Review: Brother Max 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer

A thermometer is an essential component of every parent’s first aid kit.  As we all know, kids are prone to catching everything that’s going around and a raised temperature can be an early indicator of all kinds of ailments, from minor things like colds to more serious infections including meningitis.  Fast, accurate temperature readings minimise irritation for a sick child, offer peace of mind for parents and can alert you when a problem needs medical attention.

Renowned for their range of innovative products aimed at making life easier for parents and children, Brother Max have developed the 3-in-1 digital thermometer – a unique device that can measure ear, forehead and ambient temperature.  The thermometer is so accurate that it has been certified as a medical device.

The Brother Max 3-in-1 Thermometer’s clever design means that when not being used to take your child’s temperature, it sits securely in its own stand and measures the temperature in your baby’s room, ensuring that it is not only comfortable for your child but that it meets guidelines set out for the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  The unit automatically re-takes the room temperature every four minutes, ensuring accuracy.  The stand can be placed on any flat surface or alternatively can be mounted on a wall or other vertical surface using the adhesive pad supplied – it can even hang from the underside of a shelf.  Depending on position, the thermometer can be rotated through 180 degrees for easy reading, and the screen display will automatically ‘flip’ depending on the orientation of the unit so you can always read it at a glance.  The product has been specially designed to use a very small amount of power – a single set of batteries will allow it to remain on in ambient mode for six months and take up to 3,000 body temperature readings.

To take your child’s temperature, the thermometer is easily switched into temperature mode by retracting the protective cover and opening out the probe.  Unlike many other digital thermometers, the product gives an accurate reading without the need for probe covers and the probe is easily cleaned after each use with a tissue or soft cloth.  You can switch between forehead and ear modes at the touch of a button – the thermometer beeps to confirm the change and will display the ear or forehead icon on the backlit screen. You can also switch easily between Celsius and Fahrenheit modes – all controls have easy-to-understand icons so if you lose the instructions you won’t be lost!

Brother Max 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer

To take the in-ear temperature, simply place the probe in your child’s ear and press the temperature button – the reading takes 1-2 seconds and the unit will beep to confirm that the reading has been successful.  The probe is designed so that it cannot be inserted too far into your child’s ear, avoiding injury.  The unit will also display the ‘Lo’ message if the probe has not been inserted far enough to give an accurate reading, ‘Hi’ if the temperature exceeds the unit’s range or ‘Err’ if the ambient temperature is too high or too low for an accurate ear/forehead reading to be achieved.

To take forehead temperature, simply hold the probe against your child’s forehead and press the temperature button.  The reading takes just one second and as before the unit will beep to confirm that it is complete.  In ear or forehead mode, the unit will switch itself off automatically when left idle for 30 seconds.  To return the thermometer to ambient mode simply flip the probe back down and rotate the cover before placing the unit back on the stand.  The unit will beep again to confirm the change of mode and the backlight will come on for 10 seconds.

I found the thermometer very easy to use; the readings it gave were accurate and extremely fast which is a huge benefit when dealing with an unwell, irritable child, and the backlit screen is easy to read day or night. The forehead function is an excellent addition because although in-ear readings are generally regarded as more accurate, it is much easier to take a forehead reading without waking a sleeping child – ideal for keeping tabs on your child’s temperature during the night.

I thought the fact that the unit also measures room temperature was a great idea, meaning it has an everyday function but can be grabbed from the night stand to measure your child’s body temperature when required, instead of rummaging in cupboards and drawers in the middle of the night like we usually do!  It also comes with a robust carry case, the base of which can be used as a temporary stand, making it ideal for travel.

I have only two very minor criticisms of this product.  When in ambient mode on the stand, the thermometer can only sit in two positions – fully upright at 90 degrees or horizontal at 180 degrees.  When placed on a flat surface below eye level – in our case a chest of drawers – this meant bending down or leaning over to read the screen.  It would have been useful if the unit could be positioned at a 45 degree angle – although the problem could be resolved by placing the unit on a shelf at eye level or attaching it to the wall.  Also, the backlight automatically switches off after 10 seconds, but when you press the temperature button to switch it on again, the unit beeps – I would prefer to be able to turn it on silently so I could check room temperature without the risk of waking Bubs up – although the beeping is fairly discreet and probably wouldn’t wake him in normal circumstances.

Overall I think this is an excellent product; it looks great, is well thought-out and designed and is completely user-friendly.  Retailing at £34.99 it also compares well to other digital in-ear thermometers whilst offering the additional forehead and ambient temperature options.  Highly recommended.

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Tooth Care: from Baby to Toddler and Beyond!

Ever since we caught that first glimpse of a tiny tooth pushing its way up through Bubs’ wee gums, we’ve been brushing his teeth.  It was easy in the early days; given that his diet was mostly breastmilk to start with I didn’t worry that much about his teeth if I’m honest, and he was happy to let us give them a quick once over with a teeny toothbrush and a smear of paste before bed.

These days though, oral hygiene is a different kettle of fish.  Bubs has a mouthful (well, 16 and counting) of pearly whites and an independent streak to rival that of Bear freaking Grylls – which makes toothbrushing something of an ordeal.  He wants to do it himself – and by do it I mean chew or suck on the brush because he likes the taste of the toothpaste.  I, on the other hand, want to clean his teeth properly thus avoiding hideous tooth decay of the kind recently featured on a Panorama Special, not to mention some other terrible affliction caused by swallowing too much toothpaste.  Now I’m well aware that when I was a child, little emphasis was placed on brushing the teeth of babies and toddlers, and to be fair my teeth are fine albeit a bit wonky and with the odd filling.  All these mandates about brushing for two minutes and not allowing the child to swallow too much toothpaste and a whole industry based on novelty toothbrushes and pastes are relatively newfangled.  So what’s the best way to care for a small child’s teeth?  What happens if you don’t do it properly – and how can you persuade a less than co-operative child that clean teeth should be high on his or her list of priorities?

Tooth Care

Why brush?

First and foremost, the purpose of toothbrushing is to prevent tooth decay and cavities.  Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria naturally present in your mouth produce acids to break down morsels of food left behind after eating.  These acids combine with the bacteria and the food to form a substance called plaque, which coats the teeth and begins to erode the enamel.  Saliva is the body’s natural defence against tooth decay, neutralising some of the acids and inhibiting the growth of bacteria.  Because the body naturally produces less saliva while we are asleep, teeth are more vulnerable at night, which is why brushing before bed is especially important.  Failure to take proper care of your child’s teeth can result in painful cavities which may need to be filled, or severely decayed teeth which need to be extracted. Poor oral hygiene is also a cause of inflamed, bleeding gums (gingivitis) and bad breath (halitosis).

Correct toothbrushing technique

Toothbrushing should be supervised until your child is around six years old and most under fours will need a helping hand to ensure their teeth are properly clean.  Start with a small, soft toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste, or a pea-sized amount for over twos.  Gently brush the inside surfaces of the teeth, where most plaque accumulates, first, angling the brush towards the gumline.  Then clean all outside surfaces of the teeth, brushing gently back and forth, again with the bristles angled towards the gum line.  Finally, brush the biting surfaces of the teeth before encouraging your child to rinse their mouth with water – most will relish the opportunity to spit it out without getting shouted at!

For younger babies, you can buy ‘finger toothbrushes’ to make life easier but a clean, damp muslin will work just as well.

Things to avoid

1.  ‘Grazing’ between meals.  If your child is continually picking at food then their mouth is continually producing acid to break that food down, which in turn means that their delicate teeth are being bathed in acid all day long.  There’s nothing wrong with having snacks between meals – in fact they are often necessary to keep an active toddler’s energy levels up – but try to have clear ’snack times’, offer healthy alternatives with low sugar and offer a drink of water to rinse the mouth afterwards.

2.  Sugary drinks, especially in a bottle.  Sweet drinks like cola or juice are often full of sugar, but even sugar-free alternatives or milk have the same effect as ‘grazing’ on food during the day – plus the effects of constant sucking can be detrimental to the development of your child’s teeth and jaw.  Try to save drinks like juice and milk for meal or snack times and offer plain water at other times.  Also, encourage your child to drink from a free-flow sippy cup once they are established on solids with a view to saying goodbye to bottles by the time they are one.

healthy tooth care

3.  Putting your child to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.  There is no denying that babies love to suck and there’s nothing like a milk feed to send them drifting off – and we all know that in the real world you would never wake a sleeping baby just to brush its teeth! If your baby is young enough to still need a final milk feed and usually falls asleep at this feed then the best you can do is clean the teeth gently first and then offer the bottle as normal.  You should never allow an older baby or toddler to take a bottle to bed unsupervised though – if they fall asleep with the bottle in their mouth, liquid ‘pools’ around the teeth creating optimal conditions for bacteria to breed.  If your child insists on taking a bottle to bed as a comforter, fill it with plain water or offer a dummy instead.

A note on breastfeeding

There is lots of information on the internet stating that breastmilk, like formula or juice, contains sugars and that extended breastfeeding or nursing at night is a cause of tooth decay.  Personally I always felt that as a completely natural food, breastmilk was extremely unlikely to harm Bubs’ teeth.  In fact, some studies suggest that compounds in breastmilk actually kill harmful bacteria and can protect the teeth from decay.  In our house we always brushed Bubs’ teeth before his last breastfeed and left it at that until we stopped nursing at 12 months.  You can read more about breastfeeding and tooth decay at Kellymom or in some of the resources below.

When baby says no!

So we all know that toothbrushing is important – but what if your kid isn’t so enthusiastic?  Children love nothing more than saying ‘no’ which is extra frustrating when their health is at stake.  The key is to make toothbrushing fun – if you can come up with a game to make it enjoyable for your child then you’re onto a winner!  In our house we have the ’sugarbugs’ who hide in Bubs’ mouth and make his teeth dirty – and it’s a race against time to catch and scrub them all away!  Another friend told me that she used to get her daughter to recite the alphabet in the most exaggerated, crazy way she could – a great way to get that mouth open nice and wide so you can scrub away!  The old faithful reward chart or stickers could also work well here, as will allowing your child to choose their own toothbrush and paste in the shop.

Did you know?

Extraction of the baby or milk teeth before they are ready to fall out is thought to stimulate the adult teeth to come through earlier, which in young children may then occur before the jaw and facial bones have had a chance to grow to accommodate them.  This can result in crowding of the teeth which may require orthodontic treatment and even extraction of permanent teeth.  Fun.

Review: Grobag Stay-on Duvet Bedding Set

Now that Bubs is approaching 2, I had been thinking it was about time we took the sides off his cot and got him used to sleeping in a ‘big boy’ bed under proper, grown-up bedding.  These days he is a really excellent sleeper and my only reservations about doing this came from the fact that he is quite the gymnast when he’s in the Land of Nod – we would often go in to check on him and find him sleeping sideways or upside down in his cot!  Since we’ve always used a Grobag for his sleeps this has never been a problem but I was worried that when we took the sides off his cot and switched to using a duvet he would a. fall out of bed or b. kick off the covers and wake up cold.  So you can imagine my excitement when I came across the Grobag Stay-on Duvet set – and when the lovely folks at Grobag agreed to let us try one out!

The idea is – as with most things Grobag – simple but very effective.  The set comprises a fitted sheet with an elasticated pocket that goes right under the mattress for a secure, safe fit.  The sheet has a pillowcase attached, which means that the pillow cannot move around and your child’s head cannot go underneath.  Finally the set includes a duvet cover with zips to attach it securely to the bottom sheet, stopping the duvet from moving around or falling off and ultimately stopping your child from falling out of bed – a bit like invisible bed rails!  The duvet and pillow are not included in the set, although both are available from Grobag, and the Grobag Stay-On Duvet features poppers that attach to the duvet cover, preventing it from bunching up.  The set comes in two sizes – cotbed and single bed – and standard bedding will also fit.  We bought a cotbed duvet (150×120cm) and a junior pillow from a high street retailer.

Before I go any further I must confess; we haven’t taken the sides off the cotbed just yet.  Not because I think Bubs isn’t ready for a big bed but because we are temporarily living in a house with no safety gates and I didn’t want him getting out of bed in the night and falling down the stairs!  He is, however, outgrowing his Grobag sleeping bags and rather than invest in the next size up for a month or two I thought we would go ahead and switch to using a duvet and pillow with the cotbed sides still on for now.

Grobag Stay-on Duvet Bedding Set

The set was really easy to fit and is made from high quality cotton for comfort and easy care.  Bubs loved the ‘Cheeky Monkey’ print and was very excited to go to bed under his new blanket!  The large zips are easy to attach and when the bottom sheet is securely fitted they zip up easily without snagging.  It’s important to note that the zips do not extend the full length of the duvet.  I found this reassuring because while the zips prevent the duvet from riding up over the child’s head, there is nothing to stop the child from wriggling down under the covers.  The fact that the zips do not go all the way down means that Bubs wouldn’t get stuck under the duvet if he wiggled down too far.  Thus far though, we have found that when zipped up the duvet is a snug enough fit to prevent him from travelling down the bed, while being loose enough to allow him to turn over freely.  When we do remove the cot sides I am confident that the zips will be enough to prevent him from falling out of bed.

The bedding set is fully machine washable and spare bottom sheets are available separately so you can have a spare in case of illness/accidents.  It comes in six designs – three for little girls and three for little boys.  The product retails from £44.99.  Grobag products retail through a number of online outlets, including their official online store.  For further stockist information visit the Gro Group website.

Overall we are delighted with the product; as one would expect from Grobag it has been well-designed with practicality and comfort in mind and is an ideal solution for kids making the transition from sleeping bag to conventional bedding.  We will certainly be buying a second one – we’ll be potty training before long too so I’m sure it will be needed!