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My 2 year old son is obsessed with all things Fireman Sam, so this went on the Amazon wish list for Christmas and my parents so kindly decided to send it our way (secretly being thrilled that it was a noisy toy for here, and not one that will be living at their house!!). It's been a firm favourite ever since he opened the present, and is never silent for long!
The helmet itself is a good fit- very sturdy yellow plastic that has been stood on, thrown, bashed, and chewed... none showing any lasting damage. My son is big for his age, but a "normal" sized head and it fits him fine and I can see it doing so for a good few years yet. There's an adjustable strap inside (similar to in climbing helmets) that you can adjust at the front and the back to get the ideal fit. The strap could be better- it's plastic as well, and rather stiff, so hard for little fingers to do and undo from the buckle. The previous reviewer mentioned velcro- this must be a newer model, but I wish they'd kept the velcro! Still, once on, it stays put, which gives him the chance to hit that lovely little sound button over and over again...
The noise factor can be controlled by a little switch on the inside of the helmet. So far he hasn't spotted this, though gets mightily annoyed when I take the chance to try and turn it off every so often.... you'll need batteries at some stage, but the supplied set are still going strong and showing no signs of fading. This is with fairly heavy use as well (daily, several times usually). The sound button and speaker is on the top of the helmet at the front. It's a small button, but easy even for little fingers to find. It plays a selection of sayings, sirens, and the ever so cheerful theme tune on rotation, so at least you get variety- could be worse I guess?
I feel it's pricey for a fireman helmet, but most don't make noise, so it's understandable really. Plus from trying to get various cheaper versions to stay on his head at playgroups/nursery and failing due to a bad fit and cheaper materials, I think I'd pay for this one over others if I had to.
Overall a good buy if you can take the noise, and an especially good gift for little ones who love Fireman Sam.
Having used a booster seat instead of a high chair with my daughter due to lack of storage space in our dining room, we set out to get one for our son when the time came to start solids. This was a lucky find at an NCT Nearly New sale and has been great so far!
It is designed for children who can sit unaided until the age of 4. The seat base completely detatches and can be positioned at 2 different heights, depending on your needs. The base includes a 5 point harness, that is adjustable. It has a high back support (non-removable) and the tray can be used on 2 different settings, or removed for use at the table. There is a base strap to attach underneath a chair, and one around the back to attatch to the back of a chair. Perhaps the most useful feature for some would be that it folds quickly, easily, and very flat for transport and storage.
My experince of using it:
The age range-
My son started using this at 7 months (when we bought it) and my daughter who is nearly 2 is also comfortable in it. Without the tray attached I can't see why it wouldn't work to the advertised 4 years or even beyond, there is plenty of room width ways in the seat area.
The seat height-
We use the lower setting with my son. He's tall for his age though so a smaller baby would be better on the higher setting. We found the tray was too close to his legs when on the higher setting, but there is plenty of room on the lower one. When we use it at the table with my daughter (with no tray) she uses the higher to make her at the right height to reach the table. It is very easy to switch between the two as buttons on the side of the "arm" bits allow you to remove and turn the seat base upside down as needed.
This is easy to adjust to fit both children, and fits my daughter with plenty of room to further expand for an older child. The crotch strap is the loop kind, with the clip on either side of the waist going through it to fasten to each other. My son is secure, and even without the tray I don't worry about him falling out if he leans forward.
Lovely and big, it fits a plate easily, and is perfect for early finger foods as the high ridge around the outside keeps my son from knocking food over the side. It's easy to get on and off with clips on the side, it just slides onto the armrests and clicks into place. Easy to wash and keep clean as well.
The securing straps-
Plenty adjustable and big enough to go round most chairs, the booster doesn't slide even on my wooden chairs when the straps are pulled tight. My daughter can't unclip them either which is helpful!
We have only taken it out with us once, but it was easy to do, the seat unit comes off, the arms fold in, you put the seat and tray between teh arms and the backrest and clip the back strap around to the front to hold it all together. I wouldn't take it off my chair and fold it every time we finish eating as I'm a bit lazy like that, but it would be a great chair for someone who wanted to keep it tucked out of sight and bring out when needed.
This is a good product. It's a bit more basic in some ways then our Fisher Price booster my daughter uses, but I love the fact that the tray is bigger than hers as it's been great for early foods. The folding is a big bonus for those who want it, and perhaps the best thing is that there are no padded bits to have to clean- a quick wipe manages it fine! My only complaint I guess would be that the seat is very flat, rather than slightly moulded for a little bottom to fit into. It's not the end of the world, but I like that my daughter's looks slightly more "fitted".
Overall- 5 stars from me!
This is the fifth installment in what was said would be a six book series, is now at seven books and still isn't finished!! I will try to review this book and mention how it might relate to previous/future books as well for those who may want to read the others.
At nearly 1,000 pages, this isn't a quick read. Diana Gabaldon is an author who takes her time researching and writing, as well as doing many book tours, so it was 4 long years of waiting for this to be published. Plenty of time to re-read the previous books and get it all fresh in my mind. There are different cover designs in the US and UK, I prefer the UK version, which is the one shown above.
If I were to go into details my review would be endless. Gabaldon weaves a complex tale through many characters and places. The story begins where the previous book left off, in North Carolina of 1771. The main thread of the book follows the growing unease between the more wealthy colonials and the backwoods settlers, which is laying the foundation for the War of Independence. The key element of this is Claire, Brianna and Roger's knowledge of what is to come, and the decisions they all have to make to ensure the best for their future and that of their loved ones.
Apart from the main couple of Jamie and Claire, we see Brianna and Roger taking more of a part in this book as they raise their son Jemmy. Fergus and Marsali are also still going strong, often providing humorous story lines amidst more serious ones. Jamie's aunt Jocasta features quite a bit, as the book is set almost as much at Cross Creek as it is on Frasers Ridge. Her varied selection of guests and friends also provide a bit of entertainment, as do some of the newer residents of Frasers Ridge.
I liked this book, though it seemed a bit slower than the previous ones. I think that's mainly due to the fact that we know it's leading up to the War of Independence, but not in this book so there really isn't a promise of major excitement, though there are many little twists and turns and shocks that will keep you on your toes. I think what I liked best about this book was the chance to see a variety of characters and how they developed. I'm not one for history books and dates and facts, but to read about characters in a particular time is fascinating. Despite it being fiction, this book gets you under the skin of the characters better than anything else I've read (apart from the other books in the series).
Should you read it? YES! But read the first four books before you do.
Dragonfly in Amber
Drums of Autumn
Having just had a good think about the Avent breast pads, I'm in a good frame of mind to compare them to the Boots ones that I'm wearing at the moment. I'm in two minds about this pad. It scores points in two big areas for me, but less in others. They'll stay on my "would buy again" list, but probably down towards the bottom if I'm honest.
What I like:
Similar to the Avent pads, they are smaller in diameter than several of the other brands, which makes them more suited to those of us blessed (ha ha) with smaller breasts as we don't have the issue of them moving around as much. Along the same lines, they are a bit more padded so can add a bit towards that elusive next cup size should you want it. I find that they dont' show under my shaped nursing bra (Mothercare) but might do under a normal thin bra and tight clothing.
What is ok:
The pad itself is absorbent, though I'm at the past 6 month stage where I don't leak huge amounts despite my son still being quite the feeding parasite. I haven't had problems with them getting too full, or leaking on me even at night. When wet, you don't feel the moisture, and I've had no problems with sore nipples in these.
What's not so great:
There is NO sticky tab to keep these in place. I know most people complain about the lack of stickiness in other pads, but it's better than nothing- these little buggers do slide around, and I find I have to check they're in the right spot if I do start to leak.
They're a bit crinkly and paper-like sounding. I don't like that as I know people can't hear it, but it's just not nice sounding.
They're not made all that well- the outer rim around the pad itself is oversized, and on most of the pads actually uneven in width. It's a picky point, but one nonetheless.
Overall you get what you pay for with these. They're a cheaper option than the main brands, but it does show. I wouldn't want to use these in the first weeks of feeding as I'm not sure they'd hold up as well as others.
I think I'll be in the minority with these in saying that I like them! The reasons why tend to be what everyone else dislikes about them, so I'll attempt to explain my madness in case anyone else might feel the same.
Firstly the size-
they are smaller in diameter than most of the other breast pads available, similar to the Johnsons and Boots own brand ones, rather than the Tommee Tippee, Lansinoh ones.... For someone with small boobs this is actually a good thing! I find the bigger ones stick out of my bra, and are just too big for me.
Next, the padding-
again, when you have a smal chest, every little bit helps! I don't find these show under my clothing because I wear the shaped bra from Mothercare, so it doesn't really matter what I wear under it. The extra padding is nice, and I find it a lot less crinkly and noisy like some of the bigger ones.
Some of the other things about the pad aren't wonderful, but I don't find them bad. The sticky section isn't actually very sticky, but then I don't really find them all that sticky on the other brands. I haven't had absorbency issues either, I find they did get rather saturated in the early days, but frequent changing sorted that out. I haven't had any problems with sore nipples either, and find the pad stays soft even at the end of the day, apart from in early feeding when they were getting full and wet.
Overall I like these ones the best, apart from my bamboo washable pads, and they are the ones I buy whenever possible.
I bought one of these in preparation for a long haul flight with my then 7 month old. I was going alone and was planning to shove the dummy in her mouth at any sign of fuss, in order to keep her quiet. My plans did not include crawling round the aisles looking for any dummies that were thrown in protest/just to watch mummy do the crawling around the aisles thing.
A friend recommended this, since a lot of the soother savers you see are designed for dummies that have a handle, and none of mine did. As a product, it's pretty good. The clip fastens more or less easily to clothing/carseat straps/blankets.. and provided you have it tight enough it doesn't tend to fall off. The cord is just long enough to give freedom of movement, but not long enough to cause a strangling risk, or to allow the dummy to hang close to the floor.
The only problem we found shortly after trying it, was that it doesn't work with the MAM tiny baby dummies, and unfortunately that's what we were using at the time with my diddy daughter. She wouldn't take the bigger ones, despite being old enough! It wasn't a complete disaster- they do fit round the "button" bit of the tiny dummies, but any sort of pulling on the cord from my daughter would pull it off. We couldn't find an alternative, so took this on the flight anyway.
It did work most of the time. I was grateful that I'd packed 5 dummies just in case as 2 hit the floor only to be found after the flight. Mostly she tolerated the cord, but sometimes pulled it off.
It was only at 20 months old and out of desperation at having no tiny dummies around that she finally started taking the bigger ones (yay!) and I'm pleased to say that on our most current flight the soother saver was perfect, and we only had 1 lost dummy the whole trip.
Overall a good product, especially if you are using the dummy out and about a lot.
Looking back, I'm not sure why I bought this as I planned to breastfeed our first baby, but I'm glad we got it as we ended up mix feeding within a month of her being born and this piece of equipment was invaluable!
The steriliser itself is designed to fit in most microwaves. It has a sturdy base, a removeable tray for what you are sterilising, and a lid that snaps to the base. You simply place 200ml of water into the base (you soon learn to judge it without measuring) and load the tray with bottles, etc. It is meant to work with 4 bottles, and we found that we were able to use a combination of Avent large and small, and Tommee Tippee large and small ones without a problem.
The sterilising itself takes just 4 minutes in the microwave, and you need to allow time to cool after that. I found that at least 5 minutes was enough, if you do it sooner you risk getting burned by the steam that escapes when you open it. Our bottles were always clean as promised, we never had cause to fault it.
As we got into weaning, we found ourselves using it occasionally for spoons, cups, and dummies as well as bottles, and it served us well. We did stop using it at 1 year, but it's in storage in case we need it again. Sor far with my son we haven't!
We only used 2-3 bottles a day, so this was only used every night and sometimes every other night. I can't comment on how it would hold up for full time use, but I think it's perfect for how we used it, and I'm glad we didn't buy the bigger steam one.
We bought one of these for my daughter when she first started solids at 5 months. I knew we needed to offer her water with meals, and this seemed like a good cup to try. I figured something must be right about them since most babies and toddlers we saw had one. In fact, it was amusing at baby groups watching mums try to work out which of the 5 blue ones was theirs!
The cup itself is a good size, holding around 250ml of liquid. There are markers on the side in case you are after a specific amount, and a line to help you work out how to correctly dilute juice should you want to use that. The lid snaps on and off easily for filling and cleaning, but my children have yet to get it off themselves. A word of warning - don't fill the cup too full before putting the lid on as it'll spray everywhere (or anyone standing in front of you!).
There is a good sized handle on either side of the cup, allowing my slightly less coordinated son to hold it himself (which he insists on doing). The spout has 2 holes for the liquid, and doesn't require a lot of effort to get it out, which is great when they are just learning how to use it. I find the "no-spill" advertising a bit misleading though, as my daughter soon worked out how to tip it upside down and drip all over the highchair tray/her hair/ the floor....... so it's only no-spill if the valve is shut! It is true in that instance though- we've never had leaks in the changing bag.
We've been through a few of these, as I find after a while it gets tricky to clean inside the spout, but they are pretty cheap at around £2 depending on where you buy them, so I don't mind so much.
Waterloo Road is a BBC drama set in a secondary school in England. It has been running for a few years, and has had the usual coming and going of characters, though a few have remained and a few have recently returned.
The show is mostly takes place at the school and follows the stories of both staff and students, sometimes venturing into their homes or the local pub. There is an interesting assortment of characters, and several staff and students with a comedy role to keep the show amusing.
Many key school based storylines have been covered over the years- gun crime, teenage pregnancy, drugs, sex, affairs with staff, affairs amonst the staff, racism, bullying, sports, exam cheating, etc. There are usually one or two stories going in one show, and most of the time they're wrapped up within that episode, with some key stories weaving throughout the series.
I really enjoy watching this, especially with my husband who works in a secondary school as his commentary is often as amusing as the show. I hope that there is a second series starting soon, and I have no doubt that the writers will keep us entertained with whatever cast they have to work with!
I always saw these more as a snack in addition to a meal, as opposed to a fruit puree to use when first weaning. For that I always made my own, though these would work perfectly for those who don't want to do that!
The banana, peach, strawberry pack is one of my daughter's favourites, though you can get other combinations, but we enjoy this one the most. They come in packs of four, each pot a good size for a snack, or as an alternative to a yogurt after a meal. You can find them in all of the major supermarkets, and Boots almost always has them on offer, usually 3 for 2 so it makes it worth getting!
The puree itself is smooth, but not too runny. This was important when my daughter decided she was going to be the one doing the spooning in her mouth, and not me. There was a small delay before it fell off the spoon if turned upside down, that sometimes allowed her to get it in her mouth. Perfect for eating cold, this is more practical than yogurt for transporting, and the packs and covering wrapper are solid, so they can withstand a beating in a changing bag/lunchbox.
Overall a good product, and a good addition to a household with young children.
There are so many yogurts aimed at children in the shops, and I found it hard to find one that didn't have added sugar when I was first starting solids with my daughter. A friend of mine recommended trying Rachel's, so I went to have a look.
The packaging is clearly aimed at babies, with bright clear colours and design. You can't mistake what you're getting. A four pack will cost you around £1.50, but the pots themselves are slightly bigger than the little stars ones so you get more in each serving. This has been great for my daughter the yogurt monster, who would happily eat all four pots in one sitting if I'd let her!
The yogurt itself is lovely and thick and creamy, with just the right amount of added fruit puree and fruit juice. The four flavours you get are raspberry, banana, strawberry and mango, but the focus is on the yogurt itself, which is made from organic whole milk. The added juice is minimal, and is just right for making it taste nice and not as sharp as plain yogurt can sometimes be. The smooth texture with no lumpy fruit bits is perfect for little ones just starting with solids, though the amount may be a bit much at first so you might need to finish it yourself- which is fine as they taste so nice I happily do that when needed!
I love these for our whole family, and often buy them as lunchbox treats for my husband and I, as well as my two children. I'm relieved to finally have an alternative to the added sugar market that seems to have taken over yogurt.
This was the first of the Ella's kitchen pouches we tried. My daughter was 7 months old at the time and finished every last spoonful.
Ella's Kitchen prides themselves on all natural ingredients and nothing extra added. The Stage 1 pouches are a smooth puree, and only fruits and vegetables so they would be suitable for those who wean before 6 months too. The combinations are always interesting, definately not ones you'd choose to combine at home! This particular pouch has the combination of squash, carrot, apple and prunes. You'd think it would taste rather gross, but it's actually quite nice. They tend to make the fruit element the most dominant so it has a sweet taste.
These can be eaten hot or cold. My daughter liked them both ways, and usually had them cold as I tended to only use them out and about since they are a bit expensive at 89p each. What's nice about these is that you can squirt the puree right onto the spoon, instead of dipping your spoon in a jar, so that you can re-use what isn't eaten easier than with a jar which you're supposed to get rid of due to bacteria.
Within a few weeks my daughter learned how to suck the puree out of the spout which meant I didn't need the spoon anymore! I took these with me on an overseas flight as they were easier to pack and transport than a jar, and it meant that tasting it at security would be easy- just squirt some on my finger.
A word of warning about this particular pouch- the prune element is very effective... within half an hour of eating this we have a dirty nappy every time. Great if you have a constipated baby!
We were late getting into this show. I heard everyone talking about it but as my daughter went to bed at 6pm, which was when it was shown (until recently) it escaped us. Until one day when I realised it was on at 10:30 on BBC2, and we just happened to be home and having a snack....
My daugher was 13 months when she first saw it, and until then had never been bothered by tv- she could happily ignore it when it was on, but wow, did she take notice of this! From start to finish, she sat and was mesmerised by the bright, colourful characters who made noises she liked, jumped and danced around, and hugged and kissed. She loved the birds that made funny music noises and bobbed up and down, and especially loved the ninky nonk- the clattering train that runs wild over the garden.
Even better was that she was pointing, laughing and copying Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy within days, and now at nearly 2 she sings along to all the songs and does all of the actions. It's so fun to watch, and I love letting her sit and watch this as I know she enjoys it. My 7 month old son stops what he is doing when the music comes on and is becoming more and more mesmerised by the characters.
I can't say I'm as big of a fan.... the pace of the show is slower than slow, the music annoying, and the pontipines loud and squeaky. But it buys me half an hour of down time while it's on, so I can't complain too much!
For those who can stand it, take a trip to the garden at:
We had to start mix feeding my daughter when she was only a few weeks old due to reflux and slow weight gain. I got these bottles due to the wide teat and in the hopes that she'd continue to breastfeed as well as take the bottles.
You can buy these in 4oz or 8oz sizes, and there are 4 different speeds of teat available. All of the bottles come with the slower newborn teat so if you need a faster one you can buy them separately. The bottles come in packs of two, four, or as singles. A two pack would cost £7.99 for the 4oz bottles and £11.99 for the 8oz bottle. You will find these in pretty much any shop that sells baby items as they're popular.
I found these bottles easy to use in all aspects. They are comfortable to hold, and my daughter was doing this herself by 5 months old. They wash well, and are easy to assemble even for my husband. They fit into my Avent microwave steriliser fine (we had four bottles on the go and it held them fine) and even into the changing bag, though I preferred to take the smaller Avent ones once we threw a few of them into the mix as they took up less space.
My daughter never took a lot of milk at once, as she was mostly breastfed with only 2 bottles a day. When she got to the point of needing 5 ounces I was able to squeeze another ounce into the 4oz bottle to save carrying the bigger one around (lazy, but a helpful tip!)
I have to say that my son refused these and would only take the MAM bottles, but with my daughter they were a hit, and served us well.
After 2 weeks of my daughter refusing to go in her moses basket, I tried one of these in desparation. Plenty of friends were convinced that swaddling was just what she needed and that it would solve all of our sleep problems. It didn't!
The blanket is a long piece of jersey cotton. They have different patterns now, but we had the older jungle animals design which is cute. It is suitable for 0-3 months, and the product material says to a maximum of 14lbs. I found it fairly easy to wrap my daughter when she was calm and holding still, more difficult if she was crying or fighting it, which she often did. I found that she could get her arms out quite easily, and I'm not sure what more I could have done to keep them in as I was wrapping it rather tight!
We settled for wrapping under the armpits, and she seemed happy to have her body and legs snug, but still be able to chew her hands. My son was not too much of a problem sleeper, but on the occasion that he was unsettled in the first 3 weeks he would calm if swaddled -also with arms out.
While I love the idea of this, I know from speaking to plenty of other mums that it doesn't work for everyone, so I'd suggest buying one secondhand on ebay to try before committing to the £12 price of a new one!