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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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Product Review - Pushchair Footmuffs

When The Boy was born it was the middle of summer, but I still chose to get the footmuffs available for the Maxi Cosi Mura and the Quinny Zapp as I realised that the colours I had (Tango Red for the Mura and Rebel Red for the Zapp) may be discontinued in the next collection and obtaining a footmuff to match might not be very easy. I got them and squirreled them away for future use.

Last winter, if we went out in the car and used the Zapp chassis it was with the Maxi Cosi CabrioFix carseat, for which I also had the matching Tango Red footmuff. The Boy was always lovely and warm in the footmuff, though I must say sometimes a little too warm – you have to be very careful not to roast them in the footmuff in the car as it is very generously padded and even in snow and freezing conditions, The Boy was plenty warm enough wearing just ‘indoor’ clothes inside the footmuff, he certainly didn’t need a hat or jumper or jacket or anything additional.  (On another note, I recently found out that you shouldn’t leave kids in too much winter padded clothing in the carseat anyway, not just because of overheating but because it means the carseat harness can’t be pulled as tightly as it should and in the event of an accident it leaves them too much movement before the harness stops them) Once I even drove in particularly chilly conditions with him in the carseat footmuff wearing only a vest and sleepsuit and when we got home he was as toasty as anything! If we went out with the Mura last winter he was in the carrycot so we didn’t need to worry about a footmuff then, either, as he was bundled up with blankets or a snowsuit to keep him cosy.

This year though, he’s travelling by car in the Opal which means we have to take him out at each destination and put him into the Zapp, or else if we’re out with the Mura he’s in the regular seat unit for it, and since he doesn’t keep blankets on very well I was glad I’d invested in both style footmuffs for when the weather turned. While it’s sunshine and blue skies again today, a couple of weeks ago was particularly chilly in this neck of the woods, so I got out the footmuffs to fit them.

First of all was the Mura footmuff. It’s not one specific for the Mura, it can be used with any of the Maxi Cosi pushchairs, and it’s very cute, featuring two legs that can be poppered together or left for the child to wave about as desired; The top part is a wrap-around style with Velcro fastening and if, like my son, your child wants their arms free there is a little zip either side you can undo and poke their arms through. In addition the footmuff has a hood, and while the outside is water resistant nylon the inside is beautiful soft fleece lined. It’s fiddly to fit and it took me about ten minutes to get it right and get the harness adjusted properly once it was in place (it took a bit of length out of the existing harness length so I had to adjust it to secure The Boy in properly) but since the harness had been on minimum and he’s now 13 months old there’s still loads more harness left so this wasn’t an issue at all. The RRP for the Maxi Cosi footmuff is £50 so it isn’t exactly cheap but it’s a generous size with different holes to match up with the holes on the Mura seat as you put the harness up to the next level so I think it will last a while and it provides a very cosy and warm environment for LO to snuggle down in. You can undo both leg sections with independent zips that start at the bottom and come up and out over the leg to the hip, so you can even use it when they’re a bit long for it and just have the zip undone and their feet coming out the bottom! The waistband of the leg section is elasticated and undoes/does up quickly and easily with a little plastic toggle on both sides and as the legs are separate it isn’t any trouble to use the footmuff on the Mura with the T bar still in place (The Boy loves the T bar because he holds it like motorbike handlebars and makes motorbike noises as we’re walking!) The only issue I have with it is the fact that once it’s on, you won’t want to keep fussing about taking it off/putting it back on again etc, so now the nicer weather seems to have returned as much as I don’t want to mess about with it again it really is too warm to put The Boy in for going out which is a bit of a pain.  It isn’t the type of thing you’d be able to do in a hurry, one handed while you grapple with the child with the other hand, so it’s not like you could leave it in the basket or in your nappy bag and pop it on while you’re out should the need arise, and it doesn’t come apart to leave a liner that you could just put the front onto at short notice, so this is a bit of a drawback. However once the winter really sets in and it’s left on there all the time The Boy is going to be lovely and cosy while we’re out (even if I’m not!)

Maxi Cosi footmuff Tango Red (Fits all Maxi Cosi pushchairs)

The Quinny footmuff is another story. A very long sleeping bag style footmuff, again water resistant outer shell with soft fleece lining, it’s absolutely huge and will easily accommodate a much older child than The Boy so you’ll definitely get your moneys worth out of it – RRP is £55 so again not a cheap purchase, but definitely worthwhile. It’s much more straight forward to get on and off the standard Zapp fabric, and with the Zapp Xtra seat it’s just as straight forward. While the style of the Quinny footmuff is more basic and it does mean that The Boy can’t get his hands out if it’s done all the way up, it does mean that his hands and arms are less likely to get chilly and I’ve found I can put his favourite cuddly toy in the footmuff with him anyway and he’s quite happy playing with that and nosing about. Similarly to the Maxi Cosi footmuff, the Quinny one has the harness for the pushchair coming into it to secure it in place and then secure in LO before you do it up and you’re off. The additional feature I love about the Quinny footmuff is the fact that you can remove the front section, leaving the rest of it as a fleecy liner for the pushchair if the additional warmth is not needed, and the front of the footmuff is small enough to be rolled up and put in the Zapp shopping basket in case you need to add it on while you’re out, which is a bonus. This means that I can leave the Quinny footmuff in place on the Zapp regardless of what the weather is like, as I can just add or remove the front of the footmuff as required. The only issue I have noticed with this one is if you use it on a Zapp Xtra. The Xtra seat unit has three different height settings for the shoulder harness straps, and the Quinny footmuff only has two – therefore if you’re using the Zapp Xtra with a young baby who needs the harness height at the lowest, you’re not matching up the holes with the lowest holes on the footmuff. This will then make the footmuff wrinkle right where baby will be sitting/lying and doesn’t seem very comfortable for them. I’m not sure whether this is something Quinny are intending on changing for the 2012 collection but it is something that other customers have also flagged to them on their Facebook page, so I know they’re aware and looking into it.

Quinny footmuff on Quinny Zapp Xtra Rebel Red

Quinny footmuff (for Zapp/Zapp Xtra/Buzz and Speedi)

All in all I am very impressed with the quality of the footmuffs and the size of them – I can see The Boy using them comfortably for some time and he is very tall for his age already – the additions of drawstring around the hood section on both footmuffs to keep chilly wind out of delicate ears is brilliant, and it’s a much better idea to use a footmuff rather than a blanket for The Boy as we’d be forever stopping to pick up the blankets, so I am a very happy mummy with my purchases!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Maxi Cosi Opal - Better & Better!

Just a little update tonight – with regards to my Maxi Cosi Opal carseat.

For those of you who haven’t yet read my review, please pop along and have a look. The Opal is a fantastic carseat – The Boy was too tall to fit comfortably in his Maxi Cosi CabrioFix by the time he was nine months old, but I didn’t want to put him in a standard Group 1 forward facing carseat at that age. So I did some research, and found the Opal, which is a Group 0+ & Group 1 carseat combined. It means I can continue to keep The Boy rear facing until he reaches the maximum 13kg (at which point, in the Opal, he’ll have to go forward facing). So anyway, that’s all in the review, not what I wanted to talk about here!

Last weekend, The Hubby, The Boy and myself made a 100 mile journey to visit some family. The journey there was fine; we went to a party on Saturday night with my parents, who then took The Boy back to their house while The Hubby and I continued enjoying the party for some time. On Sunday, The Hubby was taken home by my dad, and The Boy and I stayed with my parents for a few more days, giving us the chance to catch up with more family & friends while we were in the area. We had a lovely time, and made the drive home on Thursday afternoon.

I packed up the car while The Boy was asleep, and when he woke I changed his nappy and he had lunch. I decided to leave him in pyjamas for the drive home as they’re more comfortable, and it was a warm enough day that he wouldn’t get cold. As it was just him and me in the car for the return journey I wanted it to be as stress-free as possible for both of us, so I changed his nappy again before putting him in the carseat and setting off with his Nuby UK sport sipper bottle full of water in a cool bag on the passenger side footwell ready for when he wanted a drink. I made sure his favourite toys were within reach, that I had the money ready in the ashtray for the toll on the motorway, and we set off.

As usual, when we arrived at the toll, there was slow traffic. As usual, The Boy went from his standard happy, singing self to a miserable wretch who was throwing his toys all over the place and screaming quite a lot. It was warm in the car and I was getting uncomfortable in three-quarter length leggings and a baggy t-shirt, so confined in his carseat I understood that The Boy was probably feeling even worse than me. It was early in the journey and he’d had a drink within the last half hour, but due to the heat I passed him the water bottle (we were stationary in traffic) and he contentedly slurped away for some time. After we got through the toll, the traffic cleared and we were cruising down the motorway again only a few minutes delayed.

The journey took us 2 hours and 15 minutes altogether, and I’d changed The Boy within ten minutes of putting him into the carseat and setting off, so when he was crying en route I took it to be him being fussy and not wanting to be in the carseat – as he’d enjoyed a good morning nap he clearly didn’t want to settle down and sleep for the journey, and his toys weren’t entertaining enough. I contemplated a couple of times pulling into the services to fetch him different toys out of the boot, but reasoned that if I did that he’d then expect to get out of the carseat, and if we did that it would put another half hour or so on our journey time. We were spot on for getting home about five o’clock, an hour before The Boy’s dinner time, so I wanted to get back for that time in order for The Hubby to spend some time with The Boy before his usual evening routine of dinner, bath & bed. After all, The Hubby and The Boy hadn’t seen one another for a few days, and I knew they’d missed one another.

So we continued straight home, and The Boy continued his noisy displeasure at being in the carseat right up until about 20 minutes away from our front door, when he suddenly turned off and went silent – sure enough, he’d gone to sleep. We got home, parked up, and The Hubby came out to greet us, just as The Boy was waking. The Hubby undid the carseat harness and got The Boy out, and then said to me, “The carseat is soaked.” Initially I thought it was from the water bottle, as The Boy had been flinging it about the place and chances were it had sprinkled a bit in the process. What I didn’t count on was when The Hubby – who by then had The Boy cuddled to him – suddenly said “He’s soaked.” To my amazement not only had the nappy leaked, but it had leaked so badly that The Boy’s vest was soaking and so were his pyjamas. I now faced the challenge of removing the carseat fabric to wash it.

Now, Maxi Cosi says that the Opal fabric is easy to remove. I was sceptical, I have to admit, but upon investigation I discovered it is secured onto the carseat shell using large size, strong poppers. I undid the poppers and the fabric came off in one simple movement. I left the head support fabric and harness pads in place as I had no need to remove those as well, but the entire carseat fabric just comes off easy as anything once you’ve undone all the poppers. The washing label inside the fabric said 30 degree wash, and I’m aware Maxi Cosi recommends either hand washing, or washing on a hand wash or delicate cycle in the machine. Well, I’m not one for hand washing anything, so I popped it into the machine on a 30 degree delicate wash. I didn’t put anything else in as well, as the fabric is Intense Red and I didn’t want to risk the colour running into anything else.

Maxi Cosi Opal - Intense Red

I was concerned at what appeared to be cardboard inserts in the sides of the fabric (to hold it snugly in place around the shell) but since the label said it was fine, I decided to go for it. After the wash cycle finished I put it on a rinse and spin to try and ensure as much water as possible was out of the fabric before I attempted to dry it. Once again, on advice from Maxi Cosi, I was not going to put the fabric in a tumble drier or hang the fabric in direct sunlight. I decided instead to rest it on the airer in the front room and it sat propped there as if it was still covering the carseat shell. What I’d thought was cardboard is obviously thin plastic as it remains intact.

I didn’t need to use the carseat for the next couple of days, so it didn’t really matter whether the fabric dried particularly quickly, but to my amazement it was completely dry within 24 hours of washing. While this may not seem very fast, considering the fabric was on an airer in my front room without the heating on I think this is pretty good; especially considering the padding in the fabric which I anticipated would make drying time longer.

While the issue with the seatbelt getting in the way still bothers me, the Opal is definitely a carseat I’d highly recommend for an older child. I’m not convinced it’s suitable for a newborn due to the way you have to post the baby into the seat, I think this would be very awkward for a child under 6 months old, but certainly as far as ease of use is concerned for fitting it and putting an older child in and tensioning the harness correctly (as well as adjusting the height of the harness) it’s dead easy and you can get it right every time without worry – some carseats can be hit and miss and you don’t feel confident, but with the Opal I am confident ten times out of ten. Now I’ve experienced removing, washing, drying and re-fitting the fabric it just makes this carseat even better for me. Maxi Cosi claim the fabric is simple to remove and clean because they understand that kids aren’t always the neatest of passengers, and they’re absolutely right!

(and FYI, despite the fact The Boy is now 13 months old and tall for his age, as he is still under 13kg he remains rear facing in the Opal carseat. Please don’t put your kids forward facing as soon as they reach minimum weight for a forward facing carseat – keep them rear facing as long as possible, it really is the safest way for everyone to travel, but since we can’t drive to work rear facing lets stick with keeping the babies safe for as long as possible).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Customer Service!

I’ve been very quiet on the blogging for a while, and thought I’d just post a little update to say hello, and provide a brief insight to some of what’s been going on the last couple of weeks.

Right now, I don’t have any products that I’m testing, and I don’t have any fabulous new things that I’ve brought for The Boy that I want to tell everyone about (which is how a lot of my product reviews come about). So there’s not a product review as such, but the thing I’d like to mention is customer service.

Now, as a rule, customers don’t need customer services until something goes wrong; It’s an ugly truth, that if we’re happy with a product we don’t tend to contact the company to tell them how happy we are. Instead these poor people who staff customer service departments are left with lots of stroppy phone calls and moody e-mails from customers making complaints about dysfunctional products. The reason I know this so well is because it is the field in which I am based. Despite my many different job titles over the years, I would say that, primarily, every single job I’ve ever done (including starting as a volunteer for the Cats Protection League when I was fourteen) has been customer service based. As such, I am very aware of how relentlessly horrible it can be to have a stream of people ready to give you an ear-bashing about their problem, and vent their anger at you as a representative of the company, regardless of whether or not you’re able or willing to do something to help in a bad situation. Which is why, as a customer, I am more often than not the type of person who will be very careful at how I word a complaint, or how I speak when I’m on the phone, as I’m aware it isn’t this actual persons fault that I have a problem, but at the same time I want them to know all the facts and be able to help me resolving the dilemma. When I receive poor customer service I am the sort of customer I’d hate to deal with myself, but my point is that I’ve already got a faulty product and putting bad customer service on top of that simply is not on. When I receive good customer service, I always say thank you to those involved, and mention it to my friends – which brings me neatly to my point.

If you’ve read my review on the Nuby Teether Tugz Rabbit, you’ll know just how much The Boy adores it. I tied it to his carseat harness using a Toy Tie and it has been his beloved companion on car journeys ever since. I’m a very careful mummy when it comes to considering things like choking hazards (particularly as he is in a rear-facing carseat) so before every journey I checked the rabbit to ensure it was in good order before allowing him to chew on it. He has his four front teeth, top and bottom, and the molars have been trying to make a break through for some time, so he has been desperately chewing on whatever he can, hence it was important to me that I made sure the rabbit was in good order before he started chomping away.

That afternoon, we made a short drive to a friend’s house – she has a son three months younger than The Boy, so it’s nice for us to get together with the boys – we were in the car for about ten minutes in total. When we stopped at a set of traffic lights, The Boy started coughing. I glanced back (despite not being able to see anything of him!) and asked if he was OK. (Even though he can’t talk I find myself continually talking to him as if he understands and will answer). He coughed a bit more then stopped and continued singing (as he does), the lights changed and we continued on our journey. Upon arriving at my friend’s house, when I went to get The Boy out of the carseat, I discovered a chunk of red substance on his lip. I removed it, wondering what it was, and lifted him out of the seat – more of this red substance fell off his clothes and when he opened his mouth to laugh I saw a large piece of it on his tongue. I pulled it out and realised it was a rubbery substance, like the ear ends on the rabbit …

Somehow, he’d managed to bite through the rubbery ends on the red rabbit ear and had been picking bits off with his teeth. I was surprised to say the least, grateful that he hadn’t actually choked on any of the pieces, and wondered how and why this had happened. I removed the rabbit from his carseat harness for the journey home, and decided to photograph the rabbit ear end to send to my contact at Nuby UK who I was in touch with about the product testing I did for them a few weeks ago.

I explained what had happened, apologised if she wasn’t the right person to send my e-mail to and thanked her for sending it on to the relevant team. I added that while the Teether Tugz was six months old and The Boy has been gnawing on it a lot recently, it wasn’t something I expected; though it wouldn’t put me off Nuby products (I love them!) I just wanted to alert them to this in case it should happen again, perhaps to a younger child, which could potentially become a serious choking hazard. I sent the e-mail fairly late in the evening, while The Hubby was putting The Boy to bed, along with a photograph of the damage to the rabbit ear.

The following morning, the customer service department e-mailed me back, apologising profusely for this incident and providing a freepost address that I could send the rabbit back to, along with my e-mail correspondence, and that they would look into the incident etc etc. It was a prompt, good, standard response as far as I could see. I did as they asked, and posted the rabbit on Saturday morning on my way out.

I received another e-mail on Monday evening, this one telling me that they’d received the rabbit and it had been sent to their quality department – they advised me that it would probably be a week before any results were returned, as they would be doing a thorough exam of the rabbit I’d returned, as well as checking a cross section of stock to ensure it was a one-off incident and not something that could happen again. By Thursday morning a replacement Teether Tugz Rabbit arrived in the post (The Boy’s face lit up when he saw it!), along with a couple of discount vouchers to spend at the Nuby UK online store.

While I’m sorry this happened, and I’m grateful that The Boy didn’t choke, I am very impressed with their level of customer service and the fact they have provided me with updates along the way, apparently genuine apologies and their capable handling of the whole incident. Plus replacing the Teether Tugz with no proof of purchase (As it was brought from Tesco the receipt would have ended up in the bin before that week was out – since it was under £5 I didn’t consider keeping it). Their customer service receives a big five out of five stars for me!

My rubbish experience at customer service was last week. I’ve had a dodgy connection on one rear light on my car for a while, and generally if it doesn’t come on a little thump would make it work. Well, one evening after a long day of driving and working, I’d had enough and just wanted to get home, put The Boy to bed and curl up to go to sleep myself. Unfortunately I had to pick The Boy up from my mother in law before I could do that, and she has a happy knack of talking for a very long time about completely pointless things, so I was there for a good hour longer than I needed to be, gradually packing The Boy’s things away and edging with him closer to my car. Once in, I thought I was off, but then of course that rear light didn’t come on and she started flapping about it, and in my foul mood (combined with the start of a headache and the fact that it was past The Boy’s bedtime and it would still be another half hour before I got him home) I leapt from the car and gave the light such a whack that I punched through the plastic lenses and all I had to show for my rear light was a mangled mess of multi coloured plastic, some broken bulbs and sore knuckles. (It didn’t improve my mood!)

Fortunately I found a good seller on E-Bay advertising exactly what I needed for a tenner, with p+p additional depending on type of delivery service required. While I wanted it quickly, I saw no point in paying over the odds for special delivery as I had just over a week before I’d need the light replaced, since until then I’d have no reason to be using the car, especially when it was dark. I patched up the light as well as I could so it didn’t look so bad when I was driving in daytime, and my brake lights and indicator worked fine, so it was only the tail light actually out, and if I wasn’t driving at night then I didn’t need it anyway. I opted for standard delivery service, which I took to being Royal Mail.

The seller has a very high rating and specialises in car parts, and despite the fact I ordered the item late in the evening on Friday, he e-mailed back on Tuesday saying that the systems were off-line for Monday so he’d only just got my order details, so he would send out as priority. There was no mention of a courier delivery service, or anything else. The Boy and I were at home all morning on Wednesday and didn’t receive anything, so we popped out around to visit a friend. We were home again by 5.30, just after The Hubby got home, and we discovered a card from a courier service called Yodel.

The card said that we’d been out at 2.30 when they’d tried to deliver a parcel, and provided a mobile phone number of the courier the parcel was with so that we could phone them direct to arrange re-delivery: The card also provided a standard 0845 number for Yodel’s automated service, and log-in details to make arrangements over the internet. The courier driver had filled in a parcel tracking number and on the card was printed the depot number that the parcel had been dispatched from.

I logged onto the internet site, entered my details including the parcel number and depot number, and I kept getting an ‘Error’ message, for no apparent reason. We looked at the tracking number again and again, changing 7’s to 9’s in case we’d read the figures wrong, but still nothing happened. I phoned the mobile number and got the answerphone, so I left a message explaining we would be out the following day but that I would leave the black (recycling) bin in the front garden of the property and this was a safe place to leave the parcel. I left my phone number – repeated twice – the parcel number, and confirmed the name and address for the delivery, all spoken very clearly in my very best ‘phone’ voice.

The following day I was again home in the morning but had an unavoidable appointment in the afternoon, so I hoped that the courier would return before I went out but they didn’t – so I phoned the mobile number again, leaving instructions to leave the parcel in the black bin, leaving my phone number, confirming the parcel number, and delivery name and address. I raced home from my appointment and found no card, no delivery and, disappointingly, nobody had attempted to phone my mobile. I tried to be optimistic as the courier service could deliver later into the evening, for all I knew, so I phoned the mobile again and left a third message, now stating I was home, confirming all my details again.

When Friday morning came I had a very long day and was up and out by , as was The Hubby. After a very long drive I had a long day of training, with the return journey that afternoon clocking up a total of 200 miles driving for the day, though that didn’t mark the end of the day – I then had to travel home from work, another half hour behind the wheel, and I was anxious to get home and find my parcel had been delivered. I was due to make a very long drive on Saturday morning and without the replacement light for my car, I doubted I was going to make that drive without someone pulling me over – as well as the fact that, strictly speaking, with a broken light my car shouldn’t have been on the road, whether the light was required or not.

I got home and there was no parcel. I phoned the mobile and left another voicemail, explaining that it was urgent that I received the item immediately, and then I tried the 0845 number. After a very long recorded message, I was asked to key in my parcel number, which I did: Then I was asked to key in the depot number, which I did – The recorded voice said the two pieces of information didn’t match, so asked for the details again, and again. After three tries, the recorded voice said I was being transferred to an operator – and then the line went dead. So I phoned back, and the process was repeated, in total three times before I went into meltdown. I looked up this random courier company – Yodel – that I’d never heard of before and was horrified when I found their Facebook page; Not much interaction from Yodel themselves, but story after story of parcels going missing, deliveries never happening, the phone numbers are bogus because nobody ever gets the messages, the automated service cuts you off deliberately, etc etc etc. Frightened now that I wouldn’t receive my replacement light at all, never mind when I needed it, I made contact with the seller. He assured me he’d used Yodel before loads of times and they were fine, ignore the Facebook rumours, and so on.

At that night the doorbell rang. The dogs went crackers and The Hubby went to answer the door (bearing in mind my 13 month old son is at this point asleep upstairs in the room directly over the front hall) A loud man is on the doorstep with a parcel, shouts out The Hubby’s name and presents the parcel with a flourish, as though we should be grateful to receive it in the nick of time. The Hubby is typically understated with his displeasure at the lack of service from this company and simply signs for the parcel and shuts the door.

Luckily the seller was good as his word, the part was in perfect working order and The Hubby fitted it within a few moments. Hence our 100 mile journey on Saturday morning was considerably less stressful because my car was once again road legal and if the police wanted to bother me they wouldn’t find anything out of place. However, the experience and what I found out have completely turned me off ever using Yodel courier service myself and I would warn others the same. I attempted to write an e-mail of complaint to Yodel and was told that the maximum length was 200 characters – have you ever tried to complain using 200 characters? By the time you’ve put in your name, address, phone number, parcel number and depot number – oops you’ve run out of space. I attempted to write more than one complaint to see if I could bypass this issue, but after the first it won’t let you write another, coming up with a message that basically says give us a chance to respond to your complaint before you complain again!!

I’ve still not heard anything back from them – now I’ve got my parcel I don’t really care, either, but it would be nice to have some sort of reply from them, and on the Facebook page there are still loads of disappointed people who have neither their parcel or any kind of contact from Yodel. I hope all those people manage to get their parcel soon, or failing that some kind of compensation for the inconvenience caused by Yodel and their poor organisation. I give Yodel ZERO out of five for customer service!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Product Review: Steadyco Weaning Spoons

What? Steadyco Weaning Spoons (set of three)
RRP? I paid £3.50 for the set at my local Tesco store, but they’re not listed on the Steadyco website so I’m not sure what the RRP is.
Where from? I can’t find them in any store locally and internet searches are showing up other Steadyco products but not this particular one, which is a shame. I will e-mail Steadyco and ask their advice!

The Boy is now a year old, and since the success of the Nuby Toss Or Wash Beakers getting him to drink by himself, I wanted to try the next stage and see whether I could get him to attempt feeding himself. He doesn’t seem to enjoy mealtimes much anymore, and gets very annoyed and frustrated when you’re feeding him, so a friend of mine recommended I just let him get on with it and see what happens; Which I have done, and what happens is a big mess and I’m not entirely sure how much food The Boy actually eats and how much the Hairy Hounds of Hell end up consuming, but it seems to make The Boy happier.

In the pack of Steadyco Weaning Spoons you get a standard plain spoon for you to feed the child: A spoon with a flat top and holes in it so you can mush up pieces of food into something easier for LO to deal with, and a spoon which is angled to encourage LO to feed themselves (it’s easier for them to deal with a specially angled spoon than it is a straight handled one).

I prepared The Boy’s lunch as usual, put him in a long sleeved plastic bib to protect his clothes and wore my own kitchen apron to protect my clothes! Then I handed him the angled spoon to hold and started feeding him with the normal one. As usual, the first couple of mouthfuls went without issue, but then he got bored and annoyed and started pushing my hand away from him whenever I approached his mouth with another spoonful. So I tapped the spoon in his hand and said, “You do it, then.” And leaned back.

It was quite funny, very sweet and hugely messy but sure enough The Boy dunked the spoon into his lunch and tried to feed himself. (He also tried to feed me!) He ended up with lunch in his eyebrows, all over his cheeks and up his nose, in his hair and even on his ears! The Hairy Hounds of Hell thoroughly enjoyed the fruity chicken casserole raining from the heaves too! On the whole, though, I think The Boy managed to get a fair bit of his lunch in him! He experimented holding the spoon in both hands to work out which way worked better, he tried using the spoon handle to dunk in the lunch and then suck the lunch off it, and he tried holding the spoon in one hand and smacking his other hand in his lunch just to see what worked best for him!

It took us a long time to eat lunch that day – around an hour or so – but he was much happier doing it ‘his’ way than he has been for ages when I’ve been trying to feed him, which I think is a success in itself. I don’t want a battle over eating – To me that just kicks off a food issue, and I definitely don’t want that. He’ll eat when he’s hungry, drink when he’s dry, and if the Hairy Hounds of Hell end up sampling his lunch and my hair gets coated with baby rice pudding then never mind, we just have to live with that!

I washed the spoon up once he’d had enough lunch and he used it again to eat his pudding with. This was much quicker, far more effective and you could see the concentration in his face as he dunked the spoon into a pretty small pot in his efforts to get at his favourite strawberry flavour fromage frais! He grew bored by the time he was onto the second pot and I ended up feeding him that one – I think simply the fact that he couldn’t get it out of the pot and into his mouth quickly enough was his main problem there!

I absolutely love this little angled spoon, it makes it far easier for The Boy to handle his own food, and I would really love to get some more of these; but sadly I can’t find them anywhere! I am going to write to Steadyco to see whether they can offer any advice as this product no longer features on their website.

For his dinner that evening, The Boy had fish fingers, alphabites and spaghetti shapes, and I used the mushing spoon to break it all down into pieces he was comfortable eating. As well as being able to mush the food well, this spoon has a straighter bowl so it’s flat instead of rounded like a normal spoon, and the edge of it can be used to chop very large chunks into smaller ones before mushing. Dinner was less of a success as he got completely sidetracked by peeling the coating off the fish fingers and eating that separately to the pieces of fish, and then he plunged both hands into the spaghetti shapes and proceeded to fling his arms around the room, coating me (minus my pinny!) and the floor, the Hairy Hounds of Hell and most of everything else in the room with spaghetti shapes and tomato sauce. The Hubby nearly had heart failure but the PC came up clean again afterwards! The Boy did try to feed himself again but I think the problem was that as it was a ‘proper’ dinner and not baby food from a jar it wouldn’t stay on the spoon as well so it was more difficult and required more concentration and he lost interest. I eventually managed to coax him into eating some apple crumble and custard baby pudding using the spoon, but about a third of the way through he decided he’d had enough and the whole lot ended up on the floor, spoon and bowl and all! (Hairy Hounds of Hell thought their Christmases had come at once until The Hubby stepped over and told them to go away and he cleaned up without their assistance!)

Ever since, I’ve handed The Boy the angled spoon to have a go himself and sometimes he will, sometimes he won’t, but he loves having it in his hand even if he doesn’t want to use it, and that to me is good because it means its comfortable, he associates it with mealtimes and he is becoming more used to the idea of holding cutlery when eating rather than just throwing it on the floor.

Just the mushing spoon and the angled spoon makes this pack a worthwhile purchase to me, the standard weaning spoon is nothing special but it’s another weaning spoon to have which is always handy and it’s got a fairly long handle compared to a lot of them which makes it easier to get food out of the bottom of the large size baby food jars.

A lovely four out of five for this set, very handy to have and as they’re dishwasher safe, microwave safe, steriliser safe, freezer safe and BPA free too.