Sunday, 19 March 2017

Neutral 0% - Baby Products for Sensitive Skin - Review

We were recently introduced to a brand new product range called Neutral 0%  which has just been launched in the UK and is specifically designed for those with sensitive skin.

I don't have sensitive skin but I do have a new baby and luckily for us the range includes baby products which are just perfect for baby's soft, delicate skin.


Neutral 0% were first launched in Denmark and they have been working with the Danish Asthma and Allergy Association for over 25 years to develop clean mild products for sensitive skin. A complete product range including home, baby and skin products is now available to UK shoppers via their website.

Erin is only 7 weeks old and she has very dry skin which is very common in newborn babies. I've been reluctant to use too many products on her as some baby body washes can actually be quite harsh on delicate skin but I was intrigued to see if the Neutral Baby Bath & Wash gel would improve the dryness.

The Bath & Wash gel (250ml £7.49) is a mild product which contains 0% perfume or colourants. We only needed to use a small amount for it to create a decent amount of bubbles and when used on Erin's skin it was really easy to lather up. It left her skin feeling lovely and soft and in the week we have been using the product her dry skin does appear to be clearing up.

Chilling out at bath time!

Much like the Bath & Wash gel, the shampoo (250ml £6.99) contains 0% perfume or colourants. I was really pleased to be using such a gentle product on Erin's hair as she's actually lost most of her hair on top since she was born and I don't want to encourage any further hairloss....she already looks like she'd been taking hair style tips from Terry Nutkins ;) The shampoo left her (remaining) hair feeling really soft and silky.


Our last product to try out was the baby wipes. Like most parents, I get through a ton of wipes - I wipe bums, clean mucky faces, clean off dried baby milk from the sofa, remove my make up with them...the list goes on! I've even been known to clean the mud off my boots with a wipe after a particularly wet and muddy visit to the farm! Would the Neutral baby wipes stand the test? My first thoughts were that the wipes were quite dry and not as moist as our usual brand. But they were very soft and perfect for little bums as they contained no nasties. Erin has had a bit of nappy rash since she was born so these wipes are perfect for her sensitive skin and I feel good knowing that the wipes reduce the risk of skin irritation.

The Neutral 0% range can only be found online at the moment but one great option from their website is a subscription service so you never need to run out of those important wipes! You can pay for a monthly delivery and the longer your subscription, the less money you pay. If you have children you are always going to be using wipes so I think this is such a great idea!

If you have sensitive skin, why not check out the Neutral 0% website - look out for offers including bundle buys and free delivery over £25.

*Disclaimer: We received these products in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own






Friday, 17 March 2017

Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Demolition at the Docks - Review

Thomas the Tank Engine is one of those beloved characters who we have all grown up with - I remember sitting down to watch it when I was at first school...we're talking almost 30 years ago ;)

It's amazing to think that the Thomas brand is still going strong and loved by boys and girls around the world. Elliot is typical of kids his age, train crazy and Thomas has been a constant in our lives since he was born!

We were recently sent the Thomas and Friends Trackmaster Demolition at the Docks set and Elliot couldn't wait to check it out...in fact dinner had to be put on hold while I set it up for him!


The set includes:
- Motorised Thomas (screwdriver and batteries needed!)
- Cranky the Crane
- Trackmaster track
- Dock warehouse



The track was very easy to put together, Elliot did need a bit of help initially to get the bits in the right order but the instructions were easy to follow. Once we'd popped some batteries in Thomas, it was time to go! Elliot made sure the warehouse was in it's correct spot and then he swung the cargo on Cranky's hook to knock it down - all whilst Thomas was making his way around the track, getting closer and closer to the wreckage. But not to worry, Thomas just speeds right on through!


What I love about the Trackmaster sets are that they can all be connected up so this would be a great addition to any little train buffs collection. However I do think children might get a little bored of the repetition of this on it's own. It's very quick for Thomas to get around the track and through the wreckage once Cranky has knocked over the warehouse so it may only hold their attention for a short while.

Elliot did enjoy playing with this though and he is looking forward to getting the rest of his Trackmaster sets out so we can connect it all up. He did bring some of his trains down so he had multiple engines running at once but new Thomas was much faster than his old Thomas ;)

The Thomas and Friends Trackmaster - Demolition at the Docks set (RRP £24.99) is suitable for age 3+ and can be purchased from Smyths Toys website


*Disclaimer: We received this product in exchange for an honest review. All views are my own

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Imaginext DC Super Friends Arkham Asylum - Review


Like most kids his age, Elliot is a huge fan of superheroes and Batman seems to be flavour of the month at the moment. In fact, I recently asked Elliot what he wanted to be when he grows up and his response was "Batman!" :)

When we were offered the chance to test out the Imaginext Arkham Asylum, he couldn't have been more excited! Everyday he waited patiently for the postman and I'd get asked a thousand times a day "will my new Batman toy be here today?!!".



The Imaginext range is made by Fisher Price and is designed to inspire imagination and develop skills. It features a large variety of popular characters which will be easily recognised by children and a whole host of different themes.

The Arkham Asylum


So if you're Batman and you've managed to round up all the baddies, where do you put them? In the Arkham Asylum of course!



The Asylum contains four prison cells which can be opened and closed by placing Batman in the Power Pad in the control centre.

There is another Power Pad on top of the Asylum and placing Batman in this reveals a disk launcher, hidden behind the Bat signal. The playset comes with three disks which can be fired from the launcher - perfect for aiming at those baddies!



The playset comes with a Batman but any of the Imaginext figures can be used to work the Power Pads - great for mixing and matching your superheroes!

What did we think? 

As suspected, this was a big hit with Elliot! He was a little disappointed that the set didn't come with any baddies to put in jail and he said "Batman hasn't got anyone to play with!" but aside from that he had loads of fun playing with it. He immediately went and found his Batman figures that he already had and these were used in his game - although at one point they did look like they'd taken over the asylum!

The disk launcher proved really popular and Elliot loved the fact it was hidden behind the Bat signal and then popped out when Batman controlled the Power Pad. The launcher was really simple for him to use and he soon got the hang of shooting out the 3 disks in quick succession!


I think it's a great way of firing up the child's imagination - Elliot has already been making up scenarios with his baddies and Batman coming in to save the day and throwing the villains into jail! He has really enjoyed playing with it and has already started nagging me for some more Imaginext figures...!

The Arkham Asylum is suitable for children 3+ and has a RRP of £36.99. It can be purchased from Smyths Toys here

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Baby Erin - 5 Weeks Old


It doesn't seem 5 minutes since she was born but Erin is 5 weeks old now, the last few weeks have just gone so so fast. How is it March already?! I thought it would be nice to do some updates on how Erin is doing and how we're getting on as a family of 4. Even if no-one reads them it'll be nice to look back on ;)

Feeding

Erin is formula fed and we have just increased her milk to 5oz which she has every 4 hours or so. I'm not strict on routine so if shes sleepy and it goes past 4 hours I won't wake her, she'll soon tell me if shes hungry! And likewise sometimes it can be less than 4 hours but we generally go with the flow - sometimes she'll guzzle the entire bottle in one go but sometimes she has a bit, then comes back to it 20 minutes later. 

I have to say I am finding the guidelines for formula prep a bit different to when Elliot was a baby. With him I used to pre-fill the bottles in the morning using cooled boiled water and just add the formula as and when we needed, and he always took the milk at room temperature. Apparently now the water has to be a certain temperature to kill the bacteria so I've been relying on my perfect prep machine to make bottles on demand. But I'm still wondering the best way to do bottles if I'm out and about for the day.  I've been using the Cow & Gate pre-made bottles which are really handy but expensive so I need to figure out a routine for milk prep! 

Sleeping

Touchwood we aren't doing too bad with sleep! Erin will have a bottle around midnight and we're usually still up so one of us will do that before bed. And then she goes straight down until her next feeds at 4 and 8ish. Sometimes I struggle to stay awake when I'm doing the 4am feed but I catch up on Facebook or play candy Crush to keep my eyes open! 

We don't have a bedtime routine yet and to be honest I can't really remember how we got into a routine when Elliot was a baby so this will be something that sorts itself out over the coming weeks. At the moment Erin has her milk in the evening and will sleep on one of us or in her moses basket while we watch tv - I haven't got a monitor set up on her crib yet so I don't really want to put her in our bedroom whilst we are in the other room. 

Erin's favourite sleeping position - on Mummy!

Erin has plenty of naps in the daytime and really likes snoozing in her carseat, either when I'm out walking with the pram or in the car. We've just bought another buggy too and she slept for hours in that last week! 

Development

Erin is so much more alert now when she's awake and she has really started to look at things. She is fascinated by looking outside so sometimes I sit her in her bouncer when I'm getting things done and she is mesmerised by the trees. She recognises my voice now if I call her and her eyes will follow me if I put her down! 

One of my favourite milestones happened this week - smiles!! I've been looking forward to this as it's so lovely when you get something back from them and she has definitely started giving us smiles. I thought it might be wind at first but there's a real difference between windy smiles and real smiles! I now can't wait til she starts giggling :) 


We went to the baby clinic last week to get Erin weighed and she was 9lb 6oz - she still seems so dinky though compared to Elliot. When he was 5 weeks old he was already about 13lb so he was much much bigger! She is starting to fit her clothes better now and the 0-3 sleepsuits aren't as baggy. 

Out and About

I'm back behind the wheel now after a few weeks break after my c-section so it's been nice to get out and about again! We went to our first baby class this week and I had a bit of deja vu as it was the same class I attended with Elliot! It's my local under ones and the lady who runs it is absolutely lovely and so I couldn't wait to go back. As predicted, Erin slept most of the time we were there but she did wake up for the singing! 

Dressed all pretty for her first Under One's :)
We went for a little trip to our local Morrison's this week as I wanted to look at the baby clothes and Erin was cooed over by several older ladies. It did make me laugh though as two of them asked how old she was and when I said 5 weeks, they couldn't believe I was out! "Oh, 5 weeks! You should be at home!". Is this a generation thing?! Did new Mums not leave the house in the olden days?! One lady did say I looked very well and fit though so I'll take that ;) 

Big Brother Elliot

Elliot is still loving having a baby sister and is so sweet with Erin. He just wants to kiss and cuddle her all the time and the other day he said "she's got sparkles in her eyes!" - cute!! He pops her dummy back in if she's crying but there's not a chance in hell he'll go near her if she's done a poo ;)


How Many Outfits?!

Erin spends the majority of her life in sleepsuits as they are comfy and easy to put on but she also has so many nice little outfits that I try and put her in at least once. I am finding it a bit weird dressing her in girly outfits though! I'm so not girly and I've spent the last 4 years dressing a boy who loves nothing more than wearing jeans and a tshirt so it's been odd getting her in a dress! Here's just a few of her outfits she's worn recently: 


What about me?

I've been feeling really well actually and my c-section scar isn't giving me any problems. I still have to be a bit careful when I hoover but generally I'm back doing everything I did before. 

Erin has just slotted into our lives and routines so I have been out meeting friends and doing my shopping as normal, albeit with a pram in tow! I'm also back at choir which is amazing, I really really missed it in the 4 weeks I didn't go. I'm lucky that my husband is very hands on so he has no issues in dealing with two children while I swan off to choir every wednesday evening ;) 

 I've had it quite easy over the last few weeks because my husband has been working from home and has been taking Elliot to pre-school in the mornings so I've not had to rush around too much. He's back at work next week though so I'm sure it's going to be a struggle getting everyone ready to get out of the house for 830am - gulp! 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Schleich Farm World Starter Set - Review



One of my favourite brand of toys for Elliot is Schleich and we have actually reviewed some of their figures on the blog last Summer. Schleich believe in educational play and I covered this in detail in my last review which can be found here.

Since our last review we have been adding to our Schleich collection, Elliot's most recent purchase being a dragon! However when we were offered some new farm animals to review, we didn't need asking twice and Elliot asked everyday when they would arrive :)

We were sent the Farm World Starter Set and included in this were a cow, lamb, rooster and donkey. Elliot was over the moon with this selection, he has alot of animal figures already but no roosters so this was a big plus point for him!


As with all Schleich figures, the quality is outstanding. The figures are handpainted and the attention to detail is second to none. I would say that the Schleich brand is easily recognisable with the weight and the feel of the figures.

Elliot adores playing with animal figures and he couldn't wait to take these new ones down to his Grandparent's house where they have a whole host of animal figures and farms. As you can see from the photos below, it didn't take the animals long to settle in!




Playing with toys such as these ones really fires up Elliot's imagination and he spends ages acting out life on the farm, complete with voices! The animals are easily recognisable for children of a pre-school age and it's a great introduction to Farm Life.

The Schleich figures are suitable for children aged 3-6 but I would say both younger and older children would enjoy playing with them too. The toys are very well made and sturdy and will last and last so I'm sure when baby Erin is 3/4 years old, Elliot will enjoy playing with them again!

The full collection can be found at www.schleich-s.co.uk and the price for the Farm World Starter Kit is £14.99.

*Disclosure - We were sent a selection of schleich figures for writing this honest review - as always, all thoughts are my own. And we genuinely love Schleich toys! 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

An Elective C-Section - Erin's Birth Story

When I fell pregnant last year, I soon started thinking about giving birth and how I planned to do it. In my first pregnancy with Elliot, he was 2 weeks overdue and I ended up being induced with not much success. He was far too happy in my tummy and in no rush to come out so I eventually had an emergency c-section. ( Good job too because he was enormous at 10lb 13oz!)

This time round I knew immediately that I would be having another c-section. I know alot of ladies go onto have successful VBAC's but in my mind I had visions of having another unsuccessful induction and the whole thing being dragged out over a few days again. I liked the idea of knowing exactly when the baby would arrive - this meant we could arrange childcare for Elliot and not be rushing around like headless chickens! 

A few days before my c-section date my husband and I went along to the hospital for a pre-op meeting. I had no idea what to expect but there were several other couples there who were all booked in for the same day. We were given lots of information on what to expect on the day and the all important consent forms to sign. They took some bloods from me and I was given some anti-sickness tablets to take on the evening and morning before the op. 

I didn't get alot of sleep on the night before my c-section, other than needing to wee about 50 times I just felt really nervous and kept waking up! We arrived at the hospital for 730am and were greeted by the lovely midwives that we'd met at the pre-op meeting. We were taken to the ward and straight away we were given gowns and scrubs to change into - eek, things were moving fast! Standard obs were done - blood pressure, pulse etc and I was given some sexy compression stockings for after the operation.


We were the second couple to go down to theatre and we got called in just after 10am. I'm not sure what I expected but it was all very relaxed! The radio was on and all the staff were chatting away and cracking jokes. I was feeling petrified but the atmosphere did calm my nerves a little!

I was told to sit on the operating table with my legs dangling down - I had to kind of arch my back and push my chin down onto my chest so that the anaesthetist could find the right spot in my back for the spinal. Paul tells me the needle was ginormous but I didn't really feel it go in, the worst part was feeling the anaesthetist pushing onto my spine - this really bloody hurt!! It's also really tricky to keep your back in the correct position and they had to keep telling me to " keep your shoulders down, don't move!". Eventually they told me the spinal was in and that I would feel my body go warm - immediately my lower body went all numb and it did indeed feel all warm. They helped me swing my legs round and onto the table and I was told to lie down as fast as I could. It was a really peculiar feeling, I literally couldn't feel a thing!

It felt a bit strange to be lying on the operating table as it was slightly tilted - I had no idea why at the time but apparently its so the weight of the womb doesn't reduce the blood supply to the lungs, causing blood pressure to drop. All I know is, it felt a bit odd to not be lying completely flat!

Up went the screen and the midwives were constantly monitoring me while Paul sat up the top end near my head. They sprayed a cold spray up my body so they could check the spinal was working - it was, thankfully! It's a very strange feeling having a c-section because you know the Drs are working away down there but you just feel a bit of tugging.

Within about 10 minutes we heard a baby's cry and Erin was lifted up for us to see! I couldn't believe how quickly it all happened. She was cleaned and wrapped in a blanket and was given to Paul to hold. My first thought was wow, she looks just like Elliot! He sat with me while I was sewn back together and this part is a bit vague as I suddenly felt really sleepy and couldn't keep my eyes open. I just remember hearing Justin Timberlake's Can't Stop the Feeling being on the radio!

We were wheeled down to the recovery room and I was given oxygen as my blood oxygen levels were low - this is why I had felt so sleepy after Erin was born. It was a bit of a pain, the mask kept getting in the way when I was finally allowed to hold her but I was told I needed to keep it on for a few hours until they were happy with my levels. Erin was weighed and we found at that she was 9lbs - not quite as large as her big brother but a pretty decent size!


After around an hour of being prodded and poked in the recovery room, we were taken to one of the post-op rooms where we spent the rest of the day. Slowly I started to regain feeling in my toes but I felt pretty groggy otherwise, the room was baking hot so I think I just drifted off to sleep on and off while Paul sat with Erin and the midwives came and went. One of the stranger things I experienced was itching! Apparently this is a common side effect of the spinal but my tummy and chest was so itchy, uncomfortably so!

Towards the end of the afternoon my oxygen levels had increased and I was allowed to finally take the mask off. I was also encouraged to stand up and walk around a little once they had removed the catheter. I managed to hobble to the toilet - it wasn't overly painful but I made sure I said yes to all the drugs they offered! I was also able to eat for the first time in hours but it was probably a bad idea choosing fish from the hospital menu - one bite and I puked all over the floor and my clean top which I had only just put on! I was sick a few times through out the rest of the day and I didn't really get my appetite back until the following morning. Nausea is quite common after c-sections.


My parents brought Elliot in to visit that evening and I was glad I was able to be up and about and not in the hospital bed, I didn't want to overwhelm him too much and I know he'd get a bit freaked out if he saw me looking poorly in bed!


Later that evening I was taken up to the postnatal ward and my husband went home for the night. I noticed that the other ladies had their husbands staying with them but I didn't mind Paul going home, it had been a long day so I knew he probably needed a good nights sleep, something he wouldn't get on the wooden hospital chairs!

Erin actually slept pretty well on the first night - unlike the other babies on the ward! I'd forgotten how noisy it can be on the postnatal ward, not to mention being woken up early to have observations done. I did enjoy a breakfast of white toast and butter though - it's something I've not had in absolutely ages due to the gestational diabetes so toast has never tasted so good! (not to mention that I was starving having not eaten anything the day before!)

I was itching to get home but I ended up staying another night in hospital and I was finally discharged on the Thursday morning. It was all rather fast, the midwife came round after breakfast and said she was happy for me to go home and that was it...half an hour later I was packing my bag and waiting for my husband to collect me!


It was so lovely to get home and be able to relax in our own surroundings. It was nice for Elliot to be able to have proper cuddles with Erin too, he was certainly pleased we were home!


The first week went by in a blur and I did feel quite sore. It didn't help that I had a cough too so every time I coughed, it bloody hurt. I also ended up sleeping on the sofa for the first few nights too as it was more comfortable to be sleeping upright and not flat in a bed...the hubby didn't mind this as it meant he couldn't hear the baby crying downstairs ;)

It's been 4 weeks now and I feel about 90% back to my normal self. My c-section wound seems to be healing well and I'm not really getting any pain. I drove for the first time yesterday too which was amazing, I've missed driving so much! Fortunately my husband has been able to work from home since Erin was born so he's been around to help with lifts, housework and the pre-school run. I think he'll be glad when I'm able to do the hoovering again though!




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Sunday, 19 February 2017

New Spring Crafts with Baker Ross

We are part of the Baker Ross blogger network and we get to try out lots of their lovely arts and crafts products. I'm a bit rubbish with craft bits though but fortunately Baker Ross cater for non-pinterest mums like me and have a whole host of easy to do kits on their website!

We were sent some exciting bits from their Spring range and Elliot couldn't wait to get stuck in.


The first thing that caught his eye was the Pond Pals Sticker Scenes (£3.49 for 4). He absolutely loves stickers of any description so this was the perfect activity for him.


There come in a pack of 4 and feature animal stickers such as heron, otter, kingfisher, swan, newt, frogs and fish. All the stickers are repositionable so it's an activity that can be used again and again. This was a big hit with Elliot and he's already asked me if Baker Ross do anymore sticker scenes!

The Creative Colouring Flower Wreaths (£2.50 for 6) was our next activity and this is another perfect kit for the little ones. The flowers on the wreaths are quite detailed and I'm sure any adult would enjoy colouring them but Elliot loved adding a splash of colour!

His colouring isn't overly neat and he's no where near able to stay in the lines but I don't think that matters, the finished result looks lovely :)

The wreaths also double up as Pat Butcher-esque earrings ;) 
 One of the other items we received was the Easter Train Kit (£1.99). This little kit includes foam pieces that slot together and no glue is needed. It does say it is easy to assemble but actually I found this so fiddly!! I knew Elliot would really struggle to do this one as it's aimed at older kids (5+) so I started it off for him but it was quite tricky.


I eventually managed to get it all put together and then noticed one of the train walls was round the wrong way meaning the wheel hole was in the wrong area...doh! Couldn't be bothered to take it all apart as it had taken me so long so our train is missing a wheel and probably wouldn't get too far! Elliot enjoyed decorating the train but I fear for it's durability.....!


Next up was the Super Mum Magnet Kits (£3.95 for 6) which Elliot really enjoyed. The superhero outfits can be mixed and matched and everything (except the capes) is sticky backed so no glue needed. This makes it a really good activity to do when you don't want to make lots of mess!


The last craft kit was the Bug Pom Pom decorations (£3.75 for 3) but this looked like it could be a bit fiddly for Elliot to get stuck into so we decided to leave this for another day when he wasn't so tired!


Are you a fan of crafts? Do you like ready to go kits like this or do your children prefer something more creative?

For a whole host of crafty bits, check out the Baker Ross website HERE

Disclaimer: We received the products for the purpose of the honest review. All views are my own
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