Koochi Speedstar Stroller

The Koochi Speedstar Stroller is epic. That’s all you really need to know.

However, if you insist on knowing more I have thought about it a bit further than that and written some things…

(Amelia also spent time evaluating the stroller)

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Compared to other strollers in this range, such as those from Maclaren, Graco and Quinny – you get so much more for your money. Priced at around £140 (possibly cheaper from stockists) it’s a mid-range stroller in a market with plenty of options – but it really makes its mark.

The design makes a real statement. It isn’t a boring black or grey like a lot of the others about. It isn’t even a standard pink, red or blue. The Speedstars comes in colours that ensure you’ll be seen – and never lose sight of it yourself. We were sent the Mix Magenta and it really stood out next to our existing stroller and buggy collection. You could see it turning heads as you walked down the street. In a good way, I think.

The build is wider than usual, so no squeezing your tiny tot in and there is plenty of room to grow. The basket below the seat is roomy, much more so than I’ve seen on others strollers. There is no need to quickly launch my daughter out of her seat to get the rain cover out when it started raining and it could hold a good amount from a quick trip to the shops.

The other bonus of this room is that it allows the seat can lay flat, which is fantastic for when your fifth trip round the block finally does the trick and your little ‘un drops off. It makes it much more comfortable for them, meaning they get that little bit extra they really need (and a break you deserve).

The downside of all of this that is that it is slightly heavier and bulkier than other strollers, which can be an issue when folding it and putting it in the boot of a car. However, that’s the trade off. You can have spacious and sturdy, or cramped and flimsy.

As well as the sturdy build quality, you also get added extras that would usually come as a costly optional accessory. A matching changing bag, a nice fleecy foot muff and even a cup holder, which is great for carrying much-needed caffeine (or perhaps something stronger depending on how many trips around the block you’ve needed to get them to sleep…)

I have found myself on a few reviews getting to this point of the post and saying that the price can put some people off, but the Koochi Speedstar is fantastic value for money. It compares very well to competitors, even those who cost more, so they are really making good strides at grabbing a share of busy parents’ attention.

I was very impressed and will be recommending to anyone who will listen.

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Brother Max Baby Thermometers

In a world where you are swimming in things in the nursery (stacking cups, bibs, nappies, books, chairs, vests, muslins, walkers – you get the point) a small something that can take the place of several things is already on to a winner.

So when Brother Max said they wanted me to try out five things that are just two things I almost bit their hand off…

Brother Max One-Touch 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer

The ‘three’ bit comes from the readings it gives; ear, forehead and room. And it will give you a reading for whichever one you choose in just 1 second to an accuracy of 0.1 degrees thanks to using fancy infrared technology.

When you have a potentially ill baby wriggling and screaming in your arms, needing their temperature taken, there are two things you really need; quickness and accuracy. This thermometer gives you both, in abundance.

As a room thermometer this also ticks a lot of boxes. It has a dock that you can rest on a surface or attach to the wall. Don’t worry about which way up you put it, like a smartphone it will self-correct the display! How clever is that? For a thermometer!

The price may catch some people out (it retails at about £34.99) but you’re paying for the features and the ease of use. We had a cheaper thermometer from Lloyds Pharmacy, but it doesn’t double up as a room temperature checker, it’s not as quick, it can only be used externally. You see where I’m going; it may seem like a lot for a thermometer but it really gives you great value for money.

Brother Max Ray Bath and Room Thermometer

Temperature is important as a parent. Little people need extra care when it comes to hot and cold. Usually something that helps you out with that would be boring. This isn’t. It llooks and acts like a toy. And one that looks like a manta ray at that!

Throw it into the bath as you run the water and it’ll let you know what the temperature is. If it gets too hot the LCD screen starts flashing away letting you know it’s not good for little skin. It also saves you from burning the skin off your elbow when you test the water yourself.

Amelia loves the colours and the shape, sinking her teeth into it given half a chance. It keeps her happy as we transition from the bath to her bedroom to get her all ready for (what I hope will be) sleepy time. This is where it doubles up to become a room thermometer.

Once I can get it out of the her superglue-esque grip I can set it on the side and it’ll tell me if the room is anywhere near the recommended 19 degrees. If it gets too chilly it gives you a visual warning, like it does with the bath water, so you can take action.

Overall, both of these are great pieces of kit that give that added peace of mind to parents, especially first timers, while also being highly functional and practical. As mentioned before, the price could put some people off but you get great value for money from Brother Max so I’d recommend splashing out if you can.

The above products were sent to me for an independent review by Brother Max team. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.

Giveaway: Funky Giraffe Dribble Bib

Previously I reviewed Funky Giraffe’s range of dribble bibs and absolutely loved them. Now, in time for Father’s Day, I’ve teamed up with them to giveaway two of their great designs, which would make great Father’s Day gifts!

To enter, simply complete the form below. Two winners will be picked at random.

Two winners will be picked at random when the giveaway ends at 10pm on Thursday 6th June 2013. The two winners details will be passed to Natalie at Love PR London, who will send the prizes.

Neither Jake Tries Things, Love PR London or Funky Giraffe will use entrants details for anything else other than contacting the two winners. We won’t spam you or subscribe you to newsletters. Good luck!

Gummee Glove Teething Mitten

Babies are lovely. However, babies, once they reach a few months of age, become eating machines. Not food, just things. Everything goes in the mouth; fingers, remote controls, chins, books, iPads, wet wipe bags. Everything.

It aids discovery but mainly soothes gums as tiny little razors try and break through their skin. Amelia reached that stage a while ago and, as a result, we are swimming in toys to soothe her (and distract her from the non-dribbleproof technology in our house).

The problem is that little people have little hands with little grip. More often than not, Amelia will have a teething toy for 10 seconds, then it is dropped on the floor. Daddy picks it up, gives it back, chomp chomp chomp, floor. Repeat ad infinitum.

One parent had the same problem and came up with the Gummee Glove.

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The Gummee Glove is a teething mitten that tries to get rid of the problem of little ‘uns lobbing toys they were eating away then moaning that they haven’t got a toy to eat.

It has three teething edges, a black and white crinkle patch (good for visual and audio stimulation) and a pocket to hold a teething ring. The sample I was sent came with a pink ring (blue is the other option naturally) which can be popped in the fridge to add extra cooling effect for little people or even replaced with a similar-sized teething ring that you might already have.

I found that while Amelia loved chomping away on it, the Gummee Glove acted like a sponge and soaked up all her dribble, then when she crawled along, she left little wet patches in her wake. She also got a little grumpy when she wanted to grab things with that hand and started to try and yank it off after about 10 minutes. I don’t think this would be a problem with younger babies, but Amelia is approaching 8 months so perhaps she is a little old for it.

The price may put some people off – £10.99 plus £3.60 P+P – but it depends how much you value saving time and your back, as well as not having to take several teethers out with you as they’ll all get dropped on icky floors.

Overall, I think that the Gummee Glove is great idea, with some little clever thoughts here and there to make it stand out in a crowded teething toy market. It is better suited to younger babies just starting to teeth, not crawling around or at a stage where they are able to pull it off.

The above products were sent to me for an independent review by The Gummee Glove team. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.

Funky Giraffe Bibs

When your other half is pregnant you spend a lot of time looking at cute little clothes that would suit an adorable little princess or a cool little dude. What you don’t think about is what those clothes will look like covered in dribble.

Once that baby arrives and dribble starts to ooze out of their mouth, especially when teething, you become an expert on bibs. You discover preferences your pre-parenting self would never have dreamt of having. Elasticated neck or poppers? Plastic backed or fleece? Either way you’ll need lots of them.

If you haven’t realised it yet, my latest product for review is a set of bibs.

funky Giraffe Bibs

I was sent a great range of dribble bibs from mummy producer Funky Giraffe.

The review got off to a great start when they arrived. My wife had several other new mums round for tea and biscuits. The bibs arrived and they were all over them!

Design

The first thing they noticed was the choice of designs; on the website there are a wide range from simple block colours, cool stripes and funky dots to cutesy animals and geeky chic VW campers. Usually you’re stuck with a choice of overly cute or just plain boring, so it is great to find something different. Funky Giraffe has some quite fashionable, creative designs that, as my wife said, “doesn’t ruin a carefully chosen outfit” which is really important for a 6 month old. Apparently.

Value

The cost is a massive plus, especially for new parents. I expected them to be on the slightly pricey side in comparison to Asda and Mothercare, what with them being well designed and provided by a smaller independent company. I was wrong. Very wrong. The bibs are incredibly reasonable, with large discounts for multiple items, such as 10 for £20.50 or 5 for £11 with free postage. Great value.

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Using the bibs

With the designs and the price ticking all the boxes I expected them to perform poorly when they came to doing their primary function of stopping dribble. Again, I was very wrong. Very very wrong.

Usually Amelia will soak both her bib and herself, as well as anyone happening to be around her at the time. With these bibs she can dribble to her heart’s content. The Funky Giraffe bibs got so wet they felt like they needed wringing out. Amelia’s neck and top? Bone dry thanks to the fleecy lining. Ace.

These are by far the best bibs we have come across and since getting them for review we have been telling everyone who will listen (and those who try not to) how great they are. We will definitely be buying some of these in the future for Amelia and even as gifts for other babies we know; as we found out when they arrived, the mums sure like them!

The above products were sent to me for an independent review by Natalie at Love PR on behalf of Funky Giraffe. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here.

Bathtime Buddies

Bathtime is my thing. My wife spends all day with my 4 month old daughter, so when I come home from work it is my time to shine, bonding with her as I get her bathed and ready for bed.

Amelia and I love it. She splashes around, while I get to see her smile her little head off. However, as she develops, raspberries and stupid faces courtesy of her father just won’t cut it  anymore. She’ll need some bath toys, so the opportunity to review some was well timed.

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H&A’s Bathtime Buddies arrived and I had been sent four things:

Wash Buddy

A bright yellow duck that doubles as a wash sponge. Perfect. Amelia loved this. It was bright. It was soft. It was practical – which she didn’t care about but ticked a box for me! Saves bringing two things to bathtime. It was also very lightweight and textured, which was good for her little, slippery, grasping hands.

Mr Clock

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While this is a little old for Amelia at the moment, she liked the colours and I look forward to teaching her to tell the time with it. Each number can be popped out and they, along with Mr Clock himself, stick easily to wet surfaces and are nice and soft should a certain small person try to eat it, as happens with everything at the moment.

Bath crayons

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I’m not 100% sure why children need to draw in the bath (H&A say it’s for hand-eye coordination development), but the idea is interesting so I was looking forward to seeing what they would come out like. Scared that I’d stain my bath tub for life, I tried them on the tiles, which the packet stated was ok.

I had gotten the tiles wet to test out the stickiness of Mr Clock, so gave them a go in the same area. Sadly they didn’t seem to take to the wet area, preferring to only write on the dry tiles. This is somewhat problematic, what with bathtime being inherently, you know, wet.

Bath Tidy

Bathtime can be messy. Small people need a ridiculous amount of accessories and you quickly run out of bathside real estate, so a bath tidy is a must.

The Bathtime Buddies tidy hits the spot as it is neutral enough to suit any bathroom colour scheme, as well as being easy to bung in the wash, as it consists of just a net and two frogs heads. It also held up well to a stress test as I put around 6 full bottles of shower gel, shampoo and conditioner in it before it started to slide down the wall.
Overall, the great thing about the Bathtime Buddies range is the value. Mr Clock is just £1.25. My favourite of the range, the bath tidy, is a fantastic £2.00 – and they’re all easily available from major supermarkets.

I’ll be taking a trip to Wilko or Asda to see what else they’ve got as for a couple of quid you can’t go wrong (unless it’s things that only work on dry things in an environment of wet things…).

The Bathtime Buddies range was sent to me for an independent review by Rachel from Finn PR. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You can read my review policy here

Tomy Mattress Monitor

I’m a new dad. I’m also a geek (as my joy at my daughter’s Princess Leia hat demonstrates). Combine these two and you’ve got something special.

Before Amelia was born we bought a baby monitor. The Tomy Digital Plus TD350* to be exact. It is quite swish, with talkback, temperature display  vibrate mode and a remote controlled nightlight that cycles through the colour spectrum. Geeky dad heaven. However, it is the addition of something else that makes it more new-fangled and geeky; an integrated mattress monitor.

The Tomy Movement Sensor TSP500* is a panel that sits under a baby’s mattress and detects their breathing, with a base station that glows and clicks with every breath. If it doesn’t detect anything for 20 seconds an alarm goes off. We got a mattress monitor for Amelia after a recommendation from a friend about the peace of mind they give you, and with such a worrier for a wife, I jumped at the chance to placate her mind. We chose the Tomy TSP500 as it integrated with our existing setup.

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It’s a blessing. It’s also an absolute nightmare.

The overall concept of the sensor is fantastic, but there are a few flaws that make it hard work to like as a product.

The first problem is when you turn it on. You’ve just spent a fair chunk of your precious evening, missing the Grand Designs episode with the Irish castle you’ve been looking forward to for ages, to get your precious baby to sleep. You settle them into their cot. You turn on the mattress monitor. BEEEEEEEP goes the base station. BEEEEEEEEP goes the monitor handset. Yes. Cheers Tomy. I didn’t want to see Grand Designs anyway.

The second is the alarm. It is very sensitive. Granted it’s got quite a complex job to perform, but it’s the boy who cried wolf. Instead of a boy shouting “Wolf” there is an inanimate object tugging at your heart strings by suggesting your baby is in trouble. Our daughter can be quite a shallow breather, so the monitor doesn’t pick it up, and goes of. On average, it probably does that about 5 times a night. The villagers got annoyed and ignored the boy to his detriment, whereas I spring into action every time, only to find Amelia sleeping soundly when I get there.

For those who don’t have the TD350 monitor to plug it into, this is useless as you would have to be in the room to use it and it’ll only run on batteries. If you don’t have the Tomy TD350 monitor or one similar in the Tomy range, then I’d be tempted to say you should look at the Angelcare AC401* instead.

I sadly won’t be recommending this to anyone, but we will continue to use it every single day because as soon as you get that peace of mind, you can never live without it.

* Amazon Associate link

Princess Leia Geekling Hat

Baby clothes can be quite boring. The same pinky/blue colours and the same bear and bird patterns. If you do find something different, perhaps a slogan or two, it is smack bang in the middle of the road and downright meh. But not if you look off the beaten track…

As well as being a dad, I’m a geek. I love geeky film and technology things. I still have my Sega MegaDrive and refuse to get rid of my copy of Jurassic Park on VHS, so when Canada-based Geekling Designs got in touch, promising geeky and different baby clothes, I was interested right away. I had a look at their offerings, including 1337,  RSS Feed Me and Aperture Test Subject bodysuits, and knew they were for me.

After talking to the very friendly Jennifer  who runs Geekling Designs with her husband Rob, and she offered to send me a sneak preview of some upcoming clothing. It was something that would fly under the radar for those who didn’t know the films very well but was obvious enough for those in the know. I’d imagined scenarios where knowing people would nod at me in slow-motion as we walked past, a nod that said “well played sir”: A Princess Leia hat.

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The hat was surprisingly well-made for what I thought would be a novelty product. It was as if my nan was a secret Carrie Fisher fan so knitted the hat for Amelia and tried to sneak the cinnamon swirl hairstyle past my eyes. Amelia seemed to like it (as in she didn’t scream the house down when I put it on her) and it also seemed like quite a practical thick Winter hat that was useful for more than just a giggle at my daughter’s expense. What’s more, it did quite a good job of giving her a full hair of head! What more could my girl want?

I look forward to seeing the other hats that are coming up on the Geekling store. I may even gamble on a less-than-a-tenner mystery box, which is charmingly shaped like a Mario ? box.