Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Money, Money, Money

While pregnant we bought a lovely reclining bath chair for Bethany as bathing a slippery newborn is a challenge to say the least. Just recently she has begun to grow out of it. Although weight-wise she fits just fine, in length she is within the normal range so her legs have been sticking off the end and her head sits above the cushion. We needed something new. Of course as Bee has gotten bigger she’s also gotten wrigglier and trying to bath her one handed whilst holding her still with the other is just impossible so a chair of some kind is necessary. Her hypotonia means Bee can’t sit up yet so many bath chairs designed for older children just aren’t suitable for her. We tried the Aqua pod at Mothercare and she just tipped to the side as the support is only at the front and back. The foam support was not conductive to encouraging Bee to splash and enjoy the water. The Comfort Bath Support was too small. We tried the expensive-sounding, ergonomically-shaped bath chair – too small, which is such a shame as a larger size would have been the exact thing we were looking for. Feeling disheartened I started searching on the internet for something more specialised. Not knowing exactly how to phrase my request on Google I settled for ‘special needs bath chair’ hoping it would bring me some useful hits. Now certain things in life are inevitably expensive. You add the words ‘wedding’ or ‘baby’ in front of anything and it’s a certainty that the price will jump far beyond what the product or service is actually worth. I was shocked when I realised this rule of thumb also seems to apply anything with ‘special needs’ in the title. How are regular families supposed to adequately provide for their special needs child when everything is way beyond the budget of most regular families? I was shocked by the prices companies were charging, even for the simplest of acrylic-shaped chairs. I wasn’t looking for anything spectacular like a lift system, just a simple seat that would allow Bee to sit in the bath comfortably and be able to splash and play like normal children whilst be safe and allow Foz and myself to use both hands to bath her. Talk about gap in the market. There is just no middle ground. It’s either newborn support or full-on special needs equipment, starting at £225. We desperately needed a solution. I went through the Mothercare and Babies’r’Us websites again, this time looking for a chair that I could possibly adapt to be suitable. The only thing I found was a swivel bath chair. Possibly too big for Bee and designed for babies who can sit up but it was the closest thing to suitable that we had found under £200! Plus it was only a tenner. Bargain!

So. A trip to Babies’r’us beckoned. We had a bath seat to buy, the new highchair we’d picked and, if Bee was lucky, maybe a new toy! I’d already decided on picking up a new tummy time mat to try and help Bethany as she still does not like being on her tummy and won’t roll, although she has done it a handful of times. Uncle Stu took us down, where we met up with Bee’s Grandma (my Mum) and her NannyGranny Jan, my Mum’s best friend. That’s the lovely thing about the supportive network we have around us. Everyone loves Bethany so much and I couldn’t ask for better family and friends. We’re very lucky that people want to be involved in her life so much. So after a play in the swing and a look at the toys we headed to the checkouts, bath seat and new play mat in the trolley and highchair ticket in hand. I paid the cashier, waited for the highchair at the collection point and then we headed home. I couldn’t wait to try out Bee’s new chair, both bath and high! Unfortunately I had to wait for Foz to come home to try out either thing! The minute he walked through the door I ambushed him to watch Bee while I played with the new highchair. Out of the box, instructions discarded, I managed to knock it together. Who says men are the only ones who don’t like instructions??
It wasn’t long before we had Bethany sat in it. What a difference! We’d been very specific about a highchair: it had to recline as Bethany can’t sit up and we wanted it height adjustable as we don’t have a dining room table to sit so we needed it sofa height! It’s perfect, perfect, perfect. In all honesty Bethany doesn’t even need the recliner as she sits up very well without needing to be propped, all I use it for is if she falls asleep. Apart from making feeding time so much easier it also assists Bethany with play. Being able to sit to play is a real bonus and she’s now making strides and achieving goals. She bangs on the tray and interacts with the toys in front of her, something she struggles with when lay on the floor. So all-in-all a great buy! Worth every penny of the £90 it cost.
And so to the bath chair: Foz’s normally bathes Bee in the evenings, that his one-on-one time with her and they both really enjoy it. He took Bethany upstairs to get her ready and I followed with the chair to run the bath, camera in hand. We sat her in it and at first all seemed well. I was really pleased with the chair, it seemed to be exactly what we’d needed. I took some pictures and headed downstairs to let Foz finish off
Once Bee was washed, dried and in bed he came down to join me. As it turns out the bath chair isn't so suitable after all. As she can't sit unaided Bee slips forward in it and her lady bits are squashed uncomfortably against the leg bar. Not the ideal situation. But how to fix it? It was the only chair we'd found that even remotely fit her needs that wasn't upwards of £200.
My Mum had the answer: lagging. Honestly, lagging. The foam stuff you put around pipes. When all else fails see what you can knock together. my Mum brought us some lagging, about 2m of the stuff. B&Q don't sell it in any smaller lengths! I fashioned some smaller lengths to fit around the leg bar in the center and the top bar on either side so she didn't hurt her knees when kicking. It worked. Although it was a constant battle to keep the lagging on as it has a tendancy to float away when Bee knocked it off, it did the job.
Just recently, when on a Cheshire Oaks shopping trip with Bee's uncle Stu we headed into Mamas and Papas. I've never been in one before, we don't have one locally and I know they are really overpriced, the Waitrose of baby shops if you like, but I wanted a cosytoes as the weather is starting to turn and our pram is a Mamas and Papas one. Whilst having a browse I spotted some bath chairs that looked exactly like the expensive-sounding, ergonomically-shaped bath chair I'd originally seen in Mothercare, that would have been perfect except for the small size. This one, however, looked bigger. I got Bee out of the pram and placed her in one. Perfect! It won't fit her for long but it certainly fits her now and was only £18. Bargain to boot! I took it straight to the till. So our bathing dilemma is solved for now. Hopefully Bee will be sitting unaided soon so we won't need to struggle for a bath chair any longer.

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