MAM Soothers **GIVE AWAY** (UK Only)

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A few posts ago, you would have seen that one of my essentials for every baby are MAM bottles - we love them! Since that post, MAM have got in touch and sent me some soothers for Luke to review, and asked us to hold a giveaway! Here is the verdict, and giveaway details below..

MAM Crystal Soothers

The characters on these are totally adorable - a Rhino and a Lion! Luke loves animals and I have always bought vibrant soothers with animals or characters on them.

The MAM Crystal Soothers are my favourites because they are so bright and cheerful. Every single pattern I have seen has been fun and I love the shiny finish!

Luke has a habit of scraping his two (and only) bottom teeth along the patterns of these soothers - and the patterns have not shifted! I am more than impressed. I expected the finish to at least wear, but it hasn't!

You can check out more in the range here.

MAM Nature Soothers

As Luke was born on Christmas Day, I adore the winter patterns on these. I LOVE them! Luke is currently obsessed with dogs - not overly sure why as we don't have one! But he has pointed to the fox on the blue soother and waved a few times, just like he does with dogs. It is incredibly sweet!

I have grown a strange attachment to these soothers. Part of me only wants to take these ones with us when we leave the house, but the other part of me doesn't want to risk loosing them!

Again - the finish on these is fab and hasn't worn at all, despite Luke trying to eat them.

You can check out more in the range here.

Why we love these soothers..!

The shape of these soothers are the best. Other brands have a different shape to them and from very early on, Luke just didn't get them. The MAM Soothers, he just took to immediately.

This is probably because the teats are incredibly soft and the soothers fit so perfectly in his mouth. With other soothers, he seems to really struggle to keep a hold of it in his mouth - he even pulls them out and looks at them with a really puzzled look on his face.

Luke has never been that good at putting his soother back in his own mouth until these - I think it is because the back is perfect size for Luke to hold. He always holds one in his hand.

We always keep a stash around the house, the car, the changing bag.. The fact that they come in a box that you can throw in the microwave and sterilise them in, seals the deal for me!

The Giveaway!

MAM have kindly offered a fantastic prize of a choice of soother from their website! The range can be found here.

Giveaway closes on 28th September 2017 (winner selected and announced on the 29th).

All you have to do is enter below!

Good luck!

The fine print: MAM have sent me this product for the purpose of review. All views are my own.
The giveaway is for UK residents only and will be drawn at random on the 29th September 2017

Financial Musts for New Parents

Thursday, 31 August 2017

I am honoured to host this guest post by Patty, the Founder of Working Mother Life. She is totally fab - you must check her out! Over to you, Patty!

Financial Musts For New Parents

By Patty Moore

Somewhere between excitement and anxiety, first-time parents need to start thinking about making the right financial moves for their expanding family.  Having a baby is perhaps the biggest game-changer in anyone’s life and planning for a new family member takes time and money. 

For starters, expectant parents need to consider their budgets, start a savings account, look into life insurance, research estate planning, and then start considering retirement necessities, and that’s only the beginning. Let’s start by discussing a budget. 

Budgeting For A Baby

In order to properly prepare a future budget for a baby, it’s important to go through your current expenses to see what can stay and what needs to go. Obvious necessities will include a mortgage or rent, utility bills, memberships and then varying bills like gas and groceries. 

By examining past bank statements, you should be able to determine the differences between your needs and wants. If your budget is limited, those trips out to eat or fun grocery items may need to be cut back for diapers and other baby necessities. Memberships and cable bills may also need to be reduced for baby items.

Options like Sling TV or discount cell phone bills are becoming more viable than standardized bills, which can mean hundreds of dollars each month. Start by eliminating the non-necessities and then reduce whatever is left.

Once you know your real budget, then it’s time to start planning for those regularly baby items like daycare, food, and formula, but also for one-time expenses like a stroller or car seat. Don’t expect to get everything at a baby shower. Instead, start your own baby savings fund to prepare for the unexpected. 

Life Insurance Plans

For newborns, there are various life insurance policies that vary between term life and cash value options. Prices are also going to vary but it’s important for even the most fiscal parents to consider affordable term life insurance for their family to make sure that at least basic needs are covered if something horrible happens. 

Above all else, the main reason to get life insurance is to make sure your family is prepared when an unexpected event does happen. This way, your spouse and child will be prepared if the worst does happen.

Preparing a College Plan

Many parents today may be considering a college savings plan for their newborn, when they haven’t even paid off their own loans yet. In the United States, the costs of high education have risen, and are projected to continue rising. Higher costs have forced more and more families to rely on student debt. Increasingly, financial aid awards are not keeping up with the costs and families are forced to resort to costly student debt. You should work to prioritize future education plans for your child. The earlier you start, the more you will be able to save and the less debt your child my need to take.

According to Time, “If you open up a 529 account for your child, you retain complete control of the money.” With a 529 account, parents can save money tax-free for the pursuit of higher education. By creating a savings plan for college early, parents won’t have to worry about using their own retirement funds.

Estate Planning and Retirement

In addition to life insurance plans, estate planning and retirement are also vital for new families. An estate planning attorney can help your family figure out who the guardian may be if both parents were to unexpectedly pass away. This could also include a will, power of attorney, living trust, and various other options.

Once those basics are set up, it’s time to start really thinking about retirement. After all, if you prepare your child for everything and pay for their college but then can’t afford your own retirement, you’ll be working your entire life and making your child worry about your well-being.

The expenses for a newborn can add up but you and your spouse are going to need to keep up your current financial plans and investments for retirement. After all, the best way to take care of your child is to take care of yourself. Be an example and show your kids how to prepare for their future by preparing for your own. 

Where to Begin Baby Plans

Even if you’re still in the first trimester, it’s important to start saving and planning for the future. This starts by creating a realistic budget and then saving extra in order to make future payments and prepare for the unexpected. 

Once you’ve discovered your budget, it’s time to start thinking about things like a college savings plan, life insurance, estate planning with wills, and then your own retirement so you can lead by example. 

If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, that’s certainly a normal reaction. Take it all one-step at a time and plan to regroup every few months to make sure you’re not missing anything so you and your family will always be prepared for the unexpected. 

Baby Essentials

Sunday, 27 August 2017

When you're expecting your first baby, everything looks appealing. I must admit, myself and my husband bought an awful lot of things with no idea if they would be useful or not and we ended up with a lot of samples to try out!

Here is what I couldn't live without!

The current NHS guidelines are that your baby should sleep in your room for the first six months of their lives. I wanted to do this safely, so I did my research. I wanted my baby close to me, so I looked into co-sleepers that attached to the side of your bed. Nice and close, but they would still be in their own space. My husband and I sleep so deeply, I would never trust the baby to be in the bed with us!

A friend of mine on Facebook liked the Bednest page - so I had a look. I had checked out all the co-sleepers you could buy in the shops and although they looked great, I was not too keen on the idea of spending £200 on something my baby would be in for 4-6 months, and then I would have to store it. I know, I could re-use it for baby number two, but I would also have to store it after that and we really don't have anywhere but the loft - and no, I didn't want to put it up there!

The day before we went to be induced!
The Bednest is hired for as long as you need it, but it is recommended until your baby is six months (and not rolling/crawling/etc). All the fabric is new, so the only re-used part is the wood. It is amazing! It attaches to the side of the bed by the base, and the crib itself can come off.  The sides collapse so you can have the baby almost in the bed with you, but in their own space.

This was when we realised he needed to go into his big cot!
We brought it downstairs in the day for Luke to sleep in, instead of buying an additional moses basket. We loved it! I ordered it at the end of October and returned it at the end of June. I honestly couldn't recommend this cot enough.

Koo-Di Pop Up Basinet
4 weeks old
I bought the Koo-Di when I was pregnant with the intention of using it when we were at friends/families houses. We actually ended up using it a lot! We used it when we went away on three family get-aways by the time he was 4 months old. It was such a brilliant purchase!

It was perfect because it folds up so small and has a built in mosquito net. When we were in Cyprus, we could have him sleep outside whilst we were pool side and we didn't have to worry about the bugs!
17 weeks old

This lasted Luke until he was 4 months old as he started to roll and crawl!

There are so many cute colours and patterns in the range, I would definitely buy another if/when I had another baby!

Cosatto Travel System
A travel system is an essential when it comes to a baby, and without a doubt, my favourite is the Cosatto Giggle 2! We got ours from Mothercare for a total steal! I love all the patterns they do, and Luke adored the pattern from an early age. He would look at the pattern and smile. It melted my heart!

When I was recovering from my caesarean, I could really lean on the pushchair whilst pushing Luke to help me walk. It really helped me get out of the house!

Everywhere I go, someone stops me to ask me about the pushchair/car seat. That definitely does wonders for the ego!

As Luke got bigger, the pushchair grew with him!

We will be able to use this for a fair while yet and I love it!

BabyMoov Swing Chair
This chair was absolutely fantastic from newborn until about 5 months (when Luke became a little too mobile for it!). It rocks, it plays music and it has a mobile. It can either be powered by batteries or you can plug it in.

From a couple of days old, he sat in this with the music going, being rocked. It would soothe him so fast, it really helped us out!

As you can see from the picture, he has changed so much! He went from not even noticing the mobile, to eating it! Even now, if I play the music from the chair, he smiles excitedly! It is the sweetest thing.

Now Luke has outgrown it, I have folded it up and put it away in his room. As it folds almost flat, it doesn't get in the way at all and will be kept for baby number 2!

This also comes with a lifetime warranty which is just brilliant!

Swaddle Blankets
One of the best gifts I was given for Luke were these swaddle blankets. I received a pack of four and I loved them so much, I bought an additional 4! Did I ever swaddle Luke? Not really - I was terrible at it. Why were they the best gift? Because they are amazing!

 I have used them to line cots in hotels, in his car seat and pushchair, in his cot, they made great burp cloths when he was small, and loads more!

They make the best blankets as they are so incredibly soft and they wash and dry incredibly well. I am yet to find another type of blanket that washes so well! They also fold up incredibly small and can be kept in your changing bag.

Out of the brands that I have, my favourite by far is Swaddle Designs!

Car Seat Blanket
When we brought Luke home from the hospital, it was -2°c outside. I had read never to put a baby in a coat/jacket whilst in their car seat, so I bought a car seat blanket. It threads into the car seat and wraps around the baby to keep them warm.

We only really used this to and from the car as we heated the car once we were in it and didn't want him to over heat! Once he is in the car, we unwrap him - he wasn't too amused by this!

This was an absolute God send for the first two months. After that, Luke managed to wiggle his way out of it so we stopped using it for the car seat. It is so soft and cute though, that we still use it from time to time. Realistically, we could use it on his pushchair, too!

I haven't posted where I got this from because it was a seller on Etsy that is no longer there. You can get them from Amazon, eBay and/or Etsy for around £20 and I couldn't recommend them enough!

MAM Bottles
Every mum that plans to give their baby formula has to pick a bottle for their baby. I originally started out with Tommee Tippee and as brilliant as they were, Luke had colic and was sick a fair amount, so we decided to try MAM. I had received a free one in the post so I tried it and within a few days, Luke's colic was noticeably better.

I had heard about MAM bottles as they were supposed to make your life so much easier because you DON'T NEED A STERILISER!!

Yes, you read that correctly. They self sterilise in the microwave with a drop of water!!!

These were a dream when it came to going abroad with Luke when he was 4 months old, as we didn't have to worry about how we would sterilise his bottles. We just needed the microwave!

Their soothers are also fab and come in a microwaveable sterilising case. These have saved my life!

IKEA Highchair
Calling all bargain hunters! This highchair cost me £15, BRAND NEW, from IKEA!

This highchair is simply the best thing ever. I have tried Luke in other highchairs and none of them can contain him like this one can. It is easy to clean (you can even put the tray in the dishwasher!) and you can buy an additional inflatable insert with a washable cover.

Pop Up Play Pen
This has literally saved my life and my sanity. Luke started crawling fairly early and I lost the ability to do anything without him destroying my house! Well, I was more worried about him hurting himself on my incredibly un-child-proofed house!

I searched for play pens and was worried that I was going to have to sacrifice all the space that I had left in my living room - but then I found this! It is stable enough for him to pull himself up on and he can peek through it.

It can go outside, and folds to the size of a travel cot. Luke adores it. He sleeps in it, plays in it and watches TV through it!

What could you not live without? What was totally not needed?!

Disclosure: all opinions stated in this post are my own. I only post reviews about products that I am passionate about and think you should all know about! Thank you for reading :)

Weaning and Baby Food Favourites!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

From the time I was pregnant, I was on the look out for the best food for my baby, ready for when the time to wean him came. I signed up to all of the baby clubs I could find, signed up to the newsletters and collected vouchers.

We decided to start weaning Luke at 21 weeks old. He was showing all the signs that he was ready to wean, so we decided to go for it! By that time, I was ready too.

We decided to combine baby led weaning with purées, and we also decided to buy ready made meals and make our own. We started off by giving him lunch and dinner, and three or four spoonfuls each meal. For the first month, we just gave him single vegetable tastes. By the six month mark, we moved him up to breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I mixed vegetables. We also introduced fruit and snacks.

Luke's first finger food was Watermelon, followed the next day by some cucumber sticks - we gave him a lump to play with and chew on. He was pretty confused, but loved it!

For finger foods now, we offer him pitta breads, toast, steamed vegetables, eggs (boiled, scrambled, omelette), avocado, peppers, pasta and much more!

He also adores Kiddylicious wafers and Ella's Kitchen melty puffs! They are not only a favourite of his, but of mine..

His first purée was peas and although he loved it, he did go on to develop a pea intolerance! You have no idea how many things have peas in them..
Here are a few of the baby food brands that we have tried and how we felt about them!

Luke's first purée was an Ella's Kitchen pouch. In fact, his first few purées were! I was drawn to them originally because I "Became a Friend" (signed up to their mailing list) and received some fantastic goodies through the post. It came with two wall charts and stickers, which I put straight on the wall! It also came with a voucher for a free pouch - yay! The app is also brilliant.

They do a variety of single vegetable pouches which saved my life to start with. The first purée we tried Luke with was peas. As you can see below, he also loved it in his hair and up his nose.. Ella's Kitchen also have these amazing spoons that screw straight onto the end of a pouch. Perfect for out and about!!

Luke's second flavour was Parsnips. At first, he really didn't enjoy it. Now, he cannot get enough of them!

Now he is 7 months old, the older pouches are still a firm favourite in our house. He loves them!

Babease was a brand I first saw on Instagram. I had never heard of them before and I was intrigued! I commented on one of their pictures and they offered me a voucher if I sent them a message. I did, and  along with the voucher, I received this in the post!

This fruit pouch (Pear and Mixed Berries with Coconut Water, Brown Rice and Quinoa), Luke had for pudding and it was one of the first pouches he managed to suck himself!! Normally I would only give him half of a pouch like this for pudding, but he scoffed the lot! He cried when it was finished, so I would say this was a huge success!!

I really like this brand as they are "vegetable led". So many brands over do it with the fruit for first tastes, but Babease have got it right!

Now Luke has always loved their wafers, and I love their veg and cheese straws, so when I saw on their Facebook page that they were realising baby food, I got very excited! In one of the wafer packs that I purchased, their was a voucher for one of their new Little Bistro pouches, so I jumped at the chance for Luke try them!

Our first experience of the Little Bistro range would have been so much better if I had read the ingredients a little more closely! I missed the peas.. Luckily, after Luke's third spoonful and my 10th, I tasted it! Luke was very, very disappointed when I didn't let him finish it, there was a minor meltdown! But I however really enjoyed it!

It tasted fresh and full of flavour and (with some bread and butter) I had this for my dinner instead! I will definitely be buying this brand again.

My First Savsé
Pronounced sav-say!
I first caught a glimpse of these on Facebook and was really interested in getting my hands on some! I contacted the lovely people of Savsé to see where I could get some and they very kindly sent me some for Luke to try!

Savsé are the first brand to cold press baby food rather than use heat pasturisation and wow, you can really taste the difference. This interested me straight away! These pouches need to be stored in the fridge which made me think they wouldn't last too long, but they do have a date of around two months, which is fab!

The first pouch I tried Luke with was Lentils, Sweet Potato, Carrot and Apple. Well, I couldn't shovel it in quick enough!! He loved it.

I've been really looking forward to Autumn recently (although definitely not wishing the summer away!) so this pouch made me happy! Carrot, Pumpkin, Apple and Beetroot! Luke adored it, he even snatched the pouch out of my hand and took over.

My first experience of Piccolo was after a music class I took with Luke when he was very small. We were given a sample and I put it away in the cupboard, ready for when he started weaning.

Luke adored his first taste of Piccolo. It was Mango, Pear and Kale (with a dash of yoghurt!). I think he loved the creamy texture, as it was his first taste of yoghurt. The Raspberry and Apple (with soaked oats) is a breakfast favourite for both Luke and I. I always make sure I have a few in the cupboard.

At a class I do with Luke, called BuggyFit, we got another freebie! YAY!

Piccolo is definitely a firm favourite of ours and I couldn't recommend them enough!

I have always liked the sound of this brand, so I picked up a few of their snacks and fruit pots for Luke to try.

Luke absolutely devours the fruit pots for breakfast and pudding, he loves them! The second he sees them, his legs and arms start to go. It is so cute!

They are particularly good - and I have them for my breakfast too, with some yoghurt!

Since teething has become a thing with Luke, these biscuits are fantastic. He loves them - my carpet doesn't..!

I normally prefer pouches, but when it comes to C&G, I will make an exception.

I first was introduced to C&G when browsing the internet for weaning advice. Cow and Gate have a FANTASTIC weaning plan they send out to you in the post. It was a lovely book that came with vouchers, tips and recipes that we both adore.

Luke's absolute favourite is the Spaghetti Bolognese. He will eat an entire jar in one sitting and still want more! Due to the speed of consumption, this is the only picture I have of him consuming his Spag Bol - and he is still reaching out for more!

What is your little ones favourite food? Do you have a favourite brand?

Disclosure: all opinions stated in this post are my own. I only post reviews about products that I am passionate about and think you should all know about! Thank you for reading :)