Mellow Mummy: December 2013 : Taking life as it comes...

Monday 30 December 2013

The Leerdammer Toastie Challenge

Leerdammer cheese slices are one of my little guilty secrets; neither Mr. B. nor the girls get particularly excited about cheese and I will, quite often, indulge in an entire packet of Leerdammer cheese slices myself of a weekend!  Leerdammer have a new addition to their range - Leerdammer Toastie.  These new cheese slices are billed as the ultimate cheese-toastie-making slice so I put them to the test with a few innovative toastie recipes.  I shall admit a small amount of guilt for having not introduced my daughters to the joys of a toasted sandwich before now - I think I've put that right now though!

Leerrdammer toastie slices are designed to fit perfectly into a standard loaf with no overlap so that there is less leakage!  The slices are thicker than normal to try and make a really nice thick and creamy texture inside your toastie.  I started off with these cheese, parma ham, fig and honey toasties inspired by a pizza I once ate in Paris!

I spread a thin layer of honey on the bread before layering on the cheese, strips of parma ham and quarters of small fresh figs.  I was really surprised that both Lara and Holly enjoyed their first taste of figs in these toasties and I thought that they were a delightful mix of sweet and savoury.

Next up is Mr. B's favourite of my toastie experiments - cheese, chorizo and Jalepeño peppers.

These mexican-inspired cheese toasties are so moreish and a my perfect pick-me-up on a cold day as the fun spiciness helps warm you all the way through.  A layer of Leerdammer Toastie cheese is sprinkled with thin slices of spicy chorizo pork sausage and pickled spicy Jalepeño peppers which have been drained of their liquid - I think these toasted sandwhiches work best with TWO slices of Leerdammer to really bind the ingredients together.

Leerdammer Toastie is available from most supermarkets for about £1.75 for a pack of 6 slices.  I was sent a couple of packets and a sandwich toaster to help me create my inventions!

Saturday 28 December 2013

Pur-Flo Sleep Sack Review

Just before Christmas, we were sent the PurFlo Sleepsac to try out - the timing was perfect.  This is a really spacious sleeping bag with plenty of room for a wiggly Holly and it arrived at a time when our house was particularly chilly and our daughter was particularly fidgety in her cot.

The PurFlo Sleepsac is a sleeping bag available in a number of different sizes from newborn right up to around 3 years old (110cm).  Holly tried out the 9-18 months size in a 2.5 tog weight which is good for a bedroom or nursery that is around 10-20 degrees at night time (it also comes in a 1.0 tog rating for warmer nights).  If your child suffers from chilly arms when they are asleep in a sleeping bag then you'll be pleased to know that the PurFlo Sleepsac comes with nifty detachable zip-on arms.

The Sleepsac zips up from the top, down the body in a diagonal line and then across the bottom of the feet.  It is by far the easiest sleeping bag I've used when it comes to getting Holly in and out of it.  There is a good level of protection around the base of the zip at the top so that it doesn't rub against her chin when she is asleep and the zips for the arms are well tucked away so she can't feel them.

The beauty of the PurFlo sleeping bag is that it designed to be both anti-allergenic and anti-bacterial.  The outer fabric is 100% cotton but the lining is 100% bamboo which has anti-bacterial properties and is far more absorbent than cotton in the event of an accident (or sweatiness!).  The filling is made from PurFlo's anti-allergenic Amicor which prevents build up of bacteria building up after several nights of use and dispels dust mites which are linked to both Asthma and Eczema.

The PurFlo Sleepsac comes in either plain colours or these gorgeous embroidered designs in a range of colours.  We love this neutral giraffe design as it literally could have been made for our nursery (which is painted in neutral colours and decorated with African animals!).  The embroidered SleepSac costs between £29.95 and £46.95 depending on size - I think they are worth every penny.


Friday 27 December 2013

Infacare Ultra Mild Baby Bath Review

In recent months Holly has developed the same dry skin and mild ezcema on her arms that her older sister has suffered with since she was a baby.  This means we had started to avoid bubble bath at bath time once again.  Infacare asked us to try out their mild baby bath which has a new bottle design and a refreshing new fragrance that is gentle and mellow.

Infacare is pH balanced so shouldn't dry out skin, even for tiny little babies and it is recommended by midwives as suitable for very delicate baby skin.

Our Infacare bottle is a massive 750ml bottle which is a bargain at £2.99 from Boots and supermarkets.  We only needed to use a teeny tiny amount of the baby bath to fill our bath with bubbles (much to the girls delight) and I think this bottle will last us for AGES.

I found the scent to be very mild and, on a big full-sized bath I felt it was a little lost.  I would imagine that in a smaller baby bath that the floral scent would be perfect, it certainly does evoke memories of childhood and would make a tiny baby smell scrumptious and fresh!

I'm pleased with Infacare - both of my girls are still struggling with their eczema but I think that has a lot to do with the time of year (woolly jumpers and central heating don't do great things for sensitive skin) and the best I can do is to look for a bubble bath and baby shampoo that won't further irritate their skin - Infacare manages this well.  For me the best thing if the smile on Lara's face when she gets into a bath so full of bubbles because this has been a very unusual experience for her these past 4 years - most sensitive skin baby washes don't offer the same level of bubbles that Infacare does.  I would say that there are still a few ingredients in Infacare, such as the SLS responsible for all of those bubbles, that could irritate skin as it isn't an all-natural product but I think it is an affordable product that is certainly worth a try if your baby is prone to dry or irritated skin as there are different triggers for different babies.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry "Mellow" Christmas

To all my lovely readers and followers, 

I'd like to take this chance to thank you all for visiting Mellow Mummy in 2013.  

I hope you have a very Mellow Christmas.

Monday 23 December 2013

A Card for Father Christmas

This weekend Lara and Holly has a bit of a Christmas crafts-fest. The girls were making cards for Father Christmas to enter into the Furniture Choice Christmas Card Competition.

Lara used almost every piece of craft material available to her to make her masterpiece (on the left).  Her card features a self-portrait (complete with belly button... it is the details that matter), a pom-pom, lots of stickers made by her Grandma and a sprinkling of cut-out snowflakes that she stamped herself with a hole punch.  For reasons I can't quite explain, Lara's card also featuresd a lot of gold glitter glue, apparently in the shape of the letter G because Father Christmas will 'never believe' that she can write a 'g' in script?!?!

The card on the right is from Holly to Santa.  Holly loved using the glue stick for sticking on anything that came near her.  Lara felt it was very important that their names were written on the outside of the car as well as the inside so that Father Christmas and Rudolph would know who made each card... so Lara wrote her little sister's name on!

Tomorrow night the two cards for Father Christmas will sit on top of our side board along with our home-made personalised plate and all of the trimmings that will butter Santa up to convince him to leave the girls lots of wonderful Christmas presents.

You still have 24 hours to get your entry into the Furniture Choice Christmas card competition.  Merry Christmas everyone!

The Mellow Christmas Cake 2014

Yesterday Lara and I put our finishing touches to our Christmas Cake. Lara has been with me right from the start of this cake about 7 weeks ago!

Our cake is a Nigella classic - a chocolate fruit cake with coffee liqueur. We used a layer of natural marzipan and then a layer of ready-coloured red fondant icing. I had plans to cut a sleigh and reindeer to cover the top of the cake but after several attempts, I gave up on that idea. This meant that Lara could help me cut all of the pieces using cookie cutters and plastercine cutters! I atached the stars and trees using edible glue.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Born Free Twist'nPop Cup Review

Holly has always been a minx when it comes to drinking (ever since the first hours of her life!) and these days, now that she drinks independently from a cup, things are no different.  Holly demands independence but I simply can't trust her with any cup that has a free flow of liquid - this Twist'nPop cup from Born Free is perfect for her right now as it encourages independence but because it has a straw and a cover it reduces the chance of her pouring the contents all over my sofa.

The Born Free Twist 'n Pop is a large 14oz cup which can last a toddler quite some time.  It has a straw that reaches all the way down to the base of the cup and which has a flexible top to the straw which neatly folds away when you twist the lid closed; this means that when you quickly twist the lid, any chance of a dribble on your carpet or furniture is reduced and it means you can slip the cup into your changing bag to take with you.

Holly got on with the Twist'nPop instantly.  I find it a very good idea to give her a straw cup as it teaches the discipline of holding a cup upright (because the straw doesn't work when you aren't holding it in the water!) which I am sure will be a valuable lesson to learn on the way to drinking from an adult cup with no lid.

I found the Twist 'n Pop a very easy trainer cup to assemble and disassemble.  All of the pieces can go into the dishwasher on the top rack so I place the straw horizontally on the rack.

Holly does still occasionally tip her entire cup upside down and try to shake the water out but barely anything comes out.  I'm hoping that this Born Free trainer cup will be the way to turn her into a sensible drinker who I can trust with a cup of her own.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Very Hungry Caterpillar 2014 Calendar and Make & Play Mask Set Review

To celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the Very Hungry Caterpillar we are trying out some of the brand new line of products that you will see available over the coming months.

First up is this fun Eric Carle Make and Play Mask Set which is available in John Lewis, Argos and Tesco for around £6.99.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Mask Set

Holly and I spent a great afternoon sticking the foam mask sets together.  The pack contains everything you need to create two different Very Hungry Caterpillar masks, one of the caterpillar himself and one of the beautiful butterfly.  Each pack includes the foam pieces, the main mask piece with two holes already made for the elastic to go through.  The pack also includes a PVA glue stick with a lid - I thought that this bit was very well thought out for children and Holly found it very easy to use.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Masks

The two masks took quite a while to dry but once I had threaded the elastics then both girls couldn't wait to wear them.  They've worn them regularly over the past two weeks and they are still going strong!

Very Hungry Caterpillar Calendar

Next up is the Very Hungry Caterpillar 2014 Family Planner which is so much more than a calendar.  Each double page represents a month and there is lots of space on each to record your activities across the month.  At the bottom of each page there is a reward chart area where you can record rewards for upto three children each month.

The calendar comes with a large sheet of re-placeable reward stickers small enough to either fit in these boxes or on the days above.  I think it is a great idea and I will definitely be using it for both of my girls next year - I've already pinned it to the noticeboard in their playroom.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 2014 Family Planner is available from Calendar Club for £9.99.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Calendar Close Up

You can find out more about the Very Hungry Caterpillar anniversary activities on the facebook page

Thursday 19 December 2013

Tips for new parents (like my little sister!) from Mellow Mummy and Britax for how to choose a pushchair

Today I'd like to introduce you to my brand new niece, baby Luna who made a slightly early arrival into the world yesterday.  She simply couldn't wait for Christmas.  I'm so proud of my little sister for having entered into the exciting realms of motherhood and I'm sure I will have lots of words of wisdom to offer her in the coming days, weeks and months.

As a Britax Ambassador, I thought hard about what tips I would offer my own sister for choosing their first pushchair.  In fact, earlier this year she and her husband specifically asked for my advice on how on earth to negotiate the enormous level of choice when it comes to pushchairs.  So what did I recommend?

Well...choosing a pushchair is a tricky business. Britax have a list of ideas to help you go through the thought process:

Think comfort. If you have a newborn baby, your pushchair should have a full lie-back seat unit. Not only is this the most comfortable position for your new arrival, it is also much safer and will help protect the soft bones in their neck whilst you’re on the move.

Think practically. Don’t forget, the needs of a baby and toddler are very different and they soon grow so think hard about whether you need or want to invest in a model that specifically caters for a younger baby.

Think quality. A boisterous toddler (and tired mum) can be heavy handed and you need to look for a pushchair that has good quality features that can stand a good deal of wear and tear.  Will the pushchair be handed down to a new sibling in a couple of year’s time? If so, you should look for a hardwearing fabric that will work for both boys and girls.

Think about your lifestyle. Do you need something lightweight that you can easily get on and off buses? fold up quickly to put in the boot of your car? Carry up a flight of stairs? Do you need a heavy weight pram that you can pound the pavements with? with a large shopping basket for all your food shopping? Everyone's exact combinations of parenting needs different.

Think budget. Can you afford to buy a new buggy as your baby gets older?  Or do you need to make sure you buy a good all-rounder?  If you are planning on passing it down to siblings then you may want to spend a little more the first time to make sure it lasts.

Think storage.  My NUMBER one tip for new parents is to make sure before you buy that the pushchair you choose with fit through your front door (if you want it to!) and fit into the boot of your car with ease.

Earlier this autumn my sister came over from France for a visit and I gave her a whirlwind tour of the main features of a pushchair.  I showed her the Britax B-Motion 4.and told her all the reasons why it suits my lifestyle.  More recently we've had a chance to try the Britax B-Motion 3 which will be going to live with her and lovely Luna when I go to visit them.  I just KNOW the B-Motion 3 is going to be perfect for her too as it is suitable from birth, practical, hard-wearing and compact.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Leappad Ultra Kids Tablet Review

As members of the Leapfrog Blogger Panel we have been excited to try out the Leappad Ultra kids tablet in the run up to Christmas. I should probably point out at this time that Lara has been using a competitor product for the past two years so was quite comfortable with the idea of her own tablet even before we tried the Leappad Ultra.

The Leappad Ultra is a tablet device designed for children from 4 years to 9 years old and I think this age range is quite accurate although I suspect a 9 year old would be wanting to move on to bigger and more grown-up things. For Lara, at age 4 and a half I think it is perfect as it feels like a whole lot of fun for her but almost every interaction with the Leappad is a learning opportunity. The Leappad comes with several out of the box apps and lots of others that you can either download directly to the device, through your PC using the Leapfrog Connect software or by purchase in store or online.

As an owner of a VTech Innotab (and having had the chance to try the Innotab 3 recently) I found it hard not to compare the two so I guess this is a good place for me to start my review.  Honestly, I would say that the Leappad Ultra is a world apart from the Innotab and here are the main reasons why:-

  • The screen size on the Leappad Ultra is a good 7 inch touch screen.  In my experience, small people need a nice big screen with which to interact and the Leappad Ultra is about the same size as many adult tablets - Lara finds it far easier to use.
  • The quality of the downloads is much higher.  While you will still pay a lot for games or stories which feature your child's favourite movie characters, there are plenty of affordable apps available to download and they seem more reliable, more appealing to my daughter and are just generally better formed and less formulaic.  However, I would still say that Android and iOS apps still present a far better value for money and quality for children.
  • Wi-Fi comes as standard on the Leappad Ultra.  It was pretty much stress-free to set up and I'm impressed with the speed and level of connectivity that the device gets around the house.  Lara uses the internet connectivity to access how-to videos and videos of funny cats but I think we have yet to make the most of the wi-fi capabilities for multi-player gaming.
  • The Leappad Ultra comes with a built-in battery and comes with a mains charger.  Both of these things are VERY welcome because otherwise a kids tablet that uses batteries can easily drain your bank balance!!! As it is, I've found the Leappad Ultra to hold its charge very well.
  • I've found the positioning of both the front and back cameras to be very usable for Lara to take photos and I also feel that the navigation buttons are easy to access and use than on the Innotab.  The Leappad Ultra comes with a fun photo studio for 'editing' pictures you take and I think this software produces good (silly) results that make Lara smile.

As is always the case with any piece of tech she tries, Lara most enjoys playing with the art tools on the Leappad Ultra.  The art studio is a good mess-free way of Lara doing what Lara does best... creating!  The Leappad comes with a stylus (attached with a cord) to interact with the screen.

Lara already has a few Leapfrog apps downloaded into an account she has so she has very much enjoyed playing her favourite games on the much bigger screen - Lara's two most played games are Minnie Mouse's Bow-Tique and Team UmiZoomi.  You get three free downloads when you first set up the Leappad Ultra and I chose a mixture of stories and simply maths games.  I've also downloaded Lara a first French lessons series of videos, the first of which has been very successful.

Lots of people ask me, as a techy mummy, whether I would recommend a kids tablet in preference to an adult tablet for a child and until now I had always said no but I think I'm reconsidering my advice.  There is absolutely no doubt that an adult tablet offers a wider choice of applications for children and in many cases more intuitive user interactions and usability (in terms of basic child instincts I think iOS has things just right).  However, for my own 4 year old I wouldn't trust her unsupervised to use my iPad where I would the Leappad Ultra.  The benefits of a tough child-resistant design and the restrictions imposed by the limited types of applications available and the limited web pages and internet resources accessible mean that I would be far happier letting my two girls loose with the Leappad.  However, as Lara grows older and earns more trust and responsibility I think a less restrictive tablet would be more suitable.

Disclosure: As a member of the blogger panel I was sent the Leappad Ultra for review but my opinions are my own and I pride myself on honest feedback


Tuesday 17 December 2013

Koo-di and PurFlo Ambassador


I'm pleased to announce that in 2014 I am going to be a brand ambassador for two baby brands, PurFlo and Koo-di so I will be sharing some of their news and giving my feedback on their brands through reviews and features.

Koo-di are a brand with very close alignment to the Mellow Mummy way of life.  Koo-di believes in designing products for busy parents to make their lives easier (and mellower).  Their bright and colourful designs combine with practical ideas for making parenthood less stressful and more fun!  In the coming weeks I will be reviewing some of their innovative bathtime products for babies, toddlers (and parents).

PurFlo create products to help give you peace of mind in a safe and healthy sleeping environment for your baby or child.  In the past I have heard about PurFlo's innovative washable SleepSurface which provides a healthier alternative to a traditional mattress.  PurFlo are passionate about providing sleep solutions that prevent common childhood conditions such as asthma and ezcema.  I'm looking forward to finding out more about the PurFlo brand.

Monday 16 December 2013

Britax B-Motion 3 Review

Britax B-Motion 3
Britax B-Motion 3

The Britax B-Motion 3 is the latest addition to Britax's lightweight B-Motion series of strollers and as big fans we were given the chance to try out one of these new 3-wheeler strollers.  This was the first time that I had every tried a 3-wheel pushchair and I was astonished at how much of a difference it made to the fluidity of the movement and the freedom that it gave me even when just pootling around the local paths and footways!  I was most impressed at how easy it was to get up and down pavements (and over roots) when you have a single front wheel and a balanced rear suspension!

Britax B-Motion 3 from the side

The B-Motion 3 was phenomenally easy to put together - the three wheels simply clicked into place (and come out easily again should you need them to).  The straps are easy to adjust (although I found them very hard work when I needed to remove them in order to strap on my buggy footmuff the other day) and the 5 point harness is easy and convenient - Holly doesn't grumble when I'm trying to strap her in!

Britax B-Motion 3 from behind

My highlights of the Britax B-Motion 3 are:-

* The handlebar has a good range of height adjustment so both myself and my husband can tailor the handlebar to our own needs quickly.
* The storage space under the buggy is large and easy to get to.
* The foot brake is big and easy to put on and off.  What's more, I trust it (unlike some others I've tried!)
* The B-Motion is suitable from birth right upto 4 years old (17kg) and because of the nice spacious seat and the full back recline I really do believe this.  My older daughter is now 4.5 years old and sill quite happily still sit in this buggy!
* The handlebar has a small raised plastic part to make sure that if you are standing the folded pushchair up on its end, the foam on the handlebar doesn't scratch against the floor - genius!

Britax B-Motion 3 hood

I was very impressed with how easy it was to fold and unfold the B-Motion 3.  I find it a little tricky to ensure that the front wheel is laying flat when I fold it and place it in the car boot but to be honest, even if it isn't fully flat I find the B-Motion very compact in my car boot.

I remain to be convinced about the sun-visor / hood on the B-Motion which does come nice and low over your baby but which has an additional zip-open mesh panel to make it come down to its lowest point and I worry that the sun would get into Holly's eyes.  As it is, I don't think we'll be suffering for the sun much in the coming months and in fact we have now put on our gorgeous red and black buggy cosytoe onto the B-Motion 3; this works very well as the B-Motion has a lovely spacious seat which doesn't feel cramped with a footmuff in it.

Britax B-Motion 3 in car boot

The B-Motion 3 comes with a bumper bar, Britax infant car seat adapters and rain cover as standard.  The B-Motion 3 costs around £249.99 and is available from Mothercare and Kiddicare.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Christmas with the Andrex Puppy

A new pair of snuggly slippers for Christmas is a bit of a luxury and Lara was so lucky to be sent a very snuggly set of festive footwear from our friend the Andrex puppy.

Who wouldn't love a pair of these?

Holly was also sent a cuddly Andrex puppy who she immediately named 'reggie'.  And why not?

Thank you Andrex - Merry Christmas!

Friday 13 December 2013

EasyWalker Mini Stroller Review and Introduction

A little while ago I wrote my review of the Easywalker MINI stroller and today I'm sharing my experience and thoughts as well as a bit of an introduction to the MINI from Easywalker in this video review.  Enjoy!

Snuggly Friend and Storybook Review - Thank you for being my friend

Holly has a new best friend - horse.  At 18 months, Holly isn't that imaginative when it comes to naming her soft toys.  Horse is a friend of BearBear!  Horse came as part of a snuggly friend and story book set from Parragon and Holly was instantly taken with the small soft toy even before she realised that Horse was the main character in a book.

The story book is called Thank you for being my friend.  Horse is in fact called Cleo and she is just a little bit afraid of the dark.  In the story book Cleo mkes friends with Daphne the little yellow duck who helps her to realise that lots of things look scarier in the dark than they really are and that things are more easily dealt with when you have a good friend.

I really liked this little hardback story book - it is a great one for reading to both of my girls (1.5 and 4.5 years old) at bedtime and, unlike many gift books, the picture book does actually have substance.

I thought that the combination of the soft toy to match the story book was a good idea but the horse shape and colour wasn't a good match for the pictures in the book and it isn't the best quality soft toy we have ever owned but Holly instantly bonded with it so she obviously liked it more than I did.  I think the book is likely to get a lot more use and will last us longer than the soft toy.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Cooking with Kids :: Chicken and Mushroom Christmas Crackers

Christmas cookery with kids doesn't have to be all about cakes and sweets.  The new Kids Christmas Cookery App from Great British Chefs has some awesome festive recipes for cooking with children this Christmas such as these Chicken Christmas Crackers which are wrapped in filo pastry to look like festive crackers.

The Chicken Christmas Crackers recipe is one from Michelin-starred chef AlynWilliams and is one of a long list of tempting recipes on the Great British Chefs website which are designed for cooking with or for children.

The recipe is accessible online or through the new iOS app which makes it easy for me to follow when we are in the kitchen without having to plug in my computer on a kitchen work surface!  Our Chicken Christmas Crackers are made with chicken breast, mushrooms, broccoli, onion and creme fraiche all wrapped up in some sheets of filo pastry and brushed with a little butter to make them look all the more tempting.

The Great British Chefs website has easy to follow instructions for cooking them and points out several places in the recipe where it would work well to get your children to help out such as wrapping the crackers or basting them before cooking.

We served our festive Filo Chicken Crackers with salad and a little cranberry sauce (Great British Chefs recomends a paprika and chive sauce which sounds equally yummy.)

Wednesday 11 December 2013

TOMY Gacha Stocking Fillers Review

This year Lara and Holly have had their own special advent calendars filled with fun gifts every morning - these Gacha collectible toys from TOMY have made some wonderful additions to our advent calenders and will also make great stocking fillers.  The Gacha range features lots of family favourite characters such as Hello Kitty, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Transformers, My Little Pony, Mario Bros. and Furby.

I love these little Gacha JakZ plug ins which are cute additions to anything you would normally plug headphones into - they give my phone a personal touch and make it easier to find in the bottom of my handbag.  Lara fancies one of the Furby Jakz for her Leappad.

Gacha toys come in several forms and often come in small individual packets so they make great little gifts or pocket money purchases.

Lara's favourite Gacha toy so far has been this packet which included a heart-shaped My Little Pony compact and a hear-shaped comb for brushing her My Little Pony's hair.  Small toy.  Big impact!

Holly's favourite of the Gacha toys was a pretty impressive one - in her sachet she received two large Hello Kitty hair bobbles AND a Hello Kitty bracelet.  She is a big Hello Kitty fan so this advent calendar surprise put a big smile on her face.

Look out for TOMY Gacha toys in vending machines and in sachets in Tesco for between £1 and £1.50.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Baby Nose Clear Room Vapour and Vapour Rings Review

The past couple of weeks have been very snuffly and hard work for the Mellow family.  A series of colds of different types have swept through the household.  In the evenings I've been trying to get everyone mellow and ready for bed and one of the things that has helped is Baby Nose Clear Room Vapour from 4 Little 1.

Baby Nose Clear room vapour is a natural blend of essential oils that you add to a bowl of warm water and, as the water evapourates it spreads the calming, decongestant vapours through your baby's room.  I have used it in both Holly and Lara's rooms and I would say it was most successful in helping unblock a nose on my younger daughter than my elder one but inversely, the scent seems to have more of a calming effect on Lara.

I have even used Baby Nose Clear room vapour in my own bedroom in an essential oils oil burner with a few drops of water. Even if the scent isn't quite strong enough to unblock my own nose in the evening, I really like the scent and it helps me mellow out after a stressful day at work.

Baby Nose Clear Room Vapour is 100% natural so is a great way of helping a baby or toddler naturally through the symptoms of a cold - it combines pine oils, lemon oil and tea-tree which are all known for their healing, refreshing and restorative properties.

The 4 Little 1 Baby Nose Clear range also features new Vapour-rings which are thin decongestant rings that you place around the top of your baby's bottle as they feed to help release decongestant vapours and aid feeding.

I've tried the Vapour Rings on Holly's MAM trainer cup bottles with mixed results.  The rings come in a pack of three (which are claimed to last for upto 72 feeds) and you simply place them around the teat or spout of your bottle.  They fit most traditional wide-neck bottle brands.  I found them easy to fit and remove again when I needed to clean the bottle and spout.

I wasn't that convinced about the effect of the vapours on Holly though.  Holly is always a minx with drinking and especially so when she is feeling unwell; one of the common signs of a cold in a baby is a loss of appetite because it is hard to feed when your nose is blocked.  Holly seemed even more fussy when she was using her MAM cup with the Vapour ring on it and I put this down to the smell... if you are able to breathe at all then the scent would taint your taste, I even found it a bit weird to be sitting drinking my cup of tea next to her when I first opened the Vapour ring from its packet, I could smell it and 'taste' the air as I drank my tea.

The strength of the natural vapours reduces quite rapidly after opening though which makes the effect less after the first couple of uses.

I remain to be convinced on the Baby Nose Clear Vapour Ring and I think instead I would recommend clearing out your baby's nose before a feed perhaps using a nasal aspirator (or snot sucker as they are more popularly known!!!)

Monday 9 December 2013

Woolly and Tig App Review - #WoollyApp

This week sees the launch of the new Woolly and Tig iOS app for ipad - news that got a resounding "yay" from both of my girls.  We have been testing out the Woolly and Tig app over the past few days and it has already become a favourite with Lara.

The Woolly and Tig app features 6 different games in which you have to help Woolly the spider do everyday things like brush his teeth, wash his face or jump in puddles.  In parent mode you can set a schedule so that your child receives a reminder to do these things on certain days at certain times (although I don't normally let Lara respond to notifications on my ipad... I'm more likely to arrange for her to sit down and play at specific times of day than let an app tell us).

When your child completes one of the games they receive an award to say that they completed it.  Lara enjoyed working her way through each of the games to earn her first reward.

Most of the games require your child to interact with Woolly through gestures on the screen and Woolly issues verbal instructions to explain what to do.  Ordinarily I find toddler and preschool apps like this to respond too easily to user interaction and require little accuracy but the Woolly and Tig app is the inverse.  The games require some quire precise finger gestures such as squeezing a tube or applying a brush to a small area of teeth.  I shall be honest, even I found some of the gestures difficult to get right and my 18 month old gave up quickly.  My 4 year old managed a lot better but did keep asking me for help.

Our current favourite game from the Woolly and Tig app right now is the Fun in the Snow game which requires you to roll balls of snow for a snowman (once again, a pretty tricky gesture for a young child) and then decorate it with your choice of accessories.

The Woolly and Tig app will be launches this week in the apple iTunes app store for £2.99.
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