I was reflecting this weekend about the things which have made life more interesting to parents of an eighteen month old and, although I could write a list which goes on for a long while, I’ve managed to pick out five things (I’ve kind of cheated and bundled a couple together) which I think we couldn’t do without. You’ll note from lots of this that they reflect our ‘outdoorsy’ nature and lots of that is to do with having Lily and wanting her to be involved with as much as possible, too.
Number One: Puddlesuit & Wellies
Darcey had these gorgeous wellies from Muddy Puddles from my sister for Christmas and they’re currently in the sale for just £10 which is a brilliant bargain. Darcey wears wellies a lot of the time so she walks brilliantly in them but I know for some children it takes a little getting used to, so it might be something to practise indoors first. She will frequently bring them to us and drop them by the back door which is her signal for saying ‘let’s get muddy!’. To go with this she also has a gorgeous Puddle Suit from JoJo Maman Bebe which is my favourite place to shop for her! Unfortunately she’s just outgrowing this one now so I need to source her a new one from somewhere but they all seem to be garishly pink so I’m still on the lookout! Without this gear, out outings wouldn’t be nearly as fun. It’s perfect for mud, puddles, sand and sea and she’s put them through their paces at each of these places many times. It means less washing for us and that she stays warmer and drier so everyone’s a winner!
Number Two: Yumbox & Lunch Bag
It’s no secret that we love our Yumbox, which is why I haven’t posted any of our meals here because you can see them readily on our Instagram feed! However, I literally couldn’t do without these two little compact items in our life. The Yumbox allows us to pack all of Darcey’s favourite food and it’s all contained in one place (it would be filled entirely with yoghurt, if she got her way). No more hunting for Tupper Ware or sandwich bags; nothing leaks and they come in loads of bright designs – what more do you need? We bought this gorgeous Roald Dahl insulated lunch bag from a little independent store on Park Street a few months before Christmas. It means that when the weather warms I can pop a cool pack in with the Yumbox and her drink and it’ll be perfectly good throughout the day when we’re out and about. Neither are heavy and Darcey loves carrying them herself so they are really toddler friendly.
Number Three: IKEA Antilop High Chair
When we first began Baby Led Weaning with Darcey we spent a lot of money on two high chairs from Mamas & Papas. The first, Juice I think, was just under £100 and was literally impossible to hold a six month old baby in. The cupped chair was too far away from the tray and there was no way of padding it out and it rocked on the floor so didn’t feel at all steady. It went back straight away and Mamas & Papas were great about it. We exchanged it for a different one which was about £70 which folded away but there were just too many bits to it and I felt we couldn’t clean it properly; especially with our very messy eater! (This is now our spare at Nana’s!) So, I’d seen many of my friends and my sister using the £13 IKEA Antilop high chair and they loved it, but at such a cheap price I was dubious. We decided to give it a go. It’s absolutely brilliant. Initially, we bought a cushioned insert from Mothercare which padded it out so Darcey didn’t slip around in it when she was little but as she got a little bigger we removed it and it’s been perfect for our Baby Led Weaning adventure. As you can see above, this chair gets a beating, daily, and it’s still going strong after nearly a year. There is pretty much no staining, it’s easy to take apart to deep clean or transport, if necessary and really comfortable for Darcey. A definite essential for us!
Number Four: Early Learning Centre Easel
At Christmas and birthdays everyone asks you what you want or need for your small human, expecting you to have an enormous list of things for them to tick off. Now, we aren’t like that. We refused to put a gift list in our wedding invitations or ask for money or anything like that. We genuinely wanted people’s company and nothing more. We aren’t good at asking for things, even when they’ve been offered or even if we know people get pleasure from it. Christmas this year was probably the most extreme example of this happening so far and we just didn’t have a list of things to share with people, for Darcey. Nath’s Mum & Dad asked what they could get her and after about three week’s worth of frantic searching we finally relented and suggested this easel from the Early Learning Centre . Jayne & Andy then padded out an already expensive gift with a box of goodies to use with it. The functionality of this easel is brilliant because it’s a chalk board, a paint deck, a magnetic surface, a dry-wipe screen and it’s completely collapsible so that it can disappear when all your
patience art power has gone! At £50 it’s not a steal but it’s a quality item that keeps Darcey (and me!) entertained for a long time so I think it’s well worth the money!
Number Five: LittleLife Back Pack & Toddler Backpack
Without doubt the things we have gotten the most use out of that perhaps we didn’t anticipate are our carriers. Whether that was the Mamas & Papas Morph that we used from birth, or the cloth Kari-Me wrap that I loved to use around the house of this LittleLife backpack which is the mechanics behind all of our outings nowadays, we like carriers! We spent an awful lot of money on a very lovely pram that we have barely used because we like to get muddy! We love ‘off-roading’, especially with Lily, and although we built a pram that was designed for that purpose, but it’s still nowhere near as convenient as having Darcey in the backpack. She’s up high, she can see out on the world and we can use the rain or sun shade to protect her from the elements. There is nowhere we can’t go with her in the back pack and we aren’t concerned about where to leave the pram or if it’ll fit through certain gaps. Nath has done a full review of why we love it, which you can read here if you’re interested. Darcey is a good walker and if we’re out and about on easy terrain then something we always have with us is the toddler backpack (hers is a ladybird) and reins to allow us to make sure she doesn’t go
disappearing exploring further than I’d like her to. Both are superb quality and they’ve allowed transporting Darcey to become something enjoyable rather than just a chore, or a task. If you want any other information about LittleLife and their products, have a look here.
So hopefully some of these things will resonate with you or give you ideas for the future – there’s no need for this parenting business to break the bank either. We bought our backpack second hand for a bargain of £40, when the RRP is £99.99 and it’s the best money we’ve spent. Scout out Facebook selling sites, Gumtree or even the Nearly New boards on NetMums and you’ll be surprised at the amazing deals you can find!