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I've been recently enjoying the freedom I now have since my daughter's problematic skin has begun to settle down. She's almost two and we have been tied to certain products since she arrived due to her likelihood to come out in a rash at the slightest new ingredient. Baby wipes were something that we never really explored. I use them so often that I just stuck with the ones that I knew she would get along with. Simple were the best brand for her bottom.
This week I stocked up at Tesco, and I picked up a packet of 'Tesco My Baby's Ultra soft cloth wipes' There are 80 in a packet for 89p so they are a total bargain. Some of the other brands can retail at up to £2.25 for the same amount. I think this is pretty scandalous given what they are really- water and paper with some soap. I use them for convenience really.
The pack I have been using are scented. The also come in non-scented, but I wanted to try something that smells, just for once! It's a novelty for me. The scented version smell fresh and really quite nice. I would say that they are reasonably soft when you pull one out of the packet. They certainly don't feel papery like other brands. Moisture-wise they are not the wettest that we have tried, but they are adequate. You can easily clean a spill up with one wipe, although messy bottoms would require 5/6 wipes to be sure of a thorough cleaning
On the packet it says that the wipes have been dematologically tested and that they are enriched with mild moisturising lotion with natural extracts of aloe vera and chamomile. This seems to mean in our case that these are a safe wipe for my daughter. She has not shown any redness or reaction to the Tesco wipes. The main ingredient in the wipes is water and there is nothing that immediately stands out to me as being particularly worrying. However I'm not really well up with chemical names. For us, the proof was in the testing. And with her not having a reaction I would be happy to buy these wipes and use them again. They are alcohol free, but recently I've found that most baby wipes appear to be free from alcohol anyway.
When you pull one wipe from the packet that is exactly what you get. It can be so irritating when you want to pull a wipe out at you get eight out at one go. Usually when you're in the middle of changing a nappy you only have one free hand, so it is good when a packet of wipes performs the way it is supposed to.
I think these were very good value for money. While I think I will always prefer Simple wipes (they are softer and moister which I like) I would still be happy to use Tesco's 'My Baby Ultra soft cloth wipes' as they performed well and have cleaned up messy faces and soiled nappies with relative ease. When you go through so many baby wipes it is always great to know that the ones you buy wont break the bank balance.
4/5 stars from us. They lose a star as they could be just a little more wet, but other than that they are absolutely fine.
The Graco Mirage was my very first Travel System way back in 2006. At the time I was expecting my son and I was pretty clueless about what was out there in the way of baby transport. When my husband (well he was my fiancé then!) and I went to baby shops we were totally bewildered and baulked at the prices of the Mamas and Papas systems. We also didn't have a clue about fitting car seats to cars and the first couple of times we went in to the shop and left with nothing. As much as I looked at some strollers and thought "wow" we didn't have the money to splurge on baby goods at the time. We needed to find an inexpensive alternative.
It happened that we saw a Graco Mirage Travel System in the pram shop sale about two months before our son arrived. It was reduced to £105 which seems like a total bargain even now. For that price we were getting the pushchair with the car seat that could clip on to the frame to become a travel system. We were delighted. The colour scheme was Metropolitan. It was black and grey. Admittedly looking back I can see that the fabric was a little on the cheap side, but when it was new, it looked absolutely fine. In fact people thought it was lovely when we brought our son out in it.
For the price we only got the stroller and car seat, we purchased a footmuff, rain cover and a base for the car seat separately. Even buying them separately turned out to still be half the price we would have paid for one of the more expensive brands. We left the pram shop that day feeling really happy with our bargain.
Now, to be fair to the Mirage, it really was a little workhorse of a system. After my son grew out of the Car Seat at around 10 months I gave a friend who is a childminder the whole system. By that stage I had finally developed an interest in what was out there and thus began my Pramaholic stage. My friend still uses the stroller part on a daily basis, 3 years later, and the system is going as strong as the day it was bought. I don't miss it, as I have owned some corkers since there, but at the same time I still feel very strongly that Graco is very underrated. It was excellent.
The stroller of the Mirage is a single handlebar model. This works well with one handed steering should the need every arise with you. It also has a very spacious basket underneath. Access to the basket is good, with no bars blocking the way as you may find with some other strollers. To recline there is a little click button and there are three settings, so your child will have to suit one of the three options. This is usually adequate.
To fold there is a clip on either side and when you release these you basically fold the stroller in half. Although it is quite square when it is folded, you will find that it fits into most car boots pretty easily. It is also quite light to lift. The first time it took me a few tries to get it folded and in the car, but it became second nature. It really was simple to fold- not like a lot of others currently on the market.
While I wouldn't say that the Mirage stroller is one of the more manoeuvrable versions on the market, it is still perfectly fine for scooting around the town. The wheels are plastic and so they will wear down, but this is to be expected. If you have a look around you when you were out and about you will see plenty of Graco Mirage Travel Systems that are in old colourways, and have obviously been used for more than one baby in a family. This is always a good omen; it proves that the Graco range is built to last.
As a Travel System
The Graco Mirage is a budget Travel System, but this does not mean that it is rubbish. The Autobaby car seat that comes with the package is actually pretty good. It is robust and feels sturdy. You do lose out on the quality of the fabric, and we found that our son was a little sweaty when we used the seat, but it was a minor issue as he was not in it very long at a time anyway. The Car seat is a Group 0+ which means that it will suit your child up to 12 months/ 22lbs. We had a very big child and he did get tight in the autobaby car seat at 9 months. So I used another seat that a friend had lent me to see him through until he was able to change to a group1 car seat.
To put the Car Seat on to the stroller you simply click it on top of the seat unit, on to the little tray at the front. No adaptors are necessary which is always a bonus. It did stick on the stroller a couple of times on me when I was trying to get it off by using the handle at the rear, but I worked out that you could remove it by popping your hand under the tray and unclicking it from there.
The Car seat had an optional base for inside the car. We purchased this and it was very good. It was like the stroller as you simply clicked the car seat into the base and released it using the handle at the rear of the car seat. I always found this very convenient. I'm not one for standing trying to fasten seat belts over car seats!
People can be terribly snobby about the Graco range of Travel Systems in the U.K. Although in my opinion you are getting a very good value system when you buy one. Yes, I've moved on to fancier, all singing, all dancing strollers from my Mirage, but I never look back and think that it was a mistake. It did a very good job for us and it's still on the go almost fours years since we bought it. My friend has washed the fabrics many times and it still looks fine.
You wont get cutting edge design with the Graco mirage. It's a bit plastic looking and it doesn't support the popular brands of Car Seats such as Maxi-Cosi or Mamas and Papas. But still, it is a little trooper. It keeps going long after others have given up. I'd give it a 4/5 over all. My only issue is with it's appearance. The synthetic fabrics do it no favours (even though they wash like a ribbon!)
I have admittedly been a pramaholic in my day. I've got two children and with my youngest approaching two now, I have been through at least 15 various modes of travel for the two youngsters. Don't get me wrong, I'm not rich, I buy and sell on Ebay to make sure I don't lose money on my obsession. However, as you can guess with my daughter being almost two, I have pretty much reached the end of my time needing a buggy. And thankfully my interest is waning too. We are down to two simple strollers now. The Silver Cross POP which I am about to review, and the Jané Sonic. One sits in each car for the times when we need it. And both I am very happy with. Two simple little strollers that are compact and do a good job when you need them to.
When I bought my Pop Stroller it was getting really good reviews. Since I've gotten mine, either more people are simply logging their dislikes on review sites, or the Pop has been redesigned as we've used it for over a year now without a single bad point. I am truly surprised to see that it's been getting a 3 star rating here. It has been flawless for us. As well as having read good reviews about the Pop, a friend personally recommended it so I was happy to pay £99 for mine on offer. I also bought the footmuff as well, so that it would see us through the winter time and remain cosy and warm. We chose the "Jet Sport" colourway. This is a plain black colour with some reflective sweeps throughout. It's very simple, and it could be used for either gender. They don't actually make this colourway any more, but they have a similar one called Ebony.
The features of the Silver Cross Pop stroller are as follows:
Easy clean durable tailored fabrics
Brushed aluminium frame
Silver alloy effect wheels
Multi-position cup holder
Shoulder and buckle pads
Shoulder and hand carry strap
If you have bought the newest version of the Silver Cross Pop, then you will have a clear PVC and mesh pull out sun visor. I don't personally know that I would use this, but it's always good to have it just in case. The hood of the Silver Cross Pop that I have is adequate. It's on the large side anyway so it gives plenty of coverage from the elements.
I think no matter how good and how trendy a stroller is, essentially what a busy mother needs is something that is convenient, compact and easy to steer. For me, the next item on the check list would be a spacious basket that I can pop the smaller items in when we are out and about. Luckily I have always found that the Pop has ticked all of these boxes. And over and above that, it has never tipped on me. Some lighter strollers can tip when you inevitably pop a plastic bag of shopping on to one of the handles. I have never had this issue even though my daughter is really a petite poppet.
My son is almost four, and recently we went to the Zoo. It was a very long walk and when his sister had decided to walk for a bit, my son got in to the stroller for a few minutes. I think it was his first time in a stroller in a year and a half, but I was surprised that he fitted in there and was comfortable. For guidance, he's a big boy for his age, always on 80% centile on growth charts for both height and weight. If you have children that might give you a good guide to what size of child can be comfortably accommodated in the stroller seat. I wouldn't have liked to push him too far though; he was very heavy indeed!
The wheels are very easy to steer, and the one time that they were a little sticky for me, I popped a few drops of WD-40 in to the middle of the wheels and they were loose and functional again. We haven't had a problem since. If you do find yourself steering one handed, then it's more difficult, but it can be done. There are two separate handlebars on the Pop stroller which makes it slow work to steer one handed. I always have found that strollers with a single handlebar are easier one handed (And yes, there are times that you need to steer single handed! I always thought that was a myth then I realised when you pop to the supermarket and have a basket in your free hand , the ability to steer with one hand is invaluable!)
The stroller is not 100% straight in it's upright position, but a good feature is that it is suitable from birth as it can lie flat (or reasonably flat would be a better way to put it!) We don't use the flat setting any more, but it was always convenient when our daughter would fall asleep while out in the town.
The raincover included is pretty easy to attach, even in a heavy burst of rain you can get it on in a minute or two and the child is totally covered.
Folding the stroller is very easy. It's your typical umbrella fold which makes it very compact when folded. Every time that I open it out of the folded position I find that I have to reattach the hood, but this takes literally 10 seconds so it isn't a problem. It also has it'd own drinks holder. Mine ends up rolling around the boot of the car. It's not something I need, and when I do have it attached I always find my self throwing my car keys in to it. As for the pocket on the back of the hood, I use it for tissues. It's very convenient.
My Pop stroller has coped in the town, over cobbled streets, on rough terrain and on gravel. It's not particularly good over large expanses of gravel, but then I have not yet found an umbrella stroller that is. Usually you need air/gel tyres for a smooth ride over rough terrain.
I've been very happy with the Silver Cross Pop, and I would definitely recommend it. It has also become one of the top sellers in the U.K. now, so they must be doing something right! It's a 5/5 for me. And if you are looking for more information on the stroller there is lots to be found on Silvercross.co.uk where they have the full range of colours and specifications for the range.
I have been enjoying a little freedom recently when I have been choosing products for my daughter. In the past few months her skin has begun to settle down and it has been a while since she last had a reaction to a product. She's almost two so we didn't get to explore things but now I can (within reason- I'm still a little afraid!) I have stuck with baby wipes from Simple for so long now that it was with excitement that I picked up a packet of baby wipes from Boots last week. They were only 89p for 72 wipes so that seemed like a total bargain as I am used to paying a lot more for wipes.
The packet design has changed from the image that is at the top of this review. It is now cleaner looking- a light blue with an image of a baby to the right hand side. It is a fairly typical packet of wipes; there is a clip fastening in the middle and you open it up and pull the wipes out. This works pretty well, although sometimes you find yourself pulling four or five wipes out when you only really wanted one.
The front of the packet has some details about the wipes and even though I don't need to be as careful about products any more, I still find myself being happier when I see that items are "dermatologist and paediatrician approved" and it also tells you on the front that these wipes are 98% pure water. This makes me feel a little daft- I have pure water in my taps. Why do I pay almost £1 a time for baby wipes that I could make ecologically for free? I know its for convenience, but really I know what I should be doing.
If you flip the pack around to the rear there is slightly more information, basically that the wipes are soft and strong as well as hypo-allergenic. The ingredients are also included. I don't typically list the ingredients of a product, but with baby products this is sometimes necessary. The main ingredient is water and they do have parfum listed. This is an important one to note if you are having issues with sensitive skin.
When you pull a wipe from the packet they are one of the moister brands that I have tried. They aren't as thick or soft as you might expect, but they are ample for the general day-today messy hands that present themselves. However, heaven forbid that you get a particularly messy bum at some stage, the wipes are so thin that you will find yourself using a huge amount of wipes. In this case they really aren't very cost effective. So if you keep a pack around for normal household stuff and a pack of one of the other brands around for soiled nappies, then financially it would work out better,
They have not left my daughter with any sensitivity or reaction which is great and I think that I probably could have used these while she was having skin issues. They seem to be fine. I have also tried them on my own skin and they were very good.
I would recommend them as a spare packet to have around the house, and they'd be perfect for parents who have gone beyond the messy nappy stage and just need something convenient around to wipe paint of hands or chocolate covered mouths. I was happy with them, I do prefer Simple Wipes and even Pampers Wipes, but the Boots own brand were an inexpensive alternative.
When we first bought a Travel Cot (and we have three now. One at both grannies and one at home) I remember thinking how large and cumbersome it was. How could anything so heavy really be deemed as "For Travel" but I have come to realise that this is the norm for a Travel Cot. We own three different ones, and the size and weight of them when folded is pretty similar throughout. I know you can get ones on the market that are light- such as Pop-up Samsonite, but then you lose on a little on the strength. I bought my first travel cot from the Argos book, but the Hauck Baby Centre was one that I took a shine to when I saw it in a baby department. Mine is not like the one in the image. It is red with squares of colour around the top edges. But it is the same in all of it's other features.
I was driven by appearance when I bought this. It is so cheerful and happy looking with it's bright colours. And as I knew it was going to stay assembled in my living room as a playpen when I needed to keep my son safe, I wanted something that was nice to look at. I was also keen that I should have a bassinet this time. My cheaper travel cots were basic and just one level. So the bassinet feature was important to me. This 'Travel Cot was going to be an investment and see me through my next baby so I needed it to be as functional as possible.
The assembled dimensions of the Travel Cot are 120cm x 66cm internally and it has a hight of 66cm. When my daughter was born and I was buying a new mattress for my son's cot so that she could use it, I found out that we could fit my son's old cot mattress into the Travel Cot to give it more cushioning. Not all Travel Cots can take a standard mattress, but this one can. My son was not even two at the time and his mattress had been immaculate so although I had changed it for my daughter's safety, I thought that it was too good to throw away so it became a lovely cushiony base for the travel cot. We did eventually chuck it, but it was great for another year.
The Travel Cot does of course have it's own mattress. It is a small thin, but fairly well padded one. It is adequate for a child to sleep on, but personally I wouldn't fancy it for a long sleep myself.
To assemble the Travel Cot from it's folded position, you simply open it out and let the legs click into place. Most of the time this will work very easily, although occasionally you may find yourself getting into a tangle. I've found that the best thing to do in this situation is to start again. It always seems to work on the second attempt! I don't know why this is, but it works.
To unlock the Travel Cot there are buttons located on the top ridges. Once you click these the cot will begin to collapse on itself and you simply pull it up from the middle. Then you strap the mattress around the outside and it's all done. It weighs 13.5kg at this stage, so although it is heavy, it is still within an acceptable level to lift.
Now, although I had initially thought the bassinet feature was the one that was most important to me. It turned out that it really was more trouble than it was worth. After I used the bassinet once (Actually it was very good indeed, particularly after I had a C-Section and was not great at bending down) I had to take the bassinet out to use the travel cot as a play pen for my eldest. And the next time I went to put the new baby in, it seemed like such a kerfuffle to put the bassinet back on to the cot, so I just left it off.
I also did not use the cot top changer (It ripped!) or the mobile. My daughter must surely be suffering from second child syndrome as I would have tried all of these things out with my eldest! When it came to having two children I just wanted things to be as simple as possible. And that meant using the Baby Centre with no bassinette or mobiles. I have tried them in the past though. The mobile is a little cheap looking. The night light is barely there and the music is a little blah! But don't let this put you off.
So to conclude. Although I didn't use the features that I thought I would, I still believe that this is a good option for you if you are in the market for a travel cot. It has great flexibility and it folds up neatly into a storage bag so that you can carry it around easily. The mesh panels allow you to see your child from 3 different angles in the room. There is a Zipped play entry at one end, which my two children love at the moment- we cover the top and they think they are in a tent. And it's still going strong in it's third year. I would also like to add that it is quite a spacious cot.
It cost us £89 at the time, but I can see that there are much better deals than this online at the moment, so you could have a snoop around the internet and see this for yourself. I'm happy with the investment. While my cheaper Travel Cots are fine, this one still looks the part after 3 years solid use.
Recently my doctor suggested that I try probiotic yoghurts as I have been run down and suffering from stomach upsets and lots of highly unmentionable and embarrassing things. I had been buying Yakult but it seems so expensive to me. And all things considered, I'm not sure that I feel any better having taken it for a few weeks now. Even on offer, it is expensive so I decided that I'd try the Tesco Value range. At 1/3 the price, if it worked it would be a real saver.
It's not that i'm snobby about Tesco Value things, but I have had some questionable experiences with items from the range before and I was not really holding much hope for the Probiotic Strawberry Yoghurt Drink. I take my probiotic yoghurt for breakfast and I hoped that this one wouldn't taste awful as that would not be a very good start to the day. But I was pleasantly surprised. At 50p for four yoghurts it seemed too good to be true but these were a hit.
The100g four bottles come packaged in a cardboard sleeve. They are white plastic and have navy blue writing. If you are familiar with the Tesco Value range then you would be able to identify them straight away. However in the fridge section of the store, the more expensive Actimels and Yakults were at eye level. I had to look high up on the top shelf to see these yoghurts. The sleeve contains all the details that you will need. Explaining that the L.acidophilus LA-5 in the yoghurt can preserve a positive balance of friendly bacteria in the digestive system. So personally I thought that I should just give it a go. How different from the expensive brands could it be? The answer was not very!
Taste wise it was rather synthetic, but no less pleasant than the brands I had tried previously. I think it tastes like Yop! yoghurt drink if you've ever tasted that, like a fake strawberry flavour It's a bit sharp, but it's all gone in a couple of mouthfuls and I don't find that it has an aftertaste. The texture is pretty runny.
The yogurt is suitable for vegetarians and I was shocked to see exactly how much sugar it contains (I'm always on the look out for sugar levels as I have a managed diet and need to be careful) however the sugar in this range did not seem to affect me negatively which makes me think that some of it it may be fructose from the strawberries rather than added sugar although there definitely is added sugar too- it says so on the sleeve. Each bottle contains 75 calories, 11.7g sugars, 0.7g fat (0.4g saturates) and 0.1g salt.
I have been happy with this product and will be buying it for the forseeable future. I'm not sure than any of the probiotic yoghurts really work, but at least these are a third of the price of the branded ones and I feel like I am doing something useful for my body. Whether I am helping or hindering remains to be seen, but we'll stick at it. They are fantastic value for money.
"This is my digger" is a book that my four year old picked from the library selection. I knew immediately why he plumped for this one... it has a noisy button in the corner and for preschoolers, noise always seems to be attractive. Not so for mummies, but hey, we don't get much choice in the matter! So long as he is reading and enjoying the experience, I'm happy with that.
Guilty of judging the book by its cover, I was not overly excited at the prospect of reading it. But it turned out to be an enjoyable little story and for a four year old it was clear and easy to understand. There was also plenty of interaction as there were some textured areas on each page. It is a board book, so it is very sturdy. Always a bonus in my opinion.
This book is from the Usborne Noisy Touchy-Feely range. It is not one that I have been familiar with, but I would certainly try it again after our experience with "This is my digger." The noisy button in the corner makes the sound of a digger shoveling and it has the words "And it goes Brrrmmm". To me, I think it sounds more like a bit of white noise rather than a Brmmm, but my little boy happily pushed the button at the end of each page. He's mature enough now to know to wait until the end of the page to push the button. His sister would press it randomly if I were reading it to her.
Each double page spread features a sentence about what the digger does and illustrates this very well too. The illustrations also include interesting textures as I mentioned before. The bucket for example is a spongy silver foam. The digger tracks are a corrugated cardboard and the arm of the digger is a shiny yellow plastic. These are very good for holding the child's interest. Also, the way in which the sentence is broken down, allows for plenty of explanation about the action. I can stop at any point on the page to explain something and pick up again without any trouble. For example, one double page spread includes the sentences "This is my digger. It has... (Image) Crawler Tracks. It bumps and bounces... (image) ... over lumpy ground" so as you can see there are plenty of gaps that allow some chat with the child.
The button in the corner is very easy to push. Our toddler can do it with ease, however she is not as interested in this book as the four year old. I think if you have a child who loves building and diggers then they will love this book. The illustrations are very sweet and there is lots going on to keep them involved. There are also other books in the range such as "This is my puppy" "This is my Kitten" "This is my Duck" "This is my Monster and "This is my dinosaur" so there is certainly something in the range that will suit your little one.
I would recommend this as a read for 3/4 year olds. It's maybe a little too simple for older children but it is certainly a good book for preschoolers.
For those of us out there who have a little one with sensitive skin, buying products can lead to total confusion. And heaven forbid that you buy the wrong one. Just one turn in a bubble bath that doesn't agree with your child's skin, can lead a weeks worth of eczema for the baby. Although it's rarely the parent's fault. You just cannot begin to imagine the guilt that you will feel if you change products and the new one causes a flare up for your baby.
For the past two years we have had to be very mindful of the products that touch my daughter's skin. From washing powder to babywipes, everything has to be vetted. She's about to turn two in a couple of weeks and this past six months has seen her almost grow out of her allergies, but we remain mindful. I had been getting on really well with the 'Halos n Horns' baby bath, but Tesco were out of it on my last shopping trip so I had to take a quick scan over what else was on offer. After reading the blurb on Infacare I decided to take it. The fact that it was pH-balanced and Ultra-mild was what swayed me. As well as that. The clean white bottle always wins me over when it comes to products. It looked fresh and clean compared to some of the alternative products on the shelves.
What InfaCare Say
The back of the bottle has a brief description about how InfaCare does more than just clean your baby, it protects and cares for the skin too. It has been clinically tested to prove that it is gentle on babies delicate skin and it is formulated not to irritate the skin.
Now, personally, I would say that if you have a baby who has very severe bouts of irritation, then I would not trust any bottle. Our little one is a toddler now and can withstand chemicals that she couldn't originally so I did have a feeling that she would be safe enough with InfaCare. But if I had been purchasing this when she was a newborn I would have had to be more careful. I would recommend putting the tiniest little dot into your bath water just to test it, then building it up when you are sure that there will be no reaction to the bubble bath.
And most importantly... Is it nice!?
When you squirt the InfaCare into your bath, you will find that it is green. Again, for me, I don't like baby products to be green! Or any colour in fact! I prefer her products to be clear as usually anything that has a colour irritates her a little. But InfaCare was different. The green colour must be natural as it had no effect on her skin. When you squirt it out a little will go a long way. It is thick and luxurious. One squirt in a bath will give enough bubbles to keep a small child occupied. You sometimes find with sensitive baby baths that there aren't many bubbles. The detergent can be an irritant, but there are plenty with InfaCare.
The scent is the typical smell that you would associate with a baby bath. It's that lovely baby smell, and it makes it's way through the house when I prepare a bath for my daughter.
I'm not one for listing ingredients in reviews, but when it comes to skin sensitivity, it is really very important. So here goes...
Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride, PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Sodium Citrate, Parfum, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-10, Cl 61570, Cl 19140, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Isoeugenol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional
If you are aware of any of these ingredients causing trouble for your child in the past then you should steer clear of InfaCare.
While I do prefer the Halos N Horns range of baby products, I am really very happy with InfaCare. It has now become my second choice of bubble bath for my toddler as all in all, it is a great little product. At £1.90 for 400ml a little goes a long way and it has been going strong for a couple of weeks now, with plenty still left in the bottle.
If you are having trouble finding a baby bath for your youngster then InfaCare is certainly worth a shot.
We bought Mr Potato Head for my daughter's second birthday, but I was too excited to wait and I ended up giving it to her early. She'd had a tough day. It was the day of the dreaded MMR and as brave as she had been; she was quite miserable. So I wanted to both distract and cheer her up. Mr Potato head was given to her and she was delighted.
He's been around the house now for over two weeks and he still gets daily play. That may not sound like a lot, but two year olds are very fickle in regards to their toys and so for something to be played every day is quite an acheivement.
I think that most people reading this review will be quite familiar with the toy. It's been around for many years. It was in fact invented in 1949, so it is as old as most of the Dooyooers (Maybe there are a few exceptions!) And according to Wiki, Mr Potato Head has the honor of being the first toy advertised on television. But enough of the padding. If you're reading here, then you're probably wondering what the toy is like, so I will explain.
What you get
Inside your clear box, you will find Mr Potato Head already looking quite cheerful with all of his facial features already attached, but when you take everything out of the box then the fun begins. The main part of the toy is a light brown round shape. The potato obviously. The potato has different holes all over the body and this is where you can let your creative side show.
Our own Mr Potato head has had arms for hair, lips for nose, he over accessorises, sometimes he's rather bald. Sometimes he wears a hat. It's all good clean fun. For a small child, the pieces are eay to clip in and out of the holes.
There is also a little flap in the bottom where you can put all of the parts that you are either not using, or you can just use it for storage. It's so convenient. I use it all the time when I am tidying up after the children. It must be noted that the little parts will get everywhere, but they are quite good for small children as they are all too big to be a real choke hazzard (My daughter is awful for putting things in her mouth)
I think as a toy, it's really fun. It sits on my daughter's window sill when she is not using it and it really is cute. He makes me smile! Mr Potato Head is also really popular at the moment as he is one of the stars in the new Toy Story movie.
Where to Buy
I bought our toy from Asda for £5 a few weeks back. I know that Tesco also had them at the same price as I liked the toy so much that I bought another for a friend's child too.
I would thoroughly recommend Mr Potato Head to everyone. His appeal is limitless. My two year old loves it. My three year old loves it and my twenty-eight year old self is partial to a little play sometimes too!
The Mid Ulster Mail is a tabloid newspaper which is in circulation around the Mid-Ulster area of Northern Ireland. It is one of the largest local newspapers in the Cookstown / Magherafelt area of Northern Ireland as it is very relevant to the area and puts a lot of emphasis on being on top of what's happening locally. The main office is in Cookstown, but they also have a sub office in Magherafelt so that means that they are always close by should anything happen in the district and they are one of the first points of contact for locals who wish to publicise any issues.
The Mid (as it is shortened to here) is recognisable in the shops by it's black and red title which spans across the top of the paper. I've always thought that they should have more of a logo, as it's basically just like a headline. It's a sans serif text- nothing special to differentiate this paper from any of the others on the shelf. However, it's not the title that is important when you're reviewing a newspaper. It's very much the content that matters. And this is where the Mail performs well.
The Mid-Ulster Mail typically contains
The first 1/3 of the paper is usually dedicated to the most important local news. For example, the A&E department of Magherafelt was closed down without much warning a few weeks back. The people were very annoyed and rightly so. The Mid-Ulster Mail has been very good in publicising the issue. It has been front page news for a few weeks now.
The Mid-Ulster mail appears to rely heavily on advertising revenue. It has advertisements on every single page. This could be irritating, but the advertisements are all from shops in the area and are often publicising very good deals, so soon you begin not to notice them, and almost treat them as another article! I would never really read the ads in a large national paper, but I always read them in the Mid-Ulster Mail.
Community News holds a small column for every local area where the locals submit news of interest. It can contain information from the times of Women's Institute meetings, or congratulations for someone who might have gotten married. I typically only read the areas where I might visit or know someone who lives there. The rest of them I just skip. I like this feature, it saves the Mail from putting really trivial information in the rest of the newspaper. People can pick and choose which part they want to read here.
A small section of news features from 10 years ago, 25 years ago, 50 years ago, 75 years ago and 100 years ago. I do like this feature because I am not originally from this area and it is nice to learn a little about the past.
The Churches section is fairly self-explanitary. It gives notice of all of the local Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist church services.
This is a pull out of what's going on in the area over the next week or two. The pubs and clubs will advertise their nights in this section. There are some articles, but mostly advertorials.
This is a section dedicated to cars, what's coming on the market, a review of what's already on the market and usually some information from local car dealers. Admittedly I skip right past this section!
Sport takes up almost the last 1/3 of the paper. The area is a pretty active one, and the Mail covers all of the popular sports. We have a Special Olympian here who is fabulous and the Mail often feature her. Soccer, Hockey, Cycling, Bowling and the GAA are covered in depth giving something for everyone and covering all sides of the community.
Throughout the paper there are loads of photographs of community events, which is one of the main reasons a lot of people buy the paper. You are always on the lookout for someone that you know. It is published by Johnston Press, and the sister papers are the Ballymena Times and the Tyrone Times. It comes out every Thursday and you will find it in a lot of the homes that you visit in this district.
I enjoy reading it. We live rurally and some of the stories can be a little quaint and silly, but it will always entertain. It is also fab for finding out what is going on at the weekends for children, or to find out how to book swimming lessons / art classes for your little ones.
It costs £1 which is a bit on the expensive side when you compare it to other papers, but there is loads in there, and it's all relevant. I'd imagine that I'll be buying it for quite some years yet.
When books come into our house they are generally read to both children. From there, someone will usually like it, and someone will generally be indifferent to it. This was the case with "Penguin" by Polly Dunbar. By four year old listened happily, but it didn't catch his interest enough. On the opposite side of the scale, our daughter who is almost two embraced it and hands it to us pretty much every evening for a read. We could safely say it is her favourite book out of all that we own.
Penguin's front cover is mostly white. In the centre there is an illustration of a penguin. Admittedly I probably would not have been drawn to this in a shop, but as they say, Never judge a book by its cover. It has a lot more going on inside.
Turning the first page you will find an illustration of the little boy (Ben) ripping open a present to find a Penguin. He is excited to find a new friend and wants to have fun with the penguin. But alas, no matter what he tries, Penguin is unresponsive. Ben tries everything from poking penguin, tickling him, singing to him and lots more. Eventually Ben gets upset (just like a toddler would) and cries, then gets frustrated and tries to feed penguin to a lion who just happened to be passing by. This doesn't go down too well with the lion, and he eats Ben instead. Penguin saves the day in the end. I'm sorry, I have given most of the story away, but it's a children's story and there's not really much to it!
I read the other reviews on this little book and I was surprised that people didn't warm to it. Some one had commented that the story didn't flow. I would say that I have a different view point of the staccato sentences. As you finish one of the sentences, it has normally been an action of some sort. For example "Ben Tickled Penguin." It's short and abrupt, but when reading the book to a toddler it give you the time to tickle the child and for them to tickle you back. It becomes more than just a story. So you get to prod your toddler, blow as raspberry at them, pull a funny face at them and so on. Believe me, a toddler will find this hilarious. We've read it so many times that she knows it off by heart now.
I never get tired of reading this book to our daughter because she's hilarious as she acts it out while it is being read. The funniest is where Ben says "Will you talk to me if I stand on my head" Cue toddler bottom in the air as she puts her head to the floor. It's all very exciting.
All in all, I like this story. I think it is very nice to be so interactive with my toddler. I also find the story charming and cute. The illustrations are sweet too. I would recommend it for the 18 months - 2.5 year group as children older than that are probably looking for something with more action.
4/5 from me.
It seems like in most reviews I do, eczema is right up there at the forefront. My baby daughter suffered quite badly from it, although she only has occasional flare ups now, so I can finally be a little less careful with the products that we can use at home. However, although it is usually her that I am concerned with, in this case the review will be about me. I also suffer from eczema. Mine stems from a pollen allergy, so I only really suffer between May and September but if any of you know what eczema is like, you will have an idea about the condition of my skin when it strikes.
At the moment it is at the stage where a recent flare up is settling down. The itch is minimal, but the skin on my hands is hard and bumpy now from the previous few weeks of scratching it. Annually I will have to use a steroid cream to get it under control. There have been a few of these over the years that the doctor has prescribed, but no one wants to use a steroid very often, so he prefers that I try and deal with the itching and flakiness with intense moisturisation. This works to a degree. Meaning that one week of steroid cream is usually enough to get me through my allergy season.
The cream (Or actually they call it a gel) is "Doublebase" and due to the amount of this stuff that I need, I am prescribed a 500g tub of it that has a squirty dispenser. So this review is based on that, and not the one you see in the picture. However it is essentially the same stuff. I just need much larger quantities.
What it is
The blurb for Doublebase calls it "A highly moisturising and protective hydrating gel for regular and frequent use in the management of dry or chapped skin conditions, which may also be itchy and inflamed"
As you can imagine from my brief description above, this is exactly what I suffer from. If you scratch your hands enough, the skin starts to resemble a lizard, and unfortunately that's what my hands look like most of the summer. Because they are also scratched and chapped, any moisturiser with a scent (almost all of your typical handbag ones) will make the situation worse for me. Even the "unscented" ones appear to have some sort of ingredients that create more lumps and bumps there.
If you'd asked me what Doublebase was, I'd have told you it was a cream, but now having seen that the tub calls it a gel, and having bounced it around inside and watch it wobble like Jelly, I can confirm that this isn't a cream. It is too oily.
There's no point in telling someone with a skin condition that a little goes a long way. The fact is that dry skin will drink in the moisture quicker than you have time to apply it. This is why I go through so much of this stuff. The directions on the back are clear:
* Before use, turn the pump dispenser clockwise to release it.
* The same instructions apply to adults, the elderly, babies and children. Gently apply Doublebase to the affected areas as often as necessary.
* Doublebase may also be applied before washing, showering or having a bath in order to prevent further drying out of the skin.
Now, let me tell you about my experience of the last one! I had applied Doublebase a few hours before I had a bath one evening and I slipped and slid around the tub.. So I won't be doing that again in a hurry!
I do slap this on several times a day. My problem is really my hands, but if I have an event coming up where I will be wearing a dress or skirt, it is tremendous stuff for smoothing knees and ankles. A few nights beforehand, slather yourself in it before you go to bed and I would guarantee that you will have soft limbs that you've never experienced before. It is fairly intense as a moisturiser.
This is for dry skin all over the body, but there is one place that I have never tried it, and that's my face. The reason for this is that I have combination skin there, and when you use Doublebase, it leaves like an oil barrier on the skin. It locks the moisture on your dry skin, but if I personally used this on my face I would imagine it would cause a break out by blocking my pores. It would probably be absolutely fine for someone who had very dry facial skin.
I wouldn't typically include the ingredients in a review, but if you're considering Doublebase then you've probably been diagnosed with some sort of skin condition, be it psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and in that case the ingredients become very important in case something in there will cause a flare up. In doublebase the active and inactive ingredients are listed separately.
Isopropyl Myristate 15% w/w
Liquid Paraffin 15& w/w
Glycerol, Carbomer, Sorbitan Laurate, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, Purified Water.
As a moisturiser, it's the only one I would use, and I would happily use it on my toddler daughter when she is having an outbreak of flaky skin too. It is excellent, and it really works. But don't expect a lovely smell. It doesn't really smell of anything. That's the best way for me. My skin can't handle scents very well.
5/5 marks from me.
Here's a bit of a retro one! Come Outside is back on Cbeebies.
I remember Come Outside when I was younger. My mum is a childminder, so when I got home from school there would typically be some little kiddies shows on the telly while she was preparing their afternoon snack. I think this is why it has seemed so familiar when I see it on the Cbeebies channel. The show ran from 1993 until 1997 which would tie in with my memories, I would have been about twelve at the time.
It is being broadcast again on Cbeebies, which occasionally happens so that they aren't showing the same old repeats day-in, day-out. Neither of my children have noticed that it is at least fifteen years old. They both think it's a great little show. It certainly ticks all the boxes. Aunty Mabel is a friendly old lady, there's a Plane to satisfy the technical needs of a little boy, and who could resist cuddly Pippin the dog. It's a certain receipe for success in the child market.
The format is really simple. Aunty Mabel lives in a little cottage with her dog. At some stage during the day something will happen and Aunty Mabel will begin to explain it with the help of Pippin the dog. They will board her spotty plane in the garden and fly off somewhere that explains the story a little better.
An example of some of the episodes would be
A Carton Drink - Auntie Mabel and Pippin are preparing a picnic, and need some carton drinks. Cue Aunty Mabel and Pippin visiting a factory where Blackcurrent juice is made an put into cartons.
A Rainy Day- Aunty Mabel returns from the beach in the rain. Lots of singing of Incy Wincy Spider and a broken gutter to be fixed. Aunty falls in a puddle which makes her a little bit miserable.
Boxes - Auntie Mabel is moving house, and she shows us the contents of the many boxes she is taking with her. This episode also was quite crafty, in that Come Outside was moving to a different production company so by aunty moving house, the change of filming was cleverly disguised.
Buses- Auntie Mabel's plane won't start, so she and Pippin have to travel by bus. But Auntie Mabel accidentally leaves Pippin on the bus. A kindly driver brings Pippin home. How on earth you could forget your dog is beyond me, but there you go!
Useful Holes - This one was on recently and the title made me giggle. Auntie Mabel explains about useful holes- holes in the ground where animals live, and holes in birdboxes, and the flap Pippin uses to get in and out of the house. She tells the story of how the latter saved her life (but note that her smoke detector doesn't work).
Aunty Mabel is played by Lynda Baron who used to be in Open All Hours. She was also in Eastenders last year as Jane Beale's mother.
Aunt Mabel wears a wedding ring, but there is no sign of a man about the house at all. Also she only ever talks of her sister Edie. We never meet Edie, but she does get mentioned quite a lot.
The dog that plays Pippin is the same dog that was in the CITV show 'Woof!' when we were younger.
Pippin died in 2008. She would have been at least 20 years old, which is good innings for a dog! She was one of the offspring of Benji, remember Benji!?
There were 39 episodes filmed of Come Outside. At 15 minutes each, they provide just enough stimulation. The children can watch 15 minutes without becoming bored. Everything that is featured in an episode is age appropriate so they both understand it. My eldest who is almost four is probably getting slightly beyond it now, but I have noticed him pick things up from it. He now knows where apples come from and how they get to the shops and he also can tell me where toilet roll goes when it gets flushed down the loo; all learned from Mabel and Pippin.
I also find it charming in a way that some of the more modern children's programmes are lacking. It seems so sweet and innocent. I would certainly have no qualms about having the children watch it. It is most definitely recommended here.
The Fisher Price Bounce and Spin Zebra is one of the few toys in our home that has made it through the attack of the first child and is still immaculate and in full working order for the second. It is also one of the few toys that both children loved equally. You hear about ladies buying investment pieces for their wardrobe. Well in my opinion, the Bounce and Spin Zebra is most definitely an investment piece for your play room.
I bought the Zebra when my eldest child, a little boy, was just over a year old. He was a big boy for his age and by that stage he'd been walking for a few months. The really baby toys he had were boring him and he needed something more physical. I remember waiting for my pay cheque to come through and taking him straight to the toy shop to buy him something nice. The Bounce and Spin Zebra was the one we decided on. Well, I decided on, as being one, he didn't have much say in the matter.
I remember it costing around £40, but this was three years ago now, so it has probably gone up a little. I didn't really think back then that it would be the investment that it has become. It's going to a friend soon, as my daughter has now finished with it too, and you wouldn't know it had been used at all. Not a bump, scratch or mark on it.
What it is...
It's a bouncing, spinning Zebra! It is exactly what it says on the box. You assemble the Zebra very easily. I managed it myself and believe me, I'm not very good at things like that. And the little one sits on the saddle and bounces themselves up and down and they can also rotate themselves too. There is a little cylinder at the head of the Zebra and it makes a rattle when the child rotates it. There are also lots of sounds, galloping noises and songs. It requires 3 AA batteries, and these are included. Mine have only been changed once in 3 years.
And it's suitable for?...
This is recommended for children of one year upwards, I would personally say that is quite ambitious. While it was fab for my one year old boy, who was large for his age, very strong and steady on his feet, it was not something that my one year old daughter could have used without help. She had to be held into place as she was not at the walking stage yet. She is also small for her age and her feet did not touch the floor. She would have been at least 15/16 months before the Bounce and Spin Zebra would have been enjoyable for her on her own. She's 22 months now and regularly climbs on for a quick bounce.
A child at the younger age of the scale is unlikely to be able to use the spin feature as it is a little more complicated than the Bounce feature.
What it Promotes
It certainly promotes a great sense of balance. When the child is on the seat, they are in control of the Zebra, it will do whatever they guide it to do. The songs and lights will flash as the child bounces and touches things, so it will also promote hand-eye co-ordination. It is really just a fun little toy, and rather than getting caught up in what my child will learn from a toy, I'm happy just to see them enjoying it. Is there any better sight that a toddler with a grin, or any better sound than a belly chuckle?
At the moment this gets used at least once a day. When my daughter goes in to her bedroom even for a second, she will sit on it and have a quick bounce. We recently moved her from her cot to a bed, which means when she wakes up she can get out of the bed herself. We usually know she is awake because we can hear the music of the Zebra! It scared the beejesus out of us the first night as we didn't know what was going on.
The Zebra has a very wide base at the bottom, so perhaps not ideal for homes that are pushed for space, but the base is necessary to keep the toy balanced.
When we have people visiting with young children, it seems that they can't resist a bounce on the Zebra either (the young children, not the parents!) It has had more than it's fair share of abuse over the years and it has taken it well. Not a single scratch. The only mark it has is where my darling daughter pushed some play doh in to the groves on the base plate. I have to scrape that out soon as my friend has just had a baby and I've offered her all our old toys so that we can make some space for more grown up ones!
A really good feature for the ears of poor mothers is that it has a degree of volume control. You can select a low volume, a high volume, or you can just turn it off. The Zebra will still bounce and spin, but it won't make any noise. My daughter has cottoned on to this now and she will switch it to the loudest setting, but we got away with it for a while!
The handlebars are very easy for little children to hold. You sometimes find they can be a little on the thick side on other children's toys, but these are good. It's been designed very well ergonomically.
I would recommend this to others in a flash. I expect my friend will get a further two years out of it, so that'll be six years by the time it is relegated. 6 years of play for £40 is a total bargain in my eyes. I think my daughter will be scolding me when I take it from her bedroom!
When it comes to saving money, I am incredibly bad. It just doesn't come naturally. I'm a child of the times of plenty. I don't remember the recession times of the 80s. There are things that some of us can do easily, and for me, being frugal is not one. I try. But it is a struggle. When I caught myself using my dishwasher for the third run in one day I decided it really was time to wake up to myself. One of my loads was only half full and I could have easily washed the dishes by hand. That day I made a conscious decision to start washing the dishes. I was amazed at how much this one little change affected my lifestyle.
Even though I didn't wash the dishes, I still had a bottle of Fairy Liquid in my cupboard. It was one of those things that you see your mum using, so you automatically buy it for yourself. Mine had sat in the cupboard for months with only the occasional drop taken from it for one reason or another. I know that when my own mum tried other brands she would complain that they didn't clean the grease off the pans, or that they weren't thick enough, so I would imagine that Fairy is the best on the market out there, mum is never wrong.
Fairy liquid went on the market in 1960, so it's been around for a long time. Currently you can buy a few different fragrances in the liquid. Original, Apple and Lemon. We have always seemed to stick with the original fragrance. It is distinctive and fresh. It is a lovely thick green liquid, and you only need a drop or two for a sink full of suds.
The Cleaning Power
Since I made the move towards cleaning my own dishes by hand, I have actually found that they are sometimes cleaner than they would have been in the dishwasher. The Fairy Liquid penetrates the grease on particularly badly soiled dishes and if you leave it to soak for a while, you usually find the grime will come off with an easy sweep of a cloth. It removes everything from fatty deposits on saucepans, to ground in coffee stains on mugs. My glasses sparkle in a way that they did not when they were washed in the dishwasher. I suppose this is a combination of the fairy liquid and the fact that they get a little extra buffing when I am drying them.
Like the ads say, I have not had any issues with it drying out my skin. They are just as soft when they go in the water as when they come out of it.
You will often find Fairy Liquid on offer in the larger supermarkets. I picked up a large bottle of 650ml today for £1. Usually this would retail at £1.39 so it is a good little bargain. A bottle of Fairy lasts ages too; I know I won't need to buy it again for quite a while. It is true that for a sink full of dishes, two drops is ample for a good amount of suds. I would personally use more for heavier grime, but in general use; it doesn't take much to clean the dishes
Since I have made an attempt to find the frugal me, I have found a multitude of ways to make the humble bottle of Fairy Liquid work for me. I have also tried to use fewer chemicals in our household so I am sticking with Fairy for a lot of cleaning that I would have previously tackled with very harsh chemicals.
So far I have found that I can use my fairy liquid in the following ways.
Floor Cleaner. We have ceramic tiles throughout the house so we need to wash them quite often. Sometimes when a tile gets grubby I use a dot of Fairy Liquid with water in an old squirty bottle and that gets to work on the mess straight away. A wipe with a cloth and I have a glistening tile again.
Window Cleaner. The same concoction as above, with a dash of white vinegar will clean your windows immaculately. It is better than any window cleaner that I have ever bought. I can't imagine I will buy a product specifically for cleaning windows ever again.
Shampoo: Although this one wouldn't be for every day use, Fairy Liquid can help strip hair colour out of your hair if you find that you have dyed it too dark. It also removed product build-up very well. All you need is a tiny dot. I've used this occasionally and it has made my hair so clean
Car Washing: It has pulled me out of a tight spot on occasions where I have needed to wash the car. Now people have told me not to do it, but it did nothing only make my car sparkle, so I can't complain? That said my car is 10 years old. If I was driving a fancy machine, Id probably pay the extra to have her cleaned every week.
Computer Cleaning: A tiny amount in water, with a cloth that has been well wrung out will lift all the dust from your computer monitor. I can't emphasis enough that the cloth should be so well wrung out that it almost feels dry.
Brick Laying: Now I haven't used this personally, but when my dad has been doing DIY jobs at home and has run out of the stuff he usually uses in mortar, he squeezes a little Fairy Liquid in there too. I know it's not proper practice, but it does what ever he needs.
Greasing: When something gets stuck somewhere, like a ring on a finger or a piece of a toy lodged in another toy, a bit of Fairy Liquid can help you squeeze the offending bit off.
And so, what NOT to do with Fairy Liquid...
When you run out of Dishwasher tablets, it is not a good idea to think "Oh, I'll just throw some washing up liquid in there." I learned the hard way, when my dishwasher decided to throw a tantrum, and a kitchen full of suds from under its doors. It took 3 days before it decided to work again.
And while it's useful for cleaning the bathroom when it is diluted with water, Fairy Liquid is not very good when you squeeze a fairly ample amount down the toilet neat. Be warned, it will soon have suds out over the toilet seat after a couple of flushes.
Oh, and someone told me, it doesn't make a very good toothpaste either!
What's in there?
It is notoriously difficult to find out what is in dishwashing detergent. I found a site called theecologist.com that had the same problem and they rounded the ingredients down to this list:
* Sodium laureth sulphate
* Alcohol denat
* Lauramine oxide
* C9-11 pareth-8
* Sodium chloride
* PPG (polypropylene glycols)
* Dimethyl aminoethyl methecrylate/hydroxyproply acrylate copolymer cirate
Some of those names seem a bit frightening, but they are on the list of safe chemicals by Proctor and Gamble who make the product. The ecologist does state that some of these can be irritants, and that no detergent is really good for the environment no matter how hard it tries. But personally I have not had any irritation from Fairy Liquid so we will continue to use it. In terms of being green, while the product itself is not very ecological, the fact that it stops me from using energy in the dishwasher, and the fact that a bottle lasts a long time, and is recyclable do mean that it gets some 'green kudos'
I would happily recommend Fairy Liquid to all of my friends. It saves me a lot of money and it has so many uses when you really need a quick, convenient detergent.