I’ve been a big fan of The Gro Company products since we first started using their Grobags with Max, so when I was offered the opportunity to road test their latest product, Ollie the Owl, I was really keen to see what it had to offer.
It’s a well known fact that white noise often acts as a calming influence on babies, replicating the sounds that they would have heard in the womb. White noise was one of the only things that calmed Max, so we rarely went anywhere without our white noise app on our phone, or Ewan the Dream Sheep.
But the unique and innovative feature of Ollie the Owl that ranks him above any of these other products is that he has a CrySensor – he actually senses when your baby is crying and will start playing automatically. It’s such a wonderful feature and one that had me really interested to see how well it worked.
Ollie himself is a lovely looking toy – so soft you can’t help but stroke him. He has a light in his tummy which provides a soft glow, and he’s designed all in neutral colours, greys and pastels, so will fit in with any nursery colour scheme. He also has a velcro strap to attach him to your cot securely and is suitable from birth. Due to the electrical parts inside, he’s not machine washable, but is wipe clean.
You can choose from 4 different sound options – Brahms’ Lullaby, rainfall, heartbeat, or plain white noise. You can adjust the volume through 3 settings, and the level of brightness of his light can also be adjusted through 3 settings.
I loved how simple Ollie was to operate: you just press the button on one of his wings to activate his lullaby and start the CrySensor listening. Holding down the button will silence the music but Ollie will start listening out for cries from your baby and un-mute himself to help soothe them. Ollie will continue playing the the lullaby for 20 minutes before switching off. Similarly, the glowing light will also turn off at the same time. If your baby hasn’t made a peep for 3 hours (lucky you!) then Ollie will stop listening and enter standby to save battery.
I loved the calming sound of the lullaby – the sound quality is less muffled than other similar products, and the gentle harp music really helps to distract you from the noise of your child’s crying. At 7 weeks old Ben does his fair amount of crying, so we’ve managed to get a lot of use out of Ollie the Owl so far.
So… the big question – how well does it work to calm your baby?
I have to admit that Ben isn’t a big fan of white noise in the same way that Max was, so I wasn’t convinced how well Ollie would work for him. But he loves the lullaby music and it often really does work to calm him down. Obviously we still have those unsettled periods where nothing is going to calm him down, but I do find that, as a parent, it’s such a comfort to have something calming to distract you from the endless crying. I particularly like to use it in the car – a situation where you often can’t do anything to calm your baby down, so it’s so reassuring to feel that there is something working to comfort them. The velcro strap makes it really easy to attach him to the car seat.
The CrySensor is pretty effective too. We first started testing it out and both my husband and I did our best crying baby impressions to see if we could set it off, but we had no luck. It’s also very good at listening out for Ben, and always picks up when he cries. My only small complaint is that it also seems to think that my 3 year old’s shrieks of excitement are crying, and will often start playing when Max is making lots of noise.
We’ve been using Ollie for a few weeks now, and although I certainly wouldn’t say that he calms Ben down without me having to do anything, he definitely has a calming effect – and particularly on me. I love hearing him playing along in the background. And I hope that as Ben grows, he’ll begin to associate the sound with being comforted, so that perhaps when we move him to his own room it will be able to comfort him without us having to go in. I live in hope!
Ollie the Owl is exclusive to Mothercare and retails at £34.99 (price correct at July 2017)
Disclosure: I was sent Ollie the Owl by The Gro Company in exchange for my honest review. As always, all words and opinions are my own.