Tag Archives: babies

Review: Bopping Babes Disco

Discos for children

Imagine a place where no one cares how you dance. A place where your kids are still young enough not to be embarrassed by you. What could make it even better? Oh yes, a bar. Too good to be true? This isn’t Shangri-La. This is Bopping Babes.

I’ve been harassing a certain well-known provider of baby discos for some time trying to persuade them to do an event in St Albans. Sadly, they weren’t biting. (Do they not know that we’ve got small people coming out of our ears here?! You can’t move without tripping over one.) To say I was excited to see Bopping Babes launch earlier this year then would be an understatement. Bopping Babes runs discos for adults and children up to the age of 6. Their flyer asks: “Miss those days when you could dance the night away?” Hell, yeah.

It’s not quite a night out (more of an afternoon) but Bopping Babes does its best to recreate the mood. The Crumbs & Pegs family headed to the latest Bopping Babes event in Harpenden suitably attired for the Superheroes and Princesses theme. More Superman than Superfly – we’ll save our white Travolta suits for next time. On arriving, we discovered a potentially bland British Legion hall transformed into a discotheque – and, yes, there was a disco ball.

Superhero

On stage were the DJing team (Disco-D-Light) armed with bubble machines, puppets and the energy that can only be mustered by those well used to working with tough, knee-high audiences. Music-wise, they were more down with the kidz than I’ve been for a decade and it wasn’t just Bob the Builder on loop. Thank god. (We’ll gloss over the popular tune played that wasn’t the ‘radio edit’ – something for the adults.)

Bopping Babes isn’t all about strutting your stuff on the dancefloor though. The organisers work hard to make sure it’s an event that will keep children (of all ages) entertained. For starters, there was fantastic face painting and  glitter tattoos by The Glitterbox (where my 2-year-old got his first tattoo). Add to that lush cakes for the kids to decorate from Let Them Eat Cake and you’re left feeling disco sparkly inside and out. For babies there was a large separate area with soft matting and plenty of appropriate toys – all safely away from the stomping feet of the older boys and girls. And when the disco beat got too much there were regular story sessions from Speaking Works, entertaining kids with drama and adventure.

The adults aren’t forgotten. There was the bar. There was the bar. And the bar. Bar! And of course (focus!) the chance to swing your pants with your little lovelies and generally watch them have a ball. You may not spend hours rolling around afterwards looking for a minicab or wake up with a hellish hangover but a good time will be had. All I would ask Bopping Babes is to make the venue a bit darker – for atmospheric purposes of course, obviously not to hide my dancing.

Many thanks to Emily at Bopping Babes for kindly giving me a family ticket. The next Bopping Babes disco will be at the Charles Morris Hall in Tyttenhanger, St Albans, on Saturday 7th December, 1-4pm. Tickets are available in advance (£5 for an adult + 1 child, £5 for each additional person, or £10 for a family ticket (2 adults + 2 children)) from boppingbabes@yahoo.com. You can also follow Bopping Babes on Facebook.

 

 

 

Little Waitrose at John Lewis Watford – win £150 of vouchers

John Lewis Watford

There are few shops that I can say hold memories for me. (Or at least pleasant ones – my mum will remember the unfortunate incident in Cresta Cards that cleared the shop.) As a child I remember wandering around the John Lewis (or Trewins as it was in Watford in those days) haberdashery department marveling at the rainbow walls of cotton reels. John Lewis was where my big brother had his first grown-up job. I shopped for my wedding list there and then three years later was back buying for my first baby and wondering who could afford a Silver Cross pram. I shall resist any mention of the Royal Baby … And, of course, there was many a time I got my boobs out in the baby department.

For both old-timers like me and the yet-to-be-converted, the great news is that the John Lewis store at Intu Watford (formerly the Harlequin Centre) has just got even better. Not only are there 4 glorious floors of whatever you fancy to peruse – you can now tickle your taste buds at the same time because John Lewis’ tastiest family member, Little Waitrose, has moved in with its big brother. 5,500 square feet of John Lewis has been converted into the new Little Waitrose space giving you the chance to shop for your favourites whilst enjoying everything John Lewis has to offer.

Convenience is all. Little Waitrose is the ideal place to choose something for dinner, pick up a snack or top up your regular food shop. Alongside fruit, vegetables and deli products you can find fresh meat and fish counters and a bakery. Get some flowers if you need to say sorry to someone. Choose from the wide range of wines and beers if you want to celebrate something. And for the more mundane days when not much is happening and you’ve been neither insulting nor successful, you’ll find store cupboard essentials from washing powder to cereal. Why go anywhere else? Happy days.

To celebrate the arrival of Little Waitrose at John Lewis in Watford I’m giving you the chance to win a fabulous £150 worth of John Lewis vouchers (which can be spent in any John Lewis, Waitrose and Little Waitrose or online). For your chance to win please see below. Good luck and happy shopping and eating – both at the same time, marvellous!

TO ENTER
To enter please scroll down and leave a comment telling me how you’d spend the vouchers. Of course, if you don’t want to tell me and just want to say “hello” that’s fine – I’m just being a nosey-bones. Either way, you’ll be entered to win.

THE RULES
Entries from the UK only. Just one entry per person. No entries accepted after 5pm (GMT) on August 31st, 2013. The winner will be chosen completely at random and will be announced here on September 1st as well as contacted individually. If the winner doesn’t respond within 5 days then an alternative winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: A big thanks to the John Lewis Partnership for giving me the opportunity to offer these vouchers.

Review: Babasac baby sleeping bag

BBabasac baby sleeping bag

Sleep. Every parent’s favourite topic. My two have always slept somewhere between well and okayish on the dream scale. Ever since they were big enough, they’ve both been buttoned and zipped into sleeping bags with the aim of avoiding the problem of waking up with chilly protruding toes. The bags have lasted for two kids (pat on the back for thrifty mum, pity the boy who sleeps in his sister’s pink sleeping bag) and have served us so well that I’ve never bothered trying new ones. But then came the Babasac baby sleeping bag.

What struck me about the Babasac that led me to risk disturbing my 22-month-old’s pretty sound sleep? For starters, the Babasac is designed by Mama Designs Ltd who are behind (not literally!) the fabulous Mamascarf. When I was looking for a discreet breastfeeding cover, the Mamascarf revolutionised my experience of getting my boobs out in public. Not to undersell the design, but it’s amazing what a simple piece of material can do. Enough of my boobs though and back to the Babasac. To be honest, I wondered how different baby sleeping bags could be. Bag. Zip. Poppers. Obligatory cute animal. Job done.

For me, the exciting new thing about the Babasac is that it is multi-tog. Why take at least four sleeping bags a year to get your child through the first 3 years of their life when you can take half that number? The Babasac can be used either as a lightweight 1 tog bag, or, with its inner panels zipped in, a 2.5 tog vessel of cosiness. I was skeptical that this could be done securely but the neatly covered zips and industrial strength Velcro mean the panels aren’t going to budge. You can’t whip the panels in and out at speed but, quite frankly, if I could I wouldn’t be impressed. At first glance, the price of the bag may make you feel a little light-headed, ranging from £37.99 (0-6 months) to £39.99 (18-36 months), but if you consider that you’re getting two bags for the price of one then it’s a bit of a bargain. (Please don’t put the price up though Mama Designs!)

That’s the clever internal stuff and the price tag but the proof is of course in the wearing. When I first put my toddler into the bag I was a bit surprised to see that the shoulder fixings didn’t have two fittings like most other sleeping bags do. However, my disappointment was offset by discovering the gently elasticated neckline. This design actually seems more comfortable than other bags where the tightest shoulder fitting can seem a bit too snug and the looser fitting leaves a gaping neckline. Another plus point of the Babasac is that the zip around the outside extends beyond the foot end and up the other side by a few inches. My boy’s a wriggler so has an impressive ability to undo the zip with his feet and wail until they’re popped back in again. He hasn’t managed this yet with the Babasac. Nor has he unpopped himself and taken off his pyjamas like a mini-naturist, but time will tell!

The Babasac fabric designs are, if I’m not too old and square to use the word, groovy. Pink hearts, navy stars or green apples – a pleasant change from teddies and zebras and cheeky monkeys. I washed the bag before I used it (for the record it washed up nicely, laundry fans) but was a bit worried that it felt rather stiff. Once it was on though the thickness felt less uncomfortable and more like luxury. My boy was no doubt wondering what cheap rubbish he’s been dressed in for the last two years! The only slight hesitation I have is around the length of the bag. My son is a big lad for 22 months – he’s happy now in the 18-36 month sizing but I can’t see an awful lot of room left if he is to use it until he is 3 years old. A minor point for me as I’ll have moved him into a bed with conventional bedding well before then but something to consider if you have a BLT (Big Long Toddler).

The ultimate test of whether the babe digs the bag (and therefore whether the parents do) is how well they sleep in it. If there’s a sentence that sums up and recommends the Babasac then it’s this: Not a peep from the monitor.

Sleep well!

Thank you to Keira at Mama Designs Ltd who sent this product to me and expected nothing in return other than an objective review. Follow Mama Designs Ltd on Twitter: @MamaDesignsLtd. You can also visit their Facebook page.

Bagging up the baby years

Bagged clothes

Maybe it was the time of year. Maybe it was the day off work with no kids and the associated mountain of guilt. It could have been the duck slip-sliding across the icy pond with the Andrex puppy (if indeed that advert were being shown this year instead of the peculiar mating ritual of two snowpersons). Perhaps it was just plain old hormones. Whatever it was, today I sorted a bag of clothes for charity and it made me cry.

It wasn’t any old bag of stuff. It was a bag of my now 4-year-old daughter’s clothes through from the amazingly poo-stain free baby gros of her first few months to this summer’s t-shirts that, thanks to a recent growth spurt, would quite likely now restrict her breathing and strangle her digestive system. The process of holding up, sniffing, cuddling (was she really that small?) and folding brought the tears a-rolling. And don’t get me started on the pulsating ovaries.

When did she get so flipping big?!
When did she get so flipping big?!

Getting rid of items that hold memories is, of course, never easy. The giving away of your child’s clothes is a process that acknowledges a period in your life that has been lost and will never be regained. As you watch the rapid pace at which they grow and lose their baby features (and, in the case of my 4-year-old, start using teenage expressions such as ‘wicked’ and ‘random’, god help me) you grapple with the urge to slow time down. (Okay, maybe not everyone does – it’s frequently said that the first year with a baby can be quite sh*t and so roll on walking, talking and cow’s milk.) For those of us who have nursery artwork from the year dot bulging out of every cupboard, to hand on those little tights that went with that little dress is to begrudgingly shake the hand of Old Father Time and congratulate him on winning.

But back to the ovaries. (And apologies to those people reading this who know me in ‘real life’ and may not be able to look me in the eye again.) Filling a bag with baby clothes is now, for me, not for storage (as is often the case after your first child) but is (after a second child) for clearing the way for the paraphernalia that school children, teenagers and, ultimately, young adults bring. All that future thinking and the joys to look forward to aside, the fact remains that at some point you draw a line in your life, gently rub your stretch marks and decide to hang up (bingo wings flapping) your maternity tops. Your family is complete.

Bear with me now whilst I’m a touch morose (it’s the end of the world tomorrow apparently so no better a time to plunge into the depths of despair). Major life events – first job, meeting the one you love, marriage (or not), kids – are heavily loaded towards the first half of your life. It is inevitable then that when these are complete you start to wonder whether there is anything to look forward to. Things stop happening to you and they start happening to your children. All whilst your womb slowly withers. Don’t get me wrong, there is an awful lot to enjoy still to come – and retirement is a mere three decades away.

Who would’ve thought that giving baby clothes to charity would spark such a deep pondering of the meaning of life and of the hanging up of the reproductive organs? I’d just have cleaned the bathroom or picked my nose if I’d known.  No wonder I cried. Maybe my brood is now complete – that said, never say never.  Kids’ clothes are cheap to come by and there’s always the charity shop.

 

Buying for baby: the ultimate (short)list

Baby in supermarketApologies to anyone visiting the blog expecting my usual mix of wit (snigger), intellectual banter (guffaw) and insightful opinion (falls off chair laughing). What you will find instead is a list that includes things that you do with your boobs and stuff you pop in your pants. Still here? Well then you must be a parent-to-be.

Over two pregnancies I’ve honed a list of what (I think) should be on every new parent’s shopping list, including what you should pack in the god-like object that is your hospital bag. I’ve cut the crap (you’ll have plenty of that when the tiny pooping machine arrives and who needs a top and tail bowl anyway) leaving what should near-as-damned be the ultimate, honed list of what you really need to buy before a baby arrives. I’d love to say this is a definitive list but babies leave your brain addled and it’s about personal choice (of course) so please do comment, suggest, criticise and share and help this baby continue to grow.

Nursery
Toys / baby gym
Bouncy chair x1
Mobile for cot x1
Moses basket & stand x1
Bath (but don’t bother with a top and tail bowl – really, who uses them?) x1
Changing mat x1
Cot (or cot bed if you’re prone to planning ahead) x1
Monitor x1
Thermometer (for room temperature) x1
Dummies x2
Travel
Buggy x1 (but you may end up trying a few in your time)
Pram blankets and sheets x2
Sling/carrier x1
Sun shades for car windows x2
Car seat (you won’t get out the hospital without it!) x1
Feeding/Changing Note, this allows for bottle or breastfeeding (you can plan this one as much as you like but better be prepared for either/both I say)
Nappy bags
Nursing bras x2+
Breast pads (Lansinoh disposable pads are the best – other brands are available to course but in my experience none are as leak-proof) Boxes of the b*ggers if you end up breastfeeding
Breast pump (electric) x1
Bottles x6 to 8
Teats (slow and med) x6 to 8
Bottle brush x1
Steriliser (electric better than microwave) x1
Changing bag x1
Small insulated bottle bag x1
Bottle/food warmer x1
Bedding – cot
Fitted bottom sheets x3
Flat top sheets x3
Blankets x3
Bedding – moses basket
Fitted bottom sheets x3
Pram blankets x3
Linen – other
Muslins (preferably not white – they’ll end up grey) Lots!
Bath towels x2
Flannels/mitts x2
Clothes
0-3 months (or newborn but 0-3 allows for whoppers)
Vests (bodysuits/short sleeves) x6 to 8
Sleeping bag (1 or 2.5 tog depending on time of year – NB only suitable for babies when over a certain weight) x2
Sleepsuits x6
Day outfits (eg b-gros, dungarees, t-shirts) Oh, never too many and these will come in gift form so don’t go wild before the baby arrives
Cardigans x2 to 3 (you may not need to buy if granny has been knitting …)
Socks x2 to 3 pairs
Mittens x2 pairs (ditto above re granny)
Shawl x2
Hats x2
Jacket (warmer) x1
Bibs x10
Toiletries etc
Baby bubble bath – don’t need to start with but add to stock
Baby nail clippers and scissors
Sudocrem (for bums and all else)
Metanium cream (for bad nappy rash)
Cotton wool balls
Wet wipes (we used ‘sensitive’ wipes – wipes not always recommended for newborns)
Baby lotion
Talc
Hairbrush
Cotton buds
Nipple cream – Lansinoh is the must-have! Other brands available but don’t bother looking in Ann Summers …
Infacol (worth having in case of colic)
Digital thermometer for taking baby’s temp
Calpol (NB can’t use until 3 months + but have it ready)
Hospital bag
FOR YOU
Maternity notes!
Water spray/mist
Socks and/or slippers and/or flip flops 1 pair
Dressing gown
Nursing bras x2
Breast pads Quite a few!
Shower gel, deodorant, make-up, nipple cream etc
Arnica tablets (start taking as soon as you’ve had the baby – eases bruising to your bits!!)
Glucose sweets, eg Lucozade sweets
Phone charger
Something to read
Money
Snacks – eg cereal bars, bananas
Big bottle of water and small cartons of orange juice
Maternity pads (these will take up half your bag!) Large packet
Old cotton pants – don’t bother with the disposable paper pants as they’re undignified and unpleasant! x5
Button through nightdress x2
Change of clothes to go home in
FOR BABY
Newborn nappies Small pack
Teddy (don’t do what I did for my first child and take the teddy out of the bag to make way for more of my own stuff. Selfless, eh?)
Sudocrem
Wet wipes 1 pack
Sleepsuits x4
Cardigans x2
Hats x2
Scratch mitts 2 pairs
Shawl/blanket x1
Going home outfit (what you’d like your baby to first meet the outside world in although the paparazzi are unlikely to be waiting outside) x1
Warm outer clothes depending on time of year
Muslins x6