You're bound to have heard of Cuddledry towels for babies and toddlers. Or 'those women with the towel from Dragons' Den' - as the women behind the company also like to describe themselves.
Since they appeared on the show in 2007, the company proudly claims that the Cuddledry apron towel has firmly established itself as a baby bath time 'must have' and it's certainly the sort of product that you seem to see stocked absolutely everywhere.
Seen one baby towel, seen them all though, right? Wrong...
The premise behind the original Cuddledry baby bath towel is wonderfully simple; it's just a hooded baby bath towel with a clever apron-style design that allows you to 'wear' the towel by fastening it around your neck. Not only does it mean your clothes stay dry during the splash-fest that is baby bath time, but the design also leaves both hands free for bathing your baby, completely eliminating the need for that frantic post-bath juggling act as you attempt to grab hold of a towel whilst also trying to keep a firm grip on a wet, slippery baby!
The Cuddledry website explains:
"Lifting baby up out of the bath is easy and safe, and you cuddle and dry your baby in your arms naturally, strengthening the bond between you when baby feels most vulnerable. You don't have to think about holding a towel at all."
I've never used one before, but they strike me as the kind of baby item that makes you wonder how people ever coped without them.
But since the birth of my baby a few months ago my airing cupboard is over-run with baby bath towels. I didn't purchase a single one of them; they seem to be the sort of items that lots of people give as baby gifts, so I'll admit that when I heard we were being sent a Cuddledry towel to review, I pretty much assumed that it would be like every other baby bath towel we own. So not true...
We were sent the Cuddledry Snuggle Fun Towel which, the box says, is for cosy kids at bath time, swimming or at the beach. It's different from the original Cuddledry baby bath towel in that this one is designed for children aged between three and six years old as opposed to babies, so it obviously doesn't have the apron-style fastening that the baby towels do. I was even more inclined to think that this towel would be no different from any other when I realised that. Aren't all toddler towels the same?
Well, no. The Snuggle Fun Towel is like the 'onesie' of the baby and toddler bath towel world.
The Snuggle fun towel comes in three different designs; Snuggle Monkey, Snuggle Bear and Snuggle Bunny. Ours is the latter, and it's basically a very generously-sized (121cm wide) towel with very cute, floppy bunny ears attached to the roomy, cozy hood.
But my favourite feature about the Snuggle Fun Towel is the fabric. Billed as a 'super soft and fluffy hooded towel that's perfect for the little bunny in your life', it's not just standard towelling material but is made with superfine microfibre technology so it feels wonderfully soft and cuddly. When I first took it out of the box I thought we'd been sent a fleece blanket by mistake; it's that snuggly.
Ever the cynic, I did doubt whether something so fluffy could actually be absorbent enough to work well as a towel, but my little tester was all dry within a few minutes. We normally go through a post-bath rigmarole involving me trying to catch hold of the kids for long enough to dry them properly, and them trying to wriggle their way - still stopping wet - into their pyjamas so as to avoid me. There's none of that palava with the Snuggle Fun Towel. In fact, as the press release cautions, my only problem was coaxing my own little cuddlebunny out of the towel.
The animal theme of the towels is a brilliant idea too. It really inspires imagination and role-play in little ones, helping to make that getting-out-of-the-bath-and-ready-for-bed time good fun rather than just fraught. (Although the whole 'I'm a hopping bunny, you can't catch me' game wears thin after a little while, so I found that it helped to insist that the Snuggle Fun Towel needed to be hung up on the radiator to dry otherwise it wouldn't be warm and fluffy for tomorrow.)
The Snuggle Fun Towel washes well too. I know that towels sometimes suffer after a few washes but ours is as snuggly after several washes as it was when we first took it out of the box.
The other absolutely genius detail which I love about the Snuggle Fun Towel is the tiny popper that lets little ones fasten the towel around them. That makes it ideal for use on the beach or at the swimming pool, as even toddlers can literally 'wear' the towel and get dressed at the same time whilst staying warm. There's none of the hassle of trying to keep a towel on a shivering child whilst coaxing them into clothes. They simply do up the popper, pull up the hood, and get on with getting dressed. (When they're not hopping around the place like a maniacal bunny that is...)
Above all, this is product that I can't recommend highly enough. At £29.99 it's also reasonably priced in my view, and I think it would make a really lovely gift for a child which a parent will also appreciate - more practical than yet more toys but bound to be a hit with little ones.
And, as if you needed a reason to love Cuddledry even more, the shopping basket icon on their website is called the 'Bathket'. I just had to share that.
Bath-time and getting dressed after swimming or a day on the beach are often real flash-points for stress for parents, but the Snuggle Fun Towel eliminates all the causes of that stress (kids not wanting to get dry, feeling the cold, not being able to get dressed at the same time as staying covered up etc). Its design also increases the likelihood that even the tiredest and chilliest of toddlers will be happy (and hoppy) when it's time to get dried and dressed.
Pros: The only toddler towel worth spending your money on. Unbelievably fluffy yet super-absorbent, brilliantly practical - thanks to the popper fastening, roomy hood and generous sizing - and completely adored by kids.
Cons: None, unless you count the fact that you'll need to allow at least an extra ten minutes for getting dressed because your little one will insist on hopping around like a bunny long after they're dry.
Overall verdict: One of my favourite baby / toddler discoveries, and one I'll be buying for friends and recommending. Great idea for an Easter present for a little person, too. The only problem is that the towels cluttering up my airing cupboard now seem woefully inferior to our Cuddledry Snuggle Fun Towel, and it's tempting to replace them... Have you seen the cuteness of the CuddleMoo?!