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TIPS-testing Miracle Scarf™ and Miracle Band™ - 2009

I am delighted to bring you the final results of our latest one-off trial.
The Miracle Scarf™ and Miracle Band™ are more than just toys.
When testing the YesSuperBaby® products we wanted our Testers to explore the potential of these toys to enhance close bonding with their baby – something I am always keen to promote.
Some toys, however simple they may appear, can help promote the physical, social, sensory and psychological development of your child in many complex ways. Following this trial, we want to tell you how Miracle Scarf™ and Miracle Band™ do this.
We are delighted to award these products a TIPS Clever idea award.

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Read more about this trial by clicking on the links below:


Review

Miracle Scarf™
RRP: £18.99
Manufactured by Yes! SuperBaby
Supplied by www.yessuperbaby.com

The Miracle Scarf™ is a tactile toy designed to be worn by adults. It is suitable from birth but children should not play with this toy unattended. This is explained on the packaging and online at www.yessuperbaby.com.
The Miracle Scarf™ comes with: a squeaky toy to help develop fine motor skills; a musical toy for auditory development; crinkle pads, rattles, satin ribbons and knots for sensory development. Testers found the internal peek-a-boo pocket ideal for storing a spare soother, mobile phone, car keys or a bib.
Made from gorgeously soft velour fabric in a range of colours, the scarf is comfortable to wear and positively encourages close bonding on the move.
The Miracle Scarf™ is the perfect length to provide baby with many stimulating activities, even while breastfeeding. It is machine washable and dries quickly – this is always a bonus.
Testers particularly liked the way it can be folded up to fit in baby’s travel bag so you can take it with you wherever you go.
You can also attach your own toys to the scarf using the two Velcro clips.

Here are some of the Testers’ comments:

  • Really liked it, great idea!
  • Pocket came in really handy
  • Easy to carry in bag
  • The detachable toys can be attached to other things

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Miracle Band ™
RRP: £9.99
Manufactured by Yes! SuperBaby
Supplied by www.yessuperbaby.com

The Miracle Band™ is a tactile toy designed to be worn by adults. It is suitable from birth but children should not play with this toy unattended. This is explained on the packaging and online at www.yessuperbaby.com.
The Miracle Band™ comes with: a squeaky toy to help develop fine motor skills; a musical toy for auditory development; an internal rattle and a selection of satin tabs for sensory development. You can also attach more toys to the band using its Velcro tab.
Made from luxuriously soft velour fabric in a range of eye-catching colours, the band is comfortable to wear around the wrist. It provides stimulating activities for baby to explore while you hold them safely and securely in your arms.
The Miracle Band™ is machine washable and dries extremely quickly. It is small enough to fit in a handbag so you can easily take it with you everywhere you go.
Like other products in the Miracle™ range, the band is ideal to promote close bonding with your baby. It would be equally useful for carers in the nursery setting.

Here are some of the Testers’ comments:

  • Size of band fits well
  • We like the band because we can play together
  • Can be kept in handbag for emergency playtime
  • Kept baby entertained for quite a while
  • He liked the rattle in the wristband
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Overview

Our aim at TIPS is to source the best products currently available. Where a product is quite unique, we will set up a one-off trial - we ran such trials for the Kamillosan thermometer soother and the Shampoo Rinse Cup which both proved popular with Testers.

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Methodology

We recruited ten Parent Testers with babies aged between three and eight months and sent out five Miracle Scarves™ and five Miracle Bands™. Testers were asked to read evidence-based guidelines before testing and invited to record their comments in a detailed questionnaire.

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Guidelines

The importance of attachment parenting and playtime for your baby
‘Attachment parenting’ is a term coined by pediatrician William Sears (2000). This is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to the attachment theory, a strong emotional bond with parents during childhood, also known as a secure attachment, is a precursor of secure, empathic relationships in adulthood.

The eight principles of attachment parenting are:
1. prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting
2. feed with love and respect
3. respond with sensitivity
4. use nurturing touch
5. ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally
6. provide consistent loving care
7. practice positive discipline
8. strive for balance in personal and family life

While there are no hard and fast rules, the above principles are usually interpreted by parents to include natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing (the use of slings) and the support of organic food.
Medical research shows that people who are touched and held a great deal in babyhood and receive plenty of attention in early life have an abundance of cortisol receptors in the hippocampus in adulthood. This helps them cope with the cortisol triggered by stress: when stress level rise, there is somewhere for the cortisol to go. A child therefore needs an adult who is emotionally available and tuned in enough to help regulate his emotional and physical needs (Sue Gerhardt, 2008). This means that the more close contact we have with our babies the more confident, sensitive and secure they are likely to be as adults.


Background to safety issues
When choosing toys for babies and children safety is paramount. Scare stories and safety recalls remind us of the dangers associated with the materials used to manufacture toys. How do we know that a product is safe? How can we tell whether children are likely to be put at risk by playing, chewing or worse still choking on such toys?
Potentially dangerous plastics are used to manufacture toys and feeding utensils (including bottles and teething products) that our children regularly put into their mouth. In my article ‘Cup feeding revisited’ I describe the dangers associated with phthalates (especially Bi-sphenol-A - an ingredient used in the manufacture of some plastics). Concerns regarding this plastic lead to calls for a ban on polycarbonate (plastic that contains softeners which can leach phthalates into the food or liquids contained in bottles or containers) products. Many manufacturers are rethinking the way they manufacture products to guarantee the safest possible designs.
We should choose toys as carefully as we choose feeding utensils as babies will try to chew everything they put into their mouth. An excellent article called ‘Toxic toy story’ (Hunt-Christensen 1998) on the potential dangers associated with certain plastics used in toys explains the risks and what we can do to reduce these. It suggests that parents:

  • buy toys made of other materials, for example wood, metal, or cloth
  • look for plastic toys made of nonchlorinated plastics (for example high density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene (PP)). These display number 2 or 5 for recycling purposes. Plastics containing softeners display number 4, 6 or 7 for recycling purposes.
  • do not buy toys that are not clearly labelled
  • ask your local stores to use their buying power as toy retailers to state a preference for (ideally) non-PVC toys, or at least, toys clearly labelled so customers know which type of plastic they are made of
  • contact Greenpeace for more information on PVC and the current campaign to get it out of toys
  • contact toy manufacturers and ask them to use nonchlorinated plastic resins when making toys
  • return discarded toys to the manufacturers. This lets manufacturers know that we want them to take responsibility for the pollution they create
  • let parents, teachers, day-care providers, and anyone else involved in child care, know about about PVC toy facts. Together, we can create "the tipping point" needed to guarantee safer toys for our children.

Infection considerations
Soft toys can also present a number of dangers including the risk of infection if left unwashed. When tested, toys placed in hospital cots in special care baby units (SCBU) have shown high rates of bacterial colonization (Hanrahan & Lofgren 2004). While the risks are obviously higher in hospital, it remains important for soft toys and cuddly toys to be washed regularly in the home environment. If a toy is not washable then it may not be safe for your child. It is important to read the label and make sure the safety accreditation is clearly marked somewhere on the packaging. Hanrahan and Lofgren (2004) suggest you take the following common sense approach to toy care for at risk babies:

  • provide toys in limited numbers, making sure they are appropriate to the baby’s size and are developmentally appropriate
  • avoid sharing of toys and the use of bath toys
  • follow washing instructions provided if toys become soiled
  • make sure that toys are dried properly and do not retain water in cavities
  • discard toys when cleaning is not possible or effective.

Safety first
Toys must be safe by law. The European (EU) toy sector is regulated by the Safety of Toys Directive (88/378/EC). This sets out safety criteria and essential requirements which toys must meet before being placed on the EU market. For more details about these regulations go to: www.sgs.com
In the United States you can contact the Toy Industry Association (TIA) Inc. TIA is the not-for-profit trade association for producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America. It represents over 500 companies who account for approximately 85 per cent of domestic toy sales. Associate members include licensors, designers, inventors, safety consultants, testing laboratories, communications professionals and the media. For more information and details of the latest toy safety certification programme (TSCP) go to: www.toycertification.org
I am satisfied that the toys I have sourced fulfil the above strict criteria and believe the Miracle Scarf™ and the Miracle Band™ are fit for purpose.

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Completing the questionnaire

Testers were asked to record their comments in a questionnaire.
There are four sections in the questionnaire:

  • The product: in this section, we ask about the design of the product and quality of information provided online and on pack.
  • Use of product: this includes questions about ease of use; implications for play time enjoyment; comparison with more conventional toys; and questions about its potential to give your child extra confidence.
  • Feedback: in this section, you will be asked to comment on your favourite features, suggest improvements, and whether you believe it provides good value.
  • Awards: in this section, you can suggest an award for the product you have tested.

As you can see, there are many aspects of design to assess when testing this seemingly simple product. A well-designed toy should:

  • comply with the current safety regulations
  • be washable
  • be a reasonable price, and
  • above all provide fun and stimulation for your baby.

This can only be achieved when manufacturers use top quality materials and pay close attention to detail when designing their products.

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References

Gerhardt S (2008). Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain. Taylor & Francis group, London UK
Hanrahan KS & Lofgren M (2004). Evidense-based practice: examining the risk of toys in the microenvironment of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Advances in neonatal care, Vol 4: 184-201.
Hunt-Christensen J (1998). Toxic toy Story. Mothering Magazine; Issue 90. Available online at: C:\Users\TIPS\Documents\TIPS Testing\One-off trials\7. Yes Super Baby toys\Mothering Magazine Article Toxic Toy Story.mht (accessed on 21/11/08)
Sears & Sears (2000). The Breastfeeding Book. Little Brown and Co. New York. ISBN: 0316779245.
Trotter S (2006). Cup feeding revisited. MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, vol 16, no 3, September 2006, p397-402


 

Please note that products tested by TIPS are not free or promotional products, but samples for the sole purpose of independent testing. All Testers must agree and sign a copy of the TIPS Award Scheme terms and conditions before taking part in a TIPS trial.

 

Disclaimer. TIPS Ltd is not responsible or liable for any failings of products that have been submitted for the testing programme. The responsibility remains with the individual manufacturer. Research is constantly changing and whilst every effort is made by TIPS Ltd to ensure the information contained in the guidelines is accurate and up-to-date, parent testers must still be encouraged to seek the advice of their midwife, health visitor, lactation consultant or GP if they have any concerns.

TIPS Ltd© February 2009

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