Tommee Tippee have recently released their Perfect Prep Day and Night machine, the upgrade to the original Perfect Prep model. If you read my earlier post on 5 Essential Buys to make Breastfeeding Easier and Mum Happier, then you’ll know that I relied heavily on the Perfect Prep whilst bottle-feeding my eldest son. Now, 3 years later, I am about to start weaning my second son from breast to bottle, and the question whether to dust off the old Perfect Prep or upgrade to a newer version has entered my head.
You may breast-feed, you may bottle-feed, you may choose to do a combination of both. Maybe you’re feeding your baby expressed breast milk in a bottle, maybe they’re being fed through a tube. Whichever method you opt for, I don’t believe feeding babies is ever easy; it’s more a case of which is the easiest method for you at that moment in time. As mums, we have so many pressures put upon us and most of us don’t live in a world where our only role is to nourish the baby. We may have siblings to play with, people to please, deadlines to meet, chores and ‘busy jobs’ (this is what my son calls it) to do. Feeding our babies, whilst so important, often has to slot in with everything else that’s going on. We need it to be as quick, easy and painless as possible. And that’s exactly what Tommee Tippee’s Perfect Prep Machine sets out to do.
I chose to feed both of my boys on demand: they whinge and I either locate milk or lactate. This fumble to either remove clothing and unclip an ugly nursing bra, or prepare some tasteless free-from-everything formula that even Oliver Twist would grimace at (thank-you food allergies) needs to be done quickly, before whinging turns to screaming and screaming turns into, ‘We’re now too worked-up to feed, Mummy.’ Patience just isn’t a trait that runs in our family. The Perfect Prep promises to have a bottle of powdered formula ready in 2 minutes. That includes the time it takes to heat the milk to a temperature resembling body temperature; quicker than any bottle warmer and much quicker than waiting for boiled water to cool.
It’s easy to adjust the output of water for different feed sizes too. Whilst the newer Day and Night model appears to have a digital display, the original machine has a circular dial that you can turn to select the desired amount – anywhere from 4oz for grazers, up to 11oz for hungrier types (I have one of each!) You will probably find that you rarely adjust this setting. The only aspect to watch out for is having a setting that is too high for the amount of powdered formula you’ve added. This would result with watered down formula, which obviously is not recommended from a nutritional standpoint… and could potentially cause your tiny Tommee Tippee (or any other branded bottle) to overflow leaving you and your baby literally crying over spilt milk (yes, this has happened to us before – oops!)
If I was being really picky, I would say that this accident may have been avoided if they’d also written the measurements in millilitres as well as ounces, as everyone’s mind works differently. Realistically though, would it have made a difference to this tired, bleary-eyed parent? Probably not – but metric measurements would still be a nice touch.
To make a feed is simple:
- Pop your powdered formula into a pre-sterilised bottle and place it on the stand;
- Press the large circular button to release a blast of hot water to kill any bacteria that may be present in the formula;
- Give the formula a little swirl to ensure the powder has dissolved;
- Press the button again and the machine adds more water to the feed, at a lower temperature, completing preparation.
- You’re now ready to stifle screams and feed your baby.
And that’s it. Simple – two button presses with a swirl in the middle. As mentioned you do of course still have to wash and sterilise your bottles and teats first, but it really is that simple. I love that the button is big enough to not miss, even when you’re in zombie mode in the middle of the night. It has a red and green light that glows to tell you when the feed is ready – I’m actually quite surprised the machine isn’t featured in one of those yellow Parenting for Dummies books, or maybe it is – I wouldn’t know.
I also like that 3 years on, I can still remember how to use it without having to locate the instructions. However, even with my past frequent usage, until I can locate said instructions, I don’t stand a chance at remembering how to clean it or what to do when the filter needs replacing. I’ve always had to follow the step-by-step instructions, even just to work out what each of the little red lights on the machine’s side means once they illuminate.
With the clear step-by-step instructions though, cleaning the machine and replacing the filter was easy – more simple button pressing and waiting. I can recall needing a large bowl for any surplus water to be dumped into (just don’t underestimate how much water might still be stored in the tank – yup – that’s another spillage incident right there!)
We were really lucky and were gifted our Perfect Prep by a friend who had recently had twins (I think he must have known what the future had in store for us). Currently, to buy it new would cost you from £59.99 for an older model to £129.99 for the newer Night and Day design. There is a small ongoing cost to both machines as they each require a cartridge to filter the water you pour in. Both machines take the same cartridge, which lasts for around 3 months (dependent on your usage) and costs approximately £10.
Old vs New
So, if both the older version and the newer version take identical cartridges, how are they different? Well, whilst it wouldn’t be fair of me to attempt to review the newer Night and Day Perfect Prep, I can tell you how they differ. The most obvious difference is the new digital display instead of a dial. They look a little like a sleek mobile phone display compared to a retro corded telephone – they may appear different but both do the same job, if you know how to operate them. With the digital display, you get an ambient night time glow, designed not to rouse you more than necessary for those middle of the night feeds. The third difference sounds like Tommee Tippee have taken on-board feedback based on their earlier model: some parents complained that it was a little too noisy overnight, to the extent of disturbing their partners from an otherwise uninterrupted night’s sleep. We all know that sleep with an infant around is as precious as gold-dust, so it’s pleasing to know that Tommee Tippee listened to the feedback. The Night and Day model now comes equipped with a volume control to minimise the noise at night; the original model has a loud beep to signal when the feed is complete.
From what I can see, those are the three main differences. I can’t help but wonder though, that if I was to replace my old Perfect Prep, would it be spending an additional £70 to get a Night and day version with those features over our older original model without. Yes, unnecessary noise in the night that could potentially wake up the rest of the house, I would prefer to avoid; but with a baby crying because they are hungry, isn’t it quite likely that those sleeping nearby would be woken up anyway? Perhaps your children are deeper sleepers than mine (or maybe you have one of those husbands who can miraculously stay asleep despite the baby’s screams?!)
Which leads me to question, if I’m happy with the original Perfect Prep, can’t I just dust off my old one or should I replace it with a new one?
Some of you may be aware that the safety of the Perfect Prep has previously been called into question. You can read more about it here, but in a nutshell, much like the Sophie the Giraffe scandal, some parents were concerned that over time a build up of mould could appear on the inside of the plastic tubing which carries the water from the ‘hopper’ into your baby’s bottle. Obviously, this would pose a serious health risk to a child, so it’s understandable that parents were concerned.
Further investigation suggests that in the cases where bacteria was found, a standard water jug filter may have been used in the machines instead of the specific Tommee Tippee filter. The Tommee Tippee filters have been designed to include an anti-bacterial filtration membrane to rid the water of any bacteria, making them as safe to use as if you’d boiled a kettle of water and allowed it to cool instead. According to their website, the Tommee Tippee water filters used in the perfect Prep are designed to remove impurities and bacteria from the water, including Coliform, Enterococci and Pseudomonas. In addition, the initial blast of water, or ‘hot-shot’ into your baby’s bottle is hot enough to kill any bacteria that may have made it’s way into the formula.
So… so long as the machine has been kept clean and the correct filter has been used, the Perfect Prep sounds safe; but before I started the transition onto formula with my second son, I wanted to be sure. It didn’t take me long to unscrew the back and have a look inside – it actually took me longer to locate a screwdriver. I had prepared to see the worst; after all, this machine hadn’t been used in nearly 3 years and for a large part of that time had been sitting amongst the spiders in our old loft. I could only imagine what strange bacterial lifeforms were hiding inside my machine. But, I was pleasantly surprised. One thorough inspection later and I my tubes looked as good as new. I’m slightly embarrassed to tell you that the inside of my Perfect Prep appeared somewhat cleaner than the outside. Fortunately that’s nothing that couldn’t be rectified with some anti-bac and a good scrub!
Is the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine perfect? Not quite – but only because we live in the age of convenience and it doesn’t stop me from having to wash and sterilise the bottles. Plus it can’t feed the baby for me – or burp him – but I suppose all that would be a lot to ask for a machine that costs a little over £50. It does however, dramatically cut down on the time it takes to prepare a bottle and it totally eliminates the angst you feel as you question if the milk is cool enough yet whilst your baby is screaming in the background. First time round, the Perfect Prep made adjusting to bottle feeding easy. It was especially convenient to use for night feeds. In fact, for that reason alone I’ve made my mind up to stick with our old Perfect Prep model, the one with the loud beep – after all, anything that encourages my husband to wake and share the night feeds is fine with me!
The Fairytale Mum Rating:
The Fab Stuffs:
- Quick – a bottle of formula can be ready in under 2 minutes.
- Warms milk automatically to a perfect drinking temperature – no hot spots and no waiting either.
- Simple to use with clear step-by-step pictorial instructions.
- The Tommee Tippee filter (bought separately) is designed with anti-bacterial properties, making it safe to use when used correctly.
- Adjustable bottle stand making the machine compliant with different brands and sizes of bottle.
- It’s now £70 cheaper than the newer Night and Day model.
The Sad Stuffs:
- Ongoing cost of the water filters makes the machine more expensive than a kettle.
- Some customers complained that the ‘beep’ was too loud.
- 4oz (120ml) is the minimum amount that the machine is able to make, which could result in wasted formula for small eaters.