Mellow Mummy: October 2010 : Taking life as it comes...

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Sunday Review - Zingzillas Album

Ever since Lara was born, Zingzillas has been the soundtrack to my dinner preparations. In the days before Lara could walk, I would plonk her in her rocker to listen to the sounds of Zingzillas as I chopped vegetables or made other preparations for dinner. For the first 7 months of Lara's life, I couldn't have told you what Zingzillas looked like, but I knew every single song! This is why I think I am probably more impressed with the new Zingzillas album than Lara is!

for those who don't know, Zingzillas is a CBeebies TV program where Zak, Panzee, Tang and Drum are members of a band on a remote island. Each day they perform a 'Big Zing' where they play music of different types.

As you know, Lara loves music and the tunes from the Zingzillas album are a great excuse for her to have a bop around the living room. The great thing about Zingzillas is that the music spans all genres and cultures so you get a good mix of styles and rhythms to encourage different musical tastes in your child.

My favourite track is "Bubbly Pop" which is, pretty much as it describes and really encourages Lara to wiggle and bop. I think Lara's favourite is "Do You Digeridoo?" which is also a fast-moving track with digeridoo rumblings in the bakground. And Mr. B? I think he secretly enjoys "I've never heard a sound as absurd" which is known in the Mellow household as "The Oompah Song" which is in an alpine, euphonium, lederhosen stylee!

I think the Zingzillas album would make a wonderful christmas present for any tot as with 26 tracks, it really is very good value for money and offers hours of entertainment.

Image courtesy of

The Sunday Review - A'kin Baby Care

In my latest delivery of organic skincare goodies from I decided to treat Lara to some organic pampering. As I have enjoyed my A'Kin facial mist and A'Kin hand cream so much in the past, I ordered Lara some moisturiser and some body wash all of her own.

We have been using the A'Kin Baby Bath Wash and Shampoo at bath time. I think it is perfect for Lara as it is sulfate, paraben and pthalate free. It is colour free and is a totally clear liquid made with natuural plant-based moisturisers such as cornflower which are great for soothin delicate baby skin on both the body and scalp.

We loved the fact that it came in a hand-pump dispenser. Being able to pump the liquid into my hand means that I always have a spare hand to keep control of Lara in the bath and I don't have to worry about putting lids back on bottles before I carry on with Lara's bath. I was also really happy with the level of foam it generated when I rubbed it into Lara's skin - enough to get Lara really clean but not the type of foam that comes from harmful chemicals.

After her bath (and every morning), I use a moisturiser on Lara to combat her dry skin and ezcema. The A'Kin Baby Nurturing Natural Moisturiser smells divine - just like my A'Kin hand cream. It is a light, ever so slightly oily texture and is absorbed very quickly into Lara's skin. Lara has been enjoying rubbing it into her own arms and legs.

I can't say that I am that impressed by the moisturisation of the cream - her skin seems as dry as when I use no moisturiser at all (but the eczema isn't there). It is a shame because the smell is that much nicer than any of the other products I have tried - a blend of essential oils which have a wonderfully calming effect on both mother and baby.

Images courtesy of

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Think Pink! The Fun of Decorating a Little Girl's Bedroom.

As you may know, the Mellow family moved to a brand new house at the start of the month, leading to a much more mellow state of mind for all of us. Since then I have been working hard to unpack all of Lara's toys and clothes and find homes for them in the new house. I have had great fun starting to plan Lara's bedroom - who knew that decorating a little girl's room could be so much fun?

In the old house, Lara slept in the 'nursery'. We decorated it in neutral shades because we didn't know whether our child would turn out to be a girl or a boy. It was lovely, but wasn't Lara's - it was designed with an unidentified baby in mind. Now is our opportunity to make a room that is her's and all her's. Luckily, we just happened to have a bedroom in the new house which was decorated in purple - Lara's favourite colour!

Our decorating journey started a couple of weeks ago with the 'hellish' trip to Ikea. We bought Lara some funky birch coloured storage units to stash away her huge piles of clothes.

I never thought of myself as the kind of Mum who would buy her daughter cutsie pink stuff but somehow it just seems right. Lara likes pink! She suits pink! She suits lots of other colours too but a bright or shiny pink or purple currently seems to sum Lara up, just perfectly.

We've bought Lara one or two new pieces of bedding (we can't afford to replace the whole set just yet). We bought this bright pink cot bundle (bumper, sheet, fleece blanket and quilt) with fun teddies on from Wilkinson Plus who have some great nursery gift sets at the cheapest price I have found for the same products that are sold elsewhere.

In the background you can see her height chart - something I have been wanting to buy her for a long time! This one is from Think Pink in their Toadstool Fairy range. Think Pink (Blue too) do great gifts and home decorations for little girls (and boys)... they specialise in all things pink and girly! We've wanted a height chart for Lara, mainly so that we can measure when she will be tall enough to go on the rides at Legoland!!!! This one is great because we can add in photos of Lara when she gets to each height milestone. Currently Lara is loving measuring all of her bears (and there are some big ones) against the chart each evening. hehe.

To make Lara's room that little bit more grown up, we have put in some ornaments. Lara ABSOLUTELY loves her Toadstool Fairy Snow Globe from Think Pink. It is a little heavy for her, but the glittery snow mesmerises her and it is the first thing she rushes to when she enters the room.

We have also added a Photo Frame to match. We haven't yet chosen a picture for it yet. We're thinking maybe one of the cat? or is it a bit too cheeky to add a photo of myself and Mr. B. and then point the photo frame towards her bed so that we can watch over her each night?

In the background you can see the amazing OXO Candela Tooli Nightlights. They make the room a little bit less cutsey and are perfect for me to use when reading Lara her bedtime story. Lara likes to repeatedly switch them off and on using the tiny button on the base of each night light. The nightlights are expensive but they are the perfect addition to the room and I can see them lasting her (or indeed us, after Lara has lost interest) for many years to come.

So, how do you like the new bedroom? Do you think it is suitably pink and fun for a toddler?

Toadstool Fairy Height chart £5.99
Toadstool Fairy Snow Globe £11.99
Toadstool Fairy Photo Frame £7.99
OXO Tooli Nightlights £50
RedKite Cosi Cot 4 Piece Pink Bear Bedding Set £35

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Choosing a Winter Coat for a Toddler

A couple of weeks ago Mr. B. and I started thinking about buying Lara a winter coat. The decision was largely driven by us having booked a Christmas break at Center Parcs for late december and, having visited during the same week last year, we wanted to be prepared for the wintery weather that we are expecting deep in the Longleat woods. Choosing a winter jacket that would prove to be a good investment was harder said than done. This is how we chose a winter jacket for our toddler.

Last year Lara was 6 months old when we visited Center Parcs and for most of the week she wore this toasty warm all-in-one outfit.

We were on the lookout for something similar this year that would be suitable for a toddler – perhaps something with detachable booties and mittens. Our choice seemed pretty limited unless we wanted to buy a 'serious' outdoor pursuits outfit for her. We did find this one at Verbaudet which looked like just the ticket.

After thinking long and hard about it, Mr. B. and I admitted that an all-in-one outfit, while totally the right thing for a wintery forest trip, is not the most practical of outerwear for a toddler. Even if it was the perfect item of clothing for one specific week in December, could be really imagine ourselves (or the childminder) battling to get Lara in and out of it each weekday? No.

And so our search took us on to more traditional coats. We really struggled to find a winter coat that we felt was warm enough for the whole season. We eventually found this one in M&S which is great for the following reasons...

  • It is padded all over

  • It is long, so we don't need to worry about buying additional wintery padded trousers

  • It has integrated mittens

The coat is big. Big enough to last Lara all the way through to spring. Unfortunately it is also bulky and on days like we are currently experiencing, with that wintery chill to a sunny late autumn day, it really does seem like overkill.

Once again, Vertbaudet came to the rescue. We came across this parka jacket which seems to serve our purposes perfectly.

  • The jacket is girly without being unecessarily PINK.

  • It is large enough to last her right through the winter.

  • It has two different types of fasteners which stops her from undoing the jacket herself (which she does all the time with her other coats)

  • It is made from a beautifully soft brushed cotton/polyester/polyamide mix which is water resistant.

The thing which REALLY swung it for me though was that this jacket has a removable lining. Right now, when the weather is chilly, but not cold, I can send Lara out in just the jacket and know that she'll be warm and dry. But when the weather gets colder I can just pop in the snuggly fleece lining that pops in place using press studs. Total and utter GENIUS. So now I have a winter coat that is also an Autum and Spring coat which means that we get really good value for money.

I have always been impressed by the quality and the style of Vertbaudet clothes and I have not been disappointed by the coat. This children's parka jacket is just one of a wonderful range of winter coats at Vertbaudet where I was spoiled for choice. It comes in sizes from 3 months to 3 years and costs just £21.75 at present. If I had unlimited funds, I would buy Lara one of everything in the Vertbaudet catalogue! Ho hum.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Sunday Review – BumGenius Reusable Nappies (MiniSocialite)

You will hopefully have all read earlier this week about how Lara and I have been struggling with our current brand of reusable nappies. I was offered the chance a couple of weeks ago to try out the brand new range of BumGenius cotton nappies – what great timing.

BumGenius have just launched their new range of 'Mini Socialite' nappies in the UK. They are a limited edition range of brightly coloured One Size reusable nappies with some gorgeous abstract designs by designer Chelsea Perry. My favourite design is the yellow one called 'Free Spirit' but Lara looked pretty groovy in the blue one too (Retail Therapy). I love the fact that the designs are quite grown up and not cutsey at all.


The BumGenius One Size nappy is unlike other reusable nappies I have tried. The nappy comprises an outer cover which is the bulk of the nappy and into it you fit a small insert. Where with most other brands you tend to keep the outer cover for use again for the next cotton nappy, the BumGenius One Size cloth nappy is intended to be washed after each use. At £15.99 per nappy and a recommended stash of around 12-15 nappies, it took me a while to get my head around that. To start with, I felt uncomfortable putting the brightly coloured wrap straight into the wash after just a mildly wet nappy.

The BumGenius nappies have surprised me in their absorbency. Given the huge volumes of moisture that our nappies are having to deal with at present, I was expecting a one-use nappy to last Lara a matter of minutes. It didn't. One nappy was good on Lara for 2-4 hours so the insert must be very absorbent and I certainly didn't feel that Lara's skin was wet in any way after taking the nappies off. I folded over the cotton insert and snapped it into position with poppers to add greater absorbency at the front of the nappy.

I also really liked the shape of the nappy. It is well elasticated around the legs and seems to be tailored well. Wearing the BumGenius One Size nappy, Lara didn't look any more bulky in the bottom-area than when she is wearing a disposable nappy. This is a good thing for us because it aids her movement and means she can fit in to more of her clothes!

I found the nappy easy to take on and off. It fastens with poppers rather than velcro which is great because Lara hasn't yet worked out press studs so can't pull the nappy off like she normally does. Once again, just like the OneLife nappy, I was perplexed by the enormous number of press studs on the nappy! At least on the BumGenius nappy I understand why they are all there. The BumGenius nappy is a one-size-fits-all nappy. It arrived fully popped together in its tiniest form (which was very cute) and you un-snap various parts of it to extend it for older babies.

We are currently using it fully un-snapped but with plenty spare poppers around the main fastening to allow Lara to grow a little more over the next year or so as she moves out of nappies. I had already noticed that with my Bambino Mio nappies that the covers we were using were getting worryingly small and they don't make any bigger than that! For a reusable nappy to be truly birth-to-potty, it has to go from really tiny to pretty damn huge in size.

One thing I didn't like about the BumGenius One Size nappy is that there was no-where for me to put a liner into it. A nappy liner helps when dealing with a soiled nappy and I find it helps to reduce staining on the fabric. It surprised me a little and I even had to go to the babame website to see if I was just being dim!

I had no problems washing or drying the BumGenius One Size nappies. I put them into my normal nappy wash with a small amount of detergent and they washed well at 40 degrees (and coped fine at 60). I found that they dried really quickly because the insert and the liner can be separated and both on their own are quite thin. This is a good thing for me as I often do a wash in the evening and *attempt* to dry the nappies overnight in time for me to leave for work in the morning.

The BumGenius One Size nappies are available in Mothercare and several online retailers. Find out more at and . The Mini Socialite range of nappies are bound to be as collectable as the plain coloured nappies and so if you want one, you'd better snatch one quick as they are a limited edition and may only in the shops until Spring 2011.

Images courtesy of threepipe.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

HELP – My Reusable Nappies Can't Cope

I feel like I am coming to the end of an era.

Lara has been wearing reusable nappies ever since she was 6 weeks old. We've done so well. But, over the past month we have been struggling. The Bambino Mio nappies we use just can't cope with the volume of liquid that Lara produces!

A few weeks ago we tried out the OneLife Nappy system. It was fine but I didn't get on with the shape of the nappy cover and the cotton nappies themselves struggle even more than the Bambino Mios with the current wee onslaught.

I have also tried a few different approaches to using my Bambino Mio nappies. Some days I use bamboo or cotton boosters in the nappies (I had previously just reserved these for night times). This helps, but not significantly. I have also tried putting two folded cotton nappies into one of the big OneLife nappy covers. This works but it is only a solution I can use over night because the bulk of the nappy means Lara can barely walk (and no clothes fit on over the top).

Lara drinks a lot. She eats a lot. But... I was never prepared for this. As soon as she does a wee the nappy is no longer usable. This weekend I think we averaged 4 changes of clothes during the day due to the fact that the nappies had leaked. The Bambino Mio outer liners are supposed to be waterproof but the liquid has started to wick through the fabric. I don't know whether this is because I have over-washed them and they've lost their waterproofing, or whether it is just that Lara's body functions have changed – I think her body has grown up.

As I've told you before, Lara has already started potty training. It's a very long and slow process with us – none of this 'potty training in one week' malarkey for us! Lara does use the potty each evening, sometimes even with success, but she is a very long way off being potty trained as although she is now able to tell me when she has wet or soiled her nappy, she isn't able to tell when it will happen.

So, until she is potty trained, I need to find another solution. This past fortnight we have been trying out the BumGenius all-in-one nappies (you can read the review this Sunday on Mellow Mummy). They're better, I admit, but I only have two of them so I can't use them all the time. Instead, I have rather grudgingly been sending Lara to the childminder in disposable nappies! This is partly because I don't own a bag big enough to put in enough changes of clothes for the day in case every nappy leaks (and partly because I wouldn't wish that one someone else).

Using disposables every week day feels expensive to me. I find it unsightly when they sag, I hate the smell they give off and then, obviously, there's the waste they produce. On the other hand, it does mean I have less bulk to pack in Lara's bag each morning AND, it opens up a whole area of Lara's wardrobe out of which I thought she had grown. Jeans become a realistic option too! It's not all bad.

I shall keep you updated on my progress on the search for a reusable nappy that can cope effectively with the situation. It would be a shame to have to give up reusable nappies now. In the meantime, if you have any wise words of advice to impart, I'd love it if you could help me.

Image credits:
OneLife nappy system courtesy of Hello Baby
BumGenius Artist Series courtesy of and BumGenius

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Forget Halloween, I Have A Little Devil All Year Round

This week's theme at Tara's gallery is The Colour Red.

It seems fitting then that I received through the post Lara's Halloween outfit from Clothing At Tesco this week. It certainly isn't an 'investment' garment, but for an item of clothing that may possibly be worn only once, it seems like good value at £7.

Lara seems to hate wearing the hood, which is a shame as it makes her look super cute (if a little like a wrestler). My favourite part of the outfit is this...

As it is, Lara doesn't really need a devil outfit at present. Her behaviour is hellish enough as it is. I really don't know how the childminder copes! On my one day off a week (my Lara day) she is such hard work that I am totally worn out by the evening and can barely keep my eyes open. At the weekends, even with Mr. B. around, the feeling is the same.

Lara is going through a stage of asserting herself. She has learned the word, "No" and is using it to prove that she is the dominant one in this parent-child relationship.

This Thursday, after 2 hours of failed attempts of getting Lara to take her afternoon nap in her cot, I discovered her stood up in the cot, screaming, her dress held up around her neck, her nappy off and hurled across the room and she was stood, rattling the bars of her cot, standing in a pool of her own wee. Urgh.

This weekend, Mr. B and I both nearly reached meltdown in Ikea. To start with, it seemed like a good idea. We sat Lara in a groovy trolley and did the whole upstairs Ikea thing. Then we had a pretty successful lunch in the canteen (bargain kids meals of real food, which include a free piece of fruit). After lunch, things went downhill. Lara had energy to burn but she wasn't happy. She screeched an annoying, miserable wail all the time she was in the trolley which eventually started to draw 'looks' from other customers. All attempts at removing her from the trolley resulted in her running at full pelt in the opposite direction to us and hanging on to furniture and displays that she really shouldn't have been hanging on to. We did, eventually, make it out alive but I swear it'll be at least another 5 years until our next visit.

If you read my posts about bedtime and about dropping the dummy then you will know that Lara goes to bed quite late. Recently, I have found myself wishing that Lara went to bed at 6.30, rather than 8.30!

I know we'll get through this, and I also know that there is worse to come, but I shall attempt, as ever, to remain MELLOW.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Future Friendly Mums

I haven't told many people this yet, but I was recently voted one of the EDF everyday green heroes! I think I was nominated for my pragmatic approach to eco-friendliness... I'm prepared to give everything a go to see if I can make a difference but I'm careful not to be Green for Green's sake. To me, if you can make just a few small changes to your lifestyle, that is a great step forward. If something is green and it doesn;t fit with your way of living, then carry on and find something else you can do for the world.

I recently found out about this set of videos of real mums and their small steps towards a greener future. These are all little things that each of us can do to make a small difference. Lots of small differences add up to make bigger differences.

This is my favourite of the videos - its about saving water in the home - something I think I'm pretty damn good at given that I have just received my first non-metered water bill in my new house (I've been on a meter in my old house for 5 years). The new bill for the year nearly made me sick it was so huuuuuge. Water metering is definitely the way to go if you want to take control of your water usage.

This following video is about small steps you can take to reduce your own waste in the home.

Have a think and see if there are any small 'future friendly' steps you can take.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Sunday Review – Inch Blue Shoes

Lara has been spoilt with a couple of pairs of the gorgeous leather shoes made by Inch Blue.

Lara has been wearing what I would term 'real' shoes for several months now. Before she walked, Lara wore soft leather shoes if we were going out somewhere where I felt she would need to keep warm, or where I knew she would be scrabbling around on the floor. Even now, I try to keep her in soft shoes such as Inch Blue's as much as possible as they allow her feet more freedom and don't restrict growth.

Inch Blue is a welsh family business who make handmade shoes for babies of an incredibly high quality. When I compare Lara's Inch Blue shoes with the cheap equivalent we bought from ebay in the spring, I am astonished at the differences. The Inch Blue leather is soft and thick – comfortable and supportive rather than just a flimsy wrap around the feet. The Inch Blue colour has lasted Lara's wear and tear unlike her old ones where the pattern flaked off within days of wearing them. The shape of the Inch Blue shoes is so much more exacting and more dainty – her old ones are very clown-like and not as beautifully tailored to the natural shape of the foot.

Inch Blue care about their materials, they care about their designs and they care about the environment – which is why their products start at around £17 for a pair of shoes and aren't found for pennies on ebay!

Lara has two pairs of the incredibly lady-like Mary-Jane shoes in pastel colours. We love them. When I chose them from the Inch Blue website I had a very had time deciding. They have a wide range of fun designs for girls and boys from 0-4 years old. Sadly, Lara can't have one of every pair – there just isn't enough room for that many shoes in our house!

Lara loves wearing the Inch blue leather shoes around the house to keep her toes warm. I think she particularly likes them because she is able to take them on and off herself – the small piece of elastic that holds them in place is that bit more manageable for her tiny fingers than buckles and velcro on her bigger, more formal shoes.

One of my favourite items on the Inch Blue site is the wintery Cwtch boots. Available in pink, blue and brown these little sheepskin boots are stylish, practical and lovingly handmade, hence the name 'Cwtch' which means 'hug'.

Go and take a look at the shoes on the Inch Blue website – I think you'll be surprised by the range! They have some wonderful festive shoes in stock now such as reindeer, snowflakes, robins and angels. They also have some beautiful gift sets that would make any new parent happy.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Moving House With A Toddler – Survival Tips

Yay. It finally happened. I've moved house. Phew. Goodbye rubbish neighbours. Hello peaceful suburbia. Here's to a lifestyle where the most exciting thing to happen in the town since June (and worthy of page 3 in the local residents newsletter, no doubt) is the decision to paint the village hall an ever-so-slightly lighter shade of blue than previously documented! Nice.

Buying and selling a house was pretty stressful. I don't recommend it if you want to avoid premature ageing, over-consumption of alcohol (or takeaways) or if your repetoire of swear words is small.

Moving day however was one of the easiest parts of the whole process, which is surprising, given that I have a 15 month old. Here is how I got through it!

  1. Find somewhere for your child to be during the day so that you can concentrate on moving, and not on looking after them. Lara went to the childminder for the day but we had several offers from friends and family to take her off our hands. It might be a bit weird for them to leave you at one home and meet you again at another but it's probably best that they're out from under your feet.

  2. If you can afford to do so, pay a removals company do your packing, including dismantling your cot and changing unit and putting them back together at the other end. We were so grateful that Lara could sleep in her own room in her own bed on the day we moved house.

  3. Pack clothes and nappies for several days in a bag that you never let out of your sight! We didn't get around to unpacking Lara's boxes of clothes until 2 days after the move so I was grateful that I had reserved enough outfits and nappies to keep us going.

  4. Know where you packed the stair gate. Lara can't have had free reign of the house for more than half an hour before she took her first tumble down the stairs. She was fine as she'd only made it up two stairs but it kicked me in to action to go and find that stair gate – it took a lot of rummaging to locate the right box.

I'm sure there are other things I learned about moving with a toddler so leave me a comment if you need more tips!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Sunday Review - Playskool Ball n Gear Centre

Lara has been testing out the Ball n Gear Centre from Playskool.

Lara couldn't wait to get it out of the box. She was pulling the packaging off like a crazed animal. This is probably to do with the bright colours and funny faces - tempting!

The Ball n Gear Centre comprises a brightly coloured central unit, 2 plastic balls and a set of 5 'gears' or cogs. We chose it from Playskool's offering because, at 15 months old, Lara is fascinated by the way things work. She is always investigating things (this is also known as pulling things apart). Lara likes to put stuff 'in', pull stuff 'off', put things 'together', 'press' things and 'move' things. It is an age where children learn a great deal about the basics of the world around them while soaking up a lot of the detail.

Within seconds of using it, Lara knew exactly what she was supposed to do with it. This is particularly fascinating as neither myself or Mr. B. could understand it's appeal. We're both the scientific sort so maybe we're reading a bit too much into the toy. The balls plop out. The 'gears' go round when you press a button. That's about it. There are cogs and wheels to spin, and I think we were expecting them to link together so that movement of the gears caused balls to move, or cogs to spin – it doesn't.

Lara likes to explore the Ball n Gear centre. She goes back to it time and again. Lara has managed to find secret hidey holes for balls that we would never have found! She loves to press the button, to stack and slot the 'gears' and to place the ball in different places.

The Playskool Ball n Gear centre, like most children's toys this day, takes batteries. When we put the batteries in we were expecting things to turn and whizz. Actually, all you get is music and in general, I'd rather go without. Lara on the other hand likes to dance to the music – she presses the button and then bops in front of it. I wish I could have captured a video.

The music hasn't yet driven me round the bend, we haven't yet lost the balls or gears and nothing has fallen off it. It entertains Lara for upto 10 minutes at a time (which, trust me, is a long time in her world). So, the conclusion is that it really doesn't matter what I think of the Ball n Gear centre – my toddler loves it and that's what matters.

The Ball n Gear Centre is suitable from 9 months old and costs around £24.99.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Why I've Been Converted To 'Toddler Wipes'

I'd never quite understood why there was a market for 'toddler wipes' as well as 'baby-wipes'. Surely they're the same thing? Why do toddler wipes seem more expensive per-wipe? Until recently, I'd dismissed the thought.

Last month we went on holiday abroad. When you're travelling, it's hard to take everything you need with you. At home we tend to use kitchen roll or a cloth to tidy up Lara's mucky face after a meal. On holiday, we used baby wipes. By the end of a one-week holiday, Lara's face was red and raw with little spots all around her mouth. I was convinced it was to do with the baby wipes (We were using Pampers Sensitive).

Lara does have sensitive skin but I hadn't realised quite how different the skin on the face was to elsewhere on her body. For the days following our holiday, I made a conscious effort to use just water on Lara's face after meals but sometimes baby wipes are just so much more convenient for tidying up after a mucky toddler. A cloth needs washing after every single meal these days and kitchen roll seems to be eaten up at an astonishing rate. Baby wipes are just there, moist, effective and.... harsh on the skin.

I was sent a sample of the Vital Baby Hand and Face Wipes to try. They aren't marketed as baby wipes, and now I understand why. Since using the Vital Baby wipes at breakfast and dinner, Lara has had no problems whatsoever on the skin around her mouth. The Vital Baby wipes are paraben-free and alcohol-free which certainly helps.

I found the Vital Baby wipes to be a good size with a perfect level of moisture which made them effective at thoroughly cleaning. We all loved the apricot scent of the 'fruity' wipes but the unfragranced version was just as impressive.

We have been so impressed by the Vital Baby wipes that we have been out and bought a huge pile of them from Boots to keep in the kitchen and in the changing bag. Maybe there is a market for toddler wipes after all!

The Vital Baby wipes have just entered the Mellow Mummy baby wipe index at number 4 (They would have been higher if they were an all-purpose wipe).

Monday, 4 October 2010

A Summer of Buggy Shades Reviewed

Summer is gone. Boo. So why then am I writing an article all about products designed to protect your little ones from the sun? Well, having spent the summer trialling different types of buggy shade, I have lots of experience which is fresh in my head and now seems like to right time to pass this knowledge on to anyone who is planning a purchase for a winter sun holiday. I'll also remind you all next spring when you might be planning to purchase something for the summer months ahead.

We have tried three different brands of buggy shade over the summer on our two totally different buggies. In case you're interested, we own a Maclaren Triumph and a Mothercare MyChoice.

The Shade-A-Babe

We bought the Shade-A-Babe this time last year for a mediterranean trip. Even then, when Lara was just 3 months old, her little legs rubbed against the harsh fabric over her knees. We bought it because of its UPF50+ sun protection and because it claimed to fit all buggies, ever. It does this through use of extra-long velcro loops which you trim to size; this is all very well but if you, like us, have to swap it between buggies which require two different sizes of velcro, you can't really trim them and they end up flapping around all over the place.

The Shade-A-Babe is the easiest to get your child in and out of as it has a big zip-up opening. It also has an extra level of sun protection over your child's face and it is the only buggy shade we have tried which is genuinely long enough to cover the full length of the Maclaren pushchair. The Shade-a-babe is bulky and the pushchair won't fold with it on so we got very stressed having to put it on and off all the time.

The Shade-a-Babe costs around £30 and they also make them in different colours and sizes to fit double buggies.

The Snoozeshade

The Snoozeshade sells itself more as a mobile blackout blind than a sun shade. It is full length buggy cover that offers UPF50+ sun protection.

We loved the fact that the Snoozeshade is made from a soft elasticated fabric because it was gentler on the legs when/if they rubbed and because it was easy to stretch over the buggy. It is also a lot more compact than the Shade-a-babe and can be folded up into its own little carry case.

We found the (fixed-length) velcro tabs a lot easier to fit and as such, it is more more appealing for when you know you are going to have to take the cover on and off frequently. We were a little disappointed that the Snoozeshade didn't quite reach to the bottom of the pushchair - it looked like it would be a better fit on a pushchair with a slight angled shape to it and it worked well when the MyChoice was in pram-mode.

The Snoozeshade has a very small peek-hole which zips up - I think I'd rather have a bigger opening in case I need to quickly get to my child.

The Snoozeshade costs around £20.

The Kurtis Baby Peace

I recently reviewed the Kurtis Baby Peace on The Family Panel. I liked it but I came to the conclusion that it is much better suited to a pram than a pushchair and that it wasn't very good value for money given the short amount of time that your baby will spend in a pram.

The Baby Peace is much easier to use than the other two shades because it doesn't require you to mess about with velcro. You simply clip the 100% organic cotton cover onto the roof of your buggy using plastic shower-curtain-esque rings. The Baby Peace looks great, offers the same UPF5-+ protection and is less cumbersome than the other two. It is incredibly easy just to push it to one side if you need to reach in to tend your child but it isn't really long enough for use on an upright pushchair.

The Baby Peace costs around £30 and would make a great luxury gift for a newborn.

None of these buggy shades is 100% right for our needs. There is no single one I would say 'yes', that's the one I recommend. I feel they are all lacking a little and could evolve a bit more. In terms of value for money and general ease of use, I tend to prefer the Snoozeshade for a pushchair. In terms of quality and looks, the Baby Peace is my favourite for a pram.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Sunday Review - Butlins, Bognor Regis

Last month, I went to Butlins in Bognor Regis for the MADs award ceremony.

I'll admit it, going to Butlins had never before been something I'd planned on doing. Pre-Lara, it wouldn't have appeared on my list of fun things to do in my spare time at all, and even since becoming a parent, I can't say that I had envisaged Butlins being my cup of tea. I must say, that in my short couple of days at the Bognor Regis Butlins resort I was really pleasantly surprised and now, having seen the quality of what they have on offer, it has been bumped right up my list. As a place to take an excitable toddler outside school holidays, I think it is spot on.

I've never been one for 'fun' holidays. Peaceful countryside and stunning landscapes are much more my kind of thing but I've realised now that after a mad run around a playground and a swim in a pool Lara is far more satisfied (and as such, far more manageable) than she is after a gentle stroll along a mountaintop and a quiet drink in a cafe. And, as much as it pains me to admit it, Lara enjoys watching puppet shows and is fascinated by people dressed up in bright outfits singing silly songs. This, I suppose, is childhood!

My first impressions were good. Check-in was fast and efficient. The Ocean Hotel I was staying in was smart, clean and inviting; it had bright colours and clean lines throughout and seemed a lot more grown-up than I had imagined, without being mundane! Every member of staff I encountered was friendly and wanted to engage in conversation to ensure you were enjoying your stay – I even noticed staff going the extra mile to help visitors find their way around.

My room in the Ocean hotel was compact, but extremely comfortable, extremely well-equipped and had good quality fittings. A TV with integrated DVD player meant I could listen to my own CDs and the bathroom with coloured lights was a great place for chilling out. I found the hotel breakfast restaurant to be well set-up to make life easy for families with small children. The buffet breakfast seemed like good value for money but elsewhere on the resort I found the drinks to be expensive and the food quality poor for the prices being charged.

One of the centre pieces of Butlins is the indoor entertainment pavillion. This was always a hive of activity. At times, I found it a little too noisy but with a whole host of things for children of all ages there is no way you will run out of things to do, whatever the weather. Just before the main shows there were long queues of parents waiting to go in.

Outside, all of the fairground rides were open throughout the day. Out of season I had expected the park to be shut in places but this wasn't the case. The rides looked well-maintained and fun for children of a wide range of ages. But Butlins isn't just about the kids! There are plenty of places for adults to chill out with a coffee (or something stronger). And who says adults can't have fun? Here's Sandy from Baby Baby enjoying the interactive floor in the hotel!

The other centre piece of any Butlins resort is the swimming pool. There were lots of flumes and slides but also shallow play areas for little ones. I felt that the facilities seemed fun, yet a little dated compared to the rest of the park.

I think I was a little spoiled staying in the hotel for my visit. Exploring the resort, I found the chalets to be a little grim-looking, especially towards the sea front which at this time of year is grey and windy. Looking at the prices, the hotel rooms don't seem an enormous amount more expensive for the guarantee of a little luxury – but maybe I'm just too used to life's little comforts?

The conference centre where The MADs awards took place is a great addition with good (but by no means 5* catering). I can imagine the conference centre as a wonderful place for an off-site training course venue. Maybe I should drop some hints at work?

At the end of the day, it was the Ocean Spa that won me over to Butlins! I am after all a health & beauty blogger, not just a mummy blogger. I like to be pampered. The Ocean spa was my opportunity to wash away all of the stress of the soft-play area and play at being a grown-up. At £19 for a 2-hour spa session it is an affordable treat for parents. The spa is compact but has a good range of facilities including both indoor and outdoor spa pools, a snow cave (!), steam room, sauna and incredible monsoon disco showers! The Ocean Spa also offers an impressive range of beauty treatments.

I was impressed by Butlins, I consider myself converted!

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