I’m not very good at shopping. I’d go so far as to say I’m utterly hopeless. In fact, I’m a man shopper …….– ok, maybe not that bad. On the rare (VERY rare) occasions that I actually do remember birthdays, it’s usually on the day of, and too late to organise something to be sent – whether it’s going down the road or to Australia (thank god for Moonpig). Christmas therefore, is on a whole other plane for me – my norm is to not even think about it, then one day one of those glossy has-everything-you-can-dream-of-for-Christmas gift magazines arrives through the mail, and this time it doesn’t go directly into the recycling – this time I tick a load of boxes and have the entire lot shipped in one or two (let’s be honest – four or five) boxes. The gifts arrive and can then be divvied up, albeit it in a completely different way to the original gift plan as I have no idea by then which thing I ordered for which person as I placed the order eons ago (two days), usually resulting in several “spares” which no doubt were VERY important at the time of purchase, but now, homeless – they go into “the spare present box” under the bed in the guest room. And please, I beg you all – please don’t buy any Christmas presents for me – there will be lots of opportunity to buy me something I actually want as I do need stuff throughout the year – no need to buy me piles of unnecessary (and therefore unwanted) kit just because someone said I have to have my year’s allocation of stuff on one single day…. Hhmmm – too Ba Humbug? Well it is only October!
I actually LOVE giving people presents – and I especially love giving people things I know they are going to go mad for. That’s something else I’m hopeless at. If I see something amazing that I know someone will absolutely love, I have to buy it for them there and then, but then I can’t wait to give it to them. My only hope is to buy it and hide it in the spare room and hope I forget about it (potentially for years – I’ve done that too) – because if I remember it, I will give it to that person the very next moment I see them – I can’t contain myself. Maybe that’s why I feel so pressured at Christmas – I’ve already given them the really good stuff and am left with buying last minute tat for the sake of having something to open on Christmas day. So, I thought I’d find a load of fabulous stuff NOW that is great Christmas, make a list, and buy it all nearer the time. Everything on my list is going to be different, unique, and beautiful, and it has to be something that will last – because I’d never knowingly contribute to the nations’ horrific disposable culture. Something they’ll keep and think “Polly bought that for me” in a fond reminiscent way, as opposed to the way we think about the various “useful gadgets” given to us by our mother in law currently filling various landfills around the globe (that’s the gadgets, not the mothers in law…).
So I’m going to write some items that have made my list so far….
The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo (plus all his other childrens stories) – these stories are SO lovely and the illustrations are just gorgeous – really beautiful books for precious people.
Funky Veg Kit by Plant Theatre – hilarious – let your child grow their own purple carrots and red brussel sprouts – what’s not to love?!!!
“I’m As Big As” Height Chart by Luckies of London A brilliant idea – imagine how excited your child will be when they are as big as Napoleon!
BIRD NEST BOX with WEB CAMERA from Birdboxview – an essential experience for the whole family – watch the magical moments when baby birds are born (ok hatch – but bbb sounds better – see ) – every child will be filled with wonder. A lovely present making memories to last a lifetime.
Kids Swimming Bag – Pink Shark – a big bag of fun for your kids – they’ll be envy of the swimming pool changing room.by JIP @ WOWOOO

Cuddledry dress up toddler towels – choose from a cow, giraffe, dragon, monkey, rabbit or reindeer!!! These scrumptious towels are fun to dress up in, as well as being the softest, warmest and most practical towels available. They’ll need one each though as they all want one after bath or swim time. Happy children and happy parents too.
Mommy And Baby Ragdolls
by Lola Smith Designs. As a mother of three girls, I know how some little girls love their dollies. Ragdolls don’t tend to look like they’ve been in a tragic road accident with limbs falling off and eyes rolling around in sockets after a few weeks. Plus they get to keep their clothes on – bonus! This one caught my eye because it comes with a little girl of it’s own – for perfect role play.
Tumbled Gemstones in a pouch
by Junior Geo. I know all three of my girls will be fighting over these “precious jewels”!!! So I plumped for the biggest bag ! Ideal for pirates swag bag too I thought!
Blinkies- 3 Character Multipack by Konfidence. Everyone loves these – the best bath toy ever! Also DiveStiks by Konfidence – take these on holiday and you will be assured of hours of peaceful relaxation by the pool as your little ones spend HOURS fetching and throwing these clever dive sticks.
Wheelybugs from Hippychick. A classic must have. Wooden floors preferable ! Also Moover dolls pram from Hippchick – absolutely gorgeous little pram for little girls who love their dollies.

So how many of you have now gone stark raving bonkers as a swarm of children (most of whom you have no idea who owns them) charge all around your house leaving toys, clothing (mostly all their clothing) including underwear, bits of lego and other tiny items that hurt like hell when you stand on them, and essential pieces from expensive games that will never be the same again, torturing the pets and eating everything in sight. As you tune out to the sound of thundering feet and shaking ceilings and cries of “I’m starving!!” and he said this, or she said that when they turn up in tears (and possibly blood) with hideous cuts and bruises you have to explain to parents later. You want to scream AARRRGGGGHHHH and make them all go away, but instead you take another deep breath and say calmly (between gritted teeth) “don’t worry – we’ll put a plaster on it – and besides, you’ve still got your other arm….”
Or is it just me?
My children go to the local primary school so they have just over 5 weeks off – but some kids have up to 8 weeks off – “remember that and be grateful” I keep telling myself! So what do you DO with your children all day without resorting to the big black flatscreened childminder in the living room? (come on – we ALL do that!!).
Yesterday they were farmed out to a local school to do “sports” all day. They were shattered when I picked them up at 3pm and harldy said a word – brilliant. I even convinced the chap in charge that my 3 year old was 4 – “I am fooo-er” she told him deadly seriously with a look that said “if you challenge me on this matter I will scream all day louder than a speaker at Glastonbury, at a pitch that will make your ears bleed – and they will have to take you away in an ambulance”. Today they are at a “fun day” so they are sticking, glueing, painting, cutting, colouring, playing games, dancing and whatever else little girls like to do – fingers crossed for more exhaustion later. My bank manager loses sleep over the cost of these things…. Or should that be me? And tomorrow I’m literally farming them out – ie, to a friends farm. She also has 3 children so soon her 300 year old walls will be shaking to their foundations …. Of course, she can send them outside to play… they are currently combining – what could possibly go wrong?!

Nurseries are incredibly exciting rooms for expectant and new mothers, they’re the perfect opportunity to utilise maternity leave to get creative and design the most cute, unique and special room for your new bundle of joy. Personalised nurseries and bedrooms, crafted by your very own hands are even more special because they’re made with love and compassion rather than just copying a magazine trend. If you’re itching to create the most gorgeous environment to hear your baby’s first words then here are a few ideas on how to personalise the nursery for the most special person in the world.

Your nursery should ultimately be full of character and charm. It is the perfect blank canvas to display individuality and even record your baby’s development through creative interior design. Even if you’ve decided to keep the sex of your baby a surprise, you can still get creative with a needle and thread to welcome them home to a cosy and incredibly special nursery built just for them.

Creating Unique Art Work
Canvases of the handprints of your new baby would make a cute, personal and fun piece of artwork. Don’t be afraid to use bold vibrant colours, you want the nursery to be as fun as possible. If you have any more children, you could have a handprint canvas done for them too as well as mummy handprints and big daddy ones too!

You could also create a feature wall of ‘family stuff’. Display height charts so that you can look back in five years’ time and see how much your baby has grown! Yearly family portraits are also a fantastic idea for your family wall as you can see how everyone grows up. As the years pass by you can add things to your wall such as a photograph of your child’s first day at school. It may seem a while off right now but they grow up so fast!

Personalising Plain Furniture
Another idea that can instantly transform an otherwise generic room is to paint furniture such as book shelves, drawers or toy cupboards with stencils of your child’s name or simple illustrations that mean something to you. This can be a favourite book character, the birthdate of your baby or even something totally unique that only you and your family will understand.
The same idea can be used when designing cushions or pillows by sewing the same intricate details onto the surface of the fabric. A blanket with your baby’s birthdate sewn in is a gorgeous and thoughtful addition to a cot but can also be a sentimental keepsake for them to grow up with.

Displaying Gifts
Make use of the gifts you receive from your baby shower rather than thinking of them as clutter that has to be stored away, display the gifts you receive! Soft toys are great for welcoming your baby home and helping them to settle in, they won’t want to come to a cold room lacking in personality! Display your balloons in there, cover the room with soft toys and allow yourselves to celebrate and not worry about mess; you’ve definitely deserved it!

Making it Cosy
Rugs are ideal for baby’s bedrooms and nurseries as they make the floor a lot more comfortable for them; something which they’ll appreciate during the crawling phase! If you’re not feeling ambitious enough to create this yourself then many rugs specialists offer custom design services so you can still create a unique pattern and design without doing any of the handiwork!

Mobiles are a must-have for over your baby’s cot, but don’t buy one from a shop when you can create a gorgeous one yourself. If you spend time crafting animal shapes and adding personal charms such as gifts and special jewellery you can create an entirely unique mobile that has sentimental value as well as the ability to get your baby safely to sleep!

If you can get handy with a knitting needle, you can really personalise your baby’s nursery and make them some fantastic accessories which they can cherish forever and even hand down for generations to come. It’s lovely to be able to give your children accessories and have a nursery that’s completely unique to them; after all they’re so special they deserve it!

This article was written by Steph, who usually blogs over at bathroom website Bathshop321 but decided to write this post to curb her broodiness!

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Apart from a nice warm bath and a cuddle in a Cuddledry towel, getting your little ones to clean their teeth is an important part of the bedtime routine. It isn’t always easy though, which is why we’ve asked Aquafresh to help us out with some top tips. They came up with 20! Blimey. Now, you’ve got no excuse.

For more information, or to sign up to The Aquafresh Club for a free sample of Aquafresh Fresh & Minty, you can visit http://www.aquafreshclub.co.uk

Top 20 tips on how to make brush time less stressful:

1. Get a 2 minute egg timer – you can get these at the dentist – so your kids know how long to brush for!

2. Let kids pick their own toothbrush – they will get really excited when it comes to brushing their teeth with the toothbrush they have picked!

3. Get your kids a (robust) mirror – they can make silly faces in it and watch themselves brushing

4. Play their favourite song while they brush to the beat – as most songs last two – three minutes it’s the perfect length

5. Brush your teeth at the same time – kids love to copy mum and dad!

6. Get an older family member to surprise your kids with their false teeth and a story about how theirs fell out – always a good incentive to get kids brushing!

7. If you have more than one child, turn brush time into a competition – the one who brushes the best gets to pick the bedtime story! Don’t forget to alternate the ‘winner’ though!

8. Tell your kids that the Tooth Fairy pays out less for decayed teeth – this will get them brushing better!

9. If you have an older child, get them to teach their younger sibling how to brush – this makes it fun and also reinforces good brushing tips for the elder one.

10. Let your child brush their favourite toy’s teeth – they will soon pick up how to do their own!

11. Sing “Brush, brush, brush your teeth, gently to and fro, up, down, side to side, teeth so clean they glow” to the tune of “Row row row your boat” – it’s a great brushing rhythm!

12. Give your kids a gentle scare by showing them pictures of people with bad teeth – or even your own – so that they know why they need to brush!

13. Make three animal faces for brushing: tiger teeth (together), hippo mouth (mouth open) and snake tongue (to brush tongue). It makes it more fun and gets their teeth in the right position.

14. With older kids, establish the link between bad brushing and bad breath – they will soon cotton on to this!

15. Get your kids to brush with disclosing tablets once a week – they will love the surprising effect and it can become a challenge to see who can get their teeth white the quickest!

16. Play ‘dentist’ with your kids – put them in a chair, inspect their teeth while they brush and provide a running commentary while they are doing so!

17. Reward charts with stickers work very well – once they have reached a certain number they can get a treat which is a great incentive!

18. Let your child ‘brush’ your teeth too – they are more likely to let you brush theirs if you can take it in turns!

19. Give your kids 1p in a piggy bank every time they brush properly – 2p per day adds up to £7.30 a year!

20. Let your kids be independent! You will need to brush their teeth at the end but letting them do it first makes them feel very grown up and it’s good practice!

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Launched at the Baby Show in Birmingham, Laboraide is a new and highly innovative product developed to help reduce both the pain and duration of labour.

Midwives teach that during childbirth the relaxation of the mouth and jaw is directly linked with the ability of the cervix and vagina to open. Laboraide acts like a gentle cushion between your teeth enabling the jaw to rest in a relaxed position, also keeping the airways open allowing you to breathe easily and get plenty of oxygen to the muscles you need for giving birth.

Using Laboraide during the second stage of labour is a natural way to help reduce the pain and you can still use additional pain relief methods such as gas and air, a TENS machine, a birthing pool or have an epidural.

It is not uncommon for women to damage their teeth during labour (usually on their gas and air nozzle) as the desire to bite down on something can be so strong. Biting down on Laboraide can help eliminate this damage.

Laboraide has been designed keeping in mind you and your needs during birth. Made from a soft, durable cushioned material you will hardly know you are wearing it. Lightweight and discreet and available in a range of gentle pastel colours, it is the perfect device to help reduce the pain and time of labour.

How does it Work?

Trials have shown that using a dental support device such as Laboraide can reduce the length of the second stage of labour by as much as 40%

Since the early 1980s, clinical studies have been carried out exploring the relationship between the use of DSDs (Dental Support Devices) and muscular strength/power. Many studies have shown dramatic improvements in an athlete’s performance – so much so that DSDs are now widely used during training and competition.

In 2009 a very significant study was carried out at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Maryland USA, which demonstrated some major findings:

• Average duration of the second stage of labour for women wearing a dental support device (DSD) was 40% shorter than in the non DSD group.

• Using a DSD may decrease the number of failures to descend (baby entering birth canal after woman is fully dilated) requiring operative intervention.

More information about the science behind Laboraide can be found at www.laboraide.com

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This Father’s Day, forget the novelty golf ball cufflinks, and give that special man in your life a gift guaranteed to make being a new Dad that little bit easier. And no, it’s not an au pair… On June 17 this year give the gift of stress free baby bath times with an award-winning Cuddledry baby apron towel – the ultimate combination of luxury and innovation.

The original Cuddledry apron towel, which is the proud owner of multiple awards for it’s quality and design, including the FQ Magazine Top Gear Award, was actually inspired by Dads. We were watching our partners bath our babies, over a glass of wine of course, and as we watched them struggle to simultaneously hold a small towel and slippery baby, decided there had to be a simpler solution.

So we created one!

"Father's Day"

The Cuddledry towel is a double layer of silky soft pure cotton and bamboo fibre, which you wear around your neck like an apron, leaving both hands free for safely bathing and lifting your baby. The bamboo fibre makes the Cuddledry extra absorbent, and gives it a softness that lasts wash after wash, even without fabric softener. The bamboo also gives the Cuddledry towel long lasting natural anti-bacterial properties, meaning extra peace of mind for parents.

If you’re worried that pink and baby blue gingham might not appeal to the man in your life, fear not. We have lined up an extra special limited edition apron towel with dads in mind – a pure white towel with a subtle beige linen edge that’s the perfect compliment to any nursery colour scheme.

TV presenter Ben Fogle is one Dad who appreciates the help of a Cuddledry at baby bath time. Ben is well known for embarking on all kinds of crazy adventures, but parenting requires a whole new set of survival skills. When he’s not navigating the Arctic Circle his wife Marina says that Ben likes to tackle the challenge of bath times instead, and thanks to Cuddledry the Fogles are well equipped!

“They are really fabulous,” said Marina, “and have been constantly in use since they popped through our door. I love the quality – they’re so soft and thick and both our children love cuddling in them while we dry them. Having thought we had bathtime sorted, I now don’t know how we survived so long without them.”

Get your Cuddledry apron towel now at www.cuddledry.com

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As makers of baby bath towels, we’re obviously always keen to discover new products that make baby bath times easier and simpler for parents. With this in mind, we are rather smitten with the new baby bath support from Whitestep, designed to complement their fold away baby bath tub.

The nifty new bath gadget supports your baby safely in the bath while allowing them plenty of freedom of movement to have a good splash about.

Inspired by the gentle curves of a mother’s womb, or supportive arm, the Flexibath support is designed to fit the natural shape of your baby’s body, and has no awkward wedge between their legs or underarm holders. Made in Denmark, the support is free from phthalates, BPA and other nasty chemicals, so is perfect for delicate baby skin. The Flexibath grows with your baby, and is suitable from birth up to around eight kilos.

And the best bit of all? It’s only £12! We think that with this and a Cuddledry apron towel, we’ve got stress free baby bath times sewn up!

The very generous people at Whitestep have very kindly said that Cuddledry customers can get a stonking 20% off everything on their website, so you could get a Flexibath AND a new bath support from a bargain for less than £34 – what a bargain!

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We all know the deal – as a country we take too many antibiotics, and rely too heavily on painkillers and other medications. We want to do the best for our children though, so what are the alternatives? Are there ways to protect the health of our babies and toddlers without having to resort to a prescription?

The good news is that yes, there are! We’ve put together a few of our favourites, but do let us know if you have any other home remedies that your family swears by.


The echinacea plant


A good all-rounder, echinacea is used by lots of people to stimulate the immune system, helping the body ward off infection. Particularly useful in winter, it may help protect your family from the usual round of coughs and colds, by giving the immune system a much needed boost. Useful resource: A.Vogel Echinacea


Coughs, colds and runny noses seem to be a permanent feature of most young families, and most will run their course quite naturally, supported by plenty of rest and fluids. Research has shown that honey can be a useful way to soothe coughs – give 2.5ml of honey to children two to five years old; 5ml to children six to 11 years old; and 10ml to those 12 years and older. Never give honey to babies younger than one.


Arnica is a very popular herb, that can be effective against a whole range of ailments including joint pain, swelling, bumps and sprains. Arnica is particularly helpful in speeding up the healing of bruises, and reducing the risks of any complications arising from bruising. Useful resource: Arnica A.Vogel Herbal Remedies

Salt water

Congestion can be very frustrating, especially for babies trying to feed and breathe through their nose at the same time. Saline nasal drops or spray are very effective for relieving congestion, both in babies and older children. For babies, place a few drops of salt water in each nostril to thin mucus, wait at least a minute, then gently use a bulb syringe to remove any discharge.

Milk Thistle

One for the mummies! If you’ve had maybe one too many glasses of wine the night before, (for stress relieving purposes only obviously), try a bit of milk thistle as a treatment for hangovers…

Get well soon!

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You’ve got married, you’ve bought a house, you’ve had a baby, life should be perfect right?

So how come you feel so tired all the time? And why is it that every time your partner leaves a towel on the floor you want to stab him with a fork?

OK, perhaps it’s not always quite that bad, but things certainly aren’t the happy ever after you imagined as a child, planning your dream wedding and picking your baby names.

Fear not. This is normal.

I’m not saying that it’s OK to stay in a relationship that genuinely doesn’t make you happy, or to live a life you don’t want at all, but it is normal when you’re raising a young family, and juggling work, bills and children, to sometimes feel like you want to run away and hide under the duvet for a week or two.

Naturally, when you’re feeling tired and under pressure, it’s the people closest to us that bear the brunt, and so it’s often our partners that become the focus of our frustrations. Relationship and sex problems are a common symptom of parenthood, but although they happen to many people, they aren’t something that you should ignore.

So, what can you do to ease the strain?

Make time for yourselves as a couple – yes we know, everyone says this, but that’s because it’s true! The idea of ‘date night’ may sound like a horrible cliché, and having to put on a bit of make-up and brush your hair when all you really want to do it lie on the sofa watching Take Me Out is tough, but it’s worth it in the long term. When you do go out, try to think of things to talk about other than the kids…

Ask for help – “If you want me to do the hovering,” says the man of the house, “just ask!”

“But I shouldn’t have to ask!” complains wife. “I want you to notice it needs doing and just do it!”

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, a lot of men, (and women too), just don’t notice things like this, and if you wait for them to, and let your resentment grow with every day that they don’t, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Having to ask doesn’t make you a nag, it isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s being assertive, and getting things done.

Be more accepting – Towels on the floor are annoying, but is it really the end of the world, especially if it means he’s been taking charge of baby bath time. We’re not saying you should let yourself be treated like a doormat, but just be aware that it’s all too easy to transfer our own high standards onto others, and end up feeling let down and resentful. Look instead at the things your partner does that really matter, like listening to you and spending time with you.

Take a lesson from author Dr Richard Carlson and don’t sweat the small stuff.

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Although the news of a baby’s arrival is a happy one, it is important to be prepared. Babies are free, but their maintenance fee can be a shock! Most expectant parents don’t realise the financial burden they are taking on, and focus mainly on schedule disruptions and the exhaustion they will be facing.

The biggest expense is childcare (if you are a working mum.)  The next, will be formula (if you choose not to breast feed) and then nappies. Yes, nappies! Consider that a baby can use 8-12 of these a day, so the costs really do add up. Expenses can begin before the baby is born!

Baby gear is mostly expensive upfront, and will probably be your next biggest cost with the crib, stroller, car seat, baby bath and so on…

These are just the expenses that you can control. It’s so important to save money on the expenses you can control for the expenses that you either can’t or haven’t prepared for. Cutting costs wherever you can will really help you in the long run!

While saving energy in the home is unlikely to be on your list of priorities at this time, have you thought about taking measures to cut down on the energy your household uses?

Start at the source! Consider changing your electricity provider and compare electricity prices to see whether you are with the right supplier and on the correct tariff. Other companies could give you a cheaper deal, plus incentives for changing. With up to £400 of savings at stake, if you switch to find the best option then plenty of pounds will be saved.

Changing your clothes washing habits can really save you money. Just by swapping long wash cycles with hot water for short wash cycles with cold water with a proven stain remover can save you 93KWh of energy a year. Never wash clothes in small loads, only use your washing machine when you have a full load. If you dry your laundry on a line outdoors or on a drying rack indoors and ignore your clothes dryer, you will do the environment a favour and cut your electricity bill by 6%.

When you do use your washing machine, dishwasher or dryer, use it at low energy use times of the day, and avoid using them between 4pm and 9pm.

Use a laptop, it uses almost three quarters less electricity than a desktop. Also, turn off and unplug all appliances in your house and home office at night. Use strip plug adaptors, so you can switch off up to six appliances at a time by flicking off the wall switch.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones, they use three quarters less energy. Also, kids love Christmas lights! You don’t have to skimp on the festivities just because you are trying to save electricity. LEDS use 10 times less energy than incandescent mini-lights and a staggering 100 times less energy than standard bulbs.

After you have brought your baby home, it is tempting to worry about it catching a chill and turn up the heat. The heating bill is usually the most expensive bill. Instead, invest in insulating your home and watch your bills significantly decrease!

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