Reviewed by Melody Floyde
With Christmas just around the corner it’s the time of year when I struggle to come up with original gift ideas for the children in my family, so I was very pleased to be asked to review a selection of items that could be potential Christmas gifts.
First was the My First Thomas & Friends Tummy Time Activity Playmat by Rainbow Designs (RRP: £39.99), which is suitable for babies from birth upwards.
This is a really lovely large playmat with lots of interactive features to grab a baby’s attention. The mat is divided into 15 different squares all with bright and colourful Thomas images printed on them. Some of the squares have additional sensory features, there’s a crinkly peek a boo flap which when lifted has Thomas’ face under it, a Thomas that squeaks when pushed, a crinkly sun and also a large detachable mirror, which attaches to the mat by Velcro but can also be removed and held by the baby for them to look at themselves in. There are also three plastic teethers in different colours (blue, green and red) which can either be attached to the mat using the straps provided or removed for the baby to chew on.
The mat measures 143 x 100cm, so would be big enough for two babies to play happily together, and is made from a lovely soft feel material which is also padded so that it would be comfy for babies to play on, even on a hard floor. An added bonus is that the mat is wipe-clean and can also be machine washed at 30 degrees which is essential for young babies to keep it clean and hygienic.
The playmat came packed in a bright and appealing box with Thomas the Tank Engine images, a handle and window on the front to give a glimpse of the mat inside. My son, although a little old for the mat itself, was so excited to see all the pictures on the box and couldn’t wait for me to get it out to have a look.
I would definitely buy this playmat as a Christmas gift for a new baby and would give it 5 out of 5.
The next item is the Peekaboo Large Nutbrown Hair by Rainbow Designs (RRP: £24.99).
This is an adorable soft toy version of the Large Nutbrown Hare from the ‘Guess How Much I Love You’ book that giggles and moves to play peekaboo with the child. The hare came very simply packaged in a cardboard outer, with lots of images from the book, so the hare was fully accessible from the start, all I had to do was cut him loose. My sons couldn’t wait to get their hands on him.
The peek-a-boo function is activated by pushing a button on the hare’s left foot, handily there is a white circle with peek-a-boo written on it so that we knew which foot to press, the other foot has ‘I love you’ embroidered on it! On pressing the button the hare says ‘peek-a-boo’, moves it’s arms to uncover it’s eyes and giggles, it repeats this six times in a range of different voices – both of my sons found this hilarious and played with the hare repeatedly.
The hare needs two AA batteries, these are supplied which is a bonus, as the last thing you want on Christmas day is to realise that you don’t have any batteries! Changing the batteries will be easy too as there is a Velcro flap on the bottom of the hare to access the battery compartment which needs to be opened with a screwdriver. I also discovered that there is an on/off switch located here which is a great idea as when you’ve had enough peek-a-boo you can switch the hare off and the children won’t be able to access the switch to put it back on again!
The hare is very soft and cuddly but has a hard bottom due to the mechanism inside, and also the arms are rigid so it is probably best suited to sitting on a shelf to be played with rather than being a cuddly toy. Having said that my two-year-old son loves cuddling the hare and sometimes can be quite rough with him and so far he is proving surprisingly robust.
I love this hare and again would definitely buy this as a gift for a young child. He is just so cute.
I can’t fault this hare so would score him 5 out of 5.
We also received a Woobamboo Kid’s ‘Sprout’ Toothbrush (RRP: £4.99). I was curious to read the story behind Woobamboo toothbrushes, which are also available in adults and pets versions, and was shocked to read that billions of toothbrushes end up cluttering the world’s landfills every year. I hadn’t even considered what happens to my old plastic toothbrushes when I’ve finished with them! Woobamboo toothbrushes are made from bamboo which is biodegradable and is also panda friendly as apparently, it’s made from the type of bamboo that pandas don’t eat.
Anyway, enough of the science, what about the toothbrushes themselves. The kids ‘sprout’ toothbrushes come in packs of two. They have lovely soft colourful bristles (two different colours in a pack) and the bamboo handles are very light and easy to hold for both children and adults. The brush seems to clean my son’s teeth very well and he is very happy with it. I did have a slight concern that the toothbrush may not be as hygienic as a plastic toothbrush, but from looking at the information on the packet I can see that the bamboo is naturally anti-microbial. One thing I did notice on the website was that the toothbrush handle should be kept dry so I’m having to make a conscious effort to remember to do that.
So, whilst a toothbrush probably isn’t number one on a child’s Christmas list, these would make a good eco-friendly stocking filler and the fact they’re seasonally named ‘sprouts’ is an added bonus! My five-year-old son was actually really excited to have a ‘wooden’ toothbrush and is still finding it a bit of a novelty now.
I would give this a 4 out of 5, only marking it down slightly due to the extra care needed to keep the brush handle dry.
Our last and final items were some Push & Pull Animal Toys from Hape. When I see the Hape brand I always think of high quality toys and the wooden Push & Pull Animal Toys, that we were sent to review, did not disappoint.
They are available in four different animals – Zebra, Elephant, Giraffe and Crocodile and are designed for toddlers at 12 months and over. They retail at £9.99 each and would make perfect stocking fillers for Christmas.
We were sent the Giraffe and Crocodile toys to test and as soon as I opened the package my two-year old son couldn’t wait to get his hands on them. The animals are chunky, solid and brightly coloured. The Giraffe measures approx. 15cm x 9cm x 2cm and the Crocodile 9cm x 19cm x 2cm they both have four wooden wheels and can be either pulled along by the attached coloured cord or pushed along by hand. Both animals are cleverly shaped with holes in the centre making them easy for a toddler to grip by putting their hands through the ‘handle’. My son loved both taking them for a walk with the cord and pushing them along while he was on his hands and knees equally.
These toys are really lovely and I am confident that they will be durable and will last for a long time, making them great value for money and perfect Christmas gifts for toddlers.
I would give these Push & Pull Animals 5 out of 5.