Thursday, 26 April 2018

Why I'm In Love With Terry (Nappies!)

It's Real Nappy Week this week. Last year I wrote a post all about my love of cloth nappies, but since then I've been converted to a particular type of cloth that a few years ago I completely dismissed.

I'm talking about terry squares. Yep, that's right, those little towels that your Nan used to use back in the day.

I first tried terry squares when Ezra was a little baby but couldn't find a fold that would cover his bum enough to contain his explosive poos, have enough absorbency at the front for his massive wees and that I could actually do without taking an advanced course in origami. So I gave up. But when Ezra was about 18 months some of the nappies that he had inherited from his sister started to give up the ghost. I needed more nappies but didn't want to spend loads more money when he might have only needed them for another year. I saw an offer on terry squares and thought I'd give them a whirl. They're now the nappies I reach for first when choosing what to put him in.

So here's why I have fallen for terry nappies:

1. They're cheap!

The cost of cloth nappies, while less than disposables over the full course of the pre-potty-training stage, can be prohibitive for some families who simply don't have a couple of hundred quid to spend all at once. Terries, however, can be picked up for less than £2 each. Yes, you need to buy wraps as well, but you don't need to change them every time so you don't need many. You can secure them either with old-fashioned nappy pins, or with the more modern (and safer) Nappy Nippas, both of which are cheap as chips.

2. They're versatile

There is a seriously dizzying number of folds you can do with a terry square. Given enough digging you'll likely find one that suits your child. (Yes, I didn't at first but to be honest I didn't try that hard!) Don't worry about having to learn loads of different folds, once you've found one that works you can just stick to it until it stops working for you. And then try another. I use the croissant fold, which kind of looks like a sumo outfit once on! But it's great for a toddler boy and I haven't needed to learn any others. I'm not a neat folder at all, but that doesn't seem to cause too much trouble!

A terry square laid flat, and one in a very cack-handed croissant fold


3. They last ages

Both in terms of absorbency and general longevity. With a bamboo booster, I find that a terry can last up to 4 hours. I haven't tried them overnight but there may well be a way to make that work. You do need a decent wrap though - personally I find that Motherease are the most reliable but others may disagree! And the great thing about terries is that there's no elastic, poppers or PUL that might degrade or break. You might need to replace wraps from time to time, but terries themselves don't change.

4. They're quick-drying

Another advantage of the simplicity of terry squares is that they dry super-fast. You can also put them on radiators which isn't always advisable with other nappies, or bung them in the tumble dryer which you can't do with most all-in-ones. So if you've only got a small stash you can get them dry and ready for wearing again very quickly.

5. They're great padding

One thing that people sometimes don't like about terry nappies is that they can be quite bulky. You can rectify that with different folds but chances are your baby will still have a big ol' bum. But that's great for when they're unsteady on their pins - imagine how much more comfortable it must be to fall on your bottom if it's padded out with layers of towelling!

6. They can be repurposed

With most nappies, if they've worn out there's not much you can do with them. But with terry squares you could reuse them as cleaning cloths, hand towels, makeshift bibs etc etc. Or of course you can pass them onto a friend and you know that they'll still be in good condition despite months or years of use!


So that's why I love terry squares. How about you? Have you tried them? What did you think?

Monday, 23 April 2018

Review: 'The Wondrous Dinosaurium' by John Condon and Steve Brown

At the grand old age of six, Eleanor seems to have outgrown peak dino-fever. I feel quite sad about it - gone is the little girl who, at age 3, picked up a toy dinosaur and informed me it was a parasaurolophus. And she really did inform me, I had no clue. Luckily, just as she starts to grow out of the dinosaur phase, two year old Ezra is ready to take the baton. His categorisation isn't quite there yet - all dinosaurs are known as 'raa' to him - but what he lacks in detail he makes up for in enthusiasm.

So when Maverick Children's Books sent me an advance copy of their May release, The Wondrous Dinosaurium, I was really glad to have another book to fuel Ezra's interest - and even happier to see Eleanor having a sneaky read of it! Too old for dinosaurs (and picture books) indeed ...


In The Wondrous Dinosaurium, Danny is looking for a pet. But he doesn't choose any ordinary pet shop - Danny wants to find a pet at Mr Ree's Wondrous Dinosaurium, where he can take his pick from any number of prehistoric creatures!


The trouble is, Danny struggles to find the right pet for him at the Dinosaurium. They're all too big, too drooly, or too flappy. Will he find the perfect dinosaur?


This is a really fun book for dino-lovers. It combines a funny and fantastical story with facts about dinosaurs, in very readable prose. I loved how Mr Ree's speech uses rhyme and rhythm to lift the text and raise a chuckle: "I have chewy ones, slurpy ones, licky ones and burpy ones." The illustrations are full of colour and detail, managing to create very accurate depictions of all the different dinosaurs while still making them fun and friendly-looking. Danny does find his pet in the end but it may not be one you've heard of - in fact I had to Google it to check it was real!

If you've got a little one in the peak dinosaur madness phase then they will love this book. And it may even tempt back an older child who thinks they're too old for dinosaurs now!

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a copy of the book for the purposes of this review but all words and opinions are my own.

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.

Read With Me

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Books To Get Kids Into Science

I was never much of a fan of science as a child. I don't know where the idea came from, but I was fairly convinced it was boring - I may even have thought of it as a 'boys' subject. But following my daughter's natural interest in science has made me realise what I was missing out on as a child (and kick myself for not following my GCSE Science teacher's advice to continue studying it!)

Now, as a novice to the world of exciting science, I've turned for guidance to something far more familiar to me - books! Here are a few books we have that helped me to feed Eleanor's interest in science, and get interested myself!


Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts - This is a great book for preschoolers or younger school-age kids who are just getting into science. Featuring the inquisitive Ada, it gets to the heart of what science is all about: asking questions and trying to find the answer. I love how it also gently encourages parents to support their children's natural curiosity too!

The Usborne Look Inside series - Eleanor absolutely loved the three books pictured when she got them for her 4th birthday. She would pore over them for ages! Packed full of facts delivered in a child-friendly way, the illustrations are colourful and interesting and each book has dozens of flaps to lift. And what small child doesn't love flaps?!

LEGO Women of NASA: Space Heroes by Hannah Dolan - This book is part of the DK Books early readers selection, and it's at Level 1 (Learning to Read). We only got it recently so it's a little basic for Eleanor but would be great for a child just starting to read. I love how it shows all the different sciences involved in space exploration, and how it champions the role of women too. And it has Lego! What more could you want?

Al's Awesome Science: Egg-speriments! by Jane Clarke and James Brown - We won this in a Toppsta giveaway at around the same time as the Lego book, and Eleanor found it so much fun that she read it in an evening! This book is a good way into science for a child who loves stories, as it's a regular chapter book but with science as the main plot driver and with suggestions for experiments throughout the book. This led us to some rather messy egg-speriments of our own! Eleanor also enjoyed the jokes about eggy puke and stinky feet ... kids are gross.

Explore, Experiment and Discover The World Of Science by Anna Claybourne - Another one that Eleanor pores over regularly, this book is full of scientific ideas and principles explained in a child-friendly way with suggestions for experiments linked to each topic. If, like me, the idea of messy or complicated experiments terrifies you, then fear not - many of the experiments are really simple and take very little prep or hunting for odd equipment. 

12 Awesome Women Of Science You've Never Heard Of by Samantha Gouldson - Eleanor recently received this as a gift and while it's a little advanced for her yet, I'm looking forward to her discovering it properly in a year or two. I read it myself and, while I had heard of a couple of the scientists (don't be too impressed, it's only because I follow the 'A Mighty Girl' Facebook page) I still learnt an awful lot and it was a very easy read too. It talks about a really good mix of scientists from different eras, backgrounds and disciplines too. Great for older children who are ready to start exploring science in a more in-depth way.

So those are my tips - have you come across any great science books for children? If so do let me know, I'll probably end up buying them for my little geek!

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum and Kids Love To Read #KLTR hosted by Laura's Lovely Blog and The Inspiration Edit.

Read With Me

Laura's Lovely Blog

Monday, 2 April 2018

Review: 'AdoraBULL' by Alison Donald and Alex Willmore

So here's a slightly odd fact about me: my favourite animals are cows. I think they're beautiful, with their soulful eyes and massive noses. The big shaggy ones are my favourites, but really I love all cows.

But I'm well aware that I'm a bit weird in this sense, and most people won't share my adoration of all things bovine.  And that's why the premise of 'AdoraBULL' by Alison Donald and Alex Willmore is so effective.



'AdoraBULL' is the story of Alfred the bull who has an unlikely, but strong friendship with a little boy called Tom.



Tom and Alfred are inseparable until Tom starts school. Not only does Alfred miss his friend during the day, one day Tom comes home and asks for an 'adorable' pet. Alfred decides to investigate what 'adorable' means ...


... and tries to make himself adorable for fear of losing his best friend.


What I enjoyed about this book is the wry humour of it, poking fun at our love of cute animal photos and pointing out the ridiculousness of them. I'm still getting used to references to modern technology in children's books but I did smirk at Alfred searching the internet and finding all sorts of odd but adorable animal photos. And his attempts to recreate them made me think of my own failed attempts at recreating something I'd seen online!!

But the best thing about this story is the message of it. Without wanting to spoil the ending, Alfred is eventually reassured that he doesn't need to change how he looks or who he is to keep his friend or be adorable in his own way. Although Eleanor has proclaimed herself too old for picture books she did have a flick through it and I'm glad she did as she's at a stage where she's changing to fit in with others. I hope the message in the story will help her to see she doesn't need to change.

I asked Eleanor what she thought of the book and she said she thought the kittens surrounded by marshmallows were really funny but wasn't so keen on when Alfred broke the swing. Ezra still won't concentrate on anything that doesn't rhyme but he did sit through most of this book and enjoyed the pictures.

I really liked this book (even though I thought Alfred was adorable from the start) and I hope that my children will absorb the moral that they don't need to change, and that true friends will love them as they are.

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a copy of the book for the purposes of this review but all words and opinions are my own.

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.

Read With Me

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Review: 'Not My Hats!' by Tracy Gunaratnam and Alea Marley

Do your kids have difficulty sharing? It's an ongoing battle encouraging Eleanor to share her belongings, although she's always more than happy to share her brother's things!! I fear Ezra will be better at sharing for all the wrong reasons - a weary acceptance of having everything taken off him by his big sister!

Last week I received two new releases from Maverick Children's Books, one of which is all about sharing.


'Not My Hats' is all about a polar bear called Hettie who has a penchant for hats. She has a huge array of headwear which she likes to keep to herself.


When Puffin asks to borrow a hat one day, Hettie's answer is adamant. She will share anything ... except her beloved hats.


Puffin is persistent however, and eventually manages to persuade Hettie to agree to swapsies! In the end, Hettie sees the positives and sharing and they both share happily together.

I like how this is a really humorous, light-hearted take on the challenge of sharing. So many picture books about toddler 'issues' can come across as a bit didactic and overbearing, but this tackles a common problem with humour. It's really fun to read aloud too, with plenty of rhyming sections for little ones to enjoy.

Another thing I like about this book is that the illustrations are really bold and clear - although a lot is shown on each page, the use of block colours stops it from feeling 'fussy' and overwhelming for little one's eyes. Ezra still prefers clear illustrations so this book has just the right balance of colour and detail for him.

I'd recommend this book for anyone trying to explain the idea of sharing to their little one, it is a really tricky concept for them to grasp but this book tackles it in such a funny and relaxed way that they won't even realise they're getting a moral lesson as you read it!

'Not My Hats' is published tomorrow (28th March 2018).

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a copy of 'Not My Hats' for the purposes of this review but all words and opinions are my own.

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.
Read With Me



Thursday, 22 March 2018

Why I'm Training As A Breastfeeding Peer Supporter

Last week I did something exciting - I began training to become a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter! It's something I've wanted to do for years but there hasn't been any local training I could get to, so I'm thrilled to finally get started.



But why do I want to do this training? It doesn't lead to a paid role, and I don't even know if it'll be relevant to any future career I have. (That's a whole other blog post - what shall I do when I grow up?!)

So why give up my Wednesday mornings for the next ten weeks?

Is it because I think every mother should breastfeed? Because I want to pressure new mums into breastfeeding their babies? Because I think I know best and others should do things how I do them?

Nope. It's because I think all mums should have a choice on how they feed their baby.

For a long time, formula feeding has been held up as the prime example of giving mothers choice. And yes, it is an option, and one which will work for some families. But you can only call it a choice if the mother feels that all other options are wholly available to her.

80% of mothers who stop breastfeeding in the first six weeks do so before they wanted to. Does that sound like choice to you? In some cases there will have been insurmountable health problems that led to the end of breastfeeding, but in many other cases it will be down to a lack of support and information to enable the mother to continue.

I don't know how it feels to stop before I'm ready, but I do know how it feels to come close. To feel like it's never going to get better and it's all too much. The first eight weeks of my daughter's life were possibly the hardest I've ever experienced as I grappled with a baby who would refuse to latch, couldn't maintain a latch once I'd persuaded her to and threw up any milk I managed to get into her. It was hard, it was miserable and I wish I'd had more support.

With our NHS increasingly stretched it's hit and miss whether a new mum will get all the breastfeeding support they need through a professional. Instead, an army of volunteers are trying to plug the gap, in the form of peer supporters and breastfeeding counsellors. These volunteers are helping mums with all kinds of challenges to achieve their goals. And I want to be part of that army.

Having breastfed two children for a combined six years, I know a fair bit about breastfeeding. But I don't know everything. I've never fed multiples, I've never had to deal with returning to work, I haven't encountered complications like CMPA or low milk supply. I know I still have a lot to learn and I'm keen to learn it so I can help women in many different situations.

So that's why I'm training as a breastfeeding peer supporter. Not to pressure, but to enable. To learn more so I can better understand the unique situation each mother has. And hopefully to help mums reach their own breastfeeding goals.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

A Love Letter to Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

(Most of) our Donaldson/Scheffler collection

Dear Julia and Axel

I hope it's OK for me to use your first names. It seems a bit forward as I've never met you, but then again, you feel like part of the family. Because your books have been for nearly six years now.

It all started with a copy of 'The Gruffalo' that a work colleague gave me when I was pregnant, as her children had outgrown it. If you look carefully at the photo above that book is the most worn, but not just because it was second hand to us. When my daughter was one it quickly became her favourite book, and she would ask me to read it over and over. I still remember the day I read it ten times in a row as she gleefully cried, "den!" (again) every time I turned the final page.

I started scouring my local library for your other books, but they were like gold dust. I knew that there were plenty of your titles to be had, the trouble was all the other parents were looking for the same books! We got a long way through your back catalogue thanks to the library but it was hard to part with them after three short weeks. I started acquiring our own copies instead. When my daughter started school I found myself aided and abetted by the Scholastic catalogue that came home in her book bag, and before I knew it we'd amassed a huge collection of your books, as you can see above. (That's not even all of it - I realised after taking the photo that I'd left out 'Hide-And-Seek Pig', and I've got a copy of 'Room On The Broom' on the way!)

Now my two year old son is captivated by your work too. I'm back to repeated readings of 'The Gruffalo', although 'Zog' is another firm favourite of his. And the thing is, I'm actively encouraging his love of your books because I love them too. I love the lyricism of 'The Snail And The Whale', the invitation to use lots of funny voices in 'Tiddler' and the feisty feminism of 'Zog' and the sequel 'Zog and the Flying Doctors'. I love the simple wit of 'Monkey Puzzle', the moral message of 'The Smartest Giant In Town' and the clever pastiche of 'The Highway Rat'. I even love 'Stick Man' so much I crocheted him, along with his Stick Lady Love and their Stick Children Three!

The Stick Family
We love your individual work too - my daughter was really helped by the Pip and Posy books as an older toddler and preschooler, and my son will often demand a reading of 'What The Ladybird Heard' complete with enthusiastic animal noises - but something magical happens when Donaldson's words and Scheffler's images come together. You've created a set of children's classics that I'm sure will be just as loved if and when I have grandchildren to read to.

So thank you to both of you, for creating books that fuel both of my children's love of reading and that are so wonderful to read aloud as an adult.

Yours gratefully

A book-loving Mum