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Profile for S. Middleton > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
S. Middleton (Yorkshire, UK)
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Let's Talk About Where Babies Come from
Let's Talk About Where Babies Come from
by Robie H. Harris
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Great sex education book for primary aged children, 24 Feb. 2016
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I have recommended this book to several people as I think it's a really great book to teach kids about "the birds and the bees"... narrated by a bird and a bee! Probably not one to buy if you are only looking for the very basic "biological" facts as it's very comprehensive, even covering issues that some would consider difficult topics for younger children, but I feel it approaches them in a very age appropriate way and keeps things factual and easy to understand. These are all the kinds of issues they might hear about from others or will ask questions about, so it makes sense to have something they can refer to that gives them the facts in an unbiased & understandable way.

At the time my kids were 7 & 9 and it felt like about the right level for them. I now have a preschooler who has had a look at this book and I have explained sections of it to her, it is probably a little bit over her head in places but it's certainly not unsuitable for kids that age.


Whitefurze H07032 Plastic Bucket with Lid, 14 Litre, Silver
Whitefurze H07032 Plastic Bucket with Lid, 14 Litre, Silver
Offered by Bargain Warehouse
Price: £6.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Good nappy bucket, 24 Feb. 2016
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Hard to know what to say about a bucket, but it does the job! We used it as a nappy bucket - it worked well with a standard mesh bag designed to fit in nappy buckets, and the lid seemed adequate to keep the smells contained. We've now had it over 3 1/2 years and it's still in good nick.


Roll Flitzer Coloured
Roll Flitzer Coloured
Offered by TOM MALL
Price: £16.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely little bike, has been well used by our daughter., 24 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: Roll Flitzer Coloured (Toy)
Great little lightweight but sturdy bike - our daughter has had hers since she was one (it was a tiny bit big for her at the time but by 18 months it was fine) and still uses it now aged 3 1/2. It's still in good condition.

It's so small and light that it's not too difficult to carry if you go out somewhere and your child gets tired of riding!

It's also great to see something made in unisex colours as so many seem to come in "boys" & "girls" versions. Why a toddler bike needs to be gendered I don't know! Even if you're not bothered about gender stereotyping it's handy to be able to pass it on to younger siblings/relatives/friends without worrying about whether it'll be rejected because it's the "wrong" colour.

The only negative I can think of is that a small bit of plastic that is supposed to stop the handlebars rotating all the way round broke off so they now turn 360 degrees, but this isn't a big issue, the bike still works fine without it. There don't seem to be any other parts prone to breaking that I can see.


BecoThings Eco-Friendly BecoFeeding Set - Green
BecoThings Eco-Friendly BecoFeeding Set - Green
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice set but not quite indestructible enough!, 24 Feb. 2016
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I really liked this set, it looks lovely and does the job as expected. However they did crack eventually after our daughter threw them from her highchair onto the tiled floor, hence the 4 stars instead of 5. Given that babies and toddlers usually go through a phase of throwing/dropping things I don't think it's unreasonable to hope their plates would stand up to this kind of abuse!


Preethi Eco Twin Jar Wet & Dry Mixer Grinder, 500-Watt FREE UK POSTAGE
Preethi Eco Twin Jar Wet & Dry Mixer Grinder, 500-Watt FREE UK POSTAGE

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very powerful & versatile, 24 Feb. 2016
I've been really pleased with my Preethi, it's far better than any western style blender I've ever used, really powerful & easy to clean. I use it for anything I'd use a normal blender for (it's great for smoothies - just as good as a Nutribullet!), as well as for indian cookery. The grinder attachment (the small jar) is great, I use it for spices, coffee, nuts & seeds, and even to make flours!

It is quite noisy to use but I think you have to expect that for something so powerful. Also as another reviewer mentioned you do need to be careful to hold the lid on firmly sometimes as stuff can leak out of the sides & decorate the kitchen if you aren't careful :)

The only reason I've given it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I am now unable to change the blades since the plastic "nut" you use to unscrew the blades has become damaged and the tool you use to unscrew it keeps slipping (I've tried pliers too but struggle to get a good grip on it). I'm not sure why they've made it out of plastic since many other parts of the mixer are made of metal. To be perfectly honest, though, I was always a little confused about the difference between the two blades so it's not a massive issue, the one I'm stuck with seems fine!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 11, 2016 2:17 PM BST


Pink Music Angel Tube Speakers Dock for iPod/iPhone UK
Pink Music Angel Tube Speakers Dock for iPod/iPhone UK

2.0 out of 5 stars Not really "compatible with all ipods", 30 Dec. 2014
My daughter received one of these for Christmas from my mum, but disappointingly the listing is misleading in stating that this is suitable for all ipods & so she cannot use it to dock her new Nano. Yes, technically you could plug any ipod into it via the audio jack, but by that definition pretty much any audio device could claim to be "compatible with all ipods"! The whole point of a dock is to be able to stand the ipod in it to charge it & play music through the dock's speakers.

Personally if it had been me buying it I would have been suspicious of this claim because I know that the connectors on different ipods can vary & it isn't easy to make a dock that is truly compatible with them all, but people like grandparents buying gifts won't necessarily realise this. It isn't fair to play on customers' ignorance by making misleading statements.

The device also looks rather cheap, although to be fair I probably wouldn't expect much more for the price. But the price does not excuse the fact that this is incorrectly advertised as a universal dock.


Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting
by Laura Markham
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin!, 19 Sept. 2014
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Good guide to creating the happy family we all hope to have. It encourages a more positive & gentle approach to parenting rather than relying on punishment, shouting & threats to guide behaviour; it doesn't encourage permissiveness, but rather teaches you how to set limits with empathy & respect. Having moved from a more "mainstream" parenting style when my older kids were little (punishment/reward to shape behaviour, shouting & threatening in an attempt to control them, failing to take enough care of myself to give my kids what they needed, getting cross with them for displaying negative emotions, etc - all of which seems to be pretty "normal" parenting in many families in my experience) to a much more gentle approach by the time my youngest was born I can see both sides and am confident that my current parenting style (which is similar to that outlined in this book) is a massive improvement in all respects!

This type of parenting is just as successful (if not more) at getting kids to cooperate with requests and behave pleasantly & respectfully to authority figures & other people they come into contact with (contrary to popular assumption that it encourages kids to be overindulged "brats"), but it does so in a way that is far less damaging to the bond between parent & child, the child's self esteem, their ability to take responsibility for their actions, their emotional & cognitive development, etc. Some of the other popular parenting books promote solutions that are "quick fixes" designed to get immediate results (and hence lots of positive publicity from parents saying "it worked for us!") but they neglect to consider the long term implications of their methods. As parents we want our kids to grow up into happy, well balanced, confident, self reliant, kind & responsible people, but too many popular parenting methods actively work against these goals in favour of producing short term compliance with what seems convenient for the parents. An example would be using reward & punishment systems; I was a huge believer in these when my older kids were younger, as it seemed a very effective way to get them to tidy their room & do other things I wanted them to do. However, what has become apparent as they've got older is that they are not good at motivating themselves to do anything requiring much effort unless there is the promise of a tangible reward at the end of it or the threat of a very negative immediate consquence, and that they need a lot of parental input to get started & keep going. The stupid thing is, having studied psychology, I was actually aware of some of the flaws with using rewards long term to motivate people (it is a well known phenomenon that a task that is rewarded become less intrinsically rewarding over time, and people start to only do it because of the promise of a reward) but was blinded by the fact that this seemed to be the "best" method offered by parenting experts and was what all other "good parents" were doing (this was back in the day when Supernanny reigned supreme!).

The advice in this book is mainly aimed at parents of younger children (up to about 9) so I felt like I'd "missed the boat" a bit with my older kids, but some of it can be tailored to be applicable to older children & the basic principles of nurturing the connection between you & your kids, setting limits with empathy, taking care of yourself so you are more able to take care of your family, and generally building a loving & respectful family dynamic helps however old your kids are. With my youngest I have found that applying what I have learnt in books like this one and on websites like the author's "ahaparenting.com" has helped me create a great relationship with my daughter, has made me feel like a more confident & competent parent, has reduced the battles & tantrums & has supported her development into a very happy, able, confident & emotionally intelligent little girl! I just wish I'd known all this when my older kids were her age.

My only real criticisms would be that it can all seem rather American to the average British reader, and can be a bit overly sentimental & "cheesy" sometimes. My husband wasn't so keen & complained about how much it kept going on about love!! I did feel when I was reading it that it seemed aimed at a female audience and might be a bit offputting to some men (it's hard to give a concrete example of that, it was more just a "vibe"!). Also some of the examples of the types of things you are supposed to say to your child sound unnatural to a cynical Brit like me so you might have to tailor some of it to suit yourself but the basic ideas are all very helpful and it just requires a little bit of imagination to fit them to your own life sometimes.

All in all a very useful book for any parent of young children, and I'd highly recommend it as long as you can ignore some of the "cheesiness"!


BecoThings Eco-Friendly BecoPotty - Natural
BecoThings Eco-Friendly BecoPotty - Natural

5.0 out of 5 stars Good potty & environmentally friendly too!!, 19 Sept. 2014
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Really nice potty, seems comfortable for my daughter (who has been using it intermittently since she could sit up, and is now using it regularly at 2 and a bit. She will happily sit on it for ages sometimes!), very stable, easy to clean (I thought it might not be as it has a slightly rough texture but it doesn't seem to be a problem), and looks a lot nicer than some of the garish plastic alternatives! On top of all this it's eco friendly, what's not to like?


ToddlerCalm: A guide for calmer toddlers and happier parents
ToddlerCalm: A guide for calmer toddlers and happier parents
by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.78

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to raise happy, secure, confident, self-reliant, motivated, respectful, kind human beings, read this!, 17 Sept. 2014
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So much better than most of the other advice out there for raising toddlers. One of the key differences is that the author really knows her stuff & isn't just pedalling "quick fixes" that generate positive publicity, it's based on understanding the psychology & neuroscience behind it all & keeping long term goals in mind rather than looking for solutions that might get short term results but can have disastrous long term implications. It encourages you to treat your toddler like a lovable human being who just hasn't learnt some of the skills required for self control etc yet, rather than treating them as an inconvenience, a wild animal, an idiot, a manipulative little psychopath, or any of the other ways toddlers are sometimes talked about!

Too many of the popular parenting authors promise miracles but in order to achieve them they require you to communicate to your child that they are "bad" if they don't comply with your behavioural standards, that your love for them is conditional, that it is only worth working hard if you get a reward at the end of it, that their parents aren't reliable as a source of comfort & security, that emotions are "bad" & should be suppressed, and that being "good" is about avoiding getting into trouble rather than doing what is morally right. Think about what kind of adult results from a child who develops those beliefs about themselves and the world.

I have 3 children, two of whom are now teenagers and one who is a toddler; with my eldest two I largely followed what seemed to be the standard parenting advice at the time (and is still touted by many popular authors) - lots of negative consequences for "bad behaviour" (timeout & other punishments), praise & reward systems for "good behaviour", treating tantrums as "naughty" & "manipulative", using controlled crying to deal with sleep issues, etc. I tried to also show them lots of love, respect & warmth, but when you parent this way it's easy to slip into very negative patterns of behaviour with your children and the "nice stuff" doesn't always cancel out the negatives as much as you might like! Now I understand a lot more about all this I've realised how some of the challenges I still face with my older kids stem directly from the way I handled behaviour when they were little; things like overreliance on rewards & punishments to shape behaviour doesn't really teach kids how to take responsibility for themselves, how to develop their own internal motivation, how to feel a sense of reward at a job well done rather than expecting a tangible reward or praise for it, etc. One of the saddest things is how my experience of parenting my youngest has opened my eyes to the damage that I did to the bond between me & my older kids - the relationship I have with my youngest is far better than the relationships I had with my older kids at her age; there is more mutual trust & respect, I feel much closer to her & understand her better, and a handy benefit of all that is that she is far more cooperative & less prone to horrible tantrums than my older two were! I don't find myself getting into a battle of wills with her as much as I did with my older children - yes she can be stubborn & very challenging at times but I now have the tools to handle those situations with love and empathy rather than just trying to bend her to my will. She's not significantly different in temperament to my older children (in fact she is quite similar to her older brother in many respects), so I'm fairly confident the differences are largely down to my much improved parenting!! It's not just my own family, I know many other parents putting this "gentle parenting" advice into practice who find it works really well and nurtures the kind of warm, loving relationship that we all hope to have with our children, as well as producing kids who are kind, self-confident, secure & successful.

I'm so grateful to authors like Sarah Ockwell-Smith for showing me that there is another way, and only wish this advice had been widely available a decade or so ago! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she decides to write one aimed at teenagers soon.


Toys of Wood Oxford Wooden Shape Sorter Box with Rotating Wheel
Toys of Wood Oxford Wooden Shape Sorter Box with Rotating Wheel
Offered by Toys of Wood Oxford
Price: £16.20

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well built, attractive & my daughter really likes it!, 7 Mar. 2014
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Bought this for my daughter for her 1st birthday last year and it went down very well with her. We removed the rotating wheel for her to play with it as it's too complicated for a baby with the wheel attached but it's useful to have that extra level of challenge for when she's older. She also likes to use the shapes with her wooden building blocks to build towers. It seems well made and has lasted nearly a year so far with no signs of it breaking any time soon.

Other commenters expressed disappointment about how small it is, but personally I really like the size (about 5 inches/12.5 cm square & 3.5 inches/9 cm tall) as we're already swamped in toys as it is and anything that takes up less space is to be welcomed! Especially if it's a relatively attractive neat little wooden box like this rather than the oceans of plastic that tend to take over when you have kids! I'm not really sure why you'd want it to be any bigger, unless maybe you are buying it as a present and just think the size doesn't seem very impressive to give as a gift (take it from me though, the parents will be grateful for you buying something relatively small!).

Another comment mentioned that the shapes were very small and could be a choking hazard, but personally I'm confident they're too big to get lodged in a child's windpipe. They are a nice size for little hands but not so small they're always getting lost!

A couple of minor problems are the reason I gave 4 rather than 5 stars: Firstly, the trapezoid shape fits in all of the other holes, which seems to slightly defeat the point of a shape sorter! Having said that, this appears to be a common fault in other shape sorter toys. Secondly, the idea of the removable wheel is great but unfortunately the little wooden screw that fits in the top is very easy to lose - I have no idea where ours has gone although I thought I'd put it somewhere sensible! Given that it might be at least a year between removing the wheel and reattaching it I wouldn't be surprised if many people forgot what they'd done with the screw unless they are super organised or blessed with an amazing memory! In an ideal world it would be nice if the design eliminated this easy to lose piece, or if the screw was a little larger and could be safely left in place without creating a choking hazard if the child managed to unscrew it. Other than those two minor problems, this is a very nice toy that gives slightly more for your money than some other shape sorters and looks much more attractive as well!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2015 10:44 PM BST


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