Review: Nappykind Boutique

Nappykind boutique - Baby leggings and legwarmers
As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, Toby is a cloth bum baby. I’d seen other reviews of baby legwarmers suggesting they are a useful purchase for cloth nappy wearing babies and although I wasn’t convinced they would be that useful, particularly for a baby boy, I was interested to give them a try.

So when the lovely people at Nappykind Boutique offered me the chance to try some out I decided to give them a go. I was given a discount code to order whatever I wanted from the website so I chose the Huggalugs By The Ocean legwarmers and then I couldn’t resist the Cow Jumped Over The Moon leggings. (Both items seemed to have disappeared from the website so I am guessing they are out of stock at the moment.)

The Details

The legwarmers retail at £7.99 which to be honest is a bit expensive – but Nappykind have plenty of their own brand legwarmers from £1.99. The Huggalugs are very good quality though – they are soft and washed very well. Although the legwarmers are one size and sold as fitting ‘babies and kids’, at only 4 months they are quite big on Toby just now. They stay up without any trouble (and without leaving any marks on his skin) but because the cuff at the bottom is loose they to tend to slip over his feet leaving them flapping around. They do look very cute though and Toby seemed happy enough to wear them.

Nappykind boutique - Baby legwarmers

The leggings are what you would expect – there are quite a lot of different styles available, all with cute designs on the bum! I ordered the 6-12 months size as Toby is quite long and his cloth bum takes up a fair bit of room! The leggings are still quite loose but stay on fine and at least they’ve got plenty of room to grow into. I was a little disappointed with the quality of the leggings compared to to legwarmers – the label was quite scratchy and not sewn in properly and there are quite a lot of loose threads on the reverse of the pattern. However at only £3.99 I thought they were reasonably priced. They have held up OK in the wash too.

Nappykind boutique - The Cow Jumped Over The Moon Baby Leggings

The Pros

Both the legwarmers and leggings look very cute and they are useful for putting on around the house – although I can’t really see myself taking Toby out in them. I think though,as he gets more mobile, they should be good as they don’t restrict his movement at all like dungarees or jeans might. There are also none of the problems I have with getting trousers to fit over his big cloth bum!

The Cons

None really – they are definitely more of a ‘nice to have’ rather than essential items. I can see both the legwarmers and leggings being more useful for a little girl. The legwarmers would be a great alternative to tights under a dress, and you would be able to show off the cute bum designs on the leggings under a dress too.

I have to say as well that the legwarmers are sold (not just by Nappykind but all over) as being great for quick nappy changes. But with my wriggly little baby I wouldn’t risk leaving them on during a change as he would be bound to get them dirty as soon as his nappy was undone!

The Verdict

Nappykind Boutique have a great range of legwarmers, leggings and other baby items (hats, shoes, cloth nappies) and they are all very reasonably priced. The only thing that slightly let down the service for me was that my order took two weeks to arrive (to be fair this was due to a supplier issue and they thought I had received an email about it but I hadn’t) and the parcels were sent using second class large letter stamps which would be fine if I hadn’t been charged £3.20 for shipping. Having said all that I believe Nappykind Boutique is run by two university students and is a fairly new business so I’d be happy to buy from them again in future.

**Disclaimer: I received a discount on the purchase of these items in order to write this review and was able to keep them. However, all opinions are my own.

Grabbing toys (The Ordinary Moments #1)

I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs lately and I’ve seen a lot of them linking up with Katie’s {The Ordinary Moments} linky over at Mummy Daddy Me. It seems like a really nice idea to record not just the big milestones but some of the ordinary stuff too.

So here’s my ordinary moments for this week – although actually they’re kind of big moments too!

grabbing toys
I grabbed it!

We got this baby gym when Toby was only about 6 weeks old – at first he didn’t really like it because he couldn’t reach any of the toys. Then he started being able to hit the toys but would get bored quite quickly. A few weeks ago he managed to grab the toys occasionally. This week he is pretty much grabbing toys on his first try and yesterday he not only grabbed one but managed to pull it into his mouth too.

Which leads us on to this one taken this morning…

grabbing toys
I got it in my mouth!

Up until the last few days the only thing Toby has been interested in putting in his mouth is his fingers or sometimes a muslin. Everyone always says babies put everything in their mouths but Toby hasn’t seemed to bothered. But I think it’s starting – for the first time today the teething toy went straight in and he chewed on it for quite a while. Maybe it won’t be too long before we start seeing some teeth!

mummy daddy me

Let the battle commence! (Or ‘Time to shift the baby weight’)

I’ve battled with my weight since my teens. I wrote about it quite a lot on my other blog in my pre-baby days.

My weight issues explained
Up the ladder
And down the snake
The pre-wedding plan

So essentially, before I met the Mr I lost 3 stone with Lighter Life. I then put some of it back on, lost some again in time for our wedding and then put more back on (with the help of a three week honeymoon in America!). And then I got pregnant…

36 weeks pregnant with a lot of baby weight
My massive baby bump

For the first three months of pregnancy I felt sick constantly. I was only actually sick twice so I count myself as one of the lucky ones, but the only way to ease the nausea was to eat. And eat I did. Then the nausea went away but I kept eating. I loved my pregnant body. For the first time in a lot of years I was proud to show off my tummy. But for the first time in years I also ate whatever I wanted without feeling guilty about it. With the result I put on 3 stone over the course of my pregnancy (and I was already a stone over my ‘happy weight’ before I started!). As you can see from the picture I got pretty big – everyone was convinced I was going to have a massive baby but in the end he was only 6lb 10oz.

I lost a stone over night when I gave birth but that was 4 months ago and I still weigh the same now.

I think 4 months is long enough for my ‘I’ve just had a baby, I don’t need to lose weight yet’ rational so the time has come to start doing something about it. It’s time to shift the baby weight. I always say that my problem isn’t what I eat for my meals (apart from the not-so-occasional-lately take-away) but all the chocolate that I eat in between. Being on maternity leave has also seemed to include a lot more cake than before too!

So, here’s the plan. I need a bit of motivation so I’m going to post my progress here each month. I’m not going to go on any crazy diet (I’ve done enough of those in my time) and I’m not going to turn to an organised weight loss group (although I’ve done those before too). I’m just going to be sensible with what I eat and I’ve downloaded the free My Fitness Pal app to keep track of my daily calorie intake and any exercise I do.

So here’s my starting stats:

Weight: 13st 8lb (That actually makes me feel a bit sick to type)

Waist: 37 inches

Hips: 45.5 inches

Bust: 42 inches

Let the battle commence; it’s time to shift the baby weight – wish me luck!

Toby goes to sleep (or not!)

Toby goes to sleep
Nap time

Sleep. That illusive beast that all new parents seem to obsess about. I have to admit, I love my sleep. Before I was a mum it wasn’t unheard of for me to sleep for 12 hours or more (at least at the weekends when I didn’t have to go to work). I can nap pretty much anywhere and any time. Long car journeys or flights are no problem for me – I just sleep. So sleep, or lack of it, was one of the things that worried me most about being a new parent.

In in the early days there definitely was a lot of sleep deprivation…

BUT…

I’m going to get this bit out up front, and if you hate me for it then I totally understand if you don’t carry on reading. Toby is almost 17 weeks old and has been sleeping through the night for the last 5 weeks or so. And when I say he sleeps through the night I mean from about 6:30pm until about 8am (or sometimes even later). No waking up. No dream feeds. Just sleeping. And then he doesn’t even cry when he wakes up. Just lies there sucking his thumb and chilling out until one of us goes to get him up. This is what we are usually greeted by in the morning…

Baby sleep
Morning mum!

To be honest I think most of this is just down to good luck. We did start a bedtime routine of bath, feed, bed quite early on and we moved him into his own room when he was about 6 weeks old which helped us stop disturbing one another. We have always tried to put Toby into his cot awake so he has learnt to go to sleep on his own but apart from that I think we have just been lucky to have a baby who sleeps.

This wasn’t always the case though. Until we got Toby’s reflux under control with the proper medication his feeding and sleeping were all over the place. He wouldn’t feed very much in one go and so needed to be fed every couple of hours day and night. But once he could feed comfortably and take more at each feed he could go longer between feeds and his night time sleep started getting better. We did briefly experiment with a dream feed when we went to bed but then I read The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan** by Alison Scott-Wright which pointed out that waking a baby to feed him when you are trying to get him to sleep is somewhat counter-productive. I know dream feeds work for some people and I’m all for doing whatever works for you but it never seemed to make Toby sleep any longer anyway.

So, however we managed it (or rather Toby managed it!) we have a baby who sleeps fantastically at night. We have our evenings to ourselves and we get a full night’s sleep. And for that I am eternally grateful. But now we need to work on the aspects of Toby’s sleep that aren’t so great…the day time naps.

We do quite a lot of different activities during the week – Baby Sensory on a Monday, Bookbug at the library on Tuesday, swimming on Wednesday, meet another mum for a walk and coffee on Thursday – and this has meant that I haven’t really given Toby any consistency in his day time naps. He sleeps really well in his buggy or in the car but I really struggle to get him to nap for more that half an hour or so at home. Seeing as how his night time sleeping seems pretty sorted (although I am prepared for the fact that we might well go back to square one when teething starts) I’ve decided to try and get some sort of regularity into day time naps. We are starting with a post-lunch nap at about 12pm. My plan is to feed Toby, take him upstairs, clean nappy, curtains closed, into sleeping bag and then hopefully sleep! I was prepared for this to be quite hard work but actually for the last two days the plan has gone like a dream. Yesterday I put Toby down and he slept without any fuss for 90 minutes. As I write this he has been asleep for just over an hour! I’m sure there must be something wrong though – it can’t be this easy! Fingers crossed though that he is just going to accept this new nap and I’ll actually get an hour or two during the day to get stuff done.

So does sleep come easy in your house? Do you have a routine of bedtime and nap times or do you just let your little one take the lead? I don’t want to get into such a rigid routine that we can never go anywhere or do anything but I think I need some structure to the day and Toby needs to be given the best possible chance of sleeping when he needs it.

**I picked this book up in a charity shop and bought it because it has a great chapter about reflux but the sleep advice is pretty common sense and I found it quite useful too.

Bloglovin’

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Well, things have got off to a flying start in the world of Toby Goes Bananas! I’m amazed and delighted by the number of people who have read, commented, liked, followed and all the rest off it. And so the latest addition to the blog is (hopefully) the chance to follow on Bloglovin’ too…that is if I’ve managed to do this right!

Thanks for all the support so far and hopefully here’s to many more posts to come.

Sometimes I cry

I think I’ve cried more in the last year than I’ve ever cried before.

When I was pregnant I cried when I was tired. I cried when I was uncomfortable. I cried at The Biggest Loser and DIY SOS on TV. I cried when the kids at school didn’t do what I told them to (luckily not in front of them). I cried because my hips hurt. I cried before we had the first scan in case something was wrong. I cried because I was worried we wouldn’t know how to look after a baby. I cried because I couldn’t sleep. I even cried after we put a cuddly reindeer in the loft with the Christmas decorations because he was up there on his own! Sometimes I had no idea why I was crying. But I did a lot of crying.

Gabe's sad face

And then Toby was born and I cried some more. I cried because he wouldn’t sleep unless someone was holding him. I cried because breastfeeding was incredibly painful. I cried because I was more tired than I ever thought possible. I cried for the life I used to have and would never have again. I cried because I felt guilty for wanting that life back. I cried when I did a pee and it stung like buggery. I cried because I knew he was suffering but I didn’t know how to help him. I cried because I was so indescribably tired (did I say that already?!). I cried because our baby was so heart-stoppingly beautiful. I cried because he cried and no matter what we tried he wouldn’t stop. I cried because I gave my baby formula. I cried because I had to look after Toby on my own all day. I cried because my husband was feeling like he only saw a grumpy baby for half an hour every day between coming home from work and bedtime and I wished we could all spend more time together. I still cried at The Biggest Loser.

And now? Toby is nearly 4 months old and sometimes I cry. But now there are more days that I don’t cry than days that I do. I’m pretty sure that my experience isn’t that unusual. I don’t think I was suffering from postnatal depression but I declined to fill in the health visitor’s questionnaire so I don’t know, and when anyone asked I told them we were doing fine. I am one of the lucky ones but, bloody hell, being a new parent is hard. I do know that I couldn’t have got through any of it without my amazing husband. Whenever I was crying he would reassure me, listen to me, do anything he could to help. And when he couldn’t help or I didn’t even know why I was crying he would just hold me until the tears stopped. And I know he’ll always be there to hold me whenever I need him to.

So this blog is really for him. To say thank you – I couldn’t do it without you baby.

For anyone who is reading this who has ever felt the way I have, I really hope you too have someone who can give you the support you need.

Starting out with cloth nappies

I had thought about using cloth nappies while I was still pregnant and I did some research. What I found out is that there seems to be a limitless amount of options available in the world of cloth nappies. There are two part nappies, pocket nappies, all in ones, sized nappies, birth to potty nappies not to mention wraps, disposable liners, reusable liners, wet bags, reusable wipes… To be honest, the only scary part about using cloth nappies is making a decision about what kind of nappies to use. Other than that it seemed like a no brainer – cloth nappies are cheaper than using disposables (although there is an initial financial outlay needed), they are better for the environment (even when you take into account production and washing/drying cloth) and they are better for your baby (keeping all the nasty chemicals found in disposables away from your precious little one’s bum!).

Cloth nappies aren't scary

I did decide that having my first baby and dealing with all the new challenges that would bring would be enough to cope with in the first few weeks so we would leave cloth nappies for the first month or so. A lot of the advice I read also suggested trying a few different types of nappies on your baby to see what kind of system works for you before committing to buy a full set of nappies. Obviously this isn’t going to be possible until your baby is actually here! The other thing that put me off starting with cloth nappies was the cost. Cloth is definitely cheaper than disposables in the long run and I was pretty sure I wanted to maximise this cost saving by choosing a birth-to potty nappy. This is a nappy which uses a series of poppers and sometimes velcro to adjust the nappy to fit your baby. However, these nappies are usually very bulky on a small newborn baby. Toby was only 6lb 10oz when he was born and we would probably have had to invest in some specific newborn nappies to use them straight away. However, if I wasn’t already convinced, the amount of nappies that went in our landfill bin in those first few weeks certainly cemented the decision to use cloth nappies in my mind.

So, when Toby was about five weeks old I got some personalised recommendations from The Nappy Lady and ordered two different nappies to try out. There are lots of cloth nappy retailers that will provide you with free, impartial advice to help you choose which nappies to use. Some also offer trial schemes, or you might be able to find a nappy library in your area. Anyway, after trying the nappies during the day for a few days I was really happy with them. I chose my favourites (the Bumgenius Freetime – an all in one nappy for day time, and the Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch with a separate wrap for night time), took the plunge and ordered some more. Toby went into cloth nappies full time at about seven weeks old and it actually makes me very proud to say he hasn’t worn a disposable since. I added a few more nappies to my collection over the next few weeks and now with fourteen day nappies and four night time nappies I have enough to wash every 2-3 days and dry them on the line (if it ever stops raining long enough!) or more usually, hung in the airing cupboard.

I absolutely love our cloth nappies and sing their praises to anyone who will listen! Toby has never had nappy rash, we’ve only ever had two leaks and that was only a tiny damp patch on his trousers because he’d been in the car seat for too long without a nappy change. I love seeing his colourful little bum in his nappies every day and most of all I love that we are not sending hundreds of nappies to landfill every month. We use reusable wipes (the brilliant Cheeky Wipes that I have mentioned before) and washable fleece liners too so everything from Toby’s nappy changes is just washed and is ready to be used again and again and again.

Cloth nappies do seem to be gaining in popularity. I’ve seen quite a few babies wearing them at the various baby groups we go to and there’s been quite a bit of interest from other mums when they see Toby in his. Lots of the blogs I read and people I follow on Twitter are cloth nappy users too (although that could well be due to the fact I tend to find other people who are similar to me when deciding what to read). Judging by the number of nappy retailers you can find online, cloth nappies are certainly big business and as we become more aware of our environment I can only see that they will become even more popular.

There will be more posts to follow about the ins and outs of having a cloth bummed baby (including the all important ‘what do I do with the poo??’) as well as my opinions of the nappies that we have chosen to use. I’m still pretty new to cloth but if you have any questions about using cloth nappies then I will do my best to help. Do you use cloth nappies on your baby? Which are your favourites? Are you considering cloth or could you not even entertain the thought? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts and opinions.

 

 

Halloween Cupcake Recipe

Halloween Cupcake recipeI love to bake but I tend not to unless it is for some sort of event where I can give away most of what I’ve made – otherwise me and the Mr just end up eating the lot ourselves! Halloween isn’t a holiday I’ve ever really gone in for before but it seems I might have to in future with a wee one in the family. So this weekend when we were meeting up with the other babies (and parents) from our antenatal class I took the chance to make some Halloween cupcakes and I thought I’d share my easy cupcake recipe with you.

I’ve got a couple of basic sponge cake recipes that I use but I can never remember them off the top of my head so when I came across this foolproof recipe on Esther Walker’s blog I thought I’d give it a try. (On a side note; Esther is the wife of Giles Coren and I find her blog, Recipe Rifle, which includes not only recipes but also tales of her life with Giles and their two kids, absolutely hilarious. If you haven’t read it then you should).

The cupcake recipe

All you have to do to get the recipe to make either an 7 inch sandwich cake or about 12-14 cupcakes is weigh 2 eggs (I cracked them into a bowl and weighed them but Esther has said in a comment to her original post that you can weigh them in the shells). Whatever your eggs weigh is then the weight you use of butter (I did use butter this time but usually use Stork for baking), caster sugar and self-raising flour. I also added a teaspoon of baking powder and, because I wanted chocolate cakes, about 2 tablespoons of cocoa.

Esther says to ‘make the cakes in the normal way’ – so cream together butter and sugar, add the eggs then fold in the flour. I use a big bowl and an electric hand mixer – whisk the butter and sugar together then just chuck everything else in and give it a good mix. This seems to work fine. I’ve also made sponges just by throwing all the ingredients into a food processor and mixing well. All these methods seem to work so just take your pick really!

I then spooned the mixture into paper cases in a muffin tin (I actually used old-fashioned bun cases rather than the larger cupcake cases – do you remember when we just used to have buns?!). I put about 2 heaped teaspoons of mixture into each case and this made me 14 nicely domed cakes. I put them in the oven at 180 degrees (fan oven) and they took about 16 minutes to cook but I checked them every couple of minutes after they’d been in for 10 minutes. You can tell they’re done when the top starts to crack and they bounce back when pressed gently on top. If you’re making a sandwich cake it will start to come away from the sides of the tin when it’s done and if you really want to be sure a wooden skewer (a cocktail or kebab stick will do) will come out clean when stuck in the centre.

Once out of the oven try and get your cakes out of the tins and onto a cooling rack of some description as soon as you can. Then the important bit, which I have fallen foul of many times in my eagerness for a cake I can eat as soon as possible, is to wait for the cakes to cool completely before attempting any kind of decoration. If you don’t you’ll just end up with your icing or buttercream or whatever melting and sliding off the cake. Another tip is not to put cakes in paper cases into any sort of storage container (particularly plastic) before they are completely cold otherwise the paper cases will detach themselves from the cakes which doesn’t look very attractive.

I also followed Esther’s rather vague recipe for buttercream as this is something I’ve struggled to get right in the past. She recommends using half a packet of butter (125g) and then just adding sieved icing sugar until it is the taste and consistency is what you are looking for. I did find that to get it sugary enough, and not tasting of butter I had to use rather a lot of icing sugar. This in turn made it too stiff so I added a splash of milk to loosen it. I also added about half a teaspoon of vanilla extract just for a bit of taste. As far as colouring the butter cream goes I really wanted bright orange – I used Dr Oetker’s gel food colouring but a whole tube only gave me a very pale hint of orange. I then used a silicone piping bag with a star nozzle. I’m not very good at piping but as Esther says, it’s easier than it looks. Just start at the outside and work your way to the middle. I did cheat a bit with the last bit of decoration and just bought some Halloween wafer things from Tesco! I will add that after I’d put a generous amount of buttercream on each of my 14 cakes there was still quite a lot left, even after copious licking of the spoon! If was was making this again I’d maybe only use 100g of butter and I think there would still be plenty.

So there you go. A bit waffley for a recipe but sometimes I think it helps to have things explained in detail. Next time I write up a recipe I’ll try and take some photos as I go along as I know that can help if you aren’t entirely sure what you are doing.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Babies

Toby goes to the library

We’re lucky that our local library is only a 10 minute walk away (although I must confess I hadn’t been there until Toby was born). There is a great children’s area in the library and the first time I went they said ‘don’t worry, we don’t shush here!’. They also run a weekly Bookbug Baby Rhymetime session which is half an hour of songs with 5 minutes in the middle to look at a book. Bookbug is a scheme run by the Scottish Book Trust which includes sessions in libraries, a library challenge (Toby has already got his first sticker for taking out some books!) and free books for all children in Scotland. There are four Bookbug packs which are given out and Toby should be getting his first one soon.

I think the library sessions are a great idea – and evidently so do lots of other people as there was a waiting list to get in the group! We went to our second session today; I think Toby was probably the youngest baby out of the 15 or so that were there but they all really seemed to be enjoying themselves. We do quite a lot of different activities during the week with Toby but only because we are lucky enough to be able to pay for them, so it’s good that there is something available locally for babies (and mums and dads) which is completely free. Added to which getting kids interested in reading as early as possible can only be a good thing.

Toby might have been the youngest baby at the session this morning but he’s getting so big now. At the weekend I cleared out all the 0-3 month clothes and got out all his 3-6 month ones. Everything was a bit on the small side but also I was just getting a bit bored of the same clothes so now we’ve got a whole new wardrobe of clothes to choose from every morning! So here’s Toby today – looking particularly autumnal I think…

Toby goes to the library