Review: Water Babies Chapter 2

Water Babies is the HIGHLIGHT of our week, honestly – Violet just loves it. Well, she is a pisces so I knew she’d have an affinity for water, but I didn’t realise she would show it at such a young age! Chapter 2 is over now, so it’s time to look back on our Water babies journey so far.

So, firstly- if you are thinking of signing your little one up for baby swimming classes, read my review of Water Babies Chapter 1, as thats where you’ll start and that post has all the information you’ll need as an introduction to baby swimming.  We have also done the Water babies Underwater photo shoot, so here is our video on how the shoot is done and a peek at our photos!

So, onto Chapter 2! Excuse the slightly graining photo photos in this post, we took my Olympus Pen to take photos for the Chapter 1 review and the humidity in the pool actually stopped it working for a few days, luckily, it recovered but as you can imagine I didn’t want to risk it this time! 😊

I think the first thing I realised about Chapter 2 is just how quickly your little ones will start to progress with their learning. Chapter 1 was all about easing them into the water and getting them used to a few safety skills and little dips underwater. Chapter 2 feels like you’ve cranked the gears up a notch (or five!) so you need to prepare yourself for much more fast paced, in depth learning. I also found Violet was a bit older so was so much more aware of her surroundings and what we were doing than in Chapter 1 which made it so much more fun too!

Over the break between Chapters 1 and 2, she changed so much. She learned to splash her hands in the water, meaning every lesson I’d be trying to listen to the instructions with water being splashed in my face from beginning to end, plus she’d kick her arms and legs in excitement at the toys and activities –  after the first lesson the mascara had to go as I soon resembled a panda. Gone were the days of gentle movements round the pool, I learned this was going to be much more full on!

As the entire Water Babies journey is a continuous progressive way of learning, we  continued with the same format to the lessons as in Chapter 1 so it was really familiar for the little ones, with songs they’d recognise like Splish Splash, Humpty Dumpty and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but in between the ‘old classics’ we’d add in brand new safety skills and build upon them every week.

The new skills in Chapter 2 come thick and fast, but our teacher like always was excellent at watching to see if the little ones were keeping up and getting on well with each skill, I think that is what puts my mind at rest with Water Babies is that even though it’s a shared class, it still feels so personal and you get quite a bit of 1-on-1 time especially during brand new skills and underwaters to check all is going well for everyone.

Some of the new skills included in Chapter 2 were introduction the ‘Bubba’ float, which doubled up as an awesome surf board, which Violet loved gliding on through the waves on. We did a ‘Ring of Roses’ swim which involves going straight down under the water and also finished the term swimming through a hoop! We also built upon lots of safety skills like getting them to hold onto the side more independently and even an ’emergency’ underwater which in theory would be is they were to fall into the pool, they’d know to kick to the surface and turn to hold onto the rail. This is just some of the activities, there were lots of things like ‘chase the fishy’, blowing bubbles and more which Violet loved too.

All in all, we have loved Chapter 2 even more than Chapter one, Violet was just so more knowing and aware, her excitement when we reach the pool is a picture, there are smiles for the entire session, she is just in her element, plus I feel so much better about taking Violet near water after our lessons. It’s amazing really that at such a young age they can learn such important skills, but I’m so glad we are, should the worst (shudder) happen.

Roll on Chapter 3! 

We go to Water Babies lessons in Brighton & Hove which if you are local I’d highly recommend, to see their latest lesson schedule or to sign up, see their Facebook here! If you aren’t in Brighton, they do have lessons all round the country too!

The Teddy Bears Tea Party

Watching Violet grow and learn has got to be one of the best things about being a parent. Every time she reaches a new milestone or learns a new skill, I just burst with pride. This morning, I went into her room to collect her from her cot, I could see she was awake on the monitor but she was playing and singing to herself, patiently waiting for her day to start. When I came into the room she greeted me with a huge smile and clapped her hands! She’s been trying so hard to clap for ages but seems to have suddenly mastered it overnight! It must have been the first thing she wanted to show me when she woke up. You never know what each day will bring with their development, it feels like she’s changing every day at the moment!

One of her very favourite things to do is imaginary play with her teddies. As Violet is my first baby, I didn’t really know when babies would start imaginary play, I assumed it would be slightly older but Violet seems to be starting now so I want to encourage her every step of the way.

Her favourite game at the moment is the ‘Teddy Bears Tea Party’. She recently got this beautiful personalised wooden toy pram, which she’s filled with a selection of her favourite cuddly toys. During the day, she will just disappear off into her bedroom on her own (obviously I’m close behind her, but I let her explore). I will usually find her sitting on the floor with her pram, surrounded by teddies. She will hold each one up to eye level and has a full ‘conversation’ with each one. She can’t talk yet but she babbles away. She even waves at them and strokes them. Honestly, it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen!

When the teddies have had enough tea and a catch up with Violet, she’ll pop them all back into her pram and take them for a walk around the house. The pram has been such a perfect toy for her age as it’s sturdy enough for her to pull up on and steady herself, she also uses it as a walker, pushing it about with all her teddies on board. It’s the sort of classic toy that will grow with her over time, when she’s a bit bigger I’m sure we’ll get her a doll to look after and push around too.

They say that encouraging your little ones to take part in imaginary play helps them to create new connections in their brain, it helps them to think and learn, improve communication skills and build on their physical development too, so it’s best to start as early as possible!

Our wooden pram was ordered online from Babyuniquecorn  – they specialise in beautiful and unique baby clothes and toys. The wooden prams are handmade with so much care and attention to detail. Plus, it’s classic and chic appearance looks gorgeous in Violet’s nursery too! Check them out on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration from their fabulous range!

Review: Cosatto Noodle Supa Highchair

Whilst we are on the subject of weaning (did you see my las post, is Violet a FUSSY EATER?!) – I thought it would be fitting to write a little review of our super cute highchair as I’m always getting people asking me where it’s from and I am a little bit in love with it. Do they do this in my size? I’d love a unicorn chair, wouldn’t you? If you are thinking of getting a highchair for your little one –  this post will be the the complete low-down and all you need to know on our Magical Unicorn Throne, which is actually a Cosatto Noodle Supa Highchair, and never fear – if unicorns aren’t your thing, it does come in lots of lovely other designs too, so do keep reading!

As a first time Mum – I didn’t really know what to look for in a highchair, so I was going into this a little blind. I’d love to say I chose this highchair for the functionality, but I’d be lying. I admit – the gorgeous pink unicorn print, glitter tray and mint green detail were the main draw, although being a huge fan of Cosatto after having such a great experience with our Giggle 2 Travel System meant I knew they were a brand I could trust, so this gave me confidence to try one of their highchairs too.

So, although I’ve only actually tried one highchair at home, Violet’s been weaning nearly 5 months, which has given us lots of time to try using various highchairs in restaurants, cafes and at friends houses too, so hopefully I’ll have enough ‘highchair experience’ to give this a well rounded review.

IMPORTANT FACTS:

  • Suitable from 6 months to around 3 years – so plenty of time to get the most use out of it!
  • Grows with your little one – 6 height position adjustable seat
  • Adjustable calf support
  • 2 single-hand removable, washable trays with cup holder
  • Slide up-to-table mode so little one can join you for dinner
  • 3 position seat recline
  • Easy to use compact fold
  • Wipe clean seat which is removable for deep cleans
  • 5 point safety harness

ASSEMBLY

When our highchair arrived, I was at home on my own with Violet but being too impatient to wait for V to get home, I decided to give putting it together a go. I’ll tell you now, I am NOT technical and I have a track record for failing at putting together Ikea flatpack furniture, so I didn’t know how it was going to go, but I managed to get it together in about 20 minutes, thats whilst looking after an inquisitive baby who wanted to ‘help’ too. I’m sure a technical person could do it in 5 minutes, that was pretty good going for me.

USING THE HIGHCHAIR

We started using this highchair from when Violet had only just turned 6 months, so at that point although she was sitting up okay, she still needed a bit of support, so having the different height settings as well as three recline settings and leg support was perfect to keep her nice and snug. The 5 point harness is the same sort of buckle as her travel system has so luckily we were all practiced in getting those done up. If you aren’t familiar, they can be a little fiddly but you’ll get used to it! The tray table also has three different settings so you can have it closer or further away to your little one. I love how many different variables in height and seating positions there are as it really does suit babies of all sizes (over 6 months) and abilities and will grow with them over time.

Once Violet is in, she feels safe and secure, when I bring her lunch over she squeals with excitement and thrashes her arms and legs about – but her seat doesn’t budge and she certainly couldn’t wriggle free. We use it on the highest setting, mainly to keep her dinner away from a greedy black lab, but it’s also perfect height for sitting with us at the dining room table.

Now Violet is 10 months, I’ve reclined the seat slightly and lowered the leg rest to give her a bit more room as she’s able to support herself well now.

CLEANING UP

Weaning is mucky business, especially just recently as Violet has started to refuse the spoon, so will literally fling food round her table, across her face – even at the walls! Luckily, I have the floor clean-up covered as Robbie doesn’t miss a crumb (handy) but getting the highchair cleaned is down to me. With three meals a day, cleaning a highchair over and over can get a bit wearing but the Noodle Supa has a fully wipe-clean surface which makes it so much easier! The only downside I’d say for the clean up is that there are SO many nooks and crannies and the straps can get a bit grubby. It’s hard to find every last bit of food unless you take the cover off and give it a really good scrub. I tend to give it a wipe over for each meal then a proper clean after dinner, that tends to save a bit of time on the cleaning front.

STORAGE

As beautiful as the Noodle Supa Highchair is, I wouldn’t say it’s the smallest highchair. This isn’t too much of a problem for us, as it does fold up and tuck into a corner by our dining room table, but I’d say if you lived in a very small space, you might find it a bit larger than other highchairs out there. It’s also a bit clunky if you are trying to set it up one-handed, holding a baby, but I don’t find this too much of an issue when I’m at home on my own with Violet as usually I’ll get it set up way before her meal times so I don’t have a baby/highchair battle on my hands! I think personally, even though it’s slightly bigger, I prefer that as it feels nice and secure so this isn’t an issue for us.

PRICING

The Cosatto Noodle Supa is priced at £119.00, which means it’s certainly not the cheapest highchair on the market, but I think it’s worth that price and a good investment to have a safe, secure highchair that will grow with your child until they are around 3 years old. That is a LOT of meal times so you’ll certainly get your moneys worth, when cheaper models may not last the long run. I also love, love, LOVE the designs of Cosatto products. They pride themselves on being unique, vibrant and different and this highchair certainly stands out, this made it also worth it for us.

Overall, I would 100% recommend the Cosatto Noodle Supa highchair. It’s safe, secure, grows with your little one and relatively easy to clean up, but most importantly – it’s pink, it’s sparkly and it’s covered in UNICORNS, yes that is the best bit, I’m not ashamed to admit. Don’t worry, if unicorns aren’t your thing it also comes in other vibrant patterns like Poppidelic, Kokeshi Smile, Egg and Spoon, Monster Arcade, Melondrop, Mini Mermaids, Retro Stars – just to name a few! There is a design for everyone! Highly recommended.

For more information or to buy, see the Cosatto website here.

Review: Summer Infant Pop n’ Play Deluxe Playpen

People often ask me how I manage to work from home whilst looking after Violet. My blog is not just a hobby, but it’s actually my business that has supported us throughout my maternity leave, so finding time to fit work into my day is essential. Until about 2 months ago, fitting my work into my day was a piece of cake. Violet would happily lay or sit on the same spot an play with her toys, allowing me to get all the stuff I needed to get done, but as soon as she was able to crawl – all of that went out of the window! She’s still loves to play independently but when a little curious baby is on the move, you can’t take your eyes off them for two seconds! This didn’t just impact my work from home, but even the simplest things like going to the loo, answering the door or doing the washing up were suddenly tricky – Honestly, you need to have eyes in the back of your head!

So, after a few weeks of running about after Violet – usually with my daily mantra of ‘No, don’t eat the dog toys’, ‘no Violet, don’t chew wires’ and ‘get out the fireplace’ and also not getting much done at all – I decided it was time to make Violet a safe space, she’d be able to play with her toys and give me piece of mind that I can do what I need to do during the day as well.

As we live in a small house, we decided the Summer Infant Pop n’ Play Deluxe Playpen would be the right option for us, based on the fact it literally ‘pops’ up and down so easily, meaning it doesn’t take too much space.

The playpen is stored in a travel bag, this is particularly useful if you plan to use this in different locations or take the playpen on trips away – plus, it does come with an optional UV canopy (at an additional cost), so it’s great for using in summer for picnics, on the beach or in the garden too.

It’s super easy to put up – it comes fully assembled, so you just just expand it to it’s full size and pull the strap over each corner. It’s as easy as that, this locks the frame into place and makes the entire structure really sturdy. I am not the best at following instructions or assembling anything, but this one only took me about 2 minutes to figure out the first time, so it must be simple.

The Pop n’ Play Deluxe offers a large playspace (1.3m square to be precise) which is plenty of room to allow Violet to crawl about and play with different toys. Now she’s standing it’s also plenty of room to put bigger toys like her walker or activity tree to pull up on. She can pull up on the sides but they are nice and high so she wouldn’t be able to reach the top or pull the pen over by pushing on one side.

Inside the pen, there is a padded, water-resistant mat, which detaches for easy cleaning.

The sides are soft mesh, which is perfect as you can see your little one from all angles, they can also see out so they don’t feel trapped in or apart from you.

The playpen has two handy pockets, I usually keep wipes and a toy, or Violet’s snacks to I can easily access them.

Overall, we are really pleased with the Summer Infant Pop n’ Play Deluxe Playpen, it’s really been a godsend for knowing that Violet is safe in her own space, which allows me to get on and do the jobs I need to do around the house or work on my blog. I always keep things interesting by adding new toys, sensory baskets, flashing lights or musical instruments so Violet has something new to discover and learn during her time in the playpen. I never put her in her playpen for long periods of time, just enough to do the little jobs I need to do, and I’m always close by when she’s in the pen too.

I think there is often a lot of stigma around using playpens, but parents shouldn’t feel guilty for needing that 5 minutes space from their baby – there is still so much to do as a parent – housework, cooking, cleaning or work (if you work from home)….or honestly, just to have 5 minutes to enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake is ok too.  As much as I thought I’d be the ideal picture of a mother, singing nursery rhymes, reading and making Pinterest-worthy sensory activities ALL THE TIME – it’s just not realistic as there is so much more in your day that you need to do, you can’t be expected to entertain your child 24/7 and I’m okay with that.

You can order the Summer Infant Pop n’ Play Deluxe Playpen here – priced at £69.99

The Shop Small Guide – Brighton

Sponsored post in association with American Express®

Oh beautiful Brighton! A city that I have lived in since I was just 18 years old and although I moved away a couple of times, it just kept drawing me back. There is no place quite like it. One of the most colourful, diverse and vibrant cities in the UK – there is always something new to surprise me around every corner.

One of the things I love the most about Brighton is the shopping, especially going to the one-of-a-kind North Laine and The Lanes areas of town to explore some of the smaller, independent shops that the city boasts. The amount of small shops in Brighton is vast, plus the selection we have is so unique too. If you need anything from vintage clothing to an inflatable flamingo – you’ll find it here and more!

This Saturday is Small Business Saturday, a day when people across the country are encouraged to get out and support local small businesses. So, with my love of shopping in my hometown and supporting local businesses, I recently teamed up with American Express to show you how I like to shop small in Brighton not just on Small Business Saturday but all year round. To help inspire you to explore new areas, I have put together my favourite routes through the cobbled lanes of Brighton – visiting wonderful small shops, exquisite restaurants, and taking in some of the beautiful sights you can see along the way in my vibrant and colourful hometown.

BRIGHTON PIER

No trip to Brighton is complete without a trip to Brighton’s iconic Pier. A brisk stroll is the perfect way to start your day, with an ice cream in hand, whatever the weather. Try your luck on the grabber machines or brave the rollercoaster rides. Take a look back at Brighton’s beautiful skyline and get a glimpse of the city before you head out to the shops.

CHOCCYWOCCYDOODAH

Choccywoccydoodah is quintessentially Brighton, an internationally famous chocolatier and cake shop creating the most outstanding, creative chocolate and cakes you’ve ever seen. The window display is something to be marvelled at, a tourist attraction in itself. There is a cafe upstairs in ‘the secret room’ that serves one of the best hot chocolates in town. My top recommendation would be their layered chocolate bar, which is so thick you have to break it with a knife!

42 JUICE

Brighton’s 100% Organic and Raw Juice Bar 42 Juice is the perfect pitstop to rejuvenate and hydrate. They serve the freshest ingredients that pack a nutritious punch to boost your health and wellbeing. The bright and airy space is ideal for watching the world go by and an absolute Instagram dream. The “I am GLOWING” smoothie is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted and I could literally feel the goodness flowing through my system.

PAVILION GARDENS

The Royal Pavilion is an exotic palace in the centre of Brighton with a colourful history. Built as a seaside palace for King George IV, it’s certainly unique in its architecture – seamlessly mixing regency grandeur with Far Eastern styles from India and China. The Pavilion Gardens is a tranquil hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. The perfect spot for a picnic, you can take a few moments under a tree to relax and unwind away from it all. Beautifully maintained throughout the year, the garden hosts the same plants as it would have done in the 1820’s. The Pavilion Gardens is the perfect spot to catch local musicians and amateur dramatic performances too

CHILLI PICKLE

Chilli Pickle is a nationally acclaimed Indian restaurant, passionate about Indian culture, local produce and traditional methods. Their unique take on dishes stand out from anything I’ve ever tried before – it’s got to be one of the best Indian restaurants in Brighton! You have got to try their Grand Thali for lunch, washed down with a mango lassi – my favourite!

LITTLE BEACH BOUTIQUE

Brighton is bursting at the seams with talented creatives, and the little beach boutique is one of the best places to shop locally sourced gifts and handmade items! The shop has a real eclectic mix of items, from handmade jewellery, to children’s slippers – there is something for everyone. The owner Suzanne also creates stunning glassware with a Brighton theme too. I picked up a gorgeous Violet coloured glass coaster with the outline of The Pavilion for my bedside table, it’s so pretty!

BLUEBIRD TEA CO

This has got to be one the best tea shops in the UK! People come from far and wide to try their amazing blends. Stocking every flavour you’ve ever thought of; this shop has something for everyone with super knowledgeable tea ‘mixologists’ who have all the information you need too. For the perfect warming winter drink, try the Spiced Pumpkin Pie tea, it’s one of their best.

NOLA BOUTIQUE

Nola Boutique is the perfect place to pick up designer womenswear at affordable prices. With chic and stylish décor, it’s an instagrammers dream. My top purchase here would be a cable knit hat or this gorgeous grey sweatshirt with gold feathers – just in time for winter!

LAVENDER ROOM

Lavender Room is one of the most elegant, stylish shops in the North Laine – stocking beautiful products for you or the home, with a carefully selected eclectic mix of products it just oozes Brighton style and character. I’d highly recommend the locally made anti-stress essential oil candles, they smell just divine!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my favourite small shops in Brighton. If this has inspired you, visit amexshopsmall.co.uk to find out where you can support small businesses in your area throughout the year and get some further ideas for your Christmas shopping.

What’s more, if you’re an American Express Cardmember you will be rewarded for supporting your local high street with the Shop Small offer. When you spend £10 or more in a single transaction using your registered American Express Card at a participating small business during the campaign period (2-17 December 2017) you will receive a £5 statement credit. There is no limit to the number of participating businesses you can receive your £5 statement credit from – however, you can only claim it once at each small business. Terms apply.

But the Shop Small offer is just one way that American Express can make every day more rewarding. The range of Cards from American Express are packed with ways to reward you for your purchases*; from Membership Rewards® points that can be used to treat yourself to virtually anything to discounts at top restaurants and hotels, money back on everyday purchases, or collecting frequent flyer miles* – check out the American Express website for more information.