Monday, 29 August 2011

The Natural Store - Beaming Baby Organic Starter Pack


This week The Pickle and I have been testing out the Beaming Baby Organic Starter Pack from The Natural Store. 

The pack contains Organic Wipes, Bubble Bath, Shampoo Bodywash and Baby Lotion.  I love the packaging for the set.  The bottles are made from brightly coloured recycled plastic and can be recycled again.  The outer packaging is just plain and simple cardboard (which is compostable and will degrade within 25 weeks) but looks very stylish and would make a lovely gift for a new baby.
If you are a regular reader of my blog you will already know I prefer to use baby products which don’t contain harsh chemicals and potential irritants.  So looking on the back of the pack of wipes I was happy to recognise all the ingredients and they do not contain alcohol, parabens, SLS or chlorine.  The lotion in the wipes contains over 95% organic ingredients and the fabric for the wipes themselves comes from sustainable forests.  The wipes are flushable and 100% biodegradable.  Each pack contains 70ml of organic Aloe Vera which soothes and moisturises baby’s skin. 


The wipes are fairly thick and strong, they don’t rip easily.  They don’t have an overpowering scent, just nice and natural.  They clean up mess just as well as leading brand wipes and I also find them useful for removing make up as I have sensitive and dry skin so the Aloe Vera is very moisturising and refreshing.  Luckily The Pickle has never had a problem with nappy rash, but I’m sure these wipes would be quite soothing for babies who do.

After The Pickle got very messy eating his dinner one evening I decided it would be a good opportunity to test the bath time products and see just how good they were!  
(Before...)

I poured a little of the Organic Bubble Bath into the warm running water.  It had a very subtle scent and foamed slightly but not as much as other brands (due to it not containing the chemical foaming agent SLS).  What it does contain is over 70% organic ingredients, including Aloe Vera and Orange Blossom.

I washed The Pickle’s hair and body with the Organic Shampoo Bodywash.  Again, this has a subtle scent, contains Aloe Vera and Orange Blossom and no chemical ‘nasties’.  After a few minutes The Pickle was squeaky clean again and almost ready for bed time!

It’s never an easy task applying any sort of moisturising lotion or oil to The Pickle as he is a very wriggly baby and does not like to lie still for long!  The flip-top cap on the Organic Baby Lotion does help to make this task a little less difficult.  It is also quite light and absorbs into the skin easily.  Once again, the scent is not at all overpowering and it contains over 90% organic ingredients. 
(...After!)

I was also sent a Beaming Baby Bio-degradable scented nappy to try.  The packaging states that these nappies are designed to last up to 12 hours, so I thought I’d try this overnight as The Pickle usually sleeps through (and I generally use reusable nappies during the day anyway).  The Beaming Baby nappies contain 30% less chemicals than standard nappies and have added chamomile to protect baby’s delicate skin.  The nappy appeared to be of good quality and reasonably soft compared to other brands I have used.  I am pleased to report the nappy did make it through the night, it was reasonably heavy in the morning but it had not leaked and The Pickle’s skin did not appear irritated at all.  I honestly didn’t expect the nappy to get through the night leak-free as we have tried many different types of reusables and disposables and only found one of the leading brands to get through the night (The Pickle does wee for England!) so I was very impressed with these.

The Organic Starter Set is £14.49 and a pack of 38 nappies is £7.99 from www.thenaturalstore.co.uk  and they also offer a free nappy sample to try before you buy!  It’s a lovely website selling all kinds of lovely ethical items and definately worth a browse.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Rockabye-Baby


The Pickle has been sent a very cool little T-shirt from Rockabye-Baby for me to review.  
Rockabye-Baby clothing was established in 2006 by Emma Parkes-McQueen as an alternative to ‘mainstream cute’.  It is an ethical company which enables flexible working for mothers, including proper wages and cake breaks (sounds like my kind of company!)

The T-shirt arrived in possibly the best packaging I have ever seen – a 10” record sleeve, making it an ideal gift.
The first thing I noticed about the T-shirt was the quality and thickness of the fabric, which looks like it could withstand a fair amount of toddler wear and tear!   It is made from 100% luxury cotton and the inks used are PVC free, so there are no ‘nasties’ next to baby’s skin.

The washing instructions are on a sticker rather than on a label, so there is nothing to rub and irritate little one’s skin.  The only problem is having to remember to always wash it on a 30 degree wash, but I usually wash at this temperature anyway, unless something has been left in the washing basket for a few days with food firmly stuck to it!  The T-shirt has now been through the wash a couple of times and is still just as soft as when it arrived.

I found the sizing quite generous.  The Pickle is almost 11 months old now and weighs 22lbs but there is plenty of room in the 9-12 months tee.

I like the Rockabye-Baby range as it is cute but a little bit different.  The designs are bright and bold and not something you would normally find when shopping for baby clothing.  As well as the T-shirt featured here I also love the ‘A is for Anarchy’ design and there are also some gorgeous girly items and frilly over-nappy pants.

Although the items from Rockabye-Baby are a little pricey, you really do get what you pay for.  There is a huge difference in quality between this and an item from a cheaper brand.  Although I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy all The Pickle’s clothing from here, I will definitely buy one or two special outfits and will also keep it in mind for buying gifts.
The ‘Mum Dad Tattoo’ tee is £16.99 from www.rockabye-baby.com along with a whole range of other ‘cute but cool’ designs and no pastel colours or teddy motifs in sight!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Toys Don't Have To Cost The Earth


It always amuses me when a young child is given an expensive present and they are more interested in the ribbon / tissue paper / box it came in.

There are so many plastic baby toys in the shops but babies can actually find these quite boring and prefer things which are interesting to touch and look at.  Plastic toys don’t stimulate a baby’s senses in the same way everyday objects do, because plastic toys all smell, taste and feel the same. 

Treasure baskets
‘Treasure baskets’ are baskets or boxes you can put together full of interesting household objects for baby to explore (wooden spoon, pine cone, leather wallet, ribbons, etc).   Obviously babies should not be left unsupervised with anything which is not meant to be a toy, but they should be allowed to explore the objects without being shown what they should do with them or which object they should pick up next, as the idea of treasure baskets is to let the baby make their own choices.  Make sure everything is clean and nothing is broken or small enough to choke on and sit close by so you can step in if you need to.
Interestingly, the only thing The Pickle didn't try to eat was the apple!!

Recycled ‘junk’ toys

I made these ‘toys’ from empty pots of Plum baby food and stuck in photos of family members and pets.  Again, we would never leave The Pickle unsupervised with these but he loves them.  He bangs them together, looks at the pictures, stacks them inside each other, puts things in them and takes them out again… hours of fun, a way of recycling the pots and it didn’t cost a thing!

We have recently made a dolls house out of an old bookcase for The Princess’ 6th birthday present.  Again, we’ve recycled things we no longer need, bought second hand furniture from ebay, made cushions, tablecloth and curtains from an old duvet cover and we cut out and laminated pictures from magazines to put on the walls.  It hardly cost us anything to make but she absolutely loves it!

Other Recycled Toys and Keepsakes

The Natural Store (www.thenaturalstore.co.uk) sell some fantastic playhouses made from recycled and recyclable cardboard.  I love the Paperpod Rocket and the Toy Fort.

Keepsake Critters (www.keepsakecritters.co.uk) will transform your favourite baby clothes into cute creatures, while Funky Bubz (www.facebook.com/FunkyBubz) can turn the clothes into gorgeous patchwork blankets.

These are just a few ideas that could save you a few pennies, help to save the environment, and keep your little ones amused!

Friday, 12 August 2011

My Guide to Reusable Nappies

Reusables vs Disposables

Disposable nappies are without a doubt easier to use and less hassle, but reusables are obviously better for the environment and can save you a lot of money in the long run.  Some councils offer incentives/ cashback schemes for using cloth nappies (unfortunately ours doesn’t!)  Approximately 3 billion disposable nappies are thrown away every year in the UK. 

I haven’t yet found a reusable nappy that will last through the night (no matter how many inserts and boosters I include) as The Pickle wees for England!!  So at night (and on long journeys, etc) we use Pampers Simply Dry, which have been the best disposables we've tried so far. 

Washing the nappies

Some brands, such as Bambino Mio, suggest soaking the nappies in a nappy bucket with some nappy cleanser, such as Bambino Mio’s ‘Mio Fresh’ powder before washing.  Other brands, such as Fuzzi Bunz suggest storing in a dry nappy bucket until washing.  If you do this it is a good idea to put a few drops of a nice smelling oil, such as lavender, onto a muslin and put this on top of the nappies so you don’t let out any nasty smells when you open the lid!  Nappies can usually be washed at 40 degrees with a normal powder such as Fairy non bio, but never use fabric conditioner as this can affect the absorbency of the nappies.  The Pickle gets through around 6 nappies a day, so I have 12 and wash them every other day.  I dry them on an airer and they are usually dry within 24 hours, but most brands can be tumble dried and an occasional 10 minutes in the drier keeps them nice and soft.  

Which nappies?

Here are four brands tried and tested by my little boy!

Bambino Mio (my rating 3/5)

Mionappies from £12.99 per pack, Miosoft covers from £9.85 per cover at www.bambinomioshop.co.uk

I used Bambino Mio Prefold ‘Mionappies’ and covers soon after The Pickle was born.  The nappy itself is a square, made up of layers of cotton, which you fold and place inside the cover.  The covers are elasticated at the legs and fasten at the waist with velcro.

Pros:  The covers come in a range of bright designs, and because it is a 2 part nappy you can just change the insert unless the cover itself is soiled.

Cons:  They are quite bulky on a newborn and unfortunately we had quite a few leaks.


Kushies Ultra (my rating 3/5)

Trial Pack of 3 £24.99 at www.thebabycatalogue.com

These are an ‘all in one’ nappy with 5 layers of cotton, plus an added soaker, and a waterproof outer.  They have adjustable hook and loop (like velcro) fastenings for a snug fit around the waist.   

Pros: As easy to put on as a disposable, ideal for when you’re out and about.

Cons: We had a few leaks as they didn’t fit very snugly around the legs.  They were quite bulky but there is now an ‘Ultra-Lite’ version available.


Tots Bots Easyfit (my rating 4/5)

Easyfits from £14.99 per nappy at www.totsbots.com

An ‘all in one’ one-size nappy with waterproof outer, elasticated legs and waist and aplix (velcro style) fastening.  Slim fitting design.

Pros:  Great designs and colours, soft, very lightweight, one size fits from birth to potty.

Cons:  Had a couple of leaks.


Fuzzi Bunz Perfect Size (my rating 5/5)

Perfect Size nappies, £12.99 each at www.twinkleontheweb.co.uk

I have recently discovered these nappies and have to say I am very impressed with them.  They are a ‘pocket’ nappy with a soft fleecy inner, a pocket to place the nappy insert, and a soft PL outer.  They fasten with poppers.

Pros:  We have only had one or two small leaks when I haven’t fastened them tightly enough.  They are soft, fairly lightweight, they wash easily and dry quickly.  They are a good fit.  They come in a range of brights and pastel colours.

Cons:  The designs aren’t quite as funky as the Tots Bots, but they are by far the best reusable nappies I’ve tried.

Although I love the Fuzzi Bunz nappies, I am finding it increasingly difficult to get The Pickle to lie down to have his nappies changed and he often tries to crawl off dragging the half fastened nappy behind him!  So I am on the look out for a ‘pull up’ style reusable nappy but can’t seem to find them anywhere.  The Pickle is only 10 months old and is way off potty training yet so I don’t need training pants, I need pull ups which have the same level of absorbency as a nappy...  If anyone knows where I can find these please do let me know!!


Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Pickle is mobile... and into everything!

The Pickle has now been crawling and pulling himself up on furniture/my legs/the cats for a couple of weeks.  These are just a few of the fun things he has discovered so far....
Curtains....
Stairs...
DVDs...
Cards... 
Cats...
Underneath the table...
The computer...
The TV (he loves Rhianna)...
The remote (and anything else you place "out of reach") on top of the TV...
Wellies (luckily all shiny new ones!)...
...and his big sister!!




Monday, 1 August 2011

BabyBjörn Cup

The Pickle and I have had lots of fun testing the new BabyBjörn Cup this week!

The BabyBjörn Cup is designed to stand firmly and be hard to knock over, making it the ideal first ‘real’ cup for baby.  It has a wide base and low centre of gravity, so when it gets knocked it should simply slide rather than tip over.  It is also designed to be easy to grip and is dishwasher and microwave safe.  It can hold up to 100ml of liquid and is made from recyclable plastic which is BPA free.
We have removed the lid from The Pickle’s beakers before to allow him to drink from a ‘normal’ cup, but we have never allowed him to hold it by himself as he has a habit of shaking his beakers up and down when bored!  So, I’ll be honest, I was a little worried about the inevitable mess I’d be left to clean up whilst trying the BabyBjörn Cup.


That said, I am not a fan of most non-spill beakers either as I lose the valves in the sink, they are fiddly to put back together and I usually forget to put the valve back in the cup and the juice goes everywhere anyway!  I hadn’t really got anything to lose, so we gave the BabyBjörn Cup a go.

First of all, I made sure anything valuable was well away from the testing area!  I decided to pour a little bit of water into the cup, rather than juice or milk, for the first try.

As soon as I put the cup down on The Pickle’s highchair tray he picked it up and tipped the water out and ended up with a really fun tray of water to play with!  This was repeated a few times before I held the cup up to his mouth so he knew it was to drink from.  This was more successful and much less messy!

We persevered and despite the changes of clothes we got through, he eventually learnt to pick the cup up and drink from it by himself … for a second, before shaking it, chewing it, banging it on the highchair, waving it through the air and blowing raspberries into it! 

The cup can also be used to hold snacks, such as cucumber sticks, which we tried but, of course, The Pickle just wanted to tip out the contents!

Here is what The Pickle thought…
"First things first, does this new cup break when I throw it.....?"
"Nope!  It didn't break, but that was fun!"
"Right, let's have a look at this wide base then... very good, yep, tastes nice"
"Not sure why Mummy put water in my new toy... better just check I've got it all out..."
"Look Mummy!  Is this what I'm supposed to do with it?!  Well why didn't you just say so!"

Although it states this cup can be used from 8 months, at 10 months The Pickle is definitely not ready for a cup without a lid!  However, all babies develop at their own pace and some will be ready sooner than others.  I can definitely see the appeal of this cup for a toddler.  The Pickle has found it easy to hold and lift, he just needs a bit (a lot!) of practise until he is able to drink from it by himself.   Another good thing about the cup is that it only holds 100ml of liquid, which isn’t that much to clear up if it spills - and of course it will from time to time.  You have to expect a few spillages when transferring from a beaker to a cup.  I will continue to use the BabyBjörn Cup with him, to encourage him to drink from a real cup, but I don’t think he’ll be using it properly for a little while yet.

The cup is designed to slide, rather than tip over, if knocked.  I have tested this and it works.  The only problem is that it’s not likely to get knocked over by The Pickle, it’s more likely to be thrown!  However, it is made of very strong and durable material that looks like it could withstand a fair few games and tantrums!

The BabyBjörn Cup is available in 4 colours, to match the rest of the BabyBjörn Kitchen range.  See www.babybjorn.co.uk for more details.