Whilst this product was kindly gifted. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.
From the second I said, ‘look, a package for you’ Munchkins eyes lit up. When he saw it was Peppa, the excitement was unreal, he could not wait for me to wrestle and free it from the packaging.
Peppa Pig Count with Peppa is a number and colour recognition toy all styled in the design and with the voice of every parents favourite pig.
It uses 10 coloured number discs, with different colours and the numbers from 1 – 10. On the other side is the corresponding number of items i.e. 5 planes. Peppa can recognise which discs are inserted and therefore know if the correct disc is posted.
There are multiple games, from find the number, to find the coin which has a certain number of an item. It also plays three songs, from the series, which Munchkin was instantly joining in with. This will further solidify Munchkins colour and counting skills and improve his ability to follow instructions.
We admit we had a little issue pushing the coins through at first. But two days later it seems to have improved for us both.
As parents, there’s still times we need to put the kids to bed, get the beers out and enjoy a game or five…
Big Potato have always been a favourite of mine, even before I started to collaborate with them. They produce fantastic party and family games, and are also working to be more eco-friendly by reducing plastic, reducing box sizes and planting trees (double points from me!)
6. Day at the Festival/Night at the movies puzzles
First on the list is a new release from Big Potato Games. There’s two puzzles, one is all about movies and one about bands and music artists.
Each is a 1000 piece puzzle which when complete, becomes a second challenge to identify the hidden bands/movies from the picture clues.
🕑 Variable, as its a puzzle
5. 20 Second Showdown
20 second showdown is instant, fast paced, addictive fun. Split into two teams, grab a baton and get prepared.
Flip the timer and start the 20 second countdown, complete a task then flip the time back to start the time running for the other team. Complete simple, and often hilarious tasks and try to stay in the game by completing the task within the time. The first team to run out of time loses.
🕑 15 min
👤 5 – 20
4. P for Pizza
P for pizza was a lockdown savior as it only requires a minimum of two players.
Reveal three categories, match to a letter and shout an answer before another player. If you are first, win a pizza slice and add it to build your mega pizza slice to win. Though as you build, the categories you can answer reduce, making it harder the game progresses. A game so good you always play it twice.
🕑 15 min
👤 2 – 4
3. Don’t get Got
Don’t get got is the ultimate party game as you can play it alongside something else, like dinner, a party or other games.
Get five secret tasks and one ‘guess what?’. Be the first to fool three other players and complete your tasks, but don’t get caught, or rather, Don’t Get Got!
In snakesss, players get points by answering questions correctly after a brief team discussion. But beware, some players are actually snakes who try to charm you to choose the wrong answer. Snakes score points by distracting you from the correct answer.
One player gets the wooden ‘Mongoose of Truth’ token which shows they definitely aren’t a snake!
🕑 40 min
👤 4 – 8
1. The Chameleon
And finally, number one! My favourite Big Potato game is The Chameleon.
In this game, one player is The Chameleon who needs to blend in with the crowd. Every one else tries to uncover their disguise.
Turn over a new topic card and roll the dice. This will show the topic to all players but the Chameleon. Take turns giving a word related to the topic in order to detect the Chameleon – but watch out, they can escape if they can guess the topic so be wise when you choose your word.
If you know this Daddy, you’ll know he thinks most social situations need snacks, a flow of good beers (gin or wine also suit) and a plethora of good board or party games to play. So Here are my seven, top board and party games in no particular order.
When you buy something using the retail links in our blog posts, we may earn a small commission. This money goes towards making further content and buying more games to review.
P for Pizza – Big Potato Games
P for Pizza, whose box isn’t edible like the photo suggests, is a super simple party game for 2 – 4 players. Being suitable for two players, it was the perfect lockdown companion for evenings when we officially ‘ran out of Netflix‘.
The rules could not be simpler. Match a category with a corresponding letter and shout out an appropriate answer before your teammates. Quickest correct answer wins a slice to build their own pizza pyramid. As the pyramid gets taller, the choice of categories lessens, increasing the difficulty towards the win.
P for Pizza is on the list for is simplicity to explain and get into and how everyone asks for another game.
The GOT board game is a fantastic board game I haven’t had the pleasure of playing since University, yet it still makes the top list because of some very fond memories.
Imagine a Risk style board game, but set in Westeros. You compete as one of the six great houses aiming for domination of Westeros to claim the Iron Throne.
In each battle the tides can be turned by using characters alongside dice roles and players should always be aware of the risk of the Wildlings attacking from north of the wall! So in essence, its Risk, but with many, many more layers of complexity.
At 2+ hours gameplay (though it took us 6 hours the first play), this certainly isn’t one for a quick evening game and you’ll need a team as it requires 3 to 6 players.
Game of Thrones board game is on the list as it is totally immersive, bringing you into the battle and the feel of fighting for the iron throne.
Carcarsonne was another lockdown favourite, as not only a physical board game, but also digitised on the site Board Game Arena; a online board game website with a plethora of games to play.
Take turns placing tiles to build cities, monasteries and roads to link them together. Score points by placing a ‘meeple’ on the feature and completing it, or setting them in a field to be scored at game end. Use the large meeple (which counts as two) to compete for ownership and steal points from other players.
Carcarsonne is on my list and I have been so addicted since playing it for the first time. Simple as that.
Sushi Go is a deluxe, 2 – 8 player 20 minute sushi feast game!
A game of Sushi Go last three rounds. In each round, each player is dealt a hand of cards. Simultaneously, each player chooses 1 card to play and places it face down. When all players have chosen the cards are turned and each player passes their hand to the left.
Sushi Go basic game set up (left) and hand during gameplay (right)
The round ends when all the cards have been placed, and then cards are scored depending on the type of sushi. For example, Nigiri are scored individually for 1, 2 or 3 points, however you need a group of three Sashimi to score 10 points. If pudding is collected, these are scored at the end of the three rounds. The player with the highest points wins.
Its on the top games list as its so accessible to all and enjoyed by most.
Linkee is a fun team game which works best with three of more teams of two or more players. A question master reads four questions one by one, then a clue if required, out loud to the teams. The first team to shout ‘Linkee!’ and guess the link wins the card. Each card has a letter on the other side, and the first team to spell ‘Linkee’ wins.
Linkee example card (left) and winning collection (right)
There’s two extra little rules to use when you collect spare cards you don’t need. You can ‘buy’ a letter from the bank in exchange for three cards, or delete one from another team at a cost of two cards.
Linkee is a favourite as its simple but highly competitive, getting everyone poised to shout ‘Linkee!’
Munchkin is another game with a lot of rules. In simple terms, its a 3 – 6 player game which can last anything from 40 minutes to several hours.
Munchkin Zombie starting set up (left) and example monster (right)
The object of the game is to get to level 10. This can be done using special cards, but, most importantly, defeating monsters. As you play, you get the opportunity to level up your character as you go, adding items to power up your Munchkin.
At any time, you can attack other players with cards too, making it a constant game of battle to reach level 10 and win. Like I said though, that’s it in very basic terms, there’s quite a few more rules!
Munchkin comes in a variety of themes. Each can be played individually or merged together. So Munchkin Zombies could become Munchkin Zombie Superheroes by combining two decks.
Munchkin made the list as its always in my bag for a games night. It’s geeky whilst enjoyable.
Don’t Get Got is the ultimate party game as it can be played simultaneously with other games, alongside a meal or, to be honest, any get together.
Don’t get got example wallet mid game (left) and game contents (right)
Each player gets a mission wallet with 6 tasks. The first is simply a ‘Guess what?’ which you succeed if someone replies with ‘What?’. This one can be attempted multiple times.
Then there’s 5 more secret tasks such as ‘Hide this card on a player without them noticing’ or ‘stick this card under a table and get a player to notice it’. These can only be attempted once, as if you are caught, you fail the task, so choose your opportunity wisely!
The first to pass three tasks wins.
Don’t get got is on the list as its one of a kind. I’ve never seen anything like it in that it can go alongside any social gathering.
When you buy something using the retail links in our blog posts, we may earn a small commission. This money goes towards making further content.
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.
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.
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 (£166 Amazon) 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.
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.
If you’re interested in Splosh, I have a referral code you can use below.
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!)
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.
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 alljobs, 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.
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.
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!
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.
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
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.