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Motorola MBP26 Video Monitor Review

Motorola MBP26 Video Monitor Review

Those of you who read all my posts, you’ll know that Phoebe G has been in her own room for a few weeks and we’re doing stonkingly well. The first few weeks were an absolute dream. Asleep at 7pm and awake again around 6. Now she can wriggle more and get her legs trapped in her cot etc we usually have to do a couple of trips a night (with our eyes still shut of course) to reset the baby or crawl around on the floor looking for a dummy that she’s helpfully poked through the bars – a game she seems content on playing.

Anyway, on to the point of the post. Along with a baby in a separate room comes a requirement for a baby monitor. We’ve been using a BT audio baby monitor that we were given however it decided it wouldn’t charge so we’ve been ramming new IKEA batteries in it for a while, which soon racks up a hefty battery bill even at £1.50 a pack (sod Duracell, IKEA batteries are just as good). It just so happened to be Amazon Prime Day and they just so happened to have a good deal on a Motorola MBP26 Video Monitor – with an RRP of £79.99, usual deal price of £67.88 and a Prime Day bargain price of fifty-seven quid, we decided to take the plunge. We decided on a video monitor because we seem to find ourselves going into the beast on a night when she probably doesn’t need us to. That’s a risky move that could wake her up. Now we can physically see that she’s managed to tie herself in knots around the cot, we can decide whether a visit is actually necessary or whether or not we can just go back to sleep for a bit – the latter option being a firm favourite of ours.

Next day delivery is always a bonus with Amazon, and the product soon arrived.

The monitor is in a neat little box and there’s no blister packaging so it’s actually easy to get into. No scissors required (hurrah). The batteries need to be charged for EIGHTEEN hours before you first use them, and for once I actually listened to this instruction and wouldn’t let Wifey used it until this mammoth time had elapsed.

Fast forward a day and Phoebe is tucked up in bed with big brother watching over her. The camera has to either be stood on a flat surface and pointed using it’s pivot base (which has quite grippy feet to stop it sliding around all over the place) or screwed to something. I’m not one for drilling random holes in the wall so it’s perched on a shelf overlooking the cot, and the shot is really quite decent. The power cables on both the camera and the parent unit charger are really long which makes positioning the camera in particular very easy which was a pleasant surprise as manufacturers often skimp and send everything with cables that are too short. The camera has infrared so you can see baby in the dark, and an On/Off switch in case you can’t get to the plug to turn it on and off.

The parent unit doesn’t feel too cheaply made, perhaps a little plasticky but fine for the money we paid. It’s got a colour screen, buttons for volume, digital pan/tilt (VERY handy if you can’t position the camera directly above her head, and doesn’t affect the quality too much either), an audio meter, talk button,  and a pull out stand on the back (some reviewers on Amazon seem to think you need to ‘hang’ the unit on something. That’s wrong, it just stands up like a photo frame). The video and sound quality is perfectly fine for what we need. There’s some interesting reviews about battery life and I’ll update this post with how it goes. It’s on 2 bars already and it’s only been on an hour, so not sure how long it’s going to last. The display can be turned off without turning the unit itself off which will no doubt conserve a fair bit of battery.

The slogan on the box is “Watch them dream.” To hell with that, I’d rather be asleep myself thanks, but nice selling tactic. The novelty of watching Phoebe sleep has worn off already and it’s the first night we’ve used it. Time for some shut eye.

4 out 5 (for now. We’ll see what happens once we’ve used it a bit)

Ttfn

Pete

Babymoov CosyDream Sleep Positioner Review

Babymoov CosyDream Sleep Positioner Review

This is a long overdue post, given that Phoebe G is almost too big for this, but I thought it was worth a mention as I’m convinced it’s been a contributing factor in making sure we’ve had a baby who sleeps through from just 6 weeks old (excluding last night when hay fever set in – the less said about that the better).

The Babymoov CosyDream Sleep Positioner is baby sleep aid that offers comfort, support, and a feeling of security to young babies. In the manufacturers own words, it guarantees a perfect position to make sure baby breathes better, and her nose and mouth aren’t obstructed to prevent risk of suffocation.

We bought one of these not long after Phoebe was out of her swaddling and into her sleeping bag. When she wasn’t swaddled she seemed really uncomfortable and we thought it was probably because there wasn’t anything cuddling her. A quick Google and we came across this, and thought for forty quid it was worth a punt, so we ordered one. Phoebe thought it was the best thing ever and has really helped her sleep well. It’s got a special cut out to try and prevent flat head syndrome, a micro-beaded leg support, and a support around the head to make baby feel secure. The leg support is adjustable to suit babies of various lengths, and also so the product can grow with your child. The cover is machine washable too, so no need to panic when it gets covered in sick or poop, or anything in between.

When she went in her own room we started off putting her moses basket in her cot, then after a night we took that away and just put the CosyDream in the cot. After a couple of nights we took off the foot support and soon we’ll remove the whole thing. Doing it in stages means it’s not a big surprise when she can suddenly wiggle around – and no doubt get all her limbs through the bars in the cot.

I’d definitely recommend this – I’m sure it’s got something to do with the fact we’ve had no sleepless nights since 6 weeks old. I’d recommend it more-so if you’ve got an especially fidgety child, and suggest combining with a baby sleeping bag if you’re just using blankets!

5 out of 5 from us. Can they make an adult version?!

Ttfn

Pete

Armadillo City Review

Armadillo City Review

Now that Phoebe G is nearly 6 months old (crikey, she’ll be 1 soon), she’s been promoted to the “pushchair” bit of the pram. Up until this point we’ve used a lovely Oyster travel system which has been fab. A single base with car seat, flat cot and pushchair attachments is very versatile, however there’s a small catch. To fold the thing up you’ve got to detach the two components, which means when folded it’s not all that small and therefore takes up a lot of boot space – as if that wasn’t at a premium already!

Our friends recently got a forward facing Armadillo City Pushchair and Stroller from Mamas & Papas and love it for it’s dinky size when folded, so we thought we’d have a look at it too. We’re lucky enough to live near a Mamas & Papas factory outlet, so being the tight Yorkshireman that I am, we tootled off bargain hunting on Sunday. Prams these days are like cars. I read a review of the “Armadillo Flip XT” by fellow dad blogger Dadventurer and just imagined a 2 litre 4×4 off road beast when I read the model name. I guess the City is the economical equivalent, although it doesn’t get many miles to the gallon going up hill and tiring me out.

As we knew what we were going for it was to be a pretty swift visit (which was a good thing given the takeaway we’d had the night before was giving me issues – the less said about that the better), so we quickly found what we were after in the pram section and had a play around. Wifey of course wanted the colour that they didn’t have in stock (she wanted teal (so did I to be fair) and they only had yellow and black – so we either had the option of being a deranged bumble bee on wheels, or just boring), which actually turned out to be a good thing as we ended up buying it from Boots to get it cheaper. The RRP is £149, and this the selling price at both Mamas & Papas and Boots, however Boots currently have a 10% off over £100 spend online (use code BPCC10 at the checkout) which took it down to £134.10. We also got £25 worth of advantage points(!) with the purchase, so add this effective saving to the 10% off and we actually saved almost £40, bringing the price down to £109.10. Ok so the advantage points aren’t a ‘saving’ as such, but it works out the same as we’ll definitely need things from there in the future. Free online delivery too – and we received it two days later. It’s good until your child is around 3 years old, so a good investment at this price.

Onto the unpackaging. I got this delivered to my office as I knew it’d be pretty bulky and my poor neighbours often end up with all our parcels as Amazon or whoever seem to deliver when Wifey is always out, so I didn’t want to be lumbering them with something large and heavy.

I'll save this to put Phoebe in when she's been naughty!
I’ll save this to put Phoebe in when she’s been naughty!
It’s fairly well packaged and there’s various bits of that awful smelling foamy stuff wrapped around the handles, wheel attachments and in a few other places on the pram. Quickly whip that off and sling it outside, then reach for the air freshener to make your lounge smell nice again.

Putting it together is as easy as 1,2,3. Wifey was very concerned I wasn’t using the instructions as she wanted the little one to be safe (I get this, but it’s not difficult to clip a few wheels on). It was that easy Phoebe could have done it, and to be honest her hand-eye coordination is probably as good as mine so I doubt she’d have had a problem. A few clicks later we were ready to roll (pardon the pun, Phoebe loves her new wheels)

The Armadillo City is a doddle to build
The Armadillo City is a doddle to build
Phoebe watched in awe as I snapped the wheels on. She was super excited with what was in the box, and probably understood it was for her (mummy and daddy won’t fit in it that’s for sure, no matter how much we want to get pushed around!)

Phoebe enjoying her new wheels!
Phoebe enjoying her new wheels!
A point worth making here is that the arm straps on the 5 point safety harness don’t seem to go tight enough for small babies. Phoebe is safe in here and there’s no way she can fall out, but we can’t get the straps tight enough to keep her ultra firm. If anyone can answer this conundrum please let me know – it could just be us doing something wrong.

The hood on the pram comes a long way forwards which is good for keeping out the sun, and there’s a decent rain cover supplied with it that clips on nice and easily to keep your child dry (whenever this was attached to the Oyster Phoebe spent all her time in the rain poking rain drops making them move!). There’s the usual peep hole in the top of the cover so you can keep an eye on your pram’s contents – be that a baby or filled with shopping, we’ve all done it. There’s also somewhere to attach toys, something we all appreciate to keep the little one entertained when they’re not busy discovering at the world around them.

The Armadillo City is really easy to move from side to side – the wheels lock straight too, should that ever be required – and I was pleased too with how easy it was to control with one hand, while carrying a shopping basket in the other. Weighing in at just 7kg it’ll be manageable by anyone. Our trip to Tesco to get something for tea was a good test run. The basket underneath is big enough for a few groceries, not massive but that’s to be expected of a pram whose selling point is it’s size. On the subject of size, the seat does not compromise here, and Phoebe has got tons of room to wriggle around. even though this pram is really slim (perfect for getting through tight gaps or nipping between people in Ikea). The seat reclines fully to almost flat, so there’s plenty adjustment for different uses (sleeping, sitting up, and lots of places in between). It’s a little fiddly to get the seat to stay fully upright, and takes a bit of effort but we got there in the end.

When finished, the pram folds up really quite small, so much so that it fits in nice gaps in the home whilst not being an eyesore. Setting up and folding the pram up couldn’t be easier. A quick flick of the wrist is all it takes, the folding mechanism is designed so it pretty much puts itself up. If you don’t flick hard enough you might need to give it a polite prod with your foot, but that’s all.

Armadillo City Folds Small

I’ve not tried this in the car yet, and will update this when I do, but given the size it folds up to, we are going to have a load more boot space in both cars, so a big thumbs up here.

There’s a couple of niggles I have with this at the moment. The first is it’s lack of an extendable handle. It just feels ever so slightly too low for me (I’m 5ft 10in and would prefer it just an inch or so higher), but I can manage with it as it is. Remember this is designed to be small and agile, so certain things are bound to be missing. The second is the ride (I could write for WhatCar…). It’s a little bit bumpy unless the ground is totally smooth which, let’s face it, it isn’t anywhere in England. The wheels are a bit noisier than the Oyster and is something I definitely noticed while pushing.

I love this little buggy so far and we’re off to a flying start! I’ll update the post as we go if there’s anything useful to add. I wouldn’t recommend it for newborns and would always go for a proper travel system at birth as they are a bit more cosy, but certainly from 6 months or so this is ideal. A 4 out of 5 from me.

Ttfn

Pete

Bags and Blankets

Bags and Blankets

Across the net you’ll find various debates about whether sleeping bags are better than blankets and vice versa. Here are my feelings on the matter!

The first and absolutely important rule about baby sleep is safety. Whatever you decide to use it must be safe (sleeping bags are safe, but you need to be comfortable about what your child is sleeping in, too). No one likes a near miss blanket suffocation incident!

Before Phoebe G was born someone gave us a GroBag. A bit of a fad, we thought, until we tried it out. The little monster has been in a GroBag since she was about a month old. Babies have to be a certain weight before they can go in them, and newborn babies love to be swaddled too, which is how her sleep life began. Fast forward four weeks and she wriggled out of a blanket swaddle like an escape artist fleeing a straight jacket, so it was time for change.

Swaddling - a thing of the past (but super cute!)
Swaddling – a thing of the past (but super cute!)

There are many other brands of baby sleeping bag, and I try not to be too biased (OK that’s a load of tosh but who cares, read my other posts and you’ll agree), but GroBag’s really are great. They have some simple design bits like a popper under the babies arm which stops them ending up in the bottom of the bag like a sack of apples, and they’re also realllllly soft, ensuring a super cosy night sleep. In a sleeping bag, your baby won’t wake up freezing cold in the night because she’s kicked the blanket off either. I’m sure this has something to do with Phoebe’s amazing sleep skills. She’s a bloody pro! I thought I’d have been able to turn my work alarm off by now, but no, she’s asleep way past that. There’s plenty of room in the bottom of the sleeping bags too for her to fling her legs around so isn’t restricted at all. Me and wifey occasionally have a ponder over whether or not Phoebe will be too hot, but don’t forget you can just adjust what baby wears whilst in the bag (ie ditch the vest if it’s warm, ditch the sleep-suit and just use a vest if it’s really hot, and so on), in fact there’s a really handy guide on the GroBag website

GroBag branded bags aren’t the cheapest and you might want to try something a little cheaper before splashing out too much, but mums and dads who have used them never seem to look bag, so take the plunge if you fancy it!

Ttfn

Pete

 

The Deep – Hull

The Deep – Hull

Having been planned with our chums for a while, yesterday was the day we went for a visit to The Deep in Hull. Dubbed one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world and having a motto “for conservation, not profit” we wanted to go see what all the fuss was about. To be honest, at first I thought it might not have been worth taking a four-and-a-half month old. Would she really get anything out of it? We didn’t really have much to lose given that Phoebe G was free and we wanted to go anyway as I’ve never been and Wifey hasn’t been since she was a little tinker so couldn’t remember much.

Whenever it comes to days out with a little one it seems to require a headache inducing amount of effort to decide various things like, what time shall we go? How many bibs do we need? Will she be warm enough in this? No probably not lets get her changed into something else. How many feeds do we need to take etc etc. Our chums recommended going for opening time after speaking to the staff on the phone, so we took their lead (they’ve got a 2 year old so have done this before) and arrived for the time it opened at 10am. We joined a very quiet queue in a pretty chilly wind so make sure you’ve something warm on if you go early as it might not be very warm!! A short wait and the doors opened bang on time. I’d definitely recommend going for opening as it’s very quiet so you get a really good view of everything as you’re first in.

A big win for us is that your tickets are valid for 12 months and you can revisit as many times as you want so you can really get your money’s worth. Make sure you give the ticket staff your details so you can come back for free! They’ll take your photo at this point so make sure you’ve got plenty lippy on and a posh frock if you care about that sort of thing. We’ll definitely go again when our mini beast is a bit older as she’ll be even more in awe of the sights she’s seen today (she loved it and stayed awake the whole time we were there). Kids under three go in free anyway and adults are £12. Armed forces chaps and chappesses also go in free. Booking in advance saves you some brass too, and it’ll mount up if you’re a big group. More money to spend in the gift shop at the end! Buying tickets was painless and off we went with our (free) trusty guidebook (we didn’t read this though, I won’t lie. But if you’re into reading stuff it’ll suit you!)

Once through ticketing you’ve two options, get fit and healthy and climb up what feels like three million stairs or take the lift. We took the stairs and had to whip out the inhaler at the top. Then it’s on to the main attraction…

Fish, stingrays, fish, sharks, penguins, starfish, jellyfish, eels and another 3000+ creatures await. Phoebe G was so alert walking past the giant tanks which are designed really well so kids of all heights can see. There’s lots of information to read throughout the exhibition and so much to look at. There’s also various activities at scheduled times of the day too, from feeding demonstrations to dive presentations. Throughout the venue there’s plenty toilets so it’s not too important to go at the beginning. I’m sure this will be great for all those emergencies when we’ve ditched the nappies!! There’s a soft play area once you’re round so the little ones can run off any steam they’ve got left whilst mum and dad (and whoever else!) look at snakes, ants, frogs etc. When you come back out from your under the sea adventure you walk through a really spectacular tunnel right underneath one of the big tanks so there’s fish swimming all around you. This makes a great photo opportunity (#SelfieWithNemo anyone?). Once through the tunnel you get a similar choice to when you first started, to take a lift or take stairs back to the surface. We’d reccomend taking the stairs as you go up the side of one of the tanks and there’s viewing stations on every level (there’s three of four flights so you’ll need the rest!). The lift does stop but you’re limited to how much time you can spend in it, whereas on the stairs you can hang around on each level as long as you like. Once back at the surface, you’ll head out towards the very reasonably priced gift shop. Wifey was super surprised at the prices. A lot of gift shops are overpriced but the one here is really good and there’s something to suit all budgets. Let the kids run wild and spend all that spare change you saved by booking your tickets online!

Look out for special events that happen fairly regularly at The Deep to make your visits even more exciting.

With it’s ease of access (just off the M62/A63) and just over an hour away from where we live, once Phoebe G is a bit older we’ll definitely go again. She loved it this time so it’ll be even more fun in a few months time!

A quick stop off at Frankie and Benny’s with our chums for a yummy lunch (we got starters served in mess tins and chips served in a bag which had mixed opinion! Sorry A!) and then we headed home.

Enjoying lunch with her chum!
Enjoying lunch with her chum!

5 stars to The Deep. Thanks for a grand day out. Phoebe slept all the way home, dreaming of fish (probably not sharks, she didn’t cry). She then slept all evening, properly zonked look..!

Tired Out After The Deep
Tired Out After The Deep

Ttfn

Pete

Phoebe’s Big Balls

Phoebe’s Big Balls

Yep. You read that right. This post is my opportunity for some good wit and humour (I say that, there’s only so many ball jokes you can make before it gets a bit tiresome). Phoebe LOVES playing with her big balls – at least she’ll never get kicked in them. How can a girl have balls I hear you ask. Duh – because we bought her some! Wifey and I came to the realisation a while ago that all the toys we had got her were a bit too big for her to grab so in true “us” style we got straight on Amazon. 5 minutes and a very small expenditure later, a set of Bright Starts Activity Balls was in transit.

Bright Starts Activity Balls
Bright Starts Activity Balls

These are absolutely brilliant and work really well on the table attached to the sitty up chair she’s got (I forget what it’s called, a pretend Bumbo!).

There are 5 in the pack at an absolute steal price of £6.99, with next day delivery on Prime too. There’s plenty to keep a baby entertained and they’re suitable for anyone who can sit up with some sort of support – two balls can be twisted to make fun clicky sounds, they’re brightly coloured and textured too, so are great for feeling. The other three are transparent and have something exciting inside, from little balls that rattle to a spinning animal (and when you spin the balls too, that offers more excitement too (Phoebe G loses her marbles when I do this. It’s like her eyes are going to pop out of her head).

The improvement to Phoebe’s hand-eye coordination has been quite vast since we got these. When we first got them, she just pushed them around with her arm, a week later she was trying to grab them with one hand, and today she’s just about picking them up with two hands, giving them a lick, then pushing them on the floor. So far, they’re withstanding plenty drool. There are a few bad reviews on Amazon, from them coming apart when washing to just being cheap tat. We don’t think this and haven’t had any problems. For less than seven quid though, if they do break who cares. If your child has fun then it’s worth it, no matter how long they last. Any toy should be checked regularly any for defects, I don’t think it necessarily deserves a bad review.

Concentration Face

When finished, simply wipe clean and put back into the (activity) ball sack for storage.

From us, it’s thumbs up and 5 out of 5. They’ll be even better when Phoebe G can pick them up off the floor herself, the “lick the ball and throw it on the floor” game gets boring after a while!!

Ttfn

Pete