9 Baby Groups and Classes to do in Cardiff (or wherever you are really!)

You’ll know from baby W’s early days, we kept busy going to groups and lessons – they massively helped both of us so I thought I’d share my Top 9 with you.

  1. Swimkidz swimming lessons

I’m a bit scared of water, and I never wanted baby W to be… so he’s been having swimming lessons since he was 6 weeks old!  We’re now on our 3rd term, and we’ve already seen such progress – he’s happy to be dunked underwater, he’s learning how to ‘hold on’ and he’s kicking his legs and splashing his arms around, and will happily push himself into the water! There are a few other bonuses too:

  • we do the classes on a Saturday morning and so this is nice daddy/baby bonding time!
  • baby W might be small be is quite strong  – I can’t prove it but I wonder if the lessons have helped his strength?
  • he enjoys bathtime and I wonder if that’s to do with the lessons!?

We now pay £90 for a term of 10 lessons, quite a bit cheaper than their main competitor Waterbabies (apparently the lessons are very similar). Swimkidz operate around the UK, find your nearest class here but there are also lots of other companies that offer this in Cardiff and the area – I’ve heard of cheaper ones running at Howells school, and Hebron Hall in Dinas Powys – it’s worth asking around and choosing the one most convenient for you in terms of day and location!

2. Baby Massage

Baby W was about 2 months old when I took him to baby massage classes at Funky Little Chickens in Cardiff. He was going through a grouchy phase (similar to colic) so I thought this would help. He would never lie still for the lessons, he was like the naughty baby of the class (!) so we didn’t actually get to practise much while we were there.

So why I am I recommending it? Well Fiona is a lovely, warm, soothing teacher – and she gave us handouts of all the massages, so I started using these at home. As well as focusing on different parts of the body every week, she also gave us massages for particular needs e.g. colic, colds, teething etc – these have all come in handy as and when we’ve needed them! She also took us through some nursery rhyme exercises – these are fab and baby W loves them! I’m sure similar things can be found online, but I learn best face-to-face so for us this was worthwhile :) I think we paid £50 for 6 lessons. Again, there are lots of other options around, but I can highly recommend Fiona!

3. Mother and baby yoga

I’ve practised yoga on and off for a few years, including when I was pregnant so I couldn’t wait to try mother and baby yoga! Everyone I asked recommended Emma from Pure Yoga and I would definitely agree – she was fab! I took baby W every week from around 3 months old until I had to go back to work when he was 8 months old. Classes cost £32 for 4 (she runs classes in Bridgend as well as Canton) and last 1.5 hours – each class does stretches for mum, stretches for mum including baby, the baby section with lots of nursery rhymes, time for a chat and then time for relax!

Our mother and baby yoga group (photo taken from PureYoga Facebook page)

Our mother and baby yoga group (photo taken from PureYoga Facebook page)

This really helped my achy back, and baby W enjoyed the rhymes (when he was in the right mood!). It was always a really nice bunch of mums there and one of the things I loved most about the class is that ‘anything goes’ – because it was an hour and a half long there was always at least one screaming baby so you didn’t mind if it was yours! Now I’m back in work I really miss this class and I really need to get back into yoga!

4. Tinytalk baby sign classes

For 10 weeks from around 6 months to 8 months old, we did a course of TinyTalk baby sign classes (I think it cost about £50) on a friend’s recommendation who said it had come in really handy when her daughter was too young to talk but was trying to communicate. The class teaches about 5 words/signs every week, through singing and singing! Then there’s always a dance, storytime and singing which baby W loved – lots to take in! The second half of the hour is then time for babies to play with a range of toys and time for mums to have a cuppa – again, always a really nice group of mums and baby W loved all the sensory toys they had there!

Unfortunately I hardly remember any of the signs and I didn’t practise enough at home, but I might buy their book/DVD as baby W is getting into the babbling stage so it should help him communicate a bit easier :) They operate around the UK and there is an alternative called Sing and Sign.

5. Totsplay – massage, yoga, baby sign and play

Confession – we didn’t do Totsplay so I can’t truly recommend it BUT I met LOTS of mums who were doing it who all recommended it and basically it sounds like a combination of classes 2- 4 above i.e. baby massage, yoga, signing and lots of play. I’m not sure how much it costs but I think you have to sign up for about 6 weeks or so. They operate around the UK – find out more here.

6. Mother and baby groups – Bambino’s and Jellybabies

From when baby W was about 3 months old, I tried to go to a mother and baby group every week – these are just informal groups where babies can play with play gyms and toys while the mums chat. I went to Jellybabies in Taff’s Well every Wednesday where a couple of friends would usually come too, this was a small, more intimate group. I’d go to Bambino’s in Danescourt every fortnight and this was much bigger – lots more toys, and lots more babies!

Us at Bambino's group (photo taken from their Facebook page)

Us at Bambino’s group (photo taken from their Facebook page)

There seems to be a group running in most neighbourhoods – whether it’s through a church, or a breastfeeding support group. (I’ve heard good things about Thornhill new mums group, and BabyBeans  in All Nations Church). They have a few plus points as well as the chance to meet other mums and the baby playing with new toys:

  • cheap (they usually ask for £1-£3 donation)
  • you don’t need to sign up – you just go along if you feel like it on the day
  • Sometimes they might have ‘taster sessions’ where people like TinyTalk would go in and do a free sample – so you get to try classes before singing up

The main drawback is that lots of mums are put off as they feel anxious, too shy to talk to other mums etc. A few times I went and didn’t speak to any other mums – but I just played with baby W – it was a nice bit of playtime with no distractions like TV and my phone!

7. Softplay

Now baby W is 10 months old and crawling about the place, he is ready to check out all the various Softplay places in the area – I heard that Jump in Llanishen, and Coconuts in Barry are both good for W’s age group… but so far we’ve only ventured to the lovely Canton community hall – not a softplay centre as such, but twice a day, every weekday they are open with lots of soft equipment for babies and toddlers to clamber over – we’ve only managed to go once but I was very impressed considering it’s just a council-run centre – we will definitely go again soon! Details here

Another local mummy blogger (Cardiff Mummy Says) wrote a guide to the different softplay centres in Cardiff – I look forward to checking them all out!

8. Library rhymetime and storytime

I knew that Cardiff central library ran these, but I didn’t go into the city centre much with baby W – so it was only a few weeks ago I took him to get his library card (and free pack of books!) from our local library in Fairwater and found that they run a storytime every Thursday morning.

We managed to twice before I had to start working on Thursdays, so gutted I didn’t know about it before – it’s within walkable distance, free and baby W loved it – a story, instrument and singing section and the chance to play with books!

Mums in the know lists most of these classes but ours wasn’t on there (it’s already so popular they don’t want to promote it!) so it’s worth checking with your local library to see if they run anything similar!

9. Messy play

This is ace – on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays there’s a class in Tesco Western Avenue where your baby (and you!) pay £4.50 to get totally messy for an hour – we got covered in baby-friendly shaving foam, paint, colourful spaghetti and flour!

It’s quite expensive but SO worth it if it means you don’t have to make this mess and clear it up at home!! Unfortunately we can only make it now if our swimming class isn’t running but we’ll try and go as often as we can – great sensory/exploring play! Jade Messy Play’s Facebook page is here

Hope you found this useful? If you did, I’d love it if you could share it on Twitter/Facebook, thanks! You can follow me on Twitter @yummyblogger

If you found any other useful classes and groups please leave a comment to help other new mums!

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Baby W’s wardrobe: 9-12 months old

Regular readers will know that I’ve been very tight when it comes to baby W’s clothes, if you read how much we spent in his first 6 months you’ll know that we’ve pretty much survived on gifts, hand-me-downs and bargains at NCT nearly new sales!

Now I’m changing him 2-3 times a day as mealtimes are so messy, it gave me a good excuse to go a little bit mad and get some new clothes (instead of increasing the amount of washing we do!!). Also, I’ve loved dressing him in jeans but now he’s crawling I wanted to get him some leggings to make it easier for him to move around…. So first up, some crazy leggings and matching top/hat from H&M – I think this was £3.99

H&M outfit

H&M outfit

Also stocked up on 3 for 2 leggings at H&M (£8 for 3)…. a mix of colours so they should go with anything…. I love the green ones, he looks like a little pixie in them!

Baby leggings from H&M

Baby leggings from H&M

So, tops to go with the leggings? Check out these bad boys….

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The one on the left is from Zara and was about £8, the one on the right is from H&M (£6)… they both look great with these other zebra-print leggings I got, this time from Zara.. with some gorgeous blue ones as well (sorry, the photos don’t do them justice)

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I think the leggings were about £6 each in Zara. I also picked up this cool T-shirt from Zara for about £6…

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I saw this fab top in Tesco – I love the baby clothes in Tesco and they’re such good value – this one was only £2!

Baby boy top from Tesco

Baby boy top from Tesco

While in Tesco I also stocked up on some socks for him which were £4 a pack… I love the little sayings on them

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Now, during this shopping spree I also discovered and fell head over heels in love with Jools Oliver’s little bird range in Mothercare so bought 3 T-shirts at £6-£8 each… I love how retro they are!

T-shirts from Little Bird, Mothercare

T-shirts from Little Bird, Mothercare

I can’t believe how much the stuff from this range goes for on eBay… I managed to snap up this top for £8.80 and it still had the tags on it :) Here it is teamed up with the Zara leggings…

T-shirts from Little Bird, Mothercare

T-shirts from Little Bird, Mothercare

And finally, lucky baby W also gets to wear some of his Christmas presents now including his only outfit from Baby Boden (thank you aunty Ceri!)….

Baby Boden outfit

Baby Boden outfit

…and this gorgeous top and gilet from Next (thank you aunty Shell!)

Next top and gilet

Next top and gilet

So…. what do you think of his new wardrobe?!

Posted in fashion, haul, parenting | 1 Comment

Baby W and Mummy’s 10 month update

Wow the last month has flown but of course, February is the shortest month! Baby W turned 10 months old nearly a week ago…

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…and similar to the last update,   there has been lots of developments! Most notably….

  • he can now crawl properly!
  • he pulls himself up to stand on ANYTHING he can!
  • he can clap (and this makes him VERY happy!)
Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Similar to last month, he’s very happy but very busy… so easy to look after but exhausting chasing after him all the time! He seems to want to be wherever he’s not allowed… climbing up the glass TV stand etc!

  • He’s still sleeping through :) (we start his bedtime routine at 6pm, and he wakes up between 6-6.30am)
  • He still loves his food… cheesy pasta and cottage pie remain firm favourites, and he now loves banana too
  • Still hasn’t dropped any milk feeds yet – he still has 4 bottles a day
  • Still have no idea how much he weighs! He’s mostly in 9-12 month clothes, but still in some 6-9 month clothes, in size 4 nappies
  • Still has 8 teeth – hasn’t had any new ones for a while now, I’m sure #9 won’t be long!

What we’ve been up to

  • His 10month old birthday co-incided with me going up to 4 days a week in work – it’s SO much more exhausting than 3 days! He didn’t seem to notice though, he’s settled in so well at the childminder’s!
  • While we’re on about work, I spoke at a big digital conference which was nerve-racking but went well – I was away for 2 nights and had a lovely upgraded suite – was nice to get some rest!
  • However, that came just after a girly weekend in London which was awesome but it meant in total I was away from baby W 5 nights out of 7 which was really weird and I won’t be doing that again in a hurry!
  • One week his swimming lesson was cancelled so we took him to a ‘messy play’ class instead… much fun with pasta, not so much fun with shaving foam… he didn’t know what to do with himself!
  • I signed him up at the local library, which got him 2 free books :) we went to storytime twice, but they run it on Thursdays and now I’m back in work on Thursdays – shame as he loves clambering over the crates of books!
  • We were glad to have better weather this month – we had some nice walks around Cosmeston lakes, and our local museum at St Fagans

That’s it for now folks, stay tuned for the next update!

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Baby W and Mummy’s 9 month update

In the week that baby W turned 9 months, David Attenborough was quoted as saying that 9 month old babies are the most fascinating creatures… and I totally agree with him! It’s been our maddest month yet in terms of development…

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Since the last update, baby W started:

  • commando crawling (using his elbows to crawl)
  • pulling himself up on to things (we put his cot bed down just in case!)
  • grinding his teeth
  • babbling ‘mamamamama…’
  • scrunching his face up (which makes the cutest toothy smile ever!)

I can’t remember if I said in previous updates, but he’s been able to sit up, and he’s been holding his own bottle for a few months now. Commando crawling has been the maddest thing, he loves it and loves exploring the ground floor of the house… always making a beeline for the cat food aarrghhg! One the one hand it’s easier to look after him now as he entertains himself… but on the other you can’t take your eyes off him as he’s likely to whack his head!!

Routine, sleep and eating

Our routine is quite similar to last month, although he’s dropped his afternoon nap and his lunchtime nap is getting longer.

He’s generally eating well – his favourite meal is pasta with mummy’s homemade cheese sauce which he wolfs down using his hands. He also loves Bolognese and sheperds pie… and yoghurt. He’s really good at drinking water (phew!). He poos every 2 days.

All the crawling and eating means he’s sleeping better – just after his 9month birthday we dropped the 11pm feed so watch this space to see if he carries on sleeping through!

Breastfeeding

I stopped breastfeeding since the last update. I didn’t want to make an occasion out of it, so I kinda just stopped…. since going back to work, the ratio of formula to breastmilk had gone up a lot so it wasn’t a huge decision to make. My boobs are now smaller than they were before I got pregnant which I didn’t think was possible!

What we’ve been up to

Well as you know I went back to work since the last update – read all about it here. And the weather has been artic. So we haven’t done an awful lot but here’s some highlights:

  • mummy and daddy had another night in Bath away from baby W!
  • we had our second Christmas with my parents, as my dad had been ill over Christmas… cue lots more presents for baby W!
  • we tried out our first type of soft play place and I highly recommend it – Canton Community Hall! – and in doing so I met up with another blogger (rainbow mam) for the first time :)
  • a couple of walks including a lovely walk checking out the new beach huts at Barry Island
Barry island beach huts

Barry island beach huts

Anything else?

Baby W has always loved bath-time, but now he can move around more, he REALLY loves it and can spend a good half hour in there, sitting up… trying to swim etc, so cute to watch! I honestly can’t believe how much he’s developed over the last month… it’s a miracle to watch…. how do they know how to crawl and then walk? Madness!

Can’t believe it’s only 3 months til he turns 1 – eek! He’s a social/sociable, generally happy baby.. and at this rate I predict he will be an active, mischevious toddler!

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The 4 best make-up and beauty products for new mums

When I was on maternity leave and wanted to pop some slap on to leave the house, or now that I’m back in work, I’ve found some great products for time-poor new mums…

my favourite beauty products

my favourite beauty products

#1 – I have a bathroom cabinet full of skincare products but I’m quite bad at a daily skincare routine. One product that you can just use when you need a perk-me-up is Origins Ginzing eye cream. (£23) I like it for a few reasons – it smells lovely, it reduces puffiness and it might just be me but I’m sure I can feel it working it’s magic when you apply it… I think it has a very soothing effect! It also says it helps to cover dark circles and I definitely think it does this – it has a bit of illuminating effect to reflect light away from those nasty bags under your new mum eyes!

#2 – Once that has settled in after a couple of minutes, I apply my old favourite concealer – YSL Touche Éclat (£20). I’m assuming this is the most popular concealer ever, it’s no secret – it’s good at covering those dark circles again – so a double-whammy approach! Unlike Ginzing which I only bought a few months ago, I’ve been using Touche éclat for years! I don’t think I could live without it but having read first time mummy’s blog about beauty products last week, I was reminded of the Body Shop’s lightening touch which I will try next time I run out!

So that’s the eyes sorted (at this stage you’d probably slap some mascara on but I have sensitive eyelids so I only wear mascara for special occasions, and when I do it’s Benefit’s They’re Real!) and now on the face…

As a base, I’ve been using Estee Lauder’s Double Wear foundation for about 8 years! It offer great coverage which you can keep quite light (e.g. for work) or layer (trowel!) on for a night out. As a new mum, I found it became a bit too faffy – I didn’t want to worry about putting moisturiser on, or blending in.. I needed something easy!

#3 – I stumbled upon Liparazzi’s review  and I was sold…. my favourite foundation but in a lighter version… Estee Lauder’s Double Wear BB cream (£29) and I love it! It’s moisturising, offers nice, natural-looking coverage and is easy to apply (no need to worry about blending in). This product was perfect over the summer and I wondered how it would cope in the winter, as part of my work routine… but it’s been great. It is light coverage so might not suit you if you like something heavier, but this is all about easy, quick wins for mums and so I think it’s a winner!

#4 – Finally, a bit of colour on the cheeks… again, another product I’ve been using for years.. Benefit’s Hoola. (£23.50) I think I’ve been using it for about 10 years and I find that one box literally lasts a couple of years! As I have the tendency to have oily skin, I love the matt finish. I love the colour, I think it really suits my colouring and again because it’s so natural it doesn’t need a lot of blending in – I can just whack it on and go!

Now, I know that these 4 add up to about £100 but I promise you they last for ages! Also, what I tend to do is clock up enough Boots advantage points (using their vouchers, double points etc) to treat myself once I a while – feels much better than handing over my debit card! What do you think? I’d love to hear from you – if you’re a new mum what are your essentials for those days when you actually leave the house!?

PS If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy another mummy blogger’s beauty section – I love Betty and the Bumps’ blog!

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My thoughts and top 5 tips on going back to work

So I’ve done 4 weeks back in work and so far, so good!!

I blogged about how I felt before going back to work, and it’s gone pretty much as I’d hoped it to…. I settled back in fine albeit being a bit dazed for the first few days. I’m enjoying work. Baby W is doing great at the childminders and if I’m honest I don’t miss him when I’m work as I don’t give myself a chance to….  I do get excited when I’m on my way to pick him up though!

When I was at home with him alone all day, he’d tend to get grouchy by mid-afternoon but then as soon as daddy walked in he’d be happy and all smiles…. well now, I get that treatment when I pick him up from the childminders! :)

It’s been a new level of tiring being back at work. On a good day, we’re up at 6, we all leave the house at 7 (daddy drops him off), I work from 7.30-4, pick him up at 4.30 then it’s play, food, play… then at 6 we (daddy usually does this bit) start bath, bottle, bed.

The hardest thing has probably been getting into such a strict regime. It’s a bit groundhog day… I see the same people in the car park when I park up, the same people arrive at the office when I do etc etc. I definitely took for granted the freedom I had on maternity leave – being able to do anything we wanted and go wherever we fancied every day!

The other hard part has also been that I notice less of his gradual developments – I notice his new tricks so much more now that I’m not with him every day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I can imagine it will get harder to leave him the more fun stuff he does!

I also think it will get harder as time goes on – novelty will wear off, and I go up to 4 days in March which I think will be a shock to the system! Luckily I carry over lots of leave which I need to start using up!

Some tips I’ve learned from going back to work:

  1. Using my ‘keeping in touch’ days really helped – it didn’t feel like such a shock to the system going back!
  2. Ditto ‘settling in sessions’ with the childminder – building up from an hour to a full day in the months leading up to my return really helped me and baby W!
  3. I know not everyone has this option – but if you can, choose the hours that suit you. By doing an early shift, I miss the worst of the traffic and I get to spend a couple of hours with baby W before he goes to bed (and nearly an hour first thing in the morning!)
  4. Be strong, think positive and get on with it! Around the 6 month mark I started having the wobbles about going back to work but through chatting to other working mums I realised I needed to ‘man up’ and just get on with it! It would be easy to dwell on being away from baby but I think it could drive you crazy if you let it!
  5. Be realistic. I recently blogged about the skills you pick up on maternity leave – one of them being ‘multitasking’ – but none of us working mums are superwoman! I’m now stricter than ever with my hours – and in doing so it means I can’t attend every meeting or get involved in everything I’d like to. I can’t waste time on too much chit-chat or long lunches. It’s not a bad thing – I think I’m now at my most efficient!

I hope this is useful, I’d love you to share if it is! If you’ve already made the return to work, how did your experience compare with mine? I’d love to hear from you! Thanks x

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6 life skills you learn on maternity leave

I’ve recently gone back to work after 8 months maternity leave and it got me thinking about life skills you learn on maternity, whether you go back to work or not!

  1. Patience – most people would tell you that I’m quite relaxed and laid-back, so you wouldn’t really see me getting impatient – but nothing prepares you for needing to be patient until you have a baby….. my patience skills were mostly tested when trying everything to soothe a screaming baby or trying to get baby W back to sleep in the middle of the night when he really didn’t want to go back to sleep!
  2. Perseverance – similarly to #1, I seemed to find a new level of perseverance when I became a mum. No unsettled baby was going to defeat me. No amount of times singing ‘twinkle, twinkle…’ at 3am was too much for me. This life skill will be tested a lot more as baby W grows into a toddler, child then teenager but I always hope I’ll have the sense that I will never, ever give up on him.
  3. Putting someone else first – there were so many times in the early days where I didn’t eat all day, or didn’t find time to wash myself (!) or do the things I wanted to do. As caring as you might think you are, I don’t think you can every truly say you’ve always put other people first… until you’ve had a baby!
  4. Celebrating small achievements – we’re generally good at beating ourselves up for not doing stuff, or for not being perfect. On maternity leave, I think you should high five yourself for your achievements of the day whether that be getting your baby to nap, doing the dishes or having enough time in the shower to wash your hair!
  5. Multi-tasking – while some days you feel like you’ve achieved nothing, on other days you can feel like super-woman…. breastfeeding your baby, while preparing your own food, while scrolling through Twitter and watching TV…. Seriously though, my multi-tasking skills have improved no end since having baby W!
  6. Eating one-handed – I’m not sure when this skill would come in handy, but if there’s a one-handed eating competition anywhere in the world, I’m sure a mother would win it! After so many months of wolfing food down using a fork in one hand while seeing to baby with the other, I actually find it difficult to use a knife and fork now!

So there we have it, did I miss any other life skills?!

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