[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!

Suzy Snooze – Review [ad]

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

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps

Gadgets… I love ’em.

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

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

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

Night Night

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

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

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

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

A Bit Of Fancy Tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Verdict

All in all, I love it!

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

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

Suzy Snooze by BleepBleeps review

I Couldn’t Live Without…

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

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

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

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

Our Top Six Purchases

Sleep

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

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

A Good All-Rounder

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

Babywearing

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

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

Changing

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

Feeding

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

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

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

Tell me…

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

Lou x