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.
We were progressing well with reducing single use plastics. But then, with the birth of our little Munchkin, came the nappies. Not a small amount, but a huge pile of nappies every week filling the bin destined for landfill 😔.
It was a step backwards in our single use plastic reduction plans. We made a decision to trial reusable nappies, but then saw the price. It’s definitely one of those things you invest the money in and then reap the financial rewards later, but as a new parent who’s just bought all of the essentials, the price was off-putting.
Luckily when the Munchkin was 5 and a half months, a friend from work who knew I wanted to try reusable nappies and had some spare. And so the trial began…
We bought the Bambino Mio miosolo birth to potty pack which included 15 nappies (you can find Bambino Miosolo here). You also get a bin and a couple of laundry bags, some biodegradable liners and biodegradable wipes (woo! 😊), an additive to your wash for stain removal and some boosters (for extended night use (or so they say).
The nappies come adjustable with poppers to change the size. This takes them from newborn to potty training. You then just pop in a liner (this catches the chunkier mess) and then put them on your bubba just like a normal nappy.
Well so they say…
We found we called it a trial period for a reason. There certainly is a period of settling in. A highlight of this being a wee leak all over Nanny’s leg in week 3.
One Month Later…
One month in, we’ve mastered the technique. For us, after much trial and error, we found it was to strip wash the nappies first and do them a incy wincy bit tighter.
With 15 nappies in this set, that’s a lot of regular washing. Washing regularly is better for this environment though and this is the environment we are trying to improve for our little ones who will grow up with whatever we leave them!
After the settling in month, Mummy and Daddy are used to the endless washing and the effect can be seen. We have reduced use of plastic nappies down to one for night time so it’s now saving some pounds (useful on shared parental leave), the black bin is back down to the bare minimum and the guilt has reduced.
In mid 2020 we combined reusables with biodegradable single use nappies from Kit and Kin. Finally we have accomplished single use plastic free nappy use around the clock.
If your thinking of trying reusables I recommend giving them a pop. If your Munchkin is like ours, it could be a tough trial period but once you’ve figured it out it you’re saving money and saving the planet.
One Year On…
Well, one and a bit years on. At two years two months we started to get rashy and only with the reuseable nappies. So after changing detergent, strip washing, higher temperature washing, trying different treatments to his skin we had to wave the white flag. This doesn’t mean we have gone back to plastic nappies though don’t worry. We are now biodegradable with Kin and Kin.
The ‘favourite’ eight top baby products for a Munchkin like ours at 7 months of age.
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The doomoo, I would say, stands for ‘do more’. It’s a comfortable bean bag seat with a safety harness for little ones, but changes to a seat without the harness for children up to 30kg. This was a gift for our Munchkin and it’s been a lifesaver. When you need to take your bubba to another room while you clean or do the washing just use the Doomoo with a few toys. They will be comfortable, safe and happy leaving you happy (but obviously devastated you’re doing the housework 😔). https://doomoo.com.
Angelcare bath support.
Before they can sit, with a little wriggley bum, you need a good bath support. This support is perfect for lying back, playing with the bubbles and kicking water to splash Mummy and Daddy 🥰. There was no way we could bathe our Munchkin solo without one. https://angelcarebaby.com.
Mio miosolo Reusable nappies
When you get used to them, reusable nappies are great for offloading some of that plastic footprint created by having a baby. They have awesome funky designs, zero nappy rash and make a happy Munchkin and Daddy who know they are helping the plastic pollution problem 👍😊. See my review here.https://www.bambinomio.com
Baby Sleeping bags
Using sleeping bags simply took the fear away from bed time. No need to worry that the Munchkin will wrap himself in a sheet or be at the wrong temperature. Just pop him in, zip him up and relax. If he actually goes to sleep that is….🤞😴
In the photo below our Munchkin is sporting a Gro bag, however everywhere from Mothercare to supermarkets sell them!
Gro Egg 2.
Using sleeping bags means you need to know the temperature. The Gro Egg 2 makes this simple with colour coding lighting to let you know what temperature range you are in and a digital display to know the exact temperature. It’s an easy glance at bedtime to know he’s going in the right tog sleeping bag for complete peace of mind ☺️. https://gro.co.uk/product/groegg-2.
Chicco Next2me crib.
This is wifey-endorsed recommendation. Night feeds are tough and every little helps. For ease of Munchkin access the Next2me has been essential. It also packs up with ease for use as a travel cot in the early months. So that’s two products for the price of one 🙃. https://www.chicco.co.uk.
Cot with a changing station.
With babies come nappies and with nappies comes changing. Sorry, lots of changing. A cot with a changing station made this much easier and kinder on your knees and back. It also gives choice. When you didn’t want to crouch to change on the floor you can take the stairs. One evil always wins over the other.
Cosatto travel system
The Cosatto wow was our number one travel system choice due to its style and that everything was included in a package. It’s stylish, suits our nursery theme and the Munchkin loves it! (You can tell as you can often catch him talking to the foxes!) See My full review. https://www.cosatto.com/
So that’s our top baby products line up (at least for months 0-7). What are yours?
If, like me, you want to reduce the amount of plastics that end up in landfill you’ll be interested in Terracycle.
Terracycle is a company with three streams of recycling. There’s only one relevant to me, which this post is about, which is the free recycling.
The free recycling programmes are funded by conscientious companies and are then supplemented by a network of local people and companies. For example, I found a collector on a walk with the Munchkin the other day. They had an extra bin in their garden ready to collect for multiple schemes.
The schemes/collections take all the recycables you cant put in your local waste recycling bin. For example:
Crisp, nut and popcorn packaging
Chocolate wrappers, multipack packaging
Washing tab packets
Toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes
Face wipe, soap dispenser nozzles, make up and cream tubs
Pet food pouches
Tassimo pods, pod packaging, coffee refill pouches
Find a programme that recycles what your waste. For example, if you want to recycle crisp packets youd find multiple schemes:
Scroll down and check the ‘Accepted waste’ section to check that that scheme collects the waste you generate. For example ‘The KP Snacks® Nuts, Popcorn, Crisps and Pretzels Packet Recycling Programme’ takes all brands of crisp, popcorn, nut and pretzel packs.
Check the best practices section below to know how they want the recyclables then scroll back up and check the locations by clicking here:
Find a collector, collect and deliver. Its as simple as that. Find a collector that is collecting for all the scheme of waste you generate and boom!, its just one extra trip each time you want to empty your collections.
Here is my ultra glamorous collection area at my home. When these boxes are full ill pop down to the road, empty and begin collecting again.
There are collection points everywhere. Here is the map for England for the KP nuts scheme:
There’s more goodness…?
Yep. Not only will you be saving the planet but Terracycle also give Terracycle points to collectors which can be redeemed for ‘ charitable gifts, TerraCycle products, or a donation to a school or non-profit of your choice’.
Its a win win win scheme. Less waste, less plastic going to landfill, more money going to charities and schools and consequently more happy people.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock it’s likely been unavoidable to know about the plastic problem on this planet.
To tackle our plastic footprint, reducing single use plastics are the swaps we started with and there have been some easy switches I’ve made. (Though there are plenty more to make too).
It didn’t happen overnight. It has been a slow process of reducing bits one by one for us.
We started in the kitchen. Cling film was a big bug bear of mine so that went first. Swiftly followed were food and freezer bags and both of these were easily swapped for reusable tubs.
We then looked to the next big pile up of plastic: shopping bags. We began recycle our shopping bags and replace them with more permanent tote style bags. Most supermarkets have collection bins and Ocado even pay you to take them (with an order). For fruit and veg we started to take it loose too. There are plenty of alternate plastic-free fruit and veg bags out there if you really need to use something.
I then made an extra effort to recycle more and correctly. It’s amazing when you look at it what you can and can’t. Checking with your local authority is the place for this one.
Terracycle recycling began this year. A colleague at work set up collection for our company.
The Terrecycle scheme takes near to everything you can’t traditionally recycle. For example: crisps packets (grr), toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, chocolate wrappers, sweet wrappers…….the list goes on. And on and on and on. You just need to find a collector which you can do on the website, deliver to them and they send then on to Terracycle. (See my Terracycle post here).
From those reductions I’d only be less than quarter-filling my bin destined for landfill, rather than the previous three quarters.
But then the Munchkin arrived and so did disposable nappies. You only had to look in the bin every fortnight to see the effect with the bin back up to half full.
We had to try something different! We changed to Mio miosolo nappies when Munchkin was around 5 and a half months and then just use disposables for the nights as this is where reusables seem to struggle. It’s another load of washing so a little extra effort but that is a small sacrifice for the 25 nappies not ending up in landfill each week. Especially given those 25 extra nappies would outlive our little Munchkin by 100 years or more.
Future swaps I’m looking at are trying reusable baby wipes and biodegradable nappies for the nights (which are swapped and you can read about here). Though hopefully when Munchkin sleeps through the night the washable nappies may last.
It’s not about changing everything, and it’s not about doing it overnight. It’s about changing bit by bit overtime. It all adds up and makes a difference.
Before we even starting trying for a baby I’d already picked my travel system. It was all about the brand. It’s quality, it’s distinctive style and the companies passion and personality. It had to be a Cosatto.
Here is our Cosatto Review
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Design – Cosatto Review
Firstly the design. There are just so many dull travel systems on the market and Cosatto challenge that with their beautiful patterns. You’ll often find Munchkin staring up and sometimes chatting to the foxes 😊. It also perfectly compliments our woodland nursery design and is perfectly gender neutral for baby 2.0.
We went for the Wow, whole nine yards bundle of travel system from 0-4 years which included car seat, carrycot, i-size isofix base, changing bag and footmuff. This came with the dock car seat for the early days up to 15 kg then a toddler seat lasting all the way up to the mightly toddler size of 25 kg. Its everything you need to get around for one child up to the age of 4, though you will need a new car seat when they outgrow the dock.
The carrycot is suitable for occasional overnight sleeping, and easily fits to the same chassis which will later serve your energetic toddler. The dock and toddler seat be fitted in both directions; facing you first, then turned to ready face the world.
Out and about
In the early days, when you get to the car, the Dock simply lifts off the pushchair frame, and gently locks into place is its isofix base. This ease makes it easy to transfer from car to pushchair even when the little one is fast asleep.
I-size car base means it’s super safe too, and the safest on the market at the time. Which made us super happy parents knowing Munchkin was always protected.
The travel system comes with complex instructions (like most products), but when these are worked out, simple systems to adjust tilt or collapse. The toddler seat comes with a detachable insert – making it easy to clean and allowing a quick change from winter mode, for the cold chills, to summer mode when the sun comes out to play.
The system comfortably fits in my average sized Ford Focus car boot, and can be collapsed with or without the seat part attached.
It was at the higher end of travel systems yet still a few hundred pounds short of some of the other big brands and came with more included in the package. It’s easy to use and versatile, handling poor pavement and off-road adventures with ease. It’s easy to navigate and simple to adjust. Its everything I expected for the price.
Cosatto review – two years on…
Two years on, the system is exactly like day one (minus the car seat which was quickly grown out of due to Munchkins very long body). Now in toddler mode, it still handles a good national trust property visit, easily navigating from track to grass. The bodywork has suffered a few scratches, but it is not meant to be damage proof, so that is expected. The easy to clean covers look just like day one however.
If I bought another travel system, I’d still buy the Wow bundle again!
Overall, I love the brand and this travel system is fantastic. But when it comes to buying your travel system go with your heart, as we found Cosatto purely based on design.
Oh and also wait for the sales! Over nine months of pregnancy you are likely to go through three sale periods at least 😁. There’s no point in paying more than you have to, just make sure you can return it, just in case.
Just before Munchkin’s 6 month milestone we started weaning. The wonderful world of weaning that is.
From the off you could tell he loved food when he grabbed the first spoonful and took it to his mouth. This surprised us both. Though, it was shortly followed by a face of disgust.
One month later after the taste-test phase we are on to three meals a day. Generally porridge for brekky, a puree for lunch with a crisp and some fruit to suck on and something with more solids for dinner.
We have tried and tested many baby foods and making our own purees but when it comes to a baby food company, the standout for us is Ella’s kitchen.
This is for two reasons above the good taste; organic ingredients and our Munchkin’s preferences .
For starters, home freezing. Ella’s kitchen purées are generally freezeable. This was a necessity for us when starting out, as our Munchkin would only have less than a quarter of a pouch.
Secondly, all their packaging is recyclable as part of their Ellacycle scheme via Terracycle. (I’ll praise and tell you more about Terracycle in a future post 😊 which you will find here, but if you want to do more here’s a handy dandy link).
I also thought that there is a lot of contradictory information out there on weaning. So what we did is look over that advice and follow what we felt at the time. For example with solids we experimented early and stepped back if it was too soon.
Overall, my main piece of advice would be to enjoy it. It’s messy and can be a worry but it’s fun to discover what your baby likes and seeing them cover themselves in food like our Munchkin in the gorgeous shot below.
Shared parental leave is the UK government initiative to give the Mother’s or adoptive parent’s partner an opportunity to share the leave entitlement.
For a Daddy like me, it can take the standard two weeks of Paternity leave up to a the maximum maternity leave, by sharing the hours between both parents.
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What are you entitled to?
With Shared Parental Leave, you can share 50 weeks of leave, and 37 weeks of pay, similar to that of maternity leave.
It begins by opting to end maternity leave and then the remaining leave can be shared between both parents. Parents can either take the time off together or apart. Taking it together however, means half the total time off as it tots up for both parents.
At this point whomever takes the leave moves to Shared Parental Leave pay, which is equal to the lowest level of statutory maternity pay (SMP) at £151.97 a week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
For us, we decided that the wifey, Natalie, would take the first 6 months and I would take the final 3. This meant we would get the same pay entitlements as when we move to shared parental pay as it is equal to the statutory maternity pay, which is what Natalie would be receiving in these three months. It also meant Natalie returned to work at an ideal time for her career at the start of a new teaching term.
Our experience with Shared Parental Leave
The process was simple, as long as your employer agrees. There’s is just lots of calculations and forms to complete.
In September 2019 I began SPL and my three months of leave and it’s fair to say it was a rocky start. Munchkin was fully breast fed for the first 6 months. So when I took over at 6 months, this also meant the beginning of bottle feeding, the start of weaning and a change from Mummy to Daddy. This was, naturally, a huge change and the resulting Munchkin bottle hunger strike was a fair response. But we made it through…
Regarding SPL, the whole process can be a tad confusing and, as per anything like this, there is a lot of forms to complete. At the time of writing it was also a new-ish process that naturally that comes with unknowns. Hopefully that has improved since 2019 however.
Some of the forms didn’t even exist in my company when I applied for SPL, and because it was atypical way of taking leave to traditional parental leave, I realised we were doing something different. I also though it would be good to give a Daddys perspective, of being the sole nappy changer, entertainer, walker, feeder and rhyme timer and blogging kept my brain cells alive, when singing twinkle twinkle little star for the 1000th time.