Quicksmart Backpack Stroller – A Review

Quicksmart Backpack StrollerWe were extremely lucky and were sent a Quicksmart Backpack Stroller to review as part of my subscription for one of the paid review sites, so here’s what we think…

The stroller is extremely lightweight, and due to this has next to no storage – just a tiny pocket at the back. If you need to take things with you then you’re stuck with your changing bag. There’s no basket underneath, as that’s where the wheels fold in.

As the title says, this stroller packs up into a backpack – this is its biggest selling point, and something which I think we’d use and keep in the car, or if we were taking the train and were faced with no step-free exits (like Carshalton Station), or most practically of all, flying – as it’s small enough to be cabin baggage when folded up.

Quicksmart Backpack StrollerThe folding up of the buggy itself takes a while. This is no one-handed fold, it’s fiddly and does involve you setting yourself space to do it – but once it’s done you’ve a great lightweight stroller. It’d be even more perfect in this respect if there were some way you could carry it (a bit like our MacLaren Quest has a strap which means you can put it over your shoulder) without having to take the backpack with you. Having said that, we used it on a trip to Epsom, navigating two sets of stairs on the way back at the station, and were able to do it easily due to its weight. H did the stairs herself – I had the shopping in a lightweight backpack and a small changing bag.

It doesn’t come with a raincover, or any additional things – just the backpack and the stroller – though it does pack so small that it would only take a quarter of the size in the boot of our car, rather than half of it like the MacLaren does.

Quicksmart Backpack StrollerThe buggy isn’t suitable from birth, and doesn’t have a recline feature, though does have a shade (held by velcro, so pulled off by H a few times) which is good. We found our BundleBean fitted perfectly when we’ve needed an additional cover.

One criticism I’d have is the back wheels – they’re quite wide apart, and I’ve found myself tripping over them a couple of times – though that’s not a major problem, they’re just in a weird place for my feet! In shops some aisles weren’t wide enough for the buggy either (M&S and TK Maxx, I’m looking at you in particular). I wish the way it folded together was more straightforward, but then I can’t see myself in a situation where I’d need that now, as we’re doing more walking without a buggy than with – which makes carrying this one around with you ideal, as it’s not heavy.

These buggies sell for £120 – so they’re not cheap. I’m not a buggy aficionado, having stuck with MacLaren, but had we travelled to Australia this Christmas just gone, then this would have been perfect. After landing in Dubai and trying to find a buggy from their stands, actually just having one and being able to stretch your legs would have been a huge bonus. (n.b. they do have lots of buggies in Dubai Airport, almost all the stands near us were empty, I guess lots of toddlers/babies travelling!)

In summary – definitely one for a family who likes to travel. For regular use? Probably not as much.

We Love Books – Toddlers : An Instruction Manual by Joanne Mallon

Published in December 2011, ‘Toddlers: An Instruction manual – A guide to surviving the years one to four (written by parents, for parents)’ is one of those books you really need to know about. It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats, and even better, part of the royalties are donated to Home-Start, one of the UK’s leading family support charities.

Joanne Mallon - Toddlers An Instruction Manual

The book explores why toddlers behave the way they do (and speaking as a mum of an almost 2.5 year old, anything that can shed any light is a good good thing!), and putting it out there as an instruction manual. Having quickly skim read some of the sections I know it’s something I’m going to be using a lot these next few years…!

It’s nice to know you’re not alone when you wonder what on earth is going on in your toddler’s head, the book brings together tried and tested practical, down to earth tips from parents who’ve survived the toddler years and want to help you do the same. From help getting your child to sleep through the night, listening when you say no and getting them to stop reacting with horror when they see something they don’t want to eat, this book WILL help! The book celebrates the qualities we love about toddlers and suggests ways to navigate their less appealing aspects. It’s never going to stop them tormenting us, but can help us get through with your sanity (just about) intact!

Joanne Mallon has created a fantastic book – she’s a freelance parenting journalist, a life and career coach, and a parent of two.

Home-Start supports almost 73,000 vulnerable children across the UK. Last year, their 16,000 volunteers gave a million hours of support to families. Home-Start help them cope with post-natal illness, isolation, bereavement, disability, domestic violence and much more.

Do I need to tell you more? Here’s some words from the press release

* written with warmth, understanding and love – no preaching or judgemental comments;

* invaluable advice from many parents on what they wish someone told them about toddlers;

* practical guidance from experts, empowering the parent to make their own choices confidently;

* up-to-date information on toddlers using technology, including advice on iPads and the under 5’s;

* tried and tested tips for tackling common toddler issues including tantrums, fussy eating, potty training and sleep problems;

* easily accessible information broken down into bite sized chunks;

* reminds parents that despite the tantrums, tears and toilet training, there is much to love about the precious toddler years.

In addition to this, I’ve contributed two end of chapter sections to the book, so am proud to be featured in here – it’s a great book and will be a great resource for parents now and in the future.

Buy it from Amazon (paperback) (Kindle)

We Love Books at Mum Friendly

The Brighton Baby Show, November 13th 2011

Phew, another Baby Show, another weekend of chaos, but at least this time it’s near the sea, so you can breathe. Add to this the weather was amazing, and we had to do it. I’d never been to the AMEX Stadium, though knew roughly where to head – and after a while wondered if I’d got it wrong, and whether it’d be obvious to see where we turn off; there were no signs, but eventually the stadium was pretty easy to spot.

We queued and got checked in, and once the doors opened we were ushered through quickly. This was good, however, the biggest downside with the new venue (last year it was at the Racecourse) was that you couldn’t get from one side to the other if you had a buggy – you had to leave the venue. Actually, I lie, that wasn’t the biggest downside – that was not being able to get a phone signal inside the main areas! A lot of the traders were having problems with this too, and at one point one trader had to walk over the other side of the room for his card machine to connect – it worked though.

Anyway, I’m not here to moan, I’m here to tell you about more companies that we met and saw their nice things.. so read on.

Flyer-wise, we got some good ones – Toy Rentals – brilliant idea (although I am the world’s worst at returning library books, or LoveFilm DVD’s) – check out http://www.toyrentals.co.uk – it’s set to launch in January 2012.

Mathemagical have loads of stimulating toys, games and activities relevant to them, and teaching them about maths – making it all good fun. Classes run in Brighton, Horsham and Worthing – head to http://www.mathemagical.co.uk

If I was an extremely wealthy person I’d be able to afford to get away, so for now I’ll dream from afar, but Mama Me Time offers stylish retreats for pregnant women and run away breaks for mums – http://www.mamametime.co.uk

Haven’t You Grown‘ Sales feature Baby, Toddler & Children’s Nearly-New Clothes, Toy, Book & Equipment Table-Top Sales – find details of upcoming sales at http://www.haventyougrownsales.co.uk

Kiddie Coupons is a great idea – and currently running in West Sussex. The 2012 edition costs just £15 and has coupons, great ideas for family days out and dining, and lists all child-friendly features at each and every venue – brilliant! http://www.kiddiecoupons.co.uk

Brighton has a new destination for children’s grooming, haircuts, pampering, parties and shopping – hello Bertie & Belle – head over to http://www.bertieandbelle.co.uk for more information – it opens on December 10th 2011.

Onwards to the excellent products and traders we saw and met – BundleBean was there and looked really busy – have you bought one yet? Have you read my gushing about them yet? Should I gush more…? With the weather so mild right now, our BundleBean is getting a lot of use.

Ohh we fell in love with the Rokka. It’s gorgeous, so versatile and it’s several toys in one – it becomes what a child’s imagination wants it to be – we were impressed with it – even though it’s quite expensive. You need to see it to believe it, and have a good drool – fabulous stuff – http://www.rokkaplay.com

My Wondercube had their stand – we bought one last year at the previous Brighton show, and it was nice to see again – it’s still going strong, and so many stories you can tell with it as your child grows up – http://www.mywondercube.com

Quack Quack Moo had a stand – we’d been sent one of their blankets for review back in April, so it was nice to meet up with them – we picked up one of their Buggy straps and H has been using it when we’re out and about – she quite enjoys holding on to it. A bargain at £2.50 too. http://www.quackquackmoo.co.uk

Baby Choes are lovely – really simple black and white prints on shoes which appeal to newborns, made from really soft leather – you need to check them out – http://www.babychoes.co.uk

Pixie and Punk had a stand, so I finally got to check out their t-shirt/toy/book combination – though only went for a book (they had one about various countries around the world which I’d not seen anything similar to) – I kind of wish I’d bought a t-shirt now… next time! http://www.pixieandpunk.com

The Nod Pod is new, and looks lovely – perfect for newborns, it is a baby blanket brought up to date. It keeps legs, toes and heads covered, and keeps arms safely wrapped up too. The blanket works with baby carriers, car seats and pushchairs without needing holes and zips to accommodate straps.  The blankets are made from supersoft fleece and I think it’s a damn good idea – I wish we’d had something like this when H was little. http://www.nodpod.co.uk

One that interested me a lot was a sample of ‘Dry Like Me‘ – a pad which would go into a pair of pants, while potty training. I’m working on a feature about potty training – if you’ve got this far, then do pop over to the Mum Friendly Facebook Group (if you’re on there) and let us know your tips if you have any – so many people do so many different things, and there’s so many things out there! I think this is an excellent idea, though I didn’t find their stand, unfortunately. However, I love samples of things and being able to try them out – so I’ll definitely try this one! http://www.drylikeme.com – you can register to test things on their site too – worth doing!

All in all it was a good baby show – loads of stalls all packed into a better sized area than last year – and even better, lots of information for local groups and activities – something which I’m sure Brighton isn’t short of. H got to meet Mister Maker “I was a little bit shy, I didn’t talk to him” she said after she’d had her photo taken with him – even though she’d been having pretend conversations on her Makka Pakka phone all the way down in the car with him. Aaah, toddlers. There’s some great stuff linked above – please take the time to visit them – they’re all lovely.

Dora’s Ballet Adventure – the review

H is only just two, so only just entering into the world of Dora the Explorer – so we’re all learning as we go along. What I have to say, most of all, is I love how we get dialogue in spanish and english – we’ve both been teaching bits of french to H, so we’re all learning random words (and bits that crop up in Nick Jr trailers).

Dora's Ballet AdventureSo, Dora’s Ballet Adventure – H has a fairly low attention span, and usually gets bored around 15 minutes into longer programmes – but we found with this one that the characters all have their own individual parts (the map, for example) that there was enough going on we were able to sit and watch in one sitting – plus Dora getting the shoes and getting back again had plenty of different things happening.

The songs are catchy, and simple and repetitive – which is perfect for H as she picks things up straight away at the moment. The story was easy to follow, and the dialogue not too complicated – even the spanish bits. There were plenty of interactive sections which H joined in on, and Dora would reply (obviously on the review DVD we were sent, so an appropriate gap is left) – which in turn made her feel a part of it.

All in all, a fun and enjoyable episode – and we’re already looking forward to the Halloween Special I’ve started to see being trailered… (which may well be an old episode, but to us it’s new!)

Vines Bar & Grill, Carshalton

This place has only just opened, although (and this is a guess) is probably owned by the people who had the Greek Taverna in Carshalton – which is now closed.

There’s good buggy access, and already some good deals – buy a coffee and get a free croissant, buy a meal and get your child’s one free. The menu is a good selection of regular and meditteranean foods, and a good selection of vegetarian meals.

The downside – at this point there’s no baby changing, although the man I spoke to said they’re converting an office, so that will happen soon.

There’s also an outdoor area at the back.

Although I’ve not dined here, it looks good, it’s reasonably priced, and definitely worth checking out. Open now (just!)

 

The Hub @ Tooting & Mitcham Football Club

This is a soft play area which is well worth a visit. It’s £4 for a single child and I pay £6 for my two (age 6years & 20months June 2011) This is for a two hour session and it closes at 6pm.
The “playzone” for children is in the style of a ship. There is a dedicated area for the under fours however the sides are very low and my 20month old climbs out to get into the big kids bit.
It’s on two levels, with slides, playballs and various knock about bits you expect to find in soft play.
The area is generally quite clean although the only baby changing area is in the disabled toilet, and sometimes that’s not working or a bit smelly. The adult toilets are in good condition and have always had a supply of toilet paper & soap.
They serve hot and cold food. We’ve had the hot food a few times and I’ve always been more than happy with the service and quality of food. Kids portions are huge! Tea & coffee is very reasonable and I might note; drinkable. They have a range of snacks and drinks available for the kids and do ask that you don’t bring your own food. They have about 5 ikea high chairs for the smaller ones.
It’s hard to determine how busy it gets. I’ve been on days where it’s rammed out and you can’t get a seat and I’ve been on days when we’ve been the only family in there.
For older children, across the hall from the “playzone” is the “challenge zone” this is a high up soft area for climbing. My 6 year old is tall and finds some of it a bit difficult.
All in all, a good place to go on a rainy day to burn up some energy or to meet your Mummy friends and have a coffee.