Tuesday, 13 October 2015

-LeapFrog Toys back official report which asks the Government to make playing with technology an integral part of initial teacher training-

A new report from a Parliamentary Group has called for play to be at the centre of a ‘whole child’ approach to health and wellbeing. Whilst there is broad consensus about the importance of physical activity in the battle against obesity, play has lost political momentum in recent years and the report, sponsored by LeapFrog, calls for a fresh approach.

What constitutes play in today’s society is questioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Fit and Healthy Childhood. The report spotlights the positive role of modern technology in child’s play in both home and school settings, affirming that tech toys can be of great value if they are used to support and enhance other learning activities and goals.

The report lands as LeapFrog launch the new Android based tablet for children, LeapFrog Epic, their first device made for sale in the consumer electronics section. Dr Jody Le Vos, director of the LeapFrog Learning Team – a PHD qualified team that sits at the heart of the brand’s educational product development – comments: “We know that children learn best when they are having fun, so tech in the early years setting, be it at home or school, should reflect this - it should be playful”.

Dr. Jody continues: “Dedicated learning tablets designed for kids, for example, hold great play appeal to children and when coupled with the right educational content, it can fully engage a child and help supplement other home or classroom learning techniques.”

The APPG report identifies a need for improved education and guidance for parents and professionals. It calls for initial teacher training to include a focus on playful learning through technology to identify best practises and encourage a varied and balanced classroom diet of learning opportunities through play. It also asks the Government to take responsibility for assisting parents on understanding the criteria for selecting ‘tech toys’ and educating them on how to incorporate them constructively in to child’s play at home.

“There is still a big job out there to support parents” continues Dr. Jody, “for example, we know the amount of screen time parents should give their child is an ongoing concern. As a brand offering a range of educational tech toys for children age 3-9, we take our responsibility to guide parents very seriously. We regularly produce guides and host social Q&A’s for parents on this subject, helping them to understand the positive effects of tech play, the importance of screen quality and often how to develop a screen time ‘plan’ that they are comfortable with at home.”

The launch of the LeapFrog Epic tablet this month illustrates how LeapFrog is trying to further support parents in making tech part of their child’s play diet. Knowing kids are drawn to adult devices and increasingly expecting technology that looks and feels more like their parents, the LeapFrog Epic boasts a sleek ‘grown up’ look. The perfect introduction to tablet play for children, it includes a wealth of parent-pleasing features including parental controls which allows them to set limits on what, when and how long children can use the device.

It also provides children a kid-safe browsing experience through its proprietary LeapSearch browser only allowing access to pre-selected, kid-safe web content from  over 5,000 videos, images, websites and games all reviewed and approved by the LeapFrog learning team. As their child’s interests change and grow, parents can simply add new websites to the LeapSearch browser.

Sally Plumridge, VP Marketing EMEAAA at LeapFrog comments: “We welcome this report as we launch LeapFrog Epic. We believe that a child’s development is a continuous journey and there is a positive place for technology within this. Epic is a shining example of a tech toy that can add value to a child’s learning journey through play. Technology is very much part of the world we now live in and there is a need to refresh our current understanding of play and reshape perceptions around ‘tech toys’. A child’s knowledge and imagination is infinite and technology can help encourage, engage and excite children to reach their full potential”.

The wider report on play analyses indoor and outdoor play, the importance of ‘risky play’ in sharpening decision-making, leadership and team collaboration, play as an essential part of  the learning process both inside and outside the classroom and home and the role of the planning process in making streets and outdoor space playable for children. It calls upon the play industry, advertising, the media and national and local government to recognise the contribution that play can make to children’s lives.

Former ‘Playschool’ TV presenter, Baroness Floella Benjamin chairs the APPG and in speaking of the full report adds: “This is the most comprehensive recent study of play in all its forms and proves the truth of the old saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ I am delighted to commend it to my parliamentary colleagues.”

Monday, 12 October 2015

CAR SAFETY SPECIALIST BRITAX INTRODUCES NEW TECHNOLOGY TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN BOOSTER SEATS -SecureGuard helps to reduce abdominal forces by up to 35 per cent in the event of an accident.

Children love to move around in their car seat, but research shows that wriggling, sleeping and turning can compromise their safety – even when secured by a 3-point seat belt in a booster seat. Today, responding to concerns from experts and parents, car safety specialist Britax introduces SecureGuard, a seat belt extension proven to reduce abdominal forces in the event of a collision.

Every car journey is an adventure for a child, but in a booster seat the adult seat belt easily rides up to lie across the child’s belly due to movement in the car seat. One study shows that children in highback booster seats spend around 20 minutes of a one-hour drive in a slouched posture, confirming previous studies suggesting that children do not always sit upright in the car.

In the event of an accident, frontal collisions are the most common, and a displaced seat belt in a booster seat makes the abdominal area much more vulnerable. In fact, abdominal injuries in frontal collisions represent 30 per cent of injuries for children in booster seats.
Introducing SecureGuard – the 4-point seat belt.

To improve the protection of a child’s abdominal area while in a booster seat, car safety specialist Britax has developed a solution to prevent the lap belt from moving upwards during the course of a car journey. SecureGuard is an extension that is easily clipped onto the existing seat belt, making it a fourth anchor point which ensures that the adult lap belt remains in the optimal position over the pelvic bones, even when a child moves around in their seat. It’s the first time this technology has been used in Europe, further establishing Britax as a safety leader.

Car crash tests show that the technology reduces the abdominal forces by up to 35% compared to a car seat not using SecureGuard, keeping children in the safest possible position within their seat while allowing them freedom to move.

Paul Gustavsson, CEO Britax Childcare says: “Anyone who has travelled with a child knows that they like to move about in their seat, and a parent’s main concern is to care for their safety while they do so. This innovative technology is proven to keep children safer in booster seats, so we are very proud to bring it to parents all over Europe.”

SecureGuard is now available with the highly popular highback booster seats from Britax – the new KIDFIX II XP range, exclusively available through Mothercare with prices starting from £155 in the range. The new ADVANSAFIX II range with SecureGuard, a Group 1-2-3 combination seat, will also be available in selected retailers from October 2015, priced from £250.

Britax Advansafix II SICT

Britax Advansafix II SICT shown with the 5-point harness as group 1-2 seat

Britax Advansafix II

Britax Kidfix II XP

Britax Kidfix II XP SICT

For more information please go to http://www.britax.co.uk/car-seats/

Saturday, 10 October 2015

il Tutto Nico 
changing bag

The il Tutto Nico is a fantastic versatile real leather changing bag. It comes with all the necessary accessories like changing mat, bottle holder and wet bag. There's a choice of using the short handles or a long shoulder strap. Quality is second to none. I absolutely loved using this bag but found it on the large side. I guess it would be perfect for twins or 2 children close in age as you can easily fit all the bits and bobs inside. There's several pockets inside and also 3 outside. I also liked the colourful lining inside as we all know how hard it can be to find something in a black bag! I found it a little too big for my needs and it really is too big for most pushchair shopping baskets which is a shame. il Tutto have several other models of changing and post baby bags in their range and they all look fantastic to me. There should be something for every mum out there!

Thursday, 8 October 2015


Keira Knightley
Black Beauty, Carrycot, £250, PRIAM, £510

With a host of famous fans including British actresses Keira Knightley and Rosamund Pike, CYBEX (www.cybex-online.com) – the German baby brand specialising in innovative and stylish products for babies and children – is taking the celeb world by storm.

Renowned for its award winning car seat safety, CYBEX launched its luxurious PRIAM stroller earlier this year – the pushchair of choice for both Keira Knightley and Liv Tyler who were recently snapped out and about with their new arrivals. Inspired by the work of the iconic designers Ray and Charles Eames, the PRIAM combines beautiful form with exceptional functionality.

There’s also the bold and beautiful CYBEX by Jeremy Scott collaboration, a collection of strollers, car seats and accessories in Jeremy’s exclusive ‘food fight’ print – as favoured by the likes of Gwen Stefani and Amber Rose who were both spotted with their strollers running errands in the LA sunshine.

Other celebrity fans of CYBEX include Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna, Katherine Heigl, Matt Damon, Katy Perry, Gisele B√ľndchen, Simon Cowell, Coco Rocha, Michelle Hunziker and Natalie Portman.

Amber Rose
CYBEX by Jeremy Scott, Callisto, £500

Cate Blanchett
Hot & Spicy Lux Seat, £280, PRIAM, £510

Gwen Stefani
CYBEX by Jeremy Scott, Onyx, £400

Liv Tyler
True Blue Denim, Lux Seat, £280, PRIAM, £510

Rosamund Pike
Autumn Gold, Lux Seat, £280, PRIAM, £510

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Mamas & Papas Urbo Bug
- photos

This is just a quick post to show you the beautiful Mamas&Papas Urbo Bug by Donna Wilson. I haven't had a chance to use it so can't comment on that but I can tell you it does look fantastic. It seems better than most umbrella strollers. I particularly like the single wheels at the front and the deep and padded seat, the leather covered handles are just another touch of luxury.

Have a look on the Mamas&Papas website for details.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Easywalker MINI

I have to admit I have been trying to write a review of the Easywalker MINI for months now and am no closer to doing it. It's been discontinued a while back and there's a new Mosey out which is a major improvement on the old MINI and so I will just give some pros and cons of the old model.

The old Easywalker MINI was a very very expensive pushchair. The set I had cost just over 1k. This included the reversible seat, carrycot, footmuff, changing bag, bumper bar and car seat adapters. It's a top end pushchair and the quality was second to none. 
However the old MINI had some very big drawbacks that proved to be too much for me and sadly I had to sell it on.

- the looks 
- very compact freestanding fold with the seat in place in either direction
- quality 
- fabrics, the most amazing plush footmuff and liner I've seen
- wheels, looked too small to handle anything but they proved amazing, all 4 wheels are air filled tyres
- leather covered handlebar with many height adjustments to suit parents of all sizes 
- versatility with the parent or world facing seat, carrycot and car seat adapters to form a travel system
- height adjustable sun canopy that could be tucked away behind the seat completely
- easy recline on the seat (not a full recline, seat suitable from 6 months old and perfect for napping)
- deep, foldable carrycot although a bit narrow.

- biggest problem - handling, very very hard to push/steer one handed, veers on even the slightest slope, easy to push with 2 hands but slow to take corners
- not much of a suspension which makes it a bumpy ride
- small sun canopy that gives almost no sun protection
- small, inaccessible shopping basket
- very awkward mechanisms to turn the seat round
- reclined seat, in the most upright position the seat is much more reclined than other pushchairs
- no leg support
- impossible to get it up kerbs, even with my full body weight and all the strength I have I couldn't lift the front wheels of the ground with the seat parent facing and had to put my foot on the rear axle to do it
- bad weight distribution, too much of a difference in performance depending on which direction the seat is in, the pushchair is easier/lighter to push and steer and get up kerbs with the seat world facing
- bumper bar can only be used with the seat world facing.

Overall I absolutely loved the idea of the MINI and loved some of its features. I even bought another one when the baby was 6 months old but I still couldn't live with the heavy push/steering and got rid of the second one as well. 
The new model - Mosey has had quite a few changes and is supposed to be better with leg support and much larger sun canopy but Easywalker also changed the position the seat sits in when parent facing and it just doesn't look right to me. The seat is far too close to the handlebar now. They also changed the fantastic air filled wheels for puncture proof foam wheels. I hope Easywalker will keep up their work as they already came up with something most manufacturers struggle with and that is an all terrain small folding pushchair with a reversible seat! Maybe the next generation of the MINI/Mosey will be even better!

These were my own pushchairs. All opinions are as always my own.