Christmas Gifts: Last Minute Gift Ideas For Babies 6-12 Months

If you haven’t been following the blog the last few weeks, then you’ll be pleased to know that recently we’ve posted several Christmas gift guides for foodies, parents-to-be, new parents, those who are breast/chestfeeding and yesterday, we posted a last-minute gift guide for babies ages 0-6 months. So to finish off our 2021 Christmas gift guides, we’ll be sharing our last-minute gift ideas for babies aged 6-12 months in this post. All of the following ideas are gifts that Alice is getting for Christmas, except the booster seat, which we purchased before Alice’s arrival! So without further ado, let’s start the final guide for this year! 

That’s Not My Dinosaur Gift Set:

Fluffy toy? Check. Interactive book? Check. If you want to gift the gift of getting a little one to love books from a very early age, then Usbourne’s range of interactive books from its That’s Not My series are a great place to start! Each page of the That’s Not My Dinosaur book has textured areas for little ones to explore and develop sensory awareness, on top of the language awareness that reading from a young age brings. The That’s Not My Dinosaur gift set also comes with a cuddly purple dinosaur toy, perfect for little hands to snuggle up to! 

Vtech Sit To Stand Music Centre:

If you want a musical toy to last a good couple of years, then look no further than the Vtech Sit To Stand Music Centre! The centre comes with 15 melodies, 7 sing-along songs, various sounds and phrases, a microphone for the little one to sing into and 4 voice-changing effects. The panel containing the keyboard, drum, saxophone, guitar and microphone detaches from the stand to allow it to be used when sitting down. In addition, the centre teaches animals, colours, instruments and more and being suitable from 12 months to 3 years means that the centre is an excellent choice for a gift if you want something which will last. 

Carotina Blocks And Mat Set:

Previously reviewed on the blog (you can find the full review here), the Carotina Blocks And Mat Set is another excellent multifunctional, space-saving toy. Not only does the playmat come in a jigsaw style, but it also has pop-out animals and houses which can be slotted into some of the blocks for little ones to create their own themes and stories. In addition, the bright colours of the set catch little ones attention for more extended periods, allowing their creativity and imagination to truly flourish when playing with this set. There are 38 building blocks of varying sizes and colours in the set and 24 pieces that make up the playmat if you include the pop-out animals and houses. 

Benbat Portable Booster Seat:

We’ve posted about Benbat’s Portable Booster Seat before, but we’re posting about it again because we love just how useful this is! This portable booster seat has similar functions to a highchair but is lightweight, great for travel so you can feed little one anywhere, and can be placed wherever it is needed. Another thing I like about the Benbat is that not only is it portable, it also comes with storage compartments to pop some bits and bobs in for little ones. This is great, as you can forgo the changing bag and pop nappies, wipes etc., into the storage compartment of the booster seat when going out locally. As they get older, they can pack the storage compartment themselves, which further helps to aid their independence and development! 

That’s the Christmas gift guides for this year complete! If you’ve found any great gift ideas for the little ones in your life, add them to the comments to help others with their last-minute Christmas shopping! Although the gift guides may be done, we’ll also be sharing blog posts on how we’re prepping for Alice’s first Christmas, so do keep an eye out for those! 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that we receive a percentage of the revenue made from purchasing products when you click on a link. This does not affect you as the consumer or the price of the product or service. It is also not a paid for promotion or a collaboration/advert.

Christmas Gifts: Last Minute Gift Ideas For Babies 0-6 Months

Christmas is only 15 days away! If, like us, you still haven’t finished Christmas shopping for whatever reason (ours is due to Alice having been back in hospital), you’re probably panicking as well! So, following our Christmas Gift guides for parents, which were posted the other week, we’re finally able to post the gift guides for babies! Today’s will be for babies aged 0-6 months, with tomorrow’s focusing on 6-12 months. As Alice is almost 4 months old, we’ve been getting bits for Alice that fall across both age groups. However, most of the following suggestions are things that Alice already has and loves! So without any further ado, let’s give you some ideas for your last-minute Christmas gifts! 

Nuby Tummy Time Pillow:

Alice has had the Nuby Tummy Time Pillow since she was only a couple of weeks old since we were told when leaving the hospital to get started on tummy time as soon as possible. There are many features on the pillow, including a mirror, teether, and rattle. It also has several areas that crinkle to really catch the little one’s attention. The colours are also designed to aid with sight development right from birth, with black and white and shades of red and yellow being the primary colours on the pillow. The pillow can be used to a year of age and beyond, so it really does last! 

Alice a small white baby with brown her is wearing a pink sleepsuit whilst leaning on a red and yellow tummy time pillow. She is being supported on it by Alex, a white man with red hair and glasses, wearing a dark green t-shirt.
Alex with Alice on the tummy time pillow

Steiff Lambaloo Stacking Lamb

Steiff has been renowned for producing teddy bears and toys to last through the generations, and the Lambaloo Stacking Lamb is no different! However, the beauty of this particular toy is that it’s interactive and has various functions suitable for use from those early days through to toddler and beyond. For example, it can become a stacking game, several different toys, or just a simple cuddly teddy bear. It’s also machine washable, which may surprise some people when they feel the different materials used. We have previously reviewed Steiff and the Lambaloo Stacking Lamb in particular. If you wish to read the full reveiw, you can do so here

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is laying on a multicoloured play mat wearing a green long sleeved top, dark blue leggings and white and light blue socks. Around her are a green ring, light brown ring and red ring.
Alice with her Lambaloo Stacking Lamb

Red Kite Peppermint Trail Play Gym

We purchased this play gym for Alice before she was born as we needed something multi-functional, as well as compact due to size limitations. The Red Kite Peppermint Trail Play Gym can be turned into a ball pit, a tummy time mat, and has various toys for hanging from the arches which go over the play gym. The fact that the play gym has all of these features means that it’ll be longer lasting than other play gyms on the market and combining 3 things in one product is fantastic for saving precious space. The play gym comes with several balls for the ball pit feature, but you can pick up more from various places if you need to. The colours on the play gym also capture the little one’s attention for more extended periods.

Alice a small baby with brown hair is wearing a dark green long sleeved top and blue jeans. Alice is laying in a multicoloured play gym with various animals on. There are various coloured toys dangling from an orange and light green arch above which Alice is trying to reach.
Alice playing in the play gym

Little Tikes Plush Chair

This is something we’re getting Alice for Christmas as she really loves to sit up but can’t yet sit entirely unaided by herself. Little Tikes has been around for years. Even when I was little, I had a Little Tikes car, and that’s how I’ve always remembered the brand! So seeing them do a sit-me-up version of the iconic cosy coupe made Alex and I very excited. But, of course, if the little one you’re gifting this to also happens to have car-mad parents, then this will go down a treat even more! The chair features a cup holder for a sippy cup or bottle, a mirror, and the horn even beeps! 

Have you found any good last-minute gift ideas for the little ones in your life? Share them below to help others with their Christmas shopping! 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that we receive a percentage of the revenue made from purchasing products when you click on a link. This does not affect you as the consumer or the price of the product or service. It is also not a paid for promotion or a collaboration/advert.

Christmas Gift Guides: Gift Ideas For Pregnant And Breast/Chestfeeding Parents!

With December 1st here, Christmas prep is in full swing! But, if you’re like Steph and haven’t fully finished Christmas shopping because you have no idea what to get people, then fear not! Following on from our Sous Chef review with gift ideas for foodies and our gift guide for new parents and parents-to-be, Steph’s sharing as a breastfeeding parent what to get parents who are breast/chestfeeding their little ones! Unfortunately, breast/Chestfeeding usually means that the go-to gifts, such as anything alcohol-related, are off the list. However, as a breastfeeding parent, I’m pleased to tell you that there are still good gift options out there! Most of the following ideas also work if the person you’re gifting happens to be pregnant (note: most of the Boobbix products can’t be consumed during pregnancy). 

1. Nursing friendly clothes from Stylish Mum

I absolutely adore Stylish Mum! Not only do they do some beautiful jumpers, dresses and nursing tops, but they also do nursing hoodies! Their nursing hoodies are how I initially fell in love with the brand, as I love my activewear when I’m not going out and about. The other thing I love about this brand is that unlike other nursing wear brands, you can’t really tell that the hoodies and jumpers are nursing wear unless you really look. It means that even once you stop breastfeeding, you can still wear jumpers and hoodies from the range. They also do a matching kidswear range! 

A photo of Steph, a white woman with blonde and brown hair is holding Alice, a white baby with brown hair whilst looking out of the window at Gatwick’s South Terminal. Their backs are to the camera. Steph is wearing a multi coloured floral jumper and Alice is wearing a light pink, grey and white jacket.
Wearing one of the nursing jumpers from the Stylish Mum range!

2. Alcohol-free gift sets

If the person you are looking for really does like a tipple and you don’t want to deviate too much from that, then luckily, there are plenty of alcohol-free giftsets out there to choose from! For those who like wine, the Just Perfect Wines Gift Set featuring 2 mini bottles of Freixenet alcohol-free sparkling wine also comes with a tin of Belgium chocolate truffles for the ultimate treat, as well as a fizz stopper! If they aren’t a wine drinker, there is also a mixed case of non-alcoholic beers, which may tickle their fancy! This case features beers from the likes of Brewdog, Maisels, Juliper and others! The majority of the brands in the case are German, which may work in your favour even more if the person likes their German beer! 

3. Boobbix

Has the person your looking to gift ever said to you that they’re struggling with milk supply or want to increase it? Boobbix is literally a magic potion for helping to boost milk supply alongside regular expressing or breast/chestfeeding. Boobbix does a range of lactation cookies, granolas and even hot chocolate. Although Alice is CMPA, Boobbix do dairy-free chocolate chip cookies and granola, which is dairy-free, meaning that I’ve still been able to benefit from their magic formula! Unfortunately, due to the ingredients, only the hot chocolate in the Boobbix range can be consumed whilst pregnant. 

Photo of 3 packets of dairy free cookies in a box. The packaging is white with purple and pink details as well as a chocolate chip cookie on it. In the background is another white packet with pink label and clear window showing the granola inside.
A recent Boobbix order of mine!

4. Elvie Catch 

I’ve spoken about the Elvie Catch on the blog before. Still, I really can’t recommend this to breast/chestfeeding parents enough! These dishwasher friendly collection cups can each hold 30ml and are great for catching leakage, let-down and more when either expressing, nursing or just going about day-to-day. They are also discreet for wearing during the day and slip-proof. I used these when I was leaking colostrum so that I could freeze it, and I still use them now, catching any stray milk to add to feeds or to store at a later date! The box itself is small which makes the Elvie Catch a great stocking filler.

A photo of two clear plastic Elvie Catch collection cups with silicone backing sat on top of a white box which they come in. The box has a photo of the collection cups on it along with the words Elvie Catch in grey on top of the picture.
The Elvie Catches and their box

Have you found a gift good for a pregnant parent-to-be or breast/chestfeeding parent? Share it in the comments below! Also our gift guides for babies aged 0-6 months and those aged 6-12 months will both be out over the next few days so keep an eye out for those!

This post contains affiliate links. This means that we receive a percentage of the revenue made from purchasing products when you click on a link. This does not affect you as the consumer or the price of the product or service. It is also not a paid for promotion or a collaboration/advert.

Christmas Gift Guides: Gift Ideas For New Parents And Parents-To-Be

With Cyber Monday here, now is the perfect time to look for your Christmas gift bargains! If you’ve got a new parent or parent-to-be in your life, then gifts that will help them on their parenthood journey will be massively appreciated. Amazon and other stores have some fantastic deals on products that Alex and I are using as new parents to Alice, and so the following gift ideas all come highly recommended by us both. 

1. Nuby UV Sterilisers:

Alex and I are both in agreement that one of the best purchases we ever made was our Nuby UV sterilisers. These are actually genuine 59S sterilisers with Nuby branding, which made us feel much more confident about buying the sterilisers as we’d heard such good things when over in the US about 59S. The dummy one was the first steriliser we brought as a tester to see if we liked the UV sterilisers work. Considering that Alice is fascinated with launching her dummy on the floor, this has been a godsend! We also have the travel one, which can fit 2 mam bottles comfortably and 3 at a push, as well as dummies, breast pump parts, and you can even sterilise your phone and keys! The travel one also has a storage section under the sterilising bit and looks like a posh cooler bag rather than a steriliser. Both sterilisers come with a dummy included, and the travel one also has a Nuby bottle. The dummy steriliser can be battery or USB-cable operated, and the travel one is USB operated via a rechargeable battery pack which is included. Both sterilisers can also be plugged into the mains!

Photo of the Nuby dummy Steriliser and box in the background. There is also a black battery charger and white USB cable in the photo.
The Nuby dummy Steriliser

2. Baby Nails Thumble Set:

If you need just a little stocking filler, then the Baby Nails Thumble Set is a great size for that! We all know that keeping baby’s delicate nails trimmed to stop them from scratching themselves is hard work! Luckily, some fellow parents came up with the fantastic idea of using a thumble with filing stickers to file precious little one’s nails which means less of a fight! It’s that simple to use that you can even file nails using the thumble whilst feeding or during cuddle time! The filing stickers come in two varieties; one for 0-6 months and a slightly coarser one for 6 months plus. 

3. Blink Mini Camera

If you know that the parents or parents-to-be in your life want an app-controlled baby monitor that works with Amazon’s Echo Show, but don’t want to spend hundreds on one, then look no further than the Blink Mini Camera! Not only does this come with 2-way communication and night vision, but you can also view it from your phone, tablet and of course, the Echo Show. It also works as a brilliant pet camera. Alex and I use the Blink cameras to keep an eye on Alice when she’s in either her bed or the lounge if we’re out of the room (for example, in the bathroom), and Alex uses it to check in when he’s at work. We also use our lounge one to keep an eye on Fudge when out of the house.

Photo of a white Blink Mini Camera with black face mounted on a white and grey Snuzpod bedside crib. There is also a grey Snuz cloud attached to the Snuzpod in the photo.
Alice’s Blink camera

4. Amazon Echo Show 

Of course, if you go for the Blink mini camera, you can always bundle it with the Amazon Echo Show! We don’t know what we’d do without ours, from enabling skills to help settle a baby to learning skills, operating smart lighting and more. The Amazon Echo Show is a great assistant to have in the house! We also use ours to find recipes, watch videos and even as a digital photo screen. Alexa also has a skill from Tommys called the Tommys Midwife Skill, so if you’re pregnant, you can literally ask Alexa anything to do with Pregnancy. Steph says, “this skill helped me so much when I was pregnant with Alice, and even Alex was asking questions to do with pregnancy.”

The Echo Show is available in 5″, 8″ and 10″. We have the 8″ in our kitchen, the 5″ at Alex’s mums and will be getting the 5″ to replace the Echo’s in the bedroom once Alice moves into her own room. 

5. Snuza Hero MD

We found out about the Snuza Hero MD after someone we got to know through our Instagram let us borrow theirs whilst we’ve been waiting for Alice’s breathing monitor to come. So if you have an ex-NICU baby in the family or know that the parents in your life just want a monitor for peace of mind, then this is an excellent investment! The Snuza Hero MD is medically certified, and the Lullaby Trust also give them out to parents who’ve previously lost a baby to SIDS as part of the CONI programme. The monitor simply clips onto the baby’s nappy or bottoms (just make sure it’s in contact to track breathing) and will vibrate to rouse the little one if no breathing is detected for 15 seconds, alarming after 20 seconds if vibration doesn’t work. This little monitor has already worked a few times when Alice has either breath held or had another blue episode. 

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is looking at the camera with eyes open wearing a white long sleeved vest and light blue jeans. On Alice's jeans is a white and purple Snuza Hero MD breathing monitor.
Alice wearing the Snuza Hero MD

Do you have any ideas for what to get parents-to-be or new parents for Christmas? Share them in the comments to help other readers with their gift shopping! 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that we receive a percentage of the revenue made from purchasing products when you click on a link. This does not affect you as the consumer or the price of the product or service. It is also not a paid for promotion or a collaboration/advert.

Christmas Gifts For The Foodie In Your Life!

With Christmas less than a month away, most will be turning their attention to Christmas gift shopping and wondering what to get their loved ones. But, if you’re anything like us, you either pick up on hints throughout the year or pick gifts based on hobbies and interests. Luckily, if you have a foodie in your life to shop for, then there is one company that offers a range of goods that may just make your loved ones Christmas and do products that will make Christmas dinner with the family extra special! 

Sous Chef is an online cooking shop that offers everything from ingredients for that special meal to gift sets for the foodie in your life and even discovering new recipes and cuisines. Sous Chef also has a fantastic Christmas range for the run-up to Christmas, and of course, for Christmas Day itself, including Panettone (vegan options available), preserves for cheese and advent calendars amongst the range. Sous Chef also has a tasting box subscription which you can buy for yourself on a monthly basis or as a gift for someone with three, six, and twelve-month subscription terms all available. 

However, if the foodie in your life happens to adore Japanese cuisine, then Sous Chef has the perfect gift for them! The Japanese Raman Bowl Set features two ramen bowls which are dishwasher and microwave safe, two ramen ladles made from bamboo, a ramen recipe book and a drawstring bag! It also happens to be one of Sous Chef’s bestsellers. So we feel fortunate to be gifted one of these sets to review by Sous Chef for this blog post. 

On opening our package from Sous Chef, the set was extremely well packaged! Not only was there lots of recyclable packaging to protect the set, but the size drawstring bag was a pleasant surprise. Not only did it contain the entire set, the fact that it’s large enough and reusable means that we can use it for food shopping in the future! In addition, the drawstring bag is covered with various airport codes like VLC for Valencia and DFW for Dallas, along with their timezones and a picture that represents the destination. 

A beige drawstring bag with various black and red images on featuring various airport codes, cities and timezones on.
Sous Chef Drawstring Bag

Inside the drawstring bag was additional packaging to protect the two ramen bowls. The bowls have a beautiful blue and white glazed wave design on the inside and a white and blue marble style design on the outside. Both the inside and outside designs are complemented by a brown-black rim, and the design is done so that it can be mixed and matched with other items, which is custom in Japan. These large bowls are made from ceramic and can be used for both ramen and donburi dishes. They also happen to be microwave and dishwasher safe, making life a lot easier when cleaning up or if you want to warm your ramen up! There were also two ramen ladles made from bamboo in the bag, which need to be hand-washed and dried before storing.

2 blue and white bowls with brown wooden ladles inside are sitting on a light brown wooden table with black quartz marble rectangles on the table top.
The Ramen Bowls And Ladle

Also in the bag was a ramen recipe book which contains mix and match recipes for noodles, broths and even ideas for toppings! This is great as it allows you or the person you’re gifting the set to discover different ramen and donburi dishes at a convenient time. We also tried to see if the ramen bowls would fit a takeaway from a well known Japanese restaurant which they did with ease! It also means that the well-known restaurant’s recipe book can be followed to the letter if you or the person you’re gifting the set to happens to have it. 

2 blue and white bowls with brown wooden ladles on the side of them are sitting on a light brown wooden table with black quartz marble rectangles on the table top. The bowls are filled with two different types of ramen.
Ramen in the bowls

As a side note, also included where some money off vouchers for companies that Sous Chef partners with. The only thing which wasn’t included was chopsticks; however, Sous Chef has a range of chopsticks made from different on their website available to purchase; there’s even a travel set! Overall, this set is definitely a good shout if you want a non-perishable gift for the foodie in your life, or even as a treat yourself if you want something new in the home kitchen! 

This reveiw was kindly sponsored by Sous Chef, who gifted us The Japanese Ramen Bowl Set in exchange for this review. However, all opinions in this review are our own.

Going To Big Events With A Newborn

For some parents of newborns, there will be events that you wish to attend but are worried about taking your new bundle of joy with you. Whether it be a summer fair or a big event for your town or city, a fireworks display or a Christmas light switch on, attending with a brand new baby in tow means lots more things to think about! Big events typically mean lots of noise and lots of things going on, which can be overwhelming for your little one! 

Despite many stressful events surrounding Alice’s health, we have still managed to get out and about with her. Alex and I crave normality and for us, going out and about to our favourite events gives us that little bit of much-needed normality in what has been a stressful couple of months. But how do you safely take your precious bundle of joy to significant events and on busy days out? Well, here we share products and tips that have really helped us! 

1. A suitable baby carrier

Alice has two baby carriers, one which I use with her when out and about, and the other one is Alex’s favourite. For me, the Ergobaby Omni 360 is the best baby carrier for many reasons. Firstly, as the carrier is structured, I can safely carry Alice despite being a wheelchair user without risking any dislocations. Secondly, the pouch on the front of the carrier is large enough to put cards, passports, phones and other small but essential things in there and keep them on me. Not only is this excellent safety-wise, but it’s also an excellent feature for when travelling and at large events. For example, I used the Ergobaby when taking Alice to her first football match. In addition, the carrier is easy to get babies in and out of. This meant that Alice had lots of time out of the Ergobaby that day! 

a selfie Steph, a white woman with brown and blonde hair wearing a black baby carrier with Alice, a small baby with brown hair and wearing a white jacket inside. The baby carrier has blue and blue ear defenders and a blue Chelsea bib attached to it.
Alice in the Ergobaby!

Whilst I absolutely adore the Ergobaby, Alex loves the wrap style carriers, so we also have the Hana Baby Wrap, which he uses with Alice when we’re out and about. However, he is going to try the Ergobaby later this month when we go to London! The wrap style is great as it can be used with smaller babies subject to clearance from a medical professional. It also allows little ones to be held in many different positions and closer to whoever is wearing them. However, I found that as a wheelchair user, the wrap style isn’t that safe until little ones can hold their head up, which is why Alice is carried by Alex a lot more than by me! 

Alex, a white man with red hair and wearing glasses is looking towards the camera smiling. Alex is wearing a blue and pink jacket, and a black baby wrap which has Alice, a small white baby with brown hair inside.
Alex carrying Alice in the Hana baby wrap

2. Good ear and eye protection! 

Tiny ears and eyes are extra-sensitive. A baby’s hearing can easily be damaged by loud noises and speakers if too close. For us, getting Alice not one but two pairs of Banz Baby ear defenders was a no brainer. Having two pairs means we can keep a pair at Alex’s and a pair at mine, which means no worrying about losing ear defenders and having no backup, or worse, leaving them at the one house when going to an event from the other! True story; Alex didn’t know about the second pair until I took Alice with my dad to her first Chelsea match! He was panicking about her having no ear defenders until I sent a photo of her second pair attached to the carrier, ready for when we got to Kingsmeadow! 

A selfie of Alex, a white man with red hair wearing clear framed glasses carrying Alice, a white baby with brown hair wearing light blue and black ear defenders.
Alice rocking one of her pairs of ear defenders!

As for eyes, sunlight can damage little eyes, and it can be hard to find suitable sunglasses for babies. Luckily, Banz Baby also have a selection of matching sunglasses to go alongside their ear defenders! The sunglasses fit around the head using an adjustable headband, and both the ear defenders and sunglasses can be used until the little one is around 2 years old before needing to move up to the next size. 

3. A good changing backpack

I have raved about this changing backpack in a previous post, but it really is excellent for days out, going to large events, travelling and just as your usual day to day changing bag. Not only does this particular bag from Amazon have a big main compartment for a change of clothes, snacks etc. It also has a bottle pocket that can store three bottles, a phone charging port (need your own battery pack) and a pocket for baby wipes! The most significant function for me, however, is the inbuilt cot and changing mat. Not only does it mean you can change your little one with privacy, but they can also nap in it when out and about during the day if at a picnic, for example. The cot also features a sun canopy for protection on sunnier days or as a barrier against the wind when using it when outside. It’s important to note that the inbuilt cot isn’t suitable for overnight sleeping, however, so you’d still need a travel cot if going away. 

Overall, large events can be done with a bit of planning and organisation beforehand. However, having a baby doesn’t mean life has to stop! You can very much still have a life and attend events like Christmas light switch on, Pride, picnics, fun days etc., with your bundle of joy! 

Do you have any tips to help new parents who want to go to events with their little ones? Then, share them in the comments! 

This post contains affiliate links. This means that we receive a percentage of the revenue made from purchasing products when you click on a link. This does not affect you as the consumer or the price of the product or service. It is also not a paid for promotion or a collaboration/advert.

Product Review: Multifunctional Toys For Babies And Toddlers

With Christmas not that far off, people are beginning to think about what gifts their loved ones might like and when it comes to babies and young children, what toys would be suitable for them. There are many different types of toys available, from games to cuddly bears and toys which aid learning and development, which can make buying gifts for babies and young children somewhat challenging.

Toys and Bears offer a range of toys and teddy bears, and their handy filters help you take the guesswork out of what to buy! You can filter by age, price, brand and more! In addition, they have a great range of educational toys if you wish to gift something that will aid development. Finally, if you’re interested in the Montessori way of learning and play, then Toys and Bears have a range of Montessori toys.

A multicoloured box containing a toy is laid flat on the floor. The box has a white baby on the front playing with building blocks and the animal cut outs which the toy contains.
The Carotina Baby Blocks Mat in its box.

In terms of toys that aid development, one that is definitely suitable for babies and toddlers is the Carotina Baby Blocks Mat. When in its box, the set doesn’t look that big; however, looks are deceiving, especially with this product. This multifunctional mat and blocks set can be used from around a year old up to four years of age and has many features making it an excellent choice if you want a toy that will last a couple of years rather than a few months.

The large building blocks are great for little ones to explore their creative side whilst developing their fine motor control through stacking and building. The blocks are the perfect size for small hands, and the vibrant colouring of the blocks make them attractive to babies as well as helping to stimulate their brain growth. The blocks also enable toddlers to learn how to count when they’re ready to, and with there being 38 blocks of varying sizes, there’s plenty of ways to get little ones learning off to a great start!

Bright yellow, green, red and purple building blocks are laid out on the floor. To the right is an open box containing several pieces of the playmat in with various colours.
The building blocks and some of the playmat pieces

Moving onto the playmat and the jigsaw style means that little ones potentially have their first 24 piece jigsaw within this toy! The playmat, when put together, measures 70x50cm and is double-sided, making for hours of learning and fun. Each piece has a different scene on the front; for example, an ocean scene for the shark and octopus jigsaw piece and a desert scene with pyramids in the background for the camel. The back of each piece has the backs of the animals and the back of the two houses on the most prominent jigsaw piece with a blue background with white polka dots.

Photo of playmat pieces with the backs various animals and 2 houses. The pieces have a blue background with white polka dots.
The back of the playmat pieces

However, the beauty of this entire set is that 11 of the animals and the houses pop out of the jigsaw piece, whilst a few of the building blocks contain slots on top. This is a fantastic feature as it allows little ones to create their own scenes and helps with many different areas of their development. In addition, the bright colours of both the jigsaw pieces and the blocks really stand out even when put together.

A small jigsaw style playmat is laid on light brown laminate flooring. Each piece of the play mat has a different scene with various animals in and each piece has various bright colours.
The front of the playmat

Right now, Alice is a little too small to use this toy as she’s only 2 months old. However, we can’t wait to see her using it in a few months when she sits up by herself, and we’re excited to see her start using it. The set is the perfect size for our house, especially as we’re pretty limited on space which is why I’m so happy about all of the functions that the Carotina Baby Blocks Mat contains.

This post is kindly sponsored, and we were gifted the Carotina Baby Blocks Mat for this review. However, the content is based on our honest opinions.

Steiff Teddy Bear Review

When it comes to toys for little ones, there are many different types to choose from, but if there’s one essential toy that most people can agree on when it comes to what children should have, it’s teddy bears and plush toys! Whether it’s as a gift for that special occasion, a reward for good behaviour, or just one that parents get for their little one, teddy bears have been a staple in babies nurseries and toddler/children’s bedrooms across the world. Even now, both Alex and I have our favourite teddy bears from when we were children! 

Many brands create teddy bears, but one extremely well-known brand is Steiff. For generations, Steiff has been a go-to brand for families worldwide when giving a teddy bear to a little one and is easily recognisable with the iconic button in the ear trademark that Steiff has had since 1904. Steiff teddy bears are also known for being subjected to rigorous testing and for being of extremely high quality; after all, the Steiff company motto is “Only the best is good enough for children.” Both Alex and I had Steiff bears growing up, and with Alex’s mum’s side of the family being German, they know Steiff very well as a household name in Germany when it comes to teddy bears and plush toys! The high quality of the teddy bears and plush toys also means that they can be passed down for years to come. 

Teddy bears come in many shapes, sizes and colours. Whilst Steiff is renowned for its plush animals and their teddy bears, some of the Steiff range also double up as other types of toys. The Steiff Teddy Bears Stacking Lambaloo Lamb is one such teddy bear that can also be used as a toy. An excellent feature of this particular item from Steiff is that this lamb has 3 separate rings that are interactive and aid development making it truly versatile. The red one rustles, the light brown one in the middle is a cuddly ring, and the green ring at the bottom is a rattle. The lambs head is simply removed from the stack to enable the rings to come off. 

Photo of a cream coloured lamb shaped teddy bear with a smiley face on. The teddy bear has 3 rings making up its body; the top is red, middle light brown and bottom is green. The teddy bear is sitting on a grey box with red coloured drawings on.
Steiff Stacking Lambaloo Lamb

Right now, Alice loves her cuddly light brown ring and the red one which rustles. At 6 weeks old, she’s slowly becoming more aware of her surroundings, so it’s an excellent time to introduce the teddy bear to her in its separated form. The lamb’s stacking feature is also perfect because the teddy bear can be used for a stacking activity as the baby grows and moves through their developmental milestones. Talking of development, we love that one of the rings is red, as this is thought to be one of the first colours that newborns can see when their colour vision begins to develop. 

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is laying on a multicoloured play mat wearing a green long sleeved top, dark blue leggings and white and light blue socks. Around her are a green ring, light brown ring and red ring.
Alice enjoying the rings as separate toys!

The interactive functions of the Stacking Lambaloo Lamb aren’t the only reason it’s an excellent choice as a cuddly toy; there are other reasons too. At just 18cm in length, Steiff’s Stacking Labaloo Lamb is the perfect size for tiny hands to grab hold of and play with but actually looks taller than its stated length when upright. Another most welcome feature is that the teddy bear is machine washable, even though you wouldn’t think it would be by looking at it due to the plushness of the materials used. This particular feature is excellent for ensuring that germs are kept at bay, especially as babies like to explore with their mouths, and this specific bear is great for babies from their very first days and weeks with all of its features! 

With Christmas coming up, Steiff has plenty of options for gifts for little ones, whether it’s a teddy bear for a new baby, a teddy bear for a toddler or even a collectable for a slightly older child; Steiff really does have something for everyone. The different ranges mean that you can get the infant or child’s favourite animal and, in some cases, their favourite character too! Steiff also packages their products beautifully, adding that extra special touch and quality feel to the products.

Photo of a grey and white striped box with drawings of teddy bears in red on. In the middle of the box is a cream circle with black outline which has the word Steiff in block writing in. The words knopf
How the teddy bear came packaged.

This post is kindly sponsored, and we were gifted the teddy bear for this review. However, the content is based on our honest opinions.

Introducing Your Pet To Your Newborn

If there’s one situation we had to spend months preparing for before we had Alice, it was getting Fudge used to no longer being the only baby in the house and preparing him for the arrival of our bundle of joy! Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m one of those chihuahua owners who babies their dog. Although he’s almost 8 years old, Fudge is a rescue we’ve had for just over 4 years, and from the start, I’ve let him get away with things such as sleeping on the bed with us and having free run of the house. However, we have also trained him with basic commands like sit, stay, wait, down etc. and knew that these basic commands would help massively with the arrival of a new baby in the house! 

Due to Fudge’s history, he hates and is scared of anything or anyone he doesn’t know. We have to lock him away if strangers come to the house, which isn’t great as his separation anxiety goes through the roof. However, we enlisted the help of a behaviourist after getting gran home in 2020 to help with socialising Fudge enough that he’d accept people and gradually get used to those who need to visit repeatedly, as well as working on his anxiousness. When meeting someone new, Fudge is prepped beforehand with calming remedies from Vita Canis and given many treats and fuss whilst the person is there. On the first visit, the person is told to completely ignore Fudge, then the second visit, or if the first visit is long enough, Fudge will gradually go toward the person to sniff them out and eventually allow them to fuss him. It’s meant that he gets on really well with my community nursing team and Alice’s health visitor. It’s also meant we’ve been able to get him to accept friends and family who regularly visit as well. 

Thankfully when it comes to babies and toddlers, we know from experience that Fudge is protective of them and takes to them a lot quicker than adults and older children. For example, he took to Archie, my 2-year-old brother, almost straightaway as Archie never corners him and always allows Fudge to go to him when he wants to play or have cuddles. With Alice being newborn, we knew the introduction would be easy from this experience. However, we still wanted to prepare him as best as possible since Alice would be at home all the time, whereas Archie only comes over a couple of times a month. 

So how did we do it? 

Well, there were several things that we did to prepare Fudge for Alice’s arrival in the months before she was born. 

1 – Setting up the main items earlier.

We had Alice’s pushchair up at 20 weeks, mainly so I could get used to the handling of it by pushing Archie around. However, it allowed Fudge to get used to something new in the house. Then 6 weeks later, we set up Alice’s Snuzpod. Fudge has free run of the house and is allowed on the beds and sofa, so we needed him to learn that this one bit of space isn’t for him, and he isn’t allowed there. Luckily, he learned quickly, which is why he’s still allowed to sleep in our room. 

2 – Calming remedies

We use a combination of calming remedies with Fudge. For example, even before Alice was born, we were using Zylkene each day after it was recommended to us by his behaviourist to take the edge off of his anxiety. We also have two plug-in diffusers from Pet Remedy to create a relaxing environment in the house for Fudge and use calming remedies from Vita Canis before any significant events like going to the vets or groomers and when people come to the house. Before bringing Alice home, I had dad put both comfort blend and calming spray on Fudge to help him relax. 

3 – Allowing Fudge to smell Alice’s clothes before washing them 

If you know that you’re likely to be in the hospital after birth, then taking some of the clothes that your baby has worn and allowing pets to sniff before washing enables pets to pick up baby’s scent so that it won’t be so difficult when it comes to the meeting. For example, I had dad take Alice’s clothes home once we’d been downgraded from NICU to transitional care so that Fudge had a few days to get used to Alice’s smell. It meant that when we came home, Fudge sniffed Alice and then left her for a while before going back to her a few times and laying next to us.

4- Using muslin squares

If you don’t feel comfortable letting your pet sniff your baby’s clothes, you could also get muslin squares to place under them, which pick up their scent and leave those in various locations around the house. We also did this with Fudge and popped some in her Snuzpod so that Fudge knew why that was a space he couldn’t go in. We also put them in her car seat so that Fudge knew she’d be in there sometimes too, which helped when getting home as he didn’t jump at the car seat when we arrived. 

Using all of the above tips, we quickly managed to get Fudge and Alice to live alongside each other to the point that not only is Fudge allowed to sleep in our room still, but this photo was taken a couple of days after Alice arrived home! 

Alex, a red haired man with glasses and wearing a dark green hoodie is smiling whilst holding Fudge, a blonde and tan chihuahua in one arm and Alice, a small white baby with brown hair in the other.
Alex holding Fudge and Alice!

Did you have trouble introducing your pets to your new edition? Or do you have other tips that worked for you when preparing your pets and introducing them to your newborn? Comment them below! 

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Meet Our Little One!

TW: This post details our NICU journey and the reason why our baby needed NICU. 

Following on from our birth story blog posts, it’s time to introduce our little one to you all, as well as what happened next! 

Our little miracle and fighter, Alice Frances Margaret, was born at 0710 on 21st August 2021, weighing 2480g. She came into the world face up, which meant the first of Alice’s many facial expressions we were greeted with was her extremely grumpy one which Alex managed to get a photo of. 

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is wrapped in a white towel and wearing a white hat. Alice has various bruises from the forceps on her face and is extremely grumpy!
Alice at 23 minutes old!

Perfect in every way, I was so glad to get some skin to skin with her. However, my right arm had been severely affected by the epidural, which meant I couldn’t lift my arm or move it very well, so Alex and Paige, the midwife who took over from Sarah shortly after Alice was born, had to help me with holding her. All was going perfectly until 79 minutes after Alice’s birth. 

People always say expect the unexpected, but what happened at 0829 on that Friday, just 79 minutes after Alice’s birth, shook both Alex and me to our cores. It really was the worst moment of our lives so far, as Alice stopped breathing while on my chest, and we didn’t even realise it. I genuinely thought that Alice had fallen asleep on my chest. Even when I mentioned it to the nurse looking after us in recovery in search of reassurance, the fact that she didn’t respond made us both think it was ok. It wasn’t until Paige came back in 30 seconds later and realised what had really happened that all hell broke loose. 

Having your baby swiftly taken off of you and seeing medical staff resuscitate them whilst the emergency buzzer means more medical staff are swarming into help is something that neither of us would wish on our worst enemy. I honestly thought we’d lost our baby, and Alex was that focused on trying to see what was being done to Alice that one of the staff had to try and force him to come and comfort me as I was being pushed out of the bay to a different area of recovery. We had no idea at that moment in time if our baby would make it. The 15 minutes it took to find out the update was the longest 15 minutes of my life. It truly felt like hours. 

The doctor who came to give us the initial update on Alice happened to be one of the doctors who looked after my mum in 2013 when she was fighting for her life in ICU. The second he said Alice was breathing, I felt the most enormous wash of relief pour over me. It didn’t matter that they were still trying to stabilise her and that the neonatal team were transferring her to NICU at that point, she was alive, and that was all that mattered. 

Shortly after the initial update, I was transferred back to the labour ward, and Alex came with me. At this point, I was trying to process exactly what had just happened to us, but if I’m honest, my brain couldn’t take anything in. As soon as I saw my dad and he realised that Alice wasn’t with us, I burst into tears once more because I couldn’t get out exactly what happened and Alex had to tell him for me. It would be another 24 hours before my dad met his first grandchild, as our NICU had a rule that grandparents could only visit on weekends in the afternoon due to covid. Still, it was a lot more lenient than most NICUs in the UK. At the time of writing this blog post, some weren’t even allowing parents to visit their child/ren together. 

Soon we received another update from the doctors working on Alice, and with them came the news that our baby was finally stable but not yet out of the woods. One of us was allowed to go and see her, but I couldn’t push myself in my wheelchair, so I told Alex to go down and get lots of photos and videos for me until I could go myself. As upset as I was that we weren’t going together, I knew that Alex would be able to prepare me for when I finally got to see Alice. After Alex got back, we were moved to postnatal, so I sent dad home to get some rest before bringing the colostrum we’d harvested to the hospital. I was an absolute hot mess, so before going to neonatal myself to check up on Alice, Alex helped me get showered and changed. He then briefed me on all the rules and what to expect, but if I’m honest, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to be wheeled into. 

Having a baby in NICU is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Seeing your child so unwell and not being able to hold them is tough. Once Alex wheeled me down, and we’d both washed our hands, he took me over to Alice. She looked so unhappy, which make me shed tears once more. She was covered in wires, hooked up on oxygen and on fluids. Her incubator felt like this massive barrier; I couldn’t hold her or do skin-to-skin to comfort her. It was a far cry from how everyone expects the first few hours after giving birth to go. Thankfully, one of the nurses came over to ask if I wanted to put my hand in and comfort her that way, which I jumped at the chance to do. I felt awful for Alex, who couldn’t hold or touch Alice the entire time she was in NICU. It wasn’t until Sunday, when Alice was on transitional care, that he got to hold her for the first time since she’d stopped breathing 2 days earlier. On the other hand, I got my first cuddle on Friday night whilst being able to feed her. However, it was filled with anxiety as the position I had her in for feeding was the same position she was in when she’d stopped breathing 12 hours before. 

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is laying on a pastel yellow and pink coloured patterned mat in an incubator. She is wearing a nappy as has oxygen prongs in her nose, a cannula on her right hand and various wires over her body. She looks very grumpy!
Alice in NICU

Although Alice was out of NICU after 40 hours, followed by 2 days on transitional care before going home, those 40 hours taught me so much about a world few know about. Being NICU parents really showed Alex and me just how strong we are, even if we doubted that strength before. Before going home, we managed to catch up with Paige, the midwife who literally saved Alice’s life and between her and the neonatal doctors got as much information as we could. Unfortunately, not all the questions were answered; we’ll never know the reason why Alice stopped breathing. The fact she did in the first place shocked even the team looking after us, especially as Alice had an Apgar score of 9 just 1 minute after birth and then a perfect 10 at 5 minutes. A few have asked us if my Group B Strep infection caused it or if the reduced fetal movements played a part, which again is something we’ll never know. However, although we were fully covered with antibiotics for Group B Strep, Alice’s infection markers were raised when checked, so she was placed on IV antibiotics for a few days as a precaution. Since we’ll never know what caused her to stop breathing, we have been warned it could happen again. It’s something I constantly hope doesn’t happen, but if it does, Alex and I both know how to resuscitate babies and infants thanks to work. 

September is NICU Awareness Month, and we’re so proud of our little fighter who made it through. We’re forever thankful to all the staff who worked on Alice and got her well enough to come home as quickly as she did. We’re also grateful for the support of Bliss, a charity here in the UK that provides information and support to parents of babies born premature or sick, as well as research into improving care and treatment.

Alice, a small white baby with brown hair is wearing a white vest and laying on her back with her head turned to the side in her snuzpod, which has a white sheet with grey stars on the mattress. There is a grey blanket covering Alice and she is asleep.
Alice Now!