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+

 

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

Fringe Festival 2019

It’s August again, nuts, I know. If you living in or around Edinburgh you’ll know that means it’s Festival and Fringe month! I’ve not lived in Edinburgh long, just coming up on five years now, so I still find this marvelous month a bit of a novelty – and honestly, I love it.

I make a point every year of trying to squeeze in some shows both with the kids, pals & Robin. We don’t always get to see as much as we’d like, but we try.

This year I’ve got a DOF [Day Of Fun] with my closest friends next week and still due to book something to take Oscar to.

For the last two years I’ve done a little round-up and thought I’d make it an annual thing, so here goes!

The Bigs

ADAM KAY: THIS IS GOING TO HURT (SECRET DIARIES OF A JUNIOR DOCTOR) @ edinburgh playhouse

So you’ve probably heard of Adam Kay by now… he’s a million copy bestseller and pretty much a household name… But I first saw him back in 2016 with his show ‘Fingering A Minor On The Piano’ (yeah, I know, bear with me…) and it was my shout out show of the year… years later it’s still one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was lighthearted, interspersed with witty songs and audience participation, and then BANG. The show did not end the way I expected and it genuinely left me a little bit shooketh. It was hard hitting and I’ve spoken about it countless times since… Which is exactly why Adam started touring this show – to educate people about Junior Doctors and the erosion of the health profession by a Tory government.

Since then, he has returned to the Fringe each year with the same show, now known as This Is Going To Hurt (Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor) after his book. I would still highly recommend this show, even if you’ve read the book. I’d go again!

Sidenote: Adam Kay is also a guest on James O’Brien’s recent ‘Full Disclosure’ podcast and I’d recommend having a listen if you’re a fan!

Akala – In Conversation – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire @ Gilded Balloon

I cannot tell you how many people have recommended this show to me and I’m gutted that I don’t think I’ll be able to make it due to it’s short run (2nd-6th) but it’s one worth seeing if you can. One of the most important voices in Britain, Akala is a BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, and writer of the Sunday Times bestseller ‘Natives’. In his show he will discuss important threads that run through his work. Remember, the Fringe isn’t all comedy and there really is some great stuff going on for everybody!

Cat Hepburn – #GIRLHOOD @ Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

I’m going to see this next week and I’m buzzing. SO many people have urged me to go and it sounds right up my street – “Nostalgic, hilarious and heartbreaking, her performance deconstructs and satirises the milestones, conventions and pressures that girls and young women face” – what more could you want?

I’ll report back with a review soon!

Desiree Burch: Desiree’s Coming Early! @ the big cave

This is another show that  have tickets for and I’m really excited after seeing Desiree’s stand up special on Netflix! I’ll report back with a review!

Lou Sanders: Say Hello to Your New Step-Mummy @ monkey barrel

This is a show I stumbled across when searching and really fancy getting tiskets having seen her on QI and the likes. “Loulie, AKA the face that launched a thousand dicks, examines conduct (in the media, baby), mental health (other people’s, I’m fine) and perverts (that one is mainly me, actually)”. I think I might try and get tickets to this to see with Robin, so if someone would like to come watch the kids for us – that would be grand! Thank you.

PS. this one is selling out fast, so don’t hang about!

Scummy Mummies @ assembly george square

Lastly, this is a show I’d love to see having followed Scummy Mummies on Insta for years and they never fail to make me laugh! Apparently their show is “Guaranteed to make parents laugh and non-parents happy about their life choices” – so ya know, it’s got something for everyone!

If anyone wants to see this with me – hit me up please!

Massaoke Mixtape @ assembly george square gardens

Frankly, this is my worst nightmare. Cannot think of anything worse. I hate karaoke, I’m sorry. It’s also way past my bedtime.

However, if you’re a crazy person that does like karaoke, then crack on, this is the show for you. It’s a mass singalong to your fave hits, mashups and more… and people RAVE about it, apparently it’s great!? I reckon intoxication levels should be high for this one to get the full experience…

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

The Smalls

Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo @ Udderbelly, Bristo Sq

For kids aged 3 and up, in this interactive show you’ll get right up close and personal with an amazing array of prehistoric creatures, from baby dinos to some of the largest carnivores and herbivores that have ever walked the planet! This is a show I think I might try and take Oscar too, as he’s got right back into dinosaurs recently (and is having a dino themed birthday party) so i think this would blow his mind!

THE AMAZING BUBBLE MAN @ UNDERBELLY, GEORGE SQ

We took Oscar to this when he’d just turned two, and I’ll be honest with you, tensions were running high and we were worried about whether he’d sit through an hour long show. We needn’t have worried – he was captivated from the moment it started. The lad is the world’s leading bubbleologist afterall.

We went for a second time last year when Oscar was 3 and Scout was 7 months and again Oscar loved it, and actually, even though Scout was really little she definitely enjoyed the sensory aspect of it. I’d recommend. This is a safe bet for most kids I think!

Baby Loves Disco @ the jam house

This is another safe bet for kids and if you fancy it, you should book soon because its only on for a five days over the Fringe and two are already sold out and last year I left it too late to get tickets. It’s really popular!

It’s brilliant family fun for babies, toddlers, kids as well as adults to enjoy some nostalgic tunes. Face-painting, chill-out zone, dress-up, selfie booth, crafts, healthy snacks, juice and more are also included in the entry price… oh and there’s a bar guys. ALCOHOL.

Valentina’s Galaxy @ Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

The botanics usually do a decent kid’s event and this year it’s Valentina’s Galaxy: “an intergalactic adventure for starry-eyed 2-6 year olds and their adults. Inspired by women in space, this immersive performance captivates children and adults alike with a combustible concoction of experiments, rocket launches and stargazing.”

It sounds great! Plus, the Botanics is a great venue for kids as it’s easier for parking if you have younger kids (or multiples) and don’t want to be dragging them around the city centre and just want to be able to go to a show for a few hours then home… because let’s face it, with young kids, sometimes we want an easy life, and that’s ok!

THEEDINBURGHMUM X THEFRINGE2019

TOP TIPS

Adult Content [but you can still take the wee babe along!]

I harp on about this but – did you know a lot of shows have a ‘babes in arms’ policy? Nope, me neither until last year!

There are hundreds or shows made for kids… but what about the shows made for adults? What if you’re a breastfeeding mother to a 6 month old baby and really wants to see a show?! That’s where the babes in arms policy comes in – a LOT of Fringe shows will allow a baby to come into the show free of charge as long as they’re under a certain age (often 18 months, or 2). Information on this is clearly noted on the ticket info page so watch out for it – a young baby does not mean you need to miss out on some Fringe Fun, and I’m sure their baby ears won’t be offended by anything rude, yet!

Fringe Bargains

I usually buy tickets, mostly because I like to plan ahead and usually have people coming to visit for a day out, but you don’t have to for some shows ‘Pay What You Want’ policy on the door! Just show up, and if the venue isn’t full, you can just pay what you want and get in, so it could save you a fair amount. This is great if you’re looking for a last minute show to fill an hour before you meet pals or looking to save a bit of cash. Like I say, I’ve never done it, but could definitely be worth a shot, because I can honestly say I’ve seen a fair few shows over the years that I really wish I hadn’t wasted my money on – but that’s all part of the fun… I suppose.

 

 

 

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

That Disney Magic…

Disneyland Paris

Our First Disney Experience: Halloween 2018

This year we weren’t sure if we’d manage to squeeze in a family holiday as we knew we’d be moving at some point. So on a bit of a whim, back in May, we decided we’d take the kids to Disneyland Paris.

I’ve never been to any Disney, Robin’s been to Florida as a kid and loved it, so we thought Paris would be good introduction for the kids with them being so young. The whole booking experience is daunting and incredibly confusing! There are so many meal, hotel and travel options so we decided to book directly through Disney.

We booked 3 nights/4 days, flying to CDG and staying in The Santa Fe hotel which is in the Disney park so that we could benefit from the ‘Magic Hours’ before the park opens to the public. We selected the Half Board Premium meal plan as it included a Meet the Characters meal and a night at the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show… Turned out, all of this didn’t come cheap. It was significantly more than we had expected to pay, but we were in too deep, and it was worth it – Oscar would love it, right?!

Luckily for us, we’d decided to add a little bit extra stress right before our Disney trip by attending a wedding down South with Scout in tow, while Oscar stayed home with his Grandparents. We flew down to Hampshire on the Friday (oh, and we got engaged at 4am as we were getting ready to go to the airport!), attended the wedding on the Saturday (and had such a good day – was so lovely to have some time away!) then on Sunday, we flew back to Edinburgh, arriving home at midnight… and quickly discovered our flight to Paris the next day was in fact at 6am – two hours earlier than we had previous thought. Organised as ever…

Flying to Disneyland Paris

Jetting Off

A few short hours later we were up and off! Arriving at the airport at 4:30am, without an added engagement, but with a disoriented and excited Oscar. We quickly discovered Robin had left his bag with the travel documents on the kitchen table! Again, organised! A mere 35 minutes later I returned to the airport with the rucksack and we ran through security (why do I always bleep?! I’m thinking it’s my specs??) and straight to the gate in time for boarding starting. This was Robin, Scout and I’s third flight in 4 days, so to be honest, we were kinda over it… but Oscar was psyched!

Upon landing we trekked through Charles De Galle airport, boarded some kind of genuine, bona fide monorail and managed to find our Magic Shuttle (just a bus) that would take us to our hotel. This was all a bit chaotic. People shoving kids out the way to get on. Probably the same kind of people that fight to get on a train as folk are still alighting – WHY?! The transfer to Disney is about 40 minutes or a little more depending on what hotel you’re staying in. We arrived at The Santa Fe and waited in the queue to check in… the first of many – queues are a bit of a theme at Disney.

Our first impression was that this hotel was a bit dated, and a bit tired. But, we weren’t planning on spending that much time in it, so it would be fine. We decided to drop our bags in our room (it was 11am-ish and the room was ready to go – that was a positive) and head to the park. The weather caught us a bit off guard. It was bitterly cold, just a few degrees, which was a shame as just the week before it had been unseasonably warm with highs of 20 degrees! We jumped into a shop on Disney ‘Main Street’ and grabbed Oscar a hat but I think it was safe to say, his 3:30am start was catching up with him, but we were determined to have fun. The kind of magic fun that Disney promises.

Unfortunately… it was downhill from here. What we thought was just tiredness seemed to be a bit more and Oscar was actually quite poorly… and probably wasn’t really in the mood to be trailed round in freezing temperatures. It was at this point, I asked him how he felt and he said “mummy, I feel sad. I want to go to Disneyland” – fairly tragic considering we’d been there about 4 hours at that point… I can laugh now, but at the time this was a metaphorical punch in the gut. 

Disneyland Paris

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 

Anyway, I’ve put together some info, pointers, good points and bad points – before I left and while we were away I had a lot of people get in touch to ask about it as they were thinking of going. I read a lot before we went (yes, we even joined the ‘Disneyland Paris for Brits’ group on Facebook…), and to be honest, everyone made it out to be amazing, and I hate to sound negative, because that’s not really our bag, but elements of the trip were disappointing and I’d rather be honest. Doubt I’ll be getting sponsored by Disney any time soon anyway… 

Mickey Meal Madness with some Buffalo Bill chucked in… 

Let’s start with a positive – despite coming to the realisation on the first day that Oscar was feeling absolutely lousy with a raging temperature we had booked to go to Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and decided to give it a shot (ya know, still determined to power through and enjoy ourselves despite snipping at each other through gritted teeth…) and actually, Oscar enjoyed it! We had tickets as part of our Premium Meal Plan otherwise I believe it’s around £160… which is a lot! Was it worth it? As adults, maybe not (see face below)… but like I say, Oscar did enjoy it, so in that respect it was. The food was mediocre – TGI’s style mixed grill, but I wasn’t expecting much better so wasn’t disappointed. You can book this before you go, you can do that up to 60 days before I think and can email them directly, we did it the week before and managed to get a table but probably wouldn’t advise being so last minute.  

Disneyland Paris

Our meal plan also included a character meal, we wanted to do this at Inventions, which is classed as one of the best restaurants in the park, located in the actual Disney Hotel, but, well, it was fully booked so that went out the window. Instead, we booked the breakfast at Plaza Gardens just off Main Street. Despite refusing to eat anything (a theme of the trip) Oscar seemed to really enjoy this, so I’d say it’s worth it. It could have been organised a lot better, with characters being more interspersed instead of them moving round the restaurant in groups meaning you had to wait ages to meet them then when you did it was all of them and a bit rushed, but a three year old obviously doesn’t care about that and he was really psyched to meet Mickey and it was mega cute. We even took some pictures so that in years to come we could show Oscar them and lie to him about the whole trip by insisting he had the best time ever

Disneyland Paris

On the topic of food, because we had a premium plan, we were able to book the “best” restaurants in the park without having to pay a surcharge and we did this a week before and although we managed to get tickets to the BBWWS we did struggle to get a table at a few other restaurants. In hindsight, maybe this was a good thing. Oscar is 3, and terribly fussy. I suppose I assumed that all the eateries would be child focused with quite “child friendly” food and this wasn’t the case – which was my bad. Coupled with the fact that Oscar felt lousy, and just wanted to sleep, it wasn’t the best restaurant experience. So we ended up cancelling a few of our reservations and just chancing our arm at a few of the buffet restaurants which were fine.  

There are also a fair few places out-with the main Disney and Studios park within the Disney Village including sandwich shops, coffee shops, Five Guys and a trusty McDonalds. After a 20€ Uber trip to a pharmacy for paracetamol in the morning (yup, I went away without packing Calpol…) it was the Golden Arches that supplied us with one of the peaks of the trip when Oscar saw it on day two and ate for the first time since arriving – even managing to crack a smile at the Mr Potato Head happy meal toy! We found the snack food pretty reasonable. We were expecting it to be extortionate. Same goes for the toy shops on site … of which there are many… they weren’t that bad. We took Oscar to one after his McDonald’s to try and capitalise on his rallying mood and treat him to a wee toy – we came away with a set of Toy Story characters for 19€ which didn’t seem more than you’d pay on Amazon. Had we been feeling jollier about our Disney experience we’d maybe have stretched to Mickey ears, but the furthest we went was matching Disney ponchos to keep us dry. 

Disneyland Paris

Disney-ing with a Baby

On a bit of a side note – if you’re doing Disney with a baby I have a few wee tips. Overall, we found changing facilities very poor. At the Wild West Show, Robin took Scout to the toilet to change her and there were no facilities – not in the mens toilets or in the male/female disabled toilets and he ended up changing her on a dirty and cold tile floor as we didn’t have a mat. Now, later on I went to the ladies toilets and there was a changing area, but come on, its 2018… men change nappies, ya know? I don’t think its acceptable to have to change a 9 month old on a dirty floor, and especially not in a place made for children! However in the main park, next to Plaza Gardens restaurant, there’s a Baby Care Centre where there’s a big open plan changing area (that men can use as well) with toilets too and also a big feeding room with chairs and highchairs and microwaves and stuff. This was handy since it was a bit cold to whip a boob out from my 64 layers outside. Luckily, Scout doesn’t really need fed that much during the day now or else this would have been a bit of a ball ache going back and forward. However, I think the restaurants do have microwaves too if you need them for baby food or milk or whatever.  

Disneyland Paris

Day three: we finally make it on some rides…

Day three, Halloween, was actually the most Disney (*jazz hands*) day, Oscar woke feeling a bit better (and hadn’t been sick in the night – YAY). On this day we managed to get to the parks for Magic Hours. You can use these if you’re staying in one of the Disney hotels and means that you get exclusive access to the parks between 8-10am before the general public get in. This was good for getting on some of the rides with bigger (read: absolutely mental) queues. We used them to get on the new Peter Pan ride and then Pirates Of The Caribbean.

On the topic of rides, most of the bigger rides have a minimum height of 103cm which Oscar just missed out on unfortunately. But there was still a fair amount he could enjoy, especially over in the Fantasy Land area of the park (back right). Most of these rides we were able to get on with Scout in the carrier as well which was good, but probably an indicator that they’re not exactly thrilling. Oscar really enjoyed It’s a Small World, Pirates of The Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, Ratatouille: The Adventure and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. For a few rides, including Ratatouille, we used our Fast Passes – this is available to you if you’re staying in a Disney hotel, but isn’t really explained very well when you check in. Not all rides have it, but most of the bigger ones do – just look for the Fast Pass hut near the queue entrance and put your card (the card that you use for your park entry, room key and for dinner reservations) into the fast pass machine, and it’ll give you a printed ticket with a time. Then all you have to do is come back within that time frame and enter the Fast Pass queue and you skip the main queue. This is handy, but we probably didn’t make best use of them – mainly because we spent less than half our time in the actual park due to a sickly toddler!

There were also a few ‘big thrill’ rides that Oscar couldn’t get on that we wanted to do, and for these we used single rider queues as we were passing. Robin went on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Big Thunder Mountain, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror… I went on Space Mountain – can you tell I’d lost all ‘Disney Magic’ by this point…?! 

Disneyland Paris

Que the Queues

Now, of course, when you go to a theme park you expect to wait in queues – it’s par for the course really, I’ve queued for hours at Alton Towers, I get it… but it did put us off bothering with some of the rides partly because they didn’t seem worth it and because Oscar’s tummy was sore. What was more annoying though was the queues at every other bit of the park, whether it be a 25 minute queue to get a picture with Goofy (I mean, does anyone even care about Goofy?) or the 40 minute queue to buy a crepe when I was literally the 4th customer in the line… crazy.

We didn’t wait 25 minutes to meet Goofy… I’m not mental, however, I did think that Woody might be able to bring a smile to Oscar’s face and I knew a way to make it happen… I had it on good authority from the Instagram community that at 2pm on the dot, you can go onto an app on your phone called Lineberty and book a slot to meet Toy Story Characters. So at 1.55, we were sitting eating lunch in Cafe Agrabah and I had my phone out, poised to refresh every 3 seconds as if I was trying to secure Glastonbury tickets… although, you could argue, the stakes were much higher. As it turned 2pm I was placed in the queue and secured my e-ticket – I was number 28 with an estimated wait time of over an hour, giving us time to finish lunch and head over to Walt’s Studios park. As we left the restaurant half an hour later I looked at my phone with horror to discover that the queue time had skipped to 8 minutes… we sprinted through the park, out through the gates, zig zagging through the halloween crowds to get to Studios on time only to get in and realise we had no clue where Woody was hiding. In some sort of Disney induced frenzy, we managed to find someone to point us in the direction and there he was – a 7ft slightly odd looking Woody. We entered the queue, Oscar seemingly unaware f the drama had fallen asleep in the buggy (bearing in mind Oscar hasn’t even looked in the direction of a buggy in nearly 2 years, this was an indicator of his current flu-ridden state).

Despite all the disappointment that had come before, I was still full of hope that this would be the turning point and we would have a #makingmemories moment… wrong. We woke Oscar up and epic meltdown ensued. No, he didn’t like Woody, no he didn’t want to meet him, he certainly didn’t want a picture with him (lucky we hadn’t purchased that 70€ photo pass…) … in actual fact, he wanted nothing to do with him, and could not have cared less that we nearly gave ourselves heart attacks sprinting to get there in time. Now, I’m not proud of myself… but this was where I broke. I had a full Disney induced meltdown to rival my three year old’s and I ugly cried. I Kim Kardashian ugly cried in what is supposed to be the most magical place on earth.  In hindsight this was obviously a pretty massive over reaction. I mean, when I’m ill I can barely muster the energy to change the channel on the telly, and yet, here we were expecting a little three year old, flu-ridden Oscar to have forced fun. But Disney had broken me. At this point, if I could have just gone home… I probably would have. 

Disneyland Paris

The Santa ‘Stay Away’ Fe This Hotel

One of the biggest downfalls was our hotel, as I mentioned, we booked The Santa Fe, which admittedly is the cheapest hotel in the park, but ‘cheapest’ is very relative when talking about Disney, and in all the holiday was expensive so I’d have expected better. I’d have expected a better standard for the Disney brand. The hotel was tired, dated and actually downright dirty in places… for example, mould on the window frame which is unacceptable regardless of price point. Admittedly, we didn’t expect to spend as much time as we did in the hotel, we booked it as just somewhere to sleep as we thought we’d be out at the parks from 8-8 every day but we hadn’t banked on a sick toddler. If anyone is thinking of visiting, this would be my one top tip – book any other hotel! Don’t make the same mistake we did!

On our last night, Halloween, we did decide to hang about in the evening for the illuminations and they were fab, Oscar had fallen asleep so we secured a good spot, it was nice and dry and we woke him up just for them starting. They didn’t last too long, just long enough to keep his attention and ‘wow’ him. Just the other night Oscar randomly started talking about the fireworks he saw at the pink castle which was really sweet because there were wee glimmers during the holiday that he was enjoying himself. 

Disneyland Paris

Woody’s My Round-Up

I hate hate hate that this all might sound a bit negative or ungrateful because we’re not generally like that, we try to make the best of situations and with Disney we tried, believe me, we tried in an attempt to justify our significantly lighter bank balance, but I think we’ve walked away with the realisation that we’re maybe not ‘Disney people’. What I would say though is that for all the disappointment we felt as adults , if Oscar had had a ball, ultimately, none of that would have mattered. And if he’d not been unwell, I’m sure he would have had a lot more fun, and as a result, we would have too. It was just so unfortunate that he was ill and completely out of our control. If we’d been at home it would have been a good 3-4 duvet days. So if you’re thinking of booking a trio to Disneyland Paris, my intention is not to try and put you off, it’s merely to point out some things that could be done better or to prepare for, ya know?

Plenty of people go and love it. On a different week that could have been us. Would we go back to Disneyland Paris – probably not. We would probably still consider Florida when both kids are a bit older as we’re assured that its a whole different ball game. Robin made a good point when we were away saying we could probably have stayed at Alton Towers for a few days for a quarter of the price and had a better time and he was right, although admittedly that’s not really what I wanted to hear at the time – too soon Robin, too soon!!

I’d love to hear about your experiences – have you been and felt the full force of the Disney Magic, or did it leave you feeling a bit empty and dead inside (jokes, kind of…)? Are there other places you’d rate more highly?

Disneyland Paris

[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

TheEdinburghMum X TheFringe2018

Fringe Festival 2018

August is fast approaching… HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I know right? Seems like just yesterday we were snowed in! Let’s hope the great heatwave returns for the month to maximise our outdoor cider drinking and street food eating in time for the biggest event of the Edinburgh calendar – The Fringe! For us as a family, the Fringe has a special wee place in our hearts, as Oscar was born during our first festival that we lived in Edinburgh for, so now we try and take him to a few shows as a birthday day out as a little tradition. We’ll be doing that again this year with Scout in tow too.

For those of you that might not be familiar (maybe you live under a rock..?) the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the biggest arts festival in the world and runs alongside the Edinburgh International Festival, but don’t worry, there’s no real need to get hung up on the difference. I always thought it was just comedy, but it’s so, so much more…

Last year, for it’s 70th birthday, the Fringe featured 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows across 200 venues throughout the city – it’s kind of a big deal.

But ya know, that’s a lot of shows. This year, I picked up my Fringe guide and there are no less than 400 pages of shows – it’s a bit daunting. And so, back by popular demand (well, I did it last year, and at least 3 people told me it was helpful…) I’m doing my annual Fringe Guide – for bigs and smalls.

For The Smalls

Before I had Oscar, I had no idea how many kids shows there were at at the Fringe, but now finding the good ones is one of my favourite things to do. The atmosphere is so good throughout the city during the festival season and kids just lap it up! There is also a great kids area in Pleasance Courtyard so they can make t-shirts while you enjoy a cold cider/beer/wine/gin/whatever – that’s the dream, right?!

I’ve started my research and here’s what I’ve found so far –

Fringe for Bairns @ The Three Sisters, Cowgate

Running from 29th July – 1st August, there’s a whole load of FREE events for kids taking place in the courtyard of this Edinburgh pub! Every day is jam packed with activities from arts & crafts to magicians, face painiting, and much more, as well as a different daily theme from fairy-tales to superheros, animals to Lego! Oh, and there’s even a petting zoo on Tuesday 31st July!

There is also a kids cinema event every Sunday of the Fringe at 9am in partnership with Scottish Autism! We will be heading along to the first cinema session on Sunday 29th to see Frozen, but no doubt will be hanging around for the magician and some face painting in the afternoon! Keep an eye on my Instagram Stories! 🎈

There’s loads of info on each days activity over on their Facebook Event.

MamaBabaMe by Starcatchers and Curious Seed @ EICC Pleasance

I took Oscar to see his first ever Fringe show the day after his first birthday, and it was a show by Starcatchers… It was SO GOOD and Oscar was honestly enthralled by the mix of dance, theatre and live classical music. Even though I was a bit unsure as to what to expect, I thoroughly enjoyed it too and it was so lovely to see Oscar so engaged!

I am keen to go back this year with Scout and check out this new show as she loves music too.

Tickets can be purchased HERE

The Amazing Bubble Man @ Underbelly, George Sq.

We took Oscar to this last year and WOW it was amazing! He’d just turned two, so I’ll be honest with you, tensions were running high and we were worried about whether he’d sit through an hour long show. We needn’t have worried – he was captivated from the moment it started. The lad is the world’s leading bubbleologist afterall.

I reckon this is one we’ll go back to again this year as he’ll get even more out of it now he’s a bit older. Highly recommend you give it a shot!

Tickets can be found HERE

AnimAlphabet: The Musical @ Pleasance Dome

This one was recommended to me – apparently it’s “funny, fast-paced and bursting with witty songs” so I’m here for it! It looks like a show Oscar would love, so hopefully I’ll get to check it out and report back!

Tickets can be found HERE

For The Bigs

On first look, there seems to be a lot of shows about Brexit and Trump… there’s probably a few about Russia too – it was to be expected I suppose, but of course, there will also be a multitude of hidden gems. I usually find the best way to weed them out is to wait and let other people find them then try and get them booked for later in the festival. Although, if you’re looking at booking a big name – best to do it soon. I’ve missed out a few times over the years – notably least year when we tried to get tickets for Ian Stirling, ya know, the voice of Love Island… sob.

I’ll be updating this as I go, but here’s a few I’ve picked out that I wanna see!

Jessie Cave @ The Stand

I’m a fan. I follow Jessie on Insta and have one of her doodles, so when I saw she was doing a show about motherhood, Instagram and getting through a breakup, I was intrigued! My friend Megan of It’s The Mother also mentioned that she fancied it – so maybe we can make it a date – what d’ya say?

Tickets HERE

Adam Kay: This Is Going to Hurt (Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor) @ EICC Pleasance

I saw Adam back in 2016 with his show Fingering A Minor On The Piano (yeah, I know, bear with me…) and it was my shout out show of the year… maybe even one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was lighthearted, interspersed with witty songs and audience participation, and then BANG. The show did not end the way I expected and it genuinely left me a little bit shooketh. It was hard hitting and i’ve spoken about it countless times since. So if this show is anything like it, and Adam is wonderful, so I’m sure it will be – go see it. You’ll laugh and you may cry, but you’ll be talking about it all the way home.

I’ve just the moment realised Adam Kay is the author of the book ‘This is Going to Hurt : Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor’ that I’ve seen so many people talking about on social media – I’ve just ordered it! 

Show tickets are HERE

Baby Daddy @ Assembly Rooms

“Baby Daddy is a funny, rude and infectious musical account of life in your twenties with a baby in tow.” – I have a feeling this show could be one of the true hidden gems of the Fringe this year, and it’s gonna be the first ticket I buy… I’m going, even if it means I have to take Scout along for the ride (more about this later…)

Tickets are HERE, please leave a few for me.

Trainspotting Live @ Venue 150 EICC

Now, I saw a version of this last year at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. I think this show is slightly different to what I saw, but if it’s even half as good, you’ll be blown away!

“An immersive adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s classic, staged in a unique tunnel beneath Edinburgh’s streets. The audience are literally part of the action, including the notorious ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene”

I’d love to go see this and see what it’s like in comparison to the full length theatre version. Let me know if you’ve seen it! Would you recommend?

Top Tips

Did you know a lot of shows have a babes in arms policy’? Nope, me neither!

Until, the other month an amazing theatre producer (who is also a new mum) got in touch with me to chat about what she’s doing to make the theatre culture more accessible to parents of young children. Now, as I’ve said, there are hundreds or shows made for kids… but what about the shows made for adults? What if you’re a breastfeeding mother to a 6 month old baby and really wants to see a show?! That’s where the babes in arms policy comes in – a LOT of Fringe shows will allow a baby to come into the show free of charge as long as they’re under a certain age (often 18 months, or 2). Information on this is clearly noted on the ticket info page so watch out for it – a young baby does not mean you need to miss out on some Fringe Fun, and I’m sure their baby ears won’t be offended by anything rude, yet!

Anyway, like I said, it’s daunting sifting through 400 pages of shows, so listen out for recommendations, that’s what I’ll be doing and updating this blog as I go. If you have any, please get in touch with me, I’m always on the lookout for something to see whether it be with the family, or out with friends!

And lastly, embrace the Festival and have a ball!

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!