Thursday, 29 August 2013

Before the Baby ♥ M&S

When it comes to baby basics it doesn't get better than Marks and Spencers. I've tried pretty much every other high street shop's bodysuits, and on quality, design and price, M&S beats everyone else hands down. I still love Mini-Boden for their prints, and H&M for their stylish separates, but day-to-day, I'm all about M&S. Here's a few of my current favourites available on their website.

P.S. In no way did M&S pay for this feature - I'm a genuine fan.

More posts like this one:
✽ Favourite Toys - Ivo at 14 weeks
✽ A Secret for Saving Money on Stokke Products

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Gorgeous City Jogger Livy Luloo Liners

Before having my baby, I had no idea how prams could be desirable. Even now, as I type that, I feel slightly foolish, but it's true. I get pram-envy when I see Bugaboo Cameleons, even though I'm happy with my Stokke Xplory and Baby Jogger City Mini {for travel} prams. So you can imagine it doesn't take much to encourage me to want to pimp my prams with fabulous accessories. I've even got a coffee holder for my Stokke! That's why I was so excited to try out the Livy Luloo Liners for my Baby Jogger City Mini. They come in several lovely designs - Jennifer sent me the blue star {reversable} one, and a great grey spot one as well. So I swapped our John Lewis lambskin liner for the blue stars, and it's fantastic! The liners are really well made, and look expensive, plus they're easy to throw in the washing machine if your little one has an accident. Putting them on the pram feels a bit like putting on a new outfit - I can't wait to try out the grey spots!

{I want one} Livy Luloo Liners, £34

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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Baby Clothes - 5 Things Not To Buy

Before my baby was born, I made a few little forays into buying baby clothes. Not too many, because I'd inherited an entire wardrobe from my nephew, but just enough to dip my toe in the market. The truth was, I had no idea what to buy. In fact, when I was about 8 months pregnant, I suddenly realised I didn't even know what babies wear. I mean obviously they wear bodysuits and sleepsuits, but did they wear them at the same time? And what about socks? So I Googled it, and luckily I'm not the first first-time mother to ask the question! However, I definitely bought a few things that never got used - so here is my list of five things not to buy a newborn. P.S. Forward this article to your friends before your baby shower!

 Jumpers or Cardigans with Hoods 
I was always paranoid that my baby would somehow manage to suffocate the moment my back was turned. Hoods just create too much material, and if it's that cold, it's easier to put a hat on them.

 Expensive Cashmere Anything 
We bought this gorgeous French C de C jumper in the sale for £20. But every time I came to put it on him, it wasn't the right time. It was either time to feed him {too dribbly}, or time for him to go to sleep {too hot}. So in the end, it never got worn. The same would count for leggings. One explosive poo, and it's all over.

 Sleepsuits with Poppers Down The Back 
Would you like to lie on a line of poppers? Nope, didn't think so. Unless they popper up the front, they're not going to get worn. Sleepsuits with poppers at the bottom are also slightly annoying, as you have to drag so much material over your baby's head before you can do them up.

 Anything with Lots of Tiny Buttons 
Admittedly newborns don't wriggle that much when you're changing them, but they soon get the hang of squirming at the wrong moment. And they often cry on the changing mat. So you want clothes that are easy to do up, and in the world of baby clothes, poppers are king.

 Scratch Mittens 
They don't stay on. The only option for covering scratchy nails is sleepsuits with special foldable sleeves. My favourites are these Mothercare Sleepsuits.

More posts like this one:
✽ Favourite Toys - Ivo at 14 weeks
✽ A Secret for Saving Money on Stokke Products

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Monday, 26 August 2013

Beautiful Newborn Baby Portraits

These incredible shots make me miss the early days of Ivo's life, when everything seemed so fragile and tender. Now he's a great chunky boy! Lily Sawyer is a master of taking portraits of newborns -I love how she captures their wrinkled sweetness. I'd forgotten how long it takes for babies to unfold, you can see this little boy's legs are still folded up in the foetal position. And the perspective on the final picture is particularly poignant. A gorgeous shoot! Take a look at more of Lily's baby portraits and wedding photography.

More posts like this one:
✽ A Portrait of a Birth by Caught the Light

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Saturday, 24 August 2013

This Week's Best Baby Blog Links

Over on my wedding blog I do a collection of the best wedding blog articles that I've discovered each week, so I thought it only fair I share my brilliant baby finds as well! There's tonnes of amazing mummy blogs out there, all packed with fantastic ideas and advice, so be sure to look out for this feature every Sunday for some fabulous weekend reading. I like to save all my favourite blogposts using Bloglovin. That way you can collect everything ready for a good read once the children are napping. Sign up here if you're interested, and be sure to add Before the Baby!

A fab DIY animal stamp for kid's stationery. Perfect for party invitations and thank you cards!

 A 'Ready to Pop' themed baby shower packed with stealworthy ideas

 A decadent Gnome themed 4th birthday party

 Six fun DIY alphabet projects

✿ This whole series on Parenting Around the World by Cup of Jo is amazing! Check out 13 Surprising Things About Parenting in Congo for an astonishing revelation about women and beards....

 Worried that Aden + Anais muslin swaddles are too expensive? Upgrade your simple white ones with these three tutorials for hand-dyed swaddles

 Love these maternity clothes

 What to put on your baby registry

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Friday, 23 August 2013

My Five Favourite Baby Apps

An iPhone app helped me get pregnant {!} so it should come as no surprise that I was keen to find out which applications would help me most with looking after my baby. There's a fantastic selection out there, offering everything from breastfeeding advice, to sleep timers, photo diaries and feed logs. Ivo's now four months old, and my iPhone's never far from my hand, so here are my five favourite baby apps, plus some honourable mentions.

✿ iBaby Feed, {£1.99} - Our baby was in hospital for the first week of his life, and the midwives kept track of his every feed, nappy and sleep on his chart. It was essential he got enough milk, and once we were allowed to take him home, I needed somewhere to record his feeds. iBaby worked brilliantly. I record every minute of breastfeeding and ml of formula, along with his dirty nappies. The log is simple and easy to use, and you can analyse your baby's data on fantastic graphs. Some days I worry {unnecessarily} that he hasn't taken enough milk. The graphs reassure me that he's had the same as the day before. A life-saver for those bleary early weeks when you don't get enough sleep, and you can't remember your name, let alone which breast from which your baby last fed.

Baby Centre My Baby Today {FREE} - While I was pregnant I loved the Baby Centre My Pregnancy Today application, so I happily upgraded to My Baby Today after Ivo was born. This fantastic app gives you cheerful day-by-day advice. The tone is just right, and I've loved the game suggestions. Sometimes it's hard to know how to play with your newborn, and they have several great ideas, that have helped my son develop key skills, like standing with support.

✿  Collect Every Day Photo Diary {FREE} - This calendar photo app reminds me to take a daily picture of my baby, so I can track each and every one of the precious early days. My aim is to use this app as a diary of all his early milestones - from smiling, to rolling, and eventually crawling and walking! I didn't actually download this app until last week, and I've spent the last few days going through all my pictures and allocating them to their dates in the calendar. If you want to do the same, it's worth downloading Photo Date {FREE}, as it pulls up the date and time data from your iPhone pictures. 

✿ Amazon, {FREE} - This app saved me from having to make trips to the shops for everything from nappies to bottle-teats and toys. The Prime service meant that anything I ordered came directly to my front door the next day. They've never let me down, and they're usually cheaper than everyone else. Can you tell I'm a big Amazon fan?!

✿ iBooks, {FREE} - Breastfeeding is seriously time-consuming! And while it's lovely to bond with your baby by gazing into their eyes, sometimes they're half-asleep, or just happily noshing. This is when iBooks comes into its own. Buy a good junky novel, and swipe away, turning the pages on your iPhone. So much lighter than a real book, and much easier to handle, it even glows in the dark for those night-time feeds next to your husband. I recommend the Twilight books for some seriously disposable fiction, but you could also download parenting books like those by Gina Ford.

White Noise, {FREE} - In the early days, this app was a key tool in helping Ivo get to sleep, particularly when we were staying at friends' houses. You can choose various sounds - we preferred the fan - and once it's playing, it drowns out other external noises. A complete life-saver if your bedroom happens to be next door to the kitchen, or overlooking a noisy street. You can leave it to turn itself off after a set time, and although it drains your battery a bit, it's not particularly thirsty.

Other honourable mentions

 Facebook & Instagram, {both FREE}- For keeping up with all those friends you don't see anymore! And for posting pictures of your gorgeous new baby.

✿ MailOnline, {FREE} - It's not right, and it's not okay, but it's the most amazing app ever for naughty gossip. Another great late-night breastfeeding read. You could always balance it with BBC News or the Guardian apps, to feed your brain.

Spotify, {FREE or £9.99 a month} - This brilliant app is the only way to listen to music. Instead of buying albums, we've just signed up to the subscription service {£9.99 a month}, and we can listen to pretty much any song we want, for free. You can either stream them directly from the internet, or choose to download them onto your phone. What's particularly fantastic from a baby point of view, is that they have tonnes of nursery rhyme albums, so you can listen along, and in my case, learn the words again!

More posts like this one:
✽ Favourite Toys - Ivo at 14 weeks
✽ A Secret for Saving Money on Stokke Products

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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Whimsical Old-School Rag Dollies

My nursery is packed to the brim with Lamaze, but I'm a huge fan of the more traditional toys, and rag dolls are up there with my favourites. Take a look at these lovely handmade cuties by The Busl Barn. Shop-owner, Michelle sews each one out of recycled cotton scrap fabric, choosing the perfect combination of dress-colour and trim. Buy a ready-made doll, or commission a custom design created to match your little girl's eye and hair colour. You can imagine them as future family heirlooms!

More posts like this one:
La Grande Famille Farmyard Toys

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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Mother & Baby Portrait Session At Home

Somehow I still haven't got round to organising baby portraits for Ivo! Several friends have offered, but it's proven ridiculously hard to organise our diaries. Personally I'm not too keen on stylised portraits, where you dress up babies in special outfits, or give them props. For me, the best pictures show a baby in his or her natural habitat. That's why I'm thrilled to feature these pictures of six-month old Jessica and her mum Emma, by Jo Hone Photography. Jo's been taking photos for the family since Emma's first child, Molly, was born a three years ago. For this shoot, she just popped round, and took shots of Jessica playing at home. I love the natural light, and relaxed mood - Jessica looks cute and curious, and distinctly mischievous. A real character!

More posts like this one:
A Portrait of a Birth by Caught the Light

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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

My Top 6 Baby Bathing Products

How often do you bath your baby? We've made it part of our evening routine since Ivo was a three weeks old, and it's amazing to see how much he loves his baths. He's happy as soon as his feet hit the water, and now he's learning how to splash with his hands and feet. There's a crazy amount of baby cleaning products on the market - we were given lots as gifts, and a few have stuck as favourites. Here's a list of my top six favourite baby bathing products - what are yours?

{I want this!} Clockwise from top left

1. Cologne and Cotton Hooded Baby Towel, {currently on sale}, £13.50 - This gingham-edged towel was a baby shower gift, and it's proved super-useful. Ivo looks so cute when we hook the hood over his head, and it makes for easier drying and quicker cuddling as we hoik him out of the bath.

2. Organic Babies Mum & Baby Rescue Balm, £9.70 - This thick balm is perfect for soothing dry skin, and we've been using it on Ivo's knees and elbows, and in the creases of his cubby thighs! It has a lovely texture, and 91% of the ingredient are organic, so you can be sure there's no nasties going into your baby's skin. We also use the Organic Babies Baby Wash & Shampoo in the bath.

3. Mamas & Papas Acqua Two Stage Ergo Bath, £28.50 - we inherited this from my sister, and it's the best baby bath ever! After a few weeks Ivo could sit in it without any other support, so he could relax back and experiment with the feel of the water. At four months we're still using it - it's less back-breaking than trying to support him in the big bath.

4. Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream, £2.33 - Good old Sudacrem - a nursery isn't a nursery without a pot of this old stalwart. We use it to prevent nappy rash, and as a barrier cream on Ivo's neck when he got a rash from dribbled milk.

5. Boots Whale Baby Thermometer, £3.99 - We started by testing the water with our elbows, but we always disagreed about whether it was too hot or not! So this cheap and cheerful thermometer has saved us from squabbling. The easy-to-read tape gives you a tick or a cross if the water's too hot or too cold, and it's a cute toy for little hands to grab.

6. Neal's Yard Baby Gift Box, £25 - My godmother gave us this set as a present, and we've loved the natural, organic products. We use the body wash in the bath, the flannel to keep his tummy warm, and the oil for baby massage, and on his head to help with cradle cap.

More posts like this one:
Favourite Toys - Ivo at 14 weeks

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Monday, 19 August 2013

Pimp Your Nappy Bag Jungle-Style

It's a daily necessity, but it doesn't need to be boring. Your nappy bag, or diaper bag in the States, is a must-carry for any mother-on-the-go. So brighten it up with these gorgeous giraffe and elephant-themed accessories. Whether it's a nappy wallet {for quick trips}, a dummy purse, or a stylish changing pad, add a touch of design-spark to the daily grind!

{Product Credit} Nappy Bag & Changing Pad {Diaper bag} by Bag Envy, £69

{Product Credit} Nappy Wallet by Mishmash Designs, £16.40

{Product Credit} Baby Change Mat by Mishmash Designs, £16.40

{Product Credit} All-in-one Changing Kit, by Dundry Hill, £22

{Product Credit} Dummy Purse {Pacifer Pouch} by Bag Envy, £6.56

More posts like this one:
My Nursery Giraffe Obsession

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Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Perfect Kids Furry Ear-Muffs

It might be August, but these earmuffs made me want to start preparing for winter already! Pink, furry and cuter than pie, you need them in your daughter's wardrobe. Handmade by Rainbow Mittens in Latvia, they're £23 and perfect. {They even come in adult sizes if you want to match!}.

More posts like this one:
Cute Pairs of Bodysuits for Twins

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Friday, 16 August 2013

Stylish Spelling Toys

My grandmother claims my uncle could read when he was two, so the pressure is on for my baby! Even if we're not planning to hot-house him into a genius, it's never too early to get your little one familiar with the shapes of letters and numbers. That's why I love these magnetic letters made out of different patterned fabrics. They're cute, whimsical and educational, all rolled up into one. Made by Janee for her mini-boutique Yellow Bird Yellow Beard, they cost £40. Janee also sells number sets for the up-and-coming maths genius in the family!

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