Pick n Pay Real Baby Range Review

Those of you who follow me on twitter may have seen my response to @picknpay‘s call for “Mommy Bloggers” to come forward and review their newly revamped and relaunched Real Baby range of baby products. Anatomically, I don’t actually fit the bill as a Mommy Blogger, but since I have small children (Alex, 4 and Kristen, 2) and I blog, the anatomy bit is the only missing piece and so I laughingly volunteered my services. Fair play to PnP’s social media gurus for breaking the mould and including a *gasp* (sometime) Daddy Blogger on their panel of reviewers. It remains to be seen whether their online audience will believe a word I say though.

A couple of months on and we’ve been enjoying the Real Baby hamper that PnP sent through for us. I was actually just expecting a few nappies, but we got literally bags of stuff, including nappies, baby lotion, vaseline, aqueous cream, soaps, shampoo and cotton wool in several different (but all useful) formats, all packaged in a big white box which was immediately (and permanently) borrowed by my son and converted into a garage for his toy cars. Readers who have never had kids will not understand just how many different creams,  lotions and potions a small human requires, nor how many garages a toy car needs.

Now, at this point, I should inform new readers and visitors from the Pick n Pay website that I don’t tend to mince my words on this blog – “I say what I like and I like what I say” – and I do admire the bravery of Pick n Pay in including me in this review. But what became obvious as we got into using the products was that they had well-placed confidence that their range would meet my exacting standards (and those of my kids). I should also say that I’ve had no pressure from Pick n Pay to write anything specific or even anything positive about the products. In fact, I was told:

We don’t want a hard push for sales, just a user experience vibe.
Talk about it they way YOU want to talk about it.

Like I said – that’s bravery and confidence right there.

It seems to me that they have pitched this brand relaunch just right. It’s obviously aimed at the parents who have enough available money to go beyond the basic (read “No Name”) economy products, but who don’t want to spend extra cash (who does?) on the premium brands. Real Baby offers solid, decent, functional products without the bells and whistles, but without the hefty price tag as well. From that point of view, it’s might seem rather difficult to say anything hugely remarkable about the range, save for the exceptional value for money, but there are some products that really do stand out for us:

The Real Baby Nappies we are using are the size 5 (15-25kg) ones. Now, in the past, we have had nappy issues. While we would (obviously) love our kids to wear cheaper nappies, these just didn’t work – we had leaks, the nappies were uncomfortable and it was no fun for anyone concerned – and in the end, they only settled in the top of the range Pampers. Think of it like your fussy cat who will only eat the expensive cat food or your fussy husband *ahem* who will only watch the smartest flatscreen TV.
However, these Real Baby nappies do the job. I have commented on twitter that I am amazed at how much capacity they have, and this is important, since our kids are at the stage where they are only wearing nappies at night – and so that’s 10 hours at a time.
If I have one criticism, they are a little bulkier than the Pampers brand, but for nighttime use, this really hasn’t been any problem at all. And we have tested them thoroughly – including nights after swimming, hot nights with extra drinks and even one 13½ hour marathon sleep by little Kristen. Not a leak in sight. Amazing.
Then compare the price: R2.50 each versus R3.75 each for the Pampers equivalent. It’s impressive stuff.

The Hygiene Liquid Hand Soap isn’t specifically a baby product, but it is an essential in any house with small children (and I say this in both my blogging guise and my professional role as a microbiologist). Again, this just does the job with no fuss. The active ingredient is triclosan which is a very effective antibacterial and antifungal agent and the product has a pleasant citrus scent. I have the bottle in front of me here on my desk and already Alex is wanting it put back in the bathroom so that he can go and wash his hands.
So evidently, it also promotes good habits in your little ones.

But my favourite product of all is the Real Baby Tear Free Baby Shampoo. It has a cartoon giraffe on the front, which is a great start (although the product does look hugely similar to the Real Baby Body Wash, which has caused a little confusion).
At R23.99 for 400ml, this shampoo comes in about half the price of the equivalent Johnson’s product, but rather than being as good, but cheaper than the market leader like many of the Real Baby products, this one does the job better in so many ways.
The design of the bottle, for example: someone has actually thought about it. The shape means that it’s easier to grip, which makes a big difference when you have soapy hands (are you reading this, Mr Johnson?) and the flip-top lid has a big lip which means that you don’t have to struggle to hold a slippery child in frog-in-a-sock mode in one hand, the shampoo bottle in the other while opening the lid with your third. Wait, what?

We’ve all been there.
(In fact, it was this post about bathing the kids that established my credibility as a parent for many readers).

The shampoo is thick, which means that a little goes a long way. It smells great (that’ll be the chamomile extract) and – without wanting to sound like a Verimark advert – it left my daughter’s hair silky smooth and tangle free. (I’ve failed, haven’t I?)
Best of all, it really is gentle on the kids’ eyes – which is good, because “it’s hard to lose a friend when your heart is full of hope, but it’s worse to lose the towel when your eyes are full of soap”. Especially when the eyes are those of your 2-year-old daughter.
Seriously, it’s kind of hard to get excited about baby shampoo, but this stuff has revolutionised our hair wash nights. I might even start using it myself.

So there you have it. 1,000+ words about Pick n Pay’s Real Baby products. You didn’t think it was possible; I didn’t think it was possible. But the cynic in me has been silenced. (Briefly, at least.)

I’m giving the Real Baby range a solid thumbs up. Good quality, great value.
Nice work, Pick n Pay.

Steeling myself

That’s steeling, not stealing. As in mentally preparing myself, rather than illegally taking myself from my rightful owner. Who I would argue is probably me anyway. Others would certainly suggest that it’s actually my wife. But since I am steeling myself, and not stealing myself, all that discussion is immaterial anyway.  

What I am steeling myself for – as I’m sure many South African readers have already worked out – is the five day working week which is now (sadly) just over Sunday’s horizon. Thanks to Easter (some christian thing or other), Freedom Day (honouring the George Michael song) and Worker’s Day (honouring left-wingers worldwide), together with Julius Malema’s Jacob Zuma Day (bizarrely honouring Helen Zille) on the 22nd, our last full working week commenced on the 30th March. Getting ourselves back into the swing of actually doing stuff is going to be tough.

M3 freeway pic

The first part of this preparedness was to start all the jobs which were meant to be done in March, but were put off until the holiday month of April. Never mind that we’re now into May already. Procrastination is…

Sorry, just a quick break there to change one of those nappies.
Parents all over the world recoil in horror: “Oh God! He doesn’t mean a…” …but yes, I do – a six-wiper.
For the uninitiated (you lucky sods), 6 baby wipes is the maximum number of wipes one can use when changing a nappy without it becoming a shower-job. A shower-job is thus named because, perhaps unsurprisingly, it necessitates the use of a shower (or hose, if outdoors) to clean the child when the nappy contents have… “escaped” from within the confines of the nappy. 
There is one step beyond a shower-job nappy change, but it requires professional help to aid recovery afterwards, usually in the form of psychotherapy, together with a good painting and decorating firm and a local carpet supplier. To the best of my knowledge, this nappy change scenario has never been officially named, because just to mention it would put people off having kids for life and thus end the human race pretty sharpish.

Anyway, I digress. Often.
Today, being that I now have just over 24 hours of public holiday weekend remaining, I took the recycling to be recycled and I actually went and bought a replacement outside light fitting from Builder’s Whorehouse. This replacement light fitting will now sit in the garage until June 16th (Youth Day) – our next public holiday – at which point I will probably look at it a bit, tut once or twice knowingly while shaking my head and then leave it until August 9th (Women’s Day) when I will ask the wife to sort it out.
I took the photo above while heading back up the M3, because there were all sorts of clouds in the sky, Cumulo cumulus, Nimulo nimbulus and Fluffulo fluffulus especially, together with some grey stuff and some blue stuff. It was just all busy and I like busy skies.

We’re off to Newlands to watch the Stormers losing to the Chiefs this evening, before a big day of more steelage tomorrow. And the small matter of the last games of the Championship season, with Sheffield United’s Premiership promotion dreams in the balance. But more of that in the morning if I get chance and assuming I have steeled myself adequately.