run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Review: Tielle Love Luxury cot bedding


There are two types of bedding in our household. One of the bedrooms is dominated by a king-sized bed with one of two stripy double duvets. On posh weeks, the cover's John Lewis. Other weeks, it's Ikea. 

Then there's another bedroom, next door. That one's got a much smaller bed. A cot, actually. And that cot is swathed in another kind of bedding all together... One so good it's used at the Savoy. 

And we don't envy tiny man his super-soft white duvet cover, pillow case set and feathery duvet one bit.. OK, maybe a little bit. But - coincidence or otherwise - he's finally started sleeping well. So I might well start washing his bedding all in one day, so scared am I to lose the Tielle Love Luxury sleeping wonder-effect.

The brand was set up last year by TradeLinens, who make bedding for the Savoy and other 'spensive sleeping spots. There are duvets, cot sheets, pillow cases and pillows, and they're seriously so luxury-feeling that you'll want to crawl into the cot yourself. Practically speaking, they can also be washed at 40 degrees and have anti-allergen fillings in the duvets.

It's pricey - you get a complete set of duvet, cover, pillow case and pillow packaged in a lush cotton drawstring bag - and that's £85.

But it's been keeping tiny man cool in summer and warm in autumn and - best of all - asleep in the night time. So we wanted to share the secret.

* We were sent a cot bed set to review, but rest assured we're only raving because we love it!
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Thursday, 25 August 2016

The best pregnancy apps

Sitting next to each other on the sofa in their west London home, Anna and Alex swipe left and, occasionally, right on a Tinder-like app. The married couple gradually build up their own lists, before comparing their selected names to see if they’d picked any of the same options.
Oh, and Anna is pregnant. The couple aren’t involved in a weird new dating-while-up-the-duff trend, but using BabyName, an app where parents-to-be filter by gender (or, if preferred, by celebrity, hipster, or athletes’ names) and swipe through names looking for ones they like. 
BabyName is the latest of many new arrivals on the pregnancy-tech market. Where once parents-to-be received health advice from antenatal appointments and Dr Spock books, now pregnancy is all about downloadable, recordable and wearable technology that keeps you in the loop about everything from the size of your baby to its heartbeat...
Read the rest - featuring BabyName, Ovia and others - on the Evening Standard website
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Sunday, 21 August 2016

Toddler eating armoury

If there's one part of human-rearing that requires a lot of equipment, it's feeding. I have a whole huge drawer in my kitchen devoted to cups, bottles, bibs, bowls, plates, bibs, random plastic items that tiny man has put there.. And that's lucky because that drawer is the only reason I'm ever allowed to do any cooking - because tiny man is next to me diligently removing entire contents of said drawer, and spreading it around the kitchen to leave it looking like the opening scene of Holby City.. (you know, where man walks up wonky ladder.. WHATEVER COULD HAPPEN NEXT?)

Anyway, we've tried out more plastic crockery, drinking mechanisms, on-the-go snacks and bibs and bottles and food-making devices than, well, fit in that drawer. Some were amazing for the early weaning days - if you're just starting to Spread Food Around Your Baby's Mouth (aka Weaning), check out my guide to what to buy here. And some were brilliantly useful for when they got a bit bigger, and you need slightly larger freezer pots as those ice-cube trays aren't cutting it anymore - my Weaning Part 2 equpment guide is here.

But then they keep on growing, and want to feed themselves all the time, and are hungry for snacks, and you need car food because otherwise there's whaling non-stop in the car seat and so that's why I wrote this post: your toddler eating armoury. Here's what we're using most, in an order that doesn't match the pictures because I didn't think ahead...

8 and 4. Once you're done with sucky teat bottles (which should be around 1, apparently, as they're no longer good for babes' teeth after that) these miracle cups are brilliant: Tommee Tippee's Meal Trainer and Munchkin's Miracle 360 cup. I don't really understand the physics, but when your babe sucks either cup, at any place on the rim, water comes out, and when they don't suck (when said cup is tossed around your handbag, for example), water doesn't come out. Teaches them to drink from a beaker with no mess: amazing.

5. We're that family who still like going to hipster/cool/nice places to eat even when they don't have highchairs. The ones everyone else in the restaurant stares at; the ones who call to book and in response to the 'no we don't have highchairs' say, 'oh never mind we'll bring our own.' The Oxo Nest Booster seat isn't absolutely tiny, but it fits in our buggy basket and is far more comfy than the usual travel high chairs - it firmly clips onto nearly any chair with a back (rounded backs don't work) and usually gets tiny man level with the table, where he's super-happy. My mum's bought one too now as it's great for her house - can easily put it away when not being used.

9. and 1. When out in restaurants, we use the Oxo Nest in combo with Bibetta's amazing place mat with pockets- in fact, I take this everywhere even when they do have a highchair, because inevitably it doesn't come with a tray, or the tray isn't the cleanest, and if I can give my boy his own finger food it means I can eat my meal (for a whole two minutes). The pocket catches stray food, it folds up small and I love not having to rely on cafe's dodgy table-wiping... We're also big fans of Bibetta's Ultra Bib with Sleeves-  it's waterproof (made of wet suit material) and even that killer tomato sauce doesn't stain it: amazing.

2. and 6. On the crockery front, we only eat from white porcelain because it's so much more... Yeah, whatever. Meal times mean tossed plates and plastic all the way - so Tommee Tippee's Magic Mat  is fantastic: keeps the plate on the high-chair tray. It's not pictured but I like to use the same brand's section plates to try new foods and old ones alongside each other. Oxo's tot-training tablewear is great too: the plates and bowls are slightly weighted via a removeable ring, so help them learn how to use cutlery as the plate doesn't jump around when it's tapped. In fact, Oxo is one of my favourite brands for weaning - not least because the stuff actually looks really nice and Scandi-style (if you squint) so your table doesn't look like a brand of Toys R Us. Its Flippy Snack Pot and Small & Large bowl set are perfect for storing food and snacks for a day out.

1. and 3. I used to have a parenting theory about not giving too many snacks because they're bad for your teeth and ruin meals. But then I had a baby. Snacks mean you can go shopping, do things that a toddler wouldn't normally put up with, go out... etc. My favourite at the moment are Kiddilicious' couldn't-be-more-middle-class Quinoa and Lentil super snacks - awkwardly these crisps really are my favourite, tiny man usually only gets half the pack. They do have a little salt in though, so are only for older babes. Piccolo's organic pouches, meanwhile, are the best for hands-free snacking: we love the cherry yogurt ones for dessert, and the banana blueberry ones are delicious on their own or use them to make really easy sugar-free fairy cakes for the tots. Dare I say it, but these are yummier, to my mind, than a certain baby pouch giant's versions...
Beach-side Piccolo-ing

* Some items were sent to Run Out of Womb for review - but rest assured we're seriously gobby and only rave about what we really love.
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Monday, 8 August 2016

TRAVEL: baby-friendly Fawsley Hall

If you asked tiny man his favourite thing about our weekend at Fawsley Hall, a small luxury hotel near Daventry, I reckon he'd have a lot to say about its stick collection. At 15 months, he loves pottering around gardens and 'drawing' on tree trunks with the carefully-curated vault of sticks that he will rapidly accumulate at any opportunity. 

Luckily for us, then, that Fawsley has beautiful, lush green grounds (and trees) and is in the middle fo 2000 acres of parkland; the relaxing spa garden with outdoor hydro pool was particularly ideally located, giving tiny man space to quietly pad around, and his mama and dada the chance to share pottering with him alongside lying on comfy loungers. We all loved the big indoor pool, and the grown-up outdoor hydro pool too.
Fawsley is a particularly baby-friendly bolthole because there are lots of ways for adults to relax - that spa, and long walks, croquet, gorgeous afternoon teas, stacks of games, and a well-stocked bar.. - and babies and toddlers are very welcome too. 

Home-cooked meals are free for under threes - so we took tiny man for a fish, potatoes and vegetable and berries for dessert dinner at 6pm, before returning for a more leisuringly three-course adult dinner ourselves later. 
The main Cedar restaurant served food that looked as good as it tasted: we opted for beetroot carpaccio with goats' cheese, guinea fowl, and an amazing tart tatin. Three courses were pretty good value at £39, and there was a more intricate tasting menu for special occasions too. 

Many of Fawsley's staff are big characters: a lovely restaurant manager (with excellent advice on ice cream flavours), the charismatic Mo who enthusiastically describes every element of each bedroom, and Jimmi at afternoon tea, who couldn't have been more excited about our cakes if he was about to eat them himself. 
The grounds were a highlight of our stay: we were too relaxed to consider any proper exercise (though there are hills for hiking a-plenty), so we strolled and tiny man toddled. 


There are lots of maps and suggested walks, and even wellies for wet weather, though luckily we had a warm sunny weekend.


 There was one other baby staying whilst we were there, and a handful of kids (making use of the brilliant board game collection plus free DVDs), but it was mostly spa-ing couples: there's enough space for everyone to have lots of room, though.
Bedrooms are really spacious and designed with an eye to Fawsley's history: it was royalty's resting spot as early as the 7th century, now mostly Georgian with modern additions and owned by the Handpicked hotel group.

Our bedroom  - room three - was up a winding staircase that was difficult to navigate -with the buggy (no lift), but there are accessible options. Ours was decorated in shades of green, with traditional portraits handing on the walls; the big windows and huge bathroom were our favourite features - love a nice bubbly tub!

Just before we headed home, there was one more treat: afternoon tea of cucumber, salmon, ham and egg sandwiches; fruit and plain scones with cream and jam (of course) and macaron, chocolate and lemon cakes. It was served in the grand Great Hall, with Elizabeth I staring down from her huge portrait on the wall, but we liked the little touches best: tiny man being offered warm milk or specially small sandwiches; the waiter noticing my suddenly-sore throat and bringing ginger, lemon and honey tea - and the really tasty scones and macarons.

For families in that phase where you want to relax in a sprawling natural space and don't need oodles of facilities to entertain older children, Fawsley Hall is ideal: you can easily take a weekend out (it was just under a 90-minute drive from north-west London), have a lazy day in the small spa, pool, gym and gardens, do lots of exploring with the tiny one, (there are sheep, ducks, and fish to see all around you - what more could a one-year-old want?!) then take them for a pre-dinner walk to zzzzzzzzzzzzz-ville and enjoy a romantic dinner without needing a babysitter - the staff happily accommodated our softly-snoring buggy right next to our table. And didn't mind when we had to do some speedy laps to get tiny man to sleep again, mid-meal...

It's not all perfect- the breakfast array was fine, but not a highlight, and children are only allowed in the pool for two scheduled slots per day. But it's much more reasonable than many hotels aiming to lure in London parents - starting at just £124 a night - and a lovely place to spend time relaxing in beautiful grounds - and with plenty of sticks...
Hand Picked Hotels (0845 458 0901) is offering a two-night classic break at Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa from £248 per room, including a three-course dinner for two on the first night, overnight accommodation in a classic double or twin room and a full traditional breakfast on both mornings.  Run Out of Womb was a guest of Fawlsey Hall for this review, but rest assured we're seriously gobby and only rave about what we really love.


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Friday, 5 August 2016

37 seconds inside a parent's head


THE SCENE: playing in tiny man's bedroom; books and miscellaneous items he has picked up in the last ten-minutes (reel of sellotape, single work shoe of husband that husband will shout at wife for losing, car key that I will later hunt down for 15 minutes, kitchen wooden spoon).

THE HEAD (seconds 1-3): This is amazing. Look at him reading the book! He's so clever! I'm so lucky to have the time to sit and read with him on a Thursday afternoon. Life is great!

THE SCENE: tiny man bores of That's Not My Elephant book (who can blame him), and upturns box of wooden train, which I OCD-ishly earlier spent ages intricately setting up Exactly As The Box Says. 

THE HEAD (seconds 4-9): I should stop pointlessly building that train to its box specifications. It's not a Northern line to Morden. WOW! He can build the blocks onto the train himself! It's so fun and beautiful to watch my little guy growing and learning all the time!

THE SCENE (seconds 10-20): I slip my iPhone out of my back pocket, check work email, finger slips onto Facebook icon, scroll through old school frenemy's wedding pics.

THE HEAD: (seconds 22-24): Oh man. I'm addicted to my phone. It's pathetic that I can't mindfully be 'in the moment'. When tiny man's doing art in five years' time and the teacher asks him to draw his mama, will I be the shamed parent who gets sketched with her hand permanently attatched to a phone?!

THE SCENE: (seconds 25-27) hurls phone into other room, focuses back on tiny man, who is now emptying his vest drawer out onto the floor. 

THE HEAD: (seconds 28-30) Wonder what the time is. Can't check as don't have phone. Is it nap time? 

THE SCENE: (seconds 31-33) All vests, trousers, babygrows, PJs and socks have now been removed from all drawers. Carpet no longer visible. 

THE HEAD: (seconds 33-35) Doesn't matter, already posted perfect room shot on Instagram today. OH CRAP DISTANT RELATIVE IS COMING OVER LATER. 

THE SCENE: (seconds 36-38): Mad 'tidying' (hurling items in drawers), effusive praise for three items tiny man also puts away (despite fact he then takes them, and others, out again.)

THE HEAD: He's so gorgeous. I love him so much. Is it nap-time yet?
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Monday, 1 August 2016

9 Words That Change Meaning After You Become A Parent

"Going out-out"

USED TO MEAN: a Saturday afternoon of pampering, blow-drying, maybe some Brent Cross outfit-shopping, followed by getting changed, made up, sorting an Uber and leaving the house.
NOW MEANS: a whole day of routine-tweaking to get the baby to sleep by 7pm. Fail, and eventually get them down an hour later. Madly Batiste hair, rub self with baby wipe, pick some clean (black) clothes out of wardrobe, pay £15.3 million to a baby sitter, give them 45-minute lecture about baby's routine, leave house at 9pm (you drive, too tired to drink), realise at 10pm you're knackered and would rather be in bed. Go home again.

"Me time"

USED TO MEAN: an afternoon reading in the park, an evening getting a massage at a spa, a night out with friends and a lot of wine.
NOW MEANS: the chance to do a poo on the loo with just Instagram for company, and no one redecorating the bathroom with toilet roll / asking about lunch / yanking on your leg.

"Just popping to the shops"

USED TO MEAN: walking out the door with a wallet, buying some milk / gin / Hula Hoops, coming back.
NOW MEANS: grappling an irate octopus into a car seat by promising said octopus rice cake snacks, proffering it three books and a spinning electronic toy, and playing the octopus's favourite six chords of the eighth track on a nursery rhyme CD repeatedly. Getting to the supermarket, doing six circuits of the car park before finding a space, trying 12 trolleys before finding one with a working baby chair AND seatbelt, rushing up the aisles doing a supermarket sweep whilst singing Ten Green Bottles, bagging up the food one-handed whilst keeping a now-screaming octopus in its seat.. Then going through the whole rigmarole on the way home.

"Early night"

USED TO MEAN: bed at 10pm, bit of Netflix, sleep an hour later, for a nice nine-hour slumber.
NOW MEANS: bed at 8pm, woken at 9pm by waaaaahh, same at 9.20pm, 9.40pm, 10pm. Then finally get the babe properly asleep, as you lie awake, unable to sleep. Wake up at 5am (not independently..)

"Making dinner"

USED TO MEAN: Thumbing through Ottolenghi / Nigella / bbcgoodfood.com to find a new recipe; pick any required ingredients (see above 'just popping to the shops'), spending an hour in the kitchen stirring, cooking, etc, then sitting down to eat said meal.
NOW MEANS: Opening up the Kitchen Drawer of Delights (tupperwares, spoons, pans, bowls) to allow toddler to take entire contents out and spread around downstairs of house (the tip of a wooden spoon makes a lovely protrusion to sit on in the sofa, I find). Chucking onion, tomato and mushroom into pan. Hurling drawer contents back (promising self will remember to wash said items before use, definitely). Giving now-bored toddler a bowl of cold water to stir / upturn on the floor / entertain self with. Cook pasta. Do kitchen dancing with toddler. Give toddler the pasta / sauce combo for dinner. Leave rest on stove for parental dinner in six hours' time after bathtime. Eat dinner, disturbed only by 45-minute cot back-patting session to get said toddler to sleep.

Alarm clock

USED TO MEAN: Setting your phone to wake you up for work, at the time you wanted to wake up.
NOW MEANS: Being dragged awake at a time not of your making, too-often beginning with '5', but by the world's cutest alarm clock so that makes it OK.

iPad

USED TO MEAN: Device to read the news on, play Angry Birds on, quite nice entertainment for plane journeys. 
NOW MEANS: Electronic babysitter, with a hard drive large enough for innumerable In the Night Garden / Peppa Pig / Paws Patrol episodes. As in, "He's tired - get the iPad". You won't get on a plane without it.

Sling
USED TO MEAN: A cocktail you might have on a summer's eve
NOW MEANS: Life-saving device with a better chance of getting a babe to sleep than ANYTHING.

Tired
USED TO MEAN: Yawned at one point today. Only got 8.75 hours sleep last night. Could do with an early night (see above).
NOW MEANS: You're in a heap on the carpet, counting the seconds til bedtime. (Theirs, and yours: it's the same thing). You've done 'all nighters' (hourly baby demands through the night, no dancing involved) for four nights/months/years in a row and feel like you were run over by the bin men's truck, sixteen times, and have dumb-bells hanging off your eyelids. You'd laugh at pre-parent you's idea of tired, but you're too tired.
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