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NB This is an amended version of the review I published on Ciao.
4 inch Oball
We have owned this ball for eight months, and used it almost daily for the last four. Our son is currently seven months old and this is clearly one of his favourite items to play with and to manipulate.
There are several different sizes of Bright Starts' Oball, most of which are available in a different colour. Ciao's stock photograph shows the Big Oball, however ours is the standard, four inch size in green.
This fun, educational toy is both a ball and a rattle. Its light-weight structure is designed to be flexible and easy to grasp. This was the first item that our son transferred from one hand to the other. I cannot remember if he was four months or five months old when he started transferring, but he was definitely doing this when he was five and a half months old as this is when I noticed that he has a preference for using his left hand.
This ball is very easy to grasp. The little rattle balls don't look like they could make much noise, but they certainly make enough for a child to experiment with the phenomenon of cause and effect.
Our son plays with this ball in two locations: on our loungeroom floor and while travelling in the car. When he is in the car he uses the ball as a rattle and a close play toy. When we are at home he gently throws the ball and likes to watch it roll. He shows no interest in using it as a teether.
Like any small toys, I recommend regular examination for any cracks or broken sections.
All in all, this is a fun toy that I am happy to recommend. It is available from Amazon for £5 as well as a number of toy stores such as Toys R Us, again for £5
Many years ago - indeed more than thirty - my intelligent yet uneducated uncle advised me that the recent introduction of plastic bags would not last. These items were bad for the environment, he advised me, and that one day we would return to the paper bags we knew so well.
Indeed my uncle's predictions turned out to be pretty much correct. With one exception. Bin liners for kitchen waste. Who wants to return to paper when plastic works so well at containing our cooking and kitchen detritus?
Now all this said, I do prefer to recycle and compost my cooking-related waste whenever I can. Furthermore I tend to place all kitchen waste into the wheelie bin at least once a day. This means that my kitchen bin is not particularly large. That said, I only half-fill my kitchen waste bin liners rather than overfill them....perhaps one day I may return to paper bags for this waste.
All this background leads me to the Tesco swing bin liner. This is a basic product which is sold as expected: as a tightly wound roll. Each bag measures 120 cm x 76 cm. The bags are all attached to each, but separated with a line of perforations which are easy enough to tear correctly.
In my opinion this bag is suitable for occasional, light use. By light use I mean soft, wet kitchen-related waste that doesn't completely fill the entire bag. This bag certainly wouldn't hold up to containing broken ceramics or similar items.
This white plastic bag is very lightweight, and therefore probably not suitable for households with families.
Verdict: probably suitable for a minority of household situations.
I am a huge fan of the range of E45 products. I find that they keep well, and that I can effectively dip in and out of using them over the year. An affordable product, it means that I can spend more money on more luxurious brands. A win-win for everyone. Except perhaps the environment.
White in color, this lotion smells the same as the rest of the range - a fresh, light scent that to me smells a little similar to baby talc powder.
I use this E45 Nourish and Restore body lotion as an all-over moisturiser. The product itself is thin enough to spread a small amount easily, but not so thick as to feel like I am applying clay to my skin. The company describes it as lightweight and I agree with this statement.
In my opinion, this lotion moisturizes my legs and arms well. It’s true that my feet and elbows need additional support when it comes to moisturizing and nourishing, but I am very happy with this E45 lotion. I certainly notice that the lower sections of my legs are more dry when I am not using this lotion.
I recommend this product as an inexpensive, all over moisturiser.
NB baby wearing safety rules for ALL TYPES of carriers
1 Kissable head and visible face with two finger widths space below the chin
2 Back carrying is not safe before the baby can sit themselves up independently from lying - usually 6-7 months old.
As one of, if not the, original producers of the baby carrier for the Western world, the Baby Bjorn brand is synonymous with baby carrying. So much so that first time parents are often amazed to discover that there are around two hundred different types of carriers available.
Types of carriers include ring slings, pouch, wraps, Mai tai, soft structured carriers, hard structured carriers and some that are a combination of these .
This soft structured carrier was given to me by a friend who had used it with her children. I used it almost daily when my son was aged 1- 6 weeks old.
This carrier is designed to be worn on the front of the adult with the child ideally facing inwards, ie towards the adult. It can be worn forward facing however the ergonomics of both this carrier and the weight of the child means that forward facing becomes uncomfortable for the wearer very fast.
It is easy to put on and to wear. It is very suitable for infants from eight pounds aged up to approximately two months old, three months if the baby is not too heavy in my opinion. Infants should only be forward-facing carried - if they really must be - from about four months of age; when they have full head support so they don’t occlude their airway.
The manufacturer states it has been tested for children weighing up to 25 pounds. This is greater than what our daughter weighed aged one. I cannot imagine wearing such an old child in this carrier.
Being a lightweight carrier, it has minimal padding for the adult, making it not as comfortable as some other carriers. This carrier is designed to become longer as the baby gets taller. However in doing this, the supporting section between the child’s legs becomes narrower. The ideal position for an infant to “sit” in is with the knees slightly higher than the hips and this is achieved with the seat/crotch section covering the area from knee to knee. As this carrier is made larger there becomes less support in this area.
In my opinion, SAFE baby wearing is better than no baby wearing. The Bjorn is a solid first carrier for the early months, but there are much better options available.
Maclaren Triumph Umbrella Stroller
I am sure that when I was a toddler over forty years ago, most children had just the one stroller - which we called a pram.
For decades on and I am astounded at just how many different types of transportation systems exist for infants, toddlers and slightly older children. Indeed we are now onto owning our sixth or seventh stroller across two children.
We used this Maclaren Triumph Umbrella Stroller from when our daughter was about nine months old until she was approximately 3.5 years of age. We mainly used it when we were going on short trips like to the shopping mall, and too the zoo where we are members.
The Maclaren brand has been around for years. It is a name that I have always associated with strollers rather than racing cars.
This Triumph umbrella stroller is suitable for children from six months of age until they weigh 55 pounds. My five year old is 40 pounds - I couldn't imagine she’d fit into it when she is seven or older.
In my opinion this is a basic umbrella stroller with a bonus small under seat storage basket and useful weather shade. The seat is sling style, the harness is the typical five point kind and there is an adjustable crotch strap. There are three reclining positions: totally flat, nearly flat, and not as upright as I would like. Our daughter usually had the position in the most upright setting - I used a jumper or cardigan to prop her up if necessary.
Weighing 13 pounds, this aluminum framed stroller isn’t particularly light but it can easily be collapsed using one had. There is a large clip that then holds it closed. A carrying strap can be used when the stroller is folded, which makes hauling it around easier.
I like that the front wheels can be locked in place or be set to swivel. There is only one wheel brake - my preference would be for two.
This stroller is easy enough to use and has nicely padded handles. However it can tip backwards when stationary if a heavy bag is placed on the handles and there is no child in the stroller. The product specifications suggest that the bag needs to weigh just under 10kg for this to happen however in my experience my nappy bag wasn’t as heavy as this.
Finally, the seat cover is washable, thankfully.
In summary, this is a fairly basic umbrella stroller with a few extras that simply doesn’t “wow” me.
Lindam Adjustable Back Seat Mirror
Until I became a mother over five years ago, I had no idea just how many useful child-related products are available to make parents’ lives easier.
We received this mirror second hand prior to the birth of our daughter. I knew straight away that this would be useful, as I wanted to keep an eye on our newborn whilst I drove around. We used it until our daughter switched to forward facing sometime after her second birthday.
I can still, although barely, recall the days that young children were not compelled to travel in a car seat. Nowadays, the general recommendation is that children remain rear-facing for as long as possible and certainly ideally until their fourth birthday. I heard one country (possibly in Scandinavia) was considering extending this until the seventh birthday.
This means that a mirror like this one is a Godsend. This large mirror fits onto the backrest of the rear passenger seat, in a harness-like fashion. The mirror is in a type of frame, the backing of which is attached to a small unit that means that the mirror can pivot upwards or sideways, ensuring that the driver gets the best view possible of the child.
The mirror surface seems to be of quality. It is not made of the usual glass, but instead of some kind of reflective material which provides a good image. However, it does scratch more easily than I would like.
I particularly like the fact that this unit has a grown up appearance, rather than being styled in baby-friendly colors and/or patterns.
Finally, the mirror is easy to wipe clean.
Lindam Harness and Reins
I never realised how controversial toddler reins could be until I became the parent of a toddler. My previous experience with such reins and harness was approximately 40 years ago, when my younger sister was around two years old. The little contraption she wore certainly did keep her safe in crowded situations.
By the time my own daughter was ready for a harness and reins, I discovered that none of my friends or acquaintances used or “believed in them”. That is, they felt that the child would be too restricted, unable to explore at will.
I suppose this is somewhat true, however one must consider the need for safety first. Our little girl, as she was at the time, was a complete tear-away. So quick and nimble-footed, it was imperative that we used whatever resources we could to keep her safe in crowded places like the zoo.
This Lindam Harness and Rein set can be used when a child is walking out and about, as well as to help secure them in a high chair. We used ours in the former situation for approximately several months from when our daughter was a little under two years old. The company states that this product is suitable for ages six months to four years old. However, this product has very small sizing. Our daughter was able to use it when wearing a tee shirt, but it was too small on her for her to wear a jumper and definitely not a coat.
The product does seem to be well made and it is obviously designed to fit snuggly on a child. The buckles are difficult to do up, which is annoying when one is toddler wrangling!
I think that a wrist rein is a better choice.
This Sunshine Kids Cool Shade is actually the third that we bought as the first two failed to stay attached to the car window. One was a "sucker style" shade and the other was a similar shade to this one that I am reviewing today.
We have two children and spend most of the year in a sunny climate, so having a form of car shade is very important for our family.
This shade is made from black, translucent plastic. As expected from such a product, it is designed to reduce the glare and direct sunlight on car passengers - usually young children.
This shade is very easy to use. It attaches itself to the inside of the car window via static. For this to work best, the window needs to be cleaned thoroughly prior to applying the shade in a wiping manner. This ensures that the majority of air bubbles are removed, and thereby improving the fix to the window.
This shade material is so thin that the window can be moved/wound down. That said, I would not and do not do this as our previous, different branded shade came off while the window was down and was irretrievable.
This sunshade works fine. However, it seems to be available only in black - the colour that attracts the sun and heat the most.
Available from several places including Amazon for £3 - £6 for a two pack, this cool shade comes recommended from me if you are after a simple, inexpensive shade.
Hello Kitty Booster Seat
Our five year old daughter has several different car seats and booster seats in a total of three cars that are used regularly: mine, my husband’s and our nanny/babysitter.
Many countries have rules and regulations surrounding child restraints. The latest evidence is that child booster seats (as opposed to those for short adults) are not much safer than only wearing a seat belt.
That said, these booster seats are great for transporting an extra child to or from school or local activity. That is, for short journeys. It is aimed at children aged 4- 1 years, with the weight limits being 15 - 36 kilograms.
Our daughter is a huge fan of Sanrio’s Hello Kitty character, so this booster seat (made in China) was an easy pick for her. It is fabricated from a lightweight, plastic and is very pink - what I describe as “Hello Kitty” pink. This plastic seating is then covered with Hello Kitty fabric.To be perfectly honest, it feels a little hard to touch and definitely has a cheap, hard plastic feel to it. However I am not the person sitting on it, and neither our daughter nor any of her friends have made any negative comments about it.
Booster seats such as these are designed to be held in place by the user’s weight and by the user’s lap belt which goes through the hook-styled support arches at either side of the back corners. If these were designed a little differently they would be arm rests.
Being lightweight, this booster seat is easy to carry and to transfer between vehicles when necessary. It is easy enough to wipe clean, although that said our daughter hasn’t really ever spilt much more than a few crumbs on this so it’s not like it has been drenched in juice or milk. If this were to happen then I’d pop the removable fabric cover in the washing machine on a cold, gentle cycle.
Our daughter loves showing this booster seat off to her friends. She doesn’t use it every day, nor even each week, so when she does it feels like a special treat for her.
As booster seats go, this could be improved with the addition of cupholders and ideally a back.
Recommended for occasional, short-journey use.
I was a latecomer to Soap and Glory products and I admit that I first tried this brand when I heard others say good things and when I realised just how cute and eye-catching this brand’s packaging can be.
This “No Clogs Allowed” product from Soap and Glory is an at home deep pore detox mask for use on areas prone to blackhead buildup. Currently (May 2015) retailing for £11.50 at Boots, this weekly use face treatment aims to do just what you think it should.
The company states that this product is suitable for oily/combination skin types and “it deep cleans, melts away pore-plugging sebum and softens keratinised skin cells to prevent breakouts and blemishes.” This is a powerful statement in my opinion, and one which I will address shortly.
The information and use directions on the packaging are simple and clear to understand.
Firstly, shake the tube to ensure the ingredients are well combined. Then massage a grape-sized amount of the product onto your face (and/or a similar amount to other areas you may be treating such as your chest or upper back). Wet your hands then scrub the product until you feel it heating and notice that the scrub is turning blue. Wait five minutes and then remove the scrub with a warm wet face cloth.
I really like the feeling of warm face products on my skin. This one warms up very quickly but sadly, although typically for this type of product, it does not stay warm for a long time. I like the quirkiness of this mask’s colour change, although having my face turn blue is a little strange.
This mask does leave my skin feeling soft and clean, and it does seem to clear out the pores around my nose - the area of my face most prone to blackheads. I suppose it might reduce breakouts and blemishes in some people however as these are few and far between now that I am in my forties I am unable to comment on this.
This is a great mask that is both fun to use and that works well. Recommended!
NB I may choose to publish this review elsewhere.
Soap and Glory Hand Food
My poor hands were subjected to a lot of hand washing, alcohol gel and gloves throughout the five years I was studying to be a medical doctor followed by four years working the wards. I used numerous different hand creams over this time as a preventative measure against dry skin.
This review is for Soap and Glory Hand Food. Sold in the now iconic pink retro look packaging, this product is available in several sizes: 250ml, 125ml and 50ml. My preference is for the 125ml flip top option which is currently available for £5.50.
The white cream itself is exactly as one would expect. That is, it is quite viscous. ie fairly thick and not at all “runny”. The cream soaks into the skin well and fairly quickly without leaving a greasy feeling.
The scent of this “hand food” is pleasant, in my opinion. It smells of a combination of strawberries, mandarin or orange, musk and vanilla. The smell stays on my hands for at least thirty minutes on a non-work day.
This hand care item treats my nails and hands well. That said (or rather, written), I haven’t had any cracked skin on my hands or fingers since I gave up gymnastics thirty years ago. This means that this hand food may or may not prevent my hands from becoming dry, but I certainly cannot judge its ability to repair cracked or dried skin and nails.
A nice, inexpensive product to have. Recommended for hands in fair condition.
We regularly have four or five bottles of liquid hand wash on the go. One in the kitchen and two in each of the bathrooms. Why two? In the main bathroom one bottle is for our young daughter and one is for guests, and then my husband and I each use a different bottle in our en suite bathroom.
This lovely Molten Brown hand wash was part of a gift package I received several years ago. And what a luxurious version of a simple daily-use product this hand wash is. It no longer appears on the Molten Brown website, however similar versions of this 300ml product retail for £16.00.
The soap-free hand wash comes in a clear plastic bottle with a pump action top that dispenses a small, pea-sized amount of the solution. This really is all that is needed for each wash, provided it is applied to hands that are already wet.
This light green coloured hand wash lathers up nicely, in a way that reminds me of soft creamy bubbles. In my opinion, the scent is slightly fruity and with a hint of citrus. The scent is pleasant and long-lasting.
The product, which the manufacturers claim is paraben-free, contains a whole host of ingredients, with the most noticeable being orange oil and grapefruit seed.
I really like the way this wash feels on my hands and the remaining scent is lovely. Thankfully it is not at all overpowering despite being noticeable a few hours after use.
Recommended - for luxury hands.
A child of the 70s, I grew up in a household where bars of hand and body soap were the norm. This household situation did not change when Softsoap and other liquid hand washes became available in the late 1980s.
I believed this to be a normal situation, until I started supporting myself at university by working in the food & catering industry. It was here that I discovered that bar soap was much feared due to the potential for contamination of bacteria and general dirt.
Thereafter, liquid hand soap became the norm in my world, at work and at home. I am not at all loyal to any specific brands, preferring to buy what is on offer.
This Radox Protect Handwash costs around £1 for a 300ml bottle. This product aims to preserve the hands' natural pH level whilst gently cleaning. This in turn reduces the chances of the hands being cracked and dry, which further decreases the chances of local infection. Hence the word "protect" in the name of this product.
The handwash is easily dispensed from the supplied pump-top. A small amount is dispensed. This volume is enough for the hands to be clean correctly. The product has a light scent of tea tree, and when in the bottle, a hint of light green.
The wash lathers nicely and does not irritate or dry out my hands. It rinses off easily. All in all, this Radox washes well.
It's hard to go wrong with a product from the Radox family.
The current term for placing a baby in a wrap, sling, soft structured carrier or hard structured carrier is “babywearing”.
I am a member of the non-profit organisation Babywearing International. I adore wearing my five-month old son in several different baby wearing items I own, and I write this review of the Moby wrap from the perspective of a parent and not an expert.
Readers should note that there is very specific safety guidance surrounding baby wearing young infants and sadly deaths due to misuse are not unheard of. Guidance includes ensuring the baby’s head is easily kissable by the wearer, the baby’s face can be seen at all times by the wearer, and there is a two finger wide space between the baby’s chin and chest. All these pieces of advice reduce the chances of the infant’s airway being compromised.
The Moby wrap is a long and wide piece of stretchy, soft, breathable,100% cotton that is available in a number of different colors and is suitable for infants 8-35 pounds. It is also very suitable as a first wrap, as the stretchiness of the fabric means that the wrap can be wrapped around the adult and a knot tied prior to the baby being placed amongst the various passes/folds/areas of the fabric.
This manufacturers of this wrap recommend inward-facing front carrying and hip carrying. Moby has withdrawn its suggestions of forward facing carries.
The nature of this item means that it evenly distributes the baby's weight across the wearer’s body. Moby markets this wrap as being “plus size friendly”.
As a hand-me-down, I was not provided with any instructions for use. However there is a downloadable PDF from the Moby website. More importantly, there are dozens of youtube videos demonstrating different ways of putting this wrap on, known as “wrapping”. This makes wrapping VERY easy.
This wrap is very durable. Potential users should note that the wrap needs to be tied much tighter than you might think necessary, as it stretches a lot within a few minutes of the baby being worn and it can become very loose.
It is possible to nurse while wearing the wrap.
My son loves being in this wrap and often falls asleep with minutes of being placed in it. The only drawback is that I can get too hot while wearing him in it.
This wrap is very easy to care for as it is machine washable and can be tumble dried.
Note. I may choose to publish this review elsewhere.
Throughout my twenties and early thirties, there was one skincare brand that I really trusted. I regularly bought and used Clarins products…most often when I visited France where I found these items to be markedly cheaper. This was a time when I was more vain than I am now, and very concerned about preserving my looks. It was also a phase in my life where I was swayed by a lot of marketing material and believed that products such as these really could preserve my youthfulness.
Clarins Purifying Toning Lotion
I have a combined skin type, i.e. an oily “T” zone and dry cheeks. I no longer use this product as, to be honest, I find that a simple skincare regime works best for me.
This toner is the second step in a typical three stage home skincare regime. That is one which commences with a cleanser, followed by a toner and then finally a moisturiser.
The aim of a toner is supposedly to remove any excess oil remaining from cleaning and also to stimulate and therefore refreshes the skin while maintaining the skin’s natural pH level. This toner also acts as a preparation for application of a moisturiser.
So how do I feel about this product? To be honest, I am not a fan of any toners that I have tried. Like so many others, this toner does remove traces of dirt and oil that I haven’t cleaned off properly. However my skin always felt a little taught and tingly in a “not so nice” way when I used this. This sensation quickly subsided once I applied my moisturiser.
The toner itself is easy enough to apply. I use a ball of cotton wool to apply a small amount of the product to my face in a linear or circular motion. The scent of the toner is inoffensive; it has a hint of citrus fruit to it.
The current price for this, as at May 2015, is £18 for 200ml. The 400ml bottle is better value at £30.00.
It should be no surprise that I am indifferent to this product, as demonstrated by the fact that I no longer use it. I don’t believe that it - or any toner - works. Therefore I cannot personally recommend this toner.
NB This review also appears on Ciao