Product Type: Vital Baby kids equipment
Newest Review: ... the bowl, things began to change in tandem with her physical development and general increasing curiosity and desire to assert her inde... more
Vital for Weaning Babies!
Vital Baby Unbelievabowl
Member Name: jo1976
Vital Baby Unbelievabowl
Date: 02/08/12, updated on 24/01/13 (84 review reads)
Advantages: Inexpensive, simple to use, secures bowl into position
Disadvantages: Only suitable for smooth plastic trays
I acquired this 'Unbelievabowl' as part of a Vital Baby toddler weaning set, and probably wouldn't have purchased it as an individual item, given my disappointing past experiences with similar products. If purchased individually, this bowl costs around £4.99 which includes a single (small) weaning bowl and a detachable base which secures to the highchair tray and locks the bowl into position. This design is supposed to have a 'childproof locking mechanism' which prevents curious toddlers from experimenting with the effects of gravity on their bowl of food!
The interlocking bowl and base system is pretty simple but ingenious and, despite my initial cynical reservations, proved to be surprisingly effective at thwarting my youngest son's attempts to redecorate the kitchen floor, certainly during the early stages of independent feeding. Using the bowl and its base is straightforward although I did struggle initially as the bowl arrived already attached to its base and I had a real struggle trying to twist it off! When used properly, the small round base secures to a plastic high chair tray by pressing down a lever which creates a vacuum under the rubber seal at the bottom. This makes the base extremely difficult to remove without raising the lever again and releasing the vacuum. The bowl attaches directly to the base by twisting it into a small groove in a clockwise direction until it clicks securely into place. Removing the bowl is a matter of firmly twisting it anti-clockwise. Removal does take quite a bit of strength and effort, and has sometimes resulted in me spilling some leftovers if I misjudge the effort needed! This does mean that a baby or toddler would certainly not be able to remove the bowl from the base.
It is important to note that this system is only effective on smooth surfaces which, in reality, means that it is not suitable for use with wooden high chairs or with high chairs used without trays as the base will not form a strong enough vacuum over a grainy surface. On a plastic highchair tray, I have found the suction to be more than adequate to keep this securely in position. The tray must be completely dry before use- attempting to wipe down the tray immediately prior to use will make this product pretty ineffective as I discovered. Vital Baby do warn that the Unbelievabowl won't be effective on scratched surfaces either. My son's tray does have some very minor surface scratches just through everyday use and this hasn't impaired the effectiveness of the bowl so I suspect that only really uneven scratched surfaces would be an issue.
It might seem a lot of unnecessary effort to install a bowl that is stuck into position but the benefits are particularly apparent during the very early days of weaning. My son loved helping himself to finger foods and soon began snatching at the spoon I was using to feed him, even at six months old. Unfortunately, his co-ordination was not quite as strong as his determination and he would often struggle as he inadvertently managed to push food and the bowl itself out of his reach, with his early attempts at self-feeding. This system really helped to reduce frustration as the bowl remained fixed in place, allowing him to develop the skill of mastering a spoon and improving his hand-eye co-ordination (even if the contents would inevitably drop off the spoon before reaching his mouth!) This is one of the reasons why I feel that the age recommendation on the packaging is a little over-cautious. This is marketed as a product for nine months plus, but I see no reason why this shouldn't be used at the very onset of weaning. I actually found it most useful during the period prior to my little one being nine months old as this was the period when he was most likely to view the bowl and its contents as a toy and more inclined to knock it or tip it, whether intentionally or unintentionally, on the floor. Fortunately, I found the combination of the bowl and its base to be a pretty secure system and my son, certainly up to the age of one, was not able to physically remove the bowl from the tray and get up to mischief!
The only other issue that I have with this bowl is that it is very small and shallow, again making the relatively high minimum age recommendation seem unhelpful. This size is fine for very young babies or for small amounts of finger food and snacks for a toddler, but nowhere near big enough to accommodate main meals for a growing toddler, which is a shame as it does limit the period of usefulness for this product. The bowl can still be used on its own, however, as a standard small weaning bowl, which is how I tend to use it nowadays for snacks and puddings. (There seems little sense in attaching it to a base when my son's meals are served on a plastic plate which isn't stuck into place.) The bowl is BPA free and also dishwasher proof. Despite well over a year's regular use, the plastic bowl is still in excellent condition with only a very slight degree of discolouration, presumably due to the dishwasher use.
Overall, this set is a great concept for the very early stages of independent feeding and is a much more reliable method of preventing toddlers from throwing the entire bowl on the floor than competitor's products. It is pretty good value for money too, especially as replacement bowls can be purchased from the Vital Baby website for £3.99 for a pack of two. This is an excellent idea as there really is no need to have any more than one base in the household, so this is a much more economical solution than buying another bowl and base set. I would certainly recommend the Unbelievabowl to other parents but would particularly advise purchasing this at the onset of weaning, to maximise the usefulness of the set.
Summary: An excellent and innovative baby product