Wondering if you’re nuts for thinking that “chewlery” sounds like jewelry you’re meant to chew on? Wondering why you’d want some? Read THIS feature on chewlery first, and then come back here for my personal-experience review of the KidCompanions brand of it.
Ash, at six, is what we indulgently call a “big boy” — and while my big boy has outgrown eating more inanimate objects than actual food, he still munches on things he’s not meant to….whether that is the edge of his shirt or the little razors otherwise known as his nails….especially when experiencing a fresh bout of Teething: Part 2.
Pierrette A D’Entremont of KidCompanions sent us a couple of samples to test out on Ash, last year, and while the products were free for review, I received no compensation for this review beyond the provision of those samples, and Ash’s reactions, as well as my stated opinions, are entirely our own. So what did we think?
Well first of all, I thought it was wonderful to be able to give Ash permission and encouragement to vent his oral needs on something, without having to worry about it! Kid Companions pendants are made with medical grade thermoplastic polymers. Their products are bpa, phthalate, lead and latex free, conform to safety standards around the world, and hold a CPSIA 3rd party testing certificate. The sense of responsibility to high safety standards applies not only to the trademarked pendants, but to all other components of the products as sold. (In fact, the only reason why a round cord is not available as an option for those whose children would do better to lose the potential sensation of a twisted flat cord than to have the space for printing, is that the company has yet to be able to track down a rounded cord that meets their health and durability criteria.) The same can be said for product care — though it may be more effective to wash the lanyard and pendant separately, it is not necessary. They may be washed by hand with soap and water or placed on the top rack of the dishwasher. The “dots” on the front and back of the pendants cannot come loose, as they extend from the core of the pendant itself. Any printing or labeling on the lanyards is permanently fused on. So long as I checked things periodically to make sure of structural integrity under fire, as it were….Ash could suck, nibble, chomp, lick, grind, and generally go to town on the things, with my blessing.
As for Ash, he appreciated having my blessing to do just that, and immediately accepted my assertion that these “chewy hearts” and “chewy circles” fit into the rather limited category of things which were not meant for eating but were meant for biting anyway. After a quick once-over with his eyes and fingers, he shifted into a no-holds-barred impersonation of a slightly hungry puppy having just been given a bone with the steak still attached. Over the times to follow, his enthusiasm was sometimes just as unbridled and sometimes tempered into an idle gnawing, but always it conveyed both comfort and enjoyment. One friend of mine said, “He makes ME want to chew on one!”
How did they pass muster more specifically?
Appearance: Ash appreciated having different colors and shapes to choose from, although he expressed a predictable wish that there were also stars. I hold to my opinion that the subtlety of this adaptive accessory only lasts until children are of a certain kind of age, although that is not yet of concern for or to Ash. The addition of white and black KidCompanions helps flesh out an otherwise pastel-schemed line, but the collection would certainly be “aged-up” overall, if it were ever possible to add more darker colors, a mix-and-match option when it comes to the softer rubber shape and the harder, contrasting “dots”, and/or some less matte finishes. Upon examination, there will always be those who will find a lanyard-style necklace, plastic hardware, and a visible heart (the logo-linked heart is embossed on the “button”/”dot” on the front of the pendant, even when the pendant is of the circle design) to be too juvenile for the age of many children who will still need a tool like this, but time would certainly be bought by the use of color and light-play to distract from the appearance that even if the KidCompanions chewlery is styled like jewelry, it is meant to be chewed on. Again, however, this only becomes a potential issue when the wearer gets beyond the age when there is a rampant trade in other rubber, collectable accessories. Currently in the first grade in an integrated school program, Ash has not drawn any unwanted attention on behalf of his wearing or use of the product. In fact, the only remark yet noted was one child asking why the teachers never told HIM to stop chewing on HIS necklace. (For the record, although Ash was not interested in having a picture logo added to his lanyard, I was sent example samples of those as well, and the images were bright and clear.)
Durability: With the first set of KidCompanions sent to me, the hard button on the front of the pendant was unrecognizable by the first time Ash put the thing down. It was intact, but so mashed and smashed and scuffed that it was quite clear it had been bitten….a lot. The rest of the pendant showed subtle impressions from his teeth. The dots on the back, being of the same harder plastic as the button on the front, also showed scuffing. The lanyard and its labeling was completely saturated but not the least bit marred. He actually didn’t even have to be discouraged from chewing on the clasp. By one and then two weeks later, the results were the same. It wasn’t until shortly before the recommended usage time of the product (a factoid I confess having lost track of my reference card for, at the moment — bad reviewer, bad, bad!) that it became damaged enough to need precautionary replacement. The softer rubber outer-layer of the pendant, being thinner at the back, had begun splitting and peeling away from the edges of where all the little dots of the core material come through. The heart, being easier to get an edge-to-edge bite down on than the circle, showed signs that if I was not careful, it would be bitten partially through first, of the two shapes, and from that, not the front-to-back direction. A second set of KidCompanions was sent to me for testing after the formula for the pendant materials had been altered, and these held up even better. The button on the front was dented after a week but not mangled, the shape no longer held the impressions of Ash’s teeth, and structural integrity at large slightly outlasted the recommended usage time. Once again, it was the back which went first, in the form of the softer rubber starting to split away from the dots. There was no sign that Ash was on his way to biting through the pendant proper.
Usability: We tend to keep four KidCompanions in action at all times. One necklace stays at home, and Ash gets it himself when he wants it. It tends to wait on his nightstand, because Ash often uses it for a concentrated oral fix to get it out of his system before bed, even when he hasn’t needed it through the day. One necklace stays at school in Ash’s bin of spare changes, personal toiletries and therapeutic tools, and is given to him to wear when his staff see that he appears to need it. One clip is attached to a tab on the inside-top of his backpack, so if nervous energy threatens to get the best of him while he’s on the bus, he can sit there with his backpack in his lap and fidget away. One clip is attached to the cover of his car-seat. Both break-away clasps and clips are all we could want from them. The necklace kept at home (except for when Ash wears it while we’re out and about) is labeled on the inside for subtlety, with a personalized text label including his name and my cell phone number, and a medical ID label warning of his Autism. The clip attached to his car seat and the clip attached to the inside of his backpack have the same, just one kind of label on each side. The necklace which is kept at school is only labeled with his name. The labels, which are fused on and then sealed down, have not proved irritating to Ash’s neck at all. Although it is not yet necessary for Ash, I also know that everything could just as easily have any combination of the above, allergy alerts or picture logos. If and when an Autism Awareness ribbon is ever added to the logo options, some of Ash’s future KidCompanions might sport that in place of the medical ID label.
Customer Service: Life has jaded me too much and too often for me to rave lightly, but I really applaud this company and the people behind it for their customer service and their customer care. Both their dedication to quality, selection and accommodation and their continued striving for improvement, are commendable. Everything is both planned and tested from the angle of special needs. Inquiries into adjustments are welcomed and met whenever possible, instead of being treated as a insult and a waste of business time, as too many companies do. Pierette sent whatever combination of pendant, lanyard and clasp color/style, and label format/location I specified as being best for Ash, and went out of her way to do things like make sure the coating over the labels was extra smooth for my extra-sensitive boy. When I told her that Ash found the label on the lanyard visually distracting, she sent me another one with the label applied right next to the clasp in back, out of view. Everything came to me reliably and in perfect and perfectly clean condition, complete with informational card for easy reference. Although I did not have to pay for my samples, I would find it reasonable to do so, even with the international shipping from Canada to here in the USA.
I give the product four out of four stars for any child through elementary school age, and three out of four stars for any child older than that, because of the appearance issue.
NOW THE BEST PART — A GIVEAWAY!!!