First Timers in NYC [a photo journal & guide]

NYC Travel Guide

NYC Travel Guide

NYC Newbies

So we’re just back from a wee break in New York and I finally get it. I get the hype. It really was as great as everyone says. We booked earlier this year as a little celebration for my upcoming 30th which isn’t until December, but I really didn’t want to go when it was freezing so we decided to go a bit earlier and opted for four nights right at the end of September.

Since coming home I’ve had quite a lot of messages from people about some of the places we visited, hotel, travel and budget from people that have an upcoming trip planned or are hoping to go soon, so I thought I’d answer them here as a wee quick guide to NYC from a first timer!

Travel & Hotel

We looked at booking flights and hotel separately because I just assumed this would be the cheapest way and we have an added bonus of Robin having access to hugely discounted standby tickets for a lot of flights, but with these factored in hotels were still coming in at well over £1000 for 4 nights. Air B&B’s are technically illegal in Manhattan and there are a few horror stories alongside the many people saying their experience was great but in all honesty, I didn’t wanna risk it. So we chose to book as part of a package instead – it also meant that additional baggage cost and resort fees for the hotel were included which was great as these are fairly pricey. All in, we paid around £1800 for 4 nights.

We chose Yotel based on its good reviews, central location and reasonable price tag. It’s in the Hell’s Kitchen area of the city just to the west of Times Square so really easy to get around. The only downside is Times Square itself is the thing of my nightmares so getting off the subway there on an evening to return to the hotel and having to fight through the crowds is less than ideal, but mostly we strolled other routes anyway. The hotel was clean, cool and quirky. We emailed in advance to tell them it was my birthday and we got upgraded to a superior room with a view (which is usually extra) so worth a shot! The rooms are fairly small but that’s to be expected in NYC – it was fine for us!

We also chose to fly from Glasgow with United as it was a whooping £600 less than from Edinburgh! And the flights were better times too, leaving at 9am as opposed to early afternoon. We just paid parking at My Easy Park near the airport and they give you a ride in (this was our second time using this service and I couldn’t recommend enough!).

NYC Travel Guide

Money Saving Explorers

Before we left we did quite a lot of research to try and pull together an itinerary, and I’ll be honest – it’s quite overwhelming. Torn between wanting to do ALL the stuff versus wanting some freedom to wing it.

We decided to buy NYC Explorer Passes for the main attractions as they can be fairly expensive if you ‘pay as you go’ when you’re there. Keep an eye out though because there are LOADS of options… tonnes. From 2-22 attractions and there’s always offers on. We eventually took the plunge and ordered passes that covered us for 4 attractions each for around £130 (we got it using the .com site for Expedia and paying in dollars with a promo code). It covers more than 70 attractions and tours and we used ours for Top of The Rock, The Color Factory, Intrepid: Air and Space Museum and Circle Line Cruise: Statue of Liberty by Night. These would have cost a total of just over $280 – so it’s a decent saving. You don’t have to pick in advance either so once you’re there you can decide which you’d like to do – some you just show your phone at the entrance and other (like the cruise) we had to go earlier and exchange our pass for tickets but it was easy and every one had its own instruction.

NYC Travel Guide

Our Itinerary

Before we left, we’d written a basic itinerary for an idea of what we’d do each day, mostly so we didn’t miss anything major out. But once there we mixed it up a bit as we got a feel for distance between things and the best time to go to certain places. So in the end, this was what we did on each day with some tips and recommendations –

Saturday

We landed just after 11am (NYC time) into Newark and were through security quite quickly, this was a relief in itself as we’ve heard it can be a bit mental, although I believe JFK is a lot worse. We collected our bags and headed for the Air Train and then the NJ transit (there are ticket machines in the airport for this train!) to New York Penn station where it was a 10 minute walk to our hotel to drop our bags (with the hotel robot!) till the room was ready.

We headed round the counter and dived into the first bar we came across called Dalton’s where it was $5 per pint and devoured some wings – YALDI! Then on the way back to the hotel we grabbed a $ pizza slice… cause New York innit. I can confirm – it was everything I dreamed of and more!

After checking in we headed out and stumbled upon the Vessel for some pictures before hitting The High Line towards Chelsea Market where we stopped off at Los Tacos No.1 which we had been told was the best taco in NYC – and yeah, they’re pretty good! I do wish we’d spent some more time here and eaten a bit more because it’s really cool (and I’ve heard the place that sells lobster rolls is incredible!), but we were desperate to explore some more and were also shattered after all our travel so we went a walk via Times Square and then Rudy’s for a beer (they serve free hot dogs with them) and back to the hotel for an early night (can you tell we’re old AF?!)

NYC Travel Guide

Sunday

We had an early start on Sunday to get to Rockerfella Centre for it opening at 8, so grabbed a bagel en route for breakfast. I don’t even like bagels, but even they taste fab in NYC.

Top of the Rock is brilliant, we used our Explorer Pass but general entry is around €38 I think. It’s the only one of the three ‘main’ views (Rockerfella, Empire State & One World Observatory) that doesn’t have glass so it’s the best for pictures. On one side you have Central Park and on the other, the Empire State, and Downtown. It was incredible and I actually enjoyed just taking in the view more than I expected! Defo try and do it early though as it was really starting to busy up by the time we were leaving just before 10.

Then it was time to grab a sugary post breakfast snack at Donut Project (thank you to everyone that recommended!) before heading into Central Park for a wander in the 30 degree heat. We stopped and watched a Little League game and it was probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen… we spend the rest of the morning here just wandering and exploring and also ticking off Belvedere Castle and Strawberry Fields (complete with the world’s worst John Lennon impersonator – sorry mate) as well as the ponds and Jackie O Reservoir. You could easily spend a day here, and I now wish we’d hired a boat and had a row around the lake… but instead we decided to go to Shake Shack on the Upper West Side because, well, we were desperate to try it and it didn’t disappoint! We ate it in the gardens of the Natural History Museum while people watching in the sun! On a side note: I ordered a wine in Shake Shack and we weren’t able to take it away because of licensing laws, so if you do plan to takeaway get a soft drink – I’d recommend the Orange Fanta as it’s soooo much better in the US!

By this point, Robin was well on his way to destroying his Achilles so we wandered back to the hotel, through the red stone neighbourhoods of the Upper West Side, for a much needed rest!

Then it was time for our first jaunt on the subway to Little Italy to see some of the street art that I had saved onto my maps and it didn’t disappoint! It’s so nice to just wander the streets, remembering to look up and see all the art (maybe even throw in a few beers along the way). For dinner we had to walk further down to Chinatown for dim sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlour on Doyers Street, the first dim sum restaurant in Manhattan dating back to the 20’s. It’s no frills dining (and cash only!) but it’s delicious and fun, and one of our favourite cuisines! After, we decided to walk down to the piers and have a wee peer (geddit) at the Brooklyn Bridge after sundown before jumping on a subway back to Midtown and taking a wander past the Empire State Building to Grand Central Station as we didn’t think we’d get a chance to do this any other day, in all honesty, I wasn’t particularly fussed about either of these, but at least I can say I did it. Then it was back to the hotel via Times Square for another amazing nights sleep in the world’s comfiest bed – seriously, I’ve been trying to find out what mattresses Yotel use ever since I got home..!

NYC Travel Guide

Monday

Yet another early start for us and a day that we’d changed our pre-planned itinerary drastically … because Robin surprised me by booking a doors off helicopter flight which I’d seen weeks before when we were initially planning but we’d decided against it due to budget. I was so excited, but equally terrified!

We headed Downtown first thing ready to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s beautiful and amazing but also so busy, but it’s worth just picking a spot on the way over and loitering because there will be a break in the crowds at some point and you can run to the centre of the path and get a picture that looks like you had the bridge all to yourself! The we continued over to Dumbo to get ‘the shot’ of the Empire State through the arch of the Manhattan Bridge, before a wander down by the water to kill some time and take in the skyline before going for some world famous pizza at Juliana’s . We weren’t sure whether to go to Juliana’s or Grimaldi’s next door… but the sun was shining, we wanted to sit out and Grimaldi’s had scaffolding outside so our mind was made up! We spoke to a local that told us that Juliana’s is owned by the family that started Grimaldi’s, they opened it when they sold the Grimaldi name, so although Grimaldi’s is the older name, Juliana’s is the original. And OH MY GOD, it lived up to the hype! Probably the best pizza I’ve ever had… I may have also had a beer to steady my nerves for what was to come.

In an ideal world we’d have spent the day in Brooklyn as I had SO many more recommendations that we wanted to try out, but we had to go catch our helicopter! If you’re planning a trip, please don’t rush Brooklyn! If we even go back (finger’s crossed) I think we’d stay in that part of town.

NYC Travel Guide

Anyway… onto the helicopter! So here’s the deal – doors-off helicopters are banned in NYC. They’re considered too “high-risk”. Safe to say I did not know this before hand. For this reason, the company we used, flyNYON (the only doors off experience in the city), operates out of Kearney, New Jersey. They provide private or group transfers from midtown to the airfield, but we’d decided to just get the subway, PATH train and an Uber. Google Maps says this is about 55 minutes (from Brooklyn via World Trade Centre) and we gave it 1hr 45minutes and just made it in time – you don’t really get anywhere fast in New York we found!

The company was really well run and the staff were great – I mean, I was still shitting myself, but they were lovely. As was our pilot, Gregory. This was my first time in a helicopter and considering 90% of our time in New York was 30 degrees with sun splitting the sky, it was somewhat unlucky that the sky clouded over and even more unlucky that that the wind got up… it was like dangling in a net and blowing in the wind.

The helicopter flew from NJ to Manhattan where it slowed down and we were able to turn 90 degrees in our seat and dangle our feet out over the city. By this point we were a lot lower and calmer and I put my fear aside and man, the views were incredible! We flew over downtown with the Empire State, past One World Observatory and the 9/11 memorial pools and then onto and round the Statue Of Liberty and it was amazing… for a moment I forgot I was terrified and it was the first glimpse of the Statue since spotting her from the plane into Newark. I’d recommend a flight whether it be doors on or off – it was an amazing experience. We opted for the 16 minute flight but there are longer ones available too. I realise it is a luxury though and not in everyone’s budget but the company pretty much always has a 50% offer code available, so don’t take the price at face value. Apparently there can be some haggling room if you call them on the day to book but we didn’t try this out!

NYC Travel Guide

Once we’d landed and my blood pressure had returned to [semi] normal, we got the train back to Manhattan to visit the 9/11 memorial pools on the ground after seeing them in the air. It was really poignant and we tried to make our way round reading all the names. It felt odd to see so many people taking selfies and posing, I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. I’m glad we visited though, and it really is breathtaking, overlooked by the new One World Observatory (OWO) and 6 other Trade Centres that are either complete on in the process of being built. After visiting we planned to go up OWO, but it was still light and since we’d done Top Of The Rock in the day time, we decided to do OWO at night, so, off we trotted to Tribeca to get a few beers at Tiny’s & The Bar Upstairs. It is what it says, tiny! We got talking to the barman who gave us some dinner recommendations in exchange for some tips on the best time to visit Edinburgh (he wrote them on a piece of paper and now I can’t find it – when I come across them, I’ll share!) and after a few beers we hopped back down to head up for the view. OWO isn’t available on attraction passes, so it cost us $38 each. A cool little fact we learnt about the new Trade Centres is that once complete, none of them will ever cast shadow on the two original towers that are now memorial pools, they’ve been designed so that they will always be in the sunshine.

After some snaps we headed back down to Tribeca and went to Holy Ground for dinner, as recommended by the barman in Tiny’s. It’s a cool wee underground BBQ place with a sort of vintage speakeasy vibe (which seems really popular) and it was brilliant, I had a burger and fries and Robin had a smoked chicken sandwich with a wee cheeky mac n cheese side to share and it was probably one of the best burger I’ve ever had… and I’ve had quite a few! My one regret is that I didn’t have a cocktail because they sounded amazing… I actually didn’t have a cocktail the whole holiday (I mean, is it even a holiday without one!?). But I suppose it means I’ll just have to go back another time.

NYC Travel Guide

Tuesday

Tuesday was our last full day in the city and the steps were catching up on us (by this point we were at over 100k and Robin’s achilles had swelled like an egg…) but we started the day off with yet another bagel before ambling down to the Color Factory in SoHo. I’d decided this was something I wanted to do one day well before we even booked the holiday after seeing pictures of it online and thinking it looked really cool. Lucky for us, it was included in our Explorer Pass, I think it’s usually around $32pp. We were greeted with the weirdest, coolest, tastiest chewy ice cream ball upon arrival and it pretty much set us up for the rest of the experience which was equally as weird but really cool and well thought out featuring installations by many New York artists. I won’t say too much because I don’t want to give too much away as part of the fun is the surprise but I’d highly recommend it – it was probably my biggest surprise of the trip and even better than expected! This attraction would be great for kids too, it’s interactive, so probably best for age 5 and above.

As we were flailing a bit by this point we decided to have a quieter afternoon and just went a wander to the shops. I’m not really a fan of shopping to be honest, least of all on holiday. I know a lot of people head to NYC primarily to shop, and if that’s you, then you’ll love it, the shops are amazing… however, I just can’t be arsed, BUT we needed to get some gifts for the kids and Christmas decorations for our Mums. Plus I wanted a new pair of Converse and Robin wanted to visit the Nintendo store… obviously. After we’d picked up our souvenirs we ended up stumbling into another Los Tacos No.1 and getting some more tacos for the road before heading back to the hotel to put our feet up till evening.

We’d decided to use our final ticket on our attraction pass to do a Circle Line Statue of Liberty by Night tour (we’d picked up our tickets from the pier the previous day using our passes so didn’t need to queue etc). The cruise sets sail from Pier 16 at 7pm and we were advised to get there early to get ahead of the queue and secure good seats on the upper, open deck. We arrived at about 6pm and were 2nd in line… which turned out to be completely pointless. Upon boarding the boat we went up top to get our “good seats”, but the thing is, the seats don’t go to the edge of the boat, so once the seats of the upper deck were filled, people just file round the outside and stand at the railings completely blocking the view of the folk in the seats, so don’t bother. Just show up and get on whenever! The views were great though, and the guy that did the tour was actually brilliant, so it was worth it. Meant we got to see her from sea level as well as from the air a few days previously!

To top off our last night in the city, we decided to go for a steak (yeah, we had dollars to use up!). A LOT of people recommended Gallagher’s up near Times Square but the fact that it was in Times Square put us off a bit as we thought it might be a bit of a tourist trap (to be honest, we thought this about most of the popular tourist spots there – I’m looking at you Carmine’s and Ellen’s), don’t get me wrong, it sounded great, but I was convinced there would be other, equally good steaks (if not better) and anyway, we were downtown and wanted to eat nearby, about 5 or 6 popped up on Google all with 4.5+ stars. We chose Harry’s in the Financial District… it didn’t disappoint. The restaurant was stylish, luxe, very American and the service was brilliant. We ordered a filet mignon and a bone-in filet mignon and some sides and both of us agreed it was probably the best steak we’d ever had! It wasn’t a cheap meal, but we didn’t exert it to be, and it was worth every penny. remembering that the standard NYC tip is 20%, our bill came to just over $200 but this seemed in-keeping with most steakhouses we looked at, and it was worth every penny and the best way to finish off our last night in the most magical city!

NYC Travel Guide

Wednesday

On our last half day before heading off to the airport we hobbled along to the Intrepid Air and Space museum to use our last Attraction Pass tickets . It had been Robin’s choice, and probably not something that I’d have chosen, but it was actually quite a bit better than I anticipated! Despite the 35 degree heat… When the time rolled round to collect our bags and head for the airport, we were probably quite relieved to step onto the air-conditioned train, and the long journey home started. Why is it that it always seems to take twice as long to get home?!

Then crash back to reality. The reality of stepping off the red-eye at 7.30am and being a parent again after 5 days of absolute freedom, but it was worth it. And well done if you’ve made it this far… I originally was going to break this down to highlights, but I just kept adding and adding, and then couldn’t stop. I’ve even bored myself, but I hope this is useful for someone out there! As I said, we were both first timers and I think we did pretty well for the time we were there and we really did have the best time in the most amazing city. I always found it a bit bewildering when people spoke about New York with such passion, and visited again and again, but I kind of get it now. It really is a special city and I’d love to go back one day, maybe even with the kids when they’re a bit older.

NYC Travel Guide

Top Tips

Before I go though, I’ve rounded up some of my top tips, and stuff I learned before I went, while I was there as well as things I’d bear in mind for the future –

Money

We took about $700 cash and the rest of our money on a Revolut card. Revolut is great for travel as you can transfer £ into the account and then exchange it into $ (or any other currency) with a live exchange rate (I think we got around 1.23 – thank Brexit). Then whatever you spend on the card comes out of the $ pot, so you see exactly what you have left in that currency, which for us, just made it a lot easier, not having to do some quick math every time we paid for something! On arriving home we had $ left in our pot so just exchanged them back, hassle free.

But remember, cash is a must as a lot of places are cash only, just as a lot of places are card only, so you do need a mix. It’s also really handy for tipping which is a must in the States. Service staff are taxed on an assumed amount of tips, so if you don’t tip they will still be taxed, so it’s pretty much expected that you tip between 15-20% (we stuck with 20%). You also tip your chambermaid daily and taxi drivers etc so bear this in mind. We were worried that it was going to be crazy expensive after reading some Facebook groups and blogs, but honestly, it wasn’t. this could be due to the kind of food we enjoy as we ate a lot of street food and market food etc, so this probably kept costs down. We avoided tourist trap restaurants around Time Square because they can be overpriced and underwhelming and just not really our kinda thing. Drinking is fairly expensive, but most places have Happy Hours in the evening. In a nice rooftop bar you could be looking at $25 for a cocktail, but ya know, stay for one, soak up the view then go to a dive bar round the corner for a pitcher of beer if you’re on a budget! It can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want – don’t feel a pressure to spend spend spend if you don’t want to!

NYC Travel Guide

Biggest Disappointment

The High Line, I had high hopes for this walk which is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side, but it just didn’t live up to the hype, I mean, it was fine, but not as pretty as I imagined it to be… maybe it was just the time of year. I don’t know, I just wasn’t blown away. The other slight disappointment was One World Observatory (OWO), it’s fairly expensive as it wasn’t on our passes and I just thought it was a bit over-hyped. Don’t get me wrong, the view was great, but I preferred Top Of The Rock as it’s the only view of it’s kind without glass (better for pictures!).

Metro

You can get a metro 7-day unlimited pass for $33 each (the price of 12 single journeys). We knew about this but decided not to get one as we weren’t sure that we’d use it enough, and we probably broke even. We didn’t realise that the PATH train we used to get to New Jersey for our helicopter flight was included, had we known this wed have probably got the passes. I’d say for 5 -7 days you’d get the use out of it and save money. We used the subway, but still managed to rack up 30-50k steps a day!

The subway is a little easier than London i thought, because it’s fairly easy to work out if you’re going uptown or downtown, it just takes a few rides to get your head around it. I used Apple maps to plan most journeys and work out the routes and didn’t have any nightmares. Didn’t need offline map due to free roaming (check this before you go). Also, the UK Uber app works in US, we used this to get to the helicopter airfield after the train.

NYC Travel Guide

What did we miss?

4 nights/5 days was a great amount of time and we got a LOT done, but a few more would have given us a bit of leeway, any less and we would really have struggled. If we went back I’d love to squeeze in some museums, in particular the 9/11 Memorial Museum (it has free entry on a Tuesday evening by the way). I’d also have loved to check out the Guggenheim, and Moma. I’d also do a show – the one most recommended to me was Book Of Mormon. We didn’t bother as we already had so much to get through, and truthfully, we’d probably have fallen asleep, but if we went back it would be a must. Sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t do it all, and that’s ok!

We’d also go a little later in the year, as mentioned before, we decided to go when we did because we didn’t want it to be freezing… but it was still really hot, between 26-36 degrees every day and it’s hard going in the city. Maybe leave it till mid-October. I’d also not bother staying in Manhattan if we went back. It was good to be central for our first trip just for ease but I’d definitely stay in Brooklyn or Williamsburg if we went back and explore these areas more as the short amount of time we spend in Brooklyn was wonderful and I’ve heard of so many amazing spots in Williamsburg.

NYC BABY!

As you probably gathered, we had a blast, I’d go back tomorrow if I could (ya know, If I had a money tree and a nanny). I hope there are some useful tips in here if you’re planning a holiday there any time soon, and if not, sorry for boring you… NYC BABY!

NYC Travel Guide

 

 

YOYO+ing Round Town With Edinburgh Baby Co. [AD]

Babyzen YOYO+ review

Edinburgh Baby Co. Collab

I was recently asked by Edinburgh Baby Company if I’d like to borrow a Babzyzen YOYO+ for a week to try out and review as part of a wee collaboration, and well, I jumped at the chance, as it’s a buggy I’ve been looking at on and off for a while, and had heard great things about, and I was also already a fan of the shop! On a few of Oscar’s hospital admissions, I’d ended up in their Marchmont store a few times while floating about like a bit of a zombie potato (kids wards are LOUD… all night long), while out getting some fresh air and a quick lunch.

So first off, Edinburgh Baby Company are fab! Single-handedly ran by mum of three Sara for local families and she sells everything from pregnancy, to baby and beyond. The selection of ethical clothing is wonderful, variety of wooden toys incredible and if you’re thinking of making a switch to cloth nappies, look no further… not to mention Sara has great knowledge if you’re in need of some advice on where to start on these, she’s your woman.

So, before I go any further, for transparency sake: I was given a loan of this buggy for a week in exchange for an honest review. Views are of my own and I was not paid! 

The Babyzen YOYO+

So what is it? And why’s it supposed to be so special?

So, I thought the YOYO was just a buggy, but upon picking it up, I realised it’s quite a bit more – from a parent-facing newborn cocoon right up to a toddler/child buggy that can be popped up with one hand and folded down small enough to pop in the overhead locker on a plane – the YOYO+ is a pretty cool piece of kit.

Babyzen YOYO+

The Main Selling Points (as told by Babyzen)

  • Reclinable and can lie flat (great for napping!)
  • Featherweight: 6.2 Kgs, with a shoulder strap for carrying
  • Newborn pack from birth to 9kg – a supersoft sherpa lined cocoon
  • Parent facing or forward facing
  • Fabrics are machine washable, cause ya know, kids are minging
  • Improved 4 wheel suspension
  • Car Seat Compatibility – Popular car seats can be popped on the chassis
  • UPF 50+ sun protection canopy which is great for holidays
  • Fits in the smallest spaces (more on this later) and in the overhead compartment of an airplane
  • Exclusive soft-drive system: no need to lock the front swivel wheel, even on rough terrain

Babyzen YOYO+

The Pros… As Told By Me!

First Impressions

So let me say first off, I was impressed from the start, I’d never seen a YOYO+ in real life and honestly, it looks great. It looks sleek, premium and pretty nifty. I was also surprised to see it comes in a variety of colours. I didn’t get to choose but the trial model was a beautiful orangey-red colour, and was the one I’d have chosen. Similar to a Bugaboo (which we currently have) you can buy different colour packs to change the colour of the hood and lining as well as newborn inserts – this is always good if you’re looking to refresh a pram system to use with a subsequent child, or just fancy a change!

Babyzen YOYO+

Longevity

With both of our children we’ve bought a pram/travel system to use from birth (with Oscar we had an iCandy Peach3, and with Scout I decided to get a Bugaboo Cameleon3) and then, once they have reached a certain age and we needed something more convenient for popping into the shops or going on holiday, we’ve used a cheaper foldable buggy (in our case, we bought a Mamas + Papas Armadillo)… But here’s the deal, buggy’s are rubbish! They steer like a triple decker bus, can feel rattly, wheels get stuck in cobbles (hello, Edinburgh), never as easy to put up and down as they say, and they can still be bulky when folded… so to be honest, I’ve always hated ours!

This was where I was going wrong though, as I said before, I thought the YOYO+ was “just another buggy”, but in reality, it’s so much more. The YOYO+ can contend with the more traditional prams and travel systems, similar to the Bugaboo Bee I’d say, as a city pram. It would do away with the need to buy an additional buggy/stroller further down the line, making it a truly versatile and a good investment.

Babyzen do all the “extras” you’d want in a travel system, from their newborn pack with a flat nest for infants, a 5-point harness, a 2-position pop-up canopy, a foot cover and a headrest (oh, and it folds flat with this on too – no need to remove first), to YOYO buggy board with seat, to parasols and the new parent essential – cup holder!

On a side note, I also loved that it has a wee zip pouch in the hood for putting your purse and phone if you’re just nipping into the shop. As well as a handy little window on the hood to check if they’re sleeping (spoiler alert: mine never was!)

Babyzen YOYO+

Comfort

The YOYO gives a good, comfortable, upright seated position but can be adjusted easily using a toggle on the back of the seat unit to recline… Unfortunately for us, Scout never decided to nap while we were out (standard) but the seat does lie flat which is a selling point for us, because it’s great on holiday for being able to get them to sleep in the evenings and comfortable enough to stay asleep so you can enjoy a cocktail or 5!

Plus, despite the YOYO’s compact size, the seat is a brilliant size. Oscar is 4 and easily fits. A 4 year old might not ordinarily use a buggy, but if you’re on holiday it could still come in handy. Babyzen have thought of everything, and if you have an older child sleeping, you can even buy a leg rest that clips on the front to extend the seat for sleeping.

As well as being comfortable for the wee one being pushed around like a king and/or queen, the YOYO+ is also really nice to push. It feels light and responsive which isn’t always the case for a run of the mill buggy, and a city prams go, it felt great on our little mini adventures. We put it through its paces and it really excelled – even Robin was left impressed and that’s a tough ask (he hates our Bugaboo Cam).

Babyzen YOYO+

Teeny Wee YOYO

So I suppose one of the main selling points of the YOYO is it’s size, and it’s impressive! Our current pram (Bugaboo Cam3) and buggy (Mamas + Papas Armadillo) both take up the floor space of the boot of our cars (see below) meaning any shopping or bags have to be placed on top, this is fine until you have any more than 3, then it becomes some sort of balancing act while hoping you can squish the parcel shelf down far enough to be able to peek out the back window… it’s far from ideal.

Bugaboo Cameleon3 in the boot of a Ford Focus
Bugaboo Cameleon3 in the boot of a Ford Focus

In comparison, the YOYO+ really is tiny. It folds so easily and can be carried with a shoulder strap before being chucked in the car. A few people have asked to see it in the car, both in the boot and in the footwell in the front (note, the passengers seat was not even all the way back), so here it is! I must admit, even I was surprised at how little room it took up.

Babyzen YOYO in car
Babyzen YOYO+ in boot and passenger footwell of a Ford focus

The YOYO+ can also be stored in the overhead lockers on a plane, and a separate travel bag can be purchased if needed. I can definitely see the advantages of this having wrestled with a wild toddler while waiting to get through security and to the baggage reclaim to collect a buggy that’s been checked at the gate!

Twinning

That brings me onto a feature that Sara at EBC told me about that I’d never heard of – YOYO+ twin! Turns out, you can get two YOYO’s and clip them together to make a double pram! How cool is that? Sara herself has twins as was telling me about the struggles of the double buggy and how something that could come apart in this way would have really helped her out and having the option to split them when needed or for subsequent children must be a huge plus.

Babyzen YOYO+

Where’s The Catch?

Truthfully? I don’t think there is one. However, there are a few wee downsides that I have to mention.

Off-roading

This is a city pram on the whole. We live next to a country park and we did put it through its paces on some bumpier terrain, and although it fared ok, if that’s the sort of environment that you’re looking to explore daily, then the YOYO probably isn’t for you… but you probably knew that already as ultimately it’s not marketed as that and that’s ok – it can’t be everything for everyone.

We also found that the narrow wheelbase means it can feel like its tipping slightly on a tight corner, especially with Scout being partial to leaning out one side to peer behind her. However, the stroller is light enough that this is easily corrected and you never feel ‘out of control’, it’s extremely responsive on the whole.

Robin did mention that he would prefer it to have an extendable handle. He’s 6ft 1 and said it wasn’t uncomfortable, however, it would have been preferable. At 5ft 3, it’s safe to say I didn’t have any problems, but considering most newborn+ prams have this, it’s a shame it doesn’t.

Babyzen YOYO+

Price

The Babyzen YOYO+ is pricey –

Babyzen newborn stroller from £579 – from birth to 4+
6months+ YOYO+ from £380 – this is the one we have been trying out… Obviously we didn’t need the newborn bit!
Accessories prices are as follows and I think are inline with ‘normal’ accessory prices the likes of Bugaboo, UPPAbaby etc:
YOYO bag £84.95 – we had this, and I completely forgot to photograph it (SORRY!) but it hooks into your YOYO with a small wheeled attachment and can carry up to an additional 10kg! Great if you’re on a full day out and need a picnic or if you’re shopping.
Board £99 – buggy board with a seat, similar to the Bugaboo one
Cup holder £24.95
Parasol £39.95
Footmuff £99.95 – beautiful cozy cocoon that can roll up into a small storage bag
Travel bag £59.00 – fab for holidays to keep everything protected
Leg rest £29.95 – this would also be fab for an older child on holiday
If I were buying for a new baby I’d purchase the newborn stroller, cup holder (gotta stay hydrated) and a footmuff at a cost of just over £700. This is still a whopping £500 less than I paid for my equivalent Bugaboo Cam3 and Mamas & Papas Armadillo stroller.

Now, for a buggy that you’re going to use to nip to the shops every so often with or for a holiday or two, it really might not be worth it. However, I think it would be a great alternative to a traditional travel system. When I look back on how often we used our pram in the first 6 months with both Scout and Oscar, it really wasn’t that often. In particular, with Scout, she was always worn in a wrap and could count on two hands how many times we used the carrycot of the pram. I feel like a YOYO+ would have been ideal and actually saved a lot of money. It would even have been worth it if we’d known about it when we bought our rubbish buggy for holidaying with Oscar as I could have paid for the 6month+ stroller then upgraded it with the newborn pack when we found out about Scout… hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?!

The Verdict

I love it. Probably more than I thought I would and I think Scout liked it… she certainly enjoyed eating snacks in it (sorry Sara, I’ll dust the crumbs off before I return it!). All in all, it has lived up to the hype!

Like I said, if you’re on your last baby (as I am) and they’re 1 year or above and you’re looking for something to scoot around town in and nip to the shops, then truthfully, this probably isn’t the buggy for you, it’s a pricey option -I’m pretty gutted that we didn’t discover it before now!

However, if you’re on your first or subsequent baby and looking for something that will see you from birth through till… well, whenever they might still need a buggy (bearing in mind this could be when they’re 4 and you’re on holiday) then this could be the one. It will save you money in the long run, and it’s a great wee piece of kit. You won’t ever have to wrestle in the pouring rain to dismantle it and fold it in the the boot in a car park while your baby screams in the car (been there), you’ll have plenty of room left for all your other baby paraphernalia and shopping and I don’t doubt you’ll enjoy scooting around with it.

In my (humble) opinion, the YOYO+ really is FUN and stands up to its rivals! Safe to say I was sad to return it to Sara today. Happy YOYOing!

Babyzen YOYO+

 

Christmas Gift Guide 2018

christmas guide 2018

Christmas Is Coming…

Ok, so, CHRISTMAS. Sorry, I know it’s still November, but everyone’s talking about shopping aren’t they? Black Friday fever… even though no one in the UK had even heard about this American phenomenon until about 2 years ago…

I’m not the best at being organised when it comes to the festivities, I usually have the ideas but never get round to actually executing them, and as a result panic buy stuff on Amazon Prime on Christmas Eve Eve. However, I’m trying to be a better person, I’m trying to change this significant flaw in my personality and I thought putting together this little guide might help me do that, and who knows, maybe you’ll find it useful too?

I’ve compiled some ideas for babies, 3 year olds and the Mamas – cause that’s my life. I am not a fan of buying stuff for the sake of it, and I do try to buy things that are quality and have loosely based it around the idea of buying “Something they want, something they need, something they’ll wear, something they’ll read”. This year I will also try with the majority of gifts to ‘shop small’ and support independent as well as local business – this is something my Mum does very well, and always talks about saving our local shops, and she’s right – so I will try and do better. I have chucked in a few more high street bits because sometimes we need a wee bit of convenience!

shop small
Pic: @joannehawker

To The New Mum – 

Want: Family Photography

In the form of a Gillian Morton Photography voucher. What could be better than giving new Mum or parents a gift of captured memories? We did a photoshoot with Gillian when Scout was just a tiny baby and the pictures from it are so incredibly special. This is the kind of thing that new parents might find hard to justify financially, I mean, maternity pay is pretty rubbish for most and you just have other priorities. It’s something that is genuinely worth every penny and will be cherished a lifetime. Obviously, if you don’t live near Edinburgh, Gillian might not be the family photographer for you, but there are many many more. 

GMP
Pic: @gillian_morton

Want: Personalised Jewellery

I was so so fortunate to win a handcrafted Mobius Infinity bracelet from Soremi Jewellery which is personalised with the initials of both our babies – it’s beautiful and I get complimented on it loads. Ghazal has so many other beautiful pieces too at various price-points to find the perfect gift.

Soremi jewellery

I don’t wear a lot of jewellery, I like quite simple pieces, and for a while now I’ve been eyeing up some personalised bits from Lines and Current. My absolute favourite is the Dreamer pendant that you can get personalised with an initial and then add an additional initialed coin for second babies.

Lines & CurrentPic: @linesandcurrent

Need: Skin Care

Recently I’ve been [trying to] put aside more ‘me-time’, and a small part of that has been trying to introduce a strict skin care routine, which I’ve actually got quite into! I’ve found Nicola Dougan on Instagram to basically be a skin care Queen and have made a few purchases on her recommendation that have helped my skin. One of the biggest changes, for me, has been switching to a facial oil at night instead of a traditional moisturiser. I’ve been using Amaranthine and I’m also going to purchase it as a gift for… well, not going to tell ya who for incase they read this!

Pic: @amaranthine_skincare

My pal, Sarah, over at Brass Buttons and Confidence has been collaborating with L’Occitane and using their Overnight Reset Serum which looks amazing too! It’s not what you’d call cheap though, so it would make a lovely, luxurious gift to someone that really rates skincare… It’s something I might treat myself to after Christmas if I have any vouchers to spend!

On the other end of the scale, you can’t beat The Ordinary for great quality, budget stocking fillers starting at a fiver – my top picks are the Hyaluronic Acid and Glycolic Acid toner – I buy the majority of mine on ASOS as I’m a Premier member so get free next day delivery. Quids in.

The ordinary
Pic: @deciem

Need: Treatments

If you wanted to go one step further towards self-care goals – how about treating someone to a treatment? Whether that be a facial or a massage or even push the boat right out and get them a spa day! I’m pretty sure I don’t know a parent that wouldn’t LOVE a day at Stobo. It’s a real treat, and you could even offer to do the baby sitting while they go and use their voucher!? I always think experiences mean a lot more than ‘stuff’ (Amma right Kelly @Organised_motherhood_?!)

Wear: Mama Merch

Every new Mama needs at least some kind of merch, and my go-to is usually Mutha.Hood. She’s got your needs covered from amazing Strong Girls Club jumpers (that now come in new colours) to a little branded popsocket to stop you dropping your phone on your babies face #essential.

Pic: @mutha.hood

Wear: Jammies

Pj’s. Because maternity leave jammies are an essential. For those chilled days lounging, snuggling up sniffing your new baby while you binge watch boxsets on Netflix. Well, for those kinda perfect days, I’ve found kinda perfect jim jams and here they are – Sleepy Doe, and you can get them from Bunny.Hop! You’re WELCOME.

Pic: @bunnyhop.kids

However, if you’re on a tighter budget, and yeah it’s not quite ‘shopping small’, but ASOS have some ace pyjamas in just now! Including these polka dot beauties below that look mega comfy. They all come in around the £30 mark and they also do them in petite and plus size.

Pic: ASOS

Read: Book Club

If you’re looking for a stocking filler, a book is always a good place to start, however, a new parent might not have the time to read War and Peace, so how about The Little Book of Self Care for New Mums instead? A gentle reminder to be kind to themselves!

Pale Girl Rambling has written a wee review of it too! Have a read.

Pic: @palegirlrambling

To the Baby

Want: well, nothing…

Ok, so babies don’t really want for anything do they? But it might be nice to gift them something that they can grow into… not necessarily clothes though. How about a nice wooden toy instead? There are so many lovely independent shops selling beautifully crafted toys for babies including these lovely Plan toys from Bunnyhop, who is based in Edinburgh.

bunnyhop
pic: @bunnyhop.kids

I did also write a blog a wee while ago with a bit of a newborn essential list which could come in handy – check it out here!

Need: Nursery Decor

Instead of gifting a baby something for them to use, whether it be clothes or toys, why not think a little outside of the box and go for some kind of nursery decor? Admittedly this can be hard if you haven’t seen the room or if you’re unsure on taste, but there are so many cute little pieces out there that I’m sure most people would love. Mama.Tot, another Edinburgh based shop, has the best collection of interiors including the Liewood Mobile pictured below (pom poms are life) as well as beautiful blankets and cushions.

nursery decor

On the subject of textiles – bedding! Nice baby bedding is so so hard to come by, or at least that’s what I’ve found. Truth is though, a babies cot doesn’t need much, in fact, the safest thing is to have nothing but a cot sheet. Luckily, That Darling Brand makes the most beautiful ones in a variety of floral and unisex fabrics, ranging in size from Moses basket up to cot bed. We have ‘pickle’ (pictured below) and it’s such a great way to liven up the room with a bit of colour! They also come beautifully packaged and boxed which makes for a perfect gift.

Or, what about a nice personalised print? I love to mix a variety of styles and colours in any room with prints, using different style frames and hanging them on the wall as well as in picture shelves. My absolute favourite at the moment is anything from Eleanor Bowmer – her stuff is all the heart eyes, especially this one featured below which can be personalised and is pretty much nursery perfection. She also has some other great unisex designs including her unique leopards, mono space design and bestselling rainbow!

Pic: @eleanorbowmer

If personalised is what you’re after, I’d also highly recommend Three Penny! Making beautiful name prints in A4 and A3. The story behind the business is a really lovely one too. Oh, and there’s also an amazing limited edition release of Wonder Women flash cards – I’ve got them for Scout and can confirm that they are SO COOL! 😍

Pic: @three_penny

Need: Nappies

Well, these are definitely a need. A 10 times a day need. How about gifting some reusable cloth nappies? These can seem a bit of an investment for parents, so why not give a practical helping hand and kick start their collection… or, add to their existing collection all the while helping the environment. We’ve been using Bambino Mio Miosolo nappies for a while now and love them – they come in great patterns, and they sell other accessories too including muslin cloths and swaddles!

PS. I have it on good authority that they’ll be giving 25% off for Black Friday. I don’t usually subscribe to Black Friday deals because I worry they’re a bit of a con and just railroad you into buying stuff you don’t actually need – but on this occasion I make an exception, because it’s a genuinely great deal if you’re looking to gift any of the items or purchase for yourself!

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Wear: Organic Zoo + Upcycling

I could list a hundred beautiful clothing brands that sell the dreamiest newborn clothes, but I’d be here all day. So instead I’m going to focus on two of my favourites – the shop Organic Zoo and the wonderful Maker Sophie & Co.

I’ve been a fan of Organic Zoo since Oscar was born, and now, Scout has quite a few pieces form them too. For great quality, unisex pieces, ethically produced in Europe at a really affordable price – they’re a great all rounder. The salopettes below are one of my favourite products, Scout had a pair when she was brand new and they were just beautiful… they also have a matching wrap top that we have and is beautiful on!

Organic ZooPic: @organiczoo

I discovered Sophie & Co a bit later – Scout has had a few pieces and I have more waiting for her to grow into and I love them all. Her designs are unisex, really classic and super versatile. However, what I really want to talk about is Sophie’s Upcyling project. You can now send her old clothes and fabrics from your own wardrobe to be fashioned into pieces for your littles! Jeans can be come bloomers and your partners shirts can become rompers (like Scout’s below)! It’s a great way of creating a personal item and it’s also great for the environment as it’s reducing waste. It just makes it extra special! There’s loads of examples over on her Instagram!

Read: From The Cat in the Hat To Amelia Earhart

I have a love of children’s books, there’s nothing better than a beautifully illustrated board book (before it gets chewed). For babies, illustrated books can also be a lovely decorative addition to a nursery, and then as they grow, it’s so lovely to find a story that they enjoy. The following list is a mixture of books for babies and toddlers and beyond. Including a few non-fiction books that Oscar in particular loves! For ease I have linked them to Amazon, but shop around – there are so many beautiful and local independent book stores including Golden Hare Books in Stockbridge that would love the support.

Our Favourites-

To the 3 Year Old

Want: A Really Cool Toy! (But it’s not plastic)

So, babies don’t really want for anything but the same can’t be said for a three year old really, can it? I know I’m wanting to get Oscar something that he’ll really love and I can’t wait to see his face light up with a cool toy. But you don’t have to bankrupt yourself (and kill the environment) bulk buying plastic from Amazon. There’s some really cool gifts out there that will help you support a local indy business, and for this section, that business is Bon Tot – another amazing Edinburgh store based in Stockbridge! Aside from all their awesome clothing brands as well as amazing vintage finds, they are also selling some awesome toys and gifts this Christmas – from retro Sonny Angels to the coolest Des Enfantillages slingshots and bow & arrow – I’ve never seen anything like them anywhere else!

Pic: @bon_tot

Something else I’ve thought about putting together for Oscar is a dressing up rail or box. This is also a great gift that family and friends can add to. Plus, if you have more than one child – they can all get involved! I technically didn’t ‘shop small’ for this and I actually picked some pieces up in the supermarket sales after Halloween. Meri Meri also do some great accessories but I would love to add some Fable Heart pieces over time. They make the dreamiest wands, crowns and capes that would be a perfect addition to any child’s dress up box and a beautiful gift, suitable for a variety of ages.

Pic: @fable.heart

Need: shoes

So, shoes probably aren’t the most exciting thing for a three year old, BUT, their wee feet grow so fast! I know I feel like I’m constantly buying new shoes for Oscar, so an alternative gift could be a voucher for new shoes when required. This could be for an independent local show shop, or for a bigger high street store depending on preference. It’s the practical gift that a parent might appreciate more than the child!

Need: an activity

Parents need this – time. Time to get stuff done. In my experience, the best way to buy some time is to set up some craft activities for Oscar to play with independently. A craft box is also a really cost-effective present to put together!

You don’t need to buy anything fancy and pre-packed. Instead, why not pick up an IKEA storage tub and fill it with some bits and bobs collected from pound shops and even around the house like –

  • Pom poms
  • a wee set of child scissors
  • glue stick
  • some glitter
  • off cuts of wrapping paper or cards
  • paint brushes
  • a few crayons
  • Googly eyes
  • straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • Or use a craft punch to create some confetti from leaflets, packaging and magazines – reuse + recycle and all that jazz!

Not only is this easy to do and great value but you can also customise it to suit the child’s interests, favourite colours and make it as big or compact as you like. It’s a really versatile gift for all ages!

Pic: Pinterest

Wear: Homegrown Brands + Makers

This is where it gets fun because there are so many independent brands out there making some amazing kids clothes! I’ve narrowed it down to four that I love, have bought from in the past, and will buy from again.

First up – Wex Baby – the coolest T-shirt’s and sweatshirts out there lovingly designed and printed by hand . Basically, every kid needs an item of clothing with Pepe on it (PS. They also come in matching adult sizes in some items!). Oscar has a jumper (below) and a gazillion washes later – it’s still going strong & so so soft!

They have also released a tote bag and an amazing canvas kids backpack which looks mega cute and helps support The Fostering Network – I’m thinking it would make a great wee change bag or nursery or swimming bag for toddlers!

Next up – some unisex personalised tees and sweats from BOB The Brand. Initialled goodies in the coolest mono animal print. I got Scout an initialled T-shirt and Oscar a birthday T-shirt and both are brilliant quality and all designed and handprinted in Manchester! They’ve recently released some new pieces too that are lovely, oh, and they also do adult sizes, so you can twin. What more could you want?!

Pic: @bobthebrand

And lastly, you might want to get some leggings to go with these t-shirts and sweatshirts and for the best prints, quality fabrics, perfect fit, beautifully handmade and great value, hands down, the best leggings I’ve ever found are from The Cotton Barn. I bought Oscar’s first pair when he was around 6 months old and have lost count of how many I’ve had since! They are perfect for boys and girls, babies through to child. My favourite print at the moment is Animal (both Oscar and Scout have leggings in it)

Pic: @thecottonbarn

I could have added SO many more shops and brands to this list but I doubt you’d have made it to the end, so I’ll leave it at this. I hope it’s given you some inspiration. I know I don’t go daft at Christmas, I would rather buy small and buy smart – quality items that will last the kids and luxury items for the adults that they may not buy for themselves.

Also, just be bloody responsible, yeah? Christmas is a great time of year, but it’s definitely not worth getting into a complete faff over or worse, ending up in debt. Giving can feel great, but equally, your time is more important – spend it with your family, friends and loved ones. Take the kids to see the Christmas lights, not everything has to revolve around spending. We’ll also be donating toys to charity before Christmas, so that other little girls and boys get gifts. We will also be donating to a local food bank. Oscar’s childminder did this with all her minded kids last year and they went with her to drop it all off and I thought it was a great idea. Stuff is stuff, don’t get hung up on it. But if you can, and you want to – supporting local businesses and makers really will make their day!

I’d love to hear what your favourite shops are, I’m always on the look out!

And lastly, MERRY CHRISTMAS WHEN IT COMES!

lou x

[Trying to] Save the planet, one nappy at a time! [AD]

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Waste, Waste Everywhere…

Last month we (finally) moved house after a rather stressful few months. We moved into a new build and quickly realised we hadn’t ordered our wheelie bins… not an ideal situation for a family of four. There’s nothing like packing your dirty bin bags into a car to take them to landfill every few days to open your eyes to the amount of waste you have. It’s scary.

There are many aspects of our lives that we’ve tried to reduce waste, some little changes, some a little bigger. From declining straws at McDonald’s when we treat Oscar (read: treat ourselves) after his swimming lesson to being strict about the number of toys, particularly of the plastic variety, we have in the house. In fact, Oscar has very few toys really – but that’s a post for another day…

Luckily since Oscar stepped into his “big boy pants” a number of months ago, we’ve gone back down to one baby in nappies, but that’s still a hell of a lot of nappies! So it was the perfect time to start fresh and really get into using some cloth once and for all!

When Oscar was quite young I took an interest in trying cloth nappies, and I remember asking a girl I was pally with on Instagram that used them for advice and she sent me a huge list of stuff I needed to buy and instructions on how to go about it all. I won’t lie, I was completely overwhelmed, and just couldn’t get my head around it all or know where to start so I sort of just floated on, doing our thing with disposables.

Again, before we had Scout it crossed my mind and I was keen to try them after we got past the newborn phase (ya know, when they’re pooing 6000 times a day?). It wasn’t long after we started weaning Scout that Bambino Mio got in touch to ask if we’d like to review their Miosolo system and I jumped at the opportunity.

I’m pleased to tell you it’s a simple all-in-one nappy. So no list of stuff you need! PHEW!

Going Cloth!

As I said, I was worried about the logistics and the stuff involved with cloth, but the Miosolo all-in-one system makes it really easy!

The Kit

This is my full nappy kit. Nope, I don’t have buckets of towels steeping for days on end in sterilising fluid! Instead I have –

Three Miosolo nappies – the all in one nappy system means the absorbent core is attached to the outer nappy shell and just pulls out for washing (more on this later!)

A roll of nappy liners – these are optional! You can sit them inside the nappy to catch poos 👀 I reckon these are more useful once weaning starts and they definitely help reduce the mess. They are also compostable, so we’ll probably do that now we have our garden waste bin! But as I say, you don’t need to use these.

Miofresh Nappy Cleanser – I already had a big tub of this that I bought from Amazon as I find it’s a great stain remover while also being really kind on sensitive skin. You don’t have to wash your nappies in this, and sometimes I forget, but it’s definitely worth having to get them a good thorough cleanse every so often. I tend to wash them at 30 degrees on a quick 45 minute stain removing cycle our machine has and I’ve not had any issues. They can also been tumble dried on a cool setting, but I prefer to let them air dry naturally – and find they dry really quick!

Mioboost booster pad – handy for when you need a little bit more protection, for example, overnight. You can pick a 3-pack of these up cheap on Amazon. We just have the one and haven’t felt the need to use it that often but if your baba is a big pee’er then they’re probably worry an investment. Especially as they get older I reckon!

How To

As mentioned before, this nappy is an all-in-one, so it doesn’t come apart like others on the market. For me, this was perfect as it seemed really easy to get to grips with.When soiled (soz) I just tip out anything that’s in it (or the liner if using one) and then pull out the absorbent pad using one of the wee tabs. I then have a little plastic box on top of my washing machine that I place it in. Of course you could purchase one of the special buckets of you wanted, it’s only £20, and I probably will once I purchase more nappies, but at the moment, I just have the three so it’s not a big deal.

Unlike in days gone by though, there’s no need for the nappies to soak in sterilising fluid etc while in these buckets. I was still under the impression that was the done thing and it all sounded a bit full on! But no need for any of that with these.

Then I usually just chuck the three dirties in a dedicated wash with a scoop of cleanser in the evening. Once they’re dry the pad just pushes back inside the nappy and that’s it. Done! Easy peasy!

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

But why?

So what are the pros?

Well, let’s start with the obvious – they’re kinder on the planet, and that’s a big deal. Every time you use a cloth nappy, that’s one less going to landfill that’ll take 200-500 years to decompose… even if you only use one a day over the course of a year… or the 2-3 years they’re in nappies, it adds up!

As shown above, poppers and velcro easily adjust the nappy to fit your baby from newborn – potty training. if you’re organised enough you could get through years with a handful of cloth nappies and that is saving a whole load of pennies. Disposable nappies are expensive and the average child uses 11,640 of them… yup, over eleven and a half thousand! We use Pampers, and worked that out to be a cost of about £1629 – that’s money I could be spending on ASOS. So where cloth nappies seem like a bit of an outlay upfront, and they are, I get it, the savings are phenomenal, plus they can be used for subsequent babies, or passed onto friends – reuse, reuse, reuse!

Proof of the pudding is in the eating though, or in this case, the pooing… We’ve not had any issues with leaks or soaking through bar the very first time I used them, and I’m certain that was my incompetence at putting them on, coupled with the fact I hadn’t washed them (more on this later). Thankfully, even when we’ve used them through the night with a booster pad she’s remained dry despite being in the nappy 12 hours which is impressive for any nappy.

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Plus, they are SO soft. Ridiculously soft and kind on little bums. We’re lucky that (so far, touching wood…) Scout doesn’t suffer nappy rash or had any reactions to nappies, but I know plenty of babies and toddlers that have, so for them I reckon cloth would a great choice.

Oh, and they look great. I mean, they’re mega cute and have lots of amazing prints. And I know that’s not the point, but, it makes them more exciting to use. Ours are from the rainforest range and I can’t wait to add to our collection.

PS. I’ve seen them reduced on Amazon fairly often – have a look!

Where’s the downside? Is there one?

There were a few things that I found a bit of a challenge, although I wouldn’t necessarily call them cons –

Although they are SO cute, they can be a bit bulky under some clothing, namely leggings. But on the whole, this wasn’t a big deal, especially using them in the house when I’m usually too busy to even dress my kids properly.

I’ll admit though, it could be a bit of a challenge out and about, mainly due to my minimalist parenting and my disdain for changing bags. I’ve never had one. Instead, I tend to take a disposable nappy and half a pack of wipes in a wee pouch in my hand bag when we go out. So on that front, cloth was a bit bulky to carry about with me. This only really posed a problem when we were out a whole day and required a few changes – in a those situations, I’d tend to just to stick to taking a few disposables with me, and I’m ok with that! I never set out to be die hard, I wanted them to fit in with our day to day and they have!

Lastly, yes, there is a financial outlay at the offset. And yes, it is in itself significant. I’ve mentioned above about how much money you can save, but buying a pack of nappies in the big big shop every few weeks doesn’t have as much of a sting as dishing out a few hundred pounds, that’s true. My advice would be don’t go all out. Buy a few and the essentials (booster and cleaner) and see how you get on. I have a modest ‘kit’ and still manage to use them effectively and make a change… now that I’ve trialled and like them, I’d be tempted to get a few more.

Someone asked me a very good question on Instagram last night (thanks Kim) – “How many do I need to do it properly?” – the answer is, I’m not sure,but I couldn’t fully convert to cloth with three. I think you would need at least 8… but maybe more if you were using them from day one. The Miosolo Premium Birth to Potty Pack (£249) contains 15, but also come with all the extras. I think if you wanted to fully convert it would be a worthwhile investment… and still save you money in the long run!

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Top Cloth Tips

So, we’re a few months down the line now, and I wanted to use them for this long before writing a post to see how they’ve worked over time and where I’m still definitely no cloth expert, there have been a few lessons along the way. So here are what I believe to be some top tips for if you decide to take the plunge and ditch the disposables –

Get into a routine – if not, you’ll run out. and go back to disposables. I’ve done this a few times. I have three nappies, and I definitely think I’ll invest in a few more so that I don’t have to keep on top of washing them so often! I’m not the most diligent in this area… just ask Robin, he may not wear nappies, but he often runs out of boxers…

Get them outside! – Yes, they can be dried on a cool tumble setting, but I found it better to get them outside, obviously it’s better for the environment, but I also found the sunlight helps bleach any staining etc and keeps them fresh and soft!

Wash them before use – It helps with absorbency – DUH… I didn’t know this. They arrived, I chucked one straight on, and pee seemed to leak out it really quickly. Since they’ve been washed this has never repeated itself. Also, don’t use fabric softener for the same reason.

Check on Amazon – I am the Queen Of Prime and Bambino Mio stuff is often on special buy. For example – At the moment the Miosolo nappies are £13.50, but I have seen them as cheap as £10.99 on Prime Day. I wanna buy this one next, and fancy getting a bucket as mentioned before and maybe even a wet bag too, to help me when we’re out and about.

Bambino Miosolo Nappy

Cloth Convert

All in all, I think I can say I’m a cloth convert. I’ve really enjoyed using them, they’ve fitted in well with our daily routine. I like that I’m doing a little something to help out our planet, but equally, I don’t kick myself if I use a disposable when I’m out. I’m saving money and that’s only ever a positive thing, because kids are expensive, and there’s always something you need. In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that Bambino Mio gifted me these nappies. I was under no obligation to share but the views expressed above are my own – I am genuinely enjoying the experience and have and will be making further purchases to our cloth collection!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with cloth nappies. Or, if you’re thinking about trying them and not sure, please please fire me some questions, I’m no expert but I will try and help the best I can! There’s a huge cloth community out there, would you liek to be part of it? Why not give it a shot?!

Let’s do our bit to save the planet, one nappy at a time!

Lou x

3 Reasons to Join Turtle Tots [AD]

Turtle Tots

Turtle Tots

In April, when Scout was 3 months old, we were invited along to try out level one of Turtle Tots. There are classes held all over the city on every day of the week. We chose to swim on a Wednesday morning at Damhead as this is the day that Oscar’s in his childminder, so I thought it was be a nice way to start our day together!

Oscar started swimming at around the same age, so I knew it was something I was keen to start with Scout as well and I wasn’t disappointed!

But what’s the deal? What makes Turtle Tots different to just taking your baby to the pool yourself? What are he benefits?

Why should you join Turtle Tots? Well, I’m gonna tell ya!

1. Safety Skills

Swimming is an invaluable life skill for kids to learn early and at the heart of this is safety in and around water. Staying safe is at the core of everything Turtle Tots teaches both parents and littles. From stepping into the pool for the first class you learn the safe way to get yourself and baby in and out of the pool – because let’s face it, when they get wet they’re like wee slippy fish…! You learn the best way to hold them to keep them safe should you slip and by the end of the 10 weeks we had also started to teach babies how to hold on when brought towards the pool edge. Even at such a young age, I could see Scout starting to follow these cues.

The classes get babies used to being in the water, at first, close to you, and then, as they begin to gain confidence, further away from the parent, letting them explore the water more and go for swims with the instructor.

On a side note: Our teacher was Jen and she was absolutely brilliant! Funny, friendly and knew exactly what she was doing. This created such a calm and encouraging environment for us all. So important because taking a wee tiny baby into the water can be quite daunting. I was somewhat used to this given it was second time round, however, I remember being terrified with Oscar! Every new skill is reinforced and then progressed in each lesson so I always came away from a class feeling that I’d learnt something new.

As a child I was a keen swimmer and on holidays I spent 90% of my time in the swimming pool and it, and for us as a family, it was important to instil these safety skills in both of our children, not least for going on holiday. Now, we know never to let our children out of our sight around a pool on holiday, but as parents, we’re also all too aware of how quickly things can happen. In a blink of an eye, a toddler can speed off. I remember quite vividly when I was little, my dad diving into a swimming pool to rescue a young girl that had got into trouble while playing in a busy pool as she just wasn’t as confident as she could have been in the water. So knowing that from a young age Scout will be able to get to the surface and hold on confidently is invaluable.

2. Fun!

Safety is at the heart of why Turtle Tots teach, but, the classes are also a LOT of fun!

Having dedicated one-to-one time was so important and I really looked forward to our Wednesday morning lesson. The close physical contact strengthens the bond between parent and baby and promotes their metal development.

Over the course of the chapter, you learn cues along with you baby. Through various techniques, your instructor encourages you to tune into your babies reactions and read their cues in the water. They learn to ‘hold their breath’ and by the end of the chapter, even at just 5 months I could see Scout reacting to a variety of cues that we had learnt – it really is impressive!

The techniques learned with floats and with songs are all transferable and can be recreated on holiday rather than just being stuck bobbing about the pool with a little baby – slightly unsure what to do with them (I remember this being the case the first time we took Oscar swimming before we started lessons!)

3. Keeping Active

well, we know that keeping active is important. I’d be exaggerating slightly if I told you that Turtle Tots is a work out, but, it is a great way to start getting active again after giving birth. It’s a gentle way to get back into exercise, and it does work those arm muscles a fair bit too!

Although it’s not quite a ‘work out’ when they’re just babies, I speak from experience when I say it get’s a bit more energetic the older they get which is great and a lot of fun.

In addition to the mental development swimming promoted through close contact, bonding and sensory elements, swimming is also great for your babies physical development. Being moved about the water is like having a massage for them and activities are designed to promote coordination and strengthen muscles.

What’s more, Scout always had a substantial nap after her lesson – but i don’t think this is a guarantee!

What are my Top Tips to ace Turtle Tots

  1. Don’t be put off if baby cries, they all have off days! On our second lesson, Scout cried for most of it and it was a bit disheartening, but we still went back the following week and she was fine thereafter. Persevere – it’s all so new to them, and it can be a bit of sensory overload, so hold them close, comfort them with lots of cuddles and don’t worry. The instructor will have seen it all before, maybe even with their own kids!
  2. Teach your partner! Or even get them to come along and watch to see what’s involved. It’s a great activity to share as a family so teach everyone what you’ve learnt – that way you can help each other out, especially if you’re on holiday! We have some great GoPro footage of Oscar swimming underwater on holiday with both of us, and it’s something I can’t wait to do with Scout too. But it’s not something either of us would have had the confidence to do without classes.
  3. This is a practical one – wear your swimming costume under your clothes to the class. That way it’s easy to get ready quickly and jump in the pool. Turtle Tots were great and supplied changing mats and a playpen for the kids but, ya know what it’s like, they can still get a bit ratty especially when tired after a full on lesson so I always tried to wear easy clothes that I could chuck back on. No one wants to be squeezing damp legs into super skinny jeans at the side of a pool in ten million degree heat…

Lastly, just have fun and enjoy it! Don’t worry about drowning your baby, they’ll be fine… but also don’t wear mascara or that will end in disaster!

Please note: I was offered this course free of charge in return for a review – but all views expressed are my own. I will be continuing with Scout’s swimming! x

M&S Café @ Fort Kinnaird [AD]

Café Revive

I was recently asked to pop along to Fort Kinnaird to check out the newly refurbished M&S Café and I quickly obliged as Fort Kinnaird is somewhere I already spend a lot of time… and probably the majority of my money!

I’m not a fan of dragging a toddler into town every time I want to grab a new pair of jeans or a top so Fort Kinnaird is perfect, and easily accessible from us on the south of the City.

However, I’ll admit, I’ve never frequented the M&S Café, despite feeling like I’m never out of “Markies”, as my Mum calls it!

Over next to Primark, Café Revive is located on the ground floor of M&S and has been newly revamped. It looks great and is really convenient for a coffee stop – especially with a baby in tow. The day I went I had a grizzly Scout in her pram wanting a feed!

We decided to pop in to take some time to settle her down and more importantly – EAT CAKE. The selection was varied and fresh – I’d recommend the carrot cake! The staff were all welcoming and the service is quick… this is now a top priority when doing anything with a baby in tow.

The Café also has a variety of hot food on offer including toasties, which I’ve actually tried on a subsequent visit to the café! Toasties have become a staple of my diet on both of my maternity leaves, so I have become something of a connoisseur and I can confirm this toastie met my high standards!

While in M&S I thought I’d have a look around, I am already a big fan of their baby and child range. We have received a lot of their pieces in gifts and also purchased a lot for both kids – especially their essentials, like vests, sleepsuits, and more recently, Toy Story pants for Oscar.

Their summer range is fab and you should definitely check it out. I took some quick snaps of my favourite pieces – I especially love the little chilli romper. Had I known it was going to be such nice weather the past week, I would have bought it for Scout!

Favourite Finds

Although I’m a long time fan of their kids pieces I’ve never really looked at theirs women’s section, but recently it’s been drawn more to my attention by accounts I follow on Insta, namely Mother Of Daughters, Mutha.Hood and Erica Davies that often post about their finds from M&S. I wasn’t disappointed – there were so many versatile summer pieces and accessories.

Here are my three favourites! –

1. summer straw bag – ok, so I’ve become obsessed with straw bags. I see them all over Insta, all day every day, but, I wasn’t convinced that the small round ones were suitable for me… after all, 2 kids come with a lot of STUFF. So this one is perfect! In more of a shopper style, I think it’s a bit more practical for my day to day life! Oh, and it’s only 15 quid!

2. Statement necklace – I have always loved a “big necklace”, following in my mums steps as she is never seen without one. This one ticks all my boxes as it’s colourful and quirky! Plus, at under £20 it’s not going to break the bank, and will jazz up a plain top in summer.

3. Orange mules – well , they’re orange, and I’m obsessed with all things orange! They were super comfy and looked great with my Monki Mom jeans that I was wearing on the day, and again, under £20. I’ll admit I wasn’t brave enough to buy them, but, I’ve been thinking about them ever since… so I might have to go back.

AD

In the interest of full disclosure – I was given a £50 voucher in return for this review but all views are my own! And I have since returned, twice, and spent my own pennies in the Café, because, ya know… CAKE.

Maid Of The Forth

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

So, on the day after the sunniest May Bank Holiday on record we took a trip on the Maid of the Forth to Inchcolm Island. Of course, this is Scotland, so it rained all day, but we had such a great adventure regardless!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

The Crossing

The Maid of the Forth sets sail from Hawes Pier in South Queensferry and we opted for the 3 hour tour with a landing on Inchcolm Island… which I didn’t even know existed until I read about it on their website!

The ferry sets sail from beside the Forth Rail Bridge and Oscar was losing his mind watching all the “Choo choos” cross it before we set sail, ice creams in hand.

The sailing to Inchcolm Island is a leisurely 35 minutes which was perfect for keeping a toddler engaged – not too long! On the way there we got to see some of the other islands of the Forth and hear about the history of them which for some was quite colourful – like Inchgarvie Island that features a prison, I mean, that basically the Alcatraz of Edinburgh, right? We were also lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a huge group of seals on ‘The Haystack’ next to Inchcolm, Robin and Oscar sprinted up tot he top deck to get the best view.

When Oscar was born we were living in a flat in Leith overlooking the Firth of Forth, so for us, it was really interesting to hear about all the little islands that we used to be able to see from our flat!

When the boat arrives at Inchcolm, those with passes for ‘landing’ can depart, otherwise the ferry heads back around the island and continues it’s tour (I think the wonderful Karen did this trip, and you can see her blog here – note the weather on the day she went was A LOT better – lucky sod!)

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid of the Forth - Edinburgh

The Island

We chose to include the island landing for our trip (despite the weather) where you get to spend around 1hr 45 minutes there, which is ample time to take it all in. Inchcolm Island itself is fab and the Abbey was brilliant for exploring – lots of hidden rooms and staircases to scout while it rained outside (Scotland, innit?).

Then, when the weather cleared for half an hour we headed down to the beach to skim some stones. If it had been nicer day, the beach would have been perfect for a picnic and we could easily have spent the day there, the views are amazing!

Amenities wise, there’s a small gift shop with the usual souvenirs and toilets but no cafe, so best to take a packed lunch and invaluable toddler snacks with you, or buy some on the boat to take ashore!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Maid of the Forth - Edinburgh

Toddler Friendly

As the weather got a little worse, it was time to head back to the boat for the return journey. While we opted to take Scout in the carrier for the day (she sleeps better this way), those with prams were helped onto the boat by the crew who couldn’t have been more helpful!

The sailing back to harbour took us under all three of the Forth Crossings before we docked back at Hawes Pier with a completely exhausted toddler that couldn’t stop talking about boats and castles and a baby asleep in the carrier – so all in all, a success!

Funnily enough, when I wrote my Adventure List: Part II back at the beginning of the year, this trip was one of the suggestions that cropped up and I don’t doubt that we’ll end up back there in summer armed with a bucket and spade and a picnic! If you have an inquisitive toddler (is there such thing as a toddler that isn’t inquisitive) or older kids that love to explore, then it’s a great day out, with a little bit of everything thrown in – a huge thank you to Maid of the Forth for inviting us along!

Maid Of The Forth - Edinburgh

Baby Massage with Claire Houston [ad]

Claire Houston Baby & Child Massage

[Please Note: I was offered a place in the class free of charge in return for a review. BUT ALL VIEWS ARE MY OWN!]

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

Join a class, any class…

I remember being a new mum with Oscar and thinking that I had to join some sort of class, any class. It was a right of passage to sign up to some sort of activity and go along and “make some Mum friends”. So I signed up to Baby Sensory and I’ll admit, I didn’t really enjoy it. I found it a bit boring. I had grand ideas that it would be centred around messy play and really interactive. But it wasn’t. We sat in a circle and sang some nursery rhymes (to which I was the only fool that didn’t know ANY of the words) and well, yeah, I could have gone on Pinterest and done it myself… and saved £70.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Baby Sensory – I’ve no doubt at all that there are much better ones out there but it put me off this kind of class. I didn’t want to waste my money again. Instead I wanted to do a class that I could get some enjoyment out of too.

Claire Houston Baby Massage

I started looking at alternative activities to do with Scout after she was born and decided I would try Baby Massage as a few of my friends had recommended it after doing it with their little ones.

Then, when she was just two months old I was lucky enough to be invited along to start a course with Claire Houston Baby Massage at her lovely home in Roslin.

Five weeks down the line and I’m delighted to share a wee review of Claire’s classes, but I must say, I’m a bit sad that we’ve finished!

On the Wednesday morning of our first class, I dropped Oscar off at his childminder and off I went with Scout to Roslin. As a second child, I’m all too aware that she doesn’t always get the one on one time that her brother was afforded as a baby. She spends a lot more time being laid on a playmat while Oscar and I paint/duplo/argue (jokes, kinda), and where he got dedicated tummy time and the likes, Scout is all to often popped into her wrap so that we’re able to get things done.

Because of this I felt really passionate about getting some one on one time with her and doing an activity rather than spending our time just the two of us watching Netflix and eating chocolate while her brother went to his childminder.

Claire runs classes on various days in different venues and I opted for the one that was run from her beautiful home in Roslin. My class was quite an small one with only 3 other sets of mums and babies ranging from a few weeks older than Scout to 9 months old.

I quickly realised, the class would be a lot whole lot more than solely learning the International Association of Infant Massage course. Alongside learning the techniques of baby massage the class offered an array of other skills.

“I hope to empower parents and give them the confidence to massage their babies daily to experience the delights of nurturing touch and pre-language communication with their infant.” – Claire Houston

Relaxation + Wellbeing 

There is a strong focus on wellbeing. Claire taught us various techniques for relaxing ourselves as well as our babies – after all, Happy Mum = Happy Baby. We all know that parenting is tough and it reminded me that sometimes we need to do something for ourselves as well!

Claire also incorporates a few readings, Yes Mum cards and general discussion topics into her class. It was such a lovely way of getting a good chat with some like minded people while eating some delicious home baking!

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

Laid Back Learning 

Importantly the classes are very laid back.

I’ll admit that when I was a first time Mum I sometimes found heading out with a newborn a bit daunting, and maybe it’s part of the reason I avoided classes. I would worry that Oscar would scream the place down, or that I’d need to abandon an activity to feed him. Looking back, I realise how silly that sounds, he was just being a baby, but it was all so new and a bit scary – as I wrote last month, I do feel like I’m a Different Mother this time round, but regardless – this is not something anyone would have to worry about in Claire’s class.

From the outset, the classes are ‘Baby Led’ and we were encouraged to read our babies cues and follow their lead throughout the classes – to stop for a break when needed, to feed if required and sometimes just to leave babies to sleep (Scout often dozed off before the end of the class – typical) – there was never any pressure to try and make the babies conform – I mean, they’re babies, i.e. unpredictable AF!

Tailored To You

One of the things I absolutely loved about the class was how Claire seemed to seamlessly adapt her teaching to suit us as a group – I was not surprised to find out after completing the course that Claire is a trained and experienced teacher!

As 3 out of 4 of us had toddlers at home, as well as a baby, Claire made a point of giving us ideas of how to incorporate massage into our daily routines with both children, including ways of adapting massage into bedtime routines and story massage as well as using it to help the bonding between siblings.

All of this was backed up by Claire’s personal anecdotes of how she uses massage with all three of her own children. It was lovely to hear how it can become a big part of your day to day life and so much more than just an hour and a half class for a few weeks.

On a slightly more practical note – the classes are super flexible! For the last session of the course I was double booked and I was able to tag along with another class on a day that suited better. We all know kids can throw multiple spanners in the works when it comes to sickness and the likes – so it’s good to know you’ll always be able to pick up any class you’ve had to miss.

IAIM Course

Now, of course, along with all these ‘extras’ you’re learning brilliant tried and tested Baby Massage techniques! I won’t go into too much detail (you need to join the class and find out for yourself), but over the five week course you learn a new body part each week, culminating in full body massage. The massage strokes covered have been developed from ancient traditions in massage, influenced by reflexology and yoga, and supported by modern scientific research.

Plus, the benefits are huge, and some of them surprised me –

  • relieves pain from teething, ear ache, grow pains and muscular tension.
  • relieves tension
  • helps ease excess mucus
  • can help babies who are hypersensitive or hyperactive
  • can help soften skin and improve skin conditions like eczema
  • boosts circulation
  • improves immune system
  • helps develop coordination and balance
  • many advantages in terms of cognitive development such as language development
  • stimulates connections between nerve cells
  • promotes body and mind awareness
  • promotes growth and weight gain
  • promotes muscular development and increases flexibility
  • reduction in stress hormone production
  • reduces crying
  • promotes secure attachment
  • helps develop love, empathy, tolerance and respect

And that’s just some of the benefits for baby! I also learned that parents who practice baby massage will find their own stress levels reduce and they can feel relaxed. Apparently parents sleep quality can improve too!

Importantly, baby massage helps to develop a greater understanding of your baby and thus we learn to better read our baby’s unique cues. Parent’s can feel more confident and see their self esteem improve, Claire has even told me that this is something that she’s seen develop in front of her eyes as a five week course progresses!

Baby Massage - Edinburgh

Upcoming Classes

Honestly, I’d recommend this class to every new mum. Since completing Claire’s Baby Massage course, I’ve continued to use the techniques I’ve learned at home on both Scout and with Oscar – so that says it all really! It’s so much more than a way to pass some time & get out the house with your baby. You’re learning a new skill but also a way of communication and bonding with your new baby, not to mention some serious quality time! I’m even considering joining one of the follow on classes available as I’d love to learn even more. Oh, and Claire also runs one-off classes for Dad’s to learn an overview of the course!

If you’re interested in joining Claire for a class, she has a new block starting soon with classes on –

Thursdays – 12.45-2.15 @ Turtle Dove Cafe in Edinburgh (starting 19th April)

Fridays – 10.30-12.00 @ Penicuik Library (starting 20th April)

Wednesdays – 10-11.30 @ Glencorse Centre (starting 2nd May)

Also, starting 2nd May are new follow-on classes for babies who’ve already attended baby massage classes (10.40-11.40 @ Glencorse Centre) and last but not least another Dad’s class will be scheduled in June around Father’s Day!

There’s loads more info on Claire’s website and I’d urge you to get in touch with her if you require any further info!

Suzy Snooze – Review [ad]

Please note: the Suzy Snooze was gifted to me by the lovely folks at BleepBleeps!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps

Gadgets… I love ’em.

A gadget to help your toddler sleep better and give you a lie-in? SIGN ME UP.

I hadn’t heard of the Snoozy Suzy before and I’m surprised, because she is right up our street.

The Snoozy Suzy by BleepBleeps has the functions of multiple baby products – a smart nightlight, sleep soother and monitor – all rolled into one contemporary, toddler friendly design.

Night Night

The nightlight function provides a warm orange glow that helps to promote sleep while providing the option to also play soothing music to get the child ready for bedtime.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m quite strict when it comes to our bedtime routine and for Oscar. I’ve always found it to be important to keep it consistent to maximise his sleep quality, so I was a bit dubious about introducing something new at two and a half to our nightly military operation routine.

I needn’t have worried, she’s been a welcomed addition! Oscar switches Suzy on, by pushing down her hat, after bath while he gets his jammies on and she gives us more than enough soothing light to read bedtime stories. In actual fact, I’ve found the light a lot better than the IKEA lamp we used before which was SO bright! After his book(s) we push back down on Suzy’s hat to turn the music off on it and he knows it’s time for bed as the light dims and “Suzy goes to sleep”.

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

A Bit Of Fancy Tech

As I said, I love a bit of tech, so was a wee bit excited when I realised Suzy could be controlled by my phone via an app (Apple & Android).

This is especially handy for the lie-in function. similar to the concept of a GroClock you can set a time via the app for Suzy to “wake up” in the morning so your toddler knows when it’s ok to get out of bed.

Admittedly, we’re lucky, Oscar very rarely wakes before 8am and we usually leave him in bed until just before 9am. However, he’s still in his cot and therefore can’t escape anywhere! I think when we transition him to his “big boy bed” within the next few months, this function will come in really handy to teach him when it’s ok to get up. I think it’ll help make the transition a lot easier!

The device also acts as a monitor that you can listen to through the phone app. When Oscar was very little I wanted a video monitor to keep an eye on him, but now he’s older, I’m happy with just the audio function – but I’d say that’s worth bearing in mind if you’re buying it to use for a baby!

On a side note: we live in an old house with thick walls and the WiFi on the Suzy has worked perfectly – a big plus for us!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps reviewWhat’s more, it looks great, I mean really great. And the quality is brilliant. The Suzy Snooze feels weighty and well made and a bit funky. The design is suitable from baby to toddler to child as it isn’t too “kiddy” looking while still being engaging for young children.

However, I feel that there is room for improvement in one area in particular and that’s the soothing music. I just wish there were a few more options that you could maybe download onto your phone and choose from whether that be white noise or heart beats for younger babies or soothing sea noises etc for older children – I just think they’ve missed a trick! But it’s a small change and I suppose one that might come in the future, who knows!

The Verdict

All in all, I love it!

Granted, it has quite a high price tag at £179, but, if you haven’t purchased any other products – a fancy monitor, GroClock, Ewan the Sleep Sheep or Slumber Buddy, a nightlight etc then it is definitely good value as a multifunctional product and has great longevity as your baby grows.

And hey, if it can help to give you a lie-in at the weekend then surely it’s worth it’s weight in gold – amma right?!

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

I Couldn’t Live Without…

“Oh but you need *insert insanely priced ridiculous item here*…”

Before we became parents for the first time, we were told about lots of things we “needed”. We were first time parents, we didn’t really know anyone else with babies so I just took people’s word for it and probably wasted a lot of money in the process…!

Second time round, I tried to streamline our purchases. With clothing I focused on quality over quantity buying mostly basics with some knitted bits and bobs. With other bigger items we are reusing a lot of what we had, however, some items we had were bought on a whim and didn’t quite fit the purpose, so I’ve done a lot more research this time to replace them. Perhaps it’s a case of live and learn because it’s really hard to know what you need before the little human arrives. In reality it’s very little…

So here’s a little run down of our top purchases and not so hot buys! Full disclosure, a few of these items were gifted to me, I’ve made it clear which ones, but my review of them is independent!

Our Top Six Purchases

Sleep

The trusty Next2Me Crib remains our best baby item of all time. It housed little Oscar next to our bed for 8 months and gave me easy access to feeding him every 45 bloody minutes through the night. We looked it out again for Scout and I’m enjoying the convenience of it once again. It’s also fab after a section. Admittedly though, the Snuzpod is prettier!

Scout loves a swaddle, but don’t rush into buying one before baby arrives. Oscar hated it. Try with a blanket first and if they like it I’d recommend this Love To Dream Swaddle Up – this was gifted to me but I will be buying the next size up. Scout has been using hers every night since she was 2 days old and I love it. It takes away the worry of blankets, I always worry about how many they need and also whether they’re tucked in right so the won’t ride up etc. With this I just pop her back down after a feed and there’s no faff! It makes life a lot easier.

A Good All-Rounder

My love for giant muslins will never wane! I use them as crib sheets in the next2me, to cover my feeding cushion, as a sheet in the pram, or even as a makeshift changing mat if I’m out and about – they are a jack of all trades and there are so many nice ones out there in different patterns. The majority of mine have been bought in TK Maxx. Oh and don’t forget to put one in your hospital bag to swaddle the baby for a picture!

Babywearing

Baby wearing has been a life saver for us, especially second time round. I have an Ergo Adapt carrier for when we’re out for the day and have been using it since Scout was just a few days old. My only worry using the carrier with my winter baby was keeping her wee arms and legs warm, snowsuits just felt too bulky and I worried about her overheating. So I bought this little suit from H&M – it’s not the prettiest but it’s great for layering over her clothes and bundling her in the carrier!

In addition to our Ergo, I was kindly gifted an Izmi Bamboo Wrap which I wear pretty much all day every day around the house and even with Scout in and out it all day it stays nice and tight thanks to the 2-way stretch. This was something I never really tried with Oscar, I think I found it a bit daunting but now that I’ve mastered it, it’s a lifesaver – I’m finally handsfree for toddler activities!

Changing

One thing I always thought I needed but just never got round to buying was a changing bag. And that was when I realised they were just a bit unnecessary (and often quite expensive and not that nice looking. Unless you’re going for a Tiba + Marl)! Instead, I’ve always just packed a few nappies, wipes and a spare sleepsuit in my handbag – I travel light. The only change I’ve made this time round is treating myself to a little nappy pouch from Mutha.Hood to keep it all together. Not really out of necessity, I just liked it, but it does make it that bit easier to grab and take to the changing room when we’re out and I’m not fishing through my backpack for a teeny size 1 nappy! Plus it’s cute and supports a small business. I’m a sucker for ‘Mama Merch’!

Feeding

Oh, my trusty feeding cushion. This is a bit of a personal one because I can’t live without it, but a lot of people don’t like using them. The day we had Oscar I was finding positioning for breastfeeding hard and the midwife created a little pillow fortress around me to help and suggested I get a cushion – I ordered one there and then on Amazon Prime and never looked back. That bad boy was used all day every day for 9 months – by the time I stopped using it, it looked a little worse for wear but had been invaluable! I got myself a new one this time round and have loved it all over again – it hangs on the side of the bed for night feeds and on the end of the sofa during the day, it’s always to hand! If you’re struggling with positioning for feeding, I’d highly recommend giving one a go! I got this one from Mamas and Papas.

And lastly, something I don’t have, but would like – a little nightlight for night feeds. Especially in those first weeks when I was trying to make sure Scout was patched properly etc I didn’t need the added worry of possibly blinding her with my 1200W iPhone torch..! A little subtle nightlight beside the bed that I could put on to find a nappy by not illuminate the whole street would be ideal. I’m going to keep on the lookout for one!

When it comes to it, every parent is different, and there’s bound to be stuff that’s not on this list that you end up with that you’ll love, but I suppose the point I wanted to stress was – don’t stress. Don’t stress when people tell you “oh, you’ll need XYZ” and you’re closing in on your due date and you hadn’t even heard of it… as long as you have something to clothe that new bundle in, a few nappies and a car seat to get them home, you’re doing just fine. All they really need is some love, attention and you! Worry about the rest later – Amazon Prime it or something.

Tell me…

What would you add to the list? And what is the one biggest waste of money item you ended up with? Mine is dribble bibs – I was given approximately 650 of them and didn’t even use them once!

Lou x