BabyBjorn One Review

one meshLast year I was fortunate to attend the launch of BabyBjorn’s latest offering to baby wearing in the form of The Baby Carrier One. I was intrigued by what I saw as a move away from the traditional carriers that BabyBjorn have always been synonymous with and took the opportunity to really explore the carrier and also talk to the designer. Continue reading

Disney On Ice at Nottingham

Mickey and Minnie welcome us to the show

Mickey and Minnie welcome us to the show

Last weekend we were fortunate enough to go and see Disney on Ice at the Capital FM arena in Nottingham. SO first up huge thank you to Dadzclub for sending the tickets in exchange for this review.
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Choosing a Car Seat (sponsored post)

Choosing a car seat for your child

When selecting a car seat for your child, you’ll be faced with a dizzying array of colours, designs, features and prices. But rather than being swayed too heavily by appearance or cost, try to focus on the safety aspects of the seat. Here are just some of the questions worth asking about your child’s car seat:

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Sshhh Dont tell the kids ( We are going to Narnia)

We this year we decided we wanted something a little special to take the kids to see Father Christmas. With Oren now getting ready for his 4th Christmas and Willow her third, they really have got it this year. They are looking forward to it, it features in most conversations, and they have decided on presents they would like to ask Father Christmas for.

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Babywearing for Dads (Baby Bjorn and SnugBaby Reviewed)

Dads, this is something you really should be thinking about!

Babywearing is great for us dads, especially in that that we can calm our babies excellently using the closeness of a baby carrier. The bass vibrations of our voice can have great calming affect on baby. One of the things I never tired of when carrying our children was just tilting my head and being able to gently kiss the top of their head. I also previously mentioned postnatal depression and the causes, one of these being not feeling bonded with baby… well babywearing is a great way to bond with your baby.

I think for mum and dad, one of the great things about babywearing, is being able to do so many things whilst sharing the experience of what you are doing at same time. For baby, too commonly their view of the world for first 9 months or so, is the sky, from laying in their pram as we shop, walk or generally get about. Through babywearing, they get to see everything we see, which obviously has to support their development. I used to find myself pointing things out and talking about them whilst carrying the kids, but in retrospect, I realise that when I was pushing them in a pram, we didn’t really engage with them!

What one do I need?

As with everything baby-related, the choice seems to be endless!! They actually fall into four main categories (I’m bound to get contradicted with on that point but hey, my blog my rules, sorry private blogger joke…)

Baby Sling Style

Relatively simple to use. It’s also a favorite amongst mums who like the ease and privacy it provides for breastfeeding. Although they are quite versatile and can be adjusted to a hip carry for older kids, not the type I ever got on with and one I rarely see men using. The other drawback is they tend to be size dependant for wearer, so not great for couple who want to use same carrier.

Mei Tai

At the end we review the SnugBaby take on this type. They are also known as an Asian Baby Carrier (or ABC). Basically a rectangle piece of fabric with four straps, two for the shoulders and two for around the waist. The straps are criss crossed and tied for security. Mei tai carriers, tend to distribute the weight more evenly than most and can be used in almost all carrying styles. Most are not recommended for newborns (unless its a SnugBaby) but can be used right into toddlerhood. Probably too quickly dismissed by many, I know I certainly did as a new dad, but wouldn’t anymore.

Baby Wrap

These are basically just a large piece of fabric. They can be used in huge array of different styles, but the drawback is the wearer has to learn how to safely tie each style! For this reason I am not keen from male perspective, although I can see that if you are using them daily you will quickly remember the different ways to tie them. However, I feel for dads, who maybe are only getting opportunity to babywear at the weekends, just too much time and stress re learning how to tie it each time!

Back Pack (or Front Pack) Baby Carrier

Probably the most common sort that you will see dad carrying baby in. Personally, I think this is only because the manufacturers of theses types recognised huge male market and addressed it. The other types of carriers have very minimal promotion of use by dads. I am also reviewing the Baby Bjorn active carrier, one that I also used with my children. These are pretty restricted in carrying styles, but easy to use and quite masculine in appearance.

So onto our reviews!

Baby Bjorn Active

This was carrier we bought for our son and then used also with our daughter. This really became my carrier, not sure if this was because Steph wasn’t keen on it or because setting it up is like getting your seat position right in the car, only for someone else to drive it and change all the settings! So if she did use it and naturally would have to change the set up, she wouldn’t hear last of it from me! Come on guys, you know what I mean, right?

Overall this is a simple to use, functional, mid budget carrier. It is comfortable to wear and easy on the back.

When you first receive the carrier, it is in two parts, I know we hate instructions, but use them! I did the typical male thing, ignored the instructions, spent 30 mins trying to figure it out… only to then read the instructions and have it ready to go 5 minutes later! Once you have got it together, you will spend some time setting the carrier up to suit yourself. This is probably the main drawback to the Baby Bjorn, if you are going to share the carrier you will be forever re adjusting it to suit each other. It is also claimed to be breastfeeding friendly which I would dispute. I know a few women that have tried and it is certainly not easy or discreet to achieve.

All that aside, I loved MINE. Yes, once it became just mine, I really enjoyed using it. I would wear it at every opportunity and carry the kids. It is really comfortable and the large padded straps ensure you hardly feel you are wearing it. Spending time getting it set right is worth it, as you can then carry your baby for hours with back pain or discomfort. Small minor point is that it only has two positions, facing in or facing out on your chest. This also limits how long you will be able to wear it as the kids get older. They are cool looking though and I think actually one of the few baby products that strike me as male orientated, and made with men in mind. So the Baby Bjorn Active gets a FOUR Star Review

SnugBaby

I’m not sure why, but when I went out to review the SnugBaby, it didn’t exactly fill me with excitement. Maybe because of the 99% focus on women on the website, maybe just the designs were not masculine enough or appealing, or maybe it was the thought of having to learn to tie it (sounds complicated!). However, as you read on you will see my opinion changed! The SnugBaby comes in number of options and designs, and is a variation on the Mei Tai carrier. SnugBaby is suitable for use from newborn right up to toddler. (Yes, to put it fully to the test, I even carried my nearly three year old in it, quite comfortably too!)

 

OK, wow, what a convert I became, once I got the hang of it, I loved it. The basic ties are a doddle, and even the back carry takes no time at all to get a grips of. I really thought my two kids would challenge the SnugBaby claim that it is suitable even for toddlers… especially with them being 23 months and even 35 months!! Not at all, had my little girl up and carried within minutes and she loved it! My concern over back support was unfounded, I found the carrier comfortable and supportive, the wide straps where they cross the back ensure maximum support and spreading of the child’s weight. The carrier itself is so lightweight, and add to that the multiple different positions you can use it in, I really think this is superb! Also, there is no problem in any number of people using the carrier, as there are no settings to remember… put it on, tie it up and away you go… it really is that simple. Honestly guys, take long hard look at this one, don’t dismiss it because of the female-orientated website or the colour schemes. The product itself gets a resounding FIVE star review the website and marketing approach unfortunately only get a THREE star review and again thats boosted by the product.

To be clear these reviews are from a dads perspective, I am not a babywearing expert and I am aware the different opinions exist regarding different carriers types. I am hopeful we will have full guest blog on baby wearing from expert shortly.

Gadgets For Dads Reviewed: Hitachi Lifestudio and Eye Fi Geo

As I am always getting asked for recommendations from dads, I have decided I will start doing reviews as part of the blog. The blog was launched as a way of giving helpful tips and advice for expectant and new fathers, so these reviews will be in keeping with this aim. Every couple of weeks I will be doing reviews in different categories and we are starting with gadgets, (not my fault… I explained to some PRs what I wanted to do and got offered some great ones to review!) The products have been supplied to review, some purely for the review and some I have been allowed to keep. Irrespective of this my reviews will always be honest and truthful, the reviews will be conducted always from a male perspective (surprise, surprise). Lets be clear, I am no technical whizz, so these reviews will not be about the technical ins and outs, they will be purely about, do they work? Could I work out how to use it? Do they make life easier? Im sure you’re getting the picture!

So up first is the Hitachi Lifestudio Mobile Plus and I have to say, I love this product. As someone who struggles with the chronology of events, this gadget is a godsend!

OK, so what is it? Basically, the version I was sent is a 500gb external hard drive that connects to a 4gb usb key. So, why do I love it? Simple, it comes with great software that is easy to use, it’s functional and fun.

In a nutshell, it copies from your computer and stores all your pictures, video, music and other files. It also sorts them into date order, then making them easy and fun to access.

On first instal, admittedly the transfer speeds are not the quickest (although I do have a lot of pictures on the computer) but once the initial sort was done, the speed was fine. I found that the LifeStudio software did a great job of sorting my photos and videos. Once they are sorted, they are then displayed on a fun interactive 3D wall, dubbed ‘MyLife’. All the files are sorted by type and then into dates, first they are broken down into year and then into month. This feature alone I think is a must for new parents, our babies grow so quickly and looking back on some of photos, I couldn’t be sure how old our children were in them (as I said earlier, I am useless when it comes to the chronology of events). LifeStudio solves this problem for me, as the software has sorted and stored my pics into chronological order.

The LifeStudio does a great job of make the navigation of files simple, instead of sifting through multiple files, everything is right there at your fingertips. You can also link it with your Facebook, Flickr and Picasa (yep, you can even upload photos or comments directly from the application).

LifeStudio is more than just about pictures though, it will also sort and store your documents, your music, in fact just about everything you have on your hard drive. You have access to TV, films and news.

LifeStudio also has some great and easy to use backup software, (how I wish we had this when our laptop suddenly died a year ago, taking pictures of our son with it, it cost us a fortune to have our hard drive recovered). In addition to this you get 3gb of cloud online backup storage free. This can be increased but carries an additional cost.

In summary, I would recommend this product without hesitation. I was shocked to find the unit I tested was being sold at just £79.99. Even if I hadn’t been allowed to keep the one I tested I would certainly have bought one. It is simple to instal, easy to use and genuinely makes life easier.

So with out a shadow of a doubt this gets Five out of Five Stars

Next up, and closely related is the Eye-Fi Geo X2 another gadget I really enjoyed reviewing. This one also solves the problem of my bad memory and stops me getting shot. Take your pictures and when in range let the card automatically upload them to your computer!!  No more will you suffer the problem of going to take pictures, only to find memory card full because you have forgotten to download older images, so then having to decide which ones to delete so you can take some more! Or, alternatively having to go to nearest store to buy new memory card, because we cant possibly delete any old photos, as they are all important memories! Trust me when I say this will happen constantly when your child is born.

So what is the Eye-Fi Geo X2? It is SD memory card with Wi Fi and geo tagging (get me, sounds impressive doesnt it?!) Basically, you put it in your camera, take your pictures, when you are near your computer and its on, it will automatically download your pictures. Brilliant. In addition, it is intended that it will apply the location at which the picture was taken, using the geo tagging feature.

Just plug in the card in its USB card reader supplied and software is simply and quickly installed. Software has very simple and easy to follow instructions to follow as you set up your preferences,  I was concerned about how easy this was going to be, trust me it was simplicity itself and something anyone can do (well, if I can anyone can).

You can decide on the wireless networks that the card can use to upload your pictures, and apparently it can store up to 32 of them. I didn’t test this so will take their word for it, as Im sure for most of us 2 or 3 will be plenty.

There are settings to suit everyone, you can have it upload all photos or just selective ones, you select the folder you want you photos to be stored in, you can also select to share pictures online through your facebook account, as well as Flickr and Picasa. The facebook account facility is great, as it will share without the need to be logged in.

To be honest, I couldn’t really seem to get a grip of the geo tagging facility. I’m sure for some it is a great option to have and once set up could have benefits, I just didn’t feel it was crucial so gave up on setting it up. Not having geo tagging did not in my opinion detract from what is a great product.

In summary, I would again recommend this product without hesitation. Although as the card I reviewed with Geo tagging sells for around £75, I would be tempted to suggest you get the standard version which retails at around £50. I will be sorry to return this card, but will probably be buying the standard version in the not too distant future. Another product which is simple to instal, easy to use and genuinely makes life easier.

Great product but loses a star due to geo tagging so gets  Four out of Five Stars