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INVASION OF THE DROOL MONSTER
At some point in the last two weeks, my five month old son underwent an astonishing, if somewhat disturbing transformation. We had just about got through his reflux stage (when he brought up a portion of every feed) and were getting used to the idea, perhaps complacently, of a relatively "dry" baby. However, somehow, in the four years that have passed since our daughter went through the same stage of development, we had totally forgotten about the joys of teething.
All of a sudden, we had a little drool monster on our hands. How on earth such a small thing can produce such copious amounts of saliva is beyond me. This stuff may be slimy and gross, but it's also a natural wonder - if he could only preserve his talent for cultivating those unfeasibly long strands of drool that never break - until he's at least six or seven - he would earn some serious kudos on the playground.
In any event, he began chewing (or should I say gumming?) on anything and everything within reach of his grabby little hands - muslin cloths, bibs, clothes, fingers, and sometimes his whole fist - thoroughly soaking it all in the process - so it was with some relief that my mother-in-law (displaying her usual preternatural tendencies) pitched up with the Whoozit Cosmic Teether from US-based company Manhattan Toy.
WHAT IS IT?
It's bizarre - that's what it is. A veritable smorgasbord of highly contrasting colours, patterns, textures and shapes, the Cosmic Teether is a funky soft rattle with a soft plastic, water-filled "flower" around the handle that measures about eight inches by four. One side of the rattle has a large multi-coloured face with a big red nose and black and white knotted cords of "hair", while the obverse looks like an archery target with its black and white concentric rings.
The soft bottom ring "handle" is covered with lime green cloth with more concentric black and white circles filled with colour centres. The cloth is textured (it crinkles when squeezed) and is the perfect size for grabby little fingers. The rattle itself is embedded in the bulbous "face" and makes a pleasing, low volume noise that is unlikely to test the sanity of any adults in close proximity.
The teether itself consists of five coloured "petals" (two yellow, two blue and one red) each of which is decorated on both sides with raised textures of different kinds like swirls, stars, waves and dots). The plastic is robust enough to withstand some serious teething, but soft enough to be kind to baby's gums. The teether is secure, but can be removed by an adult (you simply compress the bottom fabric ring and slip it over) to make it easy to leave in the fridge to give baby something cool to bite on (the liquid inside the teether is harmless coloured water).
THE SCIENCE PART
It seems most baby toys these days claim to have developmental benefits. I tend to be quite cynical about these, as many simply state the obvious and seem like sneaky marketing ploys to encourage parents to part with their money lest precious junior misses out on something. For what it's worth, the teether looks like it was designed by someone who has indulged in a few too many mind-altering substances, but there is apparently method to the madness. The variety of funky shapes and colours are intended to help your baby focus and aid their visual development, and the toy apparently helps develop motor skills by encouraging hand-eye coordination. Nice if true, but honestly? Not bothered.
The "build quality" is excellent. The whole item is robustly stitched together and will withstand all but the most determined attempt at destructive testing (a skill which kids tend to have a talent for). The teether is made of polyester fibre and plastic and is (as expected) water resistant and can easily be cleaned, but must only be wiped down and air dried, as it cannot withstand the rigours of a washing machine.
COST & AVAILABILITY
Ours was a gift, bought on-line via Amazon, where it is currently available for around £5.00 from various Marketplace merchants. However, it is also widely available from other on-line retailers and at various baby-related shops (such as Mothercare and Boots).
As an adult who does not actually use the product, I have to take my cue from my gurgling, cooing bundle of cuteness (and drool) who seems totally captivated by the Whoozit face and is perfectly content to gnaw and slobber over the teether and the knotted black and white cords. It has kept him engaged and occupied for far longer than I expected.
It is intended for use from three months plus (the most common age when infants show signs of teething), with the only real physical limitation being the baby's ability to grab and hold objects and manipulate them toward the mouth. At five months, Baby H has just about learned to do this, although he does "lose" the teether every now and again and kicks up a fuss until it is safely back in his grasping mitts.
Despite this relatively minor niggle, the Cosmic Teether has proved a resounding success. There are, no doubt, cheaper alternatives out there, but with its ease of use, the added rattle and the developmental features, this is an excellent little product for your teething little drool monster.
© Hishyeness 2010