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    Hot off the press - new baby products coming to the UK!

    Hot off the press - new baby products coming to the UK!

    We had a wonderful trip to Cologne to look at new, innovative and stylish baby and children's products exhibited from around the world.  It was our third trip and every year we are surprised and excited by the inventions and products that come to the market and only wish we had these when our kids were little.

    So here are our top 7 baby products:

    7. Extra large changing mat by Pinolino

    The nursery furniture by Pinolino were definitely generating nursery envy for us. Spacious 3 unit wardrobes with clean, modern lines would make any room fit for a prince or princess. What drew our attention was the extra large changing table.  There was an extra panel extending the back of the chest of drawers and the changing mat was wide so you can change the baby front on instead of sideways.  Great for those wriggly babies.

    6. Microscooter cabin case and seat in 1



    This cabin sized suitcase will take away the stress out of airports.  When you've checked in your buggy and you have a toddler who wants to be carried yet you have your own suitcase, changing bag and extras to carry, this suitcase converts to a wheely chair, almost like a ride along bike, for your little one.  They say it supports up to 30kg but I had a sneaky ride on it - check me out!  Just like their scooters it is well designed, sturdy construction and great manoeuverability. 

    5. Biobuddi eco building blocks

    This is an amazing company using sugarcane waste to build safe, eco-friendly and sustainable building blocks.  They have a good range of vibrant coloured educational sets as well as building playsets.  These are a great plastic free alternatives and compatible with Duplo.

    4.Je Porte Mon Bebe physio carrier



    A baby carrier that meets all your requirements from birth up to 20kg!  This carrier is suitable for front and back (from 6 months) carrying and for all season.  We were instantly drawn to this carrier as it has a flap that reveals a mesh lining for warmer weather which is a thumbs up as we know how hot and sweaty carriers can get for both baby and parent.

    3. WeeKee - changing mat for cars

    Imagine you're driving in the middle of nowhere, your car boot is full and your baby needs a number 2 nappy change with no changing facilities in sight.  We remember very well. Take a look at the superb innovative solution: WeeKee car changing mat comes in a small pack that self-inflates in seconds and counters the incline of the car seat.  It's so easy to roll back up and repack.

    2. Maxi cosi infant carseat with air bag (Axissfix Air)

    This car seat, although an expensive initial outlay, is suitable from approximately 4 months, for toddlers and going up to 4 years old.  It's the world’s first car seat with built-in airbags. In the case of an accident within 0.05 second the airbags inflate with cold air which give crucial protection to your child’s head, neck and shoulders.  It has a 360° swivelling seat to make putting your little one in and out of the car seat a little bit easier.  It also has a forward facing seat option from 15 months.

    1. Elvie breastpump

    Our favourite product wowed us - the Elvie breastpump.   This is a revolutionary breastpump worth the £299 for one pump.  It's handsized pump fits into a nursing bra without leads so that you can remain mobile and get on with what you need to do.  The world’s first silent wearable breast pump has a 2 hour battery life with a BPA free bottle for 150mL pump capacity and all parts can be sterilised where required.  A novel feature of the Elvie breastpump is that you can turn it on using a mobile app that also tracks how much you've pumped with a pump history. We think that if you can carry on with your daily life this could simulate breastfeeding and promote milk production during expressing. Amazing product! 

    Box Hill Natural Play Trail for young children

    Box Hill Natural Play Trail for young children

    It's coming up to the end of British summer time so we thought we'd make the most of the dry sunny weather and do something outdoors but something different to the usual parks.  It was around 18-20°C -too cool for an enjoyable beach day so we decided to try the Box Hill Natural Play Trail in Surrey

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    Getting your little one school ready - Tips for Parents

    Getting your little one school ready - Tips for Parents

    As my nephew is starting reception soon I thought I'd put together a few tips for Alice of things that her little one should ideally have got the hang of before starting school and being on his own. Use this as a guide for your little ones to tick off to prepare for school:


    • I know when to wash my hands
    • I can wipe my nose
    • I can ask for help if I don't feel well

    Speaking & literacy

    • I am interested in reading stories & looking at picture books
    • I am able to talk about myself, my needs & feelings
    • I am practising recognising my name when it's written down

    Getting undressed & undressed on my own

    • I can button & unbutton my clothes
    • I can put my own shoes & socks on
    • I can put my coat on and & use the zip

    Interest in the world & new activities

    • I enjoy learning about the world around me
    • I am interested in exploring new activities or environments
    • I like asking questions


    • I can use a knife & fork
    • I can open my packed lunch on my own
    • I am confident at opening wrappers & packaging

    Writing skills

    • I like tracing patterns & colouring in 
    • I enjoy experimenting wit different shaped scribbles
    • I am practising holding a pencil

    Going to the toilet

    • I can go to the toilet on my own, wipe myself properly & flush
    • I can wash & dry my hands without any help


    • I am happy to be away from my mummy, daddy or my main carer
    • I am happy to tidy my belongings & look after my things
    • I am feeling confident about starting school

    Listening & understanding

    • I am able to sit still and listen for a short while
    • I can follow instructions
    • I understand the need to follow rules

    Sharing & turn taking 

    • I can share toys & take turns
    • I can play games with others
    • I can interest with other children

    Counting skills

    • I enjoy practising counting objects
    • I like saying number rhymes & playing counting games
    • I can recognise some numbers when they are written down


    • I have practised putting on my uniform & getting ready to leave on time
    • I have a good bedtime routine so I'm not feeling for school
    • I'm learning to eat at the times I will on school days


    Go silly in Sicily

    Go silly in Sicily

    With our oldest starting reception in September we wanted to take advantage of going away during term time without having to take out a second mortgage.  Somehow, I managed to get tickets to Sicily for £200 for 2 adults and 2 kids (plus extra for a check in luggage).  The flight times were not ideal - arriving at 7pm local time and returning around 11pm but for £200 I booked it!

    See our previous blogs for ideas on how to make travelling with young children as smooth as possible

    Tip for evening arrivals: make sure you have enough food for your kids in case your flight is delayed.  We had planned to stop off at the supermarket on the way to the villa then cook a quick pasta for dinner but due to our delay I literally had 5 minutes to dash around the supermarket the size of gatwick to get some essentials.  My poor babies only had bread to fill their bellies before they passed out in the car and slept til the morning.  

    We flew into Catania on the eastern side and stayed half an hour south of the capital in Syracuse.  

    How good is your driving?

    Hiring a car is a must to get around the island easily and we hired a spacious citroen. Car hire is relatively inexpensive but don't forget to buy extra insurance to reduce the excess. Prepare yourself for Italian  driving.  It's definitely not for the faint-hearted.  In town the roads are narrow, so narrow they were barely wide enough for our car.  It made us wish we hired a fiat 500 instead.  We brought our own kids' car seats.  It's a bit of a mission between the car and airport but we use car seat holdalls that are huge.  The secret here is that you can stuff it full with things like towels, coats and jumpers that doesn't count towards your checked in luggage :)

    Bite me!

    Our villa host kindly aerated our apartment for us.  Unfortunately this invitation extended to the hungry mosquitoes outside.  Somehow it slipped my mind that Sicily would have mosquitos. Boy was this the worse slip ever!  After our first night I realised the mistake I made.  I was breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Let's just say I didn't look the prettiest of sights.  My face, arms and legs had swellings the size of mini tennis balls.  Do not start scratching once you've been bitten because once you start you just can't stop.  Easier said than done. I couldn't resist and my bites were the bain of the holiday. 

    Fortunately Sicily had plenty of pharmacies even in their small towns and they are well stocked with insect repellents.   

    Mount Etna

     Mount Etna - ice in the summer

    We took multiple day trips along the eastern coast of Sicily and one of them was to the beautiful active volcano of Mount Etna. The trip up to the base of the lift was wonderful.  The stop off points were so picturesque.  When we arrived There are several shops selling souvenirs at the base of the lift and a few restaurants with debateable food so we definitely recommend you to bring your own food and just sit outside and enjoy the view.  The cable car was quite expensive - around 35 euros per person but the ride was fun for the kids and the view was spectacular.  You have to get another ticket at the base if you want to reach the peak by coach and then a 4x4 which we didn't think was quite suitable for the boys.  I was yet again unprepared, honestly this is very unlike me :),   I didn't bring quite the right footwear for the trek and had quite flimsy canvas shoes for the walk at the top.  It was quite dusty and the ground slippery but I managed to wear my little one on my back as he was getting quite tired and needed a nap.  I did get quite a few looks with my attire and a 2 year old on my back walking around the top of a mountain.  Mums can do anything.  

    Tip: the top of Mount Etna can get a bit chilly so be prepared with layers and even a windproof jacket. 

    Go crazy for gelato

    How many gelatos can you have in a week? You just can't not have gelato when you're in Italy.  We managed it every single day! The kids had a field day. It was so useful to have gelato as a weapon when the kids were playing up.  I knew we'd have one anyway as I LOVE ice cream but I would blackmail them that they would not have any ice cream when they were misbehaving.  It worked. 

    Noto Noto....


    Noto is a small town in southeastern Sicily.  The roads are small so parking can be a bit hairy but the small town is a real treat.  The clean streets and baroque architecture were a great combination for the kids to roam around. The local restaurants served amazing food.  All very family friendly and Gusto Gourmet served the best gelato cone I've tasted so far.  

    Sand, sea and sun



    Sicily has a lot of beautiful beaches.  There are rocky, pebble and soft sandy beaches so there is something for everyone.  For the kids sandy beaches were what we were looking for but you do have to know where to look for them.   However sandy beaches are not on every corner so you have to search for them.  This link has a great list of sandy beaches.  

    Taormina and amphitheatre

    A chic hilltop town Taormina is known for the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-­Roman theater that is still used today. The town is expensive and busy, full of tourists and people watchers.  The trip is worth it just for visiting for the amphitheatrea alone.  The view from the top is breathtaking. 

    Food glorious food

    I don't think you can ever have a bad meal in Sicily.  Everywhere we ate was either simple but delicious fresh pasta or seafood.  They seem to try to encorporate aubergine in their local cuisine but there's plenty of other dishes without if you're not a fan.  Here's a list of places that are worth a visit:

    Catania: A putia dell'Ostello - local eats (there's a natural cave in the restaurant) £

    Catania: Trattoria Giglio - local eats (fresh and delicious) £

    Catania: Comis Ice Cafè - ice cream £

    Catania: Trattoria del Cavaliere - local eats ££

    Bruculi: Stravento ristorante - fresh seafood ££seafood pasta in Bruculi

    Noto: Putia del Coppo - streetfood £

    Noto: Esperia Pizzeria - posh pizzeria ££

    Noto: Picnic - vegetarian and vegan (and fresh fruit) with a charming guitar playing and singing waiter £fresh fruit salad and pancakes at Picnic in Noto

    Noto: Trattoria La Carretteria- local eats ££ 

    Taormina: Rosso Peperoncino local eat ££Pizza in Taormina

    We only had a week here and I'm not one to go back to the same place twice but Sicily has so much more to discover.  I will definitely add that to one of my 'must return' list.  The beautiful weather, scenery, history and food and very child friendly