REVIEW: Breastvest (breastfeeding top) including a give-away!

When baby W was born and I started breastfeeding I remember looking into what to wear – should I buy a cape/poncho thing? some special ‘nursing’ tops and dresses? A lot of people recommended the double top method – wearing a vest that you could pull down, while a top over it keeps you covered.

In the end I didn’t buy anything – we had a hot summer, I lived in baggy T-shirts and I quickly became comfortable feeding him out and about, showing my bare belly (and probably more!) in the process.

Fast forward to Autumn and what a great time to review the Breastvest – I’d not come across it before but it’s a vest that basically is missing the top bit where your bra is – it scoops down below your bra, so that when it’s feeding time you don’t have to faff about with pulling your vest up or down. As I said, perfect timing as it’s starting to get a bit nippy so it’s handy to wear this underneath tops that I’d normally wear this time of year, to keep my belly warm!

The breastvest

The breastvest

I can confirm it’s a great bit of kit – works like a treat, I’ve tried it under a few different tops – tight tops and looser-fitting blouses and it looks great and seamless – although might look a bit odd if you wear it with a sheer top haha! The fabric is of good, soft quality and I can imagine it will last quite a while unlike the regular vest tops you might be pulling into all sorts of shapes underneath your clothes!

I know lots of mums feel self-conscious breastfeeding out and about, in part because of their post-baby belly and this could really help with that and hopefully give those mums a bit of much-needed confidence :)

It has adjustable straps which is great – I’m short and it’s a lovely length on me, just skimming my bum which I love, I love longer tops!

I honestly can’t think of a negative for this review – they start at £10 (limited edition colours, £15 for black/white) which I think is quite good value, but obviously if you wear it a lot you’ll want to wash it regularly – daily if it gets covered in breast milk! So perhaps the only con is that it could add up if you want to buy a few (although they do sell 2 for £25).

You can buy the Breastvest in a range of sizes and colours (black or white, but they do some limited edition other colours!) at their website but they have also kindly offered me one to give away… all you need to do is enter through Rafflecopter below where it will ask you to leave a comment about other useful breastfeeding items. The winner will be picked at random on November 5th. Only open to UK residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was sent a Breastvest to review. I didn’t receive any additional payment. All views and opinions are my own.

Posted in breastfeeding, parenting, reviews | 11 Comments

Top 5 apps for new parents

Here are some smartphone apps I’ve found useful over the last few months (as a new mum!) that I hope you will too….

  1. Baby Connect – an app that you can track everything from feeds and nappy changes to milestones and medical information on

You might remember that I first mentioned this app in my breastfeeding story – I found it really handy to track when the last feed was, which side etc. Over time it was crazy to see the overall time feeding go down from about 6 hours a day to a more manageable 2-3! It was also handy to check in the morning how many times during the night I’d been up – however tired I was, I always managed to use the app!

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Now that baby W’s feeds and naps are far more regular, I don’t really use the app any more but like I said I did find it really useful in those first couple of months. It’s an expensive app (£3.99 I think) but it has lots of other features that I didn’t end up using like tracking their weight/height, photos and milestones, oh and nappy changes (I forgot, I did track nappy changes at a time when we seemed to be doing it every 5 minutes!), and you can use it for more than one baby/child.

2. Wonder weeks – keeps track of your baby’s development leaps

This was recommended to me by a friend and I’m so glad. Every time baby W is grouchier than usual, I check the app and I can see he’s in a ‘developmental leap’ and that explains why his mood is slightly different – he’s learning new things and taking in lots of information! I’m not sure how widely these leaps are used e.g. by health professionals – I’d not heard of them before this app – I guess you can think of them as a type of ‘growth spurt’?

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Either way, the app has been bang on so far, and gives lots of info about the leap and what to expect afterwards…. it will be interesting to see if it carries on being so useful as I can see that the start windows (based on baby’s age, by week) become a bit wider so might get harder to tell if he’s in a leap or whether there’s something else happening?

At the moment we’re in leap 5 aka ‘the world of relationships’ where he’s learning about relationships and distances with people and objects… very interesting!

3. 23 snaps and Tinybeans - photo sharing apps

As you know, I don’t post photos of baby W on the blog. I almost kept him off Facebook too but relented in the end and add a few every month or so…. as much as I’d love to show him off, I didn’t want to spam Facebook friends with daily photos of him whereas close friends and family want to see as many photos as possible!

Screenshot from 23 snaps (sorry no baby photos!)

Screenshot from 23 snaps (sorry no baby photos!)

That’s where these apps come in – they’re private social media networks. Upload your photos, and send invites to people who you want to have access to them. All very safe, very easy to use and manage, and ends up being a great online, timelined record of baby’s photos, and status updates! I’ve mostly been using 23 snaps, which I love, and now have just started using Tinybeans too as I won a photobook with them (via Jenna at Tiny footsteps’ review and giveaway :).

Hopefully using these has kept Facebook friends happy at not being spammed… and I know many family members have really appreciated the 23 snaps updates as they’re not on Facebook.

4. Free prints – photo printing app

So you’ve sorted out your online photos, but what about printing them off? I think it’s nice to have an actual copy of photos plus I’d lose all of baby W’s photos if I lost my iPhone so I’ve been using Freeprints to print them off.

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There’s no catch – it’s a great deal, you get 45 free prints a month and just pay the postage which is £3.99. For more than 45 prints, you pay £0.09p per print. I’m on my third month and can assure you that the quality is as good as the value! Also, I made a mistake on my first order but Michael from their customer service team sorted it out for me very quickly – great service!

The only downside I’ve found is if you’re uploading a lot of photos, it can take a while but I think that’s probably the same as most other photo printing app

5. Moonpig – greeting card app

This is only relevant if you’re like me and like sending actual birthday cards in the post and not just writing on people’s Facebook walls ;) This app is great – it’s really easy to use, to upload photos and edit text using one of their templates – within just a couple of minutes you’ve created a personalised card and posted it to the recipient!

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Including postage, cards cost £3.60 which I think is pretty good – a decent card can cost as much as that these days! Saves you leaving the house to ever buy birthday cards again, and these ones are better anyway as your friends and family will be delighted to see your little munchkin on the card!  I’ve used it at least 10 times now – 3 father’s day cards, a wedding and lots of birthdays – I’ve now gone down the prepay route which gives me £5 free credit on a £20 spend!

The only downside I’ve found on this app is that you can only order 1 card at a time – so on father’s day I had to do 3 separate transactions – still only took minutes though :)

So there we have it – some of my favourite apps from my early parenting days! What do you think of this bunch? Do you know of any alternatives? What have been your essential apps (apart from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!!)? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below….

Posted in parenting, reviews, Technology | 1 Comment

Our first family holiday – Center Parcs, Longleat

Last week we went our first family holiday to Center Parcs in Longleat, read on to find out how got on :)

How we chose Center Parcs

My other half and I LOVE our foreign holidays and we always thought that baby W’s first holiday would be to somewhere like Spain or Greece. However, as he still isn’t sleeping through the night, the thought of the 3 of us sharing a hotel room all week was unappealing! We’d been to Center Parcs separately (read about my girly weekend there when I was pregnant) and both loved it so we knew it would be perfect for our first family holiday as we’d have plenty of space! (And if he screamed the house down, we wouldn’t wake up any neighbours!!)

Preparation

I’ve never been so busy in the run-up to a holiday! We wanted to take as much food and drink with us as we could, to try and recoup some of the money we’d spent on booking the holiday! So the day before I went to Aldi’s, home bargains AND got a delivery from Tesco lol!

The day we left it took us a good couple of hours to get our stuff together and into the car. The accommodation doesn’t include a washing machine, and the weather was looking mixed… and you never know when baby’s going to have a growth spurt… so I took a LOT of clothes!

So as well as food, drinks, clothes, toiletries we also managed to get into the car baby W’s bath, moses basket, bouncer and playgym!

Our accommodation

We had a ‘new style executive’ chalet in the Pines area. When we arrived I initially felt like it needed a good scrub and/or a bit of a refurb e.g. the bathroom grouting was grubby, handrprints all over the patio doors… but once we’d unpacked our stuff those thoughts faded away and it really felt like a home from home!

This was a slightly more expensive chalet than the previous one I’d stayed in and some of the extra features were a coffee machine (nice!), Jacuzzi bath (lush), en suite bathrooms, daily maid service (fab!) and TV’s in the bedroom (which we didn’t use). The rainforest-style showers in both bathrooms were AMAZING!

I love this wall in the chalet at Center Parcs!

I love this wall in the chalet at Center Parcs!

And of course the best thing about the accommodation is the view out from the sofa… the trees, the peace and quiet, the birdsong, the squirrels and rabbits running around….

the view from our back garden, Center Parcs

the view from our back garden, Center Parcs

We were really happy with the location – we could walk to the main Plaza and down to the sports area. When I’d been before we had to get the land train over to the Plaza, so it was nice to be able to be within walking distance this time.

What we got up to

We were blessed with beautiful crisp, sunny weather every day so we did lots of walking around with daddy and baby W making good use of their Baby Bjorn carrier!

Daddy and baby W went swimming nearly every day in the lovely, warm subtropical paradise pool – mummy joined them a couple of times too :)

Daddy treated Mummy me to not one but two massages in the Spa and a spa session – bliss! The massages were wonderful, and I really enjoyed using all the steam rooms and saunas that I was unable to use when I was pregnant – my favourite is the lemongrass steam room mmmm. I still think that this spa is the best one I’ve been to by far!

Even the walk to the spa is lovely at Center Parcs!

Even the walk to the spa is lovely at Center Parcs!

My parents came to stay for 2 nights so cue more walking, swimming and eating!

We ate most of our meals in the chalet but we did have brunch in the Grand café, lunch in the Pancake house, lunch in Café Rouge and a Chinese takeaway – all very good! I must add at this point that I noticed all the staff at Center Parcs are super friendly :)

So other than that we just chilled and played in the chalet. Unfortunately baby W was a bit grouchy for the first few days but perked up by the end of the week. my OH and I took it in turns to have lie-ins/naps so we both managed to catch up with some much-needed sleep :) For the (un?) lucky one that was up early, we were blessed with some amazing sunrises….

sunrise at Center Parcs

sunrise at Center Parcs

sunrise at Center Parcs

sunrise at Center Parcs

One early morning when I was giving daddy a break I took baby W down the lake and we saw a baby deer (fawn?!) on the way :)

early morning walk down at the lake, Center Parcs

early morning walk down at the lake, Center Parcs

We also made a trip into nearby Warminster to stock up on wine, supplies and we bought some 99p reading glasses from Poundstretcher as my OH had misplaced his glasses!

The week flew by and suddenly it was our last day :( We made a lovely day out of it, going on safari in Longleat park which was great fun especially seeing lions very close-up (didn’t get a decent pic as I had baby W on me at the time!), having a monkey banging on our bonnet and watching the very nice Mercedes in front of us get trashed by the monkeys! Oh and making baby W wear a giraffe hat that came with a Next sleepsuit, he looked SO cute but unimpressed :)

We’ll definitely go back to Longleat park once W is a bit older…

giraffe at Longleat

giraffe at Longleat

Lemurs all cuddled up together at Longleat

Lemurs all cuddled up together at Longleat

Monkey on our bonnet! Longleat

Monkey on our bonnet! Longleat

We then stopped in Warminster for lunch – we went to a Wetherspoons for my first time in ages and I was really pleasantly surprised by the food, tasty and great value!

Home time

A couple of days after getting home, the weather turned – it seems to have gone from Summer to Winter here in Cardiff – a shocker but makes those memories from last week even more lovely… baby W falling asleep in his baby bjorn in the sun, his first real encounter with ducks… :)

Hopefully we’ll take W abroad next year, but we will definitely take him back to Center Parcs at some point – it really was a home from home and it was great being able to take all of his home comforts and toys with us – I’m not sure how we’d cope abroad without his playgym and bouncer!  (Although I guess by then he will have outgrown them!)

Where was your first family holiday? Or where would you like to go?! I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below, or follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin x

Posted in parenting, travel | 3 Comments

Liebster award #2

You might have read my first liebster award for new bloggers – well my second nomination came from the lovely Mrs H - thank you sweetie! Please go and check her out – find out how she kissed John Barrowman!

Here’s the questions she asked of me..

1. What is your favourite book?

I love reading but very rarely get a chance to do it anymore! I love good thrillers, and a good chick lit but my favourite genre are any books based in faraway places like China, India etc… for that reason my fave ever book is ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ – it got to all my senses like being able to see and smell blossom trees… still can’t believe it was written by a man!
2. If a film was made of your life which actress would you want cast as you? 

Either Renee Zellwegger or Clare Danes – only because I’ve been flatteringly-told I have slight resemblances to them (I wish!)
3. What is your favourite way to spend a summer evening?

Sitting in the garden with a glass (bottle) of Prosecco, lovely nibbles, a good magazine and my family :)

4. What is your happiest memory?

Has to be the moment that baby W was laid on my chest just after being born

5. If you could have any super power what would it be and why?

I would like to be able to sprinkle fairy dust wherever it’s needed – this stuff could fix wars, broken hearts etc :)

I also like Karl Pilkington’s ‘Bullsh*t man’ character – there are lots of people I’d like him to make a visit to!

6. Tea or coffee?

I like a good coffee now and again but it has to be tea – I get through about 10 cups a day!

7. What would you do if you were Prime Minister for the day?

Oooh good question! Essay coming up…

Sort out the housing crisis by repurposing lots of our old, unused buildings – turning them into housing and community buildings. Also on the same note, limit the amount of housing that can be sold to overseas buyers – it doesn’t affect me but it sounds like this is a nightmare in London. In Dubai overseas buyers are only allowed to buy in certain areas – I think this could work in London?

I know unemployment is improving and there are some good, hardworking people who are still unable to find work. However, for all the benefit scroungers out there I can’t understand why they aren’t asked to do some type of community service (e.g. volunteering/ maintenance/ community projects???) or join the army or anything else that’s useful for the rest of us that are paying for them?

I love the NHS but it could be improved – I’d bring in a business guru like Lord Sugar to try and streamline things… not to focus on targets on care but thinking back to my pregnancy, and also an eye condition I suffer from – I’ve spent SO MANY HOURS hanging about in our local hospital – things could be organised a lot better and that would save them money!

I could go on but that will do for now!

8. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I went through phases… fashion designer, author and then for years I wanted to be an investigative journalist!

9. What makes you laugh?

Baby W laughing… being silly…. Fawlty Towers…. An idiot abroad….

10. What three words would your friends use to describe you?

Easy-going, laid-back, disorganised

11. Bags or shoes?

Shoes!

Now to nominate some new bloggers – here’s some new parenting/pregnancy bloggers I’ve come across over the last few weeks – Little O and me and Another Bun and a local (Cardiff) lifestyle/beauty blogger The little bones blog 

Ladies, please use the same questions as above – I know it’s cheating but I’m better at answering than thinking of questions!

Readers – please check out these new blogs and show them your support :)

the full rules…..

A Liebster is given to up and coming bloggers who may not be receiving the love that they deserve. It is a lovely way to introduce you, my readers, to some brilliant blogs. Plus, you get to learn more about me as I have 11 questions to answer.

The rules of the awards are nice and straightforward: 

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions given to you.
  • Nominate other bloggers with less than 500 followers whose blogs you love.
  • Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
Posted in blogging, get to know me better | 2 Comments

3 months left of maternity leave – a mum’s list of things I want to do!

I honestly can’t believe it, it’s flown by and the next 3 months will go so quickly.. before you know it I’ll be sat back at my desk with my work head back on!

Apart from the parenting malarkey, I had visions that I would learn some new skills on my maternity leave like:

  • cooking some new dishes e.g. dhal, hummus and baking cakes
  • watching YouTube tutorials on how to blow dry and plait my hair!
  • gardening

I haven’t done any of those! I think the only new thing I’ve done has been blogging… which is a time-consuming hobby but one I’m enjoying and it will also come in handy for my day job (read about it on my ‘about me’ page if you’re interested)

So here’s my mum’s list of things I need to and want to do over the next 3 months – some are chores, some are new skills – either way I find them equally difficult to devote time to without missing out on any of baby W’s time, or catching up with much-needed rest…:

  • remortgage my house as my fixed rate has ended so I need to lock it in before rates go up, hopefully this will save me some money :)
  • learn how to use the SLR camera that I’ve had for 2 years and hardly used, use it to take some lovely photos of baby W…. first, I just need to find the charger!
  • the above means I might *need* to get a new laptop – this will be a nice treat, I’ll be able to blog more efficiently and I can sort out all my music/photos/iTunes etc etc
  • I also *need* to get a new (used) car this year – I drive a 14 year old little Peugeot – it does the job in getting W and me from A to B, but I have to put the pram in the back seat which isn’t very safe… and it’s too old for an isofix and I reckon those time-saving minutes will become so important when I’m dropping off/picking him up from the childminder’s!
  • discover some more new places in my city of Cardiff – I have done some of this but would like to make more of an effort exploring the suburbs I haven’t been to!
  • watch some TED talks to find out what all the hype is about
  • plant some daffodils and tulips for the first time, ready for the spring

Bit of a random list eh!? Did you use your maternity leave to do anything new (apart from learning how to be a parent obviously ;))?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or tweet me at @yummyblogger

Posted in get to know me better, opinion, parenting, random | 8 Comments

5 months old! Weeks 21-22 of being a mummy – first holiday and own bed!

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Baby W turned 5 months old on Friday and as always, it feels like time is running away with us!

Since our last update we’ve had our first family holiday to Center Parcs – you can see some of the photos above but I’ll blog about it properly this week.

While we were there we put W into his own room (in his moses basket) and so when we came home we moved him into his nursery and cot bed… 2 nights in and none of us have slept much but no going back now!

He’s had a bit of a cold which he’s still fighting off poor thing – lots of coughing and a snotty nose :( And we think is next teeth are close to coming through…. so he’s been a bit more grouchy and less smiley than the last 2 updates :(

Milestones

I think in his last update I said how much he loves kicking, now he also loves hitting – not in a bad way but just trying to reach and feel for stuff

Talking of reaching… the biggest change in the last fortnight is he’s started reaching his arms out when he wants to be picked up/comforted – very cute!

Purchases

Well the big one in the last fortnight is we bought a Fisherprice jumperoo – we just set it up 2 days ago and although he’s a weeny bit small for it, he absolutely loves it – I had a feeling he would with those active legs of his! I think this will keep him entertained for hours :)

He’s still wearing mostly 0-3 month clothes (!) but he did grow out of all his 0-3 sleepsuits so I enjoyed buying some new ones from Next and Mothercare with some vouchers we had (see in the photo montage above!) – I love Next sleepsuits – they might be a bit more expensive than other brands but they wash really well and they are so pretty!

Oh and despite saying I wouldn’t buy any 3-6 month clothes as we already had enough… I couldn’t resist the cool/dude/cool dude tops in the photo – they were in the Mothercare sale – down from £9 to £5 :)

Sleep

Zzzzzzzzzz as already alluded to – still not great! Generally he wakes every 2 hours on average, worse than he was a month or so ago – it could be his cold, or teething or it could be sleep regression? I’ve started reading the ‘no cry sleep solution’ book and am starting a few of the tips today like trying to get him to nap longer in the day and lengthening the pre-bed routine.

I also forgot to mention in the purchases bit that I bought Ewan the dream sheep yesterday and am wondering whether to invest in a sleep poddle pod type thing – I’ll try anything!!

What else we’ve been up to

Well the week before our hols it felt like we were just getting ready for hols! We did go and visit my family for a day which was lovely but other than that we had a quiet week. Yesterday I went into town for a mooch round the shops with my sis which was a nice break!

That’s it for now folks –  read the last update here and follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin so you never miss another update :)

Posted in my regular updates, parenting | 9 Comments

Finding and choosing a childminder – our experience

We’re over halfway through my maternity leave (sad face) and it was time to sort out childcare. Panic and fear ensued, as reality hit that I would be back in work in a few months and my little bundle of joy and farts would be in someone else’s care (another sad face)

So where did we start?

We always said we’d prefer a childminder to a nursery to begin with – we liked the idea of a more personal service. We wanted to go with a personal recommendation but unfortunately everyone we heard of via word-of-mouth was already full.

This was where I started to panic a little, and wonder if we should indeed use a nursery or if we’d left it too late for that. I was also panicking about the logistics – I work in the city centre and traffic can be horrendous, I don’t want to pay to be stuck in traffic! I asked on some local Facebook groups for some recommendations and I was given:

  • more personal recommendations (couldn’t fit me in again but nice of people to share them nonetheless and one did pass my details on to another childminder that she knew was available)
  • a link to the local council’s chilcare section – they list all registered/approved childminders and their contact details
  • a link to childcare.co.uk  – I’d not heard of this but this is what I ended up using – it’s a free service where you place adverts for your childcare needs and relevant childminders get in touch. (and you can contact childminders who have advertised)

So after speaking to 3 over the phone, I arranged to meet them – again, more panic – what was I supposed to ask them and check for?! After lots of Googling the main message seemed to be that I would just get a gut feeling if I met the ‘right one’ but I did take a mental checklist to ask about:

  • costs and hours (we want an early start to avoid traffic which not all childminders offer)
  • sickness and holiday procedure (some charge for you taking holidays)
  • notice period
  • what they plan to get up to during the day – routine and activities

So I turned up to meet Penny* – the outside of her house was a bit of a mess and I recalled a forum I’d read the previous night where a mummy said she’d driven off when she saw the state of a potential childminder’s house! I was pleasantly surprised when she answered the door and it was someone I’d been sat next to, and chatting to, at a playgroup just a few days before! Spooky! She seemed great, nice, laid-back with 2 of her own kids and a couple of others in her care.

The next day I went to meet Dee* and I pretty much knew she was ‘the one’ straight away (I had a good inkling on the phone, before even meeting her):

  • she seemed nice but also very professional (she took me through all her policies and procedures without me asking – everything from menu plans to references!)
  • she has great experience – she’s setting up on her own after working for years in the nursery that I would want to see if we were going down that route
  • I loved her house – it had a nice vibe, and her location is better than Penny’s* – more convenient for me and my OH despite us working in different directions
  • she has a son just 6 weeks older than little W and this was one of the main reasons I had such a great feeling – watching them play together I just had this feeling that they would be great company for each other :)
  • they go to a fortnightly baby group that we’ve just started going to – so we could get to know them a bit better over the next few months

I was all for choosing her anyway, and then I got a sign…. we were talking about comforters and I was saying that I needed to get a duplicate for ours as we’d be lost without it but I’d probably left it too late…. she only had a spare duplicate of our comforter that her son hadn’t taken to so we could have it!

Old and new comforters

Old and new comforters

I do like a good sign so that was that!

I cancelled my appointment with the third potential childminder, and didn’t bother making an appointment with the nursery that I was going to check out (although it will always be an option if things don’t work out for whatever reason).

We’ll be paying £37.50 a day (which assuming an 8.5 hour day works out at £4.41 per hour) – most childminders seem to range between £4 and £5 per hour. This is nearly £20 cheaper per day than the nursery I mentioned!

Over the next few months I’ll sign a contract with her and we’ll do some ‘settling in days’ where we leave him for an hour – building up to a full day by the time I go back to work. She’ll be giving me my ‘parent pack’ which are all the policies and procedures – don’t be scared to ask for this, it sounds like every childminder has to do this as part of their registration process. (I suspect that older/longer-running childminders are a bit more laid-back when it comes to this stuff but as she’s just setting out she’s doing everything by the book so far which I like!)

Find out how we get on over the next few months – follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin so you never miss another update :)

*names changed

Posted in parenting | 4 Comments