Summer holiday ideas - take up a new sport #sportingstarts - The Little Pip

We are about to experience our first ever school holidays (and my first time looking after 2 children all day every day for 8 weeks until Pip starts school in September). I’m launching today a new series – posts about ideas and things to do in the school holidays. This time round, I’m not at my day job as I’m still on maternity leave, so this summer, the series will be about things to do as one off days to entertain with your child(ren). Some will be local to me, some London centric but others are available nation wide, and I’m trying to include a mix of different price points.

First up: Get inspired by the Olympics and take up a new sport

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games start on 5 August and will provide plenty of inspiration to look into trying out a new sport. One of the most compelling athletics events is the Heptathlon which is a track and field combined event, consisting of seven elements, taking place over two days; with the first four contested on day one, and the remaining three on day two. Each competitor takes part in the 100m Hurdles, High Jump, Shotput, 200m, Long Jump, Javelin throw and 800m.

British athlete Denise Lewis was originally inspired by the Olympics when she was a child:

I watched the Olympics in 1980 and just loved it. I didn’t know something like that existed, I was riveted, I watched all of it during the summer holidays, and I just wanted to be an athlete!

Denise then started specialising in the Heptathlon, going on to win gold in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Weetabix #SportingStarts

Throughout July and August, Weetabix are running a ‘Summer of Sport’ Campaign and every pack purchased gives you the chance to receive a free or 2-4- 1 Sports session plus the chance to win a money can’t buy prize. Top rewards consist of sporting experiences with athletes, including Denise Lewis, and other rewards such as team kits and biking sets.

All you have to do is enter the code from a box of Weetabix at and then enter your postcode to find your nearest sporting options.

The idea of the campaign is to give people a chance to try a new sport that they may not have had a chance to try. The campaign was launched by Denise Lewis who tried out cricket:

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Poco Baby Hammock - The Little Pip

Sleep. It’s not a baby topic that I like to get involved with that often, as it often descends somehow into a competitive who gets the least type conversation. I also usually shy away from discussing what and how and where because each baby is different, as is each family. However, when I was offered a Poco Baby Hammock for review, I was intrigued. And, I’d like to say, we love it. Don’t know what we did before love it. It’s that good!

I have been attending a post-natal course where sleep was covered (more on the course soon) and discovered that Little Baby 2 isn’t as good at sleeping as he could be. Some of the babies there are sleeping for 10-12 hours at a time now, which LB definitely isn’t, and I also do several of the things that aren’t recommended (feeding in the night, no specific comforter toy etc). We have also both been suffering with some kind of virus for the past couple of weeks, which has made things more tricky, and I was particularly struggling to get LB to nap after lunch. A grumbling tired baby is difficult at any time, but when all you want to do is lie down yourself, it can feel like particularly hard work.

Step forward the Poco Baby Hammock.

Poco Baby Hammock 3 - The Little Pip

We needed a solution that works for the baby, but also with the space that we have, and, let’s be honest, we want it to look stylish too. Our flat is too small and too full to completely look “like it should be in Country Living”, which is what my husband interprets my style as – not sure if he’s ever opened that particular magazine to know, mind you, but in an ideal world, we’d have clean white lines and space for all our possessions. I’d get rid of that rather worn carpet too, but it’s a rental, and we can’t.

The Poco Baby Hammock needed to therefore fit both in our bedroom in the small space in front of the wardrobe, and also be able to be easily moved. I chose the raw cotton version as I thought that would look best with our current decor, and I have been very pleased with it.

Poco Baby Hammock 2 - The Little Pip

Poco Baby Hammock 1- The Little Pip

There are supposed to be lots of benefits to the baby sleeping in a hammock but I was also warned that LB might take a while to get used to the feel of the hammock as it is a little different to the cot he was using. As it is a hammock suspended from a frame, it retains the baby’s natural supine position and is supposed to be good at reducing flat head syndrome, and also assist babies suffering from reflux or colic. At 11 weeks, LB has mostly outgrown his colic but he does seem to suffer still from wind, which makes him grumpy. Well, he took to the hammock straight away and he’s taken a long, much longer than before, afternoon nap in the hammock every day since it arrived. Win!

Poco Baby Hammock 4 - The Little Pip

Copy of Poco Baby Hammock 5 - The Little Pip

Although I have to confess being slightly intimidated by the size of the box that it arrived in, and the quite specific instructions with the need for a spanner, I actually put it together on my own with absolute ease – the legs simply slot together like tent poles, which also makes it easy to dismantle and pop it back in the bag it comes with, to take away like a travel cot.

Little Baby 2 is now around 8kg in weight, and already starting to roll over, and I found it a little difficult to get him to stay in the middle of the mattress that sits in the hammock, but we solved that by making sure he is settled comfortably to one side and I guess between the angle that it hangs and the way he is lying in the crook of the bottom/side, he is extremely cosily positioned and can’t roll or get his head stuck against the fabric. It is also helping him self settle, as when he does stir, the hammock rocks a little and gently bounces on the spring from which it is suspended and he settles back down to sleep.

It’s no exaggeration to say that we love this hammock. Usually my husband is quite happy to go along with baby products that I want to try out, and when I said I’d like to review this, he didn’t seem overly interested but was quite amenable. Once it arrived though, he’s been vocal in his approval and has said many times this past couple of weeks how brilliant the hammock is, and how he likes that it does a lot of the rocking for him, which makes everyone happier. Particularly in this heat, we’ve found Little Baby 2 has still been sleeping really well – the organic cotton seems to keep him cool and as the hammock does a lot of the rocking rather than a human, that also keeps him cooler too. Earlier this week, faced with several nights of solo parenting whilst M worked, I found the hammock to be essential, allowing me to slump against the frame whilst rocking an agitated baby with an ear infection.

It goes without saying that the Poco Baby Hammock is tested and certified to the UK & European Standards BS EN1130, although as with any product, you need to ensure you’re using it correctly at all times. The hammock is suitable for babies up to 9 months.

If you’d like one, you can use discount code HAPPYSLEEPER to receive a 10% discount at Poco Baby, alternatively you can buy online at Amazon or visit a local stockist (London details below).

Just Kidding
501 Kingsbury Road
0208 2042233
Crux Baby
96 Kensington High Street
W8 4SG

Children's car seats UK - The Little Pip

What are the rules about children’s car seats in the UK? I thought perhaps that there had been some updating since I looked into this when Pip was a baby – and I thought it might be helpful to share what I found.

The law requires [that] all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (which ever they reach first). After this they must use an adult seat belt. There are very few exceptions.

Child car seats website produced in conjunction with the Department of Transport

What determines a “correct child car seat” depends on the weight, height and age of the child in question. Currently, only EU-approved child car seats can be used in the UK. (Ones with a label showing a capital ‘E’ in a circle) although perhaps that will change post Brexit. Who knows…

There are so many options though, so I thought I would look at what Pip and Little Baby 2 have, or should have.

The Little Pip | Children's car seats in the UK

For our family car

  • Pip has a high backed booster which is part of the set of seats which falls in “Group 1, 2 & 3 for toddlers and children from 9 to 36 kg (20 – 79lbs), roughly from 9 months to 12 years”. She used the integral harness until she weighed more than 15kg and after a growth spurt has graduated to wearing it just with the seatbelt, which she finds more comfortable and I find much easier to strap her in with, particularly when I was heavily pregnant.
  • Little Baby 2 currently has a “Group 0+ for babies up to 13kg (29lbs) roughly from birth to 12-15 months” rear facing car seat (or car basket as I call it, because I can carry him like a shopping basket!). This fits onto our pram wheels. At the moment, we strap this in with a seatbelt, but, we do have an isofix base that I have been meaning to try out.
  • We also have sun shades for the windows and a mirror on the headrest behind Little Baby 2 so we can check on him. (I bought ours ages ago but you can buy them online here)
  • Once LB has grown out of his Group 0+ seat we will then have a choice as to whether to get a seat by height or weight.
    • “Height-based car seats are known as ‘i-Size’ seats. They must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old. Your child can use a forward-facing car seat when they’re over 15 months old.”
    • Weight-based car seats on the other hand change at 9kg, or 13kg depending on whether the baby is in a Group 0 or Group 0+.
    • Considering LB is already 8kg but nowhere near sitting up, he is clearly not going to be moving on to a booster style seat anytime soon, so I think for us it will have to be the i-Size in due course, which means he will need a rear-facing one as he is under 15 months.

Taxis and minicabs

It took me a while to figure this out last time but there are different rules for taxis and they can be quite confusing, but seem to broadly depend on whether the child is under or over 3. If you live in, or travel through, London or another city which has black cabs or “hackney carriage” taxis, you can even push your buggy in and use that as the restraint. Otherwise, as long as they are in the rear seat, a child under 3 doesn’t need a seat belt if there isnt a suitable child seat, and a child over 3 can use the adult seatbelt. (It is also worth noting that with some regularity we find Uber cars have a flap down seat in the middle which helps).

Hire cars

Hire cars count as a private car, so the same rules apply, which can mean it is quite awkward if you don’t have a car and don’t want to buy child seats for occasional use. (Grandparents cars fall into this same trap). We only bought a car last summer after I found out I was pregnant and we decided we would continue living in London but also wanted to more easily get out to the countryside. Before that, we relied on public transport and taxis – it was fine when Pip was in her Group 0+ car basket but once she’d outgrown that we did buy a high backed booster seat to use in hire cars and her grandparents also bought one for their car. I know booster cushions aren’t so well recommended but we do also have a blow up booster seat which we are currently reviewing for use in taxis and hire cars abroad.

Other car safety issues

Of course, you should also be aware of more than just the car seat when travelling with children. It’s easy to forget to regularly check your car – experts recommend every 2 weeks or at least before setting out on a long journey. I am guilty of forgetting this too so it’s a good reminder for me as well that we should be checking our tyres, oil, water, wipers, screen-wash, windscreen and lights regularly, for legal reasons in addition to keeping us and other road users safe.

When it comes to the tyres, don’t forget that you should not just be checking the tyre pressure (the manual will tell you what you should be aiming for) but also the condition of your tyres (including the spare). Look out for cuts or wear and make sure your tread is within legal limits.

If you do need to replace the tyres, I recently discovered that you can enter your registration number at Point-S and it will tell you what tyres you should be using, which is handy. Shamefully, I couldn’t remember the numberplate of our current car when testing the website, but I weirdly enough could remember that of my parents car when I was a teenager. Pleasingly, it knew the car though, and recommended a number of tyres and then where I could get them fitted locally.

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