“ Brand: Tommee Tippee / Type: Bottles & Accessories „
Having three young children, I have purchased a ridiculous number of different feeding cups over the years, hoping to manage the transition to independent drinking with the minimum of mess. With my two oldest boys, I found success with Tommee Tippee's 'Easiflow' cups but, by the time my youngest son was ready to move on from his 'tip it up' First Cup, I discovered that the Tommee Tippee range had been rebranded and 'improved' and my favourite cups were no longer available. These Active Bottles are part of Tommee Tippee's relatively new 'Kids On The Go' range of weaning products. Despite the sound of the name and the design, these are intended for babies from nine months upwards although I think these resemble a younger baby's bottle much more than most other toddler cups. They are designed to be held by little one's independently, with a chunky bottle like shape that curves in towards the middle which helps babies and toddlers to keep a firm hold, although the size is likely to mean that they will need to use both hands. If dropped (or thrown), the plastic bottle itself has proven to be pretty robust. It feels significantly thicker than the plastic used to make standard baby bottles but also has a little bit of give within the plastic if squeezed. This helps to make the plastic less brittle and less likely to break or crack when dropped. I have had to replace several of these bottles over the last year or so, for various reasons, but none of them have ever cracked. The attraction of this design was that the bottle is supposedly non-spill whilst also managing to be very easy for a baby to drink from - something that is surprisingly difficult to achieve. The drinking spout is very different from most 'no spill' products as the material is the same as that used in standard teats, so it feels very soft and flexible and is gentle against babies' delicate gums. Some trainer cups have a very rigid spout so this style may prove more popular for bottle fed babies who are reluctant to move away from teats. My youngest son was purely breast fed and was more than happy to drink from this 'spout.' Unlike a teat, the spout is squared and elongated with a very wide opening. The drinking method is very different to the sucking involved in drinking from a bottle as it involves biting (mouth or teeth) down on the soft spout. This then opens up a slit at the base of the spout, allowing liquid to flow freely. This is a different mechanism to most other cups or bottles and when my son first tried these bottles (from around nine months old) he did seem to find the flow a little overpowering, causing him to cough a little, as the drink does seem to come out pretty fast. As he became more adept at drinking, he was soon able to manage the flow more easily. These bottles are certainly easy to drink from but I have been disappointed with the 'no spill' promises. Despite following the simple and clear instructions around attaching and positioning the rubbery spout inside the plastic outer ring, I find that the bottles will release a slow (but potentially messy) gentle drip if held upside down or carried about in a changing bag. (That lesson was soon learned!) I tend to use these only around the home, where the mess can be minimised, rather than out and about. My son also quickly learned that he was able to create maximum mess and spillage by poking his finger inside the spout - which was perfectly shaped and proportioned for this task!- and releasing the liquid inside. His exploration also revealed a weakness in the design of these bottles as the spout is quite easy to damage due to the soft material it is made from. My little one has managed to tear and rip a number of the spouts thanks to his finger poking! Despite these flaws, I did replace the damaged bottles partly because I struggle to find something with a decent capacity - these hold up to 8 fl oz of liquid- that performed any better. Fortunately, these are fairly inexpensive, especially for a branded baby product as I only paid £2 per bottle from my local Wilkinsons store. One advantage of this design is the ease of cleaning. As I'd expect from a quality brand, the bottles are BPA free and suitable for use in a dishwasher and all types of sterilisation methods. I have used these in a microwave steriliser in the past and regularly in a dishwasher and the bottles haven't discoloured or deteriorated. I particularly like that the outer ring and inner spout section can be separated for washing, which helps to ensure thorough cleaning through every nook and cranny. This is particularly useful if used for holding milk rather than just water or juice. Whilst this new design is not as reliable as the original Easiflow cup, it is a fairly inexpensive option that little ones find easy to drink from. Despite its flaws, I will still give this a fairly weak recommendation, particularly for babies and younger toddlers (from nine months upwards) who might prefer the soft flexible spout to other styles currently on the market.