Mellow Mummy: January 2011 : Taking life as it comes...

Monday 31 January 2011

Colouring Pencils In Restaurants – A Rant

Dear restaurant owner, please ask before offering my child colouring pencils or crayons at the dining table. It isn't allowed at home, so why would it be allowed in your restaurant?

Lara has been dining out with us at restaurants since she was 3 weeks old! At 19 months she is now old enough to sit up at the table with us and enjoy a meal (quite what foods she gets to enjoy depends on the 'children's menu' available but I shall save THAT rant for another day). Over the last few of months, every time I have taken Lara to a restaurant, she has been presented with some paper and coloured pencils... this is doing my head in.

Lara enjoying a meal out when she was 8 months old!

Like all toddlers, Lara can be a bit of a handful when she is hungry, and if she gets bored she sometimes needs some entertaining. I understand the thinking behind the presentation of coloured pencils to children, I really do, but I just wish that restaurateurs would ask me before supplying 'entertainment' for my own children. I want Lara to grow up to know how to behave at the dinner table and to join in with the pre-dinner chit cat with the grown ups. Dining out is as much about the social occasion as it is about the food. I don't want Lara to be the troublesome kid causing havoc, or the child who ignores everything going on around them. I don't want her to be absorbed in colouring pencils, or a personal console, or even a cuddly toy... I want Lara to join in with us.

That isn't to say that I would always refuse the offer of colouring pencils in a restaurant. No, sometimes I need all the help I can get to keep her calm until the food arrives. But, once the crayons have arrived, there is no going back and even food can sometimes be ignored in favour of frantic scribbling. For this reason, Mr or Mrs waitress, kindly ask me before plonking the colouring pencils down in front of my child. Thank you.

Sunday 30 January 2011

The Sunday Review - Cheeky Wipes Reusable Baby Wipes

A few months back, I blogged about re-using baby wipes. Several of my readers recommended Cheeky Wipes to me as an alternative to re-using packet wipes and then Cheeky Wipes got in contact to ask whether I wanted to give them a try... so I did! I had to find out for myself whether they were up to the hype.

Cheeky Wipes are re-usable, washable, towelling baby wipes that can be washed and re-used again and again. They come in a handy all-in-one kit which provides wipes, storage boxes, carry bags for when you are out and about, and a set of aromatic essential oils.

The concept is simple. Everything colour-coded in blue is for clean, fresh wipes. Everything colour-coded in red is for mucky, used wipes. When it comes to changing a nappy, you take a wipe from the blue box (which is filled with water and a sprinkling of the blue oil that contains lavender and chamomile) , use the wipe and then discard it in the red box (which is filled with water and a sprinkling of red oil that contains tea tree and lemon). If you are on the move, you can take clean wipes out with you in the blue bag, and bring them home for washing in the red bag. Easy.

We like the wipes. They're soft and kind to Lara's skin and they clean incredibly effectively... more so than any packet wipe I have tried. I'd say that the wipes themselves were a little small and they curl at the edges after washing. We find they wash well in our normal washing (although I do tend to put particularly mucky loads of wipes in with nappies or soiled clothes along with some nappy sanitizer) and they dry very quickly.

We like the oils. They smell fantastic and once again, I've not come across a brand of baby wipes of which I prefer the smell, not even Jackson Reece!

I love the idea of the blue/green storage boxes that sit on the shelf of my changing unit but I do struggle to find enough hands with which to open the boxes when we are mid-nappy-change. I also struggle with the mesh bag that I stretch over the mucky box to prevent me from having to handle the wipes when I put them in the washing machine - the bag absorbs the water from the mucky box and so does the draw-string. The draw-string rests against my wooden changing unit making it wet. I am reliably informed that all of these issues are being resolved with the launch of their new boxes at the end of February - well done Cheeky Wipes HQ!

This aside, the Cheeky Wipes really have changed things in the mellow household. I do occasionally need to buy a new pack of baby wipes for use in the nursery (for days when the Cheeky wipes are in the wash or still drying) but the number of packs I have bought since using the Cheeky wipes has reduced A LOT. For every weekly shop I do without needing to buy baby wipes, I can FEEL the money that I'm saving. I will, occasionally need to replace the bottles of essential oils and I was worried that this would be expensive, but the prices on the Cheeky Wipes website are competitive with any other aromatherapy retailer and, given how little you need to use, the bottles will last a long time.

I've enjoyed using the Cheeky Wipes and have been converted to re-usable wipes for nappy changes. I will definitely continue to use these baby wipes.

The Sunday Review – Lovea Bio Body Care

A little while back I discovered Lovea Bio organic shampoo with argan oil so I was really excited to get the chance to try out some of their body care products.

The Lovea Bio Burkina Shea Nourishing Body Balm costs £6.49 from and is a sizable tub. The body cream is quite rich so you don't need to use very much. The balm is wobbly to touch but kind of melts into your skin upon use so it absorbs well and doesn't leave me feeling sticky. The smell of shea butter is very strong yet comforting.

For an organic, paraben-free body lotion, I'm quite impressed. It is the first paraben-free body lotion that I've tried for adults (I've tried plenty for Lara). In terms of its effectiveness as a moisturising body balm, I'm still undecided about whether I would buy this product again.

The Lovea Bio Argan Oil Cell Renewal Body Scrub is scrumptious. I love the effect of the Argan oil on both my hair and body – it leaves me feeling silky and soft! This body scrub is incredibly effective, and rates up there with my current favourite (non organic, non paraben-free) Clarins bamboo scrub. The scrub is made with small pieces of sugar and orange peel which makes for a great exfoliant for use a couple of times a week.

My only complain with this product is that I struggle to get it out of the tube! The chunky bits get stuck in the opening which means you have to squeeze REALLY hard to get any out. Next time you try, the opening is unblocked and it takes you by surprise, causing it to squirt all over the bathroom. Note to self... don't point the tube towards your face when trying to remove the blockage. The Lovea Bio Argan Oil Cell Renewal Body Scrub costs £7.49 from mypure.

Friday 28 January 2011

Lara's World - Week 2

Here is Lara's photo for the week, aged 19 months.

Week Two: Meet the Family

Wednesday 26 January 2011

An Interview with Emma Forbes on Motherhood and Mellowness

TV and radio presenter Emma Forbes has recently started her own website, a great mix of personal material, showbiz, lifestyle tips and reviews – its a site that inspires me to work hard at making Mellow Mummy bigger and better. Emma is a mum of two children aged 10 and 14. I recently had the chance to ask Emma a few questions on motherhood, beauty and remaining mellow; you'll see from her answers that she has a very similar approach in life to me. I assure you, I am not secretly Emma Forbes!

Q. How would you describe your approach to parenting?
A. My approach to parenting is quite simple. I believe that what you put into it, you get out of it. I love parenting. I consider it my favourite and the best job I have ever done. I love being with my kids, enjoy my time with them at all ages and stages, and feel you can never love your kids too much.

Q. If you look back on the last 14 years, which aspects of motherhood do you wish that you had approached differently, if any?
A. I wish I hadn't been such a worrier when they were tiny but I guess all new mums are the same. I don't know that if I went back I would have done anything very differently - not because I did it right, but just because I think I did the best I could at the time!

Q. What one baby accessory do you remember being vital to you? And what item could you have happily lived without?
A. The one baby item I couldn't have lived without was a baby monitor. Loved them!!!! And I could have happily done without that bouncy swing thing that hung from a door...I never liked them.

Q. What recipes would you recommend for families with toddlers and young children who want to eat together as a family?
A. It's hard to put in lots of specific recipes for families with kids to eat together but I believe that eating together is the important bit - as a family - so few people do it! I am also a great believer in kids eating the same as adults - and not doing pasta with butter for the kids while you have roast chicken and vegetables. The sooner they learn to eat and experiment with food the better and the easier in the long run! I think stir fries are great with kids of all ages and easy for families, or good old traditional things like cottage pie and macaroni cheese.

Q. What, if any, childcare arrangements did you make for your children before they reached school age? How did this make you feel at the time?
A. Pre-school age I had help with my kids. I had an amazing nanny, who became part of my family (and still is even though no longer the nanny! ) They were never left with sitters, or anyone other than her - she was great as I was always hands on, and very much around. If my kids were ill, I cancelled everything (still do) and so she was great at working alongside me.

Q. In your experience, what makes a good family holiday for pre-school children?
A. A good family holiday in my opinion with tiny kids is somewhere near!!! Nowhere with more than one plane journey if you are going abroad, the less time difference the better, and don't be too adventurous!! They don't remember going to Disneyland before the age of 5 so don't spoil it by taking them at age 1!! Somewhere like renting a house in cornwall or somewhere where you know you have everything you need around you, and it will be a good change of scenery.

Q. This one is a hard one as there are so many times in our lives when our children make us grin with pride... what is your proudest mummy moment?
A. I have loads and am always proud of them, but I think I am always super proud when I get a compliment about them - when they haven't been with me and someone says how kind they were, or how they were polite -I love that!!

Q. Do you have a favourite beauty product that you can't live without? If so, what? And why is it indispensable?
A. One beauty product I can't live without is Elizabeth Arden's 8 hour cream. Lasts forever, treats kids and adults alike and brilliant for lips, nails and just generally fab!

Q. And finally, What steps do you take to remain mellow... positive, relaxed and healthy as a mum of two?
A. Hmmm hard to always remain that!!! It depends really on the day/week we are having, but I try to just keep it all going and have the odd massage, or see a movie if I get stressed. I tend to be pretty much in control now they are older, I think I found it harder when they were tiny and couldn't communicate as well.

Monday 24 January 2011

Meet my #CyberMummy11 Sponsor

I'm very proud to reveal my Cybermummy sponsor! Yes, that's right, I'll be at Cybermummy 2011 thanks to Boots Parenting Club.

As a mother & baby blogger and a health & beauty blogger, I can't think of a better match than Boots.

Boots Parenting Club is a free-to-join club for parents-to-be and parents of children up to 2 years old. As a member you get notified of special offers and events in store that offer great value on items for babies and toddlers as well as a regular glossy magazine and vouchers to use in store. Parenting Club members can earn upto 10 advantage card points per £1 spent in store or online with Boots (on baby products)

I'm a member of pretty much every parenting club around (it pays to be voucher-savvy!) but the thing I like about Boots Parenting Club is that they are very information-driven. As a mum I have referred to their guides online on several occasions (teething, safety, when to move into a cot etc.) and they also host regular live web chats with their panel of Boots experts.

I'm really looking forward to working with Boots Parenting Club over the coming months and also looking forward to seeing many of my readers at Cybermummy in June.

Sunday 23 January 2011

The Sunday Review - Ella's Kitchen Organic Baby & Toddler Foods

Regular readers will know that packet foods are not my normal thing, but that I DO believe in 'convenience foods' such as Ella's Kitchen, just so long as the ingredients aren't alien and the nutritional contents don't read like a horror story. There are occasions during a busy working week, or a frantic weekend when I do just need to grab something quick from the cupboard to cook a meal for just Lara, not the family.

When Lara was younger, we tried a couple of Ella's Kitchen organic pouches but I didn't 'get' the pouch thing and despite the flavours sounding a bit wacky, I found them all to smell a bit miserable. Recently, I've been trying out some of the range of Ella's Kitchen stage 3 and toddler foods with mixed results.

The Pack 'o' Snacks seemed like a great idea, especially when Lara was at the childminder and I was looking for ideas for lunchbox snacks. They are cute, brightly-coloured pyramids that contain little pieces of organic dried fruit. The trouble with toddlers is that they don't sit still long enough to hold a little bag (pyramid or no pyramid) so I end up tipping the contents into a pot more likely to withstand the challenge of a mobile toddler; this immediately makes these snacks less convenient than I'd thought. I also find that Lara struggles with the very tiny pieces; a raisin is about as small as her little fingers can reasonably manage and so she leaves the smaller bits and pieces.

We tried a couple of the Ella's Kitchen Stage 3 pouches which are a bit bigger than their other pouch products. The ingredients all sound great – no nasties or unidentifiable chemicals anywhere. But, upon opening, heating and serving, I was still very disappointed. The contents were sloppy and looked like the texture of food I would have fed Lara at about 8 months old. Both the sachets we tried smelled a bit... processed. Packet food just has this smell that repulses me and Lara wasn't much more impressed than I was.

We were much more impressed with the 'Has-to-be-Pasta' and 'Nice-Rice' which come in boxes containing a few single servings making them incredibly convenient when I need to knock up a Lara-only meal. Paired with one of the Ella's Kitchen cook-in sauces (The Italian One or The Indian One) and a few crunchy vegetables, I can fashion an acceptable meal for Lara in minutes, should I need to. Mind you, I do still struggle to understand the need for the rice and pasta to be 'boil in the bag' unless you don't own a seive or a colander... it means I can't test the food to see if it's ready and I also don't like being TOLD how much pasta or rice constitutes a 'nutritious' meal because every child's appetite and requirements are different. The pasta pieces are a bit small for Lara now but would be good for a smaller baby.

One of Ella's Kitchen's plus points for me is their website – they have some great baby and toddler recipes, many of which have absolutely nothing to do with their range of products; they are just healthy, easy to make foods ideas for children.

Another plus point is that Ella's Kitchen have a partnership with Terracycle to encourage mums and dads to 'upcycle' their used baby food pouches (the recent trend for which does my head in when I have my green hat on). You can read more on their website.

Friday 21 January 2011

Lara's World - Week 1

I won Lara a Lego digital camera from; perhaps 19 months is a little young to expect photographic talent to show through - who knows? The image quality leave a little to be desired, but anyway, I thought I would introduce you to Lara's world a little at a time and see how her skills develop!

Here is Lara's photo for the week, aged 19 months.

Week One: Mummy and Daddy's Start To the Day

Thursday 20 January 2011

How To Make Professional-Looking Graphics For Blogs, Cards and Crafts

While I may be a techy and write websites for a living, I am appalling at creating graphics. Mellow Mummy is my own work, but I threw it together using fonts and images from within a piece of free software called Serif Digital ScrapbookArtist. Over the past month I have been testing out one of the latest pieces of graphics software from Serif called CraftArtist Gold. It's an incredibly easy to use computer program that has some great features of particular interest to parents, and to bloggers. Let me tell you about them...

… Greetings Cards.
Serif CraftArtist Gold isn't an expensive piece of software. At £19.99 I think it's a bargain. For the cost of less than 10 shop-bought cards, I can buy a piece of software that will help me create high-quality, personalised cards within seconds, time-after-time. I created this Thank-You card to send to some of Lara's relatives after Christmas. It took 5 minutes from the point when I first opened the software (literally, the very first time I had ever used the software), to the second the card popped out of my printer. I folded it up and it was ready for Lara to scrawl her thank-yous! If I had wanted, I could have saved my card as an image file or PDF and taken it elsewhere for professional printing to produce something properly special!

...Baby Books
CraftArtist Gold comes with a set of Baby Book templates included. Everything you need to produce smart keepsakes from your baby photos. I have a folder of my favourite photos of Lara set up on my computer. I opened CraftArtist, chose a themed Baby Book project and pointed it to my folder – it did the rest. It runs through your photos and places them on each new page of the baby book, choosing landscape or portrait photos to fit the best frames. The pages of the book have designs and places to add notes and writing once printed. There are several different designs to choose from and, as with all of the templates provided, you can manipulate their style, colour, layout and embellishments to your heart's content if you want to make something truly unique.

CraftArtist Gold includes a number of stationery templates including some simple, yet smart invites. I wish I had these to build on when I wrote the invites for Lara's naming day, and her first birthday party.

...Make & Do Kits
If you are feeling a little more adventurous then why not try one of the Make & Do kits? These are project templates that require a little more effort than just choosing an image, placing it and printing it out. The default Make & Do projects include a new baby card which requires you to cut out pieces and stick them together and add sequins and foam backing pads to make a really impressive card for someone special.

The beauty of Serif software is that you can download add-ins from their DaisyTrail website. Mellow Mummy was built using one of their free Digikit add-ins. Within CraftArtist you can browse free and paid-for Digikits and then link straight to the DaisyTrail website to download them. Digikits often contain great new fonts, small embellishments such as buttons or small images, coloured and patterned backgrounds and new template designs. It is these small but helpful kits which make the Digikits ideal for bloggers who want to make their website designs look professional without spending a lot of money for a web designer. Remember, that if you use something on your website that you have built using Serif CraftArtist then you can't use it for commercial gains and you can't claim it as your own – you have to credit them.

I found Serif CraftArtist Gold to be extremely easy to start using but with plenty of features which allow me to take control of my own work. I could choose to keep on using the default settings for everything, or I could use the full power of the image editing features to tweak every single little element of my creation until my heart is content – it is entirely up to me. The user interface is intuitive and there is always lots of contextual help should you need it, such as online video tutorials.

Stay tuned to Mellow Mummy to see my Valentine's creations using CraftArtist – coming soon!

Serif CraftArtist will be available to buy online from or Amazon and in store at PC World and Argos from January 21st and is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Your Views On Weaning Before 6 Months - Join The Carnival

On Friday I blogged about the new report which suggested that it may in fact be healthier to wean a baby who is ready, before the 'official' 6 months guidelines. Over the weekend I have read a lot of different blog posts and articles on the same subject and it really showed me how different people can interpret the same report in astonishingly different ways. I've read some really strongly worded opinions, many with which I disagree and many of which, however you read them, keep coming back to the idea that as parents, we are well qualified to make our own decisions on these matters.

I thought I would bring together some of the blog posts I've read so that you too can share some of the amazingly different points of view. If you have a post you'd like to add, drop me a mail at jumblyMummy[']gmail[.]com and I'll add your post when I get a chance.

Here on Mellow Mummy I blogged about the guilt I felt about weaning at 6 months and the fact that I trusted my instincts.

GhostWriterMummy highlights the confusion that parents feel when they get mixed messages from health professionals and asks whether her approaches to weaning have made any difference at all.

Muddling Along Mummy has done her research and is disappointed in the way that the headlines have warped the message of the original article.

Mummy Do that has a 4-month-old daughter and the findings (if there are any) haven't changed her approach to weaning. She makes a great point about iron stores in relation to the cutting of the cord.

At the Food Allergy Kitchen they take a look at the story from the angle of allergy-prevention. their test case prooves decidedly inconclusive.

Deep In Mummy Matters is contemplating weaning now at 17 weeks but has lost her confidence in mummy matters such as these.

Mummy In Provence wants to make it clear that breastfeeding is not harmful and asks, how did we cope before purees & baby rice?

Ali at Plus 2.4 has personal experience of food allergies in children and is a trained breastfeeding supporter - some interesting input on the debate.

At Lost In Translation baby Charlie has just started to wean and is moving from breat to bottle. Not a direct response to the report last week, but an interesting blog post given the news.

Mrs Scruff at She Was Not At All Domestic is stressing about food allergies and is confused about when to wean, second time around.

Another blog post un-linked to the latest news can be found at Michelle Tant's Blog where she talks about infant feeding cues and how we, as parents, can learn from our babies how and when to wean.

Vic at Glowstars thinks the report is all about finding a balance - did she find the right balance for her two boys?

Jax at Making it Up hasn't read the report, and doesn't intend to. She, quite rightly, questions our reliance on experts to make our decisions.

Hey Mummy Mummy took a very similar approach to weaning as me - half spoon feeding and half BLW. She says to trust your instincts.

OMammy believes that you should take on board all of the advice you receive, and then make your own judgements.

And last, but not least, Ben at Goodbye to Pert Breasts takes a very mellow approach and points out that none of this 'advice' really matters at all - mummies have been trusting their own instincts for generations.

Sunday 16 January 2011

The Sunday Review: Method Kid Body Wash & Shampoo

We have been using the Method Kids bathtime products for some months now – they are Mellow Daddy's favourite to use on Lara at bath time because they are brightly coloured and fun-smelling.

MethodKid make products from largely natural ingredients (99%) for children (I reviewed MethodBaby products some time ago on Mellow Mummy, they were a hit with us right from day one).

We have been using the Squeaky Green Body Wash and 3-in-1 Shampoo.

The Squeaky Green body wash is the next step up from the Method Baby body wash. It is a very light texture for a baby wash because it isn't made from the normal petro-chemicals used in bath products. We love it because it is gentle on Lara's skin. Lara likes it because of the bright green bottle that she likes to squeeze - it is in the sampe of a tiny little creature of some sort! Daddy likes it because of the smell of crisp apples (actually, I find the fragrance too strong and a bit artificial). Both Mummy and Daddy like the fact that the bottle doesn't have a lid – the body wash is dispensed from a squeezy valve in the bottom of the bottle which means you don't have to faff about with lids when you are in charge of bathime.

The 3-in-1 Shampoo and body wash comes in a similar bottle. We tried the fuzzy peach scent which, once again, is a fun, vibrant fragrance that kids and dads love, but which I find a bit in-your-face. The Shampoo is a very similar product to the body wash and in fact can be used as a body wash too. I take it with us when we are staying away from home, or when we go to the swimming pool because it means we don't have to take a separate shampoo for Lara.

I'm a big fan of the Method environmentally-friendly approach to cleaning and washing products. I've tried plenty of their products – some I love, some I don't rate at all but the Method Kids products are high on my list of must-haves. I think Method have found a good balance between the green, healthy cosmetics market and the bright, bathtime fun that kids expect.

We buy our Method products from Waitrose but some of their range are available in several different supermarkets and in Boots as well.

The Sunday Review - Cindy Crawford Meaningful Beauty

Jane, from The Competition Grapevine has been trying out the Glowing Serum - Skin Revitalising Serum, part of the Meaningful Beauty anti-ageing skincare system from Cindy Crawford - she was really pleasantly surprised!

As soon as I saw the celebrity name, I decided I was going to dislike this product. To me, a celebrity name on a product means the manufacturer thinks it won’t sell on its own merits, and makes me suspect they are trying to put a premium price tag on second-rate goods.

When I opened it and saw the pink colour and smelled the fruity-bubblegum smell, I reckoned my fears were confirmed, and also worried that the colour would irritate my sensitive skin, but I smoothed some on, popped on my normal moisturiser and went to bed.

The next morning my skin felt totally revitalised, smoother and softer than it has done for years. And it wasn’t just a coincidence- I have carried on using the serum and the improvement has continued. My skin looks and feels softer, clearer and brighter even in the middle of winter when it is usually at its most sluggish.

The quality of the serum was the first surprise: when I decided I would like to continue using it, and looked for it on the web, I had my second surprise. I had expected it to be an expensive product - yet it turned out to be around half the price of my usual, far less effective serum.

I’ll be trying more of the products in this range – and in future I will try not to be so snobbish about celebrity endorsed products!

Meaningful Beauty products can be bought online at

Friday 14 January 2011

STOP PRESS: It's OK To Wean Before 6 Months

Did you wean your children before 6 months? Did it leave you with a sense of guilt that you hadn't followed the current NHS guidelines? Well, news out yesterday suggested that all that guilt was for nothing and that weaning before 6 months might well be the healthiest thing to do for a breastfed baby.

In this article from the British Medical Journal, scientists ask whether now is the right time to re-assess the governments current advice (which is to postpone weaning until 6 months). The current advice is based on recommendations from the World Health Organisation who claim that a child who is exclusively breast-fed for the first 6 months is less likely to suffer from infection.

The report shows that there is evidence to suggest that early weaning can promote long term health such as reduced risk of obesity, cancer and cardiovascular problems, and that leaving it until 6 months may increase the risk of food allergies and iron deficiencies. The paper calls for the government to re-assess their stance on baby nutrition.

When Lara was around 3 months old, my mum, mother-in-law and some of my older female friends started asking me when I would wean Lara, as, in their day, the advice had been to wean at 4 months. I had been given all the leaflets from my NCT instructor and my health visitor that told me to hold off until 6 months so I was left with conflicting thoughts on when to start. The look of 'doom' on my otherwise-mellow midwife's face when she handed me the leaflet was enough to scare me into submission.

In the end, the decision was entirely driven by my maternal instincts. Lara was hungry, it was simple. By 3 months old I was struggling to keep up with her appetite for breast milk and was having to supplement her enormous diet with infant formula for my own sanity. During meal times she would stare longingly at our food. Maybe it was because Lara was able to sit upright from a very young age, maybe it was because her ability to grab and hold was improving, or maybe it was just because I KNEW that it was the right time but I decided to start weaning Lara when she was 18 weeks.

And now look at her – she eats food that many grown-ups would be too scared to try (home-made lamb biryani, chicken makhani and rice anyone?) and is capable of eating with a fork and spoon when she chooses. I have no problems feeding Lara and I am convinced that our approach to weaning has helped her socially, physically and in terms of health. It remains to be seen whether she benefits from the long-term gains that the report suggests.

So, what about you? Would you make a different decision about weaning if you could do it again?

Thursday 13 January 2011

Travel With A Toddler – My First ReadyBed

Image courtesy of Worlds Apart

You will probably know by now that Lara is out of the cot, in a small bed and that this was beginning to worry me just before Christmas when it dawned on me that while visiting grandparents and great grandparents over the holidays, Lara would no longer be able to sleep in the travel cot.

For a while I was stumped, especially after our failures with the 'portable' bed rail but World's Apart came to my rescue just in time. Lara was sent a Peppa Pig 'My First ReadyBed' to try out. This product could not be more perfect for us if it tried!

One: Lara loves Peppa Pig. This is fact. Lara's first words (other than 'daddy' and 'doggy') were 'Peppa Pig'. She wears Peppa, watches Peppa, eats Peppa, drinks Peppa and now sleeps Peppa!

Two: the 'My First ReadyBed' is a compact, inflatable bed that we can take with us when we take Lara to visit friends or relatives or when we stay in a hotel, B&B or cottage.

The My First ReadyBed from Worlds Apart comes in several different themes for little boys and girls such as Waybuloo, Timmy Time, Thomas and In the Night Garden. It is a cute little inflatable bed that you can put up almost anywhere and is suitable for toddlers of around 2 years old.

The ready bed is really compact when deflated. It comes with its own handy little carry bag and a small foot pump with which to inflate it (Lara thinks it is great fun watching Daddy inflate the bed). It has a small inflatable headrest and a soft integral cover so there is no need for additional sheets or blankets (temperature-permitting). The fact that I don't need to take extra covers for Lara is really important to me because I do tend to forget and Grandparents don't always have blankets and sheets available to borrow. The covers are machine washable, which is a must for a toddler bed.

Lara loves her ready bed. We've used it a few times and it is definitely now a replacement for the travel cot. I have even tried letting her sleep on it in our living room for an afternoon nap as these days she can be very stroppy if I try and take her up to bed for a nap in the afternoons.

The My First ReadyBed costs around £30-£35 and can be bought from Argos, Amazon or Littlewoods.

Worlds Apart also make the Junior Bed which is slightly larger and suitable from 3 years and the Tweeny Bed which is great for sleepovers.

Monday 10 January 2011

The First Days At Nursery

And so, the first week at nursery is over. There have been tears every morning so far, but i think we're getting there slowly.

Lara seems to really enjoy her days at the nursery and comes home chatty and smiley with a full belly. When we go to pick her up in the evenings, there are sometimes tears because she is a bit lonely to be one of the last two children to be picked up - it gets a bit quiet when all her little friends have gone home.

After a couple of days, the staff at the nursery suggested that I let Lara bring a cuddly toy with her. I was a bit resistant to this idea because I don't want Lara to become dependent on a comforter - she is a self-condifent little girl who just wouldn't look right trapsing round with a worn out toy or a blanket. Despite my reservations, I let Lara choose a toy to take with her. She refused her own toys and instead chose one my my enormous collection of teddy bears. Apparently, it has helped - Lara likes to cuddle it as she takes her afternoon nap but it is a good sign that, when I turn up to pick her up, the cuddly toy is packed tidily away in her bag. I have decided to send Lara to nursery with a different toy this week so that she doesn't get too dependent on one bear.

That the nursery can get her to sleep at all is amazing for me - I can't get Lara to sleep at any time of day. She simply WILL NOT go to sleep for me.

Today, the feedback from the nursery was that Lara was cheerful and relaxed all day after the tears had gone. I know the nursery drop off will get easier as the days progress but on mornings like today when she is in absolute hysterics, it is hard to turn and leave her and her teddy bear.

Sunday 9 January 2011

The Sunday Review – B-Sensible Bed Sheet / Mattress Cover

The B-Sensible sheet is a fitted sheet and mattress protector. When Lara moved into her little bed, we started using the B-Sensible sheet for babies - they make them for cots, cotbeds and moses baskets too. The sheet is a waterproof, breathable 'second-skin'

Although we are still several months away from active potty training, you will know, if you've read my blog posts about reusable nappies, that we have had one or two issues with wetness recently. Using the B-Sensible sheet has given me a sense of security, knowing that the bliming expensive mattress on Lara's bed is protected from accidents (which, I am guessing, will only get worse for the time being). As a water-resistant sheet, I was incredibly surprised at how light weight the sheet was – I was expecting something thick and plasticy but it is exactly the opposite. The website describes it as 'soft as silk and cool as linen' and I wouldn't argue with either of those descriptions – it is silky in texture!

Although we haven't had to actively test the water-resistance of the sheet, we have had a multi-vomit situation, with which, the B.Sensible sheet coped extremely well. All I needed to do was wash the sheet, no sponging of the mattress was needed. Phew. The sheets are machine washable and, should you wish, tumble-drier safe and they claim to be more absorbent than pure cotton sheets, yet quicker-drying.

The B-Sensible sheet is made from Tencel which is a natural fibre from eucalyptus trees – they combine it with a stretchable membrane to make a hypo-allergenic sheet which acts as a barrier between your baby's skin and moisture, bacteria and dust which is why it is so suitable for sensitive, young skin. I am hoping that it will help to reduce Lara's eczema (which is suffering a bit since I accidentally washed EVERYTHING in bio washing powder).

The B-Sensible sheets also claim to help regulate body temperature while you sleep. B.Sensible sheets also come in children's and adults size sheets and pillowcases and so, I am seriously considering buying one for our own bed as I suffer frequently from rhinitis which it claims to aid, and Mr. B. often overheats in bed.

B-Sensible claim to have a 'completely eco-friendly' manufacturing process (99.5% of the solvents used are recovered and re-used). How this is so, I really don't know, but I suppose it offers some comfort to me.

I'm really pleased with Lara's B-Sensible sheet. It'll save me time and money in the coming months as Lara goes through potty training (I should be able to turn that sheet around through the wash in just one day without needing to buy an official 'toilet training' sheet), and I hope it will help s during he hot summer months too.

Thursday 6 January 2011

Travel with a Toddler - Lindam Portable Bed Rail

Lara has been sleeping in her cot bed, without the cot rails for a couple of months now with much success. Until recently, I had protected her from falling out (which she did rarely after the first week) by piling up pillows and a folded-up duvet next to her bed. While it served the purpose, it looked awful and the bedding took up most of the floor space in Lara's room so it seemed fitting when we were offered the chance to review the Lindam Portable Bedrail from Jojo Maman Bebe .

I had been worrying about how to handle visits to parents and stays in hotels over the Christmas holidays now that Lara can no longer fit into a travel cot. Jojo Maman Bebe sell a couple of bed rails but we chose the Lindam Portable one because we knew we would be travelling a lot over the Christmas period so a portable bedrail sounded like it would solve a lot of our predicaments; I was hoping it would aid Lara's transition from cot to bed.

I found the Lindam Safe & Secure Soft Folding Bed Rail hard to assemble and gave up – Mr. B. had to step in. It's not that the instructions were difficult, more that I didn't possess the strength the push in the small metal buttons that connect the pieces together. This also meant that the rail was difficult to adjust to Lara's cot bed (it can fit mattresses from 76-100cm wide and 141-210cm in length). Once again Mr. B. stepped in.

The Lindam Bed Rail is made from a flexible, soft mesh fabric across the bulk of the rail and is surrounded with a blue, solid fabric. It certainly stops Lara from falling out because occasionally, if she stirs during the night, we find her pressed up against the fabric in random positions where you know she would have ended up on the floor otherwise. My worry is that Lara sees it in the same way as she did the rails on her cot – as something that restricts her freedom. One of the reasons why I moved Lara into a bed was because I felt she wanted to take responsibility for her own movements in her nursery. When we first moved her out of the cot, she would wake in the night and lie in the darkness (either screeching, or else chatting to herself). With the cot rail, Lara's initial reaction upon waking is to get OUT. In this respect, the bedrail has failed.

I also found the Lindam bed rail to be... well, anything other than portable! When presented with the choice of folding up the Lindam bed rail and attempting to press thos pesky metal buttons again so that it would fit into the car boot, OR to fold up the sheet of the Dream Tubes (also sold by Jojo Maman Bebe), I just couldn't face carrying around the bulky metal frame of the bed rail – the decision was easy!

One of the things I like about the Lindam Portable Bed Rail is that during the day, I can fold it right down and it rests close to the edge of Lara's bed. Once I think Lara is ready to sleep, I unfold it and click it into place (I'm normally wrong, and she's not ready). I was worried that it was going to require me to use both hands at a time to unlock and unfold the rail each time I needed to lift Lara out of bed, but thankfully, you can un-clip one side at a time but the clunk of the clip is loud so I have to make sure I put it into place before Lara falls asleep, so as not to wake her.

At £26, I think the Lindam Portable Bedrail from Jojo Maman Bebe is still good value, even though it hasn't been an enormous success for us – I'm still glad I tried it, and I may find that it becomes more useful as Lara gets older. Over the next few weeks I am thinking of removing the bed rail and seeing how Lara goes without any protection on the side of the bed... eeek.

Image courtesy of Jojo Maman Bebe

Tuesday 4 January 2011

The First Day At Nursery

Lara starts nursery today. It's not a big thing really, but I feel like I've been conditioned into believing it is. In reality, today is no different to any working day last year. I will drop Lara off at about 8.30 and pick her up just before 6. This year I will be working for 4.5 days a week rather than just 4, that's the only difference (oh, hang on, there's the £400 a month difference in cost too!)

We had to leave our lovely childminders in Bracknell because, since moving house, the commute back to Bracknell twice a day for the childminder wasn't a good use of time or petrol. I struggled to find a new childminder in Wokingham so we've opted for a nursery.

I've thought long and hard about our decision and on the whole, I'm happy that nursery is the right decision for Lara now. I'm still convinced that a childminder (or two) was the right decision this time last year and I'm glad that over the past 12 months Lara has had a family environment where she has done real, every-day activities such as going to the shops, waiting for an MOT and doing the daily school run. I like that sense of normality. I'm also glad that Lara has got to play with children of lots of different ages as I think it has pushed her to develop quickly. I do however worry that to this day, Lara has always been the centre of attention wherever we go – she's at that age where she is the entertainer and left in a room full of older children (or adults) she will quite happily soak up all of the attention. Now is a good time to teach Lara that she can't always be doted on. I think it will do her good to be in a more formal environment, surrounded by children her own age. But, I do worry that she will no longer be encouraged to develop and do grown-up things.

Choosing a nursery is very much like choosing a house – you just KNOW when it's the right one. Unfortunately, the one we fell in love with costs the earth (hence the new year's resolution to stop spending any other money). Oh well.

Lara's settling in sessions at the nursery were a mixed bag. There were tears at the start of every session but once she realised that there was lots to do, she had a ball. She has already built up an attachment to her keyworker and I think she's going to love the constant stream of activities and hopefully she'll come home happy each evening, and after some chillout time and supper with her parents, she'll ready for a good night's sleep.

Lara's first day at nursery won't be an emotional rollercoaster for me. I'm used to the feeling of leaving her each morning, and... if there are tears, I know they won't last for long.

Monday 3 January 2011

My Goals for 2011

I have been looking back on my goals for 2010 blog post and I'm pretty impressed that I managed to achieve all of the things I planned to in 2010 so perhaps blogging about my resolutions helped me to stick to them? So, this year I'm going to do the same.

In 2011 I hope to...

  • Teach Lara to cook! OK, so maybe its a bit early to expect culinary genius from her, but, inspired by mydaddycooks and a wonderful Christmas gift that Lara was given, I'd like to get Lara more involved in the kitchen.

  • Spend less money! Not entirely sure how this one is going to be achieved, but I'll think of something. I've got several money-saving ideas up my sleeve that I may share with you some time soon.

  • Make our new garden child-safe, tidy and ready for a wealth of vegetables. I miss my herb garden, and veggie plot from the old house so when the weather brightens up, I'd like to get the garden sorted out so that we can start planting and get ready for spring.

  • Unpack all of the boxes. We've been in the new house for 3 months and we are still not unpacked. There is a whole room and one garage still full of STUFF. Argh. We'll get there eventually, I hope.

  • Make a bigger, better blog that is a genuinely useful motoring and accessory website for UK parents.

  • Wear more shoes! I own loads of lovely pairs of shoes but I hardly ever wear anything other than my clunky walking trainers - even to work. I must make more of an effort rather than always opting for the slip-ons by the front door.

I hope you all have a brilliant 2011. Happy new year.

Sunday 2 January 2011

The Sunday Review - 'Naturally' Cosmetics for Mother & Baby

Very rarely do I come across a skincare or cosmetics brand that suits BOTH my skin, and Lara's skin. Naturally Upper Canada and Naturally Baby are skincare brands that are recently launched in the UK but have a successful history in Canada, the USA, South America and Asia.

'Naturally' products are made from 97% natural, botanically active ingredients and they are free from parabens, SLS, mineral oils and synthetic dyes which means that they help to reduce irritation to the skin on my arms and face, and to Lara's arms, legs and face too. The natural ingredients also help me feel less guilty about the foam and suds being washed away down our drainpipe into the world's water systems.

Lara has recently been using the Naturally Baby mild shampoo which costs around £6 for 200ml. It is totally clear in colour (which always leaves me with a good feeling) and foams well. The shampoo smells very subtle but when it is rubbed into Lara's hair it releases a faint scent of mint and lime. It contains witch hazel and aloe to help soothe the scalp. I really like the Naturally Baby shampoo – it hasn't wowed me but I think that's a good thing; its a simple, eco-friendly, skin-friendly product that doesn't need to do any wowing!

Other products in the Naturally Baby range include baby wash, nappy cream, body lotion and room freshner.

I've been using the Naturally Upper Canada Whipped Hand Repair Balm. As you may know from past reviews of mine, I'm very fussy about my hand creams! This hand cream comes in a nice big 120ml squeezy bottle and comes in some amazing flavours(!) - Sweet Vanilla Fig, Pressed Olive Avocado, Cranberry Moro Orange and Warm Honey Nectar. They all sound scrumptious to me but the one I've been reviewing is the sweet vanilla fig which just smells wonderful. Not overly vanilla-y, and not overly sweet, it is a warming, comforting smell. The texture of the hand balm is unlike anything I've tried before – almost moussey! It is a light, whipped cream that isn't heavy or cloying and is absorbed quickly. Even after the first use, I felt the skin on the back of my hands felt soft and that's a feeling I love before I go to bed each evening.

I really enjoyed using the Naturally Upper Canada products and can't wait to try out some of their other pampering products for myself – I'm not sure what to try first – the Coarse Salt Scrub and Foaming Bath Milk take my fancy.

You can buy the full range of Naturally products from the stockist on 01277 220 842

Saturday 1 January 2011

2010 In One Blog Post!

I can't believe that 2010 has gone, just like that! My little baby who, this time last year, was barely moving, has now grown up and is an active toddler, a really cheerful little girl who can fend for herself and chitter chatter with me to her heart's content. Here's a quick look back at the fun of 2010.

I returned to work after maternity leave. Lara settled in with her new childminders and I set to work losing that baby weight. I also stopped breastfeeding Lara.

after a few weeks of sensible eating and getting back into the pre-baby routine, I managed to lose my baby weight. Work was going well and life was pretty damn fantastic.


Lara entered into the magical world of finger foods AND she started to crawl.

We shoved all of our belongings in storage and put the house on the market - gulp!

Lara took her first steps and the world would never be the same again! The teething trials really took their toll on Lara this month. I got nominated as a finalist in the MADs awards for the best baby blog.


We spent a great 10 days in New York for my little sister's wedding celebration and Lara's first birthday.


Lara learned to walk unaided - a proud mummy moment. We got to visit the Christmas In July previews, which Lara loved. I also took a trip to Germany to see how the new Pampers Active Fit nappies are made.


We spent an amazing week in Switzerland with family. Sunshine, Mountains, Lakes, Ice cream... what else could you ask for?

I took a roadtrip to the MADs and my new blog, ParentWheels was born.

We finally, after many long months of legal wrangling, moved into our lovely new home. A new beginning for the mellow family. Lara started to develop a devilish attitude and tested my mellowness to the max.

We took a trip with Owners Direct to the Cotswolds - very mellow. We'd love to do it again some time soon.

After a quick trip to Center Parcs, we spent Christmas with our families and Lara REALLY enjoyed opening all of her presents. It's amazing how the magic of Christmas returns when you have children.
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