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My youngest son decided just before he turned two that pushchairs were for losers, and he refused to sit in one. Upon trying to get him to sit in it, he would make his body go completely rigid and straighten his legs so it was completely impossible. If by some fluke we didn't manage to get him in it, he would shout "out" and "stuck" and generally make a nuisance of himself until we relented and let him out. Luckily for us though, he does hold our hand (my elder son was a runner!) and so we never really thought we would need reins until we planned a trip to London with my parents and my sister. We decided there was no point taking the pushchair as it would be more hassle than it was worth considering we'd be hopping on and off the tube but I was talked into buying some reins by a colleague. We I mentioned our pushchair-free trip she looked horrified and said what if he runs off in the middle of London, you'll never find him. What if he darts in front of a tube train or in front of a big red bus. Rather than use my common sense and think he had never run off before, why would he start now?, I relented and nipped into mothercare the day before our trip and bought these.
The Mothercare Adjustable Walking Reins cost me just under £7 and although I bought it in store you can also buy online from the Mothercare website. They are quite underwhelming to look at, just basic blue with straps to go over the shoulders and a fastening for the back. The walking rein clips on the back with ease and you're good to go.
Considering my son's dislike of being fastened in to anything I was dubious he was going to want to put it on but I managed to get it on him without any fuss. As I said earlier he is two and it fit him nicely using the adjustable straps for a comfortable fit. Mothercare claim that due to the adjustable straps they're suitable for up to 4 years but I'm not convinced the straps would be long enough, especially if the child were wearing a thick coat. The straps were easy to adjust using the same kind of method you would adjust a bag strap. I managed to adjust it while my little on was wearing it despite his wriggling to see what I was doing.
Once I got him all set up I picked up the walking rein and waited for my son to wander off. He turned around and looked at me curiously, presumably wondering why I was trying to walk him like a dog. He turned around and held out his hand for me to hold. Bless him. I left the reins on him and held his hand as usual with the reins still around him in case he felt the need to dart off. On the rare occasion he did let go off my hand, I could use the strap to stop him from going too far. The straps were secure enough to stop him running away but not too restricting that they would hurt him.
I haven't used the reins since coming home from our trip but that isn't due to the quality of the product. They are sturdy and secure when on and don't require to much effort to get on and off. I do however think they perhaps would be better suited for younger toddlers learning to walk (I know my sister used a set to prevent her little one from falling over) or toddlers who do enjoy darting off.
My name's Jenny and I am a cheek biter. I know, I know, weirdo alert! But bear with me, there's method to my madness. I've suffered from migraines since being a child and despite having all different medications to treat it, nothing really works other than lying in a dark room and sleeping it off. As a child I used to bite the insides of my cheeks to distract myself from the dull throb of the migraine. It seems strange but it used to help me cope. As I've grown older I still do it, although not consciously. I don't even realise I'm doing it, to the point I wonder whether I've done it in my sleep but the next morning I definitely know I have been bitey due to the ulcers all over my cheeks and the inside of my lower lip. I've tried an assortment of things to help with them but not been overly impressed with any. I saw Iglu advertised as a new ulcer treatment that really works and so as a sucker for a bit of good advertising I handed over my £6 in Boots for an 8g tube. Ouch. Considering Bonjela is sold for less than half that I was hoping I was going to be impressed.
The treatment contains lidocaine which is a local anaesthetic and also contains an anti-septic to help with the healing and, according to the information provided, it would cover the ulcer and protect it from food etc and help numb the pain. It is also supposed to speed up the time it takes the ulcer to heal and disappear.
The treatment comes in a standard small tube and the directions advise to use a tissue to dry the area around the ulcer before applying it. You are then to use your finger tip or a cotton bud to apply it in a "singe gentle wiping action". Hmmm. Well first of all, upon giving the tube a little squeeze the "gel" came out onto my finger. Except that it isn't a gel at all. It's a thick, tacky consistency and not at all gel-like. Having already dried the area on my lower lip I tried to apply in the gentle wiping action the directions instructed. Easier said than done! If it was a gel you could slide in over the ulcer with ease but because of the consistency it just stuck to my finger. I ended up having to quite forcefully press my finger against my sore ulcer for it to actually come off. If I wasn't in pain before I was now! However once it had finally been applied properly the waxy texture of it turned more gelatinous and I did actually notice that my ulcer did become less painful.
After some trial and error I did find the application of the product and the ease of it, is dependant on the area you're trying to cover. I did find that using a cotton bud was easier than using my finger and although trickier to apply to the area, it did work best on the insides of my cheeks. I found that when I tried to apply it to the inside of my lower lip, the tacky stickiness of it would attach itself to my teeth. Attractive. However when I can apply it properly to the inside of my cheeks I do notice it stays attached for quite a long amount of time and does provide some comfort. I have to say, however, that whilst it made it more comfortable while the ulcer was there, it didn't do anything to speed up the healing time. It still took several days for the ulcer to disappear completely.
I'm not overly impressed with this one. I know what they are trying to do, your typical gel based treatments aren't all that great, Bonjela I'm looking at you. I found with typical gels it would wash away too quickly to have an beneficial effect. I do find that if you can master the application of this it does help with the pain aspect, but considering the price, the tricky application and the fact it doesn't speed up healing time, it all seems a bit too much of a faff.
My children and I have all inherited my mum's fair complexion and all of us bruise like peaches at the slightest of contacts. I was a clumsy child (and to be fair, I'm also a clumsy adult!) and I remember my mum always having a tube of arnica cream in the first aid box for whenever I fell over my own feet and landed on top of a table. Which happened more often than you might think! After moving out and getting married I didn't give arnica much thought because I had become slightly more stable on my feet and didn't have cause to use it, until I became pregnant with our first son. As with most pregnant women I had to undergo quite a few blood tests. To make matters worse midwives, nurses, doctors, phlebotomists... all of them struggle to get any blood out of me and so it would take several attempts in both arms to get what they needed, leaving my arms black and blue. After seeing my arms my mum recommended the trusty old arnica gel. In the past my mum had always used a branded version (Nelson's if I remember correctly) but I bought Boots own brand for around £4ish for a 30g tube.
The cream comes in a typical tube and you just squeeze out enough to cover the desired area. The cream is quite thick but not greasy as it isn't gel based. The scent isn't overly strong, and disappears fairly quickly so you don't smell like you've been applying nappy cream. The directions instructed to rub it in the area gently and it didn't take long until it had soaked into the skin. I was concerned that it would rub away easily and not be that effective because my bruising was in the crease of my elbow but once it was allowed to sink in it was able to work its magic. The cream is quite cold when you apply it which is actually a nice sensation when the bruise is still sore and tender.
The next morning I was happy to see that it worked just as well as the old cream my mum used to use. The darkness of the bruise had begun to fade and become more yellow in colour. Within two days the bruise had almost faded to yellow completely whereas usually I'm left with a blue/black bruise for at least 3-4 days. It's not a miracle cream, it doesn't make the bruise completely disappear, but it certainly helps speed up the process.
I was that impressed with the power of arnica, I took the oral tablets (with midwife approval!) after giving birth to my second son to help speed up the healing process and help with the bruising and tenderness. I didn't fancy using the cream since it's not to be applied on broken skin and my whole body felt like it had been through a car crash so I didn't dare make anything worse! I'm not sure how much it helped as my eldest son was born by caesarean section so I had nothing to compare it to. However I did feel more like myself in a few days after taking the arnica, so perhaps I should be thankful to the arnica for that.
I now always have a tube of arnica cream in my first aid box for whenever my boys have a bump. It's known as one of the many "special creams" I have in there along with sudocrem and metanium. As soon as one of my sons hurts themselves I apply the cream to help reduce any bruising. My 4 year old thinks it's magic and will only stop crying once it's applied!
So would I recommend it? Most definitely. It's reasonably priced and does work. A must have for any first aid box.
Up until becoming pregnant with my first son I was blissfully unaware of just how horrible it is to have heartburn and indigestion. Now, two years after having my youngest son, I still suffer from it. Awesome. I was prescribed the aniseed flavour liquid Gaviscon when I was pregnant and found it so disgusting it would make me wretch. I then tried the Peppermint version which was equally foul. Horrible stuff. But sadly needs must, and during my pregnancies I had to endure the thick gloopy liquid evil because it did actually work. Once I stopped heaving anyway.
Fast forward a couple of years and like I said, I still suffer from heartburn and indigestion now and whilst having a nosey in Boots I noticed that Gaviscon now comes in tablet form. And strawberry flavour no less! If it meant I could get the relief without the nausea I thought it must be worth a try. They had packs of 32 for around £4.50 but I opted for a pack of 16 that came in a small little carry tub, ideal to pop in your handbag. I paid £3ish for that so obviously if you use them on a regular basis it's more cost effective to buy the bigger pack.
Obviously the convenience of them being in tablet form is the biggest plus to these. If I've ever had heartburn when I'm out before I just suffer until I get home since I didn't fancy lugging around a big bottle of Gaviscon. Although saying that, I do have a work colleague that does just that - carries a 300ml bottle in her massive handbag and swigs it straight out of the bottle. Bleurgh.
So what do they taste like. Well I'm not going to lie. They're not delicious but they are a vast improvement on the liquid. They are still very chalky, but that will be due to the calcium to neutralise the acid. You chew the tablets and the goo (for lack of a better word) comes out and acts in a similar way to the Gaviscon liquid in providing a raft to keep the stomach acid where it's supposed to be. It's not overly pleasant and the strawberry taste is very sweet and artificial but again, I still prefer that to the peppermint and aniseed flavours. It is worth noting that these tablets do contain aspartame, which is something of a controversial sweetener. Google it!
The directions advise to take two to four after meals and before bedtime up to four times a day. Although I do still get heartburn and indigestion I'm not a regular sufferer so I tend to use it as and when I need to. I think if you take it as recommended it would work more of a preventative.
So do they work? Well they did for me. As I said I am an occasional sufferer and I found that one dose is enough to get rid of the symptoms. If I'm being honest I did find they take slightly longer to work that the liquid equivalent but for the convenience and taste, I can put up with that. I'm not sure how effective they would be for someone with severe acid indigestion or reflux but for what I've needed them for they've been just fine.
I received this gift set for Christmas from my work secret santa. I'm quite easy to buy for because I love smellies and cosmetics and such like. I've used quite a few Soap and Glory products in the past (I love their Flake Away body scrub) and so I had high hopes for these.
~ What are they? ~
Soap and Glory claim that these are no ordinary lip glosses. No siree. They are lip plumping with "superfill microspheres that explode in volume up to 10x when they come in contact with water". Sounds terrifying! Basically these microspheres are supposed to to get the blood moving around the area more, creating plumper, more kissable lips.
~ Price and Availability ~
You can buy most if not all of the Soap and Glory range in store or online at Boots and this particular set costs around £20. You can buy them individually for £9 each. They quite often have 3 for 2 on these products so you can save a bit money. And don't forget to use your Boots card for extra points!
~ Opinion ~
The packaging as always with Soap and Glory has quite a retro feel to it which I love. I also the name, quite risqué for a lip gloss! The lip gloss itself is a standard 7ml sized tube with applicator wand. In this particular set you get three different shades, Half Naked, Pink Apricot and Yummy Plum.
The consistency of the lip gloss was quite thick and gloopy. I prefer lip glosses that go on more as a lip balm for a more natural effect so I was a bit wary. I usually find the thicker and gloopier (yes it's a word!) the gloss, the more sticky it becomes which I hate. Due to the thick consistency I found it harder to apply than my trusty old lip glosses. I realise I've just made applying lip gloss sound like a complex challenge, but my other lip glosses can be applied without a mirror and with one quick sweep. This requires slight concentration!
Once applied onto the lips you can immediately feel the microspheres get to work. It makes my lips tingle, not in an unpleasant way, although it certainly takes some getting used to! It almost feels like your lips are buzzing or vibrating. As you feel it working you can almost convince yourself that when you next look into the mirror you are going to have morphed into Angelina Jolie with a pout to die for. My lips are rather nondescript, not too thin but not plump and luscious either. When I did look in the mirror I was most disappointed to notice that I did in fact still look like me. Alas, the Angelina Jolie pout was not to be mine. On close inspection my lips did appear slightly fuller but nothing to write home about.
As I mentioned earlier there are three lip glosses in three different shades. The Yummy Plum appears to be quite a rich, dark red when it's in the tube and I wasn't sure I could carry it off. However once it's applied it is quite sheer. Having said that you only need a small amount to give your lips a nice bit of colour. It appears a bit more pink than red on the lips, so may be negative or positive depending on what you were hoping for. I prefer pink for my skin tone anyway so this was a positive for me.
From the name "Half Naked" you would expect (well I would anyway!) for it to be more a clear natural shade, but it is actually leaning towards a browny pink colour. It appeared quite dark in the tube, but again, it is sheer so it looks much more natural on the lips. I felt that this shade was most similar to my actual lip colour and so while it added extra colour and gloss, it still looks quite natural.
The Pink Apricot is a lovely pale pinky coral colour and is probably my favourite out of three. It looks scarily orange from the tube but it's actually a pretty summery shade that's easy to wear for someone with my pale skin colour. It also tastes lovely, like chocolate oranges. What's not to love about that?!
~ Conclusion ~
I'm on the fence. I felt the lip plumping aspect to it didn't live up to expectations, but then I'm not overly bothered about that anyway. Each of the shades were pleasant and easy to wear and while the consistency is quite sticky, it also means its lasts that little bit longer. Would I buy again? Probably not. I think they're quite expensive for what they are when a cheaper brand could do a similar job. I don't hate them, but don't love them enough to spend £9 each. Although I have to admit sending my husband into Boots to ask for a "Half Naked Sexy Mother Plucker" is more than a little bit tempting!
I was way behind the times when it came to smart phones. I just didn't see the point. A mobile phone, I thought, was just for making calls or sending texts and since my trusty 5 year old LG did those things, I just wouldn't get the use out of an iPhone. How I was wrong! Since my husband (via the kids!) treated me to an iPhone last Mother's Day, I genuinely haven't looked back and I've become one of those saddos I used to pity who couldn't live without their phone!
~ Price ~
To buy an iPhone without a contract you're looking at over £400, even now that the newer 5s version has been released. My husband bought mine from Vodafone on contract and got a good deal including texts and calls. He got a discount because he works for NHS (worth knowing for any other fellow NHS-ers!) and he pays around £32 a month.
~ Appearance ~
As far as I am aware you can buy the iPhone 5 in white, silver or black, and mine in silver. The phone itself is smaller and more lightweight than I expected, although this is comparing it with my 5 year old LG brick! The front of the phone is predominantly the main screen when you can find your apps, make phone calls etc. You have the "Siri" button (which I will go into later!) at the bottom and the charger port underneath. I bought a flip style case for mine to protect both the casing and the screen. I think you can by official Apple ones but I bought a cheapie one off ebay which, touch wood, seems to be doing it's job so far.
The phone has a retina display which makes everything easily visible, and then is an option on settings, to reduce the brightness. I find these handy if using it when it's a bit darker so it doesn't hurt my eyes.
~ Basic phone functions ~
As I said earlier, all I originally wanted from a phone was the ability to send and receive messages, and to make phone calls, and you can do all of this using the touch screen keypad. During phone calls you can also put the other person on speaker phone and use the other apps/internet etc while you are still talking to them. The touch screen is responsive and easy to use and I've not personally found it any harder to type on a touch screen than the old button type keyboards.
~ Camera ~
The phone has an 8-megapixel iSight camera which means absolutely nothing to me! What I can say is that the camera takes good photos easily. I like that you can take a lot of photos in a short amount of time by tapping the camera icon. It's virtually impossible to get a photo of both my kids smiling at the same time but by taking multiple photos while they are still posing, I can pick the best of a bad bunch. The photos are also easy to edit, crop and rotate.
The video camera is equally as easy to use and you can easily switch between to the two by sliding the icon across.
~ Battery life~
I know a lot of people complain about the battery life of iPhones but I don't really have an issue with it. If you remember to close the apps in the background it helps to conserve your battery time. Obviously apps such as the sat nav and games cause the battery to be used up more quickly but this is to be expected.
The phone came with a charger than can be used in a traditional plug or can also be used in a usb port. I've used both ways and never had a problem. I do actually find that it's quite quick to charge.
~ Internet and emails ~
The iPhone uses Safari for the internet and again, I've found it easy to use. You can open multiple windows, use private browsing and add bookmarks easily.
When you get the phone you can also register for an icloud account which gives you an email address. Any emails are easily accessible by the envelope icon. Sending and receiving emails, inserting photos etc are all done within this function and it's very simple to do. It's much handier than having to constantly log in to hotmail to check your emails as you automatically get an alert when you receive an email.
~ Apps ~
There are so many apps that you can download that it's hard to know where to begin! The one's I use the most are ebay, facebook, spotify (music) and my kindle app. I have linked my kindle to the iphone and downloaded the kindle app so when I am out and about I can read my ebooks without having to take my kindle with me. Ebay and facebook make using these websites much easier and I found it so much simpler to list things on ebay using the app.
The phone automatically comes with a map app which can be used as a sat nav and gives direction. I love this app as I have no sense of direction so it can help me out when I have got myself lost.
I have loads more apps, Topcashback, Quidco and voucher cloud are all good for saving/making a bit of money, there's games such as candy crush and Wordz, I have Instagram and Twitter although don't use these as often yet. I also have a little app called Wunderlist where you can have various lists and tick things off when they're done. I love a good list at the best of times and really found it useful at christmas so I could make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.
~ Protection ~
I have a pin code password to access my iphone to stop unwanted people having a nosey. I also have a password that is needed before downloading any apps. The last thing I want is one of the kids to start downloading £1000s worth of apps!
I also have the find my iphone app so if it ever goes missing I can log on to my icloud account on any other device/computer and it will locate it by gps.
~ Siri ~
To access Siri you just hold the little button at the bottom of the phone and ask it to do things. Such as "ring mum" or "open facebook". I hardly ever use this though, as Siri doesn't care for my lovely northern accent and often mishears me and then time I've taken repeating myself in a voice like the queen, I can just do it manually!
~ Conclusion ~
So to sum up, I love my phone. It works well as a mobile phone and I can text and call to my hearts content but it's so much more than that. I use it more than I realise and I really would be lost without it now. What a saddo!
You read the title correctly. THE best item I have bought for my babies. EVER. And between me and you, in the past 5 years since I found out I was pregnant with our eldest, I have bought A LOT of baby related stuff.
There are so many toys, gizmos and gadgets for babies out there that claim to be the next big thing. Try me and your baby will sleep longer. Try me and your baby will sale through teething without a whimper. Try me and your baby will become a genius. You get the picture. I'm a sucker for products like these but nine times out of ten I've been disappointed - Sophie La Giraffe, I'm looking at you. But sometimes, just sometimes, they live up to the hype.
My youngest son was a "sucky baby" which although sounds slightly cruel, just meant he wanted to suck all the time but not necessarily feed and so we used a dummy. This in itself is a controversial issue which I am going to gloss over and simply say it worked for us. The only trouble was, when my son was around 4 - 5 months old, he would constantly lose his dummy in the night and be unable to find it, resulting in him screaming the place down until mummy or daddy stumbled weary eyed down the hall way to come to the rescue. When this happens 3-4 times a night every night you start thinking your sweet innocent little baby has actually been sent to destroy you. Whilst questioning my sanity and losing my will to live at a baby group I mentioned our little problem to another mum and she recommended the Sleepytot. And I can hand on heart say we never looked back.
So what is this miracle item? Well basically its a stuffed rabbit with velcro on its paws. I know, I know, it doesn't sound much and to be honest, it doesn't look much either but the beauty lies in the simplicity of it. You can by a Sleepytot in cream or grey and you can choose either a small one (22.9 x 18.3 x 8.1 cm) or a large (28 x 9 x 34 cm). We've only ever bought a large and found it perfect sized, even when he was smaller. Each of the rabbit's paws has velcro on them, meaning it can hold onto a dummy, the side of the cot, pram straps etc. Genius.
From the first night that we presented the sleepy tot to my little man he loved it. We originally had the (rubbish) idea of attaching one paw to his dummy and the other to the cot. This didn't work, because when he rolled over his dummy came out and he was still too disorientated to roll over and find it. We found what worked best was to just to attach a dummy, allow him to put him dummy in himself and then cuddle up to the little rabbit. And it worked! He would fall asleep cuddling his bunny and so when he woke up he had his dummy right there next to him.
Our little one soon couldn't sleep without him (so we ordered back ups!) We called him bunny but because he was still learning to talk, our little man found it easier to say bear, and it stuck. Bear the bunny. But the magic of the Sleepytot doesn't end there.
When my son turned 15 months we decided that the dummy had outstayed it's welcome and it was time for it go. I was dreading it, I'd heard horror stories of children being inconsolable without it and so braced myself for sleepless nights all over again. We took the dummy off "Bear" and hid all the others and explained to our little man that the dummy fairy had taken his dummy away for all the little babies that needed it more. He responded with "chicken" so it clearly was worth making up that little story. That night he got into his cot and found Bear and looked at it puzzled. He looked at each of the paws in turn and then looked at us and said "all gone" and then cuddled it up to his face as normal and went to sleep. A miracle! He didn't ask for his dummy once. He had become so attached to Bear himself that he didn't miss the dummy at all.
My son has just turned two and his still loves his Bear. We have a grey one and a cream but in all honestly they're both a light shade of grey having been washed so many times! I know it will be hard getting him to give up Bear but at least it isn't a dummy he's reliant on, as I was conscious it could lead to a negative impact on his speech and teeth if he had it for too long.
The Sleepytot has been worth it's weight in gold and little Bear accompanies us everywhere. He's machine washable (thank goodness!), suitable from birth and despite being washed a bazillion times he still feels lovely and soft. The stomach on the bunny is padded and so can be used to pop under baby's head when they're being changed and the velcro paws are still very much in tact after almost 2 years of being adored. The paws can be attached to pushchair straps to stop the dummy falling on the floor, or the bunny itself getting lost. It can even be attached to the front of the trolley when he's sat in the toddler seat knowing he's not going to go missing.
I would recommend this to anyone. It's neutral so a perfect gift for a newborn, whether or not they use a dummy. It's lovely just as a comforter.
I can't think of a single negative thing to say. Even the price is reasonable. The small ones are around £10 on Amazon, with the larger ones being around £12. A bargain considering how much use we've had out if it!
Long live Bear The Bunny
We have recently finished decorating my son's room from a nursery to a little boy's bedroom (sob!) When we have decorated in the past we have relied on stools, chairs and my dad's handy old step ladders but we decided that we really could do with our own set. We didn't want anything fancy, and we haven't got particularly high ceilings so we knew that a simple step ladder would suffice.
We were hoping to grab a step ladder from B&Q when we bought our paint but the one we were after was out of stock and we didn't fancy forking out too much money so we went home and did a bit of research until we stumbled across this value ladder from Argos. As with all Argos products you can reserve this item online (obviously providing your store has them in stock) and collect in store and that's what we did. It set us back a not very hefty £12.99.
The ladder has two steps, the highest of which being less than half a metre off the floor, but as I mentioned earlier we don't have high ceilings so this is perfectly adequate for what we need it for. The ladder has a handle at the top but its a bit too low to be used as something to steady yourself on while your climbing but it does make it easier for carrying it about. Aesthetically they look fine, nothing fancy but then they're made for function not to look pretty! It's relatively lightweight which isn't necessarily something you look for in a step ladder but its still robust and sturdy enough to feel safe. The fact it isn't too heavy and cumbersome is definitely an advantage as it enables them to be moved around the house with ease. Also with regards to safety, it does has rubber bases on the legs to stop it from moving around on slippery surfaces. This isn't too relevant for my sons bedroom as its carpet but it does stop it from moving on our tiled floor into kitchen.
The ladder collapses and opens easily using a basic hook system and is surprisingly sturdy considering the price. My 6ft stocky husband has had no issues using it and it supports his weight with ease. It does in fact hold upto 150kg which is over 23 stone so I think most people wouldn't have a problem. The steps are also a decent width so you don't feel like you're tripping over yourself trying to climb them. The steps are also corrugated meaning you don't slip while you're balancing precariously with a paint brush...always a bonus!
The main bonus for me is how easily they collapse and how little space they take up when not opened fully. We were planning on keeping it in the garage as we don't have much spare space or little cupboards that aren't already crammed full, but because they hardly take up any room we have been able to slot them behind the door in the utility room. Another bonus of having them inside is I'm using them so much more than I thought I would. No more trying to bat things down off the top shelf in the kitchen using a wooden spoon! We have only had it a few months and I've lost count of the amount of time it's come in handy.
So basically it does what it says on the tin. It's cheap, good value and was exactly what we were looking for. Can't argue with that.
I think any woman would say that the one time she wants to be sure of a result, it's when taking a pregnancy test. As Clearblue themselves say in their advert, we want "reassurance when it's needed the most". It's strange to think that something as simple as peeing on a stick can change your life forever and so when you do test you want to be sure of the result. When I fell pregnant with my first son it was somewhat of a surprise and I only decided to test due to feeling tired and sick and was fully expecting a negative result. I was shocked (and delighted) when a second pink line appeared and I discovered I was pregnant. I showed the test to my husband and he was concerned that the line was too faint. This lead me to take another pregnancy test, and then another, and other.... just to make sure I was. Of course I was pregnant but I didn't quite believe it until I had my first scan. I was convinced someone was going to tell me it had all been a big mistake. But it wasn't and 9 months later that little pink line turned into my beautiful son.
After suffering a miscarriage ten weeks into our second pregnancy I became a bit obsessed with trying to conceive another. I felt that falling pregnant again was the only way I would start to heal from our loss. Unlike my first pregnancy where I was bit clueless I knew exactly when I was ovulating (sorry guys!) and when I would be able to test. Most tests advise to test when your period is late but others do say that you can test as early as 6 days before it is even due. Three days before mine was due I took a First Response pregnancy test and to my delight I saw a second pink line. As with my first pregnancy I wanted to double check myself and test again so the next morning I dug out my clearblue digital and excitedly waited for the word "pregnant" to show up. Except that it didn't. Not pregnant. My emotions were all over the place. The one thing I'd been clinging to seemed to have been taken away for me. As it happens we were going away that week so my husband told me to try and put it to the back of my mind and enjoy our holiday. Easier said than done! During our time away my period still hadn't arrived so I when we got home I rushed home and did another test. Another pink line. Positive. The only problem was I couldn't get those words "not pregnant" out of my head and so sent the Mr to Asda to get another Clearblue digital. I waited a couple of hours and we stood over the test watching the little timer go round and round until eventually the words "Pregnant 1-2 weeks" appeared. I've never been so happy to see a word in my life.
My experience tainted my opinion of the Clearblue Digital test. I'm still on the fence. After speaking to my doctor she informed me that the Clearblue tests are not as sensitive as other tests such as the First Response ones which is why I was getting the negative result. Pregnancy tests detect the level of HCG (pregnancy hormone) and some detect a smaller amount than others, meaning you can test earlier. But if Clearblue are advertising that they provide "reassurance when it's needed the most"...well that's not really true is it? That "not pregnant" was for me at that time soul destroying when I should have been celebrating my "big fat positive".
Clearblue digital tests can set you back around in excess of £10 which, as far as I know, is the most expensive test out there. So I personally think they should be a bit more sensitive and pick up the lower HCG levels. Even Superdrugs own brand are more sensitive than these!
However there are positives. They're easy to use - you basically use it as you would any other pregnancy test. Either use mid stream (again, sorry guys!) or dip in a urine sample pot. They advise to always use first morning urine so the levels of HCG aren't diluted. You wait a couple of minutes (I can't remember the exact time, but the instructions are very clear) and watch as the timer goes round - this bit seems to take forever! And then you have your result, clearly written in words.
The words are definitely the best thing about this test. Despite my earlier tests it was the best feeling to actually the word "pregnant". There was no squinting at faint lines, worrying if it was an evaporation line (which can happen on some other tests); the words are plain to see.
The conception indicator is quite handy but as we were actively trying to conceive I knew exactly what my dates were without having to see it. However that didn't stop me taking another test the next week (and the week after!) so I could see my HCG levels had risen as it said "2-3 weeks" and eventually "3 weeks plus". I was completely paranoid about something going wrong in this pregnancy so I wanted that reassurance that it was going to plan.
My youngest son is now almost 2 and I remember seeing the word "pregnant" like it was yesterday. Its one of my most treasured memories...and so it should be the amount it cost us in pregnancy tests!
To sum up, these tests can be and will be great for some people as long as you remember to not test until after your period is late and to use first morning urine when your HCG levels are most easily detected. I just wish they could compete with the more sensitive tests that can be bought for a much cheaper price.
When our youngest little boy hit 18 months he decided that highchairs were for losers. It wasn't so much that he had outgrown it - he fit in it perfectly. It was more that he hated being restrained and as soon as we'd got him in it his arms would be in the air and he'd be shouting "out!" Up until that point we would sit at the dining table for meals, with our 4 year old on a booster seat and our little one in the highchair. We decided it would be nice for them to have their own little table and chairs at their own height, especially for lunch and breakfast when we don't all eat at the same time.
We decided that we wanted a wooden table and chairs set rather than a plastic one as it would be going in our living room and we wanted something that would still look nice. We also wanted one that would be easy to clean and wipe down as it would be used at meal times but also for colouring, playdough, craft time etc.
We had a look at the usual places, Ikea, Mothercare etc and didn't find anything very inspiring. Whilst dragging my husband round the Trafford Centre we decided to take a look in John Lewis, where we found this little beauty, and three of his little friends. There was a round table, and 4 chairs displayed, this yellow teddy bear, a green frog, blue cat and a red mouse. I loved them immediately so twisted hubby's arm and persuaded him to agree to buy the teddy and frog chairs and the table.
One thing that's worth noting about the chairs (and indeed the table) is they're not just made by John Lewis. They're made by John Crane. John Lewis don't seem to advertise this fact and I personally think they absolutely should! We've bought a few John Crane wooden toys in the past and while they haven't been cheap, they have been excellent quality and most importantly durable. I've had a quick nosy on the John Lewis website and half way down the product description it states that the designer is John Crane but if I were them, I'd put it in the title but he does make some gorgeous children's items.
The chairs were £29 each, so they're certainly not the cheapest chairs out there. I think in Ikea you could get the table and two chairs for the price of just one of these but we decided that they would last us and we would rather pay a bit extra for something good quality. Plus they were cuter!
They came flat packed but it didn't take much to put them together - you basically just need to screw the legs on and voila! And they really do look lovely when assembled. The yellow on this chair (as with the green on the frog one) is a bright, vivid colour and really eye catching.
They are made of rubber wood so are very durable. They have been knocked about it since we bought them and they still look like new. No chips or marks or anything. Which is remarkable considering how rough and tumble our two little boys can be at times. Both the table and the chairs are easy to clean. I basically just grab a Dettol wipe, give it a quick wipe down and its back to its original beauty again. Which is great considering the amount of mess my boys can make in a short amount of time!
The chairs are 27cm high so a great height for children. My 4 year old can climb on and off with ease while my now 22 month old, can climb on and off but his feet are just slightly off the ground. Saying that he is a little titch (still in 12-18 months clothes!) so I think you're average sized toddler would be able to sit on it no problem. According to the John Lewis they are suitable from 2 years of age but my little one has been fine and I think most his age would be as long as you apply little bit of common sense.
Both of my boys love their chairs, and thankfully there are no arguments over which belongs to whom! My youngest chose the teddy and my eldest chose the frog. They are both pretty unisex so would come in handy if we ever had another baby.
So to conclude, they're certainly not the cheapest chairs on the market, BUT they are durable, good quality and more eye catching that a basic plain wooden table.
We were originally bought the Little Tikes Piano by my parents for my sons first Christmas. My son is now three and has outgrown it so it has been passed down to our littlest man, who has been playing with it since he was around seven months old and still plays with it now at 16 months.
The piano is basically a small keyboard aimed at children aged 6 months to 3 years. By pressing the large chunky keys a sound is made and the keys go up and down the scale as it would on a real piano. It doesn't require batteries as it relies on baby tapping the keys.
The little piano is visually very appealing to babies. It is a bright red colour and the keys are equally bold in green, blue, yellow and orange. My little ones took an interest in the piano straight away and I think the bright colours help with that. I have found that toys in neutral, pale shades don't grab their attention nearly as much. The piano is also a good size and the keys are perfect for chunky uncoordinated little fingers. Even as a seven months old my youngest son happily bashed away at the keys, delighted at making such noise.
It's very easy for even small children to use and the knowledge that it won't constantly need batteries replacing is a major positive. Also because it isn't electronic and it relies on the child tapping the keys for it to work, it isn't constantly going off. A lot of toys aimed at this age are electronic and go on and on and on...and Drive me insane. Even when my son is playing with it it's not overly annoying. The sounds are not to loud or too tinny and is no more annoying than a basic xylophone.
Developmentally this toys has its benefits as not only is it helping babies motor skills and hand eye coordination, it also helps establish an understanding of cause and effect. Baby learns that every time they tap the keys a sound is made, helping them make the basic connection that for every action there is a reaction.
As much as both of my sons loved this toy, it's not one of those toys that can be played with for a long period of time. Both my sons can quite happily pass time playing quietly with jigsaws, books, toy cars, animals etc, where this one loses its appeal quite quickly. Every time I get it out of the toy box my little one plays with it and looks delighted...for about 5 minutes. The novelty soon wears off and he goes to look for something else. My eldest son outgrew the toy when he was 2 despite it being suitable up until 3 years. I think maybe if it had more keys it might hold their interest a bit longer but with their only being four, they become bored quite quickly. My youngest son is still happy playing with it (albeit for a short amount of time) but I predict that it will only be a matter of a few months before he too loses interest completely.
Another minor downside is the lack of a tool of some kind so the child can play the keys on the top. I gave my little ones a small spoon for them to use to hit the keys on the top to teach them an extra way of making sounds with it, and prolong the fun a little longer.
You can buy the piano from most toy stores, I think my mum bought ours from Argos for around £10. For the price I think it's definitely worth it. It's been robust and durable and after 3 years it still looks great. I would however recommend it for smaller children, as in my experience they tend to lose interest after around 18 months
I first saw Sophie The Giraffe while flicking through a trashy celebrity gossip magazine. There was a picture of Miranda Kerr (Mrs Olando Bloom for those of you without a Heat magazine subscription!) with her young son clutching a Sophie in his little chubby hands, with the caption stating he had hold of the latest must have for babies struggling with teething. As a mum of red cheeked, cranky, dribbly teething monster I was instantly intrigued. I was willing to try anything, as the one thing that I found to work (Anbesol liquid) was no longer available and other gels and teethers just didn't seem to make a difference. After doing a bit of research on t'internet I found that people were raving about it and so I decided if it was good enough for baby Bloom then it was good enough for us.
~ What is she? ~
Sophie was originally from France which explains why some sellers refer to her as Sophie La Girafe. She's apparently been about for over 60 years making her something of a classic (according to her manufacturers!)
She's made from 100% natural rubber and painted with non-toxic food-grade paints so its perfectly safe for your little one to chew on. She's lightweight and flexible and makes a squeak when chewed or played with.
~ Availabiliy and price ~
Sophie retails for around £12.95 and can be bought from places such as Mothercare, John Lewis, Amazon etc. We bought ours from Toys R Us for around £10 so the prices do vary slightly.
~ Our opinion ~
Like I said earlier my little man was really struggling with his teeth coming through and so we bought our Sophie when he was around 8 months old. She comes in a nice little box and she really is quite cute to look at with her big eyes and rosy cheeks to match my sons.
After giving her a once over with a bit of water (without submerging as that can apparently damage her) I gave her to my son with high expectations. would he love it as much as all these other children do? would it be the miracle cure for teething? Well the result was.... A great big resounding no. Hmmph. My son grabbed hold of it and made it squeak, frowned at it and threw it on the floor. Undeterred I picked her up and like the idiot I seem to have become since becoming a mother, I pretended to chew it and made approving noises, which if nothing else at least made my son laugh. He took it when I passed it back to him, shoved it in his mouth, frowned again and threw it back on the floor. This was around seven months ago and as a 15 month old who is now struggling with his molars coming through, he is still disinterested.
To be fair the majority of the claims about Sophie were true. She was lightweight and easy for little hands to grab. The shape of her meant it was easy to pick her up and I can understand how the shape of the head would be soothing to sore gums... It just didnt work for my son. Incidentally he also wasn't helped by amber teething necklaces either, so perhaps he's just a wimp! Her body is very flexible and on the rare occasion my little one does show an interest, it's to twist her and squeeze her into an unnatural shape, although to give her credit she does ping straight back into shape.
My main bug bear is that squeak. The manufacturers claim that this fun squeak helps your baby to "associate the teething process with laughter and happiness" and "helps teething seem less negative, building a positive foundation for your baby's growth". In the words of Sheldon Cooper....hogwash and hokum. It does nothing nothing of the sort, it just makes it resemble a dog chew toy. It's quite loud which is one of the few things my son seems to be delighted with. Probably because it annoys mummy!
~ overall verdict ~
She really didnt live up to our expectations and I was so disappointed. She sounds great in theory but the recommended price of £12.95 is a lot to spend on a rubber toy that is primarily used by my son to bash the cat with. Having said that I do know people who swear by it and find it so useful, so perhaps it's just us that's weird!
I'm always on the lookout for the perfect foundation which is a harder task than it sounds. I have been looking for a foundation that is a decent price, has good coverage and is relatively long lasting. I have the traditional English Rose complexion which basically is a nice way of saying I am ridiculously pale and so I find it quite hard to find a foundation that is pale enough to match my complexion whilst not making me look like a ghost. I saw this advertised on TV accompanied by beautiful flawless celebrities and decided that I too was "worth it" and decided to give it a try.
L'Oreal True Match foundation is available from most chemists, some supermarkets and various online stores. I think the RRP is around £10 which is what I paid but I also took advantage of Superdrug's 3 for 2 offer which meant that it worked out a little cheaper.
The foundation comes in a nice stylish little glass bottle with a pump. I found it easy to dispense the right amount of foundation to use and I found that a small amount goes a long way. I wanted a liquid foundation as I find it provides the best coverage for my combination skin but some liquid foundations don't always blend and settle nicely on the skin, so L'Oreal's claims of it being super blendable made me optimistic about the success of this one. After pumping a little bit out onto the back of my hand I could see that it was quite a runny yet creamy consistency. Using my makeup brush I applied it to my skin and it really did live up to its claims, it's really easy to blend. I find this a massive bonus because it means I can apply it when I'm in rush and can even use my fingers rather than my trusty foundation brush and it still provides a nice even coverage.
I bought the shade Rose Ivory which is the palest they do but happily it has a nice pink undertone to it. A lot of foundation aimed at fair skin has yellow undertones which just didnt match my skin but this shade is perfect on me. It balances out my skin tone and covers any blemishes without it looking too caked on. The finish is very natural and it really does look like my natural skin...only better!
My only criticism is its staying power. Like many liquid based foundations it's not very long lasting and when it's wore alone (without a setting powder over the top) it seems to just melt away as the day goes on. I therefore apply a light dusting of my trusty Laura Mercier setting powder over the top and it really does last until I take my makeup off at the end of the day. Using the setting powder also means that the foundation doesn't transfer onto clothing, scarves etc, as I did notice this problem when I applied the foundation in a rush without the powder on top.
So would I recommend? Most definitely. You get a good sized bottle (30ml) for the price and I've found that since you only need a small amount it does last quite a while. The colour match for me was spot on and I love how easy it is to apply. The poor staying powder isn't enough to put me off buying it again as as long as you have a good setting powder, you're good to go
There's so much pressure on parents to buy the latest must have toys. I've got friends who are panicking because they are struggling to get hold of this years must have toy, the furby. We try not to get sucked in to the latest hypes and phases and try to find toys that will last and remain interesting to our two little ones.
The best thing to do is to buy in advance, and pick up deals when you see them. My favourite stores for children's gifts are Early Learning and Amazon. Amazon's prices are usually very competitive and whilst ELC aren't always the best prices, you can very often find discount codes online which really help out.
My children are 3 and 15 months old and I have to admit to not being very spontaneous when buying gifts for my kids. I take them to places like ELC where they can see the toys and have a play with the ones they have out to give me an idea of what they would like. I then go home to have a read of reviews to make sure I'm not forking out our hard earned cash on a load of old tat. Once I've decided that its something I think our little ones will like I'll check out the prices in other places. I've found that in a lot of places they may be advertising some great discount but when you check online it's cheaper in other places. I've actually found that its usually cheaper buying things online than in store as there's often discount codes to use.
We've forked out quite a lot on toys since our eldest son was born three years and some gifts have been worth their weight in gold whilst others have been glanced at and then thrown in the toy box. So here's my little list of gifts that have gone down well with my two...
~ Books ~
As the daughter of a librarian, books had a huge part in my childhood and so I've encouraged my boys to be interested in them too. They are great for interaction between parent and child, letting them use their imagination and developing their language skills. I'd hugely recommend the Usborne That's Not My... range of books. They have textured items on the page to encourage baby to touch and become interested in the book. They have thick pages which are great for young hands learning to turn pages. Also as the child becomes older there aren't many words per page so it's great for them to learn to recognise words as they start to read. Story wise, I don't think you can beat any book by Julia Donaldson. The gruffalo is a huge favourite with both my boys and all her books have proved to be a success.
~ Lego / mega blocks ~
These are brilliant for teaching hand eye coordination and keep our little ones quiet for ages! They're great for playing together or for when I need to get something done as they quite happily play on their own with these. They have different sizes suitable for different ages so there is something for almost every child.
~ craft sets ~
There's lots of these around and they have provided ours of entertainment to my boys. There's nothing they love more than making a mess and these sets create a good excuse for them to do so!
~ sports equipment ~
It might not be the weather for playing outside but we've found that any sports equipment has been a success. We have footballs, golf set, a bike, basketball set etc and they're all played with a lot.
~ disney films ~
My youngest is still too little to sit still long enough to enjoy a film but our 3 year old has started taking more of an interest. He's easily bored/distracted so most films/tv programmes get abandoned after ten minutes. This is good in that I don't want him glued to the television but sometimes it's nice to snuggle up together on the couch while our youngest has his nap. The only thing that my 3 year old will watch is disney films. They don't seem to age and they also seem to retain their value if you wanted to sell on after they grow tired of them.
~wooden toys ~
We've bought our little one a variety of wooden toys, including a walker with wooden bricks, an abacus and wooden jigsaw puzzles. I've found that wooden classic toys last a long time, and while they may not make lots of noise like modern toys, that can be a bonus when you're fed up of annoying rhymes constantly going off!
Obviously there's so much choice out there and this is just what we personally have found to be a hit in our house. my final tip is to not stereotype on gender. My niece loves her building blocks, rocket and trains where my 3 year old boy wanted a Hoover for Christmas! It infuriates me that certain toys are aimed at a certain sex. Toys are toys in my humble opinion and if one of my boys wanted a doll or a tea set he could have one!
I love being a mum but the one thing I do struggle with is the constant worry that having children involves. It seemed as soon as I found out I was expecting I was bombarded with horror stories. Don't do this, don't that... It was all a little overwhelming. One main worry was the fear of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or cot death as its more commonly known. All the information I was given emphasised the importance of never overheating your little one, as being too warm increased the chance of cot death. I was therefore really conscious that I didn't want my little ones wrapped up in too many layers, and yet there's a fine line between not overheating your baby, and allowing them to become cold. That's where this little beauty comes in!
The Gro-Egg is made by the same company that brought out the Gro-bags (baby sleeping bags for those not in the know!) The basic idea of the egg is to provide an accurate room temperature to allow parents to make the right decision regarding heating and how to dress their little one for bedtime, and what kind of blankets / sleeping bags to use. The selling point that makes this unlike all the other basic room thermometers, is that the egg changes colour depending on the temperature of the room. If the egg is yellow it indicates a perfect temperature, if it's blue the room is too cold and if it's red the room is too hot.
So we decided that the Gro-egg was something we needed and we got ours from amazon for around £18 although i think you can now get them for around £14. After taking it out the box we could see it was a decent size and it looked quite appealing. It's basically egg shaped (obviously!) but the base is flat meaning it stands easily on a flat surface. The egg turns on with a basic on /off switch and plug connector slots easily in the back.
The Gro-Egg is mains operated meaning you don't need batteries. This is both a plus and a negative in my opinion! It's great that your not constantly having to fork out on batteries but the fact it has a wire was frustrating for us. The wire connecting to the plug isn't particularly long and so we had to find a surface to put it on that was close enough to a plug socket. Annoyingly this meant we had to practically rearrange our baby's bedroom to put everything in the right place!
The screen is a decent size that has a digital display so you have an accurate idea of the temperature of the room. As mentioned earlier the colour of egg will change depending on the temperature of the room. We initially thought that is feature would be a bit of a novelty but it really is a great feature. Our little one is a very light sleeper so if you go into his bedroom to check on him he stirs, usually resulting in me and the hubby trying to escape the room like ninjas before he wakes up completely. The great thing about this thermometer is you can see the temperature is at a safe level without even entering the bedroom, just by seeing the colour. Having said that, this feature does work much better when it's dark. We found that summer evenings when it was still light at bedtime, and for when he was taking a day time nap, the lights weren't as noticeable. Luckily the large display screen stopped it from being too much of an issue.
The egg also has the added bonus of acting as a night light. It provides a subtle glow that isn't too bright to disturb my little one while he's sleeping but did provide enough light for me to be able to enter the room for night feeds without having to turn out the main light.
The egg comes with a guide explaining what clothes your little one should be wearing and what blankets they should be using depending on the temperature. This is great for an over anxious first time mum, and reassuring to know that you aren't cooking your little one, or leaving them to freeze.
There's a few things to consider when using the egg. The first is where to put it. Other than the wire issue, we also had to consider where would offer the most accurate reading. We wanted it to be as close to the cot as we could, whilst still being away from drafts, the window and the radiator so that it wouldn't be giving us a false reading. It's also worth mentioning that there's no substitute for mothers intuition / common sense so it's still worth having a sneaky feel of your baby, to make sure they're not too warm. The thermometer only takes into consideration the temperature of the room, not of the child and so allowances need to be made if your child has a temperature etc.
So is it worth the money? Absolutely. It's put my mind at ease and being able to see the colour without going in and disturbing the sleep thief is worth the money alone! We've found it to be reliable, and durable too. We use it on a daily basis and despite taking a few knocks its still working brilliantly. I would definitely recommend it to any parents with small children.