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My youngest daughter is 15 months old and we have been trying to start and involve her in art and craft activities, I am from an arty family and my eldest daughter loves creating pictures so I really want to encourage this with my youngest. i saw the coverall food bibs in Tesco but wasn't keen on the look of these as they seemed that they would stick out infront of the child and not offer great coverage. I found this apron in my local Mothercare store and decided at £5 it was at a decent enough price to give it a try and as it is aimed for children aged one to two it seemed perfect. The apron is made of a lightweight yellow material and has a red splat shape on the front and red piping around the edges, the cuffs of the apron are elasticated to help keep the apron in place. I think it is great that the apron is in bright colours as that encourages children to want to wear it. The apron as you would expect is wipe clean which is brilliant so you don't have to keep washing it after use although it can be washed on a cool wash if you wish, the apron is waterproof apart from the elasticated cuffs. The apron is easy to use simply place your childs arms into the sleeves orf the apron pulling the cuffs into place and then there is velcro at the back to fasten the apron in place. The elasticated cuff mean that if your child has short arms the apron will still fit snuggly rathert than you needing to fold sleeves back. I think this apron is great, it is hardwearing and fits well, it is easy to clean and nice and bright to attract little ones. You can buy coverall bibs a little cheaper than this but I think this was worth the money and the only thing that has managed to stain this is the ELC paint blocks.
My daughter has loved painting; gluing and sticking from a very young age, so I made sure we invested in a decent apron for the occasions very early on. I have always loved the Early Learning Centre for quality against price, so it was almost natural when I chose an apron from them. For a very reasonable £5 we received the lovely bright coloured yellow apron in a very unisex design emblazoned with the words "Mini Artist" on the front. The apron itself is suitable from a year old, and this is only just getting a little tight for her now as she is just going to turn four years old. The beauty of the design of the apron means that it doesn't have to go over the child's head meaning that you may be able to eke out a few more months wear as the child gets bigger. The idea of the apron is to be worn almost like a back to front shirt. It does up at the back of the body with a large square of Velcro that I have always found to do a secure job of staying put whilst being worn. The apron is made from a soft PVC plastic material that is flexible and bends with the child. The edges of the cuffs are material and softer which I think are there to both give a good barrier against any spillages going up the child's arms as they wave their arms up in the air when painting, and also to keep the apron in the place it's intended to be. Despite the back of the apron being almost exposed, and all the protection being at the front of the body, I find the sides of the body are protected well and we have never found any paint on the back of her clothes. There is a high neck line to the apron, and in very small children, I used to think this was a little too uncomfortable as the neck line didn't appear to have anywhere to go. As my daughter has grown, she has grown into the neck line a lot better and it looks like a comfortable fit now. Any paint that is spilled onto the front of the apron can be wiped clean if required. I find that even old paint stains do come off when wiped over which is good, but a bit of spillage on the apron gives character to the item showing it's being enjoyed by the child. As this apron has lasted us almost three years, I think it has provided us with excellent value for money. There are no obvious signs of wear and tear with the apron, and if cleaned properly, I think it would look almost brand new. It has done an excellent job for us and we will be buying the bigger versions of aprons in the same style that the Early learning Centre sell in the very near future.
Over the last few weeks I've been doing more and more art activities with nine month old Freddy and along with the actual art materials I needed to buy him something to protect his clothes from all the paint and chalk. It's actually a lot hard than you would have thought to buy an apron for such a young child, and although I suppose I could have bought a coverall bib, I was really look to buy something specific to the job that Freddy would learn to associate with messy play. After a little research I finally plumped for the Early Learning Centre Mini Artist Apron which is actually advertised as being suitable for children aged between one and two years. The Apron As with many ELC products, this apron is little pricey, especially as cheaper versions can be bought from such places as Wilkinsons for half the price. But those cheaper versions aren't suitable for very young children and seem to be made from a cheap plastic type material that will make your child sweat, inhibit their movements or not provide adequate protection for their clothes. The ELC Mini Artist Apron is made from lightweight polythene with fabric cuffs, although the material feels very thin, it is also strong enough to withstand all of my attempts at tearing. Being yellow in colour and adorned with a red splodge and red piping, this apron is suitable for both boys and girls. For those concerned with the environment (which should be all of us) it is also made from 70% recycled materials. I find it easy to put this apron on Freddy, the sleeves are perhaps a little long, but the ribbed cuffs mean that they are held firmly at his wrists. At 42.5cm in length, the apron falls to just above Freddy's knees, although I must say Freddy is a tall baby who was wearing 9-12 month clothes at 7 months. The apron then fastens at the back with Velcro, meaning it's easy to get a comfortable fit. When he's wearing this apron, Freddy still has full freedom of movement and is able to reach for paints without the apron rubbing or pulling under his arms. Although the weather hasn't been particularly warm, we do keep the room at about 20 degrees and he never shows any sign of becoming hot and sweaty while using the apron. Although this apron should be able to fit Freddy until he is two, I really can't see that happening. As I said he is tall (above the 75th centile), so perhaps this shouldn't surprise me, but hopefully we'll still get another years use out of it. It should, however, fit a smaller framed or more petite child until they are two or perhaps older. Although the apron doesn't completely cover Freddy's back, it does cover and protect his front and arms and has saved several outfits from being painted a glorious mix of blue, yellow and green. This apron is also useful for protecting clothes during water play, although in this case the fabric cuffs are a slight disadvantage as they obviously soak up water leading to wet wrists and sleeves. Rather than simply being wipe clean, the apron can be washed either by hand or in the washing machine. If washed in the washing machine, it needs to be put on a cool wash, which as long as Freddy has been using washable paint is good enough to get it clean. Although the apron cannot be tumble dried or dried over a radiator, it does dry incredibly quickly. I generally wash it in the evening, hang it on a coat hanger and it's dry by the next morning. Final Words Although I could have bought cheaper versions of this apron, I don't for one minute regret spending the £5 on this. It's the perfect size to fit Freddy and protect his clothes from paint and chalk. Freddy looks really comfortable when he wears it and has already begun to associate it with the fun of messy art. It's also durable and easy to clean, whether by hand or in the washing machine. My only slight gripe is that it is unlikely to fit Freddy until the recommended maximum age of two, but there again Freddy is taller than average. And so I'm giving the Early Learning Centre Mini Artist Apron a healthy four stars out of five.