presents for new mums

Right, I’ve covered my top five newborn baby essentials (read that post here) but what about stuff for new Mums? Here are the things I found incredibly useful and/or wish I’d had from the very start.

new mum dressing gown

Dressing Gown. Why, oh why, oh why did I not have a nice dressing gown ready for when I gave birth? Perhaps because I’d been gradually moving into smaller and smaller holiday lets and dressing gowns would have been bulky to transport, what with my little-sized suitcase, but still. The number of times I had to answer the door wearing bizarre get-up, hastily thrown on, stained with breastmilk. Choose a post-partum dressing gown (remember you’ll still have a bump, but nowhere near the size it is in late pregnancy) and make sure it satisfies the following criteria: closes securely and doesn’t do the “sexy gape” when you walk; is thick enough/patterned enough to not show milk patches should they occur if you have nothing on beneath; has at least one pocket for you to put your iPhone in, but preferably two pockets so that you can also store cereal bars like a squirrel; and finally one that is, perhaps, a slightly darker colour than you’d usually plump for, or maybe patterned. Because: accidental blood stains. This Christy one isn’t half bad, and I do like the striped version here, but I think that this one from Bodas wins for it’s fresh, crisp, toothpaste stripe.

classic-breastfeeding-pillow-grey-floral-with-pink-500x500

Feeding Pillow. I didn’t get one of these until a couple of weeks in, by which time my shoulders and back were so painful that I could hardly move my right arm at all! Holding the baby at a set angle and – I suppose – being tense about breastfeeding meant that all of my muscles sort of seized up. Had I known how much difference a proper support cushion would have made, I’d have had one in the hospital with me! In the end, I had a couple of pillows from Thrupenny Bits, which tied around my waist (very useful), but there are loads of styles and types out there. I’m sure I’ll be reviewing more once the feeding factory (me) gets going again. Equally handy for bottle-feeding, I’d imagine, as you still have to sit there in one place for an age, arms at awkward angles…

Read my Top Breastfeeding Essentials…

new mum essentials

Kindle Paperwhite. Just the best thing ever, if you’re into your reading – the dim glow from the screen is just enough to use as a nightlight, and you only need one finger tap to turn the page. I read dozens and dozens of novels on my Kindle in those first, sleepless months. They now make the Paperwhite in a rather snazzy, Apple-inspired white version – find it online HERE.

new mum essentials

Flask. Because sometimes you just can’t get yourself up to fetch water, can’t reach your bedside table, don’t want to balance a full glass on the edge of the bed. In these times of desperation, a flask with a leak-proof lid becomes the luxury item you never knew you’d need! I liked this from BRITA because the Bobble Bottle made too many noises (read all about it!) and I liked being able to see how much water I had left, so didn’t want a metal one.

Wireless Intercom. I didn’t have one of these, I still don’t have one of these. Am I getting one of these? Yes. Because about seventy-five thousand people knock on my door every day (bad Amazon habit plus constant beauty samples arriving plus friendly neighbours, etc) and there is nothing worse, when you’re a new Mum, than having to haul yourself up out of bed, pull the baby off your nipple, find something to put on and run down the stairs to answer the door only to find that it’s a man selling double glazing. How amazing would it be if you could vet your caller before you bothered to rush to the door? If you could speak to them and tell them to a) go away or b) please leave the parcel next to the door and do a squiggle signature on your behalf or c) wait two minutes for you to get down to them? I’ll tell you, it would be ten-out-of-ten amazing. Also, you could disconnect the actual doorbell, just for a few months, and, if you were particularly exhausted, you could “mute” the bell on the intercom system so that both you and new baby could sleep in peace. Because who cares about a missed parcel? I like the look of THIS little number on Amazon.

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ruth crilly baby blog

I’ve come to a bit of a decision, with these update posts; I think that when New Baby arrives I’m going to amalgamate all of the updates into one so that the monthly post covers my own post-partum recovery, the new baby’s development and also a little bulletin on what Angelica has been up to. Otherwise I’m going to be spending more time typing up my life than actually living it! I’ll think of a new jazzy name for this update, but I expect there will be one more Baby and Body before I give birth, so there’s no rush.

Let’s concentrate on Baby 1, who is now a toddler, and toddling around so well that I actually can’t believe there was a time when she couldn’t walk! She’s very fast on her feet – still falls on her bottom quite a bit, if she attempts tricky little sequences, but at times it’s an effort to catch her she runs away so quickly! I feel as though she’s made a huge leap recently, in terms of development – there I was stressing about walking, and talking, and her being able to use a spoon properly and so on, and all of a sudden she can do everything and chatter away in her little language that only she understands, and she can use a fork to eat her pasta and pick up peas on her spoon.

And her understanding is great – I give her increasingly difficult instructions (basically she’s become my science experiment, ha!) to see just how much she can take in at once, and she constantly surprises me with how much she knows and absorbs. “Go and get all of the eggs for Mummy and put them back in the box in the kitchen” is met with nods and near-perfect execution, “go and choose a jumper to wear” or “let’s go and run a bath and find your pyjamas” are completely understood. Blatantly I’m practising all of this in preparation for “go to the kitchen, take a glass from the bottom cupboard and a bottle of red wine from the rack and pour Mummy a glass of wine and bring it to the bathroom along with some stuffed olives and/or a Mini Magnum.” “Please.”

(I realise I’m gushing like one of those annoying people who think their kids are amazing, but I am properly amazed by every little development at the moment!)

We are finally off the Ella’s Kitchen pouches, too, though I do take one of the chunky versions with us if we’re going to be out and about, along with an apple and a yoghurt and so on. They are so convenient and I quite like the pasta bake one in the plastic tray that you stick in the microwave! Rather tasty if I do say so myself. But mealtimes now are much easier, with Angelica picking up her food (she loves quiche, ham, cheddar cheese, cucumber, bagels with cream cheese, peas, pasta with garlic and tomato sauce, yoghurts, blueberries and raspberries and big chunks of apple) or using her fork and spoon – the days of having to shovel things down are far behind us, thank goodness. It did get to the point where mealtimes were making me really miserable because the whole thing was such an effort and I felt as though I was always struggling against her. But it’s all OK – it was just a matter of putting things in front of her and leaving her to it.

Phew.

I tell you what I do find quite funny: after loving books completely at about a year old, Angelica seems to have absolutely no patience for them at the moment. She doesn’t even want to sit on my lap and be read to – she lasts for around five seconds before throwing down the book and jumping off. Maybe it’s her new-found running legs! I’m not going to force it – I’m sure she’ll have a rekindled interest when she sees the little “lift the flap” books I’ve bought her for Christmas. (Where’s Spot, something about a postman who’s a bear and another one I can’t remember…)

What else? I’m guessing I don’t need to do a body update if you’ve been reading the Pregnancy Diaries; basically I’m huge, I can’t bend down to pick things off the floor and if I do too much I get pains in my groin. Just about sums things up. Oh, and I need a wee every twenty minutes. I must remember to do another diary entry this week, though not too much has changed since the last one. Just growth. All good – as with the last pregnancy, I can’t really complain. I have the odd ache and pain, but, bloody hell, that’s just all part of it isn’t it? I still think that the whole process is just spectacular – considering how massive a baby is, to be carried around inside, the discomfort is minimal. The gum around my part-emerged wisdom tooth gives me more trouble than the baby does!

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essential newborn baby equipment

With just a couple of months to go before New Baby arrives, I’ve been having a think about the equipment I found most useful when I came home from hospital.

Here are the five things that I couldn’t have lived without in the first few weeks with a brand new baby. Bear in mind that I was of no fixed abode – my house was being renovated, the work ran over, we moved three or four times before finally getting back into our house when Angelica was a few months old. We had to travel light and we did a lot of car journeying, so my “top five” essentials probably reflect that situation!

newborn baby bedside crib

  • The Snuzpod. A bedside crib that fits right to the side of your own bed with a zip-down side that means the baby can be instantly accessed without any bending or getting up. An absolute lifesaver if you’ve had a C-Section, I used this up until about six months. Recently my friend Lauren took loan of it for her newborn (she had a C-Section) and it has come back to me looking good as new, ready for a third baby! You can find the Snuzpod online at Amazon HERE – it’s £199.95 including mattress.

Read the full Snuzpod review…

newborn sleepyhead deluxe review

  • The Snuzpod is also exactly the right size to hold a Sleepyhead Deluxe, which is a sort of baby “nest” that makes them feel snug and secure. The main benefit of the Sleepyhead, for me, was that it allowed me to keep the mesh side of the Snuzpod crib unfastened and tucked away so that I could slide the baby in and out of the crib for multiple night feeds without any bother. Then, when I went to live at my parents’ house for five weeks (told you I got around!) there wasn’t room in the car for the whole crib so I just took the Sleepyhead and put that inside the huge cot at their house. Bloody marvellous, I can’t recommend it enough. I have to say that the foam in the base of it didn’t fare very well and now, after a stint at my friend’s with her baby as well as a good half a year with mine, it’s a bit worse for wear. Do I mind buying another one? Not a jot. It’s £110 HERE.

Read the full Sleepyhead review here…

  • The Cybex Aton Q car seat. Car seat-choosing was my husband’s domain, if I remember rightly, and this was an absolutely brilliant choice. I have a sneaking suspicion he was first attracted by the very cool shape and excellent styling (I haven’t seen a better-looking car seat when the canopy is drawn over) but the suitability for newborns was the major draw. It’s designed so that newborn babies can lie as flat as possible and even has a special insert for premature and very teeny babies and will probably last until around eighteen months. Yes you can get car seats with a bigger age span, but we did a lot of long journeys and I liked that this one had been developed with small babies in mind, because you do have a bit of a panic when you get stuck in traffic on the motorway and a one hour journey turns into three… We bought our Cybex at John Lewis HERE – £175, but I highly recommend getting the Isofix base too, for ease of getting the seat in and out of the car. It fits most pram frames, too, including the Uppababy Vista.

uppababy vista review

  • The Uppababy Vista was incredibly useful to me as a constantly-travelling new Mum. It was robust, easy to fold and the bassinet part was approved for overnight sleeping which meant that if I was in a hotel and didn’t want to take the Sleepyhead (I got the train to places a lot, I can’t think for the life of me why, I must have been mad!) I could put the baby to sleep in the pram. The other cracking feature was that the storage basket in the Vista is large enough to (almost) house an adult human. I mean, it’s seriously, seriously roomy. I went to a wedding at Babbington House, with a one-night stop at my friend Rach’s in Bath, and I had the baby in her Cybex car seat attached to the top of the pram (needed a car seat as was getting a taxi), I had the bassinet squashed flat below it and I had a small suitcase, baby changing bag, shoe bag and wedding outfit in a suit-carrier ALL STOWED IN THE BASKET! Bloody amazing. But yeah, I must have been mad. What was I thinking? That was a journey and a half… You can find the Uppababy Vista HERE, it’s £849.99.

angelcare ac401 monitor baby review

  • I didn’t use the motion detector thing on the Angelcare AC401 monitor until a few months in (long story: mostly an annoyance with the way that cot death figures are presented and new Mums are given information, I’ll leave it for another time) but after that first time I switched on the special under-mattress sensor pad, I have to admit I became addicted to the little swinging pendulum that told me everything was A-OK with the baby. Even though she was right next to me, it allowed me to sleep deeply for the two or three hours between feeds knowing that the motion pad was picking up her breathing movements and that an alarm would sound if movement ceased. I ended up using it until Angelica was a year old and kept rolling off the pad (false alarm central!) so I suppose you could call me a convert. I inherited my Angelcare AC401 from my sister and it is still going strong, so I can’t imagine I’ll be buying another, but if you want to take a look then it’s £68 down from £99 on Amazon HERE.
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healthy snacks

OK, so it’s not a snack drawer, more of a lunchbox. In fact most of the time my various snacks are to be found scattered randomly across my desk, which is why I have to regularly hoover my laptop keyboard to rid it of crumbs! But here’s a little delve into my daily snacks – the ones I rely on whether I’m spending all day locked in the office or running around after the baby. Toddler.

healthy snacks

As you probably know if you follow me on A Model Recommends, I’m a big believer in snacks throughout the day to keep energy levels up and spirits high. Whereas my evening treat (not every night, I hasten to add!) is a naughty chocolate-coated ice-cream, my daytime snacks are purposefully healthy. I realised quite early on in my adult life that eating sweets and sugary treats throughout the day is totally counter-productive; I get an instant sugar-fix and then crash about half an hour later, then usually need to take a long nap. By choosing good, wholesome (mainly!) easy-picking food morsels I can manage to keep myself on an even keel and deal with the things that life throws at me. Things like trying to answer eleven emails whilst having a wee when there’s a toddler staring at me from the door, a cat in the sink next to me trying to paw my hair and a crazy dog running circles around my feet and trying to eat my knickers.

healthy snacks

So here’s what’s in my “snack drawer”: almonds (one of my best habits – I started eating them throughout the day in tiny handfuls when I was pregnant with Angelica and I swear they do wonders for my skin and nails as well as my concentration levels!), medjool dates, dried mango pieces and, if I remember to buy them, a fresh apple.

healthy snacks

In my other snack drawer, aka the fridge, I keep loads of other stuff but I’d say that houmous is probably the thing that I indulge in most frequently. A wholemeal pitta and half a tub of houmous is rather a substantial snack and I rely on it heavily on days when opportunities for a proper lunch are slim. (I always eat lunch, by the way, it’s just sometimes I have to eat it at weird times!)

I asked dietician Lucy Jones to comment on my snack choices, omitting my love of choc-ices and fizzy sweets, because I’m well aware that they have little to no nutritional value and I wanted her to think I was a healthy superstar. Ha! I’m one of those people who would lie completely if I had to do a what’s in my fridge? feature. Here’s what Lucy said:

  • Almonds: the all-round super snack. Gram for gram, they’re the tree nut highest in protein, fibre, vitamin E, calcium, riboflavin, and niacin, making them one of the most nutrient-rich tree nuts. Their healthy fats help to keep our cholesterol levels healthy. A daily snack of almonds has been shown to reduce belly fat in studies. Almonds are high in zinc, which maintains both healthy nails and healthy hair. They are also a high source of magnesium, which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue.
  • Apple: Apples are a source of pectin, a type of soluble fibre, which helps to keep our cholesterol levels healthy. Their antioxidant polyphenols have also been shown to help keep blood sugars stable….and keep you going until lunch.
  • Medjool Dates: A great way to fix a sweet tooth but a great source of fibre too, helping us to boost our intakes and keep our bowels healthy. They also provide a range of important minerals like magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.
  • Hoummous and pitta: the mix of hummus and pitta is a great snack-fridge (!) combo. The hummus provides plant proteins from the tahini and chickpeas to help fill you up and choosing a seeded, wholemeal pitta can keep the snack low GI – meaning you avoid the quick spike and drop in blood sugars associated with feeling sleepy.
  • Dried mango pieces: Dried fruit makes a handy drawer snack as has a long shelf life, meaning it’s there when you need it. Although it loses much of its vitamin C, dried mango is a great source of vitamin A – which we need for our immune system as well as healthy skin and vision.

healthy snacks

See, I’m a bloody nutrition ninja, me! Good job, because my meals since having a baby have left a lot to be desired. I used to plan ahead and cook lovely things every night but I’m so tired a lot of the time these days that I stick a couple of pizzas in the oven and open a bag of ready-washed salad to plonk on a plate! I’m much better at planning my snacks – if I’m going to be in the office all day (on nanny days) then I pack my little plastic boxes with almonds and bits of dried fruit and sit it at the side of my desk so that I can munch away at will.

healthy snacks

I feel particularly virtuous about the almonds – almonds contain fifteen essential nutrients and a good handful of them (approximately 23) gives you 60% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin E , which is the ultimate “beauty vitamin”. Great source of fibre and protein too, so if you find yourself flagging way before lunchtime then try munching on some almonds to fill you up! You can mix them with other seeds or dried fruits to make a sort of almond medley, but I think they’re just as delicious on their own…

healthy snacks

Tell me: what are your snacks of choice? Be honest – if it’s half a bar of cooking chocolate, because that’s all that’s in the cupboards, then we’ve all been there. I would heartily suggest the ones I stock up on, though, if you’re stuck for ideas. They seem to keep things moving in the – er – downstairs departments as well as stop me eating sweets or other naughty and pointless mouth-fillers. Comments please – serious or otherwise!

*this post has been sponsored by The Almond Board of California.

 

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Review: Philips Avent Comfort Single Electric Breast Pump

*NOTE: this post was written on December 13th 2015 and I have only just found it, unpublished! So I thought it fitting to publish it an entire year later, to the day. Reading it has brought back many memories and sent me into a mini panic about the fact I’m about to do it all over again! In the end she did take the bottle – we used MAM Anti-Colic Self-Sterilising ones, find them online here.

Just when we thought that the hardest part of the “expressing” process had been conquered, another obstacle was thrown in our way: getting a breastfed baby to take a bottle. I write this sat with tears running down my face and the baby screaming in the bedroom as her Dad tries for the second time today to get her to drink my hard-won expressed milk. I feel like popping my head around the door and saying to her “excuse me, do you realise how long it took me to produce that particular little bit of milky nectar?”

Tears running down my face is just a normal thing, by the way. I cry at practically anything, these days, including old people who smile and children who look sad. Listening to my baby screaming is just carte blanche for me to really go for it with the blubbering. It’s cathartic.

Anyway: I can sort of understand why an exclusively breastfed baby who is six months old might take a little persuading to accept a rubbery, not-nipple-like-at-all protrusion into her mouth. It must actually be quite a horrible surprise when all you’ve ever known is soft skin! But get used to it babycakes, because Mummy needs to get more than two hours sleep at a time otherwise her brain might go into shutdown and then where would we be?

We’ve been trying with the Medela “Calmia” teat, which is supposedly good for breastfed babies because they have to work at extracting the milk in a similar way to how they would do it at the breast – the milk doesn’t simply flow, they have to use their mouth muscles to pull it out. Sounds good, in theory, but part of me thinks I should try and make it easier for her so that she wants to do it! If it’s only one feed a day that I’m feeding expressed milk from a bottle then I can’t imagine she’ll suddenly throw her hands up and stop loving boobs. Or will she?

I also have the MAM bottle here, so I’ll let you know how I get on with that, if the Calmia doesn’t go down so well. I get the feeling we’re going to have to persevere with this bottle-feeding malarkey – maybe I should go out for a few hours and let them get on with it. Where would I go? I think I’d be nervous to be out on my own after all of this time! Would my boobs go hard and explode? Would I just constantly think about the baby? Would I CRY? Probably. I’ll keep you in the loop.

Tips in the comment box, if you would – you know how I like to read them!

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Isn’t the word “tricycle” great? Partly it makes me think of that scene from The Shining, where the kid’s pedalling his little trike up and down the deserted hotel corridor, and also it reminds me of that vile puppet (is he called Jigsaw?) in the horror movie Saw, but mostly it conjures up images of Victorian children wearing striped romper suits, tricycle-ing their way up and down some sunny seafront promenade.

Anyway… SmarTrike’s Infinity 5 in 1 Tricycle arrived for us to have a go on and, banishing all Jigsaw-horror-puppet thoughts from my head (“let’s play a game!”), we immediately set about putting the trike through its paces. Actually, that’s a lie: I had a cup of peppermint tea, my husband assembled the trike (took mere minutes) and then we had to wait for the drizzle to stop before we could go out.

What makes a tricycle a “5 in 1” tricycle? I’ll tell you. It’s all quite clever, actually – more of a “five phase pushchair with the ability to turn into a trike” than just a toy with pedals. It’s suitable for babies from 10 months – the younger the baby, the more the trike is like a sort of interactive buggy, with the first phase having a reclining seat, full harness and additional safety bar protection and the second having an upright seat position. In these first tricycle stages, the baby doesn’t use the pedals – there’s a footrest and, for the lucky parent, a steering handle with five different handle heights so that you can comfortably push the trike along.

Stage 3 of the Tricycle Transformations (18 months +) sees the canopy removed. Is this really a stage? Should it count towards the “5 in 1”? Tenuous, I think, but I’ll let it go. Stage 4, for toddlers aged 2 and up, takes away the footrest and brings the pedals into action (though the parent handle is still attached) and Stage 5, possibly the most exciting, sees the Infinity 5 in 1 undergo its biggest metamorphosis of all: from parent-powered pedal-pushchair to standalone chaos cruiser. No more parent handle, no sissy footrest, just pure toddler freedom with on-board plastic mobile telephone and a cup holder for essential mid-journey refreshments.

With the drizzle stopped, we went out, SmarTrike set to phase 2. It felt a bit more exciting and “great outdoorsy” to leave the sun canopy closed, so that’s what we did. But it’s good to have the option – along with the comfy, padded seat, the proper safety harness and the on-board storage and spacious zip-close bag that fixes to the back of the parent handle, the canopy just makes the trike even more like a pushchair. Add to this the easy, smooth handling and the good, unbumpy ride and the trike becomes a feasible alternative to a buggy if you want to take the baby/toddler on a walk but let them be more involved in the journey.

On its inaugural trip, we decided to take the SmarTrike Infinity off-roading – we’re nice like that. Test things to the limit, or don’t test them at all! Stony pathways, sodden fields – the trike managed really well. At one point, when I rolled it across a series of metal grids, I thought that I may have pushed the little trike a bit too far but no – there it was, all three wheels still attached, when we reached the other side. Bravo.

So not strictly a tricycle then. A tricy-stroller. A stroll-ycle. You could absolutely wheel this up to the shops, around the park and so on, instead of taking a buggy. Whereas most wheeled toys stay in the garden because they’re such a pain in the arse to take into the outside world, this one is an actual joy. And it was an instant hit with Angelica, who wouldn’t get off it at the end of our first test session, even though she’d already been on it for an hour and a half. She seemed very proud of herself, as though she was actively involved in the whole “going for a walk” process rather than merely a passenger. Perfect, then, for toddlers/babies who are at that age where they no longer nap on walks and get a bit bored and feisty if stuck in the pushchair for too long.

The Infinity comes in blue or purple (I think the blue is very smart) and costs £129.99 from Smyth’s Toys here. An excellent Christmas present, if you’re struggling for ideas and looking for something on the bigger side – though make sure you read my Gift Guide here if you’re after lots of little ideas!

*my SmarTrike was kindly sent for us to test but with no obligation to review.

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maternity clothes for big bump

Oh, when you’re massively pregnant, what to wear, what to wear? Everyone congratulated me on my timing with this pregnancy (like I had any say in it), ooh, you’ll be glad that you’re doing the winter rather than the summer! But do you know what? Summer was so much easier, even with getting sweaty and almost giving myself heatstroke from sunbathing for too long! Maybe I’m just more cut out to be a summery person, but I never suffer too badly with getting overheated so long as I go indoors once it gets too much – I didn’t even find that my sleep was interrupted too much in the last few weeks.

Summer dressing was so, so much easier. I lived in gargantuan kaftan-style floaty things, oversized H&M summer dresses and a few of those stretchy jersey sort of maternity tube dresses. Flip-flops, hair in a bun, job done. Winter? Winter can sod right off! Firstly, coats don’t do up so you’re constantly freezing. If you can find a warm maternity coat that does up then it just looks crazy, like you’re harbouring a criminal under your clothes. And also, who wants to buy a coat they can – quite literally – only wear for about three months? Rather a big financial outlay for such a short amount of time…

Then there’s the layering problem. If you, like me, can’t abide the constricting feel of denim on the lower half area then you’re stuck with leggings, and if you’re stuck with leggings then – to remain decent in public – you must find tops that cover your bottom and your pubic region. Otherwise it all gets a bit anatomical and, pregnant or not, nobody wants to see the outline of your lady regions. But can you find any vest tops that sink so low, once they’ve managed to stretch over the Himalayan mound of your stomach?

Forget those bloody “bump bands” – half of them wouldn’t cover a gnat’s arse by the time you get to seven or eight months. (Or three, if you are on a not-first baby and have non-existent stomach muscles and started to show at around day eight.) And most vest tops that seem like mini-dresses when you try them on at three months pregnant are reduced to mere “longish length” by the time the bump has grown.

So here are the best over-bump things I’ve found – from knickers that go (almost) right over, to the leggings that won’t go baggy in the crotch, to vest tops that just about cover your essential areas. Particularly good, all of these things, for people who are pregnant and also have an irritating c-section scar that doesn’t like waistbands – unfortunately, the fact is that most of these scars sit in the exact place that all waistbands slip to when they ride down from the bump, so you need garments that actually stay up. Here goes…

The Vest

GAP maternity Ribbed Henley Tank, though by week 30, these are no longer covering my “regions” as they once did. Please, GAP, an extra inch or two in the length and you would solve a huge pregnancy-dressing problem! Too late for me and my pregnancy, but you’d be saving the dignity of women the world over!

Non-Maternity Alternative: Hush longline vests, here. I mean these are really longline, about the same as the GAP ones, but as they’re not dedicated pregnancy gear they don’t have ruching or belly allowance. Great until about six months, though, and they last an age. Very good quality.

The Leggings

Serpahine Bamboo Over-Bump Leggings, £29 here: I’ve harped on about these no end, but they’re soft and comfy and go all the way up onto the bump. Just perfect. See also Jojo Maman Bebe’s leggings here, also over-bump, come in three shades and are a bit more “solid” than the Seraphine. The waistband and the fabric in general is thicker, so you feel more supported, but they’re not quite as comfy to nap in! Minor niggle. I love them and they’re only twenty quid.

The Pyjamas

God, there’s a real shortage of proper maternity pyjamas. Most just seem to be – well – normal pyjamas. With a bigger top half. I want over-bump ones! Over the bloody bump! The New Look maternity over-bump were not good – a cheap, scratchy belly band that had weird elastic at the top that dug in. The best I’ve found are JJMMBB, though the small size seems to expand with each wear until, on night four, they are simply falling off. Better to be falling off than digging in, but possibly they need some work! I feel there’s a real gap in the market for this sort of stuff – I’d pay the earth for comfy things to wear right now! See here for JJMMBB.

The Knickers

New Look came out very well here; their two-pack of black and white pants are totally uninspiring but very comfortable now that even M&S full briefs can’t fully handle my gargantuan baby-pod. Find them at ASOS. Please make these in more designs and colours, New Look!

The Tights

ASOS do well here and I especially like the soft maternity tights that are sort of woolly and take me back to my school days. They do a 300 denier too, which is basically not even tights anymore but, I don’t know, leg armour, so so thick. Find them here for £8.

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Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair Review

Right, it’s about time I got on with some serious baby-gadget-reviewing, because the baby is now a toddler, new baby is imminent and I’ll be onto test-driving double prams and what-nots before you know it.

Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair Review

So, introducing my most-used baby-transporter of the year, the Babyzen Yoyo. Yes, the Uppababy Vista is amazing and – if we’re going off-roading on walks, especially – it still gets used a lot, but for everyday toddler-carting it’s the Yoyo that gets chucked into the boot of the car. Mainly because, when folded up, this thing is tiny. Tiny enough that you can stick it in an overhead locker on a plane, tiny enough that if your boot is full of crap, or the dog, or you have your collected dry-cleaning laid out across the whole width of it, you can put the Yoyo (folded) in the footwell of the back seat. (Car depending – I have an Audi estate, so I suppose it’s on the roomy side, but I’ve also been in other people’s small cars and it has been accommodated like a dream!)

Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair Review

So yes. It’s small. It’s smaller, even, than the cult-buy Mountain Buggy Nano, but we’ll get onto that in a second. It weighs a nifty 6.2kg, and folded, the dimensions are 52cm x 44cm with a depth of 18cm. Quite often, if we go to a pub or restaurant for lunch, we’ll just fold the Yoyo away and push it under the table or to the side of the room somewhere so that we don’t add to the pram park and I do quite like the fact that I’m not worrying about having this big cumbersome lummox of a pram getting in the way of people and tripping the waiters over! Rather satisfying to stick the baby – toddler – into the highchair and clear away the pushchair. A bit like an instant de-clutter.

But what I think is quite standout about the Babyzen Yoyo is that it handles so well and feels so sturdy. I have had no problems whatsoever with trundling this around town – it manoeuvres brilliantly and doesn’t feel as though the chassis is going to collapse as soon as you hit a patch of cobbles or need to get up a high curb. Granted, it’s not as hefty as the Vista (reviewed it here, it’s absolutely brilliant) and it’s lower to the ground, so it doesn’t have that same armoured-tank-safe sort of feel to it, but it’s designed to be light and small. And usually with light and small you have compromises – I feel there are none here.

Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair Review

The folding took me a little practice and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it with one hand, but that would be my one minor niggle. I actually found the Mountain Buggy Nano easier to fold, and can just about do it with one hand. I don’t want to turn this post into a comparison post, especially because I only have the first version of the Nano and I think that the new one (V2) may have addressed many of my niggles with it, but I didn’t get on quite so well with the Mountain Buggy. Unfortunately, and I don’t know whether it’s because we’re both relatively tall, but neither my husband or I could use the Nano in any kind of sensible way because we kept treading on the brake pedal that sticks out at the back! Unless we did weird John Cleese walks, we trod on it at least once every thirty seconds, bringing proceedings to a dramatic, whiplash-inducing halt.

babyzen yoyo vs mountain buggy nano

The Nano (V1, pictured on right above)) also had a lower handlebar height – again, this might only be an issue if you’re taller, I don’t know, but at any rate, the pushchair hood on the Nano folds right back to where the handle is, so if you have the hood folded, you basically have to hold the handle and the hood! I found this incredibly annoying. I also found that the lower handle height (and the fact I was constantly grasping the hood, and the fact I kept stepping on the brake!) made manoeuvrability less than perfect.

But back to the Babyzen Yoyo, which has a very decent hood, a good full-recline (adjusted with a toggle that’s slightly archaic but easy enough to work) and a raincover, included in the price, that stows neatly away in a pocket in the pushchair so that you don’t forget to take it with you. (I can’t vouch for the Mountain Buggy raincover because it doesn’t come with the Nano as part of the price, which surprised me a little. Also, the Nano hood didn’t really come forward far enough, especially if the seat was fully reclined, and there was this huge cut-out window in it with no flap, which meant that using it on a sunny (or windy!) day was impractical as the sun went straight into the baby’s eyes.

babyzen yoyo vs mountain buggy nano

This has inevitably turned into a bit of a Yoyo/Nano comparison post, when it was actually supposed to just be a straightforward review of the Yoyo, but actually it’s hard for me to think of one of the pushchairs without comparing it to the other. In terms of price, the Yoyo is quite a bit more expensive – £339, whereas the Nano comes in at £249 – but if you add the cost of a raincover onto the Nano (thirty quid), the gap does start to close. And it would be my pick, every time, especially as the folded dimensions are even smaller than the Mountain Buggy, which is wider and has a 30cm depth when folded rather than a 19cm depth.

babyzen yoyo vs mountain buggy nano

The Yoyo just feels a lot more refined, but that’s not to say that the Mountain Buggy is a bad buy – it gets absolutely brilliant reviews online, so I suspect that the V2 has been tweaked a little. And, as I said, folding it up is an absolute cinch – it just kind of collapses in on itself, no weird twists or shakes needed – there’s no “knack” to it, it just…folds.

A last point: if you’re into your colour-coding and pram-styling, then the Yoyo has about a trillion different fabric/chassis combinations. The Mountain Buggy Nano is a simpler offering, with just a few colourways, but actually the plain black is incredibly smart, so I don’t think of it as a particular problem.

You can find the Babyzen Yoyo online at John Lewis here or Mothercare here, the Mountain Buggy Nano is here and here.

*note: the Yoyo was a sample sent for review, I bought the Nano (the V1 was £199) as a comparison. Which would I buy, now, if I was starting again? The Yoyo, definitely, but I would say that if the Nano no longer has the brake issues then it is a very respectable opponent in the buggy wars! I’d also say that you might want to think about handle heights – neither have adjustable handles, and if you are small, then perhaps the Nano would be a better height. If you’re tall(ish) then the Yoyo will be nicer on your back!

**note 2: both pushchairs have a newborn option, which needs to be purchased as an extra carrycot. Both also fit a car-seat, though I was surprised/amused that the Mountain Buggy’s “adaptors” for a car seat were actually two elastic bands that sort of harnessed the seat into the pushchair seat. Not what I was expecting at all. The Yoyo has the plastic clip adaptors that you more traditionally see.

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ruth crilly pregnant model recommends

Something a bit different, this week, because I’ve recorded my pregnancy diary on video. Lazy? Perhaps, but it has been one of those trying times when the whole household has been ill and I’ve been trying to keep my head above water! Sorry to those who catch up sneakily when they’re at work and can’t watch videos for fear of being found out (there are a few I know of!); normal service will resume.

Here we go then – 30 weeks. Ten to go – or nine, if I have a c-section. Yikes. Why do I get a feeling the time will fly by?

You can read more pregnancy diary entries HERE.

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christmas presents ideas for baby toddlerIf you’re stuck for baby and toddler Christmas present ideas, here are just a few ideas I’ve collated. I do a big series of gift guides on A Model Recommends (you can find them here) and along the way, this year, I noted down good things for children. More specifically, toddlers and babies (I suppose I have my own in mind when I’m searching) but a few general crowd-pleasers too…

I’m not going into any lengthy explanations for each idea – it would take far too long as there are loads – but there’s a clickable link beneath each one and a price*, so just follow the link for more info. Happy online queue-less stress-free shopping!

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Beatrix Potter Wooden Skittle set, £15.23 online here; Scamp & Dude Superhero Sleep Buddy, £40 here; Cat Pull-Along Book Cart, £38 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Classic Peepo Hardback Book, £5.24 here; Janod Magnetic Submarine, £16.95 here; Vilac Ride-On Metal Car, £76.48 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Liberty Print Bib, £13 here; Maileg Mouse in Matchbox, £16.95 here; Jojo Maman Bebe Elephant Knitted Shawl, £22 here; Peter Rabbit Pull-Along, £9.16 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Melissa & Doug Bug Torch, £7.99 here; Gisela Graham Bookends, £9.95 here; Janod Magnetic Rocket, £15 here; VTech Innotab 7-inch, £61.18 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

2 Tier Wooden Cake Stand Set, £16.50 here; Mokee Tipi with mint green sticks, £79.95 here; GAP Fleece Rabbit Hat, £6.95 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Pirate Height Chart, £6.99 here; Melissa & Doug Wooden Car and Dolls, £13.99 here; Maileg Princess and the Pea Mouse, £40 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Owl, £10.89 here; Mini Cloud Light, £15.29 here; Decowall Jungle Peel and Stick Nursery Stickers, £10.80 here; 50cm Miffy Light, £129 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Melissa & Doug Giant Giraffe, £52.49 here; Wooden Push-Along Monkey, £10.92 here; Bear Side-Table, £120 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Riceouch Toy from Noodoll at Liberty, £19 here; Jojo Maman Bebe Dinosaur Clock, £16 here; Monster Feet Stilts, £7.28 here; Fox Toy from Maileg at Liberty, £21.50 here.

 

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Humpty Dumpty Puppet Set, £18.25 here; Toy Soldier Skittles on Wheels, £18.98 here; Melissa & Doug Car Transporter, £11.84 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Le Toy Van Wooden Shape-Sorting Ark, £25.87 here; ELC Happyland Rocket with Alien and Spacemen, £35 here; Mothercare Rabbit Hopper, £20 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Jojo Maman Bebe Christmas Reindeer Slippers, £16 here; ELC Wooden London Bus, £20 here; ELC Wooden Christmas Set, £12 here.

christmas presents ideas for baby toddler

Smart Trike Explorer, £79.99 here; GAP Yeti Boots, £12.95 here; The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board Book, £3.99 here.

toddler and baby present ideas

Wheelybug Ride-On Bumble Bee, £47.90 here; John Lewis Fabric Food In A Basket, £12.50 here; Jojo Maman Bebe Pull & Go Submarine Bath Toy, £8 here; GLTC Russian Bear Dolls, £18 here.

*I have attempted to find the best prices for most of the toys shown here, at time of publishing, but apologies if I’ve missed any deals! As detailed in the sidebar disclaimer, which is always present, outbound links from this site are usually affiliate links which means that I get a very small percentage if a purchase is made. Do feel free, if you don’t wish to use my links, to Google in a new window!

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