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Introduced to the Vital Baby brand by several positive reviews here on Dooyoo, I have since gone on to purchase a number of different items from their range of baby and toddler weaning products. Included in that list is this 'Baby's First Tumbler' which is available from Amazon for just £2.69. Inexpensive, BPA and PVC free and suitable for all forms of sterilisation as well as being dishwasher safe, this sounded like a fairly practical product to introduce my breast-fed son to a first stage cup. Initial expectations were high but I quickly found some issues with using this product.
Intended for use by babies from six months of age, this small handle-less beaker features a removable internal valve which transforms the cup from a non-spill sippy cup into a free-flow beaker. Infants at the lower end of the age range may struggle a little with this style of beaker as my son did at six months old, lacking the strength and co-ordination to keep a secure hold of a slippery handle-less cup. Introducing this at nine months old was a little more successful, with the benefit of the soft spout and rubberised sections at the base of the beaker. Interchangeable lids can also be used, as this tumbler is compatible with the lids from the three stage trainer cup that I also own.
I was a little disappointed with the performance of the supposedly innovative removable valve. Inserting and removing the valve itself is pretty straightforward however, with the valve in position, my little one struggled to suck any liquid at all out of this now completely non spill (more like 'no drink') spout. In total contrast, with the valve removed, the cup is quite literally free-flowing with the contents of the cup spilling out at far too high a volume for my baby to cope with. Inquisitive toddlers, like mine, can really have some fun splashing their drink all over their dinner until it turns into soup! It is really a case of going from one extreme to the other with this design of spout, which was disappointing given my previous positive experiences with Vital Baby products. Irritatingly, the detachable plastic spout cover included proved not to be effective at preventing leaks unless the spill-proof valve was also in use, meaning that this design was not particularly practical for use out and about.
If I was looking for a replacement beaker for a baby moving on to a first drinking cup, this would not be one that I'd turn to. Instead, I would recommend considering the three stage trainer cup which, whilst also including this lid and valve, also has the flexibility of including two additional styles of lid as well. Innovation is all well and good, but the First Tumbler proved to be lacking in practicality based on my experience.
As a parent of two young children (soon to be joined by a third), we have bought, tried, tested and discarded any number of beakers, bottles and "sippy" cups in an effort to find the perfect blend between ease of use, ease of cleaning and the security of its liquid contents. Too many have failed to deliver, tossed away in frustration as our bottle brush failed to reach dried milk or juice in the furthest reaches of the teat, or having lost one of the plethora of perplexing parts seemingly needed to make it function properly. However, in this endless quest for the perfect toddler tumbler, we may finally have found one that fits the bill - Vital Baby's "Baby's First Tumbler".
To be frank, in a market dominated by the likes of Avent and Tommee Tippee, Vital Baby was not a brand we had come across before. However, a little digging revealed that they are a family owned business, based in Hertfordshire, that have been in the baby products business for 35 years. The Vital Baby brand itself was launched in 2005 and has gone from strength to strength. Their brightly coloured products can now be found at high street stalwarts like Mothercare, Boots, John Lewis, and Toys R Us (see their web-site: www.vitalbaby.co.uk for more details) and on-line at Ocado and Amazon.
STYLE & SUBSTANCE
This particular product - Baby's First Tumbler - currently comes in three colours (orange, blue and pink) with a 120ml capacity, and retails for around £2.70. It is intended for use at the weaning stage, helping to transition the baby from breast to bottle, and has a number of innovative features that prove that design and style don't have to come at the cost of substance and practicality. As you would expect from quality modern baby products, it is constructed from materials that are free of BPA (Bisphenol-A) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) - both of which are potentially harmful substances used in the manufacture of plastics, and is also latex free (a potential allergen).
So what makes this product special? For a simple moulded bit of plastic intended to feed a toddler's milk habit, a remarkable amount of thought has gone into its design. Starting from the bottom up, it has a grippy rubberised base that keeps the bottle stable on flat surfaces, and the grip extends in two "leafs" up the sides which allow baby to hold it securely, even with dirty, greasy hands. Some tumblers get quite top heavy when the liquid inside gets below a certain level, but the rubber grips ensure that this product does not fall over. The bottle itself is just the right size for the small hands of new toddlers and fulfils the needs of the intended target market perfectly. Vital Baby do a follow-on product - a 280ml Toddler Tumbler - which is more suitable for older kids. Our son is around 16 months now and is beginning to need more than the 120ml the "Baby's 1st" provides, so we have invested in its larger capacity counterpart, which is identical in every respect other than size.
The top twists off to reveal the really innovative bit - the one-piece non-spill valve. This valve slots into two snugly fitting holes on the bottom side of the bottle top and has a small, almost invisible, clear silicon strip that regulates the flow of liquid out of the bottle, which the child has to suck to release. The valve easily comes out with a firm tug to convert the product into a free-flow bottle. It's best to slide the strip off when you are cleaning the valve, provided you remember to replace it before you use it, as otherwise milk will flow straight out. The lid, which features the Vital Baby logo on a discreet badge, is made of a very soft spout with three holes in it, which is very kind to baby's teeth and gums. The valve regulates the flow of liquid remarkably well, and our son has never had any problems getting his milk out of it. The whole ensemble is completed by a clear coloured plastic spout cover that has three small nibs that engage with the holes in the spout, ensuring that it doesn't spill - even in free flow mode - and also preventing milk or juice from drying in the holes.
This product (and the "Toddler Tumbler" - its larger stable mate) are without doubt the most complete "sippy cups" we have ever used. We now have four of the smaller ones, two blue and two orange, which have seen us through the last five months of weaning. Apart from their excellent design and functionality, they are also very durable, and have stood up to the rigours of the dishwasher and hand washing quite well, meaning we will be only too happy to use them when our third child, due in February, needs weaning in around a year's time. They are currently available on Amazon for just over £2.00 - which represents fantastic value for money.
© Hishyeness 2011