Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Which double buggy is best??



Double the trouble... 

So this summer we had the unenviable task of choosing a double buggy - suitable for a newborn and a nearly-2-year-old. Living in London means space is a massive premium but so is ease-of-use as I use public transport a lot and like to be out and about. 

There are a LOT of doubles out there - front/back, side/ side, top/bottom - and any other crazy combination of these combined. In the end we took the simple way out with a visit to Kiddicare and choosing their newest (and handily cheapest!) double - Kiddicare Codi Tandem Pixel Olive (click here to view).

But for what was a pretty impulsive buy, I couldn't be happier. It has ended up being perfect for what we need. Here's why:

1. It's narrow

As the seats are behind each other it is the same width as a single buggy. So no problems with getting it through doors, in/out of shops, fitting on the bus etc. And don't you always feel really sorry for the "underneath" child in the stacked buggies like Phil'n'Teds with their bottom scraping on the kerb?! Or for the "on top" child once the underneath one realises they can kick upwards... no problems like that with this buggy :)


2. The toddler likes it

D is now vocal enough that we would know if something did not get his seal of approval... Luckily this one does. 

Perfect for firing a bubble gun from :)
 
3. The baby is well-protected

Iz lies at the back, nearest to me and well covered from the elements. It's almost like a little cocoon which is definitely a plus when trying not to over-stimulate a baby!

And you don't need to buy all the other "extras" that seem mandatory with other brands - carrycots, cocoons, adapters etc - as it lies flat and has a padded insert included. You just need the buggy :)

Snug as a bug in a rug :)

4. The "spy holes"

There are 2 transparent windows - one for me and one for the toddler. D can turn around and spy through his to see what his little sister is doing (but without the ability to poke her!) - he loves reporting to me "ssshhhhhhush" when she's sleeping! And I have one in the hood of the back seat so I can check on Iz without having to stop pushing the buggy and peer in from the front. Even better - my one is covered with a black canvas flap so it doesn't let light in on the baby unless you lift it up.


5. It's not garishly designed

Some people love crazily coloured buggies. I don't. So the simple colouring appeals. And I can even tell myself that the black/white check design is helping stimulate Iz's visual development... bonus!


6. The in-built toddler handle

I have to confess I did not discover this - my toddler found it himself and just started holding it. Not sure if that reflects positively on him or negatively on me! 

Clever toddler!

7. It's very easy to fold up and open

No more to really say here - it's an umbrella fold.


8. It is one of the cheapest options out there

Enough said - babies are expensive enough!!


9. And lastly, it's a physical workout

Ok so some might see the fact that it is heavy and front-heavy when the toddler is in situ as a negative, but I beg to differ. It's the perfect workout to burn off all the extra chocolate-calories that I consume daily during breastfeeding marathons. And much cheaper than the gym :)

And it has passed the all-important test. I am able to get on and off a London bus on my own with it. Perfect. 

Successfully all on a bus :)

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So are there any cons?

If I'm being picky my three complaints are:
- the basket is pretty small (the rain cover takes up about a third of the space)
- the canopy covering the baby does not fully cover her so the sun can hit her face - but that easily solved by draping a muslin over :)
- the toddler front seat doesn't recline at all. But if it did then the baby would be crushed... So sorry D but your little sister takes priority on that one!

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PS I didn't receive anything for writing this review - Kiddicare don't even know I've written it. We are just really pleased with it :)


Creative play (4)



This month we've done some super-messy play and some super-clean-and-simple play. Take your pick and let me know which one you enjoy doing most :)

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Whatever-is-out-of-date play

Ok so this one may not be very imaginatively named but it gives you a pretty good idea of the concept right from the start!

Disclaimer: this may not work well in an organised tidy house. You need a slightly disorganised chaotic kitchen where "use by" dates can come and go and *may* not get noticed straight away...

So this is what out-of-date stuff I found when tidying up our "baking" cupboard. 
- flour
- assorted decorating bits & pieces
- food colouring

Use whatever you have lying around and won't use in baking

This was very easy to setup. I poured flour into our plastic tray, laid out an assortment of decorating pieces, put some plastic animals/toys out and filled a pipette with food colouring and a small watering can with water. Set up done...

Initially it wasn't too messy. Doof enjoyed taking the flour and building it up into mountains. He then delicately dropped the little silver balls in a line and watched them sinking into the flour. Next the animals joined in the fun...


After that it got much more messy! It was the first time we'd used a pipette in our messy play so I had to show D how to squeeze the end. After that there was red everywhere... (my top tip - definitely wipe your kid's hands as soon as they leave the messy play area if you've been using food colouring!!). Next he loved using his mini watering can and sprinkling water all over the flour mountains. Once I gave him a spoon there was lots of mixing and a big mixture of floury gloop created. This was the perfect "quicksand" for his toy dinosaurs :)

D even had a friend join him for a bit this time :)
 
Quick note about the clear up... I found the easiest way to dispose of it all at the end was to actually add a bit more water so it formed one solid lump which could then go in the bin. 


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And for a less messy option...

Pipe cleaner play

I first saw this idea on Adventures of Adam blog and loved the simplicity of it. I was a bit sceptical though as it did look a bit too good to be true - that something so simple could hold D's attention - maybe Adam was just a very quiet well-behaved boy?

Well Doof LOVED it! We bought some multi-coloured pipe cleaners, pulled our colander out of the cupboard and that was it... away he went!


To start with he much preferred pulling them out as he found threading them in quite tricky. Now however he enjoys trying to feed them through and holes and then picks up the colander to see where they are appearing on the other side. I love watching his mind at work as he figures out how and why things happen :)

Since then we've "played" this game several times - thanks Adam!


Monday, 22 September 2014

Toddler cooking (5)



If you've read any of my previous "Toddler cooking" posts you'll know I love cooking with Doof but it's great to discover new recipes - especially ones I can make with him. So I was very excited to see the "Kids in the kitchen" linky and (despite missing the first 4 weeks!) realise I could still join in.

This week is 'snacks' and so Doof and I made something that combines two of his favourite things - marmite and cheese. I like to do recipes with him where he can do at least 80% of it on his own (although heavily supervised!!) but ideally 100% which is why the fruit pancakes were perfect. As he's only 21 months though this does mean our recipes are quite simple :)
 
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Marmite pinwheels

Toddler age: 21 months

Ingredients: Ready-to-roll short crust pastry, marmite, mild cheddar, water

Equipment: Cheese grater, knife (& toddler-safe one), paintbrush, baking tray, baking paper, ramekin dish, teaspoon

What you need


Recipe:

1. Put a spoonful of marmite in the ramekin dish and mix with a small amount of water until it becomes a thickish paste which easily drips off your spoon
2. Unroll the pastry and "paint" one side with the marmite paste, leaving about an inch clean on one edge. We found a clean paintbrush was perfect for this :)
3. Sprinkle grated cheese over the marmite layer (the even-ness of this depends on your toddler!)
4. Paint the clean inch (left in step 2) with a little water
5. Roll up the sheet, finishing with the water edge which will help to deal the roll
6. Cut into slices
7. Put each slice onto a lined baking tray and Cook at 160 degrees (fan) for about 10-15 minutes 

D demonstrating how easy it is :)

What did Doof enjoy doing?

- stirring and spreading the marmite mix
- sprinkling (and eating!) the cheese
- rolling up the filled pastry
- arranging the "wheels" on the baking tray 

What was Doof not interested in or unable to do?

- I didn't let him grate the cheese (although I suspect he probably could make a decent attempt at it) as I didn't fancy any grated fingers in our pinwheels... I think he's still too young as even though dexterity-wise he might be capable, that doesn't mean I think it's safe for him
- cut the whole roll into "wheels". He wanted to do it and did try but the blunt toddler-safe knife ended up just squashing the pastry rather than slicing it!
- putting the tray in or out of the oven


If he's willing to let his ice lolly melt then it must be good...


These were a real success and I felt they were a more healthy snack option than when we'd made chocolate nests or the marshmallow pizza

They did end up quite large though (even for an adult, so definitely for a toddler!) so next time I'd cut the pastry sheet in half so when rolled up it's only half as big. And I might also try a tomato paste with vegetables and cheese as a "main course" option.



Friday, 19 September 2014

Reasons I love the "Baby spa"



So after this blog post on childrenarewelcome was published there were lots of positive comments, but also several negative ones on Twitter from people who thought it looked "cruel" or "dangerous". Having taken both my children there (the youngest still goes) I don't think it is either and here are my top 5 reasons why I love it there :)

1. It saved my sanity

I first discovered the spa when Doof was 4 weeks old. In the first 4 weeks of his life we'd spent more time in hospital than at home (having had 3 separate admissions) and I was feeling rubbish. Breastfeeding was soooo hard (later I found out that was due to his then-undiagnosed posterior tongue tie) - more painful than labour and with every feed lasting over 30 minutes, and him wanting to feed every 2 hours. So it pretty much dominated my life, my thoughts, my whole day... He wasn't gaining weight and I was crying before each feed (in anticipation of the pain), during (because of the pain) and after (yep the pain continued for about 30 minutes afterwards!). And then I came to the Baby Spa. I can't pinpoint what exactly it was, but out of the unhurried environment, the quiet dimly-lit room where you could breastfeed before and after the swim/massage, the relaxing music playing, the other mothers you met going through the same things and the approachable knowledgeable staff, something right then and there during our first visit saved my sanity. And that is why I came back the second time. And then the third, and then kept coming back after that.


2. My babies enjoy it

Ok so Iz is a bit young to be able to tell me yet (although she doesn't cry which in my mind means it can't be bad!!) but when Doof used to go he was old enough you could tell. When we arrived in the front door and he recognised where we were he'd smile and laugh. When he was in the pool he would smile, swim over to say hi, then spin around and swim off to look at some toys.

Is this the face of a baby being subjected to intolerable cruelty?!
Sssshhh I'm enjoying my massage...
 
3. Anything that might help sleep is worth a try IMHO

Except cry-it-out. Or enforced feeding schedules... Parents have reported all sorts of benefits including less colic and better sleeping.With the possibility of these benefits on top of the other 4 reasons? Win win!!

This is priceless...

4. Relaxed mum = relaxed baby

There is no time pressure - if your baby is hungry and wants a feed when it's their appointment time then no problem, they will wait. If your baby gets hungry after the swim then no problem, you can sit and feed them before their massage. If your bus breaks down and then next one already has 2 buggies on so you have to wait for the 3rd one... (true story!) and so are really late for your appointment, no problem - they'll fit you in when you arrive. All this means that even though (sadly) as a grown up you don't get any of the spa treatments you still come away feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Arghhhhhh relaxed post massage

5. The staff are lovely

Finally I'm a firm believer that people make the experience and everyone at the Baby Spa is welcoming, friendly and genuinely caring, from the receptionist to all the spa "therapists". And I've never been anywhere where the owner is always there and so 'hands on'. Nothing is too much trouble for Laura to do for your baby. She genuinely cares for and about them.
 
Laura with Doof

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For me numbers 1 and 2 are the most important. Any extra health benefits are great but my sanity and my baby's happiness is what it's all about (in my opinion anyway!) :)

Toddler cooking (4)



It's been a while since our last cooking post (possibly related to the arrival of the Doofling a few weeks ago...) but we made these today and they were perfect for making together - very easy, quick AND healthy :)

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3 ingredient pancakes

Strictly these are 2-ingredient-pancakes with added fruit as the third ingredient. How simple is that?!
They take less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish (although by letting a toddler help we stretched it out over half an hour!)  and are super healthy.


Toddler age: 22 months 

Ingredients: 1 egg, 1 banana, large handful of blueberries (account for the number your toddler will munch during the mixing stage...!), oil for cooking

Equipment: mixing bowl, whisk, toddler knife and fork, frying pan, spatula

Recipe:
1. Mash banana up with a fork
2. Whisk egg in separate bowl and then add banana
3. Mix in blueberries (optional - or add a different fruit)
4. Heat up oil in frying pan and add a dollop (scientific huh?!) of mix
5. Cook for a few minutes on each side until light brown
6. Eat and enjoy :)


  
What did Doof enjoy doing?
- slicing up and then mashing the banana
- whisking the egg 
- mixing in the fruit
- supervising the cooking from his highchair ;)

What was Doof not interested in or unable to do?
- he needed some help to fully mash the banana and evenly mix in with the egg
- he's too young to help with cooking over an open flame (in my opinion)




I was amazed at how easy and delicious these were (especially when still warm). The above amounts made 6 palm-sized ones which we quickly gobbled up! I think I am going to make these regularly at weekends now – they will be a yummy addition to breakfast and in the future will be such an easy way to introduce egg to Iz when she’s weaning (something I struggled with when Doof was at the same stage as he hated scrambled egg and that was the only mushy healthy food I could think of!).

Next time we might try strawberries or raspberries as the third ingredient, or even something more exotic like pomegranate :)


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What Iz loved - August 2014





Here is what Iz loved this month…

1 - Getting *out* of her first bath
2 - Sleeping
3 - Her first car ride
4 - Being born
5 - Doing a naked and not-so-naked photoshoot
6 - Meeting her big brother
7 - Post boob cuddles

You can see what her brother liked doing here :)

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If you want to do your own "What baby/toddler loved" then link up with Rachel @dinkythinks - you can see her latest post here :)


What Doofy loved - August 2014





Here is what Doofy loved this month…

1 - Looking after his new sister
2 - Cooking with daddy
3 - Suddenly being very grown up now there's a baby in the house
4 - Dressing up as a dinosaur
6 - Footprint art (blog post coming soon)
7 - The park

You can see what his sister liked doing here :)

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If you want to do your own "What baby/toddler loved" then link up with Rachel @dinkythinks - you can see her latest post here :)