry Tot Car Seat-
Coming in a vivid pink design the Minnie Flower is suitable for babies in group 0+, or up to approximately 13kg (28.66lb) Advice varies on what cars seats to use for what size, age group etc . the general idea is that a first stage seat is suitable until 9-12 months of age, as the babies spine cannot handle the force from a crash in a forward facing car seat and naturally a rear facing seat is best until they are at least 12 months old, however if a childs head is above the top of the seat in anyway then it is also considered unsafe and it is recommended you use a larger seat that can be used rear facing.
(For more seat safety go to http://www.safekids.co.uk/NewCarSeatLaws2006.html)
The Minnie Flower is shaped specifically to provide the best support for your baby while remaining comfortable, it has a lightly padded cover with foam layer underneath, padded head support and padded shoulder pieces on the safety straps to ensure that your baby is as comfortable as can be while still being safe.
The safety straps can not only be adjusted in length to accommodate growing babies but can also be moved through 3 height stages meaning that taller babies will have no unnecessary discomfort or pressure on their shoulders as a result of the straps being too low. It is a 3 point safety harness with 2 straps coming down over the shoulders and a further strap between the legs, the clasp is chunky black plastic and can only be fixed into place one way ensuring the child is always harnessed in correctly.
The seat alone is quite light at 3kg (just under 7lb) and with its foam covered grip is easily manageable, even with baby on board, in the early stages at least, it is quite a light chair and easy to carry about from house to car, car to shops etc .It is made of quite chunky black plastic however and is a sturdy car seat.
The seat cover, hood and the pads on the straps are all removable which is particularly handy, anyone whos had the slightest experience of babies will know how messy they can be. Removable covers allows you to simply take them off and throw them in the machine on a medium wash without having to scrub at dirty patches and leaving water marks. Putting the covers back on is pretty simple, firstly threading the 3 straps through their spaces, then you pull the covers around the seat and youre done, the covers have elasticated edging making it even easier to get the covers back on properly.
The carry handle can be moved backwards for fitting in the car or for giving the seat extra stability if for example the baby is left in it like a chair/seat (always with harness on of course and never on a raised surface!) there are two large buttons, one on either side of the handle where they meet the car seat, these need to be pressed in simultaneously at which point you can move the handle to your desired position. This needs to be done when securing the seat into a car, after putting the handle flat down against the seat behind the chair you pull the seat belt around it with the lap section going around the back of the chair and secured in the fitting, the shoulder part of the seat belt goes through 2 hook like slots on the chair above where babies waist would be, the seat belt is then plugged in and the seat is secure. You can fit the chair keeping the hood up and placing the belt around the back of the chair and over as described before, this however does not provide the stable base that you get when the hood is flat against the seat and the chair can roll onto its side if a corner is taken too sharply, I would not recommend fitting the chair this way, not only is it unsafe for baby but it will cause you to panic which could cause danger on the roads.
When baby is a little older and becoming a little cramped the headrest can be removed providing a little extra space, by this age they probably do not need the neck support anyway. Lengthening the safety straps is done from the underside of the chair, you push the safety release lever under the seat and then can pull on the shoulder straps on top of the chair, this lengthens them, once you sit baby in the chair and buckle him/her in you them pull on the strap that comes off of the central strap and it will tighten the straps to fit your baby nice and snug.
The seat meets all the appropriate safety measures and the cover is fire resistant.
Price and availability-
The seat is available online as part of a travel system from £89.99 or on its own from £29.99, Ebay is generally the best online site as you can buy the seats from new via their online sellers, this way you get the best value for money. The range is also available from Woolworths.
The seat is also available in blue featuring Mickey Mouse if your little boy isnt keen on the pink version.
Having been delighted with our gift we happily paraded our little girl around in her lovely pink car seat. Despite not having the instructions for fitting at the hospital it was really easy to work out how to fit the seat into the car so we could take her home.
The seat has lost none of its colour after 18 months and while Elsa has now outgrown it we were able to use it until she was 15 months because shes quite a small baby, ok at this point she did prefer sitting up and would occasionally become grumpy when rear facing but Id rather have a safe, alive baby whos a bit grumpy then risk her life because I didnt want her getting upset.
We could easily use the seat again for another baby girl as we had no accidents while using the chair (a chair that is being used at the time of a car accident should be immediately replaced even if there are no signs of damage) Keeping track of the shoulder pads and head rest can be quite tricky when, if like me, you remove them and forget where you left them. The cover has got a little wear on the black detailing where babies feet would rest, Elsa was a bit of a fidget and a kicker so shes worn the fabric a little, but other then that the seat is in great condition, the foam handle is still perfect and the mechanism on the harness and handle still operate as they should.
The straps were always easy to adjust with the simple mechanism under the seat, I always found it easier to loosen them before putting the seat in the car, then fit the seat before putting baby in it, at that point you can clip baby in, tighten the straps to fit baby and youre away. Adjusting the straps while the seat is already strapped into the car is a bit tricky as you need to fiddle around under the seat and you cant really see what youre doing. I always found the mechanism for adjusting the seats worked well and was secure, I never found the straps loosening themselves or becoming slack.
The washable covers are a genius idea, so many seats and baby items do not have these which makes life so much more difficult for parents, no body wants a lingering smell of baby sick in the car so its great to be able to take the covers off and keep them clean. One slight downside is the foam layer that is under the covers, if you dont put the cover on properly after washing it older babies can work a corner loose and get to the foam underneath, while Elsa never tried puling off and eating the foam I can imagine thats not a very good thing for her to do.
We used the seat as both a car seat, carry tot and a general seat, by buckling Elsa in we could keep her sat safely when laying on the floor for example wasnt an option, either with the handle and hood up to provide shade or with it down for added stability it also gave us a little freedom knowing she was safe in her seat, comfortable and happy.
The chair is really good looking, its colour is bright and eye catching and the Minnie motif is simply adorable, Ok so it does somewhat restrict us to using the chair for girls only (I suppose boys could use a pink chair but its not very traditional is it) but the seat was bought specifically with Elsa in mind, we already have a blue chair so weve got the best of both worlds should we try for baby number 3.
Now I know the main purpose of the chair is to provide not only comfort and safe general travel for baby but also to protect in a crash, well we fortunately never had an accident while using the seat and so I cant tell you how the chair works in that capacity, to be honest though Im not about to go out and have a crash just to see how the chair copes, well have to leave that to trust Im afraid.
Overall I was completely satisfied with the chair, it looked good, kept Elsa cosy and gave her the support she needed which in turn gave me peace of mind. I would definitely recommend it.