My #MilkMoments - Breastfeeding and Weaning

11:25 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

We're a few months into weaning Little E now and I've been reflecting on my experiences with all three of my children. I've exclusively breastfed all of my babies until they were almost six months old, LM began weaning at around five and a half months but both boys were six months and Bud was closer to seven as he was quite poorly as he hit half a year old.

Bud was a great feeder. We nicknamed him the milk monster and, when weaning came around, he just wasn't that interested! As he hit six months he came down with a horrible chest infection and solid foods were the last thing on his mind. We kept on nursing and he eventually had his first taste of food at about six and a half months. For the first three months or so he hardly dropped any milk feeds and only ate small amounts of solid foods. I offered him breakfast, lunch and dinner and he tried many different things. Food just didn't really 'click' until he was about ten months old though. I've mixed spoon feeding with baby led weaning successfully with all of my children and Bud was the one who enjoyed spoon feeding the most. As, at nearly six years old, he'd still prefer for me to dress him in the morning, this isn't really a surprise! Bud breastfed until he was twenty six months old. Despite him eating everything offered, except banana, as a baby, he's now the child who doesn't really like to try new foods, although, happily, I can usually persuade him to now he's getting older.

My #MilkMoments - Breastfeeding and Weaning HiPP Wean Team

LM was a completely different child to her big brother. Again, we planned to follow the WHO guidelines to wean at six months but, when she grabbed a slice of bread from the table at five and a half months and proceeded to stuff it into her mouth and do a pretty good job of chewing it, we started a couple of weeks early. She was always quite a lazy feeder with milk. She was my baby who took to breastfeeding the easiest, despite the issues I had after her birth, we established breastfeeding quickly and she just 'got it'. When food came along she lost interest in milk quite quickly. She was the baby who really dropped milk feeds along the way as she began to explore food in all areas. She loved her three square meals and remains to this day a little girl with an adventurous palate and an interest in food that really isn't shared by her big brother. When we stopped nursing at sixteen months old I was very sad but my little independent girl just wanted to do her own thing. She never really tolerated being spoon fed very well and she challenged me to come up with lots of different ways to make food easy to handle for her.

My #MilkMoments - Breastfeeding and Weaning HiPP Wean Team

We're now on the exciting weaning journey with Little E and he's a good mixture of his brother and sister. He loves finger foods and has the most control of any of my babies at feeding himself. His hand-eye co-ordination is fantastic and he loves nothing more than a few steamed veggies to munch on in his highchair. Similarly though, he loves being spoon fed. His Dad says that's because it gets in his mouth quicker. He has started to feed a little less often, not to the same extent as his Sister did but we have definitely lost one feed in the morning. One thing I have noticed about Little E, which I don't remember with the big two, is that he has  to have milk after a meal. It's quite funny as  you know when he's had enough to eat as he starts to make his little noise which means 'I want milk now please Mummy.' I've no plans to stop breastfeeding Little E, as with the others I will be led by him. If our experiences so far are anything to go by I'd anticipate us stopping sometime between when the big two did. He's a real mixture of them both.

My #MilkMoments - Breastfeeding and Weaning HiPP Wean Team

With all of my children I've used a mixture of homemade and bought baby foods and my favourite brand has always been HiPP. The first taste of food that all of my babies have had has been HiPP porridge. As members of the HiPP Wean Team Little E has been enjoying their range of seven months plus jars this month. He's been especially taken with the Sunday Lunch and the two which contain pasta. All of my children have enjoyed pasta as a finger food since around seven months and, actually, when LM refused spoon feeding at a very young age, I used pasta mixed with purees as a way of using them up. The jars have a coarser texture than the very smooth purees of the first food range and Little E is very much enjoying the flavours.

My #MilkMoments - Breastfeeding and Weaning HiPP Wean Team

I've chosen to continue breastfeeding with all of my children but HiPP offer a range of follow on milks for those parents who choose to offer it to their babies as part of the weaning process. Follow on milks are designed to complement the weaning diet while your baby is getting used to a variety of different tastes and textures. They are higher in iron and vitamin D than standard infant formulas which can really be a help if baby is not eating many iron-containing foods and is therefore at greater risk of iron deficiency,becoming vitamin D deficient.

The Department of Health recommends that you breastfeed your baby exclusively for the first six months of their life; at around six months you can start to wean them on to solids and start to combine breastfeeding with bottle feeding. HiPP Organic understands that all babies are different and some mums might want to transfer to bottle feeding earlier than others. HiPP Organic would always advise that you speak to your midwife or health visitor before changing your feeding method. For more information on milks, please visit the HiPP Organic Website

Improving Little E's Sleep with JOHNSON'S® Baby

19:36 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Little E doesn't have much of a bedtime routine at the moment. In fact, as I write, he's crashed out on his Daddy's chest while we watch TV. Although he's now eight months we don't really seem to have got into the habit of putting him to bed on his own yet. He happily snoozes the evening away downstairs with us and we get extra cuddles which are sometimes missed with a demanding big sister and brother around in the daytime. That said, I've noticed that he seems to be getting increasingly unsettled in the evenings as he gets more active in his own right and I think it is about time to establish a bedtime routine.

Improving Little E's Sleep with JOHNSON'S® Baby Bedtime Range

I had a very timely approach from JOHNSON'S® Baby who have invited Little E and I to try their new clinically proven* 3-step approach to baby bedtimes, which uses their bedtime range of products to help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Over the next two weeks Little E and I will spend one week following our usual bedtime routine. In practice I'm going to start trying to get him into his cot rather than keeping him downstairs with us. Following that week I will be using the JOHNSON'S® 3-step routine to see if we can make the whole bedtime process easier and calmer.

JOHNSON'S®' 3-step routine uses their Baby Bedtime range of products and we've been sent the Bedtime Bath, Wash, Lotion and Oil and a story book to use in the second week.

Improving Little E's Sleep with JOHNSON'S® Baby Bedtime Range

The first step in the routine is Bath. JOHNSON'S® recommend starting the evening routine with aa warm bath using the Bedtime Bath or Wash. We don't have a bath so this will see Little E being showered using the Bedtime Wash or having a bath at Grandma's when he can have a splash in the Bedtime Bath. All three of my children love both the shower and the bath and I'm hoping that the relaxing fragrance and soft bubbles will start the relaxation for the evening for Little E.

Step two is Massage. I've enjoyed using baby massage techniques on all of my babies and I think they have all enjoyed the relaxing and calming post-bath massage. I'll be using the Bedtime Lotion for this and taking the opportunity for some extra snuggling while we do so.
The third and final step is Quiet Time.We've been supplied with a book called 'Good Night Sarah' which has been developed by the makers of JOHNSON'S® to read at bedtime. The bedtime story is an important part of Bud and LM's bedtime routine so I'm really keen to bring it into Little E's too. It's such an important time of our day and I love snuggling up with my little ones and sharing a story.

I'm going to be keeping a diary of Little E's bedtimes over the next two weeks to record if the JOHNSON'S® 3-step routine has an effect on how well he settles and how long he sleeps for. He doesn't sleep through and most nights still wakes at least twice. I'd settle for this being reduced to onc and be very happy if it does. I'll be reporting back on how we find the routine in two weeks.

*Sponsored blog post by the JOHNSON'S® brand, I have received payment incentive and samples but all opinions are my own. JOHNSON'S® 3 step routine consists of bath, massage and quiet time, tested on babies 7 months+, 1 week+ use.

Star Wars and World Book Day - Review and Giveaway

15:07 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Bud has recently discovered the Star Wars Universe and is eagerly absorbing everything connected with the films and characters. He recently received a parcel of four books which absolutely delighted him as they included some Star Wars chapter books, and a fabulous Starfighter Workshop Activity Book and Model Kit.

Star Wars and World Book Day - Review and Giveaway

Star Wars and Egmont Publishing are getting involved with World Book Day this year and your children will be able to spend their one pound book token on the book Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space - The Escape. The Adventures in Wild Space series sees the Star Wars universe through the eyes of the Graf Kids and the one pound World Book Day special edition is the perfect introduction to their adventures.

Star Wars and World Book Day - Review and Giveaway Adventures in Wild Space

When the parents of Milo and Lina Graf are abucted by the agents of the evil Empire, the children must undertake a perilous journey across the unknown reaches of Wild Space to rescue them - and to discover hope for the future.

We've started reading this book with Bud, at not quite six he's not able to read it all freely but we have adopted a 'read-it together' approach where we puzzle out the more difficult words together and we are reading a few pages at bedtime each evening.

The other books in the Star Wars Adventures in Wild Space series are The Snare by Cavan Scott and The Nest by Tom Huddleston (both with an RRP of £6:99). These are larger, more detailed adventures and see the same Graf children exploring Wild Space to rescue their parents and escape Imperial forces.

All three of the books are lovely with a good mix of prose and black and white illustrations. We've really been enjoying this new aspect to the Star Wars universe and Bud loves puzzling out all of the different droids, ships and enemy forces. I've read through all three of the books and feel confident that they are going to be a huge hit with young fans, especially those who have had their interest in Star Wars initiated by the recent release of The Force Awakens.

All three of the Star Wars Adventures in Wild Space are released on Thursday 25th February 2016.

The other book we received was actually very familiar to us as we bought it for a friend at Christmas. Starfighter Workshop is a wonderful book with two buildable models of ships from the Star Wars films. Using the high quality foam pieces at the back of the book you can build your very own X-Wing and Tie Fighter and re-enact all of those famous dog fights from the eight Star Wars movies.

Star Wars and World Book Day - Review and Giveaway Starfighter Workshop

The models are quite complex and offer a great little project for fans of the films. We put together the X-Wing over the weekend and were delighted by it's attention to detail and how easy it was to build. The foam pieces are a good thickness and clip together well and, once complete you are left with a brilliant model which will grace any bookcase or bedroom. X Wings are my favourite ship in Star Wars so I loved building it with Bud. It's worth pointing out that Bud would have found the model a little too tricky to build on his own so we were able to make a real project of it. He wants it to be hung from the ceiling of his bedroom now and I'm sure the Tie Fighter will follow there when it's complete. The age range suggested on the back of the book is 7+ and I'd say that's spot on but younger children will enjoy the book with a bit of help from their grown up.

Star Wars and World Book Day - Review and Giveaway Starfighter workshop xwing model

I'm so pleased that completing the models doesn't mean the end of the book as it includes an activity book packed with stories, colouring sheets and puzzles, as well as those all important instructions.These are all themed around the ships of Star Wars and Bud will love working his way through them.

Star Wars and World Book Day - Review and Giveaway Starfighter workshop activity book

I've teamed up with Egmont Publishing to offer one of my readers the chance to win their own set of the Star Wars Wild Adventures Books (three books in total). For a chance to win simply complete the Gleam widget below. Please read the terms and conditions.

For more chances to win, please check out the next giveaway at Me, The Man and The Kids(from 23rd February 2016).

Star Wars Wild Adventures in Space

Hideout With An Octopus at SEA LIFE Manchester This Half Term

23:00 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early to visit one of our favourite local attractions - SEA LIFE Manchester, in Barton Square at the intu Trafford Centre. We'd been invited along to see some of their newest inhabitants in their brand new installation, the Octopus Hideout.

As ambassadors over the past year we've visited SEA LIFE Manchester regularly, both Bud and LM have their favourite creatures to visit - Bud loves seeing Ernie the Green Sea Turtle whereas LM always wants to get hands on with the crabs and starfish in the rockpool. My favourites are the seahorses and the huge, circular Ray tank where the beautiful fish race around and seem to compete for attention!

Hideout With An Octopus at SEA LIFE Manchester This Half Term Ernie the Turtle

A big part of each visit to SEA LIFE Manchester is seeing what is new each time, and taking part in the different activities available. Bud and LM have to get all of their stamps in their SEA LIFE passport, and there is usually a craft or similar interactive activity to participate in too.

Hideout With An Octopus at SEA LIFE Manchester This Half Term Giant Pacific Octopus

Saturday's visit gave us the opportunity to see the brand new Octopus hideout. We love playing 'hunt the octopus' and trying to spot the centre's Common Octopus (we've only seen her once in all of our many visits) and we were really keen to see the Octopi that have been added to the centre's newest attraction.  You can meet Hank, the Giant Pacific Octopus, one of the smartest creatures from the ocean, see the tiny Atlantic Long Arm Octopus whose arms are longer than its body and don’t miss the incredible Nautilus, an octopus in a shell that has barely changed in 500 million years! I think the Nautilus are my new favourite sea creature, these prehistoric animals look rather like aliens and it's fascinating to watch them bob around in their tank.

Hideout With An Octopus at SEA LIFE Manchester This Half Term Nautilus

The Nautilus are a good fit for the rest of the half-term fun at SEA LIFE Manchester which is themed around Ancient Oceans. This is a week-long event packed full of activities, workshops and talks designed to teach visitors about the fascinating history of the oceans. The charismatic Dr Dug will be on hand to oversee archaeological digs and visitors will get the opportunity to learn about the evolution of the mesmerising sea creatures, some of which have been around for over 400 million years, such as sharks, jellyfish and turtles, making them older than trees! Bud and LM loved uncovering the fossils in the sand pit and Bud was happy to fill the SEA LIFE staff overseeing this activity in on the dinosaurs and marine reptiles he is familiar with from his massive interest in prehistoric creatures. The children were rewarded with their very own sharks tooth, and the must have collectable SEA LIFE badges for the Ancient Oceans event. Both are now taking pride of place in Bud's bedroom.

Hideout With An Octopus at SEA LIFE Manchester This Half Term Ancient Oceans Digging for Fossils

In addition to seeing the old favourites of the turtles and sharks, our children all love tearing around in the soft play area before visiting the creatures that they can get up close to in the rock pools. No visit is complete without stroking a crab or starfish.

Hideout With An Octopus at SEA LIFE Manchester This Half Term Hatching turtle egg

We love SEA LIFE Manchester and would really recommend it to families looking for a fun half term excursion. Even Little E enjoys our visits more and more each time and is rather mesmerised by the fish swimming in their tanks.

If you're thinking of visiting SEA LIFE Manchester this half-term then consider combining your visit with the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre just next door. In addition to their rides, MINILAND and ways to build with LEGO they have a brand new The LEGO Movie 4D film arriving in March. We're so excited to see the new adventures of Emmet, Wildstyle and Risky Business when they arrive on the big LDC screen on the weekend of March 11th.

For information and to book tickets visit SEA LIFE Manchester or LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, you can save money by buying in advance or purchasing a combi ticket which allows you admission in to both attractions.

We attended the event as guests of SEA LIFE Manchester.

Andy's Amazing Adventures Magazine

21:51 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

 Regular readers will know of Bud's love for animals and dinosaurs and, for as long as he can remember he's been a fan of Andy's Wild Adventures and Andy's Dinosaur Adventures on cBeebies. Both shows have kept him greatly entertained and informed over the past few years so we were genuinely delighted to find out that Immediate Media have added a brand new monthly Andy's Adventures themed magazine to the stable of cBeebies magazines. In addition to the two existing series, Andy's Prehistoric Adventures will debut on cBeebies on 15th February at 4:30pm, and the magazine includes elements of that show too.

Andy's Amazing Adventures Magazine Blog review

Andy's Amazing Adventures combines elements from both shows, so you have wildlife themed content mixed in with that featuring dinosaurs, We're very familiar with the existing range of cBeebies magazines and buy them regularly for Bud and LM. They all use elements of the Early Years Foundation Stage education strategy so parents can be confident that their child is learning through all of the puzzles and games on the pages.

Andy's Amazing Adventures Magazine

The magazine is presented in full colour with a mixture of bright photographs, interesting facts, sticker pages and interactive content. There's a lot of factual content in this magazine which really appeals to Bud, as he engages much more with non-fiction than fiction at the moment. This magazine is being produced in collaboration with the Natural History Museum which gives added confidence that that the information included within will be of a high standard.

Andy's Amazing Adventures Magazine

Each issue of the magazine arrives with a free gift for your child. The first issue includes a T-Rex grabber and five small brightly coloured dinosaurs. Bud loves anything dinosaur themed and was delighted with them.

Andy's Amazing Adventures Magazine

As always the magazine features a sticker page which Bud and LM love using to complete the various puzzles. The centre pages are also a cool Dinosaur poster which Bud has commandeered for his noticeboard.

Andy's Amazing Adventures Magazine

We've all been so pleased with this magazine, the children have both enjoyed reading it and I'm pleased to see this magazine as I think it fills a gap in the market for a natural history magazine which appeals to younger boys. I've looked in the past and only been able to find pink and sparkly pets magazines or nature themed publications more appropriate to older children. The mix of animals, dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures will be a hit for both little boys and girls everywhere.

Andy's Amazing Adventures is aimed at children aged from 3-6 years and my two, at opposite ends of this range, both enjoyed it. It is out monthly and is available now from all usual magazine stockists priced at £2:75.

Sample received for review purposes.

Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse

14:51 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I remember playing with Weebles when I was little which makes me delighted that my children share my affection for this classic toy, albeit in it's new incarnations of Weebledown Farm and Peppa Pig. We already have a Weebledown Farm Wobbily Farm, Mill and Barn playset and a couple of animals so LM was delighted to be sent the Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse and a Wendy Wolf from Series 2 of the individual character Weebles to try out recently.

Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse Wendy Wolf Blog Review

The Wind and Wobble Playhouse is the Weebles' take on Peppa Pig and her family's home. You'll see the distinct yellow and red of the house combined with lots of fun features which really embrace the wobbly nature of the Weebles. Peppa Pig complete with muddy puddle is included with the house and you'll find a muddy puddle for her to wobble in on the ground in front of the house.

Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse Blog Review

The Playhouse is packed with features. There's a travelator to raise your weeble up to the top of the house by turning a handle, and then a slide to push them back down again. There's also a roundabout which you turn by rotating the daisy next to it. In addition to this there are various different places to sit your weeble in. There's' a place to connect the house to other playsets in the range too.

Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse

Both of the weebles we received were excellent quality. They wobble in a way that will be familiar to those who have owned or played with any of the other toys in the range. Each individual weeble has it's own little stand to wobble in which can be connected to the play sets or other weebles. Series 2 of Peppa Pig features a range of new characters and different outfits for some of the main characters. They are the perfect size for little hands and really do wobble but don't fall over.

Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse  Wendy Wolf Series 2

This is a really excellent toy which is just as great to play with one weeble as several. The different ways to interact with the house means that its perfect for more than one child to play with too. It's really well built and the chunky construction is perfect for the age range of three years plus. I'd have no concerns about younger children playing with it too, with supervision, and I'm sure Little E will be helping his Sister with it in a year or so.

Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse

We really like both the Weebledown Farm and Peppa Pig Weebles ranges. The toys are played with frequently in our house and the additional accompanying figures are a good price (starting at around £4:99) to add to the collection with pocket money or at birthdays and Christmas. LM spotted the Peppa Pig Weebles car on a recent shopping trip and I think she'll be adding that to her birthday list.

The Peppa Pig Weebles range is available from Character Online and all usual stockists.

Item received for review purposes.

On Dressing Boys

23:40 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

I've read what feels like a hundred posts on dressing little girls recently, complaining about how girls clothes have trashy slogans and they aren't empowering our future young women in any way. I agree with much of the sentiment behind these posts but I'm sick and tired of boys' clothes being held up as a shining example of how our girls should be dressed. I have two sons and a daughter and I buy their clothes from a range of places. Budget dictates that it's a good mixture of the supermarket and my primary loves, the Skandi-chic brights of Maxomorra, JNY and DUNS of Sweden. I love the latter three brands but finances mean that I'm only going to be buying key pieces from their collections for my three each season. I'm generally building the rest of their wardrobes from the high street.

With a few noticeable exceptions, I like Zara and Little Bird by Jools Oliver at Mothercare , there's a real lack of inspiration in boys clothing on the high street. For all of the mums I see preferring a grey 'epic' slogan t-shirt from the boys' section for their daughter, there's a mum combing the girls' section for something to dress their son in - not sparkly, available in a relaxed cut and a colour which doesn't come from the high street 'sludge palette' that boys clothing is generally drawn from.

When Little E was tiny I visited our local ASDA superstore. I wanted clothes for him and I was greeted by this:

A photo posted by Pippa Ainsworth (@redrosemummy) on

That's a whole aisle of clothing for baby boys in various shades of baby blue and white. There are no other colours. Yes, the girls' aisle was pink-dominated but I also spotted peach, green, grey and blue there too. I'm left questioning if I'm being in some way unreasonable in expecting not to have to dress my baby boy in blue. I visit other stores and find other colours available but they're all muted - mustard, burnt orange, khaki, brown, navy. Rainbow brights are apparently not for boys on the high street.

As little boys grow so do their clothes and then, oh, the characters. Apparently no little boy wants to dress in anything which doesn't have a face on it. As babies you get Mickey Mouse and Tigger, designs that are rehashed every season. I see virtually the same clothes on sale for Little E that I ignored when Bud fitted into them. For older boys it's Avengers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, endless Minions and dinosaurs. The clothes that aren't licensed still have faces on them and those that don't have irritating slogans. I don't want any of my little boys to have their t-shirts proclaiming 'little monster' or 'here comes trouble' or 'handsome, just like my Daddy'. All three of these have been bought for Bud, none of them have been worn.

Clearly, I'm the mother of a girl too. The new mum who said I wouldn't dress my daughter in pink and, you know what? It's pretty hard to avoid dressing a little girl in pink but there's so much choice on the high street that you can always manage it if pink really isn't your thing. If you don't like sludge colours for boys you're going to really struggle. LM happens to really suit bright pink and she does wear it but this is mixed with a wide and varied palette of other bright colours, we don't tend to do pastels. Those colours really aren't available for her brothers. Yes, there are some irritating slogans and a lack of branded clothing showing strong female characters and I really bemoan that, having said that we've just bought LM an amazing Rey costume from Sainsbury's so they are out there and I'd much rather have the bright basics available for girls than those for boys.

Last week I was in Next looking for baby boy clothes and I happened to wander into the girls section after being bored almost to tears by the navy blue sailing boats which are the pinnacle of their collection for Spring/Summer (guess what was on last year's Spring/Summer baby boy clothes?) I happened to notice that the girls have a range of basic, block coloured leggings and patterned long sleeved t-shirts starting at just £2:50. There is nothing in this price bracket for boys and that's similar elsewhere too. The reliance on branded, character clothing makes boys' clothing more expensive (due to the licensing) and most stores don't have comparable basics to the leggings and t-shirts for girls. A pair of leggings for a girl, in five colours, will be £2:50, boys have the choice of two pairs of sludge coloured joggers for £4:00. Of course the cheap leggings have to have some kind of trim or addition which makes them unsuitable for boys, in the Next case, a small lace trim around the bottom of the leg. It's perfectly acceptable for a girl to wear a navy blue dinosaur t-shirt but not for a boy to wear a pink pony tee. That's a whole kettle of fish that I'm not opening in this post but I find it difficult to get cross about limiting girls when, in my experience, girls have almost endless choice as they can acceptably choose from the boys range too. End of season sale rails are barren of boys' clothes, making it impossible to get a bargain there. More baby boys are born every year than baby girls yet girls have twice as many clothes on offer.

I absolutely agree that there are some unpleasant slogans on girls' clothing, but there are on boys' too and, if you don't like the slogan on the girls' t-shirt there will be twenty more to choose from that will be much more wearable. I can honestly say I don't even notice the slogans on girls' clothing these days as I generally avoid writing on clothes, I have a good eye for choosing high street pieces for my girl and she has the wardrobe to prove it. With boys you'll be back to choosing between Hulk and Iron Man as usual, you'll find me combing the aisles for something bright, comfortable and without any writing or faces on it.

I'd love to see somewhere on the high street make a stand and offer a range of unisex, brightly coloured clothes - t-shirts, leggings, hoodies, jeans and jogging bottoms. No characters, simple patterns, if any. Boys and girls at primary school age are generally, pretty much the same size and shape, there's no need for this demarcation between the two clothing ranges. I'm sure they will cite a lack of demand but I know lots of people feel the same way and they would all buy from it if it was available. I can't believe stores are really concerned about losing sales by clothes being passed on from brother to sister instead of same sex siblings and that's the only real reason I can think of not to offer this range. I'm supportive of all of the campaigns against the slogans on girls' clothing which prioritise beauty over brains, I really am, but I'm tired of boys being forgotten about too

Where do you buy your children's clothes from? What do you think of the high street's offering for boys?

Peppa Pig Construction - Grandpa Pig's Boat

15:26 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

LM loves Peppa Pig and, over the past couple of years we've amassed quite a collection of toys featuring her favourite little pig and her friends. I'm always keen to see ways to vary her interest in the character and toys that expand upon how she plays with them into different learning areas are very attractive. Recently she was sent a toy from the Peppa Pig Construction range which marries familiar large construction blocks with authentic Peppa Pig characters and their surroundings. I knew it would be a hit and I wasn't wrong!

The Peppa Pig Construction range is made up of large blocks which build together in a way that is familiar, and compatible with other early construction blocks. The range includes vehicles, houses and other sets, all of which are clear representations of the Peppa Pig universe.

Peppa Pig Construction - Grandpa Pig's Boat

LM received Grandpa Pig's Boat to build and she was so excited to see it. The set has more than thirty blocks which are in a mixture of colours - blue, yellow and white. There is a sheet of stickers to personalise the blocks and a poseable Grandpa Pig figure too. The instruction sheet follows the usual style for construction sets and was easy to follow. There aren't specific instructions for where to put the stickers so I was led by LM when we were choosing where to place them.

Peppa Pig Construction - Grandpa Pig's Boat

The blocks are simple to put together and LM was able to do this confidently, with a little help from Mummy in following the instructions. I think, as she becomes more and more familiar with the toy she will be able to build it by herself. Bud, of course, got in on the act, and he was happy to build it alone and with his little sister. The set is recommended for age 18 months and over and I would say that this is spot on, with the proviso that the lower end of the range would need supervision and help to finish the model.

Peppa Pig Construction - Grandpa Pig's Boat

Once built this is a model to be played with. The bottom of the boat has wheels so it can be rolled along the floor and Grandpa Pig can be placed on his boat and taken off again. LM seems to quite enjoy making the boat 'sink' and it's fun to watch her recreate scenes from the show with the boat.

Peppa Pig Construction - Grandpa Pig's Boat

I really like this range. It adds an extra element to character play and it's been great to watch LM building the boat and taking it apart, it's clear that her dexterity is improving and this sort of toy really helps with that. The fact that it is compatible with other ranges means that, even if you choose not to have the set built as a boat then you can usefully employ the bricks in other models. I think it's a really good idea to introduce these familiar, and very popular, characters with this sort of toy and it makes the perfect introduction to construction bricks for toddlers.s

Grandpa Pig's Boat, Peppa Pig Construction is available from all usual stockists with an RRP of £19:99.

Toy received for review purposes.

Spring Half Term Fashion Fun with Joules

11:24 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Spring term is whistling by at school and nursery and my thoughts are turning to half term and planning some fun to keep us all busy during their week off. Hopefully the weather will be kind and we'll be able to get outside and play in the fresh air.

Both LM and Bud seem to be growing out of their clothes and I'm in the midst of a huge sort out for their wardrobes. LM seems to have short arms on everything while Bud's trousers and jeans are starting to show rather more ankle than he should. This means that they both needs a few new items so I've been browsing a few of my favourite websites to make a little shopping list.

We love Joules and I find their children's clothes to be stylish, well fitted and really hard wearing. I've found a few key pieces that I think I may well pick up for Bud and LM's Spring wardrobe. It can be a tricky time of year with changeable weather so I always find layers to be the best way to keep them warm. Joules are great at layering.

Here's what I've found for LM:

I love this 'Messy Hair, Don't Care' t-shirt. Slogan tees seem to be everywhere at the moment. I'm not usually a huge fan, especially of those that try to be funny. This is something of a catchphrase in our house though as LM often resembles a little scarecrow after a busy day. This t-shirt is cream with bright pink writing and will look fab with jeggings, a denim skirt or a pair of leggings - so versatile. For girls with neater hair there's a great grey marl 'Don't Grow Up, It's a Trap' slogan too.

Joules Spring Fashion for children Messy Hair Don't Care Girls T-shirt Grey Stars Sweatshirt Top

I'm a big fan of Joules' sweatshirts for an extra snuggly layer. New for spring is a lovely grey marl print with sparkly stars all over it. It would be the perfect cover up to keep LM warm on chilly Spring days. I find them especially good for car journeys as they are thin enough to keep her safe in her car seat. The funnel zip neck makes it easy to get on and off and it's available in a bright neon, candy pink stripe for those who prefer something brighter.

I often struggle for clothes for Bud now he's wearing age 6-7. Lots of ranges put this age group into older boys which means a more muted palette and a more grown up style than I want for my five year old but I can always rely on Joules for age appropriate, bright, functional clothes.

As always Joules have some great boys' t-shirts for Spring. I really like their range of applique t-shirts and this season showcases the current trend for all things space perfectly. From the front it's a plain blue t-shirt with a small orange space adventurer badge, from the back your little boy is a rocket man! If space isn't your thing then there's a Surf Shark or Pirate Shark too.

Joules Spring Fashion for children Boys Space Rocket Pack t-shirt

Bud recently decided he isn't overly keen on hoodies so I've been looking at crew neck sweatshirts as an alternative to these. Joules have two new for Spring, one in blue tones and this grey marl and red raglan sleeve version. These sweatsshirts are made from a new waffle fabric for added texture. The two colour ways will go with everything in Bud's wardrobe and the raglan sleeves will look great under a gilet on those days when Spring is really in the air.

Joules Spring Fashion for children Boys Grey Marl Red Sweatshirt

Are you a fan of Joules? Do you have your eye on anything in their current collection?

In Collaboration with Joules