Thursday, 11 December 2014

My New Mummy Must-Haves

Lots of my girlfriends have either just given birth, or are about to have their first baby in the next six months, and they've all been asking me for advice on my best buys. It's amazing how a truly excellent baby product can make the difference between a sleepless night and a happy baby, and while some of the items below are expensive, they're all well worth the money! I've tried to find the cheapest prices for you, but with only a couple of weeks till the December / January sales, it's probably worth waiting for the bargains!

1. Aden & Anais Swaddles - I've found my second baby, Arthur, a lot harder to settle than my first. For the first few weeks he wouldn't fall asleep unless he was on me. That was until I rediscovered the joys of swaddling. These massive muslins are breathable and slightly stretchy, so they make the perfect snug, but not too tight swaddling wraps. Plus they come with a royal seal of approval, as Prince George was wrapped in one when he left hospital. Four pack, £45 and two pack, £29 of Aden & Anais Swaddles. Click for the full range.

2. Cosy Moses Basket, from £31 - Newborn babies are just so tiny and vulnerable, that their big cots just seem to large and lonely. A cosy Moses basket is a brilliant alternative for the first couple of months {after that they usually grow out of it}. They're super-portable, so you can move your sleeping baby from room to room, and place them right next to your bed at night. I inherited mine from my sister, but bought a new mattress, as recommended by the NHS SIDS guidelines.

3. Gro Anywhere Blind, £23 - Regular readers of the blog will know I'm a massive fan of these stick-on-blinds. They make any room pitch black, and I'm a firm believer that darkness helps babies learn the difference between night and day......which is the first step towards you getting more sleep. I own two, and they're my must have must have!

4. Motorola MBP36 Digital Video Baby Monitor - Never far from my side, this video monitor is the bees knees. You can read my full review here, but believe me, it's the best buy you'll make!

5. Muslins - As a new mum, you can't live without muslins. They're particularly essential for bottle-fed babies, but I'm breast feeding Arthur and I still get through several a day. Buy a variety - you'll want at least a dozen. 12 White Muslins, £14.99, or £4.99 for 3 Christmas muslins {currently half price!}, or splash out on 7 Rainbow Muslins, £28.95 {pictured}

6. Baby Bjorn Bouncer, £119 - It's a pricy option, but out of all the bouncers, this is my favourite. Arthur's learned how to make his bounce all by himself, and the ergonomic design provides proper head and back support from newborn. There's four positions to chose from: play, rest, sleep and flat for easy transport. Arthur seems to prefer sleeping in his bouncer to his bed!

More posts like this one:
 Six Rules for Visiting a New Mother

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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Five Tips on Introducing Your New Baby to a Sibling

Our two boys are only 16 months apart {I know - we're crazy!}. Before Arthur was born, I was really concerned about how Ivo would handle having a new baby brother. He was too young to really understand my bump, so I couldn't really explain anything to him, but I was worried it would rock his little world, and even make him feel replaced *gulp*. I read a couple of books on the best way to introduce the two of them, and noted a few hints I'd like to share. This is what worked for us - please do leave comments with your suggestions. Four months on, Ivo is still very much in the 'coming round to it' stage - so all advice welcomed!

{Photo Credit} Taken by me - this was the exact moment Ivo spotted his new brother! He saw his new toy first.

1. If at all possible, wait till you come home to introduce them. That way your child will be on his/her home turf, where he/she feels secure. Plus, there won't come a moment when they have to leave the hospital without you. I was in hospital for a week with Arthur {who wasn't well}, and I came home to visit Ivo, rather than confuse him with a new environment.

2. Don't be holding the baby for the first introduction. You want to be able to cuddle your firstborn at this key moment. Ideally the baby will be in his car seat or Moses basket. We actually came home after Ivo was asleep, so we introduced the baby in the morning.

3. Buy a present for the baby to 'give' your eldest. It sounds simplistic, and I doubted it's effectiveness, but we have Ivo a plasma car, ride-on toy at the same moment that he first met Arthur, and it definitely sweetened the experience. Make the toy an activity based one – it'll keep the occupied for longer than a teddy.

4. Try not to be too sensitive about your eldest prodding the new baby. I leapt up every time Ivo approached Arthur, and he quickly realised that this was a great way to get attention. He now has a very naughty habit of whacking the baby!

5. Warn your friends and relatives not to make too much of the newborn when they visit. I asked people to virtually ignore Arthur because I was so worried about Ivo getting jealous. Even at 16 months he was very sensitive to who was getting the most attention.

P.S. The books I read were - The Second Baby Survival Guide by Naia Edwards & The Contented Baby with Toddler Book by Gina Ford. Both were pretty good, but not essential reads.

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 Six Rules for Visiting a New Mother

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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Top Tip to Help Your Baby Sleep

Now Arthur is three months, I'm starting to try to train him to sleep better. It's a long process, and I have to keep telling myself it's not going to happen overnight, plus my favourite slogan 'it's just a phase'. Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of Gina Ford's routines, although I see them as something to work towards, rather than a bible. Her methods worked brilliantly for my first son, Ivo - who sleeps through till 7am, and has good regular lunchtime naps - without which I would probably be insane. But even if you're not keen on Gina, you're going to like this Top Tip for helping your baby sleep. Ms Ford recommends keeping your baby's nursery completely blacked out, so not even a chink of that pesky dawn sunlight can sneak through. I've bought these Gro Anywhere Blinds, which are super-effective and great for travelling, but they're just not big enough to cover the huge windows in Arthur's new nursery. After agonising for days, I went online, and discovered the wonder of silver foil. Cheap, cheerful, and even insulating - all you need is a roll of masking tape, and literally minutes later, you've got blacked out windows and a better sleeping baby!

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 Six Rules for Visiting a New Mother

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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Introducing Arthur

After three months, I'm finally back blogging again, and I thought it only fair I introduce the reason behind my sabbatical.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Toddler's Favourite Toys: Ivo at 13 Months

Ivo's slightly in love with our cleaner. He's always got a special smile for her, and he deeply envies her access to the colourful bottles in the banned cupboard, and the fact she gets to play with the hoover and the mop. Whenever these items come out, he gets really excited, and babbles gleefully at them. His greatest joy is to be allowed to hold the hoover and pretend to clean. So when he spotted a top mop at a friend's house, and spent an entire hour playing with it, I realised it was time to buy him his own. And what do you know - it turns out they also make miniature Dyson hoovers, in a style identical to our adult one! Two months down the line, his cleaning utensils are still his favourite toy.

{I want this!} CASDON Little Helper Dyson Hottest Vacuum Toy, £17.23
Theo Klein Toy Vileda Mop and Dustpan and Brush Set, £9.69

More posts like this one:
✿ More of Ivo's Favourite Toys

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Eight Favourite Mobile Phone Covers

I don't know about you, but Ivo's favourite toy in the whole world is definitely my iPhone. I've tried to hide my own phone addiction from him, but it's clearly rubbed off, and now whenever he spots it, he's desperate to get a handle on it. He must see it as this magical music box, as we frequently play nursery rhymes {via the Spotify App} on it, and a couple of times Peppa Pig on YouTube might have made an appearance.... Often his desire is so strong, it's easier just to hand it over, although the risk of damage is huge. If it wasn't for the case, it would have been destroyed a long time ago, which got me thinking of recommending a selection of mobile phone covers on the blog. I'm due a new one - here are a few on my shortlist.

{I want this!} Clockwise from top left 1. Beach Cover, £22 | 2. Aztec style, £22 | 3. Wolf Case, £21 | 4. Watermelon Case, £9 | 5. Linen Striped, £16.22 | 6. Design Your Own from Tesco Photo, £9.50 | 7. Gradient Style, £8 | 8. Star Print, £10

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✿ Baby's First Shoes

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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Just a Brilliant Bath Toy

Ever since Ivo could stand, bath-time has become something of a challenge! He's always trying to escape - either to dig out the plug, hang off the tap, or clamber out the bath. Even though he's now 15 months, we still wash him in his baby bath because the alternative of constantly bending over is too exhausting. At least the baby bath contains him! Plus I've been pregnant for the last nine months - so perhaps once the bump is gone, I'll feel a bit more able. Anyway! Thanks to a present from a fab friend, we have found the standing solution. These brilliant foam letters completely absorb him, and are hugely educational as well. We sing the ABC song, spell out his him {me, not him}, and stick letters to the side of the bath. He loves them, and I'm hoping that through the process of osmosis, it'll move his literacy on leaps and bounds!

{I want this!} Bathtime Buddies Wet 'n' Stick Alphabet Set, £6.85

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 Baby's Favourite Toys - Jumperoo

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

New Mummy Treat #3 - Almondella

Brown paper packages tied up with string. Definitely one of my favourite things, although I'll widen it out to any parcel that arrives in the post. I now order everything online, and it makes the most mundane of items feel like a present. Nappies bought in bulk from Amazon, sippy cups for Ivo, or books on toddler tantrums - suddenly everything is an exciting arrival. But nothing gets me more enthusiastic than an unexpected box in the post, and that's exactly how I felt when my surprise gift from Almondella arrived. This fab company sends you a box of hand-picked products for you and your baby or toddler once a month, and I couldn't have been more impressed by the gorgeous items in mine. They were all top quality, and exactly the type of thing I'd bought myself. Each month the boxes are styled around a theme, and for June it was Shapes. So there was a wooden puzzle toy for Ivo, a beautifully illustrated board book on colours, a cute striped t-shirt from x, and a lovely tea towel for me. Almondella sources many of their products from small boutique labels in Scandinavia, and a monthly subscription costs €45. The great thing is that you get sent a preview of your box each month, and if you want to opt out, you can! Try out a tester box for only €15, or send it as a gift to a new mother.

Ivo 'helping' with my photographs of the lovely Almondella products! Excuse the slightly blurry pictures - I was holding him back with one hand!

{I want this!} 
Tea-Towel by Kauniste, €17
Teddy T-shirt by Iglo & Indi, normally €32, on sale for €19
Geo Pingy Shape Sorter Set, €20
My First Book of Colours, from The Design Museum Shop, £4.99

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✿ New Mummy Treat #1

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Monday, 30 June 2014

Best Maternity Buys from ASOS

During my last pregnancy I hardly let myself buy any maternity clothes at all. It was winter, and I figured I'd survive in a couple of pairs of jeans and a few loose tops. It was such a bad decision - I spent the whole of my pregnancy feeling badly dressed and frumpy - and then after I had Ivo, it was just as bad. I never realised that most mothers need to keep wearing their maternity clothes for a good few months. Second time round, I've taken a different approach. With the help of some birthday money from my mum, and the bargainous website ASOS, I equipped myself with a fantastic summer wardrobe. Here are a few of my favourite buys.

{I want this!} Fabulous Maxi Dresses 
1. ASOS Trapeze Beach Maxi Dress in White, {I bought Size 12, and it's huge!}, £26 | 2. New Look Maternity Grecian Maxi-Dress, £19.99 | 3. ASOS Trapeze Beach Maxi Dress in Electric Blue, £26

{I want this!} Wearable Shift Dresses - all now in the sale, you lucky things!
1. New Look Maternity Shift Dress, £9.50 | 2. ASOS Maternity Sleeveless Swing Dress With Pockets, £12 {also available in black for £15}, £ | 3. New Look Maternity Shift Dress, £9.50

{I want this!} Comfortable Nursing Bras - great before you give birth too!
1. Emma Jane Maternity Nursing Bra, £12 | 2. Emma Jane Maternity Nursing Bra with Removable Padding, £16

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✿ Maternity & Loungewear

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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Baby's First Haircut at Mata Mata, London

Ivo's been long-due a haircut for months, but we never got round to it! It wasn't until his fringe was literally growing into his eyes, that we realised we had to take action. I'd heard about Mata Mata Hair Salon for children through a friend, and as it's just down the road in Islington, it was the perfect option. It's paradise for children! Instead of chairs, they have a selection of car-shaped seats, including a racing car, police patrol car and motorbike. There are books and toys everywhere, and iPads and mini-TV's showing cartoons. We went for the First Haircut Package for £30, which included a certificate with photo, a keepsake lock of hair, a goody bag and a voucher for future use. Plus Mata Mata sent us all the pictures they took via email the next day - a really nice touch. Ivo took to the hair-cutting process very well - no tears, just a bit of restlessness near the end. His lovely hairdresser put us completely at ease, and I didn't feel worried about sharp scissors near my baby's ears at all! Be warned though - if you end up holding them for the final few snips, you do end up covered in hair - I felt very itchy afterwards!

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✿ Baby's Favourite Toys

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Friday, 27 June 2014

Loving Ikea for Baby Weaning & Toddler Meals

I'm always on the look-out for a bargain, and Ikea is definitely prime stomping ground for cheap and cheerful deals. Their highchairs are a well-known staple of any household {only £12!!, and now you can buy matching cushions for £6}, but have you discovered their children's tableware? With mugs, bowls, plates and cutlery sets at only 90p a set of six, you could buy a new set for every day of the week! We've been using the bowls for months, and Ivo's just about ready to take on the cutlery, so I'm due another visit. P.S. How is it that if everything's so cheap at Ikea, I always manage to spend a fortune?!

More posts like this one:
✿ First Stage Baby Weaning - My Top Buys

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Thursday, 26 June 2014

Baby & Toddlers' Favourite Toys - Ivo's Stacking Cups

You might have already discovered the lowly stacking cup, but if you're new to this game, I couldn't recommend a toy highly enough. I first bought these from Marks & Spencer when Ivo was five months old, and I had no idea that they'd be such a long-lasting toy. While crinkly worms, chewy giraffes and noisy walkers have fallen by the wayside, the stacking cups are still going strong. Ivo can now stack them up to number four, but prefers to put them inside each other. They've also been used as drinking vessels in the bath, sand sieves / buckets in the sandpit, and comedy hats. Somehow we've managed not to lose any, although number 8 did take a short holiday at a friend's house. For a cheap and cheerful toy that really lasts, it doesn't get any better! The M&S ones seem to have sold out, but you can buy stacking cups for £3.69 from Amazon & for £3.99 from Kiddicare. Ikea even do a mini-set for a bargainous £1.50!

{I want this!} Marks & Spencer Stacking Cups, £6 {SOLD OUT}

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✿ Baby's Favourite Toys

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Monday, 5 May 2014

New Mummy Treat #2 - The Nonabox

The early months of motherhood can be pretty depressing. You're tired, milky, and your life has change forever. Plus you haven't got the benefit of hindsight, to reassure you that you'll soon get the hang of parenting. So it's super-important to give yourself a few treats. Cocktails on the beach in Mexico might have to wait, but a few luxuries can make all the difference to lifting your mood. One of my latest discoveries is Nonabox. It's a bit like Glossybox {the beauty version I also recommend}, but for babies! The idea is that each month the crew at Nonabox send you a lovely packaged box of baby goodies, all wrapped up in a silky ribbon. You tell them the age of your baby, and they specially selected top quality products to reflect your stage of motherhood. Boxes start at £25 a month, and the total value of the box is always more than the subscription cost - plus keep an eye out for their discounts, as they've often got offers on. I loved receiving my boxes, they feel like a present in the post, and it was so exciting discovering all the products inside. My favourite finds? The Jack N´Jill Kids Natural Toothpaste, the 9bar energy bar {yummy for mummy} and the Usborne - That's Not My Hamster book {Ivo's favourite}.

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New Mummy Treat #1 - Moroccan Hair Oil

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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Reviewing Gorgeous Yellow Bird Baby Moccasins

Moccasins are THE latest baby trend. I've been desperate to get Ivo a pair for months, and now he's finally starting to walk {12 steps today and counting!}, it seems like the perfect moment to get involved. It's important to me that his shoes are still soft enough for him to feel the floor through the soles - I have a theory that makes it easier for him to walk - and Yellow Bird Moccasins are ideal! They're made out of butter-soft leather, with cute tassels, and come in a fantastic range of colours. I found it really hard to choose, but eventually went with Saint Louis Blue. Handmade by mum-of-one Max Woodall-Collins, who's a fellow Londoner, they're just the most adorable little shoes, and they come beautifully packaged {see my Instagram feed & Facebook site for pictures} - so a great present idea!

More posts like this one:
✿ Choosing Your Baby's First Shoes

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Monday, 28 April 2014

Branded Nappies – Essential or Luxury?

Considering each baby uses nearly 6000 nappies in a lifetime, you can imagine the amount of money the big companies spend on advertising their nappies. And I think that’s why at the back of my mind, I still think that Pampers must be better than own-brand supermarket nappies. Maybe they do spend more money on research, and maybe therefore the moisture is wicked away from your baby’s skin faster, but after trying out several brands, I honestly can’t tell the difference. When Ivo was a newborn, we started using Pampers, mainly because at Boots, you got a free changing bag if you bought a pack of Pampers and joined the Parenting Club. {I’d actually do this again – the mat in the changing bag is really large and useful}. There’s no disputing they’re great nappies, and they have this super-useful line that runs up the front which turns blue when they’re wet – a great innovation for brand-new clueless parents. But once you’ve got past the two month stage, and you’re feeling more confident, I’d definitely recommend moving onto the cheaper nappies. They’re literally half the price. We’ve tried Sainsburys Little Ones, Asda Little Angels and Tesco Loves Baby, and they’re all super-similar in standard. I liked the pictures on the Sainsburys ones – but because I get my groceries delivered by Tescos, we’ve tended to bulk buy from them. Ivo’s now in Size 5 – how did that happen!!

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 Which Wipes - My Favourite Baby Wipes

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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Brilliant Bold & Functional Baby Clothes by Piccalilly

I only discovered Piccalilly thanks to my sister. She bought Ivo two of their brilliant playsuits for Christmas, and I'm only now discovering how much she must have spent! I absolutely love them - and Ivo has worn them back-to-back, as soon as they emerge from the washing machine. It's not just the appliques, although they are stunning - it's their functionality. They have hardly any poppers, which makes them the perfect playsuit for a rolling baby, or one who hates lying on his/her changing table. Plus for younger babies, they've got fold-over foot cuffs for extra cosiness! Made from premium organic cotton, they wash really well, and because they don't have feet, they last for months. At £20 each, they're not cheap, but on a £1 per wear basis, you really do get your money's worth.

{I want this} Pretty Girls' Playsuits, £23 by Piccalilly

{I want this} Bold Boys' Playsuits, £23 by Piccalilly

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 Which Wipes - My Favourite Baby Wipes

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Which Wipe? Reviewing Baby Wipes

Back when I was pregnant for the first time, I remember wandering into Boots to check out the baby section. It was like entering a different universe. There were so many variations of products, I had no idea how mothers chose. Luckily a few weeks later a few friends sent me their amazing Baby Essentials Lists, which helped me on my way, and a year later, I’ve worked my way through most of the products on the market. One of the products that really got me obsessed were the wipes. At first the midwifes recommend you use cotton wool and sterilised water. I managed this for about a day, and then moved onto Pampers Sensitive Wipes, mainly because they came in a white packet and therefore looked the purist. As Ivo became more wriggly, the ease and speed with which the wipes came out of the packet become key – almost to the point of obsession – hence my extensive research! Here are my reviews – do leave a comment and tell me which you prefer.

 Water Wipes, £25 for 12 packs of 60 – These tick all the organic boxes, as they don’t have any soap in them, just water and 0.1% fruit extract {know idea how they figured that out!}. Plus you can order great big boxes of them from Amazon, and I’m all about buying in bulk. But they’re not very wet. And my biggest bugbear – they don’t come out of the packet easily. Enough to drive you up the wall. That saying, I have a friend who’s only used these wipes, and seems perfectly happy with them.

 Huggies, £7.78 for 10 packs of 64 – I loved these at first, because they were really quite wet, and really cheap. But they tear quite easily, and therefore don’t come out the packet very easily. Argh! There's no point in a pack of wipes you need two hands to use.

 Pampers Sensitive Wipes, £10 for 12 packs of 56 – These are great, and tick all my boxes. But they’re really expensive, and once your baby gets older, and you’re using a lot of wipes per change, that’s really going to add up. I’d recommend them for a newborn.

 Johnson’s Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes, £8 for 12 packs of 56 – I went through a big phase of using these, and I really like everything about them. But they were on offer, and once the offer ended, they were back up in the expensive bracket, so I went hunting for a cheaper option.

 Tesco Baby Wipes, £8.79 for 12 packs for 64 – I do most of my shopping online with Tesco {much to my husband’s disgust – he prefers Waitrose food}. So when I spotted their wipes on offer, I decided to try them out. And they’re brilliant! They come in an easy-close packet that Ivo loves to fiddle with {amazing distraction tool}, they're the right wetness, they come out perfectly, and they're cheap! I recommend buying them in bulk!

More posts like this one:
 Weaning - My 8 Top Buys

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Monday, 21 April 2014

Baby Weaning - My Favourite Recipe Book

At first, baby food is pretty easy to prepare. You just steam the fruit or veg, mash it up, and bingo - you've got healthy, hearty grub. Later on, it all gets a bit harder. I'm terrible at cooking for myself, let alone for another small person. Thank goodness for Annabel Karmel. Before I bought her book, I didn't really get why so many mothers swore by her recipes, but now I reckon she's all you need to get baby weaning right. I make huge batches of her food, and freeze individual portions in bags like these. In the early days, when I was just making the purees, I used extra-large ice-trays, and then emptied out the nuggets into freezer bags. At a year old, Ivo's current favourite is Annabel's Baked Risotto. It's incredibly easy to cook, and it's an amazing base for left-overs - whether it's bits of fish or chicken, with added frozen veg like peas. Now Ivo's a bit older, I make these pieces a bit bigger, but you could easily blend them up first.

{I want this} Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner, £10.34

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 Weaning - My 8 Top Buys

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

New Mummy Treat #1

It's hard work being a mother, and it's even harder when you're new to the job. There were definitely some moments in the first year when I wondered when, and where I was supposed to make room for me. I lusted after evenings of hot baths and a good book, and long lunches fuelled with chilled white wine. In fact, who am I kidding, I still long for those luxuries! So what I've done is carve out time for a few little beauty treats. None of them are super-pricey or time-consuming, but all of them add a little bit of much-needed glam to my life. First up, Moroccan Hair Oil. I'm not sure where I first spotted this - but when my hairdresser agreed it was a good product, I was determined to try it out. So this morning, after my shower, and while Ivo had his half hour morning sleep, I added a couple of splodges to the slightly dry ends of my hair. I only use a little bit, because I didn't know whether it would make my hair greasy, and then I blow-dried it like normal. And it's been BRILLIANT! My hair felt sleek and shiny, and sort of curved up at the ends. I only bought a little 25ml bottle, but I reckon it'll last for a while, and it's definitely made me feel more glam all day. First little luxury ticked!

{I want this!} Moroccan Hair Oil, 25ml for £12.85

P.S. My hairdresser is Tracy at One Drayson Mews in Kensington. I couldn't recommend her more - she's been doing my hair since I was 13! Call 020 7376 2418 for an appointment.

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For A Baby-Free Moment - My Favourite Blogs

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Monday, 7 April 2014

Choosing Your Baby's First Shoes

I found myself completely flummoxed by baby shoes. When exactly should they start wearing them? And how do you know they're the right size, and not crushing their little toes? I worried about Ivo getting cold feet in the winter, but I'd read that they learn how to walk best without wearing socks or shoes. Argh!! In the end, we kept him shoe-less {but not sock-less} for as long as possible, and then my sister bought him these gorgeous giraffe ShooShoos pram shoes for when he ventures outside, and is likely to be standing or sofa-surfing in a cafe. We've also used them outside in the playground, but they got grubby quite quickly - so now I'm looking for shoes with a little more substance. I think I'm going to wait until he's properly walking before I go the whole hog and buy him a pair of leather shoes. That'll feel like a game-changer - my baby boy's first pair of grown-up shoes! Incidentally - if we had our time again, I'd buy these amazing rainbow Mocc Onns Moccasin style slipper socks, for cosy winter toes.

{I want these} ShooShoos pram shoes, approx £15

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 Cute Animal Bodysuits

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Sunday, 6 April 2014

Baby-Proofing Our House - Six Worries & Solutions

We've delayed it as long as possible - determined to keep our home looking normal - but Ivo's got so curious and mobile, that we've realised we've got to baby-proof the flat. We have a very irregular spiral staircase, so luckily my husband's father actually handmade our stair-gates. They came in the nick of time, because Ivo's gone from bashing the stairs to climbing up them with horrifying speed! The next challenge is the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen. Ivo's already broken four bowls, luckily cheap ones from Ikea, but I'm taking it as a warning of more damages to come. I'm also super-worried about little fingers getting trapped in the big saucepan drawer, and underneath doors. I don't want to go too far, and completely coddle him, but after our big shop for baby-proofing items on Amazon, I do feel a lot more relaxed!

{I want this} Ivo using his walker in the most dangerous style possible - PinToy Baby Walker with Blocks, £48.39. He's wearing a hoodie from Next {we use this as a dressing gown in the morning} & a sleep-suit from Mini-Boden {similar here, two for £26}.

My Biggest Worries & Solutions

The Stairs
Stair-gates are the only option - get them closed off as soon as possible. Ivo loves to climb, and although it's great to give him the chance to explore, I only want him mountaineering with company!

The Kitchen - This was the biggest challenge!
* We moved all the kitchen products to a high cupboard this weekend. Even with a lock, it's not worth letting him anywhere near the bleach.
* For the cupboards that needed protecting, we bought these amazing magnetic locks from BabyDan. They attach without any need for hammer and nails, and when they're closed, you can't tell they're there. There's a video on the BabyDan website that tells you how they work.
* The BabyDan magnetic drawer locks did the business for the big saucepan drawer, and I'm guessing once he's tall enough, we might have to put it on the cutlery drawer as well.

* I was really concerned about Ivo pushing is fingers into the plugs - mainly because I've been to other parents' houses, and seen all these socket covers. However, my husband did a bit of research, and discovered the covers are actually more dangerous, and there's no chance of babies managing to electrocute themselves with modern sockets. If you're still not sure - take a look at this article from the Telegraph. It includes a warning from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, who call the covers 'absurd and dangerous'.

* Ivo's just discovered doors {and reaching for handles}. He likes the fact he can use them as a walking aide. As a consequence he's shut himself in the bathroom more than once, and I'm completely paranoid about finger trapping in the hinge, and under the door. I've bought these Under Door Stoppers, which are brilliant at preventing the door going in either direction, although they're not as attractive as my lovely Linley cheese stop.

The Dining Table
* We have this lovely glass dining table, that works brilliantly in our open plan space, but has corners exactly the same height as Ivo's forehead. After a few near misses, I've given in to function over form, and bought these Safety Corners. I couldn't face the foam ones, plus apparently babies just peel them off to chew. I'm hoping my corners last a bit longer.

The Sitting Room
* So far, we've left all our pictures frames and knick-knacks out on the coffee tables, in the hope that Ivo will learn that he can't play with everything. It sort of works. He's gradually getting more used to them being there, and that they're not his toys. The biggest help is his playpen - which I've blogged about before. I know not everyone agrees with caging their little ones, but I with another baby on the way, I was keen to get Ivo used to his pen as soon as possible. We have the Baby Vivo - have a read of my blog posts on playpens for more info.

P.S. Although this article looks like an advert for BabyDan - it's not! I just researched the best products, and like theirs the most!

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Friday, 4 April 2014

Baby's First Birthday - Ivo's Turning One

It's hard to believe, but Ivo is already nearly one! This year feels like both the longest and the shortest of my life. This time in 2013, I was already a week overdue, and every day felt interminable. Little did I know, I was living through my last few hours of complete freedom, and I should have cherished every one. Long, lazy baths, reading historical novels, watching movies at the cinema - all of these things were soon to become relics of my past! We're planning a double celebration for Ivo's birthday. On Sunday 13th, we'll go to London zoo with my side of the family, and then the following weekend we've invited my husband's side of the family to a Peter Rabbit themed party. I've had a brilliant time planning all the fun details - take a look at my Pinterest board to get a sense of some of the ideas I've pulled together. It's Easter weekend, so we're combining his birthday with a big Easter egg hunt for the older children. I imagine he'll be oblivious of it all - baby's always look so confused when everyone sings Happy Birthday to them! Take a look at the invitations I designed - I always make my own stationery, it saves a fortune, and I really enjoy the process.

{I want this} 1. Blue baker's twine, part of a stationery set £22 from RE Corbridge, 2. Small Kraft envelopes, £3.99 for 50 from eBay

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Thursday, 3 April 2014

A Gorgeous New Baby Gift Idea

I can't tell you how hard I've fallen for these gorgeous paper cuts. Before I discovered London-based Julene Harrison, I'd never even heard of the art, but it's been a quick conversion from ignorance to passion! I love the idea of commissioning a special paper cut to mark the birth of your baby, or perhaps on the day of their christening. You could then use the image as an invitation or thank you card. Amazing! Take a look at Julene's shop, or request a special commission via her website.

{I want this} Baby Announcement Paper Cut, $159 by Made By Julene

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Friday, 28 March 2014

My Obsession with the John Lewis Baby Department

Last weekend, while the sun was shining, we went shopping in John Lewis Stratford. I'm not sure how we came to be indoors on one of the best mornings of the year so far, but we had such fun! I'd My work colleagues gave me John Lewis vouchers as a baby shower gift, and we finally had the opportunity to spend them! John Lewis' children's department is amazing. It's packed to the brim with gorgeous own-brand clothes, plus a few well-chosen boutique vendors. The own-brand toys are fantastic as well - it's the first time I've seen a display where I've wanted to buy everything. What's more, we spent the last half hour trying out double buggies with the most helpful shop assistant I've ever met. She knew how every buggy folded and adapted, and now I've fallen in love with the iCandy Apple to Pear. More on my double buggy indecision to come!

{I want this}

1. Jellycat Fuddlewuddle Elephant, £17 - too adorable to leave on the shelf!

2. John Lewis Octopus Surf Suit with Hat, £20 - Ivo's loves his swimming lessons, but he's growing out of his JoJo Maman Bebe suit, so time for a new one. I love that this one included a matching hat, so that he'll be protected from the sun when we go on holiday

3. John Lewis Seagull Stripe T-Shirt, £10 - A bit of a naughty purchase, but I'm a sucker for nautical themed and stripey clothes, and this combined both! Plus, at £10, it's cheaper than similar Mini-Boden applique t-shirts.

4. Fish in the Tub Bath Toy, £4.95 - We're desperately trying to stop Ivo from standing up in the bath, and we hoped this would cause enough of a distraction. It hasn't worked....he still stands up...but he loves the fish!

(not pictured) John Lewis Helicopter & Stripe Rompers, Pack of 2, £15 - We actually needed sleep suits - so this was all we were meant to actually buy! We're a sucker for anything helicopter themed, so it was an obvious buy.

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Monday, 24 March 2014

First Baby Books Review

It's taken a few months {like 10!}, but Ivo is finally starting to show some interest in books. Before, whenever I tried to read to him, he'd just gum the pages and gnaw on the spine. Even now, when I read to him before bed, if he spots the book, he stops drinking his bedtime milk, and tries to grab it. Not quite the soothing tradition I had in mind! We do a fair bit of reading during the day though - here's a list of his favourites. We're looking to extend his library, so please do leave comments with your suggestions!

{I want this} 1. Ivo's Striped Seaside T-shirt, Mini Boden, £14

1. Monster Mates: Ernie the Eye Monster, £5.59 - A present from a friend, this book is a huge success. Ivo can't get over how the monster wriggles at him, and alternates between trying to fight him {ouch!}, and laughing. We also have the bigger Calm Down Boris! book.

2. Is This My Nose?, £4.81 - The simplest of books, this one has only five pages! But it's a great way for your baby to learn his features, and Ivo grins happily has we point to his ears and prod his nose.

3. That's Not My Robot, £4.49 - Ivo's a massive fan of all the Usborne Touchy Feely Books. We inherited several from his cousin, and I've picked up lots in various charity shops. They have lovely fabric and paper inserts in the pages, which your baby can touch with his fingertips. Other great titles include That's Not My Bunny, That's Not My Tractor, and That's Not My Pirate. You get the idea!

4. Baby's First Words Book, £2.50 - This fantastic little booklet isn't just crazily cheap, it's fast become one of Ivo's favourites. Hard-wearing, and easy to chew, it contains lots of recognisable objects, including socks, teddies and pears. Ivo seems to genuinely pay attention when we flick through the pages.

5. Noisy Baby: Sound Book, £6.99 -There's nothing Ivo likes more than noisy toys, so we have a few of these sound books. At first he didn't know how to press the buttons, but in the last few weeks, he's learned that they make a very satisfying racket. There's one we bought from M&S that plays incredibly loud engine noise, and it's his favourite book of all!

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