Hello fellow parents and parents-to-be! My name is Jenna, I'm 26 and Mama to my gorgeous little 1 year old boy Lucas! We live in the beautiful Norfolk countryside on a farm of which my fiancé Steve is a Manager. Along with our two dogs; a Labrador called Sasha and a German Shepherd called Jason, we enjoy long daily walks - whatever the weather! And with baby classes, swimming, play dates and working evening shifts we lead a very hectic family life!
After dinner we all bundled back into the car to head to our local town to watch the Christmas lights being switched on. All down the High Street were stalls, fair ground rides and lots of people. Lots and LOTS of people! This is where the Stella had a huge advantage over other pushchairs. It's compact size feels almost like a stroller, but with all the comfort of a normal pushchair. It also manoeuvred really well through the crowds and I didn't run over anyone's foot once! We switched the seat round to have Lucas facing us and it was wonderful to see him watching and laughing at all the lights and commotion!
One very tired baby tonight!
December the 11th 2016
What a cold week it's been! We've been nicely wrapped up whilst walking the dogs, and it's given us a good chance to test out the Stella even more. I have to say that handling the dogs is a breeze with the Stella, and I think it's because of its compact size. I have previously been using another all terrain pushchair and I never really realised how big it is! With the Stella there's less pushchair to get in the dogs' way when they are on the lead and I can keep a better eye on what they are doing as well.
We tackled the frozen stubble fields easily, getting a bit bumpy in places, which probably would have been made better with air filled tyres, but it didn't seem to bother Lucas. We also took a route which included quite a long overgrown grass footpath. This did seem to cause a bit of a struggle for the Stella. The ground clearance on the shopping basket isn't very good causing a lot of drag, therefore making it much more difficult to push. However, I did find that by locking the front wheels it at least took the effort of keeping it in a straight line away!
Another thing I'm loving about the Stella is the parent facing option. Lucas went through a stage of wanting to be world facing all the time, so I haven't been too bothered about having a parent facing pushchair. But until having him facing me whilst walking the dogs with the Stella I never realised how much I missed it! And Lucas seems to love it too. His favourite thing is to watch me exclaim in disgust when I get mud up my leg! The seat does sit quite low on the chassis, however I'm not sure how Maxi-Cosi have done it but Lucas is at such an angle that, from my perspective, it looks as if he is reclined and in direct eye contact with me! I even keep checking to see if I have reclined the seat by accident, but I haven't! He is still bolt upright!
We also got to use the rain cover this week for the first time (can't believe its been this long that I haven't been out in the rain!) and I have to say the quality of the rain cover is very good. It's lovely and thick, doesn't crease easily, and has very good coverage going well over any dangling legs to right down the back of the seat. This does however hinder the use of the recline catch. The is a zip to extend the cover which matches with the extension zip on the hood. Lucas looked lovely and cocooned under the cover and I was able to put the hood back which was great for him to keep looking around. Another great feature I noticed was the plentiful quantity of air holes, so things didn't get very steamy under there!
December the 18th 2016
We've had lots of trips to the shops this week, what with Christmas coming up!
The fold on the Stella is a feature which I really love. There are various different ways you can fold it down depending on how compact you need it. It can be folded down with the seat unit attached (but only in world facing mode), or without which makes it a bit more compact and easier to get in the boot of a car. Because I've been having Lucas parent facing for most of the time now, I always have to take the seat off to fold it down when out and about. Not only that, the whole pushchair is quite heavy to lift, so I find it much easier to do this than keeping the seat unit on.
As I have an estate car, boot space isn't a problem for me, but we can also easily get the Stella into my partners saloon car boot even in its biggest folding mode, but it doesn't leave huge amounts of room for shopping. On a trip with my Mum to Macros, Mum tried out the Stella, loving the parent facing mode and commented on how easy it was to push even though it's not the lightest pushchair in the world! We managed to get lots of bulky shopping in my car alongside the Stella, having utilised the feature of also collapsing the frame on which the seat sits, making the chassis even more compact.
On another trip out with Steve, we needed to extend the handle bar (Steve's about 5 foot 8 inches) and although it does extend to a good height, the Stella has two side catches that have to be released, which you can then move the bar to the desired height. Having previously had a single button to be able to extend the bars, this felt like a lot more hassle. It's not a nice smooth action either, so I found that one side would jump up quicker than the other and I would have to stop and pull the other side to even them up and this did cause the chassis to wobble quite a bit. All this doesn't bother me too much though because it's rare that Steve ever uses the pushchair, and I always have it on the lowest setting, so the need to change the handlebar height doesn't happen that often.
My only complaint when I was out getting the last few Christmas presents with Steve was the shopping basket. I ended up not using it at all! The basket is a reasonable size (although not big) but the biggest problem was access. Having Lucas parent facing the basket can be easily used from the front of the pushchair, but there are bars on the chassis which really stopped me from putting anything in there which was even the slightest bit wide or bulky. So I ended up just carrying the bags myself. May have to invest in a few of those shopping bag hooks for the handles!
December the 23rd 2016
We've been on lots of little last minute Christmas errands and shopping trips this week! As always the Stella has been great nipping around the packed supermarket and shops. Our local little market town has quite rough and uneven pavements which we breezed over, but I have found the weight of the Stella to be a bit of an issue being as I've been in and out of the car a lot - it is a bit heavier than I'd like it. But for me this is counteracted with the brilliant fold mechanism! In the middle of all the chaos I took time to stop and have a coffee date with Lucas, and the Stella was brilliant for folding up and standing somewhere out of the way. I've always been conscious of my pushchair being in the way of other people when in cafes and restaurants - not any more! I also absolutely adore that the handlebar doesn't scrape on the ground at any point, so there's no risk of scuffed and dirty foam!
December the 29th 2016
Hope everyone has had a good Christmas! We've indulged ourselves this week with not running around quite so much, so the Stella has only really been used on the odd occasion.
One thing I have noticed recently is the size of the seat. It is quite small compared to a lot of other pushchairs. In one way this is great; Lucas has a tendency to slump to one side on wider seats, but with the Stella he seems a lot more supported and cocooned, whilst still looking comfortable. He hasn't once slouched to the side when in the Stella. On the other hand, I think the length/height of the seat will become an issue at some point. Lucas is a taller than average baby so I really don't think I would be able to use it up to the recommended age 3 limit. He still has headroom at the moment, but considering he is only 13 months I'm just a bit worried about the longevity of the Stella for us. Obviously things like this very much depend on the size of the baby, and I think that average and smaller than average babies/toddlers won't have this problem at all. For now, though, Lucas seems very comfortable in the lovely padded seat!
So I thought I'd give the Stella some T.L.C. I'm usually pretty good at keeping my pushchairs clean and it's always a great way to check that it's mechanically sound, but what with Christmas I've gotten a little behind. Luckily (sort of) we've had a lot of wet weather recently, which has washed away most of the mud that had accumulated on the wheels.
Whilst cleaning the chassis I made a discovery which I cannot believe I hadn't noticed before! The shopping basket can be completely removed for cleaning. Now this is a great feature in itself, because the underside had gotten pretty muddy, but I had previously said that because of the low ground clearance of the basket you get a lot of drag when walking through long grass or really rough terrain, which obviously makes it more difficult to push. But being able to remove the basket is a great feature to utilise if you know you're going to be walking somewhere that needs a pushchair with better ground clearance! I know it leaves you without a basket, but to be honest the only thing I regularly use it for is to carry dog leads, or the occasional few bits of shopping when I'm in the supermarket. That being said it is very easy and quick to put on and remove as required. There are 4 poppers (2 each side) at the front, and then 2 clips and 2 poppers at the back - and that's it! Doesn't sound like much, but it's simple and secure.
Removing the basket also makes the chassis a lot easier to clean. I just used a bit of warm soapy water and a microfibre cloth. The back and front wheels can be removed if need be by using a flathead screwdriver and inverting into the slot next to the wheel to release it. I removed each wheel just to make sure everything looked okay, which it did.
The whole cleaning process only took about 15 minutes, and the Stella looks like new! Luckily the seat is still beautifully clean, so I don't need to worry about cleaning the fabrics at the moment. It will be interesting to see if removing the basket makes any difference to the ride!
January the 15th 2017
Well I've certainly noticed a difference not having the basket attached! Being the middle of winter, a lot of our local footpaths are getting more and more overgrown and not having the basket dragging on the grass really does make it that bit easier to push.
The back bar that the brake sits on is a bit low, so would catch on a particularly high bit of terrain, but its not an issue that I have come across at all, and it doesn't seem to cause any drag on the long grass.
It's been super sunny this week (although still really cold) and the extra large extendable hood on the Stella has been invaluable with the low winter sun. It's usually tucked away nice and invisible using a zip which goes right around the top of the seat, and when unzipped you get a really good range - almost down to Lucas' legs when he's sat upright! There is a good size plastic peekaboo window once unzipped as well! Although having the hood this low meant I couldn't see Lucas, it's a small price to pay for keeping the sun out of his face. And of course having the hood down means you get to see even more of the gorgeous pattern!
January the 24th 2017
Big day out in the city this week! It has been months since we've been to Norwich, I make a point of avoiding it at all costs over the Christmas period! I went with my Mum and we decided to take the Park and Ride, as I thought it would be a good opportunity to test the Stella on public transport, plus it would be Lucas' first time on a bus! Luckily the bus was fairly empty, so there was no need to fold the pushchair down, but I know that the fold would have been great in this situation. The only downside I can think of is that it requires two hands to operate the sliders at the sides of the handlebars, so if you were on your own this may be a problem whilst juggling a baby. The brake was brilliant at keeping the Stella in place, there's no play in it's mechanism, once it's clicked on it feels very secure. It's also 'flip-flop friendly'...not that that matters this time of year!
Walking around the city I had Lucas in world facing mode, and he was perfectly happy with watching all the hustle and bustle. As always the Stella's small footprint was great for manoeuvring around the shops and people. After lunch Lucas did something he hasn't done in a long time - fell asleep in his pushchair! He's dropped down to only one nap a day now and I'm always usually at home for when it's nap time, hence why it's been a while since he fell asleep in a pushchair. I've always felt that if a baby falls asleep easily in a pushchair then it must be comfortable! Once I noticed that he was dropping off I gently reclined the seat. The Stella has a catch at the top of the back of the seat to release it, and it's very easy, quiet and smooth to use, so Lucas didn't stir at all. Once I raised the foot rest, the seat unit completely lies flat as well. I said previously that I felt as if the seat unit wasn't very long, but in the fully flat mode it seemed huge! There was plenty of room still for my taller than average baby to sleep! I also opened up the hood extender which gave him a bit more privacy and protection from the glare of the shop lights and it also allowed us to keep and eye on him easily through the peekaboo window.
Lucas was SO comfortable (or so tired) that he stayed asleep for the rest of the time we were in the shops, all the way back to the bus AND the entire bus ride back! He was still asleep when we got off at the car park! We needed to go to Tesco which is just round the corner from the Park and Ride so Mum suggested that she would walk Lucas round and I would take the car so that we didn't disturb him getting him into his car seat. One thing that Mum did comment on was that during this walk she felt as if the pushchair was a bit top heavy towards the handlebars with the seat reclined back, particularly when going up pavements, she felt that if she didn't have hold of the handlebars the Stella wouldn't have tipped backwards. This is with Lucas in world facing mode, which obviously means his head and upper body was more further back, so maybe that did shift the centre if gravity backwards a bit. So I wouldn't recommend hanging any heavy bags on the bars when baby is world facing and fully reclined, just incase there is a risk of it tipping back.
Once in Tesco Lucas finally woke up, so I raised the seat half way and he had his bottle while we shopped. He looked so comfortable and happy to be watching everyone! It was a long day, but a great opportunity to put the Stella through it's paces!