Friday, March 26, 2010

Skip Hop Mate - Stay-put mat & plate

Despite all the amazing and innovative highchairs on the market today, you might be surprised to learn that I have two old ones in my house. One belonged to me and my siblings when we were little, and it's a beautiful, worn-in wooden Roxton one. The other is a metal and vinyl '70s-style model that I got for $5 at a thrift store. I enjoy that the vinyl seat upholstery matches the formica tray pattern. I admit I've been tempted to splurge on new highchairs, with wheels, numerous removable and dishwasher-safe trays, height adjustments, padding, and so on. But I don't think I can justify it, and I do love the vintage quality of both mine.

Neither of these chairs have a lip on the edge of the tray, which can be a bit of a problem for early eaters. Food cannot just be placed directly onto the tray, or it goes everywhere fast. It has to be on some type of plate. With my older child (almost 3), we now pull her right up to the table without the tray (it just swings to the back on little arms). That works fine because she's older. My son uses the vinyl chair, and it has a metal bar around the tray, but a large food-hungry gap to go along with it. He just turned 1, and if I give him his meal on a small round plate, it generally ends up capsized or on the floor.

I wasn't looking for a solution to this problem, but I happened to see the Skip Hop Mate in a store while looking for birthday presents for my son. I had very few ideas for what to get a second-born 1-year-old, so I thought this could be great. I was right! It's a fabulous design. It fits really well on the little tray of his chair, and the 3 little plate sections let me keep things organized (until his chubby little fingers mix it all up anyways). A tiny fork and spoon fit onto the side nubs, and the inner white plate lifts out for easy cleaning. The coloured bottom mat is coated with a rubbery non-slip surface, although I wouldn't say it always stays put. The bottom of the mat does hang a little over the edge of our tray, so now he's able to grab it and move it if he wants to. Still, not as easy to fling or flip as a little round plate would be.

You have to be careful with tomato-based or very red/orange foods, because they can stain the rubber mat easily. Wash immediately to combat this.

I know that I'm really liking this product because I wash it between meals... that generally never happens with any of the plates I own!

Purchased at Cheeky Monkey for $24.99 (I think). Available in orange, blue and pink. BPA-free, Phthalate-free, PVC-free.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Melissa & Doug sound puzzle

Melissa & Doug makes fabulous wooden toys... no secret there. How do the puzzles stack up?

Their puzzles are excellent quality. No rough edges, no poor fit (I have other, cheaper wooden puzzles that have splinters waiting on the edges and that need to be jammed in order to fit in the correct spot). The sound puzzles are very unique. We have the "vehicles" one, and each vehicle makes its own accurate(ish) sound as the correct piece is placed in the right spot. The illustrations are bright and colourful, and in an artistic style that makes them easily recognizable to even very young children. I've never had to replace the batteries, and we've owned it approximately one year.

Now, the main reason I wanted to review this product is because A GHOST LIVES IN MELISSA & DOUG SOUND PUZZLES. No, not really. But you'd be surprised at how often the sounds go off when no one is playing with it! Other sound puzzle owners have told me the same thing, and what we've noticed is that it's usually light-related; either a light has been turned on or off in the room, or the sun is setting and the light coming through a window changes. Not a huge deal, but when you consider that one of the pieces in the vehicles puzzle is an ambulance, it can sometimes freak you out!

Ours was given to us as a gift, but they run about $15.99 and are available at many baby boutiques and Toys R Us. Other sound puzzles available: Farm, Musical Instruments, Shapes, Pets, and Emergency Sounds.

Baby Einstein Move and Go Music Mirror

What's a rear-facing child to do?

The poor kids. Especially the firstborns. There is seriously NOTHING to do back there! Here, stare at a headrest. Bored yet?
I bought this little contraption when my daughter stopped falling asleep every time we drove somewhere. One of the things I like best about it is the remote control! With the little plastic star-shaped remote, you can turn it on/off, adjust the volume, turn off the lights (for driving in the dark... you don't really want to blind your child), and set the mode.

Essentially what it does is light up, play classical music, and teach colour names in three languages (english, french and spanish). I could do without the other languages, but I'm sure they do no harm. The lights do a little bit of a "dance" along with the music notes, so it can be pretty intriguing for an older, alert baby. As the product description says, "Lights and melodies mode for ultimate fun!". That may be a tad of an oversell, but hey, why not. There is also a mirror attached to the panel to help you see what your baby is up to back there (conducting, no doubt.. didn't you know Baby Einstein products turn your kid into a genius?).

The panel attaches easily to a headrest with an adjustable strap and buckle. It can also perch in the back window by setting it up like a little easel and sticking it to your fuzzy car shelf with the velcro strip. The toy takes 4 AA batteries, and if I'm being honest, it powers through them pretty quickly. Still a great toy to have at your disposable though.

It was over 2 years ago that I bought it, but i believe it was around $25. Purchased at my local Walmart.