Product research at the Baby Show

Disabled mother Sue Searle, from Stevenage, UK, visited the Baby Show to check out new products which may be useful for disabled parents. She reports on her findings here. Jo Allen, from Islington, London, tested one of these new products – the Podee feeding system – with her baby daughter.

On behalf of DPPI, I visited the Baby Show at Earls Court, London, in October to research new products which may be useful to disabled parents.

The Baby Show is where all the main baby product retailers and a lot of the smaller manufacturers exhibit new products. Babies and children are welcomed and there were lots of areas for feeding and changing.

Some products that caught my imagination as potentially useful for disabled parents were some of the simpler ideas. I haven’t had the opportunity to try any of these products but if any readers have tested them out, please let DPPI know, so we can share your feedback.

Bathing

The baby bath gate imported by TrendyKid Ltd is a very simple idea. It is similar to the grip pad style of stair gates. Its purpose is to make the bath shorter to prevent children turning the taps on. This may be useful for parents with limited mobility who feel they would be unable to reach the bath taps before the child in the bath or who are worried about a child getting out of reach in the bath.

Fisherprice has released an innovative new baby bath. The ‘Aquarium Bath Centre’ has a hammock on which newborns can be bathed; this can be adjusted as the baby grows. One end of the bath is narrower and has a moulded bottom to prevent the baby sliding down. When the baby gets older, they can sit at the wider end of the bath. Features for parents include padded arm rests, drains with a plug, and bathing cups which are attached to the side of the bath. These different features are intended to help stop the baby sliding down – good for a parent with limited grip.

Bedtime

Stokke Sleepi is an elegant cot which can transform into a cot bed. It is oval and has one side which gives full access to the mattress, which may be useful for some wheelchair users. Contact: www.lullabys.co.uk

Bosieboo has some great technical products. The video monitor is stylish and compact. It has its own portable monitor so is good for parents who may have difficulty getting up in the night to check on their baby, or for deaf parents, as there is visual confirmation of what is happening. It also produces a remote temperature monitor: this is attached to the baby’s nappy and the parent monitor has a fever alarm to wake you if the baby’s temperature is too high. It is a useful device for parents who have difficulty judging temperature by touch alone.

Playtime

The ‘Funpod’ by Little Helper (pictured at top of page), although not suitable for parents who have difficulty lifting, is a great design which the company is hoping to modify to create a more disabled parent friendly version. It is a height adjustable standing frame, with completely enclosed sides, to enable toddlers to reach countertops so they can help in the kitchen. It is useful for parents who need to be able to see their toddler is safe while they are cooking and engage with them at a similar height without compromising safety.

Perfectly Happy People is now distributing Lamaze toys. A new toy is the ‘Octotunes’ – a brightly coloured octopus. Each leg is in a different colour and plays different notes when squeezed. It comes with a colour coded song book, so even if you are unable to hear the notes clearly, you should still be able to play a tune. Also available is the similar ‘Puppytunes’, which plays four notes. Both toys are also vanilla scented. This is a fun way to make tuneful music with your child even if you are unable to hear pitch clearly.

Outside

Bosieboo has an out of distance monitor which sounds an alarm if the child unit goes out of range. It is being redesigned in the near future to include a directional finder.

Stay-Put is producing a blanket which attaches to the buggy with press studs. It is available in a variety of colours and has the option of matching seat liners. This is a good idea for parents who have difficulty bending down to tuck in blankets.

Morrck makes the ‘Baby Hoodie’. It is a travel wrap (a similar idea to hooded baby towels but a lot larger) which has slots to feed the car seat/buggy harnesses through. With this blanket there is no need for coats as the baby is all wrapped up, again a good idea for parents who have difficulty bending. It also has a new product – the ‘Wrapture’ – a fleece wrap with sleeves and a hood for toddlers, easy to do up with a single large button. This is useful for a parent with limited dexterity.

BabyRug has started importing the ‘Bug in a Rug’ from Australia. It could be described as a blanket with feet. It also has a hood and is designed to be used with any five-point harness. This avoids lots of bending to pick up blankets while out and about.

Sue Searle

Tried and tested

The Podee feeding system consists of a regular feeding bottle with the teat on a long tube. Originally designed for feeding twins, the hands-free nature of the product may also be useful for some disabled parents.

I have difficulties using my left hand so not having to hold the bottle helps. The fantastic thing about it is that it acts like a dummy in the baby’s mouth. The bottle can fit into a bottle holder and be strapped into a carrier. It’s great for travelling and particularly useful for one-handed parents, although I found it a little tricky to assemble.

Overall, I think it’s a very good product, although I don’t think it’s very suitable for young babies. When my daughter was a month old, she found the flow was too quick. I found it works much better for her now she’s three months. It would be good if there was a range of teats in different sizes rather than one standard teat which is why I think it’s ideal for an older baby.

Positive points about using the Podee feeding system are: it can be strapped in bottle holder; allows hands-free feeding; bottle shape easy grip; brightly coloured so it grabs baby’s attention; fits most standard equipment (such as sterilising units and bottle warmers).

The system is microwaveable except the tubing – I made that mistake and it lost its firmness, so that’s one to remember! For safety reasons, it’s important never to leave the baby unattended with a bottle.

For more information contact: Jo-Tal Enterprises Ltd, UK distributors of the Podee Baby Feeding System.

Tel: 0113 294 4506

Jo Allen

First published in Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood international, Issue 57, Winter 2007.

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