By Nicky Chow
Every parent knows that keeping your child in one place can be tricky. But with the right seat and a bit of entertainment it can be done. Our new Parent Approved Panellist, Nicky Chow, tried out Sit & Play developmental seat and our Baby Bud booster seat to see if he could keep daughter Aoibhe still for a few precious minutes.
As a first time parents, we received a lot of advice from friends, family and strangers when my wife Lilian was pregnant. When you are expecting, it's almost customary when you meet other parents that they give you a synopsis of their complete parenting experiences to date. We do the same now. One of the most resonant piece of advice, or perhaps it was a statement, was “you will be forever looking for things that you can put your little one down in!” Wow, how true that came to be! I'm sure any parent will agree, sometimes it just seems impossible to put the little one down (or 10 cm away from you) and the right piece of kit can be essential in clocking a little precious 'me time', even if that's only to put on the kettle or go to the toilet!
Aoibhe has been sitting up unsupported since 4 months old so she's quite confident about it and is not afraid to show off. She's not crawling yet but can walk along supported by various bits of furniture and toys, and she has a knack of shuffling from one side of the room to the other in the time it takes you to turn around!
So the two sitting products and accessories have arrived at the perfect time! For our first review, we have received the Offspring Sit & Play and the Baby Bud Booster Seat with Detachable Tray and Activity Tray along with the Alphabet 5 Piece Melamine Dinner Set which is perfect for another of Aoibhe's favourite things to do at the moment, eating!
Let's start with the Offspring Sit & Play seat. I was pleasantly surprised that it came in a relatively flat box. I do love well designed packaging but also the flat aspect meant this had travel potential! The entire seat is like a cushion wrap with an inflatable core so yes it does fold flat and yes we can take it on holiday! However this also meant that it needed inflating before use. Eager to have this set up for my little girl asap I stood up and began bellowing my oxygen reserves into the Offspring! This was cause for much amusement for the little one as she watched in glee as her daddy came close to the point of passing out! In hindsight I probably should have grabbed mummy's yoga ball pump to do the work for me.
The design of the Sit & Play cradles your little one and offers a relaxed position, kind of like a baby lazyboy. It offers varying materials and textures and contrasting colours for baby sensory goodness. As a family with a design background, we are a somewhat selective with our colour palette for Aoibhe's toys and nursery and normally wouldn't select something of this design. However for developmental toys, which I would class this as, we gladly make exceptions.
To the actual playability. Aoibhe took to it immediately; she was particularly fond of the crinkly book texture and the mirror. How much time does it buy us? About 5-10 minutes. The Sit & Play itself is very light, as we have already learned that it comprises mainly of my hot air, so when Aoibhe gets bored she just rolls and decides to carry it along with her like a hermit crab. I'd give this a rating of 4 out of 5.
Now to the Baby Bud Booster Seat. This is very similar to the brilliant Snug seat by Mamas & Papas but designed for babies already sitting unaided and has a little more wriggle room with a seat belt to hold your little one in. Designed with weaning in mind, it is a booster seat that can be strapped to most chairs.
To the design. It's ergonomic, it's hard in all the right places and soft where it needs to be and can be cleaned easily. It arrived in soft grey and white. This not only spoke to our tastes, this sang to us in euphoric accord akin to Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer being played at a wedding!
As a play seat on the floor with the Activity tray attachment, Aoibhe loves it. She loves playing with the different toys on offer and we love the fact that it's secured in the lip of the tray with clever hidden suckers and that she can't throw it across the room! This can buy us 20 minutes plus! It's a great piece and it's usually the first item Aoibhe's friend's head for when they are over for play dates. This gets a 5 out of 5 rating.
As a booster seat for weaning, we used it with the Alphabet Dinner Set at home. It's a traditional 5-piece set with cute designs that are a source for interaction. We let Aoibhe play with this set when she's not weaning too as we feel it's very important for her development to get used to handling crockery. The set is made from melamine and for this reason, it's not something I would normally choose as the material does become brittle over time and Aoibhe has a habit of launching her food and plates across the room. I think materials such as bamboo or silicone offer far better elasticity and damage resistance. For this reason I'd give this set a 3 out of 5.
We also took to the streets and trialed the Baby Bud at a restaurant. The chair itself is very light (1.6kg) however by nature of what it is, it is chunky. We managed to fit it in the basket of our stroller but it's not something we would carry with us at all times. It's very much a piece of kit that you take with you with a planned visit to a restaurant. That said, the activity tray and all the toys can actually be expertly tucked and strapped into the underside of the Bud to make it quite compact.
We've dined out quite a few times since Aoibhe's been born and our high chair experience has been varied. Aoibhe is still quite small for her age and can wriggle out of some high chairs quite easily but is mostly too short for the table height. Therefore, I really like having something that I know she is secure and comfortable in.
Having the tray available is great as the table / chair height alignment does vary in restaurants. Having the activity tray however is a truly magnificent. I'm sure all parents have now mastered the technique of eating with one hand. Well the activity tray actually allowed mummy and daddy to eat with both hands as it kept Aoibhe happily entertained! It really is these small wins that make a product worthwhile.
We love Nicky's review. It's so detailed and honest about the challenges parents face when looking for seating for their little one. Hopefully you've found it helpful. We're glad the Sit & Play and Baby Bud helped give Aoibhe a little bit of independent play time and dad and mum a much-needed cuppa.
Remember, if you like the sound of any of these items, then why not take a closer look? They could be perfect for you!