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At three months old Baby JJ is just starting to discover how exciting toys can be and with his wonderful new skills of grabbing hold and picking toys up he is already able to show his preference for certain toys. The Lamaze Bend and Squeak Penguin is a toy that I purposely bought as he entered this new stage and luckily enough appears to have quickly become a favourite. Costing around the £5 mark, I bought this from Kiddicare to bring my order over the free delivery threshold, meaning that technically speaking it cost me a matter of pennies, but it is also available from Amazon for a ridiculous £10.99 on Prime or £5.00 (+£2.99 p&p) from another seller. Unlike many rattles aimed at babies who are just developing their grasping skills, this penguin is made of completely soft materials, meaning that he doesn't cause tears if Baby JJ accidentally drops him on his head. The penguin's head is made of beautifully soft plush material with large, expressive eyes that are embroidered rather than being made of buttons. The penguin's beak is made of a silky material as are the two wings (that also feature crinkly material). The head and wings sit on a cylindrical base, made of yet another material, this time featuring a pattern of various shades of blue. This base also hides a squeaker that is very easy to activate and quite loud. Unlike the majority of Lamaze toys, this penguin is actually machine washable and even more surprisingly can be tumble dried on a low heat. Baby JJ absolutely adores this penguin and will actively attempt to move to reach it, which makes it a great toy for tummy time. His eye really does seem to be drawn to the penguin's face, whether that be due to the high contrast black and white or the expressive eyes. Being extremely light the penguin is easy for Baby JJ to lift and the base is the perfect size for Baby JJ's little hands to grab hold of. Baby JJ particularly likes to chew on the Penguin's beak and wings, I think he finds the texture quite soothing on his tender, teething gums. The squeaker takes very little effort to activate, Baby JJ can manage it at just three months old, simply by shaking the penguin, which leads to bouts of giggles. All in all the Lamaze Bend and Squeak Penguin is a brilliant little toy for any baby with an emergent grasp. Being fairly small and lightweight it is easy for even a three month old to hold and being soft it will not cause damage or hurt if swung around. The plush head is wonderfully cuddly, with the material itself being super soft to the touch and just the right amount of stuffing. The silky beak and wings add another texture for baby to explore with their hands and mouth, while the squeak gives baby an instant reward. Even babies who are unable to hold the penguin will enjoy looking at the contrasting black and white colouring or big expressive eyes and be thrilled by the squeak (although you might want to squeak quite gently with a very young baby as it is loud). Baby JJ adores his penguin and he has this to say on the matter, "Ooooh, eeee, gooo. Ahhh", which roughly translates to "penguin good, buy one now".
While I had always planned to use reusable, cloth nappies with Baby JJ, I hadn't even considered which wipes I would use until I actually put the cloth into action. It only took a couple of changes for me to realise that the combination of cloth nappy and disposable wipe isn't exactly a match made in heaven. In fact when using cloth nappies, the previously ever so convenient disposable wipes become ever so inconvenient and actually add an extra step in the changing process as they need to be disposed of in the bin. After trialling some bamboo flannels and finding that although they were better than disposable wipes they still weren't perfect I spent some time researching and decided to purchase the Cheeky Wipes Full Kit from Amazon for £36.99 (+£4.04 delivery). Although £40+ does sound a rather large investment, this kit does contain everything you need to start using cloth wipes both at home and out and about. With two children in nappies and going through up to a pack of disposable wipes a day (on a bad day with lots of poops from the pair of them) I knew I could expect to recoup my initial outlay within two months. My starter kit arrived packed in a cardboard box and contained two plastic boxes (each with a hinged, "lockable" lid), a mesh bag, two waterproof, drawstring bags, two bottles of oil and twenty-five white, cotton, terry bum wipes along with an instruction leaflet (that has long since disappeared). The first thing I did was put the wipes through three wash cycles to remove any residue and up absorbency, I'm not sure if the instructions said to do this, but it's how I deal with new nappies so I did the same with these. While the wipes were washing I took a look at the boxes and oils, preparing them for use. Preparing the Fresh wipe box is really easy, it simply is a case of adding water to the fill line then adding a few drops of the Fresh Oil. The Fresh Oil included in my kit is 10mls of Lavender and Chamomile, which has a fairly pleasant scent and is amusingly coloured blue. I've been using these wipes for two months now with many, many changes of water/oil and have barely touched the oil, I would imagine it will last at least 6 months. Once the wipes have been washed, they simply need to be put in a neatish pile before dunking in the fresh box and turned several times so that the fragranced water can make it's way to each and every wipe. The Mucky box requires similar preparation in as far as you fill it with water to the line and then add a few drops of oil. This time the oil is titled Mucky Oil and is a blend of Lemon and Tea Tree, I really can't say that I like this blend, because I quite simply don't, personally I think it smells a little like toilet cleaner, but I suppose it would hide the aroma of poop. To make transfer of dirty wipes to the washing machine easier a net bag is supplied that should, in theory, be strategically hung inside the box. The only trouble is I couldn't manage it despite trying for about ten minutes and then realised that I didn't actually need this box anyway as I would be chucking used wipes into the pail with the dirty nappies. The two bags supplied are formed of a fairly thick plastic and the fresh wipe bag can easily hold fifteen wipes. Being drawstring they are not completely waterproof and if you put dripping wet wipes into them then water will leak so it's best to squeeze excess liquid from the wipes. I've been using these wipes for just over two months now, so I think I have enough experience to be able to give a good idea of the positives, negatives and realities of using them. My impressions of the two boxes were that they are very big and this is something that I still feel. While I know that they need to be able to house the wipes themselves, I feel that they are rather bulky and have found that there is more than enough room for me to use the boxes with another brand of wipe that are twice the size. The lids are easy to open with one hand and then click shut with a one-handed push, but my three year can also easily open them. When empty the boxes are pretty light, but after refilling they get pretty heavy, so a little care does need to be taken. So far, after two months of use the boxes are still as good as new, but due to their size and weight they are not the most convenient when being moved from room to room and to be honest a couple Tupperware style boxes would probably do just as good a job. The wipes themselves are made from a fairly thick white cotton terry and they are supposed to be 15cm square, I say supposed because mine have either shrunk considerably or were smaller than that new as they are only about 10-12cm square. Either way they are a pretty good size for cleaning a young baby's bottom and do a good job at removing breastfed poop rather than spreading it as a disposable wipe tends to do. They're also pretty good at removing more grown up three year old poop, only taking a couple of wipes to do the job, but I have to admit that I do remove the worst with toilet paper before using the wipes. Personally I would like the material they are made from to be a little thinner to allow me to get into creases a little more effectively, but have to say that it is so nice not to have to worry about my finger making a hole in the wipe and getting covered in poop. After use I simply chuck the wipes in my nappy pail along with the used nappy and then wash them with the nappies (which is once a day with two in cloth). Cheeky Wipes state that these can be washed at 60 degrees, but I do have my own routine that involves a preliminary rinse followed by a long 40 degree wash with pre-wash using an Ecoegg. Using this routine the wipes come out of the machine clean with occasional staining which can be removed by hanging them in sunlight. Cheeky Wipes do say that you do not need to dry these between uses, but I prefer to do so, partly because I found 25 wipes were no where nearly enough and lasting less than a day (they might last longer if only used with one bum) and partly because I simply prefer to use all the wipes in the box before refilling and leaving them damp between refills made them smell a little musty. As with the boxes there are cheaper alternatives to these wipes such as making them yourself by cutting up cheap towels or by using mega cheap flannels, but I rather like these wipes as they are a good size and already hemmed. Apart from the wipes my favourite parts of this kit are the bags for taking the wipes out and about. I use the fresh wipe bag on a very regular basis and it held enough wipes for a night away from home, keeping them fresh and moist without getting everything else in the changing bag sopping wet. I have to admit that I've only rarely used the mucky wipe bag for it's original purpose, being a full time cloth user I always carry a wet bag for used nappies anyway, but the bag is still in the case of the really epic pooplosions that can come hand in hand with breastfeeding, where baby's clothes end up liberally covered in poop. Although Cheeky Wipes mainly use the money saving aspect to sell these wipes, I have to say that I would continue using these even if I wasn't saving money. This is because I hate the idea of nasty chemicals and parabens coming into contact with my children's skin. For years I was sucked in by the big manufacturers' claims about how their wipes were "as gentle as water", it wasn't until I went the cloth route and started actually using water to clean my baby's bum that I realised how harsh even the "gentlest", "purest" wipes are. This is a fact born out by the fact that Daddy used some disposable wipes that had been hidden away for emergencies and Baby JJ's bottom had a red tinge at the next nappy change, we could see that the wipe had irritated his skin. Big Brother has also reaped the benefits of these wipes, he tends to eat non-food items that lead to highly corrosive, rash inducing poop (especially when combined with disposable nappies). Disposable wipes would lead to tears as they very obviously stung (something I can agree with from when I had piles), while these wipes cleaned without causing pain. Although being a cloth nappy user I wish I had gone for the mini kit as I don't need the mucky elements, I still can't recommend cloth wipes in general and this Cheeky Wipe kit in particular. The boxes are sturdy and should easily last the time that several babies are in nappies and the wipes themselves are made of a good quality material. Depending on how many and which brand of disposable wipe you currently use this kit could easily pay for itself within three months and then think how much money you will be saving. If the money saving aspect hasn't convinced you then maybe the environmental aspect will. The majority of disposable baby wipes are non-biodegradable meaning that they end up in landfill where it will take centuries for them to decompose. They cannot be flushed down the toilet either, not that that stops people as is born out by the many wipe blockages that have to be removed from sewer pipes. If this still hasn't convinced you, then the most important aspect is how much kinder these wipes are to your baby's bottom, there are no nasty chemicals or "perfumes" for them to react to, you don't even need to add the oil to the water. I know there is an initial yuck factor when using wipes such as these, but once you get over that you realise that there really is no more contact with poop and pee as there would be with disposable wipes (less in fact as there is no chance of them tearing). So what are you waiting for, join the reusable revolution and grab one of these kits now.
There's no doubting that Muslin Cloths are an incredibly useful addition to any layette, but the manufacturers seem to have cottoned on to this and they are often vastly over-priced, with some brands coming in at over £10 for half a dozen. Cue the George (Asda) Muslin Cloths, generally available at just £3.50 for three, but currently on offer at the same price for four. This is a brilliant price for such a staple, but are they a bargain or just cheap and nasty? While some of the more expensive brands of muslins come in fancy colours these are currently only available in either a pink or blue colour-way, there was a time when one muslin was printed with tiny stars, but this was not the case with my latest packs. Personally speaking, I would have bought the blue packs rather than pink, even if my latest arrival was not a boy, pink really is not my favourite colour. Within the pack of four muslins, there was one white, two pastel blue and one slightly darker blue, all colours that can stand up to a hot wash and not turn my whites a funny colour (a slight hint of blue will actually make whites look whiter). The muslins themselves are 100% cotton squares measuring approximately 80cm square (out of the packet). As is standard with muslin these feature quite a loose weave, meaning that they are very lightweight. Out of the packet the muslins are a little hard and scratchy to the touch, they definitely need to be washed before use to both remove the sizing and increase absorbency. The care label states that they can be washed at 40 degrees but, if I'm honest, I've washed them at 60 and even 90 degrees without them suffering any real ill effects. Being made of cotton a little shrinkage is to be expected and at a guess I would say that they've lost than 10% of their total area after many, many washes. The care label also states that the muslins can be dried in a tumble drier at low heat, although this is something that I would only do on very rare occasions as even in winter they dry on an airer overnight or within minutes on a radiator. The only real reason I would recommend using a tumble drier is to soften them up if they're feel a little stiff and scratchy. With very little care these muslins are almost indestructible, the oldest of ours are almost four years old and while the white ones have greyed considerably they still all do the job perfectly. And what can these muslin cloths be used for? Well the list is quite extensive, so I'll probably miss a few things out, but here goes. One of the original uses of muslin cloths is as nappies and they do make great nappies for newborn babies who do not require a huge amount of absorbency. They can be folded, held in place with a nippa (or nappy pin) and covered with a waterproof wrap or folded and placed in the pocket of a pocket nappy in an emergency. I've not used these actual muslins as nappies, but have used other brands many years ago and can state that they really are only useful in the first couple of weeks, but as they can go in a hot wash it is easy to get the sticky, black, newborn poop out of them. In an age of disposable nappies, a far more common use for muslins is as burp cloths. I probably use them for this far more than for anything else as most of my children have suffered from reflux, including my now three month old. I use these cloths to put over my shoulder while burping my little man, or under his chin while he is sitting on my knee. I also use them for mopping up sick and dribble, in fact wherever the baby is you'll find one of these cloths nearby. I also use these cloths to protect the baby's crib sheets, by folding them and placing under his head, this is something I would recommend for all babies, as there's nothing worse than having to totally strip and remake a crib at 2am because baby has posseted. I also use these cloths first thing in the morning during the first breastfeed of the day when I will leak profusely and I find they are brilliant at absorbing the milk. I have to admit that I also used them in the same way during the first week of baby's life when my milk came in and my boobs and nipples were too sensitive to wear a bra. While my youngest is a winter baby, Big Brother was a summer babe and it was often too hot to use a conventional blanket to swaddle him, but one of these muslins was ideal. I do realise that swaddling is something of a lost art, but I found these perfect for the first couple of weeks when baby would startle himself awake if not swaddled. Once baby gets beyond the burping and sicking stage the muslins are still useful for mopping up spills and dribble. They can be used in the place of a bib by wrapping over baby's front or as cloths for washing hands and faces. My three month old is teething and he loves to grab hold of one of these cloths and try and put it in his mouth to chew on. Even as an adult I find uses for these cloths once they have been retired from baby duties. They are brilliant as part of a face care routine, they can be dunked in hot water, wrung out and then used to remove cleansers while gently exfoliating. Other uses include general cleaning clothes or they can be cut into squares and used as reusable wipes (once they've been well used and got a little grubby). As you can tell for us muslin cloths are indispensable and by far the cheapest are these from George. Although we do have a few of another brand the vast majority of our stash of muslins are of the George variety, with some being almost four years old. Although they may not be quite as soft as more expensive brands they do represent excellent value for money and soften up considerably with repeated washing and they are extremely durable. If asked by any parent-to-be I cannot recommend these muslins enough and would suggest that they bought several packs in. My only real issue is that they can be quite hard to get hold of both online and in my local store as they sell out almost as soon as they hit the shelves.
The most expensive of the Little Lamb range, the Sized Pocket Nappies are available in a range of colours and three sizes at a cost of £12 each. I wasn't all that sure whether these nappies would prove to be a good investment, but realising that finding the perfect nappy did involve trying many different types, I originally bought one in Size One to test on the then four week old Baby JJ and was eventually impressed enough to buy a couple more Size One for him, begin to buy in Size Two for later and some Size Three for Big Brother. These pocket nappies form a two part system with the actual nappy being formed of a waterproof outer layer and soft inner layer with an opening that allows you to stuff absorbent pads between the two layers in the resultant pocket. The outer material in these nappies is a soft, breathable PUL (polyurethane laminate) formed from a stretchy polyknit bonded with a super thin layer that allows air through to baby's bottom while holding liquid in. The inner layer is formed of seriously soft micro fleece, that not only forms a super soft layer against baby's bottom but also wicks moisture away from the skin and into any boosters held in the pocket. To help provide a good fit each nappy features soft elastic at the back and around the legs and to help prevent leaks the legs are double gusseted. Each pocket nappy is supplied with a bamboo insert which differs vastly from those supplied with the one size pockets. The supplied insert is woven from Oeko-tex certified bamboo and is a sheet that needs folding to form three layers before inserting in the pocket. When I ordered the very first of these nappies that I bought, it took me quite a while to choose which colour I wanted. While there are no fancy patterns available there are some gorgeous colours, the majority of which are unisex. Already having many of the one size nappies in my stash I had a good idea what the colours look like in real and can state that the pictures on the Little Lamb website are true to life. In the end I decided on Blue Moon, which is a very pale blue that is not available in the one size pockets. On receiving the nappy it did need a little preparation before use, the actual nappy needed the one wash to remove any residue and the insert needed several washes to up absorbency. Little Lamb recommend at least three initial washes for the insert, without any need to dry in between with it taking at least six washes to reach full absorbency (nearer ten in my experience). Once the preparatory washes are over and done with both parts need to be dried before they are put together with the opening between the layers being more than large enough to make stuffing very easy. Baby JJ was just four weeks old when I bought the first of these nappies so obviously I bought size one, which has a recommended weight range of 7-20lb. At about 8.5lb Baby JJ was well within the lower limit and so I was hopeful that these would fit just as well as the one size did. Unfortunately the reality was that even when fastening the two rows of poppers up as tight as they would go and attempting various positions with the bottom poppers, I simply could not get a good fit around his long, scrawny, chicken legs. No matter what I tried there were gaps at the top of his legs and the nappy leaked within an hour. Deciding that it was best not to risk a poo explosion, I put the nappy away for a couple of weeks, bringing it back out at around the seven week mark when we had far more success. We've been using our first sized pocket for about five weeks now and have been impressed enough to add another three to our stash. I love the fit of these nappies on the now twelve week old Baby JJ, they are a little trimmer than the one size nappies and just don't look quite as bulky. I love the way that I can adjust how I do the two rows of poppers up so that I get a snug fit that has actually proved pretty much leak proof and has even held in a breast fed explosion or two, no doubt helped by the double gusset. I also love how the micro fibre keeps Baby JJ's skin nice and dry, he's not had a nappy rash since being put in cloth instead of disposable nappies. In fact I've been so impressed that I've bought some size three for Big Brother, who is a rather large three and a half year old and too big for the one size nappies. Although Big Brother had worn cloth nappies for a while a year ago he had outgrown them and I did not realise that there were nappies available for bigger, older children. Having a developmental delay, he is not yet ready to leave the house without wearing a nappy, but we were finding he was getting nasty rashes (to the point of blistering) from wearing disposables, so these nappies are a godsend. They not only fit him, but there is actually room for growth as we are only doing them up on the second set of poppers. While a little bulkier than a disposable they are still trim enough to wear under his normal trousers and as a bonus they don't sag like a disposable with the first wee. As far as absorbency and containment goes, these are at least as good as a disposable, able to cope with mammoth pees and huge poos without any problem, I even left one on him overnight and there were no leaks. Since ditching the disposables and using these the nappy rash has improved dramatically and Big Brother has started to recognise when he is wet or dirty. The only problem we've encountered is that pre-school will not entertain him using them there and he has to wear pull-ups there. Dealing with these when wet or dirty is pretty easy and for the majority of the time no more unpleasant than a disposable, with the added benefit that you don't have poopy nappies hanging around for the week until the next rubbish collection. If simply wet then all that needs to be done is the insert removed from the pocket and both parts put in a lidded pail, with the same being true of breastfed poop (as it dissolves in water). Solid, toddler poop requires a little more effort, the poop needs to be emptied down the toilet and if it's particularly sticky you might need to employ a toilet brush and the flush to get the worst off before the nappy is once more placed in a lidded pail. Once you have enough for a load the nappies are washed in your machine. While Little Lamb recommends that nappies are washed at 30 or 40 degrees with approximately half the usual dose of washing powder, I do have my own routine. I begin with a rinse, which helps reduce the amount of stains setting and loosens any slightly dried poop. I then run a long cotton wash at 40 degrees using an Ecoegg rather than detergent. This routine does a brilliant job at removing almost every sign of staining and if I add a few drops of essential oil to the softener drawer then the nappies also smell gorgeous. Drying the nappies is pretty simple, the actual nappies will dry overnight on an airer (although if the sun ever decides to make an appearance drying outside will also bleach out any stains). The inserts take a lot longer to dry, although I do find it's quicker than those supplied with the one size pockets, it still takes a good day to day and a half. This does mean that you have the pockets ready to use waiting on the inserts. The way round this quandary is to buy extra inserts, I've bought double meaning that I always have some available, but you can use other inserts, I've used those from the one size nappies with success. Although I do feel these are a touch on the expensive side considering that the one size are only £10 each, I still have to admit that I rather like these nappies. While they did not give a good fit to start with, they provide a snug, secure fit on Baby JJ without being overly bulky. The largest size has also proven a hit with Big Brother, they fit him well and he is happy to wear them. So I can't help but suggest that you given these a try, am giving the Little Lamb Sized Pocket Nappies four stars out of five and am now buying in size two ready for when size one is outgrown.
If you use reusable nappies then, unless the nappy comes with one built-in, you are likely to find yourself using liners. A liner forms a layer between the wet nappy and baby's skin, draws moisture away from the skin (and into the nappy) and make the disposal of poop a lot easier. When I first started using cloth nappies on my then two year, I used the disposable, paper version, but after trying these Little Lamb Fleece Liners in my now ten week old son's nappies I was converted, never to go back to scratchy paper. One of these wonderfully soft liners is supplied with each shaped Little Lamb nappy, with spares being available in a pack of ten for just £6. One slight disappointment is that the liners are only available to fit the size one and two Little Lamb nappies and not size three, meaning that I cannot buy exact replacements for my three year old boy's night time nappies, although Little Lamb do say that they are suitable for use with all nappy systems. Brand new these liners are fluffy to the extreme and I have to admit that I rather like the sensation of stroking them (when clean of course). Made of a similar material to fleece blankets, these liners are designed to go between the nappy and baby's skin, where being water repellent they draw the moisture away from the skin and into the nappy and/or booster pad. Being made of a synthetic material the liners do not need repeated pre-washing before use, a single wash is enough to remove any residue and prepare these rectangles for use and they come out of the washing machine virtually dry. I've been using the size one version of these liners with Baby JJ's two part nappies for about eight weeks now and am very happy with their performance. As they are so soft and fluffy, I am very happy for them to be next to his delicate bottom and they do a great job at keeping his bottom dry. I can't say that these liners are capable of holding all of his poop away from the nappy, but Baby JJ is breastfed and produces some epic, explosive, bright yellow, runny poops and they do manage to contain the majority of it. Big Brother wears the size three nappies at night and these came with some much larger versions of these liners. With his far more grown up poop, the liners catch all the poop 99% of the time, with only the occasional leakage. Something I have noticed with Big Brother is that disposable nappies tend to leave him sore to the point of blistering, with this rash being considerably reduced when using cloth nappies with paper liners and virtually eliminated using these liners. If he's given a choice between wearing a disposable, nappy with paper liner or nappy with one of these liners he will choose these every time. While I just stick Baby JJ's liners in the nappy bucket no matter if they have poop on or not, I do have to deal with Big Brother's poopy liners in a slightly different manner. Any solids need to be flicked off the liner into the toilet and very occasionally the liner needs to be held in the toilet while flushing before it is placed in the nappy bucket. Either way the liners are then washed with the rest of the nappies (in my case I start with a rinse then give them a 40 degree wash with an Ecoegg). Most of the time the liners have come out of the wash without any staining, but there has been a rare occasion that a yellow (or brown) stain has been left behind. When this happens I simply place the liners on a window sill and the sun does a fantastic job of bleaching them over the course of a day. Some of these liners have been used well over twenty times now and while they are still white and fluffy and do a fantastic job, you can tell that they've seen a fair amount of action. Still they are brilliant value, coming in at just 60p a liner, they only need to be used less than 25 times to have made a saving on the Little Lamb Paper Liners (£3.50/100 liners). While I could probably make my own liners by buying a cheap fleece blanket and cutting it into rectangles, I do love how super soft and fluffy these are and so am recommending them to anyone who uses cloth nappies, with my only gripe being that they do not sell the size three separately.
The Mothercare Safari Mobile is a toy that I picked up from my nearest Mothercare when I was in the area and still heavily pregnant with Baby JJ. I have to say that I would not have paid the full asking price of £25,but as it was on sale at half price and knowing that Big Brother's mobile had been retired (the toys were cut off for him to play with), I couldn't help but pick this up being not only attracted to the price but also to it's bright, gender neutral colour scheme. As with most cot mobiles this does require minimal assembly, but this is neither strenuous nor rocket science. An instruction leaflet is supplied complete with pretty pictures, but even at eight and a half months pregnant, with the baby fog that entails, I didn't need it, as assembly simply is a case of clicking the armature pieces together, attaching the arm to the cot side and then hanging the music box and mobile. What I particularly like about the screw section that is used to attach the arm to the cot or crib is that it features a shelf that rests on the top bar, meaning that the mobile doesn't slide down between the cot/crib bars. I did find it a little fiddly to hang the music box, it is quite a tight fit, but this means that I can angle the mobile slightly, which is a god send when used in a crib. Looks and quality-wise this certainly is a mobile of two halves, the armature is pretty much standard, being formed of the same moulded, white plastic as you would find with virtually any mobile. The music box is similarly bog standard, being white and decorated with a sticker featuring a sun, I have to say that the fact that this sticker is not central does look a little cheap and tacky. As it houses the wind-up mechanism that both plays the tune and rotates the mobile, the music box also features a "key" to wind the mechanism. Personally I find the positioning of the key slightly awkward, but again it's standard for it to be placed at the rear. There is also a sliding switch on the music box which allows you to turn it off, wind it up and then start it off when you're ready. While the armature and music box are pretty standard, what sets this mobile apart is the actual mobile, which is rather different to mobiles I've used in the past. A rigid, material covered, circle hangs from four ribbons, with those ribbons then brought together with a further silky ribbon to hang from the music box. The material covering the rigid circle is brightly patterned, with three different designs all of which contrast nicely with the silky ribbons that both attach the mobile to the hook and the jungle themed characters to the circle. A total of three soft animals hang from the mobile along with a baby safe mirror housed in a plush sun and a hot air balloon. While these animals are not realistically coloured it is possible to work out what they are, so that as an adult we can point them out to baby. There is an orange, red and yellow lion, that has a lovely frilly mane, a blue zebra with a ribbon mane and a red elephant who again features silky ribbons, this time as a tuft of hair. The sun/mirror also features little, silky strips that would make a great tactile feature if only these toys were in position to be held. I'm not sure why the tactile features are included, unless it's because the toys themselves, at about 10cm in length are a great size for little hands to play with once the mobile is outgrown (when baby can sit independently/reach the mobile). I know that I'll be cutting them free once Baby JJ can grab at them. This mobile was set up and put on the crib in the weeks leading up to Baby JJ's appearance and I found it easy to attach to the side of his crib. Although I would have preferred for it to be placed at the head of the crib, the headboard is curved and the shelf on the armature means that it can only be attached to straight edges. I do struggle a little to wind the mechanism, but I have problems with my joints, so that's not all the fault of the mobile. It takes a good few winds to fully wind the mechanism and I find that switching off while winding does make the job a little easier, as with all clockwork, care does need to be taken not to over-wind. A full wind will treat your baby to around three minutes of Brahms Lullaby as the mobile gently rotates, not long enough to lull baby to sleep, but long enough for me to change Big Brother's nappy. To be perfectly honest Baby JJ wasn't in the least bit interested in the mobile for the first few weeks, he was far more interested in eating and sleeping. Between two and four weeks old, Baby JJ was suddenly far more interested in the world around him and would happily lay and watch the mobile turning or even swaying in the breeze, with the time the few minutes the music played being perfect for his short attention span. At eleven weeks, Baby JJ is a far more discerning character and while he enjoys watching the mobile he does also get frustrated that he cannot reach to bat the toys. As Baby JJ absolutely hates to be put down, I have the mobile pre-wound ready for if I need to perform a quick task without him in my arms and he does watch the mobile most intently. Baby JJ's absolute favourite part is the mirror and he will happily demonstrate his excellent tracking skills by following the mirror with his eyes and then smiling whenever it is overhead. While I'm not sure if I would pay the full asking price, at the £12.50 I paid this mobile has proved quite the bargain and if you are expecting a baby and see it at that price then I can thoroughly recommend the Safari Mobile.
While there are quite a few pieces of nursery equipment that I feel are superfluous, one item I do feel is essential is a bouncy chair of some description. When my older children were babies (we're talking twenty years ago) bouncy chairs were very basic with very little in the way of padding and certainly no music or vibration facilities. Today there is a vast array of different chairs to choose from, from the very basic to all singing, all dancing models that can house an iPad (I kid you not). The Fisher Price Woodsy Friends Bouncer falls into what I would call the bottom of mid-range as far as bouncy chairs goes, at approximately £28 it's not the cheapest of the cheap, but neither is it as fancy shmancy as many. I bought this chair some weeks before Baby JJ made an appearance and put it together in the week or so before his birth. I can't say that it was particularly difficult to put together, because it wasn't, the instructions were easy enough to follow and while it did take a little tugging to get the cover in place it wasn't that much of a problem. I would say it took me less than quarter of an hour to put the chair together and that's with a huge bump hampering my movement. As this chair is suitable from birth (some aren't) I then put it away ready to bring out once Baby JJ made his big appearance although I have to admit that we didn't use the chair at all for the first few days as we spent that time almost constantly feeding. Rather than being aimed towards a particular gender the Woodsy bouncer has a fairly muted and completely neutral colour scheme. It features lots of cream, beige and pale green, with splashes of brighter colours in the form of paw prints, apples and mushrooms, oh and there are a few cute animals too. I can't say that Baby JJ has shown any interest in the colour scheme and pictures on the chair, because he hasn't and to be honest he covers most of the pictures when he's sat in it anyway. There is a head-hugger cum pillow for young babies, at least I assume that's what it is, it really isn't shaped but does seem to reduce how much a very young baby's head rolls to the side. As with many bouncy chairs this does have a vibrate function which is operated via a switch on a box at baby's feet and is powered by a single size D battery. To help keep baby occupied there is also a toy bar that features an owl that when pulled activates sounds, an apple and a few apple teethers/clankers, as well as the size D battery you will need a single AAA to power the sounds. Baby JJ was just a few days old when he used this chair for the first time and while I did think he would be swamped, he fitted in rather nicely, being well supported in the semi-recline position. The three point harness was easy to adjust to hold him securely in place and has been easy to adjust as he has got bigger. The level of padding is perfectly designed to give a soft, almost nest-like seat for a young baby and the material has a smooth, warm to the touch finish. While I cannot say that it's been particularly hot (it is winter after all), so far I haven't noticed any of the sweat associated with spending time sitting on a waterproof surface. From the very first time he was sat in this chair, Baby JJ has seemed to be very comfortable, although he is not at all impressed with the vibrate function, far preferring that I gently rock him with my foot. There is a good level of tension in the chair legs, meaning that I can easily bounce him and adjust how hard the bounce is as he falls to sleep. As he has got older and bigger Baby JJ has spent many hours in this chair and always seemed very comfortable, although I am a little sceptical as to whether he will still fit in here right up until he is sitting independently, but he's a large lad, who couldn't fit into newborn clothes an hour after his birth. While he's not at all impressed with the vibrations, the toy bar fascinates and frustrates him in equal measure. At nearly eleven weeks, Baby JJ enjoys batting and grabbing at any toy and he will happily hit out at the owl and apples to get them to clank together, but he knows the owl makes a noise and doesn't yet have the strength to pull hard enough. Plus when he does manage to persuade the owl to make a noise (with Mummy's help) the reward simply isn't good enough as the sounds clip are very, very short. There are a couple of snippets of tunes (one of which is the farmer's in his den) and a hooting sound but nothing that lasts over five seconds. As he finds the attached toys so frustrating, I have slipped his favourite Lamaze toy over the bar and that keeps him amused for ages. So far in our, albeit limited to eleven weeks, experience the chair has proved very robust, it has survived the weight of a very enthusiastic Big Brother leaning on it without bending out of shape and the initial batteries are still going strong. The cover can be removed and machine washed, which is a real blessing as it was christened a couple of weeks back with a particularly huge, bright yellow poop. It came out of a 30 degree wash unscathed and actually clean, if a little crumpled. I simply allowed it to dry on an airer for a couple of hours and then put it back over the frame so that it could finish drying overnight ready for the next day. For us this bouncy chair has been a godsend as Baby JJ does not like being left on his own and there are times when I just need to take him out of his sling so that I can get on with household tasks. He always seems comfortable in this chair and will often take catnaps in between play sessions. While there are a few things I personally feel could be improved such as longer and easier to activate sound bites, this is a pretty decent bouncy chair and a real improvement on those I bought for my older children. All in all, I think that I will give the Woodsy Friends Bouncy Chair four stars out of five and recommended to those looking for a comfortable seat for a young baby that has a neutral colour scheme but not the latest fancy gizmos.
We love the Lamaze range of soft toys in the Sandemp household, Big Brother owned lots of them as a baby and young toddler and now Baby JJ has a collection of his very own. As much as we love these Lamaze toys, they are very busy and could prove to be overstimulating for ten week old Baby JJ, so rather than leaving them all out for him to play with at once we try and rotate them, so he has some in his crib, one hanging from his car seat, one hanging from the toy bar of his bouncy chair and one for floor/tummy/Mummy time that we use to play with together. For the last (and next) few days Rusty The Robot has been taking his turn as the toy that we are exploring together and while neither of us think he is the best Lamaze toy, he has still proved very popular. Currently selling for £7.50 on Amazon (the price fluctuates wildly, I paid nearer £10), Rusty is one of the larger toys in the Lamaze Play and Grow range, coming in at approximately 25cm in height. This height means that he is less suitable for hanging from toy bars, he certainly cannot be hung on the bouncy chair as he doesn't have enough room to swing. In common with all Lamaze toys, Rusty is very brightly coloured with lots of patterns, textures and sounds for your baby to explore and is suitable from birth upwards. The first thing to note about Rusty is just how hugable he is, some of the Lamaze toys have sacrificed cuddlability for activities, but not Rusty. He has the perfect amount of stuffing in his head, body, arms and legs to make him one of Baby JJ's favourite toys to hug. There's been many a time where Baby JJ has been seen with his arm over Rusty during nap-time. Following on in the comforting, cuddles theme, Rusty does feature an awful lot of soft, strokable, plush material. Three sides of his head are made of plush as are four of his body, both of his hands and his legs. Baby JJ seems to have developed a real liking for plush lately, and enjoys exploring this material with his mouth (something that makes me cringe). The plush material has stood up well to this treatment, obviously getting a little soggy but not shedding fibres, I would be most upset to find fibres in Baby JJ's mouth. Baby JJ's very favourite parts of Rusty to mouth are the knotted, plush cords coming out of each ear. I would have thought that given free choice, Baby JJ would far prefer to stroke and feel the silky material that is to be found on Rusty's facial areas, tummy, back and feet, but he after the plush areas he does seem to favour the stripy, knitted arms, really only taking notice of the silky areas during shared play when I will either guide his hand to those areas or stroke them against his face while talking about what he is feeling. Up until recently it has only been during shared play that Baby JJ has been able to access any of the other activities Rusty has to offer, but as promised by the Play and Grow title, the way Baby JJ plays with this toy has "grown" as his hand eye coordination has begun to develop. I have to admit that Rusty does not have nearly as many activities as some of the Lamaze toys (the firefly for example), he doesn't even have a squeaker, but the activities he does have are well thought out with something to attract the attention of a wide age range from newborn until two or three years. For the very youngest babies who are just making sense of the world the soles of Rusty's feet and under his chin feature high contrast black and white patterns, although I have to say that Baby JJ seems to have missed that developmental stage completely always preferring bright colours to black and white. Once baby starts to develop their social skills then the mirror on Rusty's tummy comes into it's own. Baby JJ adores mirrors and has done ever since he developed his social smile at about two weeks. He loves to look and smile at the baby in Rusty's baby safe mirror and is very impressed at how the baby not only smiles back but also knows the sticking out tongue game. Meanwhile I'm impressed that despite been small, the mirror does give a good reflection with very little distortion. As Baby JJ has started to develop his grasping, grabbing and batting skills he has started to enjoy the rings on each of Rusty's hands. On one of his hands there is a ring that houses two translucent beads while the other hand houses a pair of textured clanking rings that not only make a great noise whenever they hit each other but will also make great teethers when the time comes. Both sets of rings are excellently designed and Baby JJ can manage to grasp hold of Rusty using either set, even though he can't quite manage to keep hold as Rusty is still a little too heavy. While the high contrast patterns never really floated his boat, Baby JJ is far more impressed with the crinkle material housed within |Rusty's feet. This is something he has only just discovered and as it crinkles at the slightest touch it is something Baby JJ can manage independently during floor/tummy time and he shows his appreciation with giggles and squeals of delight. Unlike many baby toys, Rusty is toy that while being attractive to a newborn will also grab the attention of an older baby or toddler, with there being lots for them to explore. For example, Rusty has two face and body designs, which can be mixed and matched by turning his head, which then makes a great clicking sound, I can imagine that mastering turning the head will lead to many hours of enthralled fun as the toddler's improving dexterity is rewarded. Then Rusty simply makes a great cuddly toy that can be used in role play, Big Brother is nearly four (with a developmental age of about 2.5) and has been found having a sneaky play with Rusty, chatting away to him and making him watch Justin's House, so this really is a toy that will last. Talking about lasting, in common with all Lamaze toys Rusty is very well made, I have pulled at the stitching and it has all held tight. With older versions of these toys they were sponge clean only, but recently Lamaze have changed the materials used in these toys, and Rusty can be given a bath (hand wash), which is excellent news with a toy that will come into contact with baby sick (among other things) and find itself in a baby's mouth. Rusty does have one final feature worth noting and that is a clip that allows him to be attached to cribs, baby gyms, buggies, car seats and play bars. As with the materials used in making Rusty this clip appears to have been redesigned in the last year or so, and while it is now harder to put the toy in place it is also harder for the baby/toddler to remove it. Although not the favourite of Baby JJ's Lamaze collection or the most activity filled, Rusty certainly does have a place in his heart, has proved to be a toy that has grown with Baby JJ over the last ten weeks and always has a place in either the crib or shared play. I genuinely would recommend this as a toy from newborn upwards, and feel it would make an excellent present to give to a new baby as it is not only fun but also helps baby develop essential skills.
Almost as soon as I fell pregnant I decided that I would be going down the cloth nappy route this time around and as big brother was still using nappies I took a look on Ebay to see if I could find some nappies that would be suitable for a newborn and a chunky three year old. At that time I was looking for as cheap an option as possible and ended up choosing the Yellow Bloom Little Bloom pocket nappies, which looked quite funky, had a range of designs, choice of fittings, were described as birth to potty and best of all were cheap with prices starting at just £2.69 for a single nappy without inserts. As I did not want to be washing every day I paid around £35 for 10 nappies, each with two microfibre boosters and also received a free wet bag. What drew me to these particular nappies (other than the actual price) was the huge range of different designs to choose from, in both printed and minky versions. As my older nappy wearing child is a boy I decided to forgo the pink and flowery designs in favour of the blue and unisex, picking out twelve different nappies, some printed, some minky, some with popper fastening and others with Velcro. Among my favourite designs are the animal prints, which include zebra, giraffe and leopard, while my three year old boy's favourites would have to be Sponge Bob and Spiderman. When ordering on Ebay, the nappies were with me in under a week, which I felt was very reasonable considering that postage was free. These were the first reusable nappies I had used in over twenty years and I was very impressed with how cloth nappies had changed. Gone are the terry squares, nappy pins and plastic pants and in their place are these easy to use fashion statements. The nappies themselves look very similar to a disposable nappy and the rise is adjustable via rows of poppers on the front. These poppers allow the nappy to be changed from large to medium or small and are what makes the nappy a One Size Fits Most. The nappy then tightens around the waist using either Velcro which gives infinite variation or yet more poppers of which there are enough to give a good fit and most are designed in such a way that you can attach one wing over the over for the tinniest of waists. Each nappy is formed of two layers, with the inner being a fleece that is soft against baby's bottom and wicks moisture away from the skin. The outer layer of the nappy is either a printed nylon-like material or soft minky bonded with a thin layer of polyurethane to form a PUL. I have to be honest and say that this does not feel as well bonded as with other pocket nappies we have used and in one case has completely separated. The outside of the printed nappies feels very silky, but not in a necessarily nice way, it does feel like nylon and nowhere nearly as nice as other (more expensive) brands of nappy. The minky nappies, however feel divine, they are soft and luxurious to the touch and feel far more expensive than they actually are. The nappies themselves are not in the least bit absorbent and there is a pocket between the two layers that needs to be stuffed with absorbent inserts that soak up the pee. When I first received these nappies I was only going to use them on my then two now three year old son with the hope that I'd also be able to use them on my recent arrival, another little boy who is now two months old. These nappies require very little in the way of preparation, they do need an initial wash to remove any sizing and the inserts need several washes to up absorption, but other than stuffing the inserts into place that's about it. The pocket for stuffing the inserts is quite wide, which makes that task easy and there is enough room for up to three inserts without causing leg gapes. How many inserts you need does depend on your baby or child, with my heavy wetting three year old, two to three inserts are required for day time use and he needs changing after every pee. With a little practise these nappies are as easy to put on as a disposable. If used on a breastfed baby then you don't even need to add a liner, but if your baby/child has started weaning and is creating sticky, stinky poop, then I would recommend the use of either a disposable or fleece liner to make the removal of poop easier. The nappies fasten easily on my three year old and the combination of poppers/Velcro and gentle elastication at the back and leg cuffs ensures a snug yet comfortable fit with no gaping. The three year old certainly finds these nappies comfortable to wear, he does not attempt to remove them as he does disposables and he loves to show off his "Happy" nappies. The elasticated leg cuffs hold in his poop, no matter how big an explosion he has had (and as he has a taste for non-food items he can have huge explosions) and with two microfibre inserts they could hold in one of his huge pees. We did try these nappies overnight, but as they could only hold one pee he would always wake up damp, so we quickly reverted to disposables. As far as fit goes, on Mr three year old they are pretty trim, sitting just above his hips and not too thick between his legs and not much bulkier than a pair of pull ups. Once Baby JJ's cord had come off and his belly button was clean and dry I decided it was time to try these nappies on him. Baby JJ was just two weeks old when we first tried one of these on and weighed in at around 8lb 4oz, so a little bigger than the average newborn. Preparing the nappy for use was easy, the poppers were easy to fasten to lower the nappy's rise (height) and as he was (and still is) purely breastfed I didn't need to add a liner as breastfed poop will dissolve in the washing machine. Even though he was larger than the average newborn I still needed to do it up as tight as it would go and overlap the tabs. Even with doing this the nappy gaped at the waist and around the legs, which really didn't bode well. The crotch also seems to hang and the whole nappy looked excessively bulky. Baby JJ didn't, however, seem to be uncomfortable so I kept the nappy on to see how it would last and the answer was not that long. The fit simply wasn't snug enough to hold the pee in and it leaked at the first hurdle. Not wanting to risk the consequences of a poop leak, I decided that these nappies weren't going to work for a while and bought some Little Lamb One Size Pocket nappies which worked perfectly. As these nappies look so cute, I decided it was time to try them again once Baby JJ turned eight weeks and I have to admit the fit is a lot better. They no longer gape at the waist and look far less bulky, but there is still a small amount of gaping around the thighs. While I wouldn't trust these nappies for more than a couple of hours and certainly not out and about, they do seem to be able to cope with that couple of hours. But, and this is a big but, I have changed the microfibre inserts for Little Lamb Bamboo Boosters, which are far more absorbent and thinner too. When it comes to dealing with the wet/dirty nappies, life is a lot easier than it used to be. If you are thinking that they need soaking then think again. Wet and breastfed poop nappies simply need to be placed in a lidded bucket until there are enough for a washing load, while any more solid poop needs to be flushed down the toilet before the nappy is placed in the bucket. Everybody has a slightly different routine when it comes to washing their nappies but basically you should only use one quarter to one half the amount of non-biological powder you would usually use with a 30/40 degree wash and never use fabric conditioner. My own routine is slightly different to this in that I ensure all inserts are removed from the pockets, any Velcro tabs folded down and then I start by giving the nappies a cold rinse to loosen any poop, after the rinse has finished I place an Ecoegg in the drum and a few drops of tea tree oil in the softener drawer and put the machine on for a long 40 degree wash. This routine seems to work best for us and at almost a year old the nappies have little in the way of staining. Being non-absorbent the actual nappies dry very quickly, even indoors, being dry within a couple of hours on an over-bath airer. The inserts take a lot longer to dry, with the more absorbent the insert the longer the drying time. Microfibre inserts will usually dry overnight, while bamboo will take a couple of days. A good practise is to have extra inserts so that you don't run out of nappies to use while the shells are sitting waiting to be stuffed. After a year's use you can definitely see that these nappies have seen action. While the poppers still pop and the Velcro still sticks the inner fleece layer has definitely seen better days. It's greying, bobbling and simply not as soft as it originally was, these certainly aren't nappies that I can sell on, with one the PUL has completely unbonded making it unusable. For the price these nappies are just about satisfactory, they do look extremely cute and there are lots of funky designs that will look great teamed up with a pair of baby leggings. But they do feel cheap (especially the printed) and are not particularly made to last. They do however make reasonable standby nappies, and are easy to use making the transition to cloth easier, I just wouldn't make them the mainstay of my stash and would suggest waiting until your baby was at least 10lb before trying them.
Cloth nappies have come a long way in the last twenty or even ten years, long gone are the days of folding terry squares, holding them together with nappy pins and covering them with rubber pants. Today you can buy reusable nappies in various forms including pocket nappies, pre-folds and shaped terry nappies, with there being almost as much variety in material used as nappy type. Our daytime nappies of choice are the Little Lamb Pocket Nappies (both sized and one size) and our night time nappies are the Little Lamb Bamboo nappies, but there are times when we need a nappy that is more absorbent than a pocket nappy, but quicker drying than the Bamboo. The Little Lamb Microfibre Shaped Nappy fits this bill perfectly, when teamed up with a bombproof wrap it can cope throughout a 5 hour journey and yet it comes out of the washing machine virtually dry. Available in two sizes (size one/7-20lb and size two/20-38lb) these nappies are very reasonably priced at just £9 for a single nappy, £24.30 for three or £72 for ten. They can also be purchased in kits containing ten, twenty or forty nappies along with all the accessories you are likely to need and as a trial pack containing a nappy, booster pad, fluffy liner, waterproof wrap and wet bag for £12. Part of a two part system these nappies form the fluffy, absorbent layer and are shaped to fit around baby's bottom just like a disposable and then be secured with Velcro tabs. Unlike their cotton and bamboo counterparts, these microfibre nappies are knitted from a synthetic fibre which does not need repeated pre-washing to increase absorbency and so are ready to use after just one wash and dry (to remove any residue). The downside to these being made of synthetic fibre is that if you are using cloth nappy purely for the environmentally friendly factor then you will have to take this into account. Microfibre itself is a super absorbent material that can hold many times it's own weight in liquid. Unlike cotton or bamboo, the liquid is not held in the fibres but between them, which means that the majority of the liquid is removed during the spin cycle of a washing machine and nappies and boosters made of it are virtually dry straight after a machine wash. When I first started using these nappies on him, Baby JJ was about four weeks old and around 9.5lb and so firmly within the recommended weight range for the size one nappy and according to the Little Lamb website I can expect this nappy to fit until he is around 9 months old. Putting this nappy on really is as simple as using a disposable, I like to prepare all my nappies straight after washing and drying so I already have the supplied booster pad and fluffy liner in place before the nappy is needed. The nappy itself fits well with the elasticated back and leg seams giving a nice, snug fit when combined with the Velcro. What I really like about all of the Little Lamb shaped nappies including these is that they feature a crossover on the Velcro waistband, which means that they fit even the skinniest babies. I find the Velcro is very strong and the waistband is just the right width to make me feel that the nappy will be held closed without causing chaffing. Once the nappy is on a waterproof wrap does need to be placed over the top to prevent leakage. It is a shame that these nappies need to be covered, they are just so white and fluffy that they look extremely cute on Baby JJ's bum and seem to stay just as white and fluffy no matter how often they are washed. From the very first use it was easy to get a good fit with this nappy, the Velcro tabs make it easy to get a snug fit and by angling them slightly it is possible to adjust the fit around the legs to fit both skinny and chubby thighs. When we first used this nappy on Baby JJ he did have very scrawny legs and I had no trouble getting them to fit without gaping. Over the last couple of days he's chunked out considerably and I can still get a good fit. I have to admit that I have not tried using the nappy without the fleece liner and microfibre booster, Baby JJ is rather a heavy wetter and I know it would not last more than a hour or so. The fleece liner is beautifully soft and fluffy, I love the feel of it against my skin and so am very happy for it to be the layer that sits against Baby JJ's bum. Not only does this fleece provide a soft, fluffy layer, but it also wicks any moisture away from the skin and into the booster and nappy leaving Baby JJ's skin dry even when the nappy is sodden. The microfibre booster adds another two layers of absorbency to the mix, which means that this nappy can last my heavy wetter four to five hours. You do, however, need to add a wrap over the top of the nappy as that adds the waterproof layer, which wrap you use is up to you but we do use the Little Lamb Bombproof Wrap. Although I generally change Baby JJ every two to three hours throughout the day, I was looking for a nappy that could last for the four to five hours that we were going to be travelling on a train and would be quick drying so that it could be used the next day on the return journey. I put this nappy on him at the start of the journey and while it does add a lot more bulk than either disposable or his normal daytime, pocket nappies, I personally don't think they're too bulky. After two months use I've got used to adapting outfits to cloth nappies and tend to put trousers on Baby JJ rather than rompers or sleepsuits and have gone up a size in bodysuits (poppered vests). Little Lamb do state that these nappies are cut to the same pattern as their cotton and bamboo nappies, but due to the nature of the material they tend to be more bulky, but I can't say that I've particularly noticed this. Although I did obviously check him at regular intervals and would have changed him if necessary, the microfibre stayed on for the duration of our journey and did not leak even a tiny bit. When I took the nappy off, Baby JJ's bottom was virtually dry to the touch even though the nappy was absolutely drenched. There was absolutely no sign of redness on his skin and no markings from where the elasticated legs and back had held the nappy securely in place. All in all I was very pleased with this nappy's performance especially as Little Lamb themselves warn that the microfibre nappies are prone to compression leaks, which are leaks caused when a baby stays in one position for a longer period of time. After the success for travelling the next test for this nappy was when Baby JJ was due to produce one of his epic poops. Being fully breastfed, Baby JJ can produce some pretty dramatic poops that fill a nappy from back to front and leak from most nappies. In fact we have found that the only nappies that have a chance of coping are two-parters and so I do try and use that style when he shows signs of needing to poop. As with the bamboo nappies that he wears all night and the cotton nappies we use for the same reason, this microfibre nappy performed admirably, managing to contain a very explosive, bright yellow poop so well it didn't even hit the wrap. Dealing with these nappies at change time is extremely easy, if your baby has been weaned and has solid poop then that will need to be disposed of down the toilet, but breastfed poop will dissolve in the washing machine, so the dirty/wet nappy simply needs to be placed in a lidded bucket with the Velcro tabs folded onto the laundry tabs until you have enough for a load (or are running out of nappies). While Little Lamb give washing instructions which involve washing the nappies at 40 degrees with 1/3 to ½ the usual dose of non-biological powder, I do have my own routine that I have perfected over the last couple of months. I start with a rinse cycle to loosen any dried in pee and poop, then a 40 degree wash with an Ecoegg and finish off with an extra spin (more for the bamboo and cotton nappies). Straight out of the machine the microfibre nappies are virtually dry and still brilliantly white and clean with no sign of staining. I've found these nappies somehow manage to repel the yellow poop that has left stains on other materials. While the bamboo nappies take anything up to three days to dry on an over the bath airer and the cotton nappies up to two days, these microfibre nappies are ready to use within a few hours of leaving the machine making them ideal if drying space is limited. Overall I am pretty impressed with these nappies and can see that they have a place in my cloth stash. I like the fact that they are easy to care for and dry extremely quickly and the fact that they can cope with quite a long time between changes and hold in explosive poop. I also like the fact that despite multiple wears and washes it is still in the same condition as it was new, with no greying or staining, no shrinking and with the Velcro still being as strong as day one and the whole nappy feeling super soft. While I still wouldn't use these nappies overnight, I have actually some more in order to build up a stash that I can use to take on holiday, where I will be able to wash them in the launderette and then let them air dry overnight, meaning I don't need to take as many. I would recommend these nappies for those that are looking to cloth bum, but have limited drying space as they really do seem to have the perfect balance between absorbency and drying time. My only issues with these nappies are the fact that they are not as environmentally friendly as they could be and that they do not come in Size Three and so I cannot buy any for my toddler.
Baby JJ was a very lucky little boy this Christmas, instead of a single large toy, Santa bought him lots of little toys, many of which fall within the Lamaze brand. Although he has enjoyed exploring each of these toys in turn, one in particular has proved to be a firm favourite, inducing excited smiles and giggles every time it is brought out to play with. Having thoroughly entranced nine week old Baby JJ over the last week, the Lamaze Activity Knot (aka Tug and Play Knot) has earned itself a permanent position hanging from the toy bar of Baby JJ's bouncy chair, where it can be grabbed, batted, smiled at and chatted to for several hours a day. Lamaze has something of a reputation when it comes to baby toys, they produce a range of brightly coloured toys that incorporate textures and sounds that help encourage baby to practise all important skills while having fun. In my experience these toys are also incredibly well made and safe for even the youngest baby while also stimulating the older baby and toddler. While not as exciting looking (to my adult eyes) as some of the Lamaze toys, as far as Baby JJ goes it certainly does fulfil all expectations. Hanging from a white clip/hook is a knot with three double ended strands that can be slid through and have an activity at each end. The knot, strands and activities are cleverly designed so that the activities can be pulled on and brought closer to baby, without any worry that the strand will come free. We find the clip especially handy as a way of allowing Baby JJ to access this toy independently, we can use it to hang the knot from his crib or the car seat handle or, as is most common, the toy bar on his bouncy chair so that it is within his reach. The knot itself is packed full of different textures for Baby JJ to explore and rewards for his burgeoning hand/eye coordination and social skills. The very first activity that caught his eye was the baby safe mirror, which is triangular and has very little in the way of distortion, meaning that Baby JJ knew he was looking at a face. Baby JJ noticed this face almost as soon as the wrapping paper cane off and was immediately smiling, laughing and cooing at the baby and he was (and still is) very impressed that the baby knew the "sticking tongue out" game. While the mirror is definitely Baby JJ's favourite activity, he's not quite as impressed with plush material that backs it, even though said material features high contrast stripes that are designed to grab a very young baby's attention. Baby JJ's next favourite activity is the pair of clanking rings, that are the perfect size for him to grab hold of and shake. He fell asleep, earlier today holding on to these hard textured rings and seems to love using them to make the ball at the opposite end of the strand jingle. The ball features two different textures of material and Baby JJ loves it when the soft fuzzy material is stroked on his hand or face. There are also three silky knotted strands on the ball that Baby JJ can grab hold of if the ball is closer to him than the rings. Although he can't manage to work it himself (and won't be able to for some time to come), Baby JJ also loves the squeaker hidden in the star. He thinks it's really funny if Mummy or Daddy squeaks it and likes to be helped to explore the bumpy material covering it. I can't say that Baby JJ is too enamoured with the final two activities, because at the moment he simply is not. He doesn't seem to like the feel of the furry triangle, even though it hides the crinkly material he normally loves to feel and he is just too young to be able to appreciate the star teether. At just nine weeks old, Baby JJ has a definite love of all his Lamaze toys and a definite preference for his Knot. He will happily spend a good quarter of an hour at a time playing with it and I can state with certainty that this toy has helped his development over the last week as he has learnt to grab for and hold on to toys. The Knot definitely appears to have been designed with this in mind as there are plenty of appropriately sized pieces for him to grab hold of. It is also designed to respond to the lightest of bats by jingling and clanking, meaning that Baby JJ's first attempts at this type of play were rewarded and he was encouraged to repeat and refine the action. As much as Baby JJ loves this Knot and how much it is helping his development now, I can't help but think that it is also a toy that he is going continue to enjoy and benefit from for some months to come. There are lots of different textures that he is yet to explore and when he starts teething there is the actual teether along with the clanking rings and the silky knots for him to gnaw on for comfort. With this toy potentially having such a long life, it's a good thing that Lamaze have taken notice of feedback and changed to materials used from sponge clean only to hand wash. I've not yet had to wash the whole knot, but I did managed to clean some milky sick by rinsing under the tap and then stuck the knot on a radiator to dry (put a towel underneath so it's not direct heat). The Lamaze Activity Knot is proof that you do not have to spend a lot of money to give a young baby a lot of pleasure. I paid just over £7 for this in November and it really has proved to be a firm favourite. This is a toy that I would definitely recommend if you have a baby from newborn to about six months and are stuck on ideas of what to buy with that Christmas money, or if you are looking for a gift for a new baby or, perhaps, a christening present.
Whilst we use pocket nappies during the day and love them for that, we find that they simply aren't absorbent enough to last the six to eight hours Baby JJ sleeps through the night. We've tried all of the various Little Lamb shaped nappies over the last five weeks and the Little Lamb Bamboo Nappy has proved to be our night time nappy of choice when combined with booster pads and a bombproof wrap. These nappies are available in three sizes, with the smallest, Size One being said to be suitable for babies ranging from 7-20lb, which averages out at from newborn until approximately nine months of age. As Baby JJ was only a couple of weeks old when we started using cloth nappies, we obviously bought this smallest size. The Bamboo Nappies are also available in Size Two, which is suitable for babies in the 20-38lb range (7months-potty trained) and Size Three (35lb+). In the world of cloth nappies these are very reasonably priced with a single nappy retailing at just £9 and discounts being available when you buy in larger quantities. On first receiving these nappies, I couldn't help but be impressed at how soft, fluffy and silky they felt, the 90% bamboo/10% microfibre mix really does produce a nappy that almost feels like a cloud. Each nappy is supplied with a bamboo booster (sewn in with the larger sizes) and fluffy, fleece liner, with the whole lot needing to be washed several times before the first use. Little Lamb recommend that they are washed at least three times before the first use on a 40 degree cycle to remove the sizing and increase absorbency, with the absorbency increasing further over at least the next three washes. After washing the nappies aren't quite as soft to the touch as they were before, but they are still far, far softer than any of the cotton nappies we also own. While the bamboo used in these nappies cannot be described as organic due to the manufacturing processes used to turn the raw bamboo into a fabric, it is Oeko-tex certified, which means that it has been tested throughout the manufacturing process for harmful substances. Bamboo is also a very renewable resource, with some varieties growing over a metre a day, in fact I had some growing in my garden once and I swear I could hear it growing. Due to the nature of the bamboo and the lack of bleaching, rather than being white these nappies are a cream/beige colour, which is very attractive even though I do like to see freshly laundered white nappies on a baby's bum. To look at, these are very similar in appearance to disposable nappies, they are shaped to fit (rather than needing to be folded) with elasticated back and leg cuffs. The nappies do up via Velcro, which when combined with the elastic gives a perfect fit. We've been using these nappies at night for a little over five weeks now and I can honestly state that when combined with the Little Lamb Wrap we've not had a single leak since working out the best combination of boosters to add in the mix. One of the aspects of these nappies that is great and puts these nappies head and shoulders above disposables is how easy it is to customise the absorbency to fit your baby and the way they wet. With some babies you may find that they are such light wetters that you don't need to boost at all, with others you may find you need one, two or even three boosters to last the night. In our case the best combination is two boosters with the bottom one folded over at the front of the nappy and then a washable fleece liner is placed on top of the boosters so that it sits next to the skin and wicks the pee away from Baby JJ's skin and into the boosters and nappy. When we first started using these nappies I did think they might be a little big for him as although at over eight pound he was above the minimum recommended weight, he was and still is a long skinny baby. To start with we had to do these nappies up in such a way that the two flaps folded over each other, which is something Little Lamb had thought of as there is actually Velcro there to do this. This gave a nice snug fit, without any gaping, however now Baby JJ has chunked out a bit the two flaps no longer meet, but the fit is still snug. These nappies have quite a low rise (how high they go up the baby's waist), from the first use they've been below his belly button, which I quite like as he looks uncomfortable in nappies that reach his waistline. While disposable nappies are designed to be super slim fitting, as with any cloth nappy these are not. They are in fact very bulky, especially if more than one booster is used, but personally I love the look of a big, fluffy bum on a baby. Plus there is an actual developmental advantage to using cloth nappies in that the bulk holds baby's hips in a better position than disposables, they also give a nice amount of padding when baby is learning to walk and falling on their bottoms. The only real disadvantage to the bulk is that clothing manufacturers no longer cater for cloth bottoms and you do have to think about what your baby will wear. During the day I tend to team the nappies up with baby leggings and a top, for a really cute look that shows off the nappy/wrap and at night I've gone a size up in sleepsuits so as not to put pressure on the nappy and cause compression leaks. Baby JJ obviously finds the combination of these nappies and the Little Lamb wraps extremely comfortable as for the last week he has been sleeping for up to eight hours at night, which he would not do if uncomfortable. As long as he hasn't pooped, the nappy will stay on from about 11pm until around 8am and while it is obviously wet there has never been a leak. Bamboo is far more absorbent than cotton, which means for the same amount of bulk you get far more pee soaked up and this is very evident with how heavy the nappy feels when it is removed in the morning. Once the dirty/wet nappy is removed the Velcro flaps need to be folded down and then the nappy is simply placed in a lidded nappy bucket until you are ready to wash. An aspect of using any cloth nappies that may be considered a disadvantage is that the wet nappy is in contact with baby's skin. However, remember that urine itself is sterile and that in the main it is only when urine mixes with poop that irritation and nappy rash occurs. Baby JJ certainly doesn't find it uncomfortable and has not suffered from any kind of nappy rash or redness since we stopped using disposable nappies and wipes, although I do have to admit that we also use a cloth friendly salve on his bottom. Washing the dirty/wet nappies is simplicity itself. If your baby produces solid or semi solid poop then you will need to flick that into the toilet (it's a very good idea to use a liner) but breastfed poop is water soluble so it can go straight in the machine. While the instructions state to wash these at 40 degrees with a half measure of non-biological soap powder, I have to admit that after a little trial and error I have a slightly different routine. I do a nappy wash every other day (which means some of the poop has dried a little) and I start with a rinse cycle, which soaks any dried poop, I then put the nappies through a forty degree cotton wash with an Ecoegg, finishing off with an extra spin. Following this regime every last sign of bright yellow poop is removed and the nappies are beautifully cleaned without any build up of detergent. It is very important, however, not to add fabric conditioner to the wash as it will coat the fibres reducing absorption. If you want the nappies to smell nice then a few drops of essential oil can be added to the conditioner drawer, (tea tree is a good oil to use as it is anti bacterial, viral and fungal). Drying these nappies is an extremely time consuming affair, especially at this time of year when they have to be dried indoors. Before I added the extra spin into the mix it was taking more than three days for these nappies to dry, but with the extra spin it takes between two and two and a half days for them to dry on an airer. I put them on an over bath airer, in the bathroom with the window open, turn them over at least twice a day and this seems to reduce the drying time as much as possible. Once dry the nappies are once more soft and fluffy to the touch and do not smell of anything other than the essential oil I have used. So far we have had no staining, but if they should do so, sunlight is supposed to be an excellent way of removing stains. Although there was a small amount of shrinkage with the very first wash there hasn't been any subsequently and the elastic and whole nappies show no sign of wear and tear after almost five weeks of use. Whether you are thinking about cloth nappies as a way of saving the environment (a million tonnes of disposable nappies go to landfill in the UK each year, with it taking 200-500 years for them to decompose!) or a way of saving money (up to £1500 when washing is taken into account, much more if you use the same nappies on a second child) you will need to find a night time nappy and this Little Lamb Bamboo Nappy is our night time nappy of choice. Yes, it is bulky and even more so when boosted, but it is also super absorbent and in our case keeps Baby JJ comfortable all night long. I'm not sure that I would use these as a daytime nappy though, no matter how cute they look under a wrap, they are bulky and I prefer pocket nappies for during the day. Of course what suits one baby will be a total failure on another and with a standard price of £9 for a single nappy (with reductions if you buy in multiples) it can be quite expensive if they don't work for your baby and so would recommend that if you want to try these you buy a trial pack for £12 which contains the nappy, booster, liner, wrap and wet bag.
While we mostly use pocket nappies during the day, for those times when we want the nappy to last a little longer and for bedtime we use a two part system, which comprises of a shaped absorbent nappy and waterproof wrap. As all of our various shaped nappies are of the Little Lamb brand we have stuck to their wraps and I have to say that I am extremely pleased with their performance. With a standard price of £8.50 for one, these wraps are available in three sizes and a fairly large range of colours, with discounts being available when you buy in packs of three or five (you can pick which colours you want. Probably the most cost efficient way of trying one of these wraps is to actually buy a nappy trial pack, that way you also get a shaped nappy (cotton, organic cotton, bamboo or microfibre) and a matching wet bag for just £12 with free delivery from the Little Lamb website. Also available in Size 2 (20-38lb) and Size 3 (35lb+), due to the fact that he is only 7 weeks old and was only 2 weeks when we started using them we have the Size 1 that are said to be suitable for babies in the 7-20lb range. At about 8.5lb Baby JJ was well within this weight range, but a long, skinny baby when we started using them, although he has obviously filled out a bit now, five weeks later. Unlike the nappy part of a two part system, you don't need to change the wrap on every change, only really if it is soiled or after a couple of changes. This means you can probably get away with just three to four wraps in your stash, but I do like to colour coordinate wherever possible and so have at least one of each colour (and more of the colours I particularly like). My only previous experience of using waterproof covers for nappies is the horrible, sweaty, plastic pants that were used twenty odd years ago and the difference in using these is like chalk and cheese. Each wrap is made of a soft, stretchy poly knit that is bonded to a breathable, waterproof laminate. The outside of the wrap feels soft yet durable to the hand and the waterproof laminate appears very well bonded to the poly knit, with there being no areas where it has separated (unlike some cheap pocket nappies I have bought). While these wraps are not available with fancy patterns printed on them the choice of colours is great and the colours themselves are gorgeous. With the exception of the two pinks and the white we have at least one of each colour and my personal favourites are Hazy Sun (a bright yellow), Spice (orange), Fire (burnt orange) and Green Apple (very bright, light green). As I've previously said, we've been using these on Baby JJ to cover his various shaped Little Lamb nappies since he was about two weeks old. These wraps are extremely easy to use, you simply put the shaped nappy on first and then the wrap goes over the top. The combination of the elasticated leg cuffs and back and the wide Velcro strips makes it easy to get a snug and yet not too tight fit. To help the wraps fit really thin babies the flaps can be velcroed so that they are one on top of the other, but we have never needed to do this. What I love about the Velcro is that it is infinitely adjustable meaning I can get the perfect fit, without having the problem of being between popper settings. I find that to get the perfect fit, it is better to angle the Velcro slightly and then I can make sure that the wrap covers the nappy completely and doesn't gape at the legs without being so tight that it causes red marks or compression leaks. Once these wraps are on they not only look super cute, but in our experience they really are bombproof holding in everything from the lightest of wees to the most explosive poop imaginable, and Baby JJ can do some very explosive breastfed poops. Nothing else has managed to come close to containing some of his poops, even with disposables the poop used to escape from the leg cuffs and up the back. The combination of the excellent fit, elasticated legs and back and the clever leg gussets have literally coped with everything Baby JJ has pooped at them. I love the way that I can put an appropriately boosted nappy on Baby JJ, put one of these wraps over it and then know that it will keep all pee and poop contained. In five weeks of night time use we have not had a single leak, which is pretty impressive when you consider that Baby JJ regularly sleeps for six to seven hours in a stretch at night. When it comes to changing the wrap, how I deal with it depends on whether or not it has poop on and how long it's been on. If the wrap has poop on then it goes straight in the dirty nappy bucket ready to wash at 40 degrees with the other nappies, from which they come out virtually dry. If the wrap is just wet then I will simply wipe it down with one of our washable wipes and then let it dry ready use again, washing it after three or so uses (or if it starts to smell). With five weeks nightly use all of our wraps are still in perfect condition and I don't see why (as long as they are properly) cared for they shouldn't last until they become to small for Baby JJ. If you are planning to use cloth nappies then you will need to think about how you will deal with night time and for us the best solution is a combination of fitted nappies, booster pads and these wraps. We find the fit is great, that they are fantastic at holding in the pee and poop and look ultra cute as well. Although they are quite an expensive outlay you don't have to have as many as we do and could probably manage with just four. Although every baby is different and what works for one will not work for another, from our personal experience I cannot recommend these wraps enough, for us they have performed perfectly. My personal recommendation is therefore to buy any of the nappy trial packs to see if these will work for you.
The reactions we get from most people when they realise that we cloth bum Baby JJ range from disgust at the idea of dealing with all that pee and poop to wondering why we would put ourselves through all the extra work. The truth is using cloth nappies is really no more work than disposables and it is certainly not as messy as we don't have stinky nappies waiting around until bin day (which is now fortnightly in many parts of the country). We use a variety of different types of nappies with Baby JJ, the majority of them being of the Little Lamb brand, but the very easiest to use of these and our daytime nappy of choice are the Little Lamb pocket nappies. Little Lamb Pocket Nappies come in two varieties, the sized pockets where you need to buy more as your child grows and the One Size Fits All (OSFA recently renamed One Size) which grow with your child. The One Size Pocket nappies definitely make up the backbone of our cloth stash, we started with five and were so impressed that we bought another fifteen meaning that we easily have enough to last two and sometimes three days between washes and never run out at an inconvenient moment. As far as price goes, I personally feel these are pretty good value for money, the standard price for one nappy is £10 and then ever increasing discounts can be had when you buy in multiples. But I really would wait until the nappies are on offer and buy then, by doing this we picked up ten for £50 which made them an excellently valued £5 each. These One Size pockets are designed to be suitable for a large age range, which while not quite from newborn is a close run thing. The cleverly placed poppers allow you to adjust both the rise (height) and fit of the nappy to fit a large weight range with Little Lamb recommending that they are suitable for babies from 10lb-30lb (4.5kg-14kg). The long, thin Baby JJ actually weighed slightly less than this recommended minimum when he first started wearing these nappies at 8lb 4oz, but they still fitted well. Once you get into a routine these One Size nappies are as easy to use as disposables, only needing to be poppered on after they have been prepared for use. These actually come in two parts, the pocket nappy itself and then absorbent inserts that are stuffed in the pocket and soak up the pee. The pocket part of the nappy is made of a beautifully soft fleece that is incredibly gentle against baby's skin and does a fantastic job of wicking moisture through to the inserts. Each nappy is covered with a stretchy waterproof (PUL) layer and is available in a variety of funky colours along with basic white. Not containing an absorbent layer the actual nappies dry very quickly, being almost dry out of the machine and ready to use after a couple of hours drying on an airer. Little Lamb are very generous when it comes to the absorbent inserts and supply not one but two bamboo boosters. Although they don't actually touch baby's skin, these boosters are super soft and super absorbent as well as being relatively ecologically sound (bamboo is a very renewable source). The downside of this super absorbency is that the boosters do take a lot longer to dry than the nappy (a good 24 hours on an airer), so I would recommend buying some extra boosters so that you don't have empty, unusable nappies hanging around. An amount of initial preparation is required before these nappies can be used for the first time, but really this is just a case of washing them. The pockets only need to be washed the once before the first use, but the boosters/inserts do need at least three washes (preferably six) to increase absorbency, but they do not need drying in-between so it's simply a case of running the washing machine continuously at 40 degrees for a day. Once the nappies and boosters are washed and dried all that is needed is to stuff the boosters into the pocket and then put the nappy on your baby, adjusting the rise of the nappy using the horizontal lines of poppers that give three different heights and then fitting the nappy snuggly but not too tightly using the poppers on the waistband. Dealing with the dirty/wet nappy is similarly simple, remove the nappy, take out the boosters, place in a lidded bucket and when you have enough wash at 40 degrees using a half dose of non-biological powder. We've been using these nappies on Baby JJ for four weeks now and find them the easiest of the different nappy types to deal with. The most tedious and time consuming part of using these would have to be stuffing the inserts into place, it's not difficult, just tedious and best done while watching TV in the evening and it's probably best not to wait until you have fifteen nappies to stuff. How many boosters you will need to stuff in each nappy depends very much on how heavy a wetter your baby is and how long you want the nappy to last for. With some babies you can get away with just one, but with Baby JJ we need the two to last two to three hours and three if we want them to last longer. What I particularly like about these nappies is that unlike some other brands of pocket nappy we own there is a flap at the back to hold the booster in place. As Baby JJ is at the smaller end of the recommended weight we have used the poppers to adjust this to the smallest rise and when put on him the fit is just below his belly button. The waistband has a large range thanks to the many poppers and at the moment we are using not quite the smallest setting (the smallest setting involves popping the two ends together as well as to the waistband and is very, very small and so suitable for the smallest of babies). The combination of being able to adjust the waistband and the soft elastic at the back of the nappy and the leg cuffs, means that we get a nice snug fit without gaping and also without the nappy digging in to Baby JJ's delicate skin. Once these nappies are on they look so cute and are perfect teamed up with a long sleeved top and baby leg warmers. We have and love most of the colours that are available, they are bright without being gaudy and most are suitable for both a boy or girl. Although we find these nappies are less bulky than many reusable nappies they are still a little more bulky than disposables and some thought is needed in choosing clothes. You may find, as we did, that you need to move up a size in body and sleepsuits a little earlier than expected or you may discover that leg warmers make a great alternative to trousers. As far as the colours go, my favourites have to be Hazy Sun (yellow), Spice (burnt orange) and Green Apple (almost lime green), they may not have fancy patterns but they still look gorgeous and would look equally nice on a girl. As far as how well these nappies hold up to peeing and pooping I do feel they do really well. As long as he is changed every two to three hours we don't tend to get any leaks or wet patches, although we did have a few compression leaks from trying to stretch bodysuits over the nappy. On the majority of occasions Baby JJ's poop is also contained, most days he will poop four or five times a day and this poop is dealt with perfectly well. Every four days or so though he does fewer poops in a day and at least one of these is an explosion that would defy any nappy's ability to hold it in. Disposables didn't manage and unfortunately neither do these, the only nappies I've found so far that do are two-parters with a bombproof wrap. On taking the nappy off Baby JJ's delicate bottom does not feel too wet thanks to the way the fleece wicks the moisture away and he has not shown even a sign of redness or rash since the change from disposables. We do, however, use a cloth friendly bottom balm at every change so that might not just be down to the nappies. As soon as the nappy is taken off it is put in a lidded pail and then when I have enough for a load I stick them in a wash at 40 degrees making sure that I remove the boosters from the pockets. As we are trying to keep nasty chemicals as far away from Baby JJ's skin we don't actually use soap powder in our wash, instead washing the nappies with an Ecoegg. Even without soap powder the nappies come up lovely and clean, despite coming into contact with liberal amounts of bright yellow poop. After four weeks use, countless wears and washes all of our one size pockets are as good as new. Just in case you are wondering we do also use these nappies when out and about and they really are just as convenient as a disposable. Whereas you would put a used disposable in a plastic nappy bag for later disposal you simply put the used reusable in a waterproof wet bag to take home for later washing. I really can't recommend going down the cloth nappy route enough, not only is it better for baby's skin and the environment, but it also can save several hundred pound over the time that baby is in nappies. I also have no hesitation in recommending these particular nappies, we love the ease of use, look and reliability, but do remember that every baby is different and what works for one may not for another. I would therefore recommend that you start with a trial pack that includes the nappy, two boosters and a wet bag for £12 to ensure that it is the nappy for you before buying a larger pack.
At six weeks Baby JJ is just starting to take a lot more notice of the world around him, play with toys and has just discovered the wiggly worms at the end of his arms (otherwise known as hands and fingers). To help encourage his interest in the world around him and to start to develop all important skills I ensure that he has plenty of toys to stimulate his senses. Among the current favourites of these toys is the Captain Calamari Teething Mitt from Lamaze, a toy that I had originally purchased before he was born for around the £5 on Amazon. As a parent I have loved watching my older child play with and learn through various Lamaze toys over the last few years and have been impressed with the build quality of the toys and the thought that has gone into them. The little brother of the Play and Grow Captain Calamari is no exception, although a very simple and quite small toy it is very well made and it is obvious that a lot of thought has gone into both the educational and fun potential. This mini Captain Calamari is fall smaller than the Play and Grow version and so the perfect size for very little hands. While Baby JJ's grip is still instinctive rather than voluntary he can still manage to keep a firm hold on Captain Calamari once it's in his fist. As with the bigger Lamaze toys Captain Calamari features a number of different textures and even sounds for baby to explore. The Captain's head is formed of a lovely soft plush with his friendly. Smiling face embroidered onto place. The big, wide-open eye is very good for drawing a baby's attention and Baby JJ can regularly be found chatting away to the Captain. The head is stuffed and the level of stuffing is just right, not so hard as to make him unhuggable but not so soft that he's got no substance. The Captain's hat is made of a crinkly, purple material that Baby JJ loves to feel when I help him find it. Then his knotted legs (which are all different colours) are made of a super smooth, silky material that Baby JJ loves me to stroke against his face. An aspect of Captain Calamari that makes him stand out from a lot of similar toys is that he is sitting on a mitt that is made of a stretchy material and so perfect to put on the hand of a baby or toddler. Now he's discovered his hands, I put Captain Calamari over Baby JJ's hand so that he can wave him in front of his face and have little chats. This is a great way of helping Baby JJ develop his hand eye coordination and focussing skills. I won't say that the Captain stays on his hand for long, it's not a particularly snug fit, but he will stay in place for a few minutes at a time during playtime. When he doesn't think anyone is looking Baby JJ's big brother will sometimes have a sneaky play with the Captain and he fits far more snuggly on a three year old hand when he becomes a puppet. With Baby JJ being too young to be teething and his big brother being too old we've not tested out the teething aspect of this version of Captain Calamari yet and it might be thought that with him being so soft that he wouldn't be much use as a teether. But his older brother owned the larger version of the captain and found chewing on the knotted, silky legs extremely soothing when teething so I would imagine that when the time comes Baby JJ will find this just as good. Unlike the majority of the Lamaze range, The Captain is not sponge clean only which is a good thing as he is regularly exposed to baby vomit and designed to spend time in a baby's mouth. Although the care label does say hand wash only, I have put The Captain in a cool wash with Baby JJ's clothes and once air dried he's come out as good as new without any of the colours running. As far as safety goes, The Captain feels very well made, there are no sharp points or moving parts that could hurt baby and the stitching is secure enough to have survived my pulling at various seams. The plush that the main body is made from also appears to not be of the shedding variety which means that baby is unlikely to get fluff in their mouth. It can be hard to find toys that are suitable for very young babies, being safe enough for them and yet still stimulating enough to help them develop new skills. While I love the larger Lamaze toys and Baby JJ has several attached to his crib bars, this Captain Calamari Teething Mitt has proved the almost perfect portable toy. He is the perfect size for Baby JJ to hold and is very attractive to Baby JJ's eyes as Baby JJ can often be found chatting to him. He is also ideal for introducing different textures and the mitt means that Baby JJ can interact on his own. As proved by big brother The Captain is also attractive to older toddlers and children and makes a great puppet, which means he won't be just a flash in then pan. The fact that he can be washed means he is even more ideal for babies and my one and only issue is that I would like him to have some way of me attaching him to the car seat or pram so there is no risk of him getting lost. But all in all Baby JJ and I are giving the Captain Calamari Teething Mitt four and a half stars out of five, rounded up to five and recommending him as a toy for a young baby who is just starting to discover the world around them, along with older babies who will have just as much fun.