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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Product Review: Flexibath

How much? £25 upward
Where? Online nursery retailers

Our house is a very standard size three bedroom, but unlike most we don’t have a bath in our bathroom! The family who lived here before us included a grandmother with mobility problems, so they removed the bath and installed a large shower instead. When we viewed the house, as a couple without kids, it didn’t matter to us as neither of us are the sort of people to spend hours lounging in the bath anyway, and as the bathroom is quite small it seemed like a good idea to maximise what space there is.

The Hubby redecorated the bathroom within 18 months of us moving in because it had been quite badly done, with ordinary laminate floor which had got wet and was stained and warped and not fitting properly, there was a lot of whitewashed wood everywhere which was a nightmare to keep clean and which looked cheap and nasty, and the cupboard under the sink had no back to it and sat away from the wall, so we were forever loosing things in the gap! He replaced the sink and the cupboard, we kept the same loo and the shower, and he re-tiled and laid a lovely slate tile floor and we were thrilled with how it turned out.

When The Boy was born, we used a standard baby bath from Mothercare to bath him in, originally in his bedroom as it was warmer than the bathroom. However as he got older, and he enjoyed splashing around in the bath, I found it didn’t matter how many towels I put under it, the carpet would still end up damp in his room – as it was a new carpet and underlay when we decorated the nursery I was keen that it didn’t get destroyed, and also carrying a bath full of water from the bathroom into the nursery was hell on my back and not the easiest task to do, so I began looking at other possibilities.

I discovered that as the shower is a large size, I could fit the baby bath in the shower tray at an angle going corner to corner, so I started doing that, and bathing The Boy in the baby bath in the shower cubicle. The door folds out of the way very well and it didn’t matter how much he splashed. As time went on and he got bigger, I began to have some concerns over how we would deal with bath-time as he got older as he still wouldn’t be ready to have a shower for a few years.

One evening on the internet I discovered the Flexibath from A Real Cool World, a company from Denmark. It’s advertised as being specifically designed for houses with showers and no baths, for taking away on holidays, and the fact that it folds completely flat (with a handy lock on it to stop it popping open unexpectedly) means that I can easily fold it away and hide it even in our tiny bathroom if I want to. It’s available in a wide range of colours, and though I was tempted to buy a blue one for The Boy I was sensible and opted for the clear one (though it does have blue trim at the fold points!) since we’ll be needing it for the next baby too. It was expensive at £25.95 plus £3.95 p+p, but after reading some excellent reviews on it I decided it would be worth the money. The Flexibath holds up to 39 litres and is advertised as being suitable for use for children up to around four years old, which is ideal for my needs. I went ahead and made the purchase, and received the bath from VUP Baby, a store I found on Amazon marketplace, within five working days of placing the order, which I thought was good delivery time considering I’d been warned to allow 14 working days.



The first thing that struck me about the Flexibath was that it didn’t look big enough to accommodate a child of four years old. It’s actually shorter in length than a standard baby bath, though rather than being shaped the same as a standard baby bath it is more of a box design, so you fit more water into a smaller space, if that makes sense. When reading the safety comments on the packaging, I noticed that it says Use only water and childrens soap and shampoo in the bathtub. Do not add baby oil or any other liquids to the water. Prolonged/extensive use of such liquids may damage the soft plastic (TPE). This I felt should have been advertised with the bath before I decided to make the purchase. The Boy suffers with eczema which is concentrated on his back and tummy, and I regularly used Oilatum bath additive to soothe this. I have e-mailed the manufacturers of Flexibath and written to them on their Facebook page enquiring whether Oilatum counts as the sort of additive not suitable for use in the Flexibath, but unfortunately so far have not received a response (The e-mail was sent six weeks ago: The Facebook message at the beginning of this week when I found their Facebook page). However Oilatum is a fairly expensive product (around £10 for a decent size bottle that lasts a month of The Boy having a bath every evening) and so I tend to use it when his eczema has flared up. At the moment I’m not using it as his eczema isn’t too bad, and instead I have switched to using an Oilatum soap bar to wash him with and coat him in Oilatum lotion (on prescription from his GP) after having a bath to keep it under control. Perhaps using it occasionally in the Flexibath would be OK but it’s obvious their customer service department can’t be bothered to respond to my query so in my book that’s a black mark against them anyway!

As the Flexibath doesn’t have the same non-slip patch on the bottom of it that a standard baby bath does, I’ve also had to invest in some ‘bath splats’ to stick to the bottom of it to make sure The Boy doesn’t slide about too much. I got bath splats as they’re about the side of your hand so I can fit a couple into the bottom of the Flexibath without any issue; a standard size bath mat could be used, but you’d have to cut it down to fit.

As the Flexibath is shorter than my standard baby bath was, it means it fits better into the shower tray and rather than having The Boy at a funny angle which put more stress on my already dodgy back lifting him in and out, I can now have the bath straight across the shower tray which makes it much easier for me (and The Hubby) to get him in and out without putting so much strain on our spines. As it’s more of a box shape than a standard baby bath, the sides are higher which helps contain The Boy as he is more mobile now, and if he does decide to splash about thanks to the high sides most of the water remains in the bath rather than giving me a shower at the same time! (Though having said that, now The Boy is playing more with his bath toys he has taken to filling those with water before dumping them out onto my lap, so once or twice my trousers have been soaked through anyway!)

The Flexibath, like most standard baby baths, has its own little rubbery bath plug which fits tightly into the hole. I encountered a problem with this though, and I think it’s worth noting: When running water into a normal baby bath, when you check the temperature and it isn’t quite right you can pop open the plug, let some water out, then pop the plug back in place and re-fill to the right temperature without too much issue. With the design of the Flexibath plug, I found the other day that once you pop it out to release some water, it becomes a battle trying to get it back in again before the bath has emptied; And you do need to be very precise at getting it back into the plug hole and making sure its fitted in place properly or it does leak. I ended up loosing about three quarters of the bath water instead of the dribble I wanted to in order to get it to the right temperature. I’m not some kind of eco warrior but I did feel this was quite wasteful and could potentially be improved by a little tweaking of the bath plug design to make it easier to get in again.

Also the lock on the side of the bath is apparently very attractive to The Boy, who won’t stop fiddling with it! With the plug at the foot end of the bath, the lock is on the right hand side so it’s closest to me when I’m sitting next to the shower tray when The Boy is having a bath. All the toys in the world won’t distract him from fiddling with it, and as it is only made of plastic I do worry that his constant playing with it will weaken the join and it will break off. For me, that won’t be too much of an issue as I don’t tend to fold it down and lock it in place flat much anyway, but part of me thinks for nearly £30 I want something that isn’t going to break off easily, and obviously if you buy this item because you do regularly use it to go away camping or something with the kids, the lock is going to be an important feature and you’re not going to be impressed if it comes off easily (Though they do say you shouldn’t rely on the lock when travelling with the Flexibath and you should tie it up anyway, which begs the question, what’s the point of the lock if it needs help to function properly?)

Now at this point, I’m going to go back to my initial comments about I don’t quite see that this product is going to work for a child up to four years old. I know The Boy is tall and broad for his age (on the 95th percentile) I know that when a company says ‘approximately four years old’ they probably mean a small four year old or a large three year old – either is acceptable to me, as once he is too big for it he’ll be having a shower like me and his daddy, but what gets me is that at 11 months old he is already too long for me to be able to lay him back in the Flexibath to wash his hair! (Hence this has to be done either with the shower over the edge of the bath, or we do it when he has a bath at his Grandma’s house in the big bath). This also deducts points from the design as far as I’m concerned, because if I can’t wash an 11 month olds hair in it, what hope do you have for a child of three or four? But until The Boy reaches three or four, I don’t know what the Flexibath is like for older children, so we’ll have to wait and see about that.

Would I recommend this product? Probably not, if I’m honest, not for someone in the same situation as me who needs something for frequent use. I would recommend it as a holiday-only product (for instance my parents could keep one folded in the bathroom at their holiday home). It’s a good idea but it’s expensive, you can’t use oils in the bath which I know a lot of mummies like to do, especially olive oil for dry skin, and their customer service leaves a lot to be desired as far as I’m concerned at this moment in time (Though if I do hear from them I will update you here!) I don’t see that its going to last him til he’s four, but again I could be wrong we’ll have to wait and see. The theory behind it is good, but for the price I feel they could have provided a much better product. I don’t regret my purchase as the shape of the standard baby bath combined with The Boy now being more active left me constantly worrying he would tip it over end-to-end and the boxier shape of the Flexibath makes it more stable in this way, but it does seem quite flimsy considering it’s designed for folding and unfolding regularly I’m not sure it would take too much use before it gave up. I’d have to rate this product a disappointing two and a half out of five.



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