Annee Matthew is a local brand established in 2001 by Annee Neo, the quirkiest mom I’ve ever met. Then, there weren’t many stylish nursing labels around, so she decided to take things into her own hands and make some. From a small home business, her brand has now made its presence overseas, with distributors from as far as Europe. She also participates regularly in baby fairs.
I’m not cut out to be a fashion blogger (no domestic helper on stand-by to take 100 shots of me posing, no Insta-worthy background), but I am pregnant with a bump, so Annee offered me a pick of three items from her collection to ~model~ in.
There’s sleepwear, maternity/nursing dresses, tops, bottoms, lingerie and a yoga collection. I chose two dresses and a pair of shorts because dresses are the easiest to wear and I happened to need maternity shorts. Too practical. Here’s what I chose:
The model does it better than me so please look at her. I’ve had nursing dresses which had obvious horizontal zips across the bustline and were not suitable for discreet nursing. This dress accommodates my bump and the V-neck opens up for easy, convenient and discreet nursing. I’m okay with nursing in public but only when it’s done in a manner that’s almost unnoticeable, because there’s no need to tell the whole world that your kid is suckling. Anyway… I was rather surprised when I got hold of the actual product because I didn’t realise that the sleeves and nursing panel had animal prints… but it doesn’t show that loudly in photos (thankfully).
Here’s Elise trying to pose together with me. The dress doesn’t hide the bump which is EXCELLENT because I managed to get seats in the subway in Korea even during peak hour. In the subway, there are rows of reserved seats which are almost sacred; NOBODY sits on those seats unless they fall into 1 of the 4 categories: elderly, pregnant, handicapped, parent with infant. If you don’t and you so much as attempt to sit down, you’ll get rebuked by the defenders of the reserved seats, usually an ajumma. They’re very vocal. A woman was talking on the phone a little too loudly and got shushed promptly “EVERYONE CAN HEAR YOU, mind your volume!”.
So with this dress, it became very obvious that I had 1.5 kids with me and it became my claim to the reserved seats. Can’t risk falling down with a bump this huge.
This dress is made from 95% cotton and 5% spandex. Cooling and comfortable, it’s still one of my go-to dresses.
I chose this dress because of its cleverly hidden opening. From the photo, it just looks like a normal dress but it suits moms from the first to third trimester and beyond. I brought this to Korea but didn’t manage to get any decent photos taken. Like the above dress, this also lets you nurse in a non-obvious manner. It’s perfect to get the job done yet not attract unwanted attention. This dress is made of 96% viscose and 4% spandex. Adding spandex allows the dress more elasticity.
Both dresses have no scratchy parts and are very comfortable to wear.
That’s not my tummy in the photo. This pair of shorts is heavier and of a thicker material than most shorts (100% neoprene) but is supportive for the bump and comes with two side pockets to store tiny essentials. I don’t think I’ll see such a tummy even after I give birth so there’s no way I’ll wear it like the first photo. I prefer it pulled all the way up and paired with a loose top to hide the colour of the belly support. It doesn’t feel tight or suffocating at all.
There’s no giveaway currently, but there’s a huge summer sale with almost all the products going for very attractive prices. There’s free shipping for orders above $100, which shouldn’t be too hard to hit (just 3 sale items!) if you haven’t started shopping for maternity and nursing wear!
Many parents use steam sterilisers to sterilise baby products while some prefer the traditional method of boiling bottles in hot water.
UV sterilisers for home use are relatively new to Singapore, but Koreans have been using UV sterilisers at home for years. If you’ve been to Korea, you’ll notice them at food courts where they are used to sterilise and store metal utensils and cups. Clinics use them for their equipment and childcare centres use them to sterilise toothbrushes! What gives a UV steriliser more mileage than the steam steriliser is that it can be used way after the baby has weaned for cutlery, combs and brushes, manicure accessories, stuffed toys, spectacles, toothbrushes and even electronics like your remote controls and mobile phones. :O
I chose a UV steriliser over a steam steriliser because I didn’t want the hassle of having to take out the bottles to dry after sterilising, or having to descale the steriliser every now and then. Also, steam sterilisers consume a staggering amount of power at 650W! Without a domestic helper, every bit of time saved counts. A UV steriliser seemed like the most convenient choice – just rinse, flick away excess water, press the button and leave till next use. There was zero risk of getting scalded by steam or boiling water. None of my bottles (MAM, Hegen PPSU) or pump equipment warped or changed colour either.
REGARDLESS OF STERILISER USED, this is how often you should change your bottles and teats:
Bottle teats: 3 months
PP bottles: 3 months (PP material does not take high temperatures well, thus it tends to yellow)
PPSU bottles: 6 months to 12 months (PPSU is of a higher quality plastic which withstands UV sterilisation well)
Mine was a Haenim 2015 model which I bugged my husband to hand-carry back from Korea. It was a basic set with digital timer display, 2 Auto modes, 1 UV mode and 3 Fan modes. Since then, more brands have been brought in by local distributors. What advantages do they have over my old set? Instead of comparing the brands through website reviews and photos, I decided to do a thorough, first-hand review of the Korean brands currently available in the market.
DOES NOT cover consumable parts like UV and infrared lamps (only Haenim‘s warranty covers consumable parts)
Must be registered within 14 days
Void for issues due to misuse, abuse and alteration by unauthorised persons
C) Power Consumption / Maintenance
Most expensive to replace: Hanil (S$92) Least expensive to replace: Cimilre, Haenim(S$36)
Filters must be brushed/washed regularly. For maximum efficiency, replace consumables annually (also depends on usage frequency). It’s time to replace the lamps when they start to dim at both ends. For Cimilreand Haenim, only the UV lamps need replacing as they use PTC heaters with a longer lifespan.
2. PURCHASE EXPERIENCE
A) Availability of Information (Facebook, Website, News articles) & Customer Service
Cimilre* Facebook page closed, sterilisers unavailable on website.
Each brand only had my email address and house phone number in order to test response speed of email replies
Haenim called my house phone and was the first to send the steriliser
Cimilre was responsive via email and fulfilled shipment after confirming the delivery date and time slot
Hanildelivered the steriliser to my place after calling my house phone
uPang delivered the steriliser twice – neither my neighbour nor I was at home at the first delivery attempt, so they rescheduled another date. Vague delivery timeslot: 10am to 5pm was too long for us to “confirm that we will definitely be at home at that time”. Received steriliser the 2nd time with a free cutlery holder.
3. STERILISER COMPARISON
→ Packaging, Manufacturing Dates
Manufacturing dates do not affect warranty start dates but they give us an idea of how well the product sells. Haenim and Hanilsent newly manufactured stock whereas the other two brands sent sets which were manufactured a few months earlier.
Dirt marks and scuffs observed on the exterior, only dirt marks could be erased
Though these superficial marks do not affect the functioning of the steriliser, one would expect a brand new item to be without defects
Sterilisers have a sterilising element (UV lamps) and a drying element (heaters/infrared bulbs).
Infrared bulbs are commonly used in heaters and require timers to prevent overheating. Lamps have to be replaced annually.
PTC (ceramic) heaters are incapable of overheating due to an inbuilt thermostat (safer for certain baby products which have temperature limits). Due to a longer lifespan, PTC heaters do not need to be replaced as often.
All brands report 99.9% sterilising efficacy with their lab tests and I should think so because the sterilising part depends on the UV lamps from OSRAM or Philips. The lab standard is to test on one baby bottle and 1 teat but only Haenimconducts its tests using 9 bottles and 9 teats.
5. DRYING CAPABILITY TEST
A) Experiment #1: Auto Mode 1
All sterilisers set to Auto mode 1 (1 press of the Auto button)
3 bottle caps with 1ml, 2ml and 3ml of water (total 6ml) in middle of the main compartment
Skewed experiment as sterilisers have different settings
i.e. Haenim‘s Auto mode 1 runs for 30 minutes (40 minutes for the other brands) with shortest drying cycle of 20 minutes. Cimilre has the longest drying cycle of 35 minutes.
Despite the differences in cycle times, Auto mode 1 was tested because it is the most commonly used mode.
1st Place:Hanil (dried 2.5ml, left 3.5ml) Haenimwas 2nd place, but its drying time was the shortest at 20 minutes.
Last Place (tied): Cimilre, uPang (dried 1ml, left 5ml) Cimilre‘s result was not ideal as it had the longest drying time of 35 minutes.
B) Experiment #2: Auto Mode (30 minutes)
Haenimset to Auto mode 2 (2 presses of the Auto button)
1ml of water each in 6 milk bottles (6ml total in 4 NUK bottles, 2 Medela bottles) in the main compartment, 2 wet teats each in bottom compartment
Standardised drying duration (30 mins) for all sterilisers with Auto mode 2
Excess water should be flicked away from bottles before sterilising, therefore all sterilisers should dry bottles effectively in typical circumstances.
** CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES ***
A) Hanil: Are 3M HEPA filters safe to use?
In July 2016, 3M Korea was found to have produced and supplied HEPA air filters containing Octylisothiazolinone (OIT), a toxic chemical linked to respiratory diseases. This did not only affect Hanil UV sterilisers which use them but other major brands using 3M filters for their air-conditioners (cars, residential, offices) and air purifiers.
3M Korea claimed lab tests showed that only a minute amount of substances were released into the air and there were no harmful effects to the human body and that in order for OIT to cause harm, a baby weighing 5kg would have to consume 250ml of OIT, or about 65 bottles daily. Hanil Korea then implemented a voluntary recall and refund of their sterilisers. HOWEVER, it was reported in March 2017 on a Korean consumer news website that a man purchased Hanil UV steriliser from a Korea departmental store in July 2016 (part of the affected batch when the issue first occurred) and used it for his child until March when the baby developed a skin condition. He appealed for damages as he believed it was due to 3M’s HEPA filter.
After the recall, 3M Korea stopped production of the affected products while maintaining its stance that the OIT levels were not harmful to the human body. The affected Hanil UV steriliser models (which included HBS900SG – Singapore model) were listed on Hanil Korea’s website as well as other news articles. Subsequently, HBS900SG was subsequently REMOVED from Hanil Korea’s page and Hanil Singapore denied that the Singapore model was affected. They did, however, offer a replacement of HEPA filters to their customers.
3M Korea was also fined in January 2017 for overly exaggerating the antibacterial properties of their 3M HEPA filters which were used in car air-conditioning systems, the most among the 3 other firms who were fined. The advertisements claimed to reduce fine dust by 99% and 3M Korea was fined 1,700,000won (S$ 20,670) by Korea’s Fair Trade Commission. SO is it safe to use now!?
The set I received from Hanil Singapore contained a 3M HEPA filter. Using the above screenshot I found on Facebook, I told them that I wanted some reassurance that the sterilisers were safe to use.
The screenshot was of a lab test report dated January 2013, more than 4 years ago! The steriliser I received was manufactured in March 2017 so while the steriliser does NOT come from the affected batch, it still uses a HEPA filter from 3M Korea.
It really would have been better if a clarification like the above message was posted on Hanil’s (Korea/Singapore) social media platforms to reassure customers instead of deleting posts related to the issue. So the answer, according to Hanil Singapore, is yes, its sterilisers are safe to use as 3M Korea removed OIT from its filters.
TL;DR: 3M HEPA filters containing OIT found in Hanil sterilisers
Hanil denied SG set was affected & replaced filters with new ones though Hanil Korea did a voluntary recall and refund
3M Korea insisted OIT levels in its filters are not harmful BUT a consumer’s child contracted a skin disease
3M fined S$ 20,670 for over-exaggerating its filter’s ability to block out 99% of particulates
Hanil is now safe to use (OIT-free filters)
B) Haenim: Did Haenim use the same name as Haenim Toys in an attempt to mislead people into thinking they were the same company? What about ST Electronics Co. Ltd & ST Electronics?
Haenim Toys is a Korean brand most popular for its plastic play yards. When Haenim Baby was introduced in Singapore, many people were confused between the two companies and alleged that Haenim Baby intentionally copied the name to confuse people who didn’t know any better. In Korean, Haenim Toys is written as ‘햇님토이’ and Haenim Baby is written as ‘해님베이비’. Both refer to the Sun. To English speakers who are not proficient in Korean, this may seem confusing as the English name is romanised the same way.
From the company’s reply, the name was chosen as the UV rays resemble sun rays. I’ve also read comments about people getting confused between Haenim’s parent company, ST Electronics Co. Ltd and ST Electronics (ST Engineering). This seems to be limited to non-Korean speakers as searching “ST Electronics” in Naver displays Haenim’s website as the main result.
TL;DR: Haenim is not related to Haenim Toys
ST Electronics Co. LTD is not related to ST Electronics (ST Engineering)
After comparing all 4 brands, I’ve decided to stick with Haenim. Though it is the most expensive brand among the four on normal days, it is the only brand with a drastic price drop during baby fairs and pre-orders (as low as $299).
Cheaper to maintain yearly
Largest in size, door opens wide
Dual ventilation fans, digital displays
Fast and responsive customer service
Cimilre has more functions than the other 2 brands and also costs $36 annually to maintain. However, it is my least favourite as the filter was tiny and the incomplete casing with messy wires, combined with a Facebook admin that went MIA on me didn’t give me a good impression. Plus, it blatantly advertised its power consumption at 17W when the heater itself already consumes 20W. -_-
It also doesn’t make sense to rank it over Hanil with its storage mode, HEPA filter (OIT-free…?) and touch sensor buttons. uPang would have been ranked higher if it had a digital display and its door could be opened wider. Nevertheless, it is a no-frills, basic steriliser.
I hope this in-depth review will help you in making your choice when purchasing a UV steriliser!
** This review is an overview of 4 brands and its distributors. It is NOT written with the intention to defame and much effort has been made to ensure that the statements are substantiated by facts. If you are the local distributor of a brand mentioned and would like to clarify any point in this review, please contact me. I received an investment from an independent investor for the purpose of such projects and chose to work on this subject as a start. **
SG Homemade stands for Stephanie Goh Homemade. Homemade food powders provide an alternative to processed stock cubes and liquids sold in supermarkets. These are definitely not meant as meal replacements or even ingredient replacements, but serve as natural flavour enhancers for children (and adults) with fussy tastebuds. Stephanie is a working mother to a toddler and she started her line of powders after seeing how her daughter finished an entire bowl of bee hoon soup which was made with chicken powder.
To ensure hygiene standards, she sterilises her equipment, utensils and packaging before use. Currently, she has 3 flavours in store – sakura chicken, oyster mushroom and ikan bilis.
SYSTEM Stephanie has invested in a proper ordering system for her site so customers can pay securely via PayPal/Card instead of iBanking. There are order numbers and each order is updated with its own SmartPac tracking number when it has been sent out.
SG Homemade food powders are packed in food grade glass jars with personalised labels and have quality seals along the black covers to ensure that the containers are not tampered with during the delivery process. Although the glass bottles cost more than regular ziplock bags and are heavier to ship, Stephanie prefers this option as glass is the safest medium to store food in, regardless of whether the plastic is BPA-free or not.
I’ve used processed chicken and ikan bilis stock cubes from the supermarket before, but found them too salty. Portion control was also an issue, as I didn’t need to use one entire cube for seasoning Elise’s food, yet the remainder could not be kept for long after opening. Previously before I was introduced to food powders, I felt it was a waste of money because I could just use the actual ingredients.
What I didn’t know then, was that there would be days where I would be sooooooooo exhausted and had zero idea what to prepare for Elise’s dinner, yet there aren’t any healthy choices for toddlers in the eating places near my place. These powders are made from actual handpicked ingredients which are baked over a controlled temperature for many hours before being ground into powder.
The powders are fine and there are no lumps. It resembles loose powder or baby powder with a light fragrance. I’ve been using them to create bases for pasta and stir-fries. Since it’s already cooked fully, they can be sprinkled onto cooked food or just mixed into hot water. Elise is not a picky eater so she doesn’t have problems eating. She has, however, been exposed to outside food which are laden with preservatives and seasoning, which is why I try as much as possible to cook with natural flavours as much as possible.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS
According to Stephanie, here are a few questions which she gets asked a lot:
Q: Do you add anything else to your powders? A: Only 100% of the ingredient is used, no salt no oil.
Q: Is your ikan bilis salty?
A: I soak till it’s no longer salty but the fish itself originally does come with salt content.
Q: The homemade powder I made at home can only be kept up to 1 week maximum. Why can yours be kept up to 12 months? Do you add preservatives? A: There are methods which utilise high heat to bake the ingredients for a short period of time which kills nutrients. The outside will appear brown but it will not be dry on the inside. Hence, there is moisture retained and the resulting powder can only be kept for a short period of time before it goes stale.
SG Homemade powders can be kept up to 12 months in fridge due to zero moisture content. Ingredients are also cooked below 120 degrees to ensure that nutrients are retained.
Q: Why buy when there are so many recipes online? A: You can create powders yourself, but the process to ensure nutrient preservation as well as zero moisture is a tedious one. This is the amount of raw product needed to create 20g of powder!
200g Mushroom -> 10x
80g Chicken -> 4x 50g Ikan Bilis -> 2.5x
Q: How long does it take to receive my product? A: As all items are created upon order, the current lead time is about 2 weeks.
Beef & Carrot Pasta
Ingredients: Baby pasta, beef, carrot bits Method: 1) Pan-fry beef and carrots with a bit of butter. Boil baby shapes pasta in another pot.
2) Add cooked pasta to pan.
3) Sprinkle mushroom powder for added flavour.
Salmon & Corn Spaghetti
Ingredients:Corn kernels, salmon, pasta, chicken powder Method: 1) Boil water in frying pan with a bit of chicken powder.
2) Place spaghetti into pan on medium fire until it turns soft and stock is reduced.
3) Add in corn kernels and salmon.
GIVEAWAY – 20g x 3 Soup Bundle (Worth $30)
Congratulations to Isabelle Liu for winning the soup bundle! The discount code SGNEWBIE for $10 off $50 is available for all to use!
** I received a soup bundle (20g x 3 jars) to review and purchased a 50g Sakura Chicken powder jar to test out the ordering system. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for the review.