Daddy and Munchkin Blog
Bedside Cot – Chicco Next 2 me Review

An important decision

Your new arrivals first sleeper is an important decision, amongst many others. It’s got to fit your budget (alongside all the millions things you need at the start), may need to provide functions above and beyond sleeping at home such as as a travel cot, be safe and comfortable and support that new little ones early development. For us, it was a Next 2 me. Why? Well here’s our Chicco Next 2 Me Review.

Design

There are multiple options/editions of the Next 2 Me cot (see versions below) . This review is based on the Next 2 me Dream. This was the middle of the road option but with all the essential bells and whistles we required.

next 2 me review
Image from Chicco.co.uk

The Next 2 Me fit its purpose for us for multiple reasons. Firstly, Munchkin was breast-fed for the first six months, so easy access was essential. Natalie found it super easy to pick him up, give him a feed and pop him back down without leaving the duvet (that’s messy nappies aside though, as that’s usually where I pitched in).

It had a great mattress too. As the early age, babies backs are developing and need a good supportive mattress. The next 2 me was suitable from birth for all night sleeping so that’s ticked off. Other features included a reclinable side, to change it from a side of bed sleeper to a full on cot. It had a tilt mode, to help with nights of bad reflux and 6 different levels to make a snug fit to any bed.

Out and About

The Next 2 me easily doubled up as a travel cot. Munchkin was born pre-covid, so it was essential to have something we could easily pack up, pop in the car and take to family and friends or on holiday. The Next to me was simple to collapse and build, leaving to frustration free sleeps away from home. It fitted simply in the boot and had simple instructions to pass on when needed.

Price, versions and where to purchase

The next 2 me range comes in a range of options. Ours was middle of the road, and picked up in a Mothercare sale which knocked a few bob off (RIP mothercare, which lost the retail battle). However, models range from the most basic ‘Air’ with 1 level mattress and zip side access (£129 John Lewis) to ‘Dream’ with multi level (for when they start to sit) and fold down side mechanism (£199 Argos) to the full out ‘Magic’ (£227 Argos (promotion Jul 2021, usually £227)) with wheels to move the crib about, one handed access, rocking mode and improved mechanisms for folding and storage. If you’re looking for something more permanent for they also have the ‘Forever’ which triples up as a side-sleeping cot, traditional cot and floor bed for toddlers (£329 John lewis).

Overall and Stars

An essential bit of kit and perfect for our needs.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin approved

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Sundown Adventureland Review

I wanted to do something with Munchkin for my birthday, and Nanny has always said about Sundown Adventureland, which was somewhere I fondly remembered from my childhood, ever since before Munchkin was born. I have reviewed the other parks we have visit with Munchkin including Hobbledown and Chessington World of Adventure, so here is my Sundown Adventureland Review.

What is Sundown Adventureland?

Maybe this video will answer that?

Sundown Adventureland is a theme park aimed at the under 10’s. It features numerous play parks, all with different themes from an old American wild west cavalry post, to a pirate cove, a sand pit play zone and Angry birds themed play area. Then there are themed zones to walk through and play in, including story book houses, the yellow brick road and a toy town, with miniature town buildings to go through and explore. There are multiple rides, including a train ride, tractor, a boat ride (where you get soaked), flying pigs, tea cups and an ostrich ride. There’s a driving school, but you have to be slightly taller (over 1.0 m) to have a go at that one.

Entry cost varies throughout the year. We visited in early June so it was off-season. This meant rides were subject to opening times, but the entry price was reduced to £14.50 for adults and children over 90 cm in comparison to £17.50 in summer*. Children under 90 cm are free, and are also too short for most of the rides, but have plenty of play parks to explore. *Prices correct as of June 2020.

Covid guidelines

Having visited during the pandemic. Its only right I assess their Covid guidelines and how they were managed.

It all honesty it was slightly mixed bag here. There was no temperature testing on arrival, like that used in many other places. There were zones in which masks were to be worn, but the signage wasn’t always the clearest. Some rides had clear social distancing markings, but many did not, and where they didn’t, people didn’t tend to distance.

One thing they did well however, was clean every ride every time. Thankfully it was low season and this didn’t add to the wait times.

Munchkin’s experience

At just over 90 cm Munchkin could go on all but one ride, and being low season, he went on all but one ride, and some twice!

He had an absolute ball, he was completely made up when he saw the Noah’s Ark play area as we arrived and that was just the start. He left multiple rides asking ‘again Daddy/Nanny!’. Even if he seemed to look a little scared on the rides, I now realise that was his interested face. He was thrilled to ride a tractor and the train and bounce up and down on the ostrich ride. We had to pull him out of every park to explore the next area. He had the time of his life and we can’t wait to take him again.

There were so many bits maintained from my childhood which were a joy for me and Nanny to explore. I had vivid memories of the yellow brick lane and Nanny loved seeing and exploring the miniature town like we did when we were children.

Food and drink

There are several establishments on site offering hot food which is ‘tasty, not gourmet’ (their words not mine, but do sum it up quite well). Two of these offer soft play too to give parents a rest, though these were closed when we visited due to restrictions. If you would like to bring your own, there’s tons of space for a picnic and the car park is a short walk from the entrance.

Where do you find it?

Sundown Adventureland is located east of the A1, east of Worksop and north-west of Lincoln.

Sundown Adventureland Review

Sundown Adventureland Review Star Rating

Taking away a half star for the little annoyance of limited Covid-10 restrictions, we would give Sundown Adventureland:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This rating is for perfect park cleanliness, really reasonable pricing, the variety on offer and the enjoyment had by myself, Nanny and Munchkin.

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin Approved.

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Splosh Review

It’s time for ‘another way to reduce plastic product review from me with a Splosh Review.

I have already swapped out my general cleaner/ window cleaner/ toy cleaner/ floor cleaner for Koh (which you can find the review here), and my dishwasher tab and washing tab provider for Smol (this review still needs writing!).

These changes still left the problem of buying soap bottles, washing up liquid and toilet cleaner. Whilst these are all fully recyclable by combining general curbside recycling and Terracycle, I thought there could be a better alternative, and for that I turned to Splosh.

Splosh seem to have solved the plastic problem in a different way. Rather than producing and supplying endless plastic bottles they send you one (or as many as you need, like soap and toilet cleaner as you may want one per bathroom). That one bottle lasts and with that, you’ve saved 95% of plastic waste. They do hand soap, washing up liquid, laundry detergent, surface cleaner…. and more.

But you want to save 100% plastic?

Well you can. You can then get refills to resupply the original bottles. These refills are concentrated, so supply a number of refills before they are empty. You can then, save up the refill pouches and send them back for free. Simple, and then its 100% plastic free with an endless reuse and recycle system. The fact the refills are concentrated too also saves on the environmental costs related to shipping, so that’s another win, oh and they fit through the letterbox!


For this review we tried the grapefruit washing up liquid, rose and lotus blossom and blackberry soap and mint and eucalyptus toilet cleaner.

Both the soaps are foaming and moisturising leaving your hands feeling fresh, the toilet cleaner smells lovely and fresh and the washing up liquid is tough and smells summery and fresh. Overall, in terms of scent and effectiveness, the Splosh products work exactly as the standard alternatives (like Fairy washing up liquid, and Carex soap).

But Isn’t refilling a pain?

It’s simple. For the soap, just fill to the line on each bottle with hot water, top up to the neck with the refill solution and shake. in this example, one refill refills the soap bottle 6 times, although others are simply refill and use.

It must be expensive then?

Compared to leading hand soap providers, this does clock a little higher at 8p per 100 ml more. However, if you subscribe you save 10% and with big refills you can save even more. As the website says, ‘With each refill, you get that flicker of satisfaction you’re doing something good for the planet’ which makes up for the tiny price increase.

Overall, its a keeper for me and I thoroughly recommend it.

The ratings

If you’re interested in Splosh, I have a referral code you can use below.

Referral code: IPQMARYYX6

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin approved.

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Munchkin’s (/mostly Daddy’s) Favourite Six toddler products at 2 years old

It was at just 7 months old I wrote the last favourite eight products. 16 months later his tastes, or rather ours, have changed. Here are our top six toddler products.

6. A Tuff Tray

This is essential if you want to contain that messy play from the rest of the house and gives Munchkin a clear indication something fun is coming his way. Its useful for all messy play and sensory fun inside and outside the house. Useful, as once we didn’t use it for lentil play and It’s safe to say we found lentils for months after.

5. Trains and Cars!

Oh, Munchkin, you had to get that one in didn’t you. But after all, trains and cars do fill a lot of our free play time. If you’ve got a Hey Dougee fan we recommend their train set. It’s fully wooden, well designed and features all the great Hey Duggee characters. Woof woof.

4. Garden activites

Beyond running and being chased, chalk drawing on the slabs and splashing in the paddling pool, we have an Easel and sandpit from plum play, which I can’t recommend more. Future plans include a mud kitchen for the summer too.

3. His Q-play Trike

It’s nice to start giving them new experiences early when it comes to modes of transport and hence we got Munchkin a trike early on. It was probably a year ago, and he still cant reach the pedals! But it now can start to show him steering, so when those little legs are long enough, hes already got half the skill set. We have a full review of the trike we have here.

2. A good, in our case Cosatto, car seat

Now it doesn’t need to be Cosatto, although we love them for their bright and fun patterns in a world of dull grey and black car seats. But the seat we have, with all its latest safety and security features gives us peace of mind on all journeys (not that we have been making many lately!)

Great for naps too

1. The Mutable

Most importantly, our daily go to activity table, the Mutable. This little bit of perfect Italian design, incorporates many activities in one. From chalk and white board to puzzle base to lego and duplo board. It has a handy stowaway for the boards, and a incorporated storage bag. It wins for Munchkin, and for Mummy and Daddy. Read my full review here.

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Koh review
Koh review – The all in one cleaner

I never thought I cared that much about cleaning, then I spent months at home during lockdown and kept seeing the same adverts. One cleaning solution for all jobs, which powerfully cleans the oven but is equally safe for kids toys. There was only one way to know if it works. I had to give it a go. This is my Koh review.

koh review

Koh Purchase

I bought one of their packages. This included cleaning solution (delivered in a wine box style container), reusable washable cleaning cloths, a refillable spraying bottle and some tough diamond scrubbers. That’s a significant saving of single use plastic bottles and cloths. Its also eco-certified, vegan and cruelty free.

Koh Review – the tests

I tested the bathroom first. Blimey did it shine like never before, and all without burning my nostrils and throat with bleach (the usual occourence when scrubbing the grout.

Then came the true test, the oven. Following the instructions, you spray and leave the solution on for two minutes, then spray a diamond scrubber and get to work. Our oven needed some TLC, but after one go it improved substantially, and after two looked good as new. No over-priced, hazardous oven cleaning set in sight.

A few months later

A few months down the line, impressed, we tried the mop package. With reusable, washable mop pads this is another game changer. It also comes with a neat little silicone scrubber and hair catcher. The pads attach and detach easily, and machine wash for re-usability.

Overall…

The solution is scent free. However, that makes it personalisable. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the bottle, shake, and you’ve got your own personal fragranced cleaner. We’ve currently got some lavender scent and its lovely!

Then the most important one. It’s child safe (although keep the neat solution away from their little hands). What it means, is we can go from the oven to his toys, knowing when dry, they are perfectly safe to play with again. And we can use it with the mop, knowing he can crawl or walk over it straight after!

Price wise it also pays for itself. With what I now have, compared to the oven cleaner, non washable mop pads, mop solution, window cleaner, cloths, bathroom cleaner, bleach…. etc etc I now just have one solution.

Therefore its cheaper, safer, effective and better for the environment!

I’ll sum it up easily:

Those all important stars….

Price, safety, useability, environmental impact

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Update

Since writing, Koh have been in the lab and come up with something clever. Koh protect is a new solution which keeps surfaces decontaminated for 7 days fro the usual 99.9% of bacteria. That’s amazing.

Do you have any eco friendly cleaning switches? let me know in the comments below

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin approved.

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Munchkin’ing around at Hobbledown review

On the final day of our UK break away we visited Hobbledown, a farm and activity park a stones throw from Chessington World of Adventure, north of Epsom. So, here is our Hobbledown Review.

Covid Restrictions

For starters let’s talk Covid as this visit was in October 2020 just before wave 2. Hobbledown had it totally right. They had bookable arrival slots so it was quiet on arrival, an app to book and order food and activities, a limited time at the park for busy days and bookable soft play time. We felt safe from the off.

Our Experience

Aiming to please all ages; there is a decent number of animals from the recognizable tortoise, lemur, pig and goat to the more unusual Rhea, Nilgai (Mighty Bloo) and Gibblegook parrot. It was a learning experience for Mummy and Daddy too! There’s also exciting ways to get up close with the animals such as the new Lemur walk-through.

Hobbledown Review

There is then the soft play for the little ones (perfect for Munchkin who has recently realised that soft play is the play of dreams) with bookable slots (due to covid). This is split into a large soft play for the tiny humans, a bigger one for the older kiddies and a hard play zone.

Back in the farm, for the older adventurers, there’s also the added experiences of zorbing and a small high ropes course which can be added for a tiny supplement (high ropes was just an extra £2).

During the day they have an itinerary of events. On our visit was a fire show and bug eating try outs. On other days there are also bird of prey events and many more…

There’s also the best play park I’ve seen in my time as a parent. It’s huge, with a bouncy pillow, role play stations, a water play area and numerous slides and climbing frames, all designed around the quirky Hobbledown theme.

One of the amazing park areas.

Lunch

When you need some munch, the onsite Hobnosh restaurant provides delicious street food in eco-friendly packaging. I had a chicken katsu curry and chips which was divine! For Munchkin, there was a healthy variety box, with fruit and sandwiches.

Price and location

The best part for us adults is that it doesn’t break the bank. At £16 for adults and children midweek and £18 at weekends (Oct 2020) and free for under 2’s. Its an affordable fun-filled day out.

Hobbledown is located a stones throw from Chessington World of Adventure in Surrey, three miles from the A3 and 5 miles from the M25. Click the map to visit google maps.

Hobbledown Review Overall and Star Rating

Hobbledown was the perfect end to our little breakaway, well suited to a 20 month year old. It’s already on the ‘visit again when Munchkin is older’ list!

As we had such a fantastic day, there is no more accurate rating than the full 5 stars!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Daddy reviewed, Munchkin Approved

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A Howl-oween at Chessington Review.

Chessington at Halloween with a toddler Reviewed.

Sadly, Chessington came up with the Howl-oween pun, but I just had to use it for the title.

Chessington world of Adventure

What’s Chessington?

Chessington World of Adventures was our second day activity for our trip away. It’s a family theme park and we thought it was a perfect choice with Julia Donaldson themed rides (the Gruffalo and Room on the Broom), zoo animals and a sea life centre all covered in the entry price making it good value. Rides vary from toddler accessible, to thrill rides, but there’s nothing upside down to please Daddy.

The entry price, being a theme park, was £38.50 per adult (OCT 2020) but can easily be lowered by promotions such as using a Carex bottle knocking the price down to £24.

Covid Restrictions

I felt Chessington was the least prepared of our four spots we visited over our break (2 x National trust, Chessington and Hobbledown). The website said numbers had been reduced, however cars absolutely packed the car park on arrival. Everyone also arrived simultaneously, and only the temperatures of adults were checked. That was a little disappointing. That said however, ride queues were extended to allow for social distancing, and masks were enforced in indoor areas by stewards.

Our Experience

The park opens at 10 am, which in hindsight is a little late for a toddler who wakes around 6 am and naps in the afternoon. That said, we had a good day although, we only managed a grand total of three rides (queues were still up to an hour).

We quickly found out Munchkin wasn’t a fan of a the dark, starting on an indoor Mummified shooting ride, as he clutched to Mummy. It was a better, but similar experience for the Gruffalo ride too, but there was a mix of excitement and fear on that one. We won with the third choice though, a car ride where Munchkin got to ride in a 4×4 and point out the animals. He loved that.

Beep beep

When it came to lunch, with a lot of the takeaway eateries closed, to help with Covid restrictions, and with a constant drizzle of rain, everyone was forced to eat indoors. This resulted in huge queues from 11:30, which was the worst time to try and get Munchkin to wait. After queueing the experience was pleasant, we were taken to a table and there was a QR code to order so we could stay put.

In the afternoon, it wasn’t long before Munchkin nodded off in his pushchair. Sadly, by napping he missed the zoo and sea life centre too which I rated highly. We must have tired him out at Cliveden National Trust. You can read about day one, with a double helping of National Trust here.

Where is it?

Chessington World of Adventure is in Surrey, two miles from the A3 and M25 and 35 minutes from central London by train. Click the map to go to google maps.

Overall and Star Rating

In hindsight it wasn’t the best location for a toddler, even with the 13 rides he could go on, there simply wasn’t the time with the late entry and his afternoon nap. It would be much better for us if it opened early for parents with toddlers, to make the most of that morning energy. This would also space out guests in light of the pandemic.

That said, the park is a perfect attraction for children of all ages, with gentle rides up to the slightly more thrilling (nothing upside down here). It’s a great park and on our revisit list when Munchkin can last a full day!

For the stars, due to the less pleasing covid restrictions, and opening time for toddlers we give it:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I can see that rating score shoot up when we revisit.

For other park reviews we have visited see our review of Hobbledown and Sundown Adventureland.

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Mutable Review – The ultimate multi-activity table.

From the moment we started trying for a ‘Baby G’, now known as Munchkin, I had created a list of products I wanted for him or her when they were old enough. At the top of that list, a Mutable by Mukako (https://uk.mukako.com/en/). At first writing, we have had it over a month, and it hasn’t disappointed. Here is our Mutable review.

Mutable Review
The Mutable

What is a Mutable?

The Mutable is an Italian designed multi activity table for kids up to the age of 8 as it grows with them. The table is made of a beautiful wooden design, with a modern shape and a splash of colour. It has screw on legs, with additional pieces to enable it to grow in height as your child grows. This gives the chairs two heights and the table four heights to grow with your child.

There is an insert in the top which houses the ‘multi activity’ components. These are wooden or cardboard discs which change the table from a simple table, to a lego or duplo table, a chalk board or white board, a round puzzle board or a city or world landscape. There is also further options such as playhouses, multi level lego towers, wooden train sets or playdough moulds (explained later…).

For older children, there are app enabled toys and games, such as numbers and letters and ‘DISKcover’ history and geography. So what can be a snack table, is an art space, a pay space and also a learning space.

Daddy and Munchkin’s Mutable review.

As I said in my introduction, the Mutable does not disappoint. From the morning it was delivered and constructed, which was a simple process, Munchkin was eager to play with his cars on the town landscape, scribble with giant chalk on the white board and take his wooden train or cuddly toys for a ride up high.

Daddy loves it as its self contained. Every activity is stored within the table. There’s an attached pen/chalk pot which will be useful when Munchkin is older, and a storage bag for tidying up, which is filled by simply removing the centre and pushing the toys through the hole. We have already used this to teach about tidying up, and it works a charm.

Overall I cannot fault it, and can’t wait to buy extra toys and games and use it as a learning tool for numbers/letters and humanities in the future. The only drawback is the price, but when you consider the amount of time it can be used with its variety of uses, its was an easy equation for us.

What Else is Available?

We opted for the moderately supplied Essential Plus bundle, with two chairs, five inserts, storage bag and pen holder which currently retails at £359 (May 2021), but there are many more options to add.

In terms of accessories, there are phone holders (as some boards are supported with a phone app), extension sets to allow space for 6 children, silcone covers to protect the table, and a clever projector, which lets children copy to learn to draw.

In the toy department, there are 3-dimensional playhouses, wooden playhouses, and lego boards, play dough moulds, train sets and educational games. I already have my eye on a playhouse, playdough mould, and more games for Munchkin.

Mutable Review – Those all important stars

Quality

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Price

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Useability

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Instructions

Rating: 5 out of 5.

One year on…

It is still the best product we have invested in. It is a favourite place for a painting and drawing or scribbling on the chalk board. Munchkin has started to use the Mutable for imaginative play taking his dinosaurs to the town landscape and Daddy’s thinking about buying some more bits… watch this space.

Daddy reviewed, Munchkin approved.

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Q-play Trike Review

We chose a Q-play trike and here is why, fully reviewed.

When we thought about the future and cycling we decided a great first birthday present would be a trike (kindly bought by his Grandparents). This would allow us to push him then let him pedal when hes ready and steer after that.

Q-play Trike Rito

We visited Smyths, being the only children’s store left around here (what is that about?!) and there were clearly only a few players. Q Play had the largest range with an entry model (comfort), mid range (Rito) and top end (Prime). We went for the Rito, as we didn’t see the need for rear facing in the Prime but wanted the foldability and safety functions like brakes the Rito has over the comfort.

q play trike rito

Q-play Rito Trike Review

The Q play Rito is light to lift, and easy to control. Munchkin is still in parent-led mode where we control everything and is safely secured by a 5-point harness. The whole unit folds (in a slightly complicated procedure, but once you’ve mastered it once its easy) and fits easily in the car boot. The original build process did have equally complicated procedure, with somewhat poor instructions, but we got there in the end with a bit of intellect.

In the future, the Rito switches to give Munchkin use of the non-slip pedals. Then when he’s ready for full control we can give over the steering. Finally all the parent control can be removed to form a complete trike.

Overall, well I’ll let the stars do the talking:

One year on…

Its still just as brilliant as day one. We still can’t reach the pedals, but know what they are ready for when we can, and we love to pretend to steer. The star ratings have not changed.

Daddy reviewed. Munchkin approved.

For other product reviews check out our mutable review, and water baby mat.

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Product review: Coccobaby Water Play Mat

This is the Water play mat from Coccobaby.uk available on Amazon. Whilst gifted, the views are not influenced by so.

It a sensory playmat for tactile and visual sensory fun. It features an air cushion surrounding a section which can be filled with water and features foam creatures to interact with. Our little Munchkin took to it immediately, slapping down at the water section making it swish around, moving the foam characters within.

water play mat

You could see how it helps develop his hand eye coordination and arm muscles as he lifted himself up to see all the shapes, and balance to lift one arm to hit it at the water.

The play mat was easy to inflate manually, and quick to fill. It provided a splashy water fun experience in the living room without any mess.

Munchkin approved, Daddy reviewed

You get one here.

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