Saturday, 23 May 2015

Cosatto Ooba Charleston: Review

We were recently given the chance to try out the Cosatto Ooba 3-1 Travel system, changing bag plus car seat and hold base, by the fabulous folks at Cosatto, just in time for Noah's arrival!

Now I know there are many travel systems available, each claiming to be safer, more practical and stylish than the next, however as soon as the Ooba arrived, I knew it was something special! 

Even the packaging is covered in fun Kitsch quotations such as ‘When stepping out on the pavement in town, one must always allow time for admiring glances’...I know these are not the selling points to most people but I think these little extras make a difference and things such as this can sway me! And sway me they did...the packaging had me convinced that this suited my style to the letter and I was so excited to start using it!

The Ooba is available in the Kimono and Duck egg styles (I personally love the Duck Egg design which we had a little stroll around with at last years baby show!) but the one we were sent is the Charleston design which is not only beautiful to behold but also a delight for baby! As we all know, black & white is nothing but eye candy for newborns and Noah was mesmerised by the monochrome interior every time we took him for a stroll - he spends the whole time smiling at the patterns!

The Ooba 3-1 comprises of Chasis, Carry Cot and Seat Unit. 

As previously stated, we were also sent the Ooba Hold Car Seat and Hold Belted In-Car base unit in matching Charleston. Not only is each component very stylish, they’re also very practical and lightweight, and all conform to current safety standards which of course is priceless and brings real peace of mind.

The car seat is so easy to fit - infact we regularly swap it between our car and Noah's grandparents car and it takes just seconds to do this. It is also so easy to transfer the car seat to the pram base for pushing around when you're in a bit of a hurry - personally I don't like to use this feature too often as I don't like Noah to spend too long in the car seat if it can be helped but when i`m just nipping in to the shops for a pint of milk it's a godsend to be able to simply unclip the carseat from its base and pop it onto the pram unit rather than go through all the hassle of getting him out and putting him back in!

The pram itself was so easy to assemble - an absolute dream compared to many that we've tried out in the past!

Here are some of the features incorporated in to the chassis alone:

*Lightweight aluminium 
*All round suspension for a smoother ride for your tots!
*Compact easy to fold and carry
*Leatherette handle which adjusts between 99-108cms (ideal for the taller among us!)
*Quick release handle mounted brake and wheels
*Lockable front wheels

 The Carrycot is again lightweight and features a carry handle built in to the hood. It’s suitable from birth (ideal for us), and Cosatto state it can also be used for occasional overnight sleeping as it is a lie flat comfy bed, perfect for Newborns, though we have yet to use it for this purpose (but may well do when we go for a short break in a few weeks time!). It also includes a patterned rain cover and reversible Cosy Toes.

I think this is the only pram I've seen that uses a patterned rain cover and I love this continuity of style!!

Features also include:

*Removable, washable liner
*Removable apron
*A UPF 50+ protection on the sunshade (very reassuring for Summer)
*Loops for toys built in to the reclining hood
*Two-way multi-handle with brake

The whole system is so easy to transport and assemble - it can be done in seconds as my other half has demonstrated previously. We have a small(ish) car with limited boot space, but due to the clever folding design of the chassis, we can fit both the chassis and lie flat cot in to our cars boot and still have room for shopping. A lot of thought has gone in to this and it shows.

We filmed a quick video showing our first ever attempt of getting the Ooba folded down and into car below, so you can see how easy it was!

With Noah being only 4 weeks old we have yet to test the Seat Unit, however we are looking forward to doing so and will post a review upon testing.

I really can't express enough how light this pram is and how easy it is to manoevre - infact the day we were out taking these photos, we left the pram next to the car with the brake off while we put Noah into the car and the slightest breeze actually blew it right across the car's THAT light!

As for being out and about? 

Well we’ve noticed some admiring (should that be envious?) glances, and Noah certainly enjoys a smooth, comfy cosy ride.  

And us? We're so impressed we’ve even recommended  the Ooba to our best friends expecting their baby in the summer!

The Cosatto Ooba travel system is priced at £800.00 - for more information please click here, or to see the whole range visit

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Friday, 22 May 2015

How We Handle Mealtimes With A Toddler

Encouraging your child to develop a positive & healthy attitude toward food whilst also helping them to adopt good table manners is no easy feat, and it was something that I worried about a lot once my son started weaning.

So far we seem to be doing ok, but I know a lot of other parents have the same worries that I had so I thought I would share our little tips on how we've managed meal times.

Encouraging & Not Assuming

We have been very lucky with Tyne as he's always been a good eater - he has never been fussy with food, infact we joke that he's quite a foodie as he'll try pretty much anything and there's so very little that he doesn't like.

The off-limits foods are, at the moment, limited to tomato (although tomato flavoured foods and sauce bases are fine!), cucumber and any other kind of salad/wet food (lettuce, onion, peppers...although he will eat onion & pepper when its cooked in a meal).

In recent weeks he has also started to state that he doesn't like spicy food, but will still eat and really enjoy curries and chillies.

He loves a lot of foods that I would expect him to dislike - such as mushrooms, broccoli and cabbage - which has taught me to never make assumptions about what he might enjoy, and offer him the chance to try any and everything. He so often surprises me with his choices!

When he does state that he doesn't like a food, I try to encourage him to at least try it by telling him that if he tastes it and doesn't like it then he doesn't have to eat it - and I will show him that it's ok to try things by demonstrating myself tasting the food in question and telling him (honestly) what I think of it.

I will never try a food I actually dislike and make yummy noises to encourage him - I don't want him to learn not to trust my judgement.

I think discussion about food and our likes and dislikes is important, and actually something that can encourage children to be more experimental. 

But I'm not going to lie and say that honesty is my policy 100% of the time! Sometimes I know that Tyne has simply decided he doesn't like a certain food and then doesn't want to even try it from that point on...for example he recently asked me during dinner what an item on his plate was...I told him it was a cherry tomato and he said "Yuk! Don't like 'matoes" and flung the offending tomato back onto his plate.

He then picked up a different cherry tomato and asked me what it I said..."It's a sunshine ball" (Don't ask me why a sunshine ball, it was the first thing that popped into my head!) he tried it...and said "Mmmm yummy!" and went on to eat all of the tomatoes on his plate.

Go figure!

Allowing Choice, Respecting Decisions & Making Food Fun

My approach when it comes to mealtimes has always been quite simple - I will never force him to eat something that he doesn't want to eat. 

I don't believe in sitting with children and trying to force them or cajole them into finishing their dinners or trying to bribe them with dessert - Personally I think that's just going to make a headstrong child more determined not to finish it! (That may well just be with my determined little Aries child, but that's my experience anyway!)

Instead I will put Tyne's dinner down in front of him along with his cutlery, and leave him in peace to eat it or not...whichever he chooses.

Often he will say he "doesn't like it" - I tell him thats fine and he doesn't have to eat it but I NEVER immediately remove the plate - instead we all go about finishing our dinners and leave him there with his plate while we do so - 98% of the time he starts to pick absentmindedly at the food on his plate and before he even realises it..he's finished it all!

 When he doesn't, that's fine - I won't force him - I used to think that the best thing to do in that situation would be not to offer an alternative - but I changed my mind.

Quite often I will make a meal only to sit down to eat it and decide that I don't like it - I won't then starve myself until the next meal time, I will make myself something else - so why should a child go without because they dared not to like something?

Instead I will offer one alternative, and if he refuses that then fine - he can't be that hungry.

I always try to give Tyne a toddler version of whatever we're eating, and I try my best to make it look appealing and interesting to him as I've found that this helps to get him excited about food and more willing to try new things.

He will sit down and eat a roast dinner or spaghetti bolognese happily because he's used to those foods, but when he's presented with a dish like the one above (which was chicken, veg and noodles), he's a bit reluctant as he immediately notices the peppers which he has set his mind on not liking - so when I make a face out of the food it takes the focus away from what the items are, and he is immediately more open to trying things.

I don't do this all the time as I don't want him to grow to expect food to always look fun, but I enjoy doing it occasionally.

Having Quick Options On Hand!

Sometimes of course, the meal that Jon & I are having isn't appropriate for Tyne - for example if we're having a takeaway or something particularly spicy - and sometimes we're just in too much of a hurry and there hasn't been time for get a nice well-balanced meal prepared in time for Tyne's dinner, this is something that's been happening more since Noah was born...and so for those times, I like to have some ready meals in that we can use which I know he'll like and I know are low in salt and sugar with plenty of veg and all high quality.

We were recently sent some of the Annabel Karmel range to try out - along with an EZPZ dinnermat, some OXO Tot cutlery and Annabel Karmel's Toddler Recipe Book.

Tyne loves these ready meals....He gets a good dinner and I get to not stress out about feeing him toast because I ran out of time in my day! Everyone is a winner!

He devoured all of the various options, but his stand out favourite from the range was the spaghetti and meatballs.

The Annabel Karmel meals are a staple in our fridge now, and something I will always make sure I am stocked up on for the days when, for whatever reason, dinner time just didn't go to plan!

They are available from Tesco & Sainsburys priced at £1.50 each or are often on a 3 for £5 offer.

More information is available HERE

The recipe book is full of great ideas and there are tons I can't wait to try, I'll be having a go at a few over the next few weeks and will be posting on how we got on with them and what Tyne thought.

The recipe book is available HERE for £6.99

Encouraging Good Table Manners

Aside from the eating itself, another important part of mealtimes is table manners and this is something I'm very keen on. I don't think there's much worse than bad table manners in a person!

To encourage Tyne's table manners, I try to make sure that we all eat together as a family so that he can see how I Jon & I do things - and of course make sure that we're on our best behaviour so as to set a good example!

We always make sure that there's no talking with food in our mouths, that chewing is done with our mouths closed, that please & thank you is always used when passing items around the dinner table and that cutlery is always used and held correctly - of course the latter is the most difficult part for a small child!

Tyne tries his best to use his cutlery but for many food items, he finds he can get it in much quicker using his hands and so that's what he does - I think he's still quite young yet so although we will encourage him to use his cutlery we won't tell him off if he's struggling - we'll simply try to help and encourage him to keep practising, but also allow him to enjoy his dinner which is the most important thing at this stage!

For sitting at the table, we have found that a high chair is no longer suitable for him - he wants to be at the table with us and is capable of sitting in a chair and reaching the table so a high chair is unnecessary.

However, he's not 100% ready to be left alone in a dining chair just yet as he tends to try to get down by himself and as our chairs are quite high and he's quite short - that isn't safe!

So we have been using the Totseat - which is a really fantastic fold away "highchair" of sorts - basically it attaches to a chair (compatible with most styles) and the child sits in it, so they're using a dining chair and sitting at the table but are secure in the Totseat so can't fall out or get themselves down. 

The Totseat is easily washable which is great, super easy to fold up and store taking up minimal space (a problem I came up against when using booster seats!) and can be rolled up and put into a changing bag for use when out and about.

You can even have them personalised!

For more details on the Totseat, please visit

Eating Out

Jon & I have always loved to go out for meals whenever possible and this was something that we were quite determined not to give up simply because we had children.

I so often hear parents say that they have stopped going out to eat because their children won't sit through a meal at a restaurant etc, but for the past 2 years we have eaten out regularly and Tyne enjoys it just as much as we do - and I firmly believe that this is because we have always taken him along with us and he has simply got used to the environment.

He has always known what's expected of him - that he sits and eats his dinner like he would at home, that he can go and play when he's finished if the restaurant has a facility for it - otherwise we'll leave after the meal and he can play then. 

He understands how to tell me what he wants from a menu, he knows that he can't scream and shout in a restaurant, and he has never given us any issues - he enjoys going to "rest-wonts" as much as we do (and always demands chips since we rarely eat them at home!), and we enjoy being able to continue doing something we enjoy as a family.

The one problem we do face at restaurants is that he doesn't understand having to wait for his food to arrive - so we always request that his meal is brought out with our starters, so that he isn't waiting around.

Most of the restaurants we visit are great with children and provide crayons and colouring sheets or fun packs to keep Tyne entertained while we wait, but I always take along some of my own just incase.

It's always worth checking a restaurant out before you visit to check how child-friendly they are - some of our favourite places to visit with Tyne who really know how to make dining with children easier include Las Iguanas, Le Bistrot Pierre, Bella Italia, Pizza Express & Giraffe.

So that's how we've handled mealtimes with a toddler so far! Fingers crossed it seems to be smooth sailing so far!

If you've hit any bumps in the road with toddler mealtimes and found a way to handle them, do let us know how or if you have any questions please leave them below! 

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How To Create A Comfortable Family Room

We all have an area in our homes where we spend most of our time having fun or relaxing as a family. This space should be comfortable, warm and welcoming. Does your family room tick all these boxes?

Whether you are starting from scratch in a new home or wish to make a few improvements to your existing d├ęcor, here are some fab ideas to comfy up your family room.


Rugs, throws and more
The ideal family room has lots of soft furnishings like throws, rugs, cushions, pouffes and more. Not only do these items help to create a comfortable temperature in the room, they also make it very inviting for lounging around or curling up. If you are planning to get a number of soft furnishings for your family, I would also advise investing in some extra storage space for them (if you need it). These items can take up a lot of space, and you may have less need for them in summer. So having ample space to store them will come in handy.

Adaptable temperature
To ensure your family room is comfortable all year round, you will need to make sure you have the ability to adapt the temperature. If you have a big budget, you may wish to consider installing a fireplace. A fire, whether wood burning or electric, can make your family room look and feel cosy and comfortable. With a smaller budget, make sure your radiators are working well and that nothing is placed in front of them to block the heat. In summer, ceiling fans or windows that can be opened will help to keep the family room cool and comfortable.


Plenty of seating
When it comes to the seating in your family room, you will want to ensure you have enough of it, and that it looks great. If you are on the hunt for new furniture, leather sofas are a good option. They are comfortable and durable so make a sound investment for your home. Sectional sofas are also a great buy and very popular with families. Sectional sofas are flexible. They can be split up or pushed together depending on the occasion.

Adequate storage
Ample storage is also key to a comfy family room. If your family are anything like my boys, in a very short amount of time this room can become completely covered in toys, books, games, DVDs, etc. But with plenty of places to stow all these items, you will make it easier for yourself to keep the family room neat and tidy. Look out for storage footstools, bookshelves, cabinets, boxes and baskets. They will not only look good in your family room but will also serve a significant role in keeping the space comfortable.

There are lots of improvements you can make, both small and large, to make your family room even more comfortable. But, at the end of the day, when you are all together enjoying some quality family time, that is the best way to make any space comfortable.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

5 Tips For Dealing With Anxiety & Panic Attacks

Anxiety Panic Tips

As somebody who has been battling anxiety disorder for most of my life, I have faced more than my fair share of panic attacks.

A panic attack is defined as "a sudden acute and overwhelming feeling of anxiety or panic" - for onlookers panic attacks can be very distressing to witness and for the sufferer it can literally feel like you are dying.

Now that I've been living with anxiety for so long, I recognise the attacks for what they are - but back when they first started I remember feeling that what was happening to me was far too physical to be merely something happening in my head as a result of panic.

There is a real misconception that panic attacks are all in the mind and while the root cause of the attack certainly is, they can have very real physical symptoms.

I have found myself in hospital on more than one occasion suffering with severe heart palpitations and breathlessness, convinced that something was seriously wrong with me, only to be told I was actually suffering a panic attack.

Now, after more than 15 years of suffering these attacks, I recognise the signs of  them creeping up on me and this usually means I can take action to stop it from getting a real grip.

Of course on some occasions the panic will be too much for me to control or will creep up on me out of the blue, and will result in a full blown attack - but thankfully I am able to control them around 85% of the time at the moment thanks to a variety of coping techniques I've learned over the years.

The thing with panic & anxiety is that there is no cure-all remedy for everybody - we all have different triggers and we will all find different coping techniques to be effective or ineffective. It is a matter of trying a variety of things until you find something that works for you personally.

If you feel that you suffer from anxiety, you should always discuss the matter with your GP as there are various therapies and medications available to you.

Personally, after a short spell of trying medication to begin with and not getting on well with it, I have decided that route is not for me at the moment and that I would prefer to try to manage the anxiety without it for the time being, which I do using all of the below methods.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for dealing with Anxiety and panic attacks.

1. Know Your Triggers

For me the most important step in managing my anxiety has been learning exactly what causes it. Understanding what triggers my attacks has been the most beneficial tool in reducing them, as by avoiding my triggers I can usually avoid an attack.

My main trigger is a fear of death and this is a very difficult one as the subject of death crops up surprisingly often throughout any given day - from topics discussed on TV shows or even in adverts, to articles shared on social media - there will usually be between 5-10 mentions of something relating to death that I encounter each day, and so avoiding that can be difficult.

Another trigger of mine is being alone and unsure of where I am or how to get home.

At the moment, I manage my triggers by trying my best to avoid putting myself into a situation where I am alone and feeling unsure and by avoiding TV shows which are likely to heavily focus on death (the news, for example, is a definite no-go for me!) - I also avoid it as best I can on social media by unfollowing sites or people who are likely to share sad stories.

2. Feeling anxious? There's An App For That!

I find that being pro-active in managing my mood is something that helps, and so I try to intentionally focus on happy things at least once a day - I recently downloaded an app called Happier which is great for encouraging me to do this as it requires me to recall a happy moment from my day and record it on the app.

 Once a day the app also pops up with a random Happy Moment from the ones I have submitted.

There is also a similar app called Happijar which has the same basic principle - you record a happy moment from each day and deposit it into your happijar - you can add photos, video or sound if you choose to.

What I like about Happijar is that you can go into the app and shake your jar whenever you're feeling a bit down or panicked, and it will bring up one of your Happy moments to make you smile! It works pretty well for me...especially as pretty much all of my Happijar moments are about the kids, and being reminded of something funny Tyne said or a cute snap of Noah is almost guaranteed to help me to snap out of my dark place.

I also use an app called which allows you to choose from a number of calming scenes and sounds, and guides you through a short meditation - I find this very relaxing and particularly useful to use before bed or when I can feel the start of a panic attack coming on.

3. Distraction

When I feel that a panic attack is starting, the best way for me to stave it off is to distract my mind - this can be difficult to do as I'm aware of the impending panic and it feels like I'm racing against myself for control of my mind, desperately trying to help my "sane mind" to beat my "panicked mind"!

I have tried lots of distraction techniques over the years but the one that work best for me is to be drawn into a conversation about a topic that interests me  - Jon knows this and so we have developed a "Keyword" which I use to let him know that I am starting to feel panicky, and so he then tries to draw me into a conversation - this is a particularly useful approach if we're in public or with other people as its a way of asking for help without needing to let anybody else know whats happening!

I have also found that drawing myself into something light hearted and funny is a perfect distraction - for me the TV show "Friends" has always been my go-to as I know its fun and easy to watch - when I feel panic starting, often just putting a Friends DVD on can ease me out of it before it gets a grip.

4. Breathing Techniques

Of course there are times when the distraction techniques don't work and the panic does get a grip of me - when this happens and an attack is in full swing, the only way to get out of it is with controlled breathing.

My therapist taught me to always remove my shoes and socks, place my feet firmly on the ground and sit up straight - preferably with my back against a wall if possible as this encourages us to sit up as straight as possible and makes breathing easier.

Having our feet firmly on the floor helps to give us a feeling of being grounded - while taking slow and steady breathes in through my nose and out through my mouth, I close my eyes and try to visualise the panic in me as a blue light, I try to visualise where in my body the panic is located and then imagine that blue light drifting down my body, down my legs and out from the soles of my feet into the ground.

Another technique that was recently recommended to me by a reader on my Facebook page is square breathing - to do this you locate a square object in your line of vision and then breathe in as you trace the top line with your eyes, and then out along the side line - you repeat this around the square as many times as necessary. I tried this recently as I felt a panic attack start and found it worked very well! Thank you to the lady who suggested this!

5. Herbal Remedies

As I mentioned, I have personally chosen to try to manage my anxiety without medication after having some negative experiences previously - however there are many herbal remedies on the market which I have found quite useful.

Kalms tablets and Rescue remedy drops are products that I always have to hand, and the drops in particular are something I find particularly helpful if I start to feel panicked when out and about as they are discreet to use and carry with me and I find that the physical act of putting drops onto my tongue helps to convince me that I'm taking action against the panic and seems to therefore ease it.

I also find chamomile tea very calming to sip on when I feel panicked.

I hope that these tips can be helpful to any of you who find yourselves suffering with panic, please leave a comment and let me know if you have any tips or techniques of your own as I am always keen to hear how other people handle their attacks and try out new suggestions.

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4 Tips to Ensure Your Children Are Getting a Restful Sleep

Being a parent means that if your child isn’t rested, neither are you. If you have kids, you know how true it is that the more tired they are, the less they seem to be able to rest. Sleep begets sleep. So it seems like not falling into the overtired trap is the way to go, but that is easier said than done. How do you ensure your children are getting a restful sleep every night? Read on for three suggestions you can try out immediately.

1. Comfy Bedding

First and foremost, your children will benefit from quality bedding. You’ll never get them to sleep with a lumpy pillow or a mattress that sinks like a waterbed. The pillow must be appropriate for their age – something that gives too much height can be dangerous as well as uncomfortable. Choose a mattress with a good support system from a specialist retail site like

2. Rules and Routine

Are these the two most common words in anything to do with parenting? Possibly. But there is something to them. Many kids (though not all) thrive on structure and it can come in handy when they are tired and cranky. Go with the basics like a regular time for bed, and a simple routine leading up to it. Depending on your child, something to cuddle may also be important. If they don’t already have something, take them to choose an item. Try and steer them towards something soft yet durable, like a smaller blanket or a soft toy (and make sure you buy at least two – you never know what they will attach to, and they will always be out of stock when you need them). It’s important to implement a rule along with this though: no other toys in the bed. Apart from posing a danger to younger children, they are a distraction from sleep for kids of all ages.

3. Healthy Living

Good nutrition and a healthy environment are among the most important influences on a child’s sleep. Much like adults, if their diet is unbalanced then their sleeping patterns can be influenced, so making sure they are avoiding junk and eating a healthy combo of nutrient-dense foods is a great idea. It’s also vital that they’re sleeping in a clean and well-insulated room. Finally, try and make sure that your children spend a good amount of time outdoors on sunny days. This will encourage a healthy circadian rhythm and use their energy, helping avoid restlessness throughout the night.

4. Techniques to Wind Down

Aside from routine, it can helpful to teach your child techniques that will help them calm down. Whether it’s a conversation about their day, a mini-meditation session or a calm word game, teaching them ways to calm a racing mind will stand them in good stead throughout their life (as well as letting you get a solid night’s sleep).
A restless sleep can stem from a number of factors, so sometimes it’s necessary to experiment with different ideas. Try and make sure you give each idea enough time; sometimes it can take a few weeks to see changes in your child. If you find that they are always overtired and their school or home life is suffering for it, be sure to seek help from aqualified professional.

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