28 December 2012

Guest Post: Dilemmas Of Full-Time Employed Parents


We have a lovely guest post from Rob James today, a father of 4 girls! His topic of choice: Dilemmas of Full-Time Employed Parents!

There are many challenges involved in being a full-time employed parent. The most pressing of these challenges is how do you realistically juggle work and your children? For most parents, juggling the two means having to make sacrifices in key areas, and having to accept that you’re probably going to have to work out who can most afford to take time out of work between two partners. What are some of the main problems, then, for employed parents, and how can you try to makes things easier on yourself?

Work eats up a lot of time, especially when both parents have to commute, and can’t take children to school. There may also be a lot of work to complete in evenings, as well as training courses and conferences. In most cases, you don’t want to have to lose your competitive edge in the workplace, and don’t want to be seen as unreliable due to your children. Parents going back to work after long periods off as the result of maternity and paternity leave can find it particularly tough to readjust to the demands of a full-time schedule. The stress that results, and the time spent apart from children, can get demoralising very quickly.

There are some expensive options that can make it easier to handle both children and work. One of these options is to take a pay cut and work part time or flexible hours in order to have more time at home - obviously this isn’t going to appeal to most people, and especially when both parents need to work in order to support a household. Other options, like paying for childcare for young children, or even boarding school for older ones, is going to be a major drain on finances, and can mean that you spend very little time together as a family.

It’s possible to make working pressures a little easier by not completely dropping out of work or significantly reducing hours, but by arranging for more flexible shifts. Many companies will accept flexible hours if you need to work from home a few mornings a week - online communication and video calls means that you won’t miss out on important information, although this will depend on particular jobs. Ensuring that one parent is home a few days a week can also help, and can mean working regular weekend hours if children are in school.

Another option, and one that is commonly used in the UK, is to hire au pairs to help with children and around the house. Cheaper than hiring a nanny or other kinds of full-time childcare, an au pair is typically a young person aged 18-28 from overseas. Au pairs live with you while completing a language course, or just live in the UK for an extended period of time to get experience of the country. Lengths of stay can range up to 18 months - you provide bed and board, and a small amount of spending money.

In exchange, au pairs help out with your children. Duties can include taking them to and fro school, making basic meals, and helping out with the cleaning. Au pairs are expected to have a lot of time to themselves, and shouldn’t be seen as full-time employees. They also shouldn’t be expected to carry out heavy duty cleaning or repairs around the house, and shouldn’t be left with very young children and babies. Ideally, an au pair will be a trusted person in the house that can make the difference between working full-time, and having to make salary cuts and difficult career choices.

Rob is a father to four girls and recommends Au Pair UK based company AuPair In Britain when looking for a live in nanny.  In his spare time (when he gets some), he can be found blogging about the different aspects of family life, from birthday parties, dealing with fights, and organising family time together.

29 November 2012

Review: FunkyGiraffeBibs.co.uk


We were recently approached by the lovely Funky Giraffe Bibs to do a little review for them and as you can guess from the name they're all about the bibs. Logan is a little old for bibs at almost 3 but luckily Funky Giraffe Bibs also have other products such as hats, playsuits, rompers, t-shirt, dresses etc so we chose a couple of t-shirts to review instead.

Funky Giraffe was set up in 2009 by Yasmin Drury, having worked for a major retailer she was all too aware of the cost of production and the massive mark up charged by companies. As a mum herself, she knew what she wanted for her son and set out to produce funky designs at a reasonable price.

This is a true family business; Yasmin’s brother produces the garments in his factory based in Bursa, Turkey and she runs the business with her husband Solomon and their 4 year old son! Unlike many small companies in a similar position in Turkey, Funky Giraffe pay social security and insurance payments for their staff and ensure that they have broadly similar levels of health and safety to the UK. 

So what did we think of the t-shirts Logan was sent? Well they're great. Firstly Funky Giraffe Bibs have a good selection of t-shirts to choose from with simple striking designs. I chose the green explorer and white pure joy t-shirts for Logan to try. There are a range of sizes to choose from starting at 3 months and going up to 4 years. The t-shirts are very soft and hold their shape well especially around the neck thanks to a handy built in elasticated strip which I think is genius! Logan loved wearing the t-shirts due to their softness and there was plenty of room for him to move easily in them which is a bonus for a toddler who's becoming obsessed with Spiderman.

Funky Giraffe only use fabric made to OEKO-TEX standard 100 for baby garments.  They print their own items and only use water based inks. The company only use inks that are completely non toxic which is great to know. These t-shirts was really well at 40c and are beautifully stitched. I'm really fussy about the stitching on clothes and a loose thread of bad stitch puts me off. But I examined these t-shirts with a fine toothed comb and couldn't find a stitch out of place. One very happy mummy here.

You can purchase these t-shirts from as little as £6.50 however you have to bulk buy to get that price. If you're not bulk buying then they're £9 each. You also get free UK shipping, hurray!

With prices starting at under £2 for baby bibs, personalised items from £4 and playsuits from £7, these are quality products at very affordable prices, making them the ideal Christmas present. Due to popular demand the range is expanding daily so watch this space for more exciting products.

Overall I really like these t-shirts, they wear well and wash well so can't complain about that at all. Logan also enjoyed wearing them so he's given the thumbs up. Pricing is fair considering the quality of these t-shirts and they'd make a great present for that little person in your life.

Mummies rating - 9/10
Logan's rating - 10/10

Please visit www.funkygiraffebibs.co.uk for more products and information. You can also see what they get up to on Facebook and Twitter. Remember to tell them The Breastest News sent you!

27 November 2012

Win an Avengers Academy Day Out


Win! An exclusive Avengers Academy day out for you and your friends with Rubie’s

Ever thought about what  you’d you do if you had super powers? How would you keep the world safe in the face of danger? Children across the UK are being invited to share their best advice and tips on what they would do if they were a superhero for a day in an online competition launched by fancy dress manufacturer Rubie’s.

All entrants are invited to submit their words of wisdom for protecting the Earth along with a photo sporting their very best superhero outfits – homemade or official.

Showcasing an assemblage of super-beings, adventurers and crime fighters, all entries submitted via the Rubie’s Marvel Superheroes website will be uploaded to an online Pinterest gallery for all to see and included in a video on Rubie’s YouTube page. The best entrant will be chosen by a panel of judges and will be crowned the ultimate superhero. The lucky winner will receive the ultimate superhero prize, an Avengers Academy experience.

The winner and ten friends will receive a special invitation to the ultimate Marvel themed day out. They’ll be kitted out in the latest Rubie’s Marvel costumes and will spend the day at a local kids activity centre. In between tackling the exciting activities, the team will refuel with an Avengers themed party feast and will be entertained by a special party host. The day will be topped off with all party members taking home an exclusive Avengers party bag.

Launched by Rubie’s, one of the UK and Europe’s leading fancy dress costume manufacturers, the Avengers Academy competition has been created to share kids’ love for their favourite superheroes. In addition to the winning prize, the first fifty entrants will also receive a free copy of the latest Marvel movie, Avengers Assemble, on DVD or Blu-Ray.

For more information about Rubie’s Marvel Superheroes, or to enter the competition please visit http://www.rubiesmarvelsuperheroes.com/ Like the Pinterest page at http://pinterest.com/rubiescostumes/?d  

14 November 2012

Giveaway: Win a £50 Voucher to Spend at Sweetpea


Win a £50 voucher to spend at new baby and children’s website Sweetpea

Sweetpea is an online boutique that brings together a collection of easy-to-wear stylish fashion for babies and children aged 0-6.

Sweetpea offers parents a real alternative choice from the high street and other popular online destinations with each of their collections carefully selected for its great quality, wonderful detailing, simple styling, gorgeous colours and prints, and, most importantly, really competitive pricing.

At Sweetpea, parents will discover up-and-coming new designers such as Beau Loves and Tappa Nakki alongside well-loved brands such as Toffee Moon and Week-end a la Mer not to mention exclusive access to designers not yet available in the UK such as Nice Things Mini, who will be introduced this Autumn.

Alongside the baby and children’s fashion, Sweetpea have put together a small collection of imaginative toys and gifts by Kiko , gg*, Chimen and The Black Rabbit.

All Sweetpea orders are packaged in eco-friendly canvas bags, which can be re-used for anything from carrying home the groceries to an overnight bag. Sweetpea also offer free returns and free postage on orders over £50.

You can view the Sweetpea boutique at www.shopatsweetpea.com

To enter this competition like Sweetpea on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sweetpea/122598577818291
and fill in the entry form here http://form.jotformpro.com/23182799920968

12 November 2012

Make a Pledge with Medela


Medela are very excited to announce the launch of their new campaign; Make a Pledge.  The campaign gives families a unique opportunity to make a special and personal promise to an important child in their life, through a dedicated microsite www.makeapledge.co.uk

Medela provides the most technologically advanced breast pumps and breastfeeding accessories to nursing mothers around the world.  A long-time champion of breastfeeding, Medela is the only company to develop products based on research by the world’s leading lactation experts. As a result, Medela’s breast pumps are the number one choice of healthcare professionals and facilities worldwide
There are plenty of things to think about when a new baby will soon be joining the family. Everyone hopes it will be loved and cared for, but beyond that every parent and family member has a special wish for that child. Whether it’s something simple like promising to teach them how to bake their Grandmother’s chocolate cake, or to take them swimming every Sunday, it’s certainly nice to make a note of that treasured promise. Medela themselves have pledged to support new families in the precious breastfeeding months.
With so much excitement when a new baby arrives, it’s easy to lose sight of things you always imagined you would pass on. The pressures and expectations new families face are enormous, and parents may be overwhelmed by the wealth of decisions they need to make such as; what nappies to use, feeding choices and later down the line what school to select? With these on-going and important choices parents’ can easily forget about the little things. Maybe they’d always dreamed of making a family tree with their child, or going blackberry picking at their local farm. With this in mind Medela have set up a dedicated microsite where parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, siblings and even godparents or family friends can make their individual and personal promise to a child they love, however big or small!

A promise can be absolutely anything, and best of all everyone who makes a pledge gets a lovely personalised certificate to keep. Dad may promise he’ll be there when his little one scores his first goal, or Mum might pledge to teach her little one her native language. Whatever you pledge, it’s a lovely thing to be able to share with a child when they are older, and you can even keep it in their baby book.  It’s also a brilliant way to let a sibling bond with their little brother or sister. Of course you can pledge to any baby or child whatever their age!

To celebrate the Make a Pledge campaign, Medela have created a video that is sure to give everyone a warm fuzzy feeling! It shares the thoughts of expectant parents and even a little sister talking about her dreams for their new arrival, her pledge was to share her sweeties!

So if you have children, are expecting a baby or just have a special little someone in your life make them a personal pledge at www.makeapledge.co.uk

Giveaway: The Snowman 30th Anniversary Edition


Academy Award nominee The Snowman has captured the hearts and imaginations of a generation of families across the globe. Now, this timeless classic is available for the first time ever in high definition as The Snowman: 30th Anniversary Edition is released on Blu-Ray and DVD from November 5th 2012.
To celebrate, they've teamed up with master snow sculptor Duncan Hamilton (www.icesculpture.co.uk) from Hamilton ice sculptures to help you create your very own snowman!

Duncan says: "The traditional way to build a snowman is to pack snow together by hand, roll it to form balls and pat snow on to the surface to make the shape. This is quite limiting in terms of design and is not how the pros do it! To make a really strong snowman with lots of extra detail, why not try the following tips. But make sure you get a grown up to help you!"

#1 Get four equal sized sheets of wood. Arrange them to make a box with an open top and run a strong rope around them to keep them steady.
#2 Now shovel fresh snow into the box.
#3 Stamp or push it down carefully to compact it and carry on until you have filled the whole box.
#4 Leave it to stand for at least a couple of hours.
#5 Now remove the rope and the sheets of wood to reveal a perfectly compacted block of snow.
#6 You are now ready to carve your snow. Use any tools you have to hand – knives, saws, even spoons. You should find the snow quite easy to sculpt.

#7 Think carefully about your design and make sure that it is heavy at the base to prevent it collapsing or falling over.
#8 Be ambitious and have a good time!

Another idea…
In cold weather leave a tray with 1cm of water in it outside overnight to freeze. In the morning break the frozen sheets of ice up into bits and drill a small hole in each one, run string through the hole, then hang them from a tree to make a hanging ice installation.

Some facts:
  • Compacted snow has approx ½ the density of water, so a 1m cube will weigh about 500kg.
  • Snow melts more slowly than ice.
  • You can easily colour snow with food colouring and add it in layers to get different effects.
  • Michelangelo is reported to have sculpted Hercules in snow in Florence one winter for the Medicis.

Now my lucky readers can be in with a chance of winning 1 of 3 of these fantastic 30th Anniversary Edition DVD's of The Snowman.

How To Enter:
Basically all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to follow The Breastest News on Facebook and leave a comment here telling me you have done so. As simple as that! If you'd like an extra chance of winning then simply follow The Breastest News on Twitter as well and leave a comment telling me you have done so. That's all you have to do, very simple.

This is a UK only giveaway, closing date is 2nd December 2012 at 12 noon.

Winner will be chosen at random by my 2 year old son.

Good Luck everyone!!

10 November 2012

Breastfeeding After Surgery

Today we have a great feature for you all from the very lovely (and gorgeous) Marc Pacifico, a consultant plastic surgeon who specialises in both reconstructive and cosmetic surgery and works at McIndoe Surgical Centre in West Sussex www.mcindoesurgical.co.uk. I'm asking him about breastfeeding after surgery so here's what he has to say.

So first things first Marc, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I am a consultant plastic surgeon, with both a reconstructive and cosmetic practice. My reconstructive side is predominantly breast surgery - both post-cancer reconstruction and surgery for women with developmental breast problems (such as breast asymmetry or tuberous breasts). On the aesthetic side of my practice, apart from surgery to the face and body, I do a considerable amount of cosmetic breast surgery, including breast enlargement, breast lifts, breast reductions and nipple operations. I really enjoy my work, but have two small children at home, so my rule is to work very hard during the week, but wherever possible keep my weekends free for family time!

Breastfeeding after surgery is not something often discussed at antenatal groups, maybe due to lack of knowledge? So is breastfeeding after, say a breast enlargement, possible?
Breast feeding after a breast enlargement (augmentation) is possible as the milk ducts are not damaged during the operation. Furthermore, it is also safe - in fact a study some years ago looked at the amount of silicone found in the breast milk of mothers with breast implants and compared it with the amount of silicone in formula milk from the bottle of bottle-fed babies. Surprisingly there was less free silicone in the breastfed group! In both groups the amount of silicone was so small it was not at all clinically relevant in any case.

What about after a breast reduction or nipple surgery?
Regarding breast reduction, the answer as to whether breast feeding is possible is - possibly. It really depends on the size of reduction, the technique used, and also an element of chance. So although I would never say never, I would say that a breast reduction may affect breast feeding in the future. I would always recommend trying to breast feed, but be prepared for it not to work after a breast reduction. The important thing, however, is that you will do no harm trying.

Are there any increased problems such as mastitis when breastfeeding with implants or any other form of breast surgery?
The short answer is no. Theoretically there may be a slightly higher chance after a breast reduction as the ducts may have been partially damaged, but this has not been borne out in reality. Therefore, I would still recommend trying to breast feed if you can.

Also for the women out there already breastfeeding but having to undergo surgery (not on the breasts), how long should they wait before breastfeeding their baby again?
For women who have breast fed and seek elective breast surgery (such as a breast lift) I would wait a minimum of 6-months after breast feeding. However, for surgery during breast feeding, such as for an abscess, breast feeding should be continued as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of further mastitis, infection and abscess formation.

Is there anything women can do to maximise their breast milk production after breast surgery?

Unfortunately, apart from eating a balanced and healthy diet, nature will dictate how efficient your milk production is!

How do Brussels Sprouts Taste to Babies?


- Ella’s Kitchen masterminds a new gastronomic experience to let adults taste the same intense flavours babies taste when they try new foods –

The world’s first ‘baby taste’ menu marks the biggest revolution in the British culinary scene since Heston introduced molecular gastronomy.  The Big Tastes Menu, created by baby and toddler food experts Ella’s Kitchen, is designed to let adults experience the big flavours tiny tots taste when they try new foods.

Based on academic research revealing that babies have three times as many taste buds as adults, and even additional taste buds in their cheeks, the Big Tastes Menu includes ‘taste-amplified’ Brussels Sprouts and super-strength strawberries. 

The Ella’s Kitchen Big Tastes Menu includes foods recreated as babies might taste them, with a flavour intensity of up to ten times what a seasoned adult palate would normally experience.  The big taste sensations make sweet foods even sweeter but exaggerate the bitterness of other foods, such as Brussels Sprouts, helping to explain babies’ extreme reactions of delight or dislike of new foods. 

 The research shows that there are major physiological differences between the way babies and adults experience food.  Whilst babies are born with around 30,000 taste buds in a tiny mouth, many of these are lost with age and the average adult has only 10,000 taste buds which are largely restricted to their tongue. 

Chris Lukehurst, Taste Psychologist, comments: “Babies experience a significantly higher volume of taste than the average adult.  Evolution has also prompted them to develop an innate preference towards sweet flavours and avoidance of any bitter tastes, helping to explain why babies accept or reject certain new foods.  We have worked with Ella’s Kitchen to create the Big Tastes Menu to demonstrate to adults the same intense flavours babies experience when they first try foods, including the deliciousness of Ella’s Kitchen’s foods which are developed with babies’ taste buds in mind.”

Paul Lindley, Ella’s Dad and founder of Ella’s Kitchen, comments: “By creating the Ella’s Kitchen Big Tastes Menu, we are trying to help parents understand what babies really taste and explain why they have such strong reactions to new foods.  We are passionate about making sense of tiny tots’ taste buds so that we create the best quality food, just right for tiny taste buds, encouraging little ones to enjoy eating healthy foods from a very young age.  Believe me, the taste of a strawberry multiplied by ten, just like a baby experiences, is amazing.“

The menu was developed by specialist chefs at Molecular Bubble to allow adults to experience the combination of big tastes in Ella’s Kitchen baby food in the same way their little ones do.  Whilst different techniques were used to create the big tastes featured in the menu, Ella’s Kitchen goes to great lengths to ensure all of their products taste as good as homemade using only top quality organic ingredients with real herbs and spices, such as coconut and ginger, and no added water or refined sugar. 

Ella’s Kitchen’s vision is to help babies and toddlers eat healthier food and develop healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.  Set up six years ago by Ella’s Dad Paul Lindley, the company prioritises health and nutritional value, but never at the expense of taste or convenience.  Ella’s Kitchen strive to be Good in every sense, offering healthy, handy and fun food that doesn’t cost the earth.  

Since 2009 Ella’s Kitchen has ranked in the top 25 fastest growing companies in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 and secured a variety of consumer, trade and business accolades including Best Food and Drink Brand in the 2010 Grocer Gold Awards, International Business of the Year at the Fast Growth Business Awards 2011 and Best Organic Baby Food at the 2011 Prima Baby Awards.  Ella’s Kitchen has a 13.8% share of the UK baby food market and their products are now present in 30% of UK households with children under three.

The brand launched in Scandinavia and the US in 2009 and opened their second office in New Jersey, USA in 2011.  International expansion is continuing with the Australia launch in March 2012 and now every second of every day someone around the world is eating an Ella’s product.

13 October 2012

Breastfeeding & Contraception

Today we have a lovely interview with Caroline Cooper. Dr Caroline Cooper is a Women’s Health Specialist working in Contraception and Sexual Health clinics in Cambridge. She is a member of The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health and of the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine, and is actively involved in the education and training of other health care professionals in all aspects of sexual and reproductive health.

So first things first Caroline, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Hi Laura- I'm a specialist in sexual and reproductive health and have many years of experience working in general practice looking after new breastfeeding mums.
What do you think about Breastfeeding & Contraception, is it a hard subject to approach with new Breastfeeding mums?
Not at all, I think that women expect their doctor or midwife to discuss contraception with them, and are often surprised if we don't. In fact this should ideally be discussed with a woman before her baby is born so that she has time to consider what method will be right for her, as it may be a change from her previous contraception. 
How long should you wait after the birth of your baby before taking contraception if Breastfeeding?
The earliest any woman needs to start using contraception after having a baby is 3 weeks.
What are the best contraceptives to use when you are Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding mums are advised to avoid combined hormonal contraceptives containing oestrogen hormones for the first 6 months of breastfeeding. This is found in many of the commonly used contraceptive pills, the patch and the vaginal ring. The progesterone only pill or mini pill that you take every day can safely be started at any time after delivery. Breastfeeding mums may want to consider long-acting reversible contraception so that they don't need to remember to take a Pill every day. A copper IUD or hormone containing IUS can be fitted from 4 weeks after your baby is born, and an implant can be fitted from 3 weeks. All these methods are rapidly reversible if you decide to try for another baby. The progestogen only injection can be used from 3 weeks, but some women may get troublesome bleeding, so it is often started at 6 weeks.
Don’t forget barrier methods will be safe for breastfeeding Mums and a diaphragm or cap can be fitted when your baby is six weeks old. Condoms can be used at any time, but breastfeeding Mums can sometimes get vaginal dryness so may need to use a non-oil based lubricant with them.
Do these have any effects on milk production?
There is no evidence that progestogen only contraception affects breast milk volume.
Would any of the hormones in these contraceptives affect the baby in any way?
Progestogen only contraception has been shown to have no effect on infant growth.
As an alternative is Breastfeeding enough of a contraceptive on its own?
Yes many breastfeeding mums may be unaware that  breastfeeding is an effective contraceptive, and this can often be forgotten by healthcare professionals too. For a baby up to six months oId, if a woman is fully breastfeeding, and her periods have not yet returned she only has a 2% chance of pregnancy. This is comparable to many other types of contraception. It is important that the woman is feeding her baby on demand, and not giving any supplementary feeds. Use of pacifiers can also make this method less effective. Once night feeds stop or weaning starts this method can no longer be relied on.
Is there anything else you think would like to tell us?
Don't worry if you have forgotten to start a regular method of contraception and need emergency contraception  - this can still be used. It is not needed in the first 3 weeks after your baby is born or if the conditions are met for breastfeeding itself to be a contraceptive. Otherwise you can still safely take the progestogen emergency contraceptive pill or have a copper IUD fitted whilst breastfeeding.
Remember that breastfeeding Mums still have a huge choice of contraception, and its important to find time to have a chat with your doctor or midwife to find the method that suits you best!

12 October 2012

Review: Superman Pyjamas

Superman is one of those superhero's that will truly live forever and one which many Dads will fondly remember watching on TV when they were little. Now thanks to Fabric Flavours every Dad (and Mum) can share their fond memories of Superman at bedtime with their kids using these fab new superhero pyjamas.

As with all of Fabric Flavours products these pyjamas were delivered loving wrapped with superman logo tissue paper and a clear plastic bag to keep them clean whilst in transit. The quality of these pyjamas is off the highest standard, super soft with a lovely stretch to them which helps keep their shape after washing. Lefts face it no one wants saggy pj's, not even your toddler!

On these pyjamas Superman can be seen showing his yummy muscles and shear strength by ripping apart a steel chain which is a distressed print of the original Marvel artwork on red marl and the caption ‘Man Of Steel’ in bright yellow text at the bottom with ‘Superman’ printed above. These are seriously super cool and my son loves them.

Logan didn't know who Superman was until he received these pyjamas and now he can't get enough of them, he loves the soft feel of the pj's against his skin and ofcourse the muscle ripped Superman himself. We now hum the theme tune of Superman when my son puts these pyjamas on for bedtime!

You can get these pyjamas in sizes: 3 to 4 years, 5 to 6 years and 7 to 8 years. We received the 3 to 4 years and they're a lovely size with plenty of room for growth. The elasticated blue trim around the top and bottoms help to keep the pj's in place so no tripping or messy sleeves when eating porridge before bed. These pyjamas cost £22.00 to purchase and there's a few different designs if Superman doesn't tickle your fancy. You could have Batman, Darth Vader, Yoda or Spiderman. All great for little boys but also little girls.

Overall great pj's, easy to wash and they keep their shape, super soft for little ones skin and they have some really cool designs with 5 different characters to choose from. Yes they are expensive for pyjamas but the quality speaks for itself and I can see them lasting a full year if taken care of properly.

Mummies's rating - 8/10
Logan's rating - 10/10

Please visit www.fabricflavours.com for more products and information. You can also see what Fabric Flavours get up to on Facebook and Twitter so why not pop over and say hello! Remember to tell the The Breastest News sent you.

11 October 2012

Halloween Is Coming...

So you better get your skates on and head to Poundworld for some truly scaretastic bargains! I was lucky enough to be sent a box chocked full of Halloween goodies from Poundworld and can happily say I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Here are a few photos of my hoard.

As you can see Poundworld have quite the selection and the quality is really good. My favourite item has to be the holographic glasses, which have holograms of reptile eyes on them. The cute little Witches Hat Head Band is also fab and I'll definitely be wearing it when I answer the door to all the guisers. There's window decorations as well which is a pack of 6 spooky see through images with a sucker attached so it's easy to stick on your window and peel off when finished. It's good you'll be able to use these again and again so can be saved away for next year. There's lots more great products so please visit your local Poundworld for your Halloween bargains and much more!

13 September 2012

Out & About Breastfeeding Essentials

It's about time I wrote another breastfeeding related post and what better way to start than by giving my lovely readers a guide to Breastfeeding Essentials for out and about with your baby. Breastfeeding is hard at the best of times and even more of a struggle when you go out to the shops/ restaurant/ cafe etc, you want to make sure you're baby is fed properly and content but you don't want to be flashing your ample breasts to the world. So here's a list of products to make your journeys out with your bubba a little bit easier.

Mum & Baby Rescue Balm
Sore nipples are not something you want at home never mind when you're at the shops as latching can be a bit tender for you. Not to fear though, the Mum & Baby Rescue Balm from Green People has been designed to soothe sore cracked nipples but can also be used as a handy cream for baby. It smells fab and is certified organic. It has even won a TIPS Must-have 2012 award because mums love it. Priced at £9.07 for 100ml it is expensive but it's brilliant. You can purchase some for yourself from www.greenpeople.co.uk

Ultra Dry Comfort Breast Pads
These extremely absorbent breast pads from NUK are very kind to the skin with a breathable out layer that ensures a circulation of air. The anatomically designed pad shape with increased diameter and secure NUK adhesive strips help for a snug fit and is virtually invisible. You get 24 pads in a pack for £3.05 and each set are hygienically in individual packs so easy to pop in your mummy bag ready to hit the shops. Available from www.nukbabyshop.co.uk

Nipple Shields
NUK also have some handy nipple shields when when your breasts feel just that extra bit tender or if they get a bit cracked and bleedy these will help protect when feeding your baby. I got sore cracked nipples when I first started breastfeeding but lucky my nipples healed really quickly so I had no need for nipple shields however I've heard a few mums at baby groups who swear by these when times get tough. Each pack from NUK comes with 2 nipple shields and their own handy storage box so perfect for on he go. Priced at £4.38 they won't break the bank and can be cleaned ready to use again. www.nukbabyshop.co.uk.

Lansinoh TheraPearl 3in1 Breast Therapy
Lansinoh® Therapearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy brings advanced relief for a number of conditions associated with breastfeeding.  Therapearl can be used hot or cold and has also been specially designed to fit around your breast pump to encourage let down and promote faster milk flow.  Reusable and non-toxic, these unique packs are doctor designed and lactation consultant approved. They're perfect for keeping in babies changing bag and since they can be used cold you can pop them in your bra for soothing relief. They're £11.95 from John Lewis and so worth every penny. www.lansinoh.co.uk

Muslin Swaddle Blanket
As well as swaddling these are perfect for helping you cover up whilst breastfeeding keeping everything discreet. These have been spotted on lots of celeb babies including; Peaches Geldof, Mark Owen and Jamie Oliver's lot! Single 100% cotton muslin swaddling wrap, aden + anais® wraps are the ultimate in breathability and softness. The fabric’s light, open weave allows a baby’s body temperature to regulate itself naturally, helping to reduce the risk of overheating. It is gentle on baby’s skin and durable for everyday use. The more you wash aden + anais® wraps, the softer they get. aden + anais® wraps are extra large, measuring 47” x 47”, so that new and seasoned mums alike can swaddle babies of all sizes with ease. This brilliant blue swaddle costs £17.95 from www.adenandanais.co.uk.

Sterimar Baby
STÉRIMAR baby is an isotonic filtered sea water solution, 100 % natural and free from preservatives. It provides the beneficial properties of minerals salts and marine trace elements. With its specially designed nozzle, its very gentle pressure and microfine spray, STÉRIMAR baby ensures gentle nasal rinsing and cleansing. A great little piece of kit for keeping in your changing bag when baby has a blocked nose. Every mother knows it's hard to feed a baby never mind breast feed when they have a blocked nose so definitely worth having. Suitable from 0 - 3 years and costs around £4.07 for 50ml. www.sterimarnasal.co.uk.

Peaks of London Clothing
Peaks of London have some amazing breastfeeding tops and dresses, perfect for breastfeeding on the go. The flattering drapery of this waterfall breastfeeding top (above) is perfectly off-set by its fitted body – swish when you walk and it works with your curves. Wear with jeggings, skinnies or on its own as a minidress if you’re feeling daring…the perfect everyday tunic. Wherever you need to breastfeed this top will let you do it in style and discretion - pop baby underneath the soft fabric to keep him focused! www.peaksoflondon.com.

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Electric Breast Pump
You might be wondering why I have a breast pump on this out and about feature however if you prefer to express milk and use a bottle of your expressed milk when you're out then this is perfect - especially if you're busy! This will definitely take the hard work out of doing it yourself. I had a manual breast pump when I tried to express for my son and god did my hand hurt afterwards! www.tommeetippee.co.uk.

Anita Cherry Blush Nursing Bra
Well you can't go out and about proper breastfeeding without the all essential nursing bra. When I was expecting a few people said oh you'll not need nursing bras just lift your own bra up or lift your breast up and out to feed your baby. Well I did get a few nursing bras and thank god I did. You breasts are very swollen with milk so the last thing you want to do is be shoving them under a normal bra or grappling to lift them out! No you just want to flick a clip and down comes the front of your bra ready for breastfeeding, hurrah for nursing bras. This fab Anita Cherry Blush nursing bra should do just the ticket. This bra costs around £39.99 and can be purchased from a number of different online stores. www.anita.com.

11 September 2012

Review: Ella's Kitchen New Dairy Range

Ella's Kitchen have come over all dairylicious with their new range of dairy products; smooth + scrummy fromage frais, teeny creamy rice pudding with vanilla and chilled out thick and fruity yogurt. Logan was lucky enough to receive some vouchers so he could try the products for himself for free. He's such a lucky boy and when we picked up a few from Tescos I must say they looked delicious and that's just from checking out the packaging!
Paul is the brains behind the Ella's Kitchen brand, I'll let him tell you how it all began: "I set up Ella’s Kitchen because I passionately believe that Ella, my daughter, along with her generation, should have the opportunity to eat better food and also to discover that healthy food can be fun, tasty and cool.

From my experience with Ella and her brother Paddy, we think it’s important to always approach things from a child’s point of view. So, we took simple, natural ingredients that ooze goodness and created baby foods, and packaging, that really connects with little ones – with flavours, colours, textures and even names that will appeal to all of their senses."

I've always loved the Ella's Kitchen products and so has Logan, they always taste and smell great and their new dairy range don't disappoint. The smooth + scrummy fromage frais are perfect for stage 1 feeding, i.e. from 6 months but also for older children. Logan thought they were very yummy and ate all 6 pots in a matter of days. You get 6x55g pots in each pack of fromage frais. Three of which are mango and the other 3 are banana. I think Logan did prefer the banana as he hasn't tasted mango that often but he happily ate them all. I even popped some in his morning bowl of porridge for an extra twist and he scoffed the lot down. You'll be glad to know these are 100% whole milk fromage frais with real fruit puree, nothing else added. The ingredients are also organic so even better for your little ones.

Next up is the teeny creamy rice pudding. Unfortunately Logan didn't quite like these, I think it was the bits of rice as opposed to taste. He's not a fan of lumps in yogurts etc so didn't take to these very well. My other half however loves rice pudding and scoffed the 2 pack down in a couple of spoonfuls! The pots are 60g each so understandable really for a man. These are 100% rice pudding and vanilla with nothing else added, just like the fromage frais. Suitable for stage 2 feeding i.e. from 7 months onwards.

Last but not least is the chilled out thick and fruity yogurt. You get 4 pots in a pack each 85g of fruity goodness with two delicious flavours; pineapple and mango and strawberry and pear. Logan loved these without a doubt, both flavours, and I had a cheeky wee taste myself and couldn't agree more. These are perfect for stage 3 feeding i.e. 12 months onwards and as with the others they're just 100% whole milk yogurt, real fruit puree and honey, nothing else added.

Overall brilliant yummy snacks for your little ones that won't break the bank. The fromage frais cost £1.89 for 6 pots, the rice pudding costs £1.09 for 2 pots and the yogurts cost £1.79 for 4 pots. I know some of you might think these prices are quite expensive however they all contain organic natural ingredients with no nasties what so ever. Well worth the extra pennies for your little cherub.

Please visit www.ellaskitchen.co.uk for more products and information. You can also see what they get up to on Facebook and Twitter so why not pop over and say hello! Remember to tell them The Breastest News sent you.

Mumpreneurs: Jules McKeen and Sheena Gunn

Jules McKeen and Sheena Gunn are the brilliant mumpreneurs behind Peaks of London who manufacture and sell beautiful breastfeeding clothing from tops to dresses. Jules was kind enough to spare some of her busy time and tell us all about them and their journey. You can see all they have to offer at www.peaksoflondon.com.

So first things first, tell me a little bit about yourself and your family?

I have two little boys, Alfie and Harry, aged 2 and 4, and Sheena has two girls, Rosie and Joy, aged 12 and 10. We met in London where we were neighbours but I recently moved out to the country in Buckinghamshire where we can romp through the woods of a morning and be in my office in Covent Garden, London within an hour. My husband and I met in the advertising agency where we both worked, and this was my career for 15 years before setting up Peaks of London with Sheena.

What's the story behind Peaks of London?

Sheena - who is my co-founder and the designer - and I were neighbours. I had just had Alfie and ran into Sheena as I set out on a mission to find something to wear to a wedding which I could breastfeed in. Sheena was adamant there was nothing decent out there and indeed she was proven right. We decided to right this wrong in our own small way! Whilst on my maternity leave from being Group Marketing Director at an advertising group, we developed a capsule collection and essentially spent a year researching both the concept and the product with breastfeeding women to ensure every item was easy and discreet to feed in, felt and looked uber-stylish, was easy to wash and which passed our quality test: each garment must be met with the words 'what a lovely dress/top' as opposed to 'what a lovely breastfeeding dress'.

Jules and her boys

Where there any struggles along the way?

Giving up well paid jobs was a huge decision, and without having big personal wealth or a monied backer, the financial pressure was immense. We still plough every penny back into the business and due to my children being so small - and Harry coming along two weeks before our first shoot - there's a constant wrestle to see the family, grow the business and manage the crippling cost of childcare. We have grown the business to selling into ten countries as of January next year (including Japan, Russia, France, UAE, Lebanon and of course the UK), and so far have managed pretty much everything ourselves and self-funded. Having no staff to help us has been a challenge, with orders on the website coming in late at night when one of us is abroad looking at fabrics...

Looking back is there anything you wish you could have done differently?

Like everyone, setting up a business is a huge learning curve. I wish we'd set up fulfilment management earlier to handle and ship orders. I wish we had known a little more about the paperwork involved in running a company. But having said that, I think sometimes blind naivety coupled with confidence in a good product pays dividends; we found our whole collection sold into the first store we walked into on the 'offchance' and within a couple of weeks it had sold out in Harrods. Similarly Isetan - like Selfridges in Japan - are on their third season with us, but it was a chance e mail from Japan which led to that. Had we followed a rigid 'three year plan', probably these happy accidents might not have occured. The trick is prioritising however as it's so tempting to take any and every opportunity to grow your business, and sometimes you have to accept you have limited personal bandwidth at this stage to do everything and stay sane!

Are there any new products in the pipeline?
Yes - a few designer collaborations in the print area which we're excited about, and our Spring/Summer 13 collection just sold into retailers with a beautiful, silk yellow occasion dress called the Audrey which you would never guess you could feed in. We also have a silk T-shirt in the offing which is something you NEVER get to wear when you're breastfeeding. I'm excited about a couple of 'high neck' options, living in such a cold climate as we do!

A lot of mums would love to work for themselves, what advice can you give them?

Think really hard about whether you want a working business or a 'hobby business' (a phrase I found utterly patronising until I understood that actually I would need to commit serious time and money to the business to really make it work). What's tricky is when a hobby business becomes bigger and needs personal investment to get to the next stage. Really plot out if you and your family are up for the ride. Be brutal about your product. Never be satisfied and be your harshest critic. Always assume someone is going to come and eat your breakfast. Consider where, when and how you will get a proper space in the week to dedicate to the business. Personally, my efforts to work at home made things worse for my little ones and for the granny or nanny looking after them so I had to absent myself!

Finally, make time which is utterly for you and your family - switch off fully for a couple of days per week otherwise the guilt will overtake you!

2 September 2012

Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday

27 August 2012

Guest Post: Cloth Nappies


Today we have a great guest post from the lovely Lucy Hunn on cloth nappies. I'll let Lucy introduce herself properly: "I'm Lucy Hunn, mum of 2 daughters aged 3 and 1, pharmacist, Nutritional Therapist, breast feeding peer supporter and owner of www.hunnybums.com. I am an independent reusable nappy advisor and try to give people really clear, honest information before they delve into the world of cloth nappies - it can be a little confusing so we have video guides, pdf guides, a personal shopper option as well as lots of lovely nappies to choose from. I feel passionate about convincing people that real nappies aren't hard work but are in fact a great way to save money and save waste, as well as looking pretty damn fabulous!

So, me in a nutshell - I love nappies, nosh and wine, not especially in that order, and am enjoying the adventure that is parenthood (most of the time anyway....hence the love of wine....)"

I love cloth nappies. There, I've said it. I'm a fluff addict and I'm proud! When I was expecting my first baby, I decided to start researching reusable nappies and what I found out persuaded us to give it a go. Has it been hard work? Not really. Have we saved money? Yes, lots. Do we still use the occasional disposable? Of course - I am certainly no hessian wearing, eco-warrior, earth mother! Am I now totally addicted to cloth nappies? Yes, so much so that I set up hunnybums.com offering impartial advice & selling them. So why do I love them so much?

Here are my top 10 reasons why cloth is cool and why, in our house, disposables are known as despicables:

1. Stating the obvious, the WASTE! Eight million disposables a day go to landfill in the UK alone - unsustainable, unhygienic and downright unpleasant.

2. ENERGY - Studies have shown that even when you factor in manufacture and washing, reusables save energy overall (especially washing at 30 degrees with sanitised). Up to 3.5 times less energy than despicables disposables.

3. WATER - Even factoring in the washing, reusables create 2.3 times less waste water than disposables.
4. CHEMICALS - the 'stay-dry' gel in the core of disposables often leaves a residue on your    baby's skin in the form of weird crystals - what is that all about? I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have that against my baby's gorgeous, delicate skin.

5. The PLASTIC - regular disposables are made from over 95% extruded plastic, keeping your baby's bottom very warm. This is not great for boy babies and there is some suggestion it may lead to fertility problems in later life.

6. STROKE-ABILITY - reusables are just so much cuter! You can't beat that fluffy bum look and with so many colours and patterns to choose from, you'll have the best dressed bum in town.

7. Control what FABRIC goes against baby's skin - organic cotton and bamboo are fantastic    fabrics both for the environment and for delicate skin - very few chemicals and pesticides are used during their cultivation. 

8. Reusables can be REUSED over and over again - even on 2nd, 3rd & 4th children. Ok, by child 4 they are getting tatty - the nappies not the child - but they still work and continue to save you a small fortune.

9. Value for MONEY. With so many things to buy for a new baby, reusables are a great way to save money - you can save up to £1000. Even more if you use for more than one child - that's a lot of cute baby clothes!

10. And finally, one of the best reasons of all. They just work BETTER! Especially when dealing with new-baby-poo. None of the up-the-back explosions that occur with disposables. What a relief!

So that's it in a nutshell. It really doesn't add much more work to your day - you'll be doing so much more washing with a new baby anyway. And you'll get a feel good glow every time you change your baby's nappy along with the envious glances!

Review: Baker Days Cakes

I love a good piece of cake (or a whole one) and who doesn't. Cakes have always been used to celebrate a vast number of occasions from traditional Birthdays and Christmas to Thank You's and Halloween. I think myself very lucky then when the good people of Baker Days got in touch to ask if I would like to review one of their cakes. Happy days!

Baker Days are an online cake shop who provide quality personalised cakes for any occasion. They have cakes for anniversaries, get well, engagement, graduations etc. There's so much choice and you can even upload your own photo and have that on your cake. I'll let Baker Days explain more about themselves: "It’s taken nearly a year to get this baby flying, and finally we are in the air, so to speak. Every business starts with a premise or a vision, ours was two fold. Firstly, to show the world you didn’t need to spend a fortune to have a totally unique party cake. Secondly, wouldn’t it be great to have a cake small enough for 1 or 2 people but with all the pizzazz of a larger party cake one that you could even post through a letterbox."

I can hear little bells of joy ringing in your head at the words 'letterbox' but it's completely true. Baker Days can do normal sized cakes or very cute letterbox cakes. I received one of their fab letterbox cakes to test and it was with much anticipation I waited for it to come through my letterbox! When the cake arrived it was neatly packed in a sturdy small A5 sized box and upon opening I was delighted to see that not only did you get a cake but you also received 3 balloons, 1 tooter and 2 candles for your celebration. What a nice touch. You also received a little card which said "Enjoy your cake!". I thought this was fantastic and made the cake even more special and I hadn't even looked at it yet.

The cake I chose was from the Keep Calm & Carry On variety. Mines said: "Keep Calm Because I Really Love You", I know I know very soppy but it looked fab and I thought I could give it to the other half who's always a bit stressed! The cake was kept in a little tin that has "Just for You" embossed on the lid and when you open it you're greeted by your cute little cake. There's also a little pull tab which instructs you on how to remove your cake from the tin without damaging it. Really handy and it work perfectly. I got my cake out in one piece and showed it to the other half who thought it was great.

The cake was really moist and very tasty, couldn't fault it on either at all. I received the cake on Thursday and ate it on Saturday so it can definitely last a few days in the tin quite happily. The design was brilliant, a union jack to stay in with the Keep Calm & Carry On theme.

Now down to pricing. You can have your very own letterbox cake for £14.99 which serves 4-5 portions and is 12cm dia and 2.5cm thick. Or you can have a Med Party Cake for £26.99 which serves 8-16 portions and is 16cm dia and 3cm thick. These prices are for a plain madeira cake but for a few extra pennies you could have; Carrot Cake (£1.20 extra), Fruit Cake (£1.80 extra), Gluten and Wheat Free Cake (£1.80 extra) and Double Chocolate Chip Cake (£2.00 extra). So as you can see there's plenty of choice. Delivery is also free in the UK which is great unless you need the cake urgently and request special delivery but that's understandable.

Overall a brilliant tasty cake that's perfect in size and won't break the bank. It's very cute and makes a perfect gift for any cake lover or for that person who has everything - we all know atleast one! Pricing is a bit on the expensive side although perfectly acceptable and for such a great personalised cake it really is worth it. Baker Days also offer 20% off your next order if you share a photo of yourself enjoying your cake with them on twitter or facebook, brillaint!

Mummies rating - 9/10
Other Half's rating - 9/10

Please visit www.bakerdays.com for for products and information. You can also see what they get up to on Facebook and Twitter so why not pop over and say hello! Remember to tell them The Breastest News sent you.

25 August 2012

Review: Choka Blok Chocolate

We all love a bit of choccie but a bit of chocolate with a twist is even better! That's where the lovely Choka Blok people come in. They generously sent the other half and I a selection of their tasty treats to try out and boy are they yummy!

As the name suggests Choka Blok special in chocolate goodies packed full of sweet treats and extra delicious tasty bits. They also do ice cream but have just released their new range of chocolate bloks which I've been sent to test. There's the Cookie Crumb Mon-Star, Gold Digger Dynamite, The Chocolate Extremist and The Rocky Road of Love. All aptly named helping to hint at the delightful scrummy tastes in store.

Choka Blok pride themselves on great quality ingredients and making their chocolate the best, I'll let them explain more: "We always start with great quality ingredients and then get to work creating irresistibly mouth-watering goodies. Using lashings of chocolate, gooey bits, crunchy biscuit, caramel, honeycomb and more, all our products are chok-full of sweet treats in every gorgeous mouthful." 

So what did I think of the chocolate? Well it's delicious and totally not what I was expecting. I thought it would be too sickly with all the extra bits but it just adds to the flavour making it even better. The Rocky Road of Love bar is fab. It's a milk chocolate bar crammed with dark chocolate hearts, crunchy shortcake biscuit balls and mini marshmallows, perfect to keep your chocolate love affair right on track. It melts in your mouth and the marshmallows give you an extra texture you just wouldn't expect from chocolate but it works.

The Gold Digger Dynamite is just as tasty, it's made from milk and white chocolate swirled together before being stacked with milk chocolate caramel cups and chunks of sweet honeycomb. I think this one has to be my favourite, as for the other half he loves them all!

If having a whole blok of chocolate isn't enough you can also get your hands on the Choka Blok gift box which contains cute little squares of each flavour of the big bloks. Perfect to treat that special someone in your life or when you need a little pick me up for yourself.

Choka Blok chocolate bloks and gift boxes are now available at Tesco. RRP £1.59 for the bloks and £3.99 for the gift box. These prices are reasonable and won't break the bank so give them a try, you might just be surprised at how pleasant they are!

Overall this chocolate is seriously good, I do love a bit of chocolate but I always find it too sickly to eat more than a few squares but not with this stuff. It's delicious and the other half and I managed to eat 3 bars in one sitting!

Mummies rating - 10/10
Other Half's rating - 10/10

Please visit www.chokablok.com for more products and information. 


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