29th November 2016

Fun at the Festive Fair – at Toddler Town British Nursery…

15281973_10157866078585607_554998808_nI don’t know about you, but we are starting to feel a bit festive. I bought some candles from Bath & Bodyworks (highly recommend ‘Winter’ if you are looking for the perfect scent), we’ve got the decorations out of storage (not up yet, but it’s a start), the diary is starting to fill up with festive things to do over the next few weeks. And it’s all because we went to the beautiful Festive Fair at Toddler Town British Nursery on Saturday, which definitely made me feel in a Christmassy mood.

I was looking forward to visiting the fair, as I know that Toddler Town does things very well – but I was still surprised by just how lovely it was. Imagine Christmas songs playing, children playing in a winter-wonderland snow park, a petting zoo, carnival games, a queue of excited children waiting to visit Santa, and some lovely market stalls (I managed to sneak a few stocking fillers into my bag when the boys weren’t looking!) My boys had a brilliant time (Mabel slept through it, of course), so I wanted to share a few more photos of the event to get you in the mood for festivities too.

But before I do that, I’ll just mention that the nursery is well worth a tour if you haven’t been before. Stanley went to the JBR location of this popular nursery (which is excellent, by the way) – but with more space to play with, the facilities at the Jumeirah branch are really quite amazing. There’s so much space, both inside and out – and what the kids have to play with there (from outdoor play facilities, to sand pits, to sensory rooms, to soft play zones) is impressive. Scroll to the bottom of this post and you will find their website link to click on and contact details.

So without further ado, here are some more photos of the lovely Festive Fair we enjoyed at Toddler Town British Nursery on Saturday… Happy (nearly) December everyone…

15226518_10157866082915607_21752264_n 15227987_10157866079255607_898658628_n 15240060_10157866079270607_32853923_n 15228056_10157866079250607_1455541925_n 15239370_10157866082665607_268884359_n 15300710_10157866079280607_1674431258_n 15300706_10157866078560607_369743774_n 15282076_10157866078565607_771864921_n

15281068_10157866082840607_1599332876_n

Visit www.toddlertown.ae for more information – or call 04 452 8080 to arrange a tour. The two nurseries are located at Amwaj 5, Plaza Level, JBR, Dubai Marina – and at Villa No. 20, 21st Street, Al Safa (Al Manara), Jumeirah. 

In collaboration with Toddler Town British Nursery

 



24th August 2016

Stanley tries: SEGA Republic, The Dubai Mall

14088617_1062040270499067_2780938814931987927_nI’m going to start posting reviews more regularly on this blog for parents in Dubai, to give us all inspiration for days out, places to eat, shops to head to, products to try, and staycations to book.

I’ll sort the reviews  into the appropriate ages by labelling them for each of the children – Stanley for the younger kids (he’s aged 4), Wilfred for the toddlers (he’s aged 2), and Baby Girl (name to be announced very soon, eeeek) for the baby buys.

So let’s start with SEGA Republic in The Dubai Mall, which Stanley and I went to last Thursday afternoon for a bit of a Mummy and son date before his baby sister arrives.

To be honest, I’ve walked past SEGA Republic hundreds times, but I always thought it was aimed at older kids and adults (for those that fit into those age groups, the place contains the biggest indoor slide in the world, which looks seriously good fun if you fancy an adrenaline rush!)

But I wish I’d taken Stanley inside sooner – as there was so much for him to do and he enjoyed every second. Not only do you have flashing, singing, dancing games at every turn (just like Fun City, if you have ever been there), but there is also a really big and brilliant soft play / jungle gym, separated into areas for older children like him and smaller toddlers and babies (always good if you have a smaller one, as getting knocked over by a queue of overexcited 5-year olds isn’t fun…)

14022361_1062040287165732_4037121023538658382_n

Stanley spent quite a long time playing on the machines with our pre-loaded card, before heading inside the soft play and disappearing off. Every now and again, he’d come rushing down the slide with a gigantic smile on his face. As this point in pregnancy, it was nice to know that it was totally secure (no escaping as there are staff on the gate to leave at all times) and totally age appropriate (I’m not worried about him being knocked over as he’s a big boy now, but I’d hate him to knock a smaller child in his excitement).

14053952_1062040317165729_3904068811076094150_n

13932895_1062040340499060_8573216784776243898_n

In total, we spent a very happy hour inside, before heading off to enjoy dinner together in the mall. It would be a great pit-stop if you are planning on spending any length of time in the mall (or send the husband in with them while you continue shopping – what a plan!) – and as you load as much as you like onto the cards, it’s really up to you how much you spend.

Find further details at www.segarepublic.com  – or head straight there on Level 2 of The Dubai Mall (near to Reel Cinemas)

In collaboration with SEGA Republic



11th December 2015

Our weekend escape to Fairmont Ajman – the most relaxing staycation!

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 14.51.31Despite living in Dubai for the past 5 years, I have never set foot in Ajman. So when my husband suggested we tried somewhere different for a weekend escape, we decided to step outside our comfort zone and try somewhere new.

With Ajman agreed, we moved onto finding a hotel – and being fans of Fairmont resorts in Dubai, we chose to  stay at Fairmont Ajman. Located on the Corniche, the hotel has a stretch of white sand, a kid’s pool, and various family-friendly restaurants – along with spacious grounds and interiors for two little boys to let off steam. It sounded like a winner, so we jumped in the car on a Thursday evening to make our way through Sharjah and onto Ajman.

Big mistake, as the traffic was so congested at rush hour on a Thursday that the usual 1-hour journey from Dubai Marina took nearly 3 hours. Next time (and there will be a next time, I am sure of it), we will leave closer to lunchtime to beat the rush.

Well past our (now snoring) boy’s bedtimes, we arrived at the hotel feeling a bit weary. But as we strolled into the bright lobby and found smiling staff waiting for us to check in, we instantly started to relax – and that set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Honestly, this was without doubt the most relaxing weekend away I have ever had with kids in tow!

The ambience was so warm and unpretentious and I noticed the difference immediately when compared to some of the luxury resorts much closer to home. And with the hotel fairly quiet too, we found the service incredibly personal and flawless throughout. The boys felt like they’d made friends with staff members, even learning their names over the course of the weekend.

lzn_nNLJJ46HDtOznVVlA_HtuFrXKn7bt80XJNAj6rw

The room

We were staying in one of the family suites, which was very luxurious and spacious. You also have the option of interconnecting rooms (up to 4 in a row) if you have kids or come with a group of friends. Every room has a view of the Arabian Gulf (nothing like opening the curtains and staring out a turquoise vista from bed every morning) – and we found them very toddler and child-friendly, with soft carpets, cupboards hiding entertain systems/mini bar, and a big bath to wash off the salt water at the end of the day. I had asked for a toddler bed and a cot – and these were waiting in our room on arrival.

I’ve never been able to stay in bed drinking coffee in the morning and let the boys roam around before (not even in my own house) – but I did it at Fairmont Ajman! As long as the balcony doors are locked, there was nothing in the room to risk injury (or that could be broken by inquisitive little monsters), which was truly refreshing and very relaxing. It also meant I’d fallen in love with Fairmont Ajman before we’d even left the room!

What we did

The truth is that we did very little apart from eat, drink, swim, play and relax! There is a kids club at the hotel, which I heard good things about, but we didn’t use. We simply ate breakfast, headed to the beach, made a few trips up to the pool, enjoyed a really good Friday brunch (genuinely one of the best brunches I’ve been to in the UAE) and repeated the mornings activities again. We just let the boys do what they wanted and they were very happy throughout.

12278755_920112418025187_2360067830906379951_n

lpeqxuvrD-F3oOPsj_18g97JaUh0HhmaBta3lNG_hEA

12294776_920112334691862_4889154285649787689_n

aWeF2hSY66BD7hf_8TIEcnUGiU98jmxcbfkvEwMmOQA

On the subject of the Friday brunch, I highly recommend it. I’ve found a lot of the bigger brunches in Dubai have become a bit samey, so it was fun to see unique touches like a moules mariniere station, mexican taco station, and bowls of Um Ali and other traditional desserts to finish. The boys enjoyed it too, with their own kids’ food station and a cookie decorating area to keep them entertained.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 14.50.47

And if that wasn’t enough to fill our tummies for one day, we were back that evening (with the boys in tow) at the delicious Italian restaurant Gioia. The boys were given crayons and paper, along with pizzas and generous portions of pasta. And we enjoyed a glass of wine, delicious dishes, and the chilled, family-friendly vibe that meant we could enjoy our meal without feeling we were disturbing anyone (even when one boy decided he would eat with a napkin on his head…)

elRZvT1fZtmLXZHrE9UoBcmg1khTQNd7iqdlD7lG9-U

Why choose Fairmont Ajman for a family staycation?

I really did feel like I’d escaped to a different land, with such a refreshingly unpretentious feel (without needing to sacrifice on all the luxury of a 5-star hotel). The rooms were notably child friendly, there were piles of toys on the beach to keep little ones happy, the kid’s pool was shallow enough not to have a heart attack whenever toddlers veered near it, and children are well catered for when it comes to feed them too.

7Gdmk74rfIez7zgemMqnJ6bkT1J_9HRWnAUn4LRGgc0 3Au76O6fhp9pj68kj-9niJfqGdWsA7y_imYPDtP0msk 7r2UDEvX0LwGQ8_e2PKNe7Jjy1Hj7GRKN1z37SBSveE

I arrived home that Saturday afternoon feeling genuinely chilled – a feeling only now I can recognise from heading away for the weekend in the days before children. I think we’ve found our happy place – and I can’t wait to head back.

For more information or to make a booking, visit www.fairmont.com/ajman/

 Check the Best Car Seats for Newborns at Car Experts



11th November 2015

My Birthday Weekend at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

I’m a big believer in celebrating birthdays. We get very few excuses to celebrate as we get older, so why not embrace that day once a year and milk it for all its worth? For the last few years, I have booked a mini break so I can drag out the celebrations for at least a couple of days – and this year, we decided on Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa.

This was exciting for two reasons. Firstly, it was the same place I had celebrated my 30th half a decade beforehand, from the comfort of a sunlounger (no kids in tow back then) so we’d get to revisit a place with lots of happy memories. And secondly, the idea of swapping Dubai Marina for burnt orange sand dunes, camel rides, falcon shows, and dinners in the desert was very appealing – we’d enjoy a dramatic change of scenery and feel like we’d had a proper break and the boys would finally start to understand that they really do live in a city surrounded by sand!

Our Room

There are two options for families at Bab Al Shams: interconnecting rooms or suites. We went for the latter and although pricier, we found it worked really well with smaller kids as we could put them down to bed in the evening and relax in the lounge next door.

The rooms have a rustic feel, so don’t expect carpets, soft edges, or baby proofing of any kind. But having said that, I think we have one of the hardest combos of children in our two ridiculously active boys (one that has a fondness of throwing himself onto hard floors) and yet we still felt very much at home, so don’t let this put you off visiting. We loved our room, which had a small outside garden and was really close to the pool.

image3

image4

image6

What we did

We spent most of our time eating, playing in the pool, and riding camels!

The day started with breakfast, which we enjoyed outside with the sound of birds tweeting in the trees around us (still such a novelty to be outside after a long summer indoors!) – and I was impressed with the selection, especially the table for kids (rainbow bread was a big hit!

12191556_909052035797892_3202073237192513412_n

11026594_909052105797885_3834559224582957524_n

We then moved to the kids’ pool, which was without doubt the most relaxing kids pool we’ve ever taken the boys to. With such shallow water, they could play happily with the pots, buckets, and inflatables while we sat on the side of the pool and watched them. It felt very special to have the desert surrounding us as they played happily in the sunshine.

12107953_909052079131221_2322087430987893629_n

Then just when the boys were getting a bit bored of filling buckets, we discovered the Kids Club! Such a lovely space, filled to the brim with toys and craft activities to keep them busy. My boys were too young to leave (not that we planned to) as the minimum age is 4 years old, so we spent an hour playing on the first day – and on the second day (my birthday), we booked a resort babysitter (who they knew by this point) to stay and play with them for an hour so we could head back to the sun loungers while they played.

That same babysitter helped us out a couple of other times during the stay. Firstly when they napped that lunchtime and we crept round the corner to the Friday Brunch for an hour. Watching children enjoying rides on camels was such a different background to the usual Dubai brunch and they were all having the time of their lives, so it’s something I’d really recommend if you are staying for the weekend or just want to head over for the day.

When the boys woke up, we took them over to the brunch and they rode their first camel – the highlight of their visit to Bab Al Shams and something they have been talking about ever since!

12115689_909052125797883_9018310821001468299_n image5

After another afternoon by the pool, more camel riding on the sand dunes, and an impressive falcon show (or pigeon show, according to Stanley), we headed back to our room.

12108827_909402099096219_5717758389739143017_n 12063780_909402085762887_8671453124314318522_n 12195899_909052185797877_8871244905707774850_n

And once they were happily snoring (exhausted from all that splashing, playing, and camel riding) and our lovely babysitter had arrived again, my husband and I made our way through the desert following a path of lanterns to discover an amazing banquet waiting for us at Al Hadeerah Restaurant. If you haven’t tried this night out, you must – imagine a vast buffet of delicious Arabic food, accompanied by constant entertainment and a fireworks display to finish. The perfect way to welcome in my 35th (gulp) birthday.

12188879_909402019096227_6280532110574560694_n 19922_909402025762893_2545004657496158390_n 12193818_909402055762890_462013915676440121_n

The next day, the same routine followed – before we checked out the hotel, jumped in the car, and drove back to Dubai spotting camels out the window on our way. 

Why choose Bab Al Shams for a family staycation?

I knew I was going to enjoy Bab Al Shams having been there before, but I had no idea how good it was for children.

There were so many lovely touches – right from the boys being handed cuddly camels as we checked in, to the kid’s pool of my dreams, to a lovely play area on the grass, to camel riding and falcon shows every day at 5pm to totally enchant them. Not to mention the brilliant family-friendly brunch, a great kids club, some of the best hotel babysitters I have met in this city, and kid’s food on the menu that they actually want to eat.

image2 12191063_909402062429556_8089520853039110743_n

I genuinely think we could have stayed for 2 weeks and they’d have enjoyed every second – and we, believe it or not, would’ve actually found it relaxing.

So for that reason, I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the very best choices for a family staycation in the city. If you fancy a break, make a booking – I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

To make a booking online, visit www.meydanhotels.com/babalshams/



14th July 2015

Our holiday at Court Farm, Bude, Cornwall

No9RlxryEkDdFUMBH5tntMu6sIX9qudtAMCpGoNjhhEYou know what it’s like when you go on holiday with kids… You book it, sit back and feel all smug and excited for a few months, and then immediately start to regret it when it comes to the packing. So imagine my delight when we booked Court Farm Holidays in Cornwall for the first week of July online – and clicked straight through to a tick list of things we would need for the children.

We chose a cot, a bed guard, a single seater buggy, a highchair, a booster seat, and a box of toys. Had we needed it, we could also have chosen a double buggy, listening monitor, baby carrier, baby backpacks, toilet training seats, and potties for the children. Most items were free of charge to use for the week, whilst others carried a few pounds charge. We were off to a very good start.

Fast-forward a few months and it was time to do the packing. We had already made an order for Waitrose to deliver food to our cottage on the first afternoon, so I didn’t need wipes, nappies, or milk either. It was the easiest packing process ever and made the getting-ready bit so stress-free.

We weren’t disappointed when we arrived either. Court Farm Holidays is based over two locations – we chose the main farm in Bude, North Cornwall. Inside our cottage, everything we had ordered in advance for the children was waiting for us (a proper wooden cot too, no travel cots here!) – along with plastic plates, cups and cutlery, a selection of kids books and DVDs, and step-ups for Stanley to reach the sinks. We were very impressed.

It was the communal facilities that really made us smile though – just outside our cottage was a large indoor pool (complete with a few inflatables and noodles to help children swim); an outdoor playground complete with slides, swings, a trampoline, a playhouse, an assault course, and a shed with table football; a tennis court filled with scooters, cars, pushalongs, and bikes; and a small indoor play area with lots of toys, a play house, and a pool table.

8-7jfHxOe4t9LfqhZiq2fipbMCLf10bPFB2QjLVKv0M qbtnBecKbAnWC13JkzBstyxknxhS8KwdIsidVxXwbFI h3Yf8e2O1D6B3q62sUKFk8w9W2UF8ohLV3SQkukjGY8 YiEBE2yPxkhJSRzVnuyoKfYHugCvytXdS1kHAgJfbPk x2brALCvaDmr711tmbNKmNwZ1XGdc40rNPKqB1tEU5E dQgTFR0ARkSxiAx11cTuffxZ8wcG7dMbcFTpfmzQcRU

And the piece de resistance? The farm animals! Every week day morning at Court Farm starts with feeding the animals and collecting eggs at 9.30am. We donned our wellies and made our way through the field with farm owners Kevin or Vicky to feed the pigs (Peppa and Georgie), alpaca (Scratch), goats (Molly and Polly) and all the chickens. This was the highlight of the holiday for the boys – and their smiles as chickens pecked from pots, goats fed bread out of their hands, and pigs snorted as they devoured our leftovers (carried proudly through the field by Stanley in a paper bag) was absolutely priceless.

11222955_859335970769499_8000633307550030066_n QuXemjJDmE942ewNXzHSQFM6Ylqg4e4bouQLKyHp5ak Eaj2Q0wAMdVmtSEcLkxmF6VAZz9dikjpQVHMpsKFmoM TBTVqJE3YyOTUD0xMQILLMViP1w7oegZGnpYjG9oZS8 sJ8lzBCP5yL7G_2bUk2DVamwd-MGgGXT6qoJ5TtDQnM LDXmppcn3hbZmDge1TtBTk8BsFBzx_0P64VSBJNEbbY G0ijrS1b9TMxWRIn2N4RvdjQ-WCoEr8FNXUo_Pg2Aaw

After the animals were fed, the children made their way to the chicken shed to collect the eggs, happily grabbing what they could find and delivering back to their parents with delighted faces. The rule is to take one per family, but we were lucky that the chickens were in an egg-laying mood and both the boys carried their eggs proudly back to our cottage (Wilfred, at only 17 months old, was so proud of his egg that he got it back to the cottage in one piece every morning!) They enjoyed their dippy eggs and soldiers every morning, knowing that they had collected the eggs themselves the day before.

ACskdi4M6hG-e0dJNjXEoZRycdUCJcwVmS4gy-4nfjc ZnjhNGHjTr4Q9xNgF3r1kfALXP_U3bsU_VQOEPo6Ouw

There’s lots to do if you head out in the car too, as there are two beaches just 5 minutes drive from Court Farm in Bude itself (both with plenty of parking) – and as this is Cornwall, an endless choice of beaches, day trips, cafes and restaurants within easy reach.  We enjoyed a day in Padstow eating Stein’s Fish & Chips, a couple of rainy mornings on the beach jumping in puddles, plenty of ice cream / cream tea stops, and (at the end of the week), the loveliest two days playing in the sand in the sunshine.

fUG8uI_kyq5CJ43oDBXQdUxht3PVAN8gRkZAJvGO8Ko 5bd470XuZo8PHBeoxqnHrpyf2_glGiQRxGEMiFhSHIc no6_51ZgOmPd8z9xFCncr9JXb4qq8AyIW9brOZlB9_k SUdPBqGTM4epeLpmwylSxkOjPvH4qyVsAMPh8rMZVTY q-jnY2NILDXVrB_FsUzB5Ua_dvUJ3tEgN1EmMkvB_b4 iG0TlCqBnCxIZwD5F2gpnPvCNFJpCFpQ5smr2YXEn_c

Oh and did I mention that the pub over the road (and I mean literally over the road, less than 30 seconds from our cottage) has an indoor soft play area for just £2 an hour. Yes you hear me right – a pub with a soft play area, complete with bouncy castle, ball pit, bikes, soft mats, and climbing equipment. This Dubai expat Mum could hardly believe her luck.

IHAaYOxE_8H_DYxTWEmYMjJjR4qAFNF9--oCemChq2c

There are lots of different sizes of cottages at Court Farm, right from cosy one-bedroom cottages to large six-bedroom houses complete with hot tubs in the garden (we didn’t get a hot tub, but this is definitely on my list for our return visit!)

And guess what? The very lovely Kevin and Vicky at Court Farm Holidays are offering readers of Mum of Boys 5% off the total cost of your holiday when you quote ‘Mum of Boys’. The offer is valid whenever you want to make a booking – so if this summer is already busy for your family, you can book ahead to 2016. Find out more or book online on their website – www.courtfarm-holidays.co.uk

It’s also well worth checking out the Special Offers section of the website as there are some amazing deals on there for this summer (including one that saves you over £2000!) Please note that the ‘Mum of Boys’ discount does not apply on holidays that are already discounted.

Enjoy your holiday at Court Farm; I’m a little bit jealous!



15th June 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Car Seats

IMG_2997I’ve got to be honest; I find car seat safety a bit baffling. Rear-facing or forward facing? Where is the safest place to put their seat in the car? Do car seats have an expiration date? These are all questions I have inputted into Google in the past – but you can never be too sure, can you?

So I decided to sit down with Miranda Hilton, CEO and Chief Mum at Family Souk Ventures (Official distributor and reprehensive of Mountain Buggy and Phil & Teds in the GCC) to ask the pressing questions – and here’s what she had to say…

What are the main things to consider before choosing a car seat?

Firstly the age of your child – if buying for a newborn you will require an infant capsule that easily clips into the cars isofix or onto your stroller and is rear facing. When buying for a toddler you need a car seat that will cater for your child up to 6 years old. As children of the same age can differ in size and weight, you must also check and be aware of the maximum and minimum weight allowance.

Always buy a car seat brand new as they have been tested and approved before they go on the stores shelves and they do therefore have expiry dates – most car seats will expire within 6 years. This means that buying second hand you need to understand the date of purchase and ensure that it hasn’t been involved in an accident at any point – safety standards and testing are consistently improving. This is not one area you want to take risks on.

Why do babies near to face the rear of the car? And what age can we move them forward facing?

Forward facing and rear facing is so confusing for many parents and the guidelines differ for many countries throughout the world. Here’s a really simple guide:

Why rear face? In the case of a crash, infants are especially at risk for head and spinal cord injuries because their bones and ligaments are still developing. Their spinal structural support is still developing. In the rear-facing position, a child’s head, neck and spine are kept aligned. The rear-facing car-seat supports the child’s head and absorbs the force of the crash and cradles the child.

Rear-facing seats give the best support to your child’s head, neck, and spine, and will prevent your child’s head from being thrown away from his or her body. Infants and toddlers should travel in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible (up to the weight and height allowance of the car seat). Many countries now recommend that your child rear face for up to 2 years.

Where is the safest place in a car for a child to sit?

There are conflicting laws depending on which country you are in. But as far as safety is concerned, there is a consistent message that where there are two rows of seats, infants should always travel in the back seat of a car rear facing. Being as far away from glass is advised and air bags in the front seats can cause additional risk of injury to an infant when released through the impact of a crash. Many research studies suggest that the safest place for an infant is in the middle rear seat where a full seatbelt is installed to secure the car seat – this being the farthest seat from any glass.

What key safety features should feature on a car seat?

A five-point safety harness: The straps – one for each shoulder, one for each thigh, and one between your baby’s legs – are more adjustable (and thus safer) than older designs.

Side-impact protection: Some car seats have special energy-absorbing foam and other features designed to better protect your baby’s head and chest in a side-impact accident. Even when you move into a booster seat, we recommend ensuring you source a high back booster seat to provide side impact and head protection. Just because kids are bigger doesn’t mean that the impact of an accident will be any less.

How can you make sure the car seat will fit properly in your vehicle before you buy?

Isofix is often used by parents for newborn to 12 months as a base for an infant capsule for convenience so you can click and unclick and go. But when you’re not removing the car seat to fix to a stroller (ie post the infant capsule stage), the convenience factor disappears and car seats attached with seatbelts still dominate the market share of car seats sold. A number of cars still do not have isofix in the back and there is then no alternative for a number of parents.

Using a seatbelt to fasten and stabilize your car seat has been safety tested to be as safe as Isofix. Isofix can feel a little more stable because it tends to not have any movement at all in the seat when fixed but from a safety standpoint, both methods are as safe.

How do we know when a child is ready to move up to a bigger car seat / move to a booster? 

Firstly You can safely switch your child to a booster seat if she’s over 4 years old and she weighs 40 pounds or more or has grown too tall for her car seat (when her shoulders are higher than the top set of harness-strap slots in the car seat’s back). Don’t move your child to a booster seat simply because she’s four years old. Car seats are the safest option, so keep using yours as long as she fits in it.

Do car seats/boosters expire?

This is a really interesting question. They do have an expiration date and the standard is c.6 years. This is not marketing or car seat companies trying to make more money. Why do they expire?

1.              Technologies improve and more research is done.

2.              Materials over time and exposed to extreme unpredictable circumstances, for example the extreme heat in the middle east, can wear down.

3.              Manufacturing testing is not done consistently on a product  – only at the beginning.

To find the expiration date, it is normally located on a label on the car seat OR the manufacture date is stamped on the car seat – 6 years from this date is then the expiry date.

Are toddlers allowed in the front seat in cars without a back seat?

It is safer for your child to travel in the rear seats in their car seat or booster – less opportunity to hit glass on impact means a safer travelling environment. Legally in most countries, where there is no back seat option (only one row of seats), then it is allowed but not advised.

We needed to move Stanley up to the next car seat and went for the Phil & Ted’s Discovery Car Seat;  an ultra safe child car seat that converts from a toddler car seat to a child booster as your toddler grows. If you have three children, this is a brilliant choice as you can fit three across the back seat of the average car. There is also a removable 5 point, anti-twist safety harness which features non slip padding and single strap tighten. Buy online at Baby Souk here.

Visit Phil & Teds www.philandteds.com/me



6th June 2015

Flying with Small Children Part 3 – Tips, Tricks, and Handy Advice

My first ever flight with a baby in May 2012. We're now 20 sleeps away from flight 18!

My first ever flight with a baby in May 2012. We’re now 20 sleeps away from flight 18!

 

1 – LUGGAGE

Luggage allowance varies very much per airline – and whilst some allow you to check a buggy and car seat into the hold in addition to your luggage allowance, others will count it as part of your allowance. Check this before you book with an airline, as going over your allowance can be very costly.

2 – BUGGIES / CARRIERS FOR TRANSPORTING BABY

Most airlines will allow you to take a fully collapsible stroller to the doors of the plane, which is very handy if you have young children. However, they usually won’t deliver it back to you until baggage reclaim at the other end. This poses problems if you have a baby and no way of carrying them between the plane and luggage carousel, but there are a few options.

Some airports / airlines offer complimentary strollers for use before/after check-in (this is a helpful list, but may be a little out of date) – Emirates is one such airline, but they aren’t always available, so it’s worth having a back-up plan.  If you have a baby carrier like a Baby Bjorn or Ergo, take it onto the flight as hand luggage so you have it as you leave the plane. There is also a stroller that collapses small enough to be taken as hand luggage, called Baby Zen YoYo – we have this stroller and it’s very, very handy (UK link, UAE link). Or you could try my new toy, the Ride On Carry On, which attaches to a pull-along cabin-sized suitcase (UK link, UAE orders 050 4762350).

3 – GETTING LIQUIDS / BABY FORMULA THROUGH SECURITY

Formula Milk: Baby milk is exempt from the 100ml liquids rule – but you need to be prepared to taste a third of what you take through security. So if you take 3 bottles, you will be asked to taste one of them. As soon as you get to security, get the bottles out and tell them it is milk for your baby.

I always pre-measure the powder and store it in 2 x Avent Milk Powder Dispensers (UK link, available at Baby Shop and major chemists in the UAE). I then take ready-boiled water in sealed bottles, pouring the powder into the water and shaking to mix when we needed it. As a rule, I take 2 extra bottles/powder than we need in case of delays or spills. I also usually grab a couple of pre-made cartons of formula once we are in the airport lounge to be extra prepared.

Sometimes the air pressure causes my Dr Brown bottles to leak a little bit during take-off, so I store the bottles in a plastic bag. I then top up with a little mineral water if necessary.

If you are in the UK, you can also pre-order ready-to-drink formula cartons from branches of Boots in airport lounges. You can find the branch with this link www.boots.com/en/Store-Locator/. If you forget (or manage to leave your powder at home in a last minute panic), don’t panic as I’ve always found Boots to be pretty well stocked. In Dubai, it isn’t as easy so make sure you are fully stocked with powder/water in bottles.

Water / Drinks for Children: This is a big no-no. I usually fill the boy’s water bottles with a little water each for the car journey to the airport and then drink it / pour out in the bathrooms before security so they are empty as we go through. Then we buy bottled water to re-fill them when we go through.

Food Pouches: Food puree is considered liquid, so make sure you take it out of your bag and tell the security staff (I made this mistake once and had my whole bag searched as I was none the wiser!) You may also be asked to taste it. Airports usually have quite a good stock once you go through (and your baby may also get a jar/pouch as part of their meal on the plane). Check this in advance so you know how much to pack/buy 

4 – WHERE TO SIT ON THE FLIGHT

If you have a small baby, make sure you call your airline as soon as you book your flights and pre-book the seats with basinet. This will make your life a lot easier at nap times as you will have your arms free (and it also makes a handy storage facility for baby’s toys / activities when they are awake). The other benefit is that you will have a lot more space for bags and be situated right by the toilets for baby changing. Some airlines require you to take baby out of basinet whenever turbulence occurs (Emirates, for example) and others allow you to keep them in (British Airways comes to mind). You will be told the rules when you board.

However, baby grows quickly and the size/weight allowance of the basinets varies greatly by airline. This ridiculously helpful chart (last updated April 2015) will give you the info you need – and it’s well worth consulting before you book. If you have a choice to go for an airline where baby still fits in basinet, go for it – it will make your flight so much easier.

Once children are slightly older (like mine, aged 16 months and 3 years), I actually prefer to move back to regular rows of seats. This is mainly because we can store our bags under the seats in front right from boarding (with a basinet, you will only be allowed to bring them down from overhead lockers once in the air) and because they can use the seat-back televisions right from boarding to the moment we have to leave the plane (unlike basinets where the fold-out TVs can’t be used during take-off and landing). Do not underestimate the power of a TV to play with / watch while you are trying to unpack and settle!

4 – GENERAL ON BOARD TIPS

Keep them in their seat: My wise expat friend Fiona gave me a tip when I first started flying with children: make them aware that their seat is their space for the whole flight and that walking up and down is not an option. I have never let my children walk up and down the plane and in 17 long-haul flights, they have never asked to do it. Despite having two very active little boys who can’t sit still for a second at home, they have never even been aware that leaving their seats (apart from toilet breaks) is even an option. This has made life so much easier for myself and my husband and I still think it’s the best tip I received! I am aware that we only fly 7/8 hours at a time, so it may be a different story if you fly for 15 hours straight – but do it on your terms. Give them the freedom and they will take it – again and again and again…

Buy headphones: If your child is old enough (in my opinion, this is about 18 months), buy them fun headphones and present as a gift when you board the plane (my boys have some with frogs – UK link, UAE available in Virgin Megastore). The moment we did this was the moment flights got easier! Stanley loves having his own headphones – and once he heard the inflight entertainment, he started to focus on it for longer than a few minutes! For little ones, you can try practicing at home before the flight. Wilfred will get his for the first time during our next flight. Make sure you buy headphones designed for little ears, as their ears are very sensitive.

Extra nappies: Take two extra nappies than you think you need. There’s something about flying that makes my children rather, well, frequent! It is also very wise to pack an extra set of clothes per child – not only for toilet accidents / nappy explosions, but in case turbulence / pesky little hands send your drink flying. It’s also worth me adding that although my 3-year old has been potty trained for 6 months now, we always pop him in a pull-up for a flight (which he still wears at night, so it’s not alien to him). It’s always dry at the end of the day, but it gives me peace of mind in case he suddenly announces he needs a wee during take-off or landing!

Food on board: If your child has their own seat on the flight (over 2 years old), they will get their own meal – but it’s not always automatic that they will get a child’s meal, so pre-book this in advance. If you have a baby on lap, they will probably only be offered a jar of puree (if that) – and if you have a baby between 12 months and 2 years, that won’t cut it. I usually pack a pot of mess-free finger foods and leave it in the fridge until the moment we leave the house – like cheese cubes, sausage chunks, sweetcorn, bread sticks etc. I also pack extra snacks for both children, such as rice cakes, fun fruit snacks, and raisins. Take more than you think you need in case of delays, but pack into clear zip-lock bags rather than pots to save weight.

Helpful reminder: I have generally found it easy enough to fly with my boys – but there has been the odd occasion when they have cried for hours straight or thrown bread rolls or shrieked at two second intervals. People have always been quite understanding, but we do get the odd angry glance, tut, loudly-spoken comment. Over the years, I have learnt to ignore it and stay calm. I just remind myself that we will never see any of these people again – and that in a matter of hours, we will be at our destination and everything will have been worth it. And it is! It always is! I promise!



4th June 2015

Flying with Small Children Part 2 – How To Entertain Them

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 22.10.16After Part 1 earlier in the week discussing how to pack hand luggage, I thought I’d write a post with ideas for how to entertain your children for (what seems like) endless hours sat still.

For older babies and toddlers like Wilfred (up to 2 years), I have a rule to pack one treat for every hour of the flight. Don’t expect a full hour of entertainment from each activity – but spacing the gifts out like that keeps things fun and fresh.

For older children like Stanley (2+), I prefer to hand over their bag so they can help themselves throughout the flight. He has his own seat, so he has the space to get creative. He is also old enough to navigate his way through the entertainment system or play games on the iPad – so I don’t really need to pack more than 3 or 4 extra activities for him now he’s a bit older, along with lots of snacks.

So when it comes to babies and toddlers, here are some ideas…

Untitled

Magnetic Scribblers
Chunky Crayons
Colouring Book
Small Wind Up Toys
Flash Cards
Water Pen and Book
Changing Colour Ball/Toy
Small Cars
Books with flaps / interactive elements
Apps for the iPad, including Sago Mini, Nighty Night, and Fairy Tales

And for small children…

Untitled

Magnetic Scribblers
Sticker Books
Magazines for TV Shows they enjoy
Drawing/Writing Activity Books with Dry Wipe Pens
Water Pen and Book
Crayons and story book colouring book
Their own headphones
Apps for the iPad including My PlayHome, CBeebies Playtime, Busy Shapes, and Tally Tots

I hope these ideas help if you are flying soon with your brood. I’ll be posting Part 3 in the next few days, with ideas for snacks to take on board and general tips for flying (such as taking milk through security and how to get small people to sit still for so many hours!)



2nd June 2015

Flying with Small Children Part 1 – Packing Hand Luggage

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 21.40.52I don’t consider myself an expert at flying with small children by any means (the bread rolls thrown across the aeroplane, coffee-splattered outfits, and mid-air nappy explosions are testament to that) – but having flown 17 long-haul flights with children in tow in the past 3 years, I do have the packing down to a fine art at least.

The way I do it is simple, but makes life so much easier when you are grappling with overexcited, overtired small people…

So here are the 4 steps.

1) I pack a shoulder bag with essentials that I need access to quickly and easily in the airport.

2) I pack a roll-along cabin bag with everything we need for the flight – and it’s divided into four plastic/canvas bags. Wilfred has a bag with his goodies, Stanley has a bag with his goodies, there is a bag dedicated to food, and there is a bag for my things (a few magazines and headphones for the moments the boys are quiet – i.e. – 5 minutes of a 7.5 hour flight). If I’m flying with my husband, we split these over two roll-alongs. If I’m on my own, I still pack in this manner, but I need to be more careful about the weight.

3) Once we’re in the gate waiting to board the plane, I take a few minutes to move any essentials from my handbag into the relevant bag in the roll-along. I usually buy ready-made formula in the airport for Wilfred, so this also gets moved into the food bag.

4) Once we’re on the plane, I pull out the 4 x bags and put them under the seats in front (or if we have the basinet seats, I wait until we’re in the air and then put them by our feet). The handbag and roll-along go straight into the overhead locker and I don’my bagBags 2t need them again until we land.

Since I discovered this method of packing, it has made things so much quicker and easier to fly.

Ill post Part 2 soon, which will have recommendations for keeping small children entertained on a flight…

 

 

 



26th March 2015

10 Things To Consider Before You Travel With Small Children

10843724_1518629858409350_1182248532_n1. Start a countdown to your holiday, by all means. But fully expect the holiday to be mentioned 63 times a day for the remainder of the countdown. And fully expect to regret starting the countdown by the middle of day one.

2. Spend some time creating a pack of activities to keep your little one entertained during the flight. But don’t be disappointed when they spend more time prodding the seat-back TV, pulling the arm-rest up and down, or removing the earphone plug of the unsuspecting passenger next to them on repeat.

3. Always pack a spare change of clothes. For both of you.

4. Feel free to pack a cute little backpack or roll-along for your little one. Just make sure that you have a spare hand to carry / drag it, as the novelty of having their own bag will wear off within five minutes of arriving at the airport.

5. Packing a healthy meal in your hand baggage is a lovely idea. It will ward off the hunger when your small person tucks into all the best bits of your meal and leaves you with a dry bread roll and wilted salad.

6. Pack books, snazzy earphones, and magazines in your bag. You will need them for approximately 32 minutes, before turbulence wakes your child up from their nap.

7. If your child is travelling on your lap for a long-haul flight and you currently enjoy feeling your arms, make the most of that sensation. You will soon be fantasising about it at 40,000 feet.

8. It is well worth heading to the gym before your flight to prepare yourself for carrying your own bags, your children’s bags, and your children of various sizes and weights. You will be expected to do all this down a narrow plane aisle, without hitting anyone on the head with a child’s trailing foot.

9. When you reach your destination, get ready for people to clock the amount of luggage you are travelling with and laugh. A lot.

10. If you are travelling to a different time zone and don’t like coffee, start practicing to like coffee now.