Mommy in London

Trying to figure things out!

Sightseeing in London with a Baby – Oxford Circus, Covent Garden, etc

More visitors means more sightseeing!

My brother is here from Canada and we’re trying to see and do as much as possible while he’s here.  So in one day we went to Oxford Street, Regent Street, Soho, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Covent Garden.  It was very ambitious with a 10 month old baby, but we actually managed to do it all.

On Oxford Street the John Lewis is great for breast feeding and changing nappies.  We had lunch at Wahaca, which was also really good because they had high chairs and it’s quite a lively, noisy place, so no one looked at us if E was having a happy little shout.  We brought his lunch for him, but I was able to share a bit of my bean and cheese quesadilla with him as well.  They don’t have a specific kids menu, but I think there are a few items like that, that could be suitable for children.  Disappointingly they didn’t have a baby change area, so we had to find a Starbucks afterwards to change him in.

E happily napped in the afternoon as we continued our tour of London, but I felt bad after he woke up as there wasn’t really anywhere for him to crawl around.  If I planned the day again I would have definitely made a detour to a park so that he could have some time out of his pram (although saying that, it did rain that day and the grass would have been too wet anyway, any indoor places to crawl around in Central London?)

We also ended up having to give him his dinner on the train on the way home, which isn’t ideal really, but he was so good about it.  And it meant that as soon as we got home he was free to crawl around as much as he could until bath time!

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Sightseeing in London with a Baby – The Museums

It’s a funny thing to write about for someone who lives in London, but we’ve had people visiting this summer and now that E’s old enough I haven’t been just sending them off to explore on their own, but we’ve actually been joining them.

So one day last week some friends of hubby’s came with their almost 2 year old, and we thought a nice way to spend the day with them would be at the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum in South Kensington.

We went to the NHM first, on the advice from @frizzychick that the restaurant there is better for lunch (which it was).  Because we had quite small children with us we just did the highlights tour, looking at the dinosaurs and the big blue whale!  The museum is really well set up for prams, we had no trouble navigating our way around on the lifts and ramps.  There was an option to check your pram and walk around without it (which you may do for older children) but we happily kept E in his (we had him facing out in the Bugaboo Chameleon, so he was at a good height to see most things).  As E is still very little (10 months) he was just happy to look around at all the people and showed some interest in some of the moving exhibits and things, but our friends’ 2 year old did get a bit of a fright from the moving raptors and huge roaring t-rex.

After exploring we had lunch in the Scoffasaurus restaurant in the museum.  It was a great set up with lots of food options for adults and children.  We had brought lunch for E, but that was fine as well, they brought him a high chair and there was plenty of room for us to keep his pram by our table.  After lunch we did a quick nappy change, they have great facilities down in the picnic room (which is also excellent if you’re bringing food for the whole family).  And it’s nice and noisy in there, perfect for the kiddies to have a little shout and a crawl around.

We then headed over to the Science Museum.  By this point E was having his afternoon nap in his pram, but the other little boy absolutely loved it!  He squealed in delight at all of the old cars, trains and airplanes.

We had a look at a few other exhibits, but had somehow ended up stuck on one side of the museum that isn’t connected to the rest, and as E was sleeping we decided to skip ‘The Garden’ play area (which I have previously taken kids to, it’s fantastic!) and just head out for a walk to the park instead.

We walked up to Hyde Park / Kensington Gardens from there  and up to the cafe by the Princess Diana Memorial Playground for a rest and a snack.  Unfortunately there was a massive queue to get into the playground, so we didn’t go in, but it must be something really special for people to make that much of an effort to go there.  We’ll definitely have to go back!

Our friends had to get going then, but we decided to go to Whole Foods in Kensington to pick up a few things and to give E his dinner.  He was fantastic all day long and is really getting used to these days out and changes to his routine.  I think as long as we don’t do them too many days in a row then he’s fine.  Such a good baby 🙂

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Where to Eat with a Baby in London

We often find ourselves out and about and wanting somewhere to eat as a family.  If we’ve planned in advance I usually bring food for E, but sometimes it would be nice to know that there’s somewhere that we could go that actually had food for him to eat.  Because we ended up following more of a Baby Led Weaning path, there really isn’t much that he can’t eat now (at 10 months old).  I just worry because I always make his food for him at home and know what ingredients are going into his food, that I may not be happy with what a restaurant thinks is suitable for children.  I found this great link about salt intake for babies  We also look for places that have nice food for us to eat, but are baby friendly (have high chairs and are noisy enough that we won’t get dirty looks if E decides that he wants to happily shout about his food) but often those aren’t the nicest restaurants for adults.

So far we have tried:

Carluccio’s

  • by far my favourite chain restaurant anyways, we have brought E here a couple of times.  They have nice high chairs and at lunch time there are usually plenty of other children around.  We have always brought our own food for E, but he has sampled some of the breadsticks 🙂  The children’s menu looks good, but I’m not sure about the salt content.  For the pasta. do they use the same sauce that would be in an adult dish?  Because in that case the salt content would probably be quite high.
  • Children’s menu http://www.carluccios.com/static/pdfs/menus/ChildrensMenu8.pdf

Pizza Express

  • again this is somewhere that we’ve always enjoyed going, so we took E quite early on.  We have always brought food for E, but they also have a children’s menu.  There seems to be a lot of selection for kids, but again it seems that it might just be smaller portions of adult meals, so there is the salt issue.
  • Children’s menu http://www.pizzaexpress.com/our-food/our-restaurant-menu/piccolo-menu/

Giraffe

  • we have taken E to Giraffe just once.  They also have nice, simple high chairs and a children’s menu, but again we brought food for him.  He was having a particularly fussy day and just wanted to eat food from our plates though, so we asked the waitress if we could have some toast for him.  She was lovely and brought him a couple of pieces of toast quite quickly, and that made E happy to be eating “the same food” as us.  Again I just wasn’t sure if the children’s menu would be suitable for him at such a young age.
  • Children’s menu http://www.giraffe.net/classic/menu/kids

Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee

  • we go to all of the chain cafes quite regularly to meet up with friends, they all have nice high chairs but definitely not much of a selection of food that would be suitable for babies.  At least after he’s one and drinking milk I can get him a babyccino 🙂

Places we haven’t tried yet:

Nando’s

  • seems like a healthy option?  anyone been, do they have high chairs?
  • Children’s menu http://www.nandos.co.uk/themenu (they do have nutritional information, and the chicken breast fillet strips are the only item with less than 1 gram of salt, at 0.8 g so they would be ok, as long as he wasn’t having any other salt that day)

Pizza Hut

Frankie & Benny’s

Chiquito

Ikea

Prezzo

Wagamama

Ask

Rainforest Cafe

 

I’m sure that there are many more places to go, I would love to hear about other people’s experiences with babies in restaurants, please post your comments here!

I’d also like to know about those of you who are very brave and take babies into posh restaurants for special occasions.  Whilst writing this blog post I came across this website http://www.babydinesout.com/ it’s fantastic, but I’m not quite sure that we’re brave enough to take E to Claridge’s quite yet!

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Night Weaning

Now that E is 10 months old, I’ve been thinking a bit about when we stop breastfeeding.  I decided a long time ago that we would stop when he is a year old, but suddenly that doesn’t seem very far away!  And obviously I can’t just stop cold turkey, the poor boy wouldn’t know what was going on, so it seemed the right time to cut back on feeds.

E was having 6 milk feeds a day (before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner, before bed, dreamfeed and night feed) which to some seems like quite a few for his age, so I’m not worried that he isn’t getting enough milk.  I think that his night feed was more about habit and comfort than actual hunger anymore.

So last Thursday, we began the process of night weaning.  Thursday night and Friday night were not pleasant.  E woke up quite a few times crying and my husband soothed him back to sleep (having to use all sorts of methods, but I think walking up and down the stairs worked in the end).  But then suddenly on Saturday night, he just slept through the night!  I was in shock but so happily amazed by it all.  He woke up happily at about 6:30am, played in his cot for a bit and then cried to be picked up.  I have never felt so refreshed!  Then last night he woke up twice for his soother, but only for a minute each time and straight back to sleep.

I know this may not be the end of night wakings for us, but it’s just so nice to know that he can do it.  Now the next step will be to drop the dreamfeed, that one will probably be a lot harder for me!

Here’s a link to an article on KellyMom about Night Weaning that got me started http://kellymom.com/parenting/nighttime/weaning-night/

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Ways for the Family to Take Part in the Olympics without Tickets

I probably should have written this post before it all started, but I had no idea just how obsessed I would become with the Olympics!  So, some of these have passed, but hopefully some of you can make it to the upcoming events and be a part of the Olympics celebrations.  We also had no idea how easy it would be to take our 9 month old baby to the Olympics, but he coped so well we now wish that we could go again!

I think that a lot of people were very upset not to get tickets to the events (I know that we were after the first round of sales when we got nothing, but luckily we eventually did get tickets to the swimming).  But there are plenty of other things to do around the city to get into the Olympic spirit!

  • Torch Relay
    • we loved the torch relay, it went by way too quick, but there was such a great atmosphere, I wish they did one on the way out too!

Sports

  • Men’s and Women’s Cycling Road Races
    • we went to watch both and had so much fun, again it was a great atmosphere of people waving their flags and cheering, not just for British cyclists but for everyone who passed, a great thing to be a part of
  • Men’s and Women’s Cycling Time Trials
    • we missed this (we were too tired from going to the Olympic Park the day before) but we heard it was fantastic, especially to see Bradley Wiggins win gold!
  • Women’s and Men’s Triathlon
  • Men’s and Women’s Marathon
  • Men’s 20km and 50km and Women’s Race Walk
  • Men’s and Women’s Swimming Marathon

Big Screens

  • BT London Live
    • I would really like to go and watch some of the events on a big screen in a park, a much more social way to watch the games than at home, but still being able to watch a variety of events, what’s not to love?  And there’s a Cadbury’s area, yum!

Arts

Other

  • International Olympic Houses
    • I had no idea that all of the houses put this on, we may just have to pop into Canada House to see what it’s all about 🙂
  • Find the Olympic Mascots around London
    • We are definitely going to do this!!!  I want to find all of the mascots and take photos of E with them 🙂  I know a lot of people don’t really get the mascots, but I’ve learned to love Wenlock and Mandeville ❤

I’m sure that there are many other events that I’m missing, please let me know so that I can add them to my list!

And if you’re still desperate for tickets, keep checking the London 2012 ticketing website as they’re putting up more every night, maybe you’ll get lucky!

Hope you’re all enjoying the Olympics as much as we are!!!

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Our Day at the Olympics

We were lucky enough to go to the Olympics yesterday!  I’ve written quite a few previous blog posts about preparing for it, so you may be sick of hearing about it, but the day finally arrived!  It felt like Christmas and holidays all rolled into one, but of course that caused a lot of anxiety about everything being perfect, and now we’re still completely exhausted!

Luckily, all of my preparation did pay off.  I had our bags packed the day before with everything we needed, so we just had to get ourselves ready in the morning and get going.  We decided to make our journey simpler by not going through a major station but staying on one train and going the long way around.  I think this was right because this way we had seats the whole time and E was settled and able to eat his breakfast at his own pace (and entertain all of the other train passengers with his breakfast excitement, he squeals over fruit!) Bringing the collapsible stroller was the right decision because we were able to feed him in there and he had a bit more room to sit and play.

When we arrived at Stratford Station it was a bit of a walk through to the Olympic Park so we kept him in the stroller.  Everyone was so nice, the volunteers and the soldiers were all smiling and pointing us in the right direction.  Security into the park was a breeze. there were no issues with the food and drinks that I brought in for E.  We found the Aquatics Centre and were waved through a family lane so we didn’t have to queue and shown to the pushchair storage area, which was also quick and easy to use.  We then had E in the Baby Bjorn and found our way through the venue to our seats.  We were quite high up, but had a low barrier in front of us, which meant that we had a great view and were able to hang our flag off of it, as well as not having people in front of us for Ethan to grab at (I can just imagine him trying to pull their hair!)

He was so good for the entire event, happily bouncing up and down on our laps, getting very excited with all of the clapping and cheering around us 🙂  It did get a bit noisy at times (when Brits were swimming) so then I tried to cover E’s ears.  In the future I would think about getting headphones to protect his ears, especially if going to finals or other noisier events.

In the venue there were baby changing facilities, but I’m not sure if there was anywhere quiet to breastfeed.  I didn’t ask anyone, but from what I could tell there would not have been anywhere.

After the swimming was finished we stayed at our seats to let the Aquatic Centre clear out a little bit so that we weren’t stuck in the crowd.  We made our way out and picked up our stroller from the storage area without any fuss and made our way out to explore the rest of the park.

Throughout the park there were baby changing facilities, and in one room we found there was a place to sit and breastfeed (even though it may not have been intended for that purpose).  I would have liked to see some more baby friendly facilities, obviously that is not what the Olympics are intended for, but I think it’s nice to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible.

There was a variety of food available around the park, but unfortunately all of the food that we had was overpriced and not very tasty.  I would definitely suggest taking in food for babies and children and am so glad that we didn’t take the risk of trying to find healthy food for E to eat at the Park.  All of the seating in the food areas was picnic tables, so again I was glad that we had E in the stroller because we were able to feed him in there, we had brought the Tot Seat, but it works by attaching to a chair, which we didn’t have.

After lunch we made our way to Park Live, a large grassy area with big screens to watch a variety of Olympic events.  I don’t think that I had it on my packing list (in a previous post) but I had brought a small picnic mat, which was also a really important thing to bring.  After sitting for so long on the train, in the venue and for lunch, E definitely needed to have some freedom to crawl around.  He was happily crawling around on the grass, playing with his toys and making friends with everyone around us.

After that it was E’s nap time, and so we put him back in the Baby Bjorn (he won’t really sleep in forward facing strollers, there’s too much to look at!) and explored a bit more of the park.  We saw the NBC area where they were filming the Today Show, and even spotted Ryan Seacrest with Aly Raisman (American gymnast)’s parents.

We then went to the Olympic Megastore!  There was a huge queue, which we thought was crazy for a shop, but you get so caught up in it all that you just have to go 🙂  But yet again we were treated nicely for having a baby with us, we were waved over and bypassed the line completely.  It was crazy inside the shop, but I did manage to get a few cute things for E 🙂

This cute gold Wenlock that you can only buy at Olympic venues

And the cutest little shoes!!!

After that we had been pretty much all around the park so we headed over to the mall!  Westfield Stratford is right beside the Olympic Park, and we hadn’t been before but hoped that the facilities would be as good as the other Westfield mall in London.  We got in and headed straight for the Parents Room to change and breastfeed E with lots of space and comfy seating.  That’s the way it should always be done!

Then of course we shopped a bit (there’s a Victoria’s Secret there, the first in London) and decided to give E his dinner there, rather than on the train on the way home.  The mall was also fun because there were loads of athletes walking around, we even sat beside some of the guys from the Spanish water polo team while we had our coffee!

The journey home seemed to take forever, and of course E then found it much too exciting to watch people and refused to sleep.  But he was still very happy, giggling away and making people smile.  Overall he was so good all day long, we are so lucky to have such a well behaved baby and I’m so glad that we took the risk of bringing a baby to the Olympics.  He may not remember it when he’s older, but we have loads of photos and stories to tell him, and he’ll always be able to say that he was there 🙂

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We are so excited about the Olympics!!!

The day has finally arrived, the Opening Ceremony is tonight!

We’ve already been in Olympic mode this week, we went to see the torch on Tuesday morning – it went by really quickly so we didn’t get a good look at it, but we were there!

We rang our bells at 8:12 this morning to celebrate 12 hours until the Olympics begins!

We were going to go and try to see the torch again this morning as it made it’s way down the river, but we just weren’t ready on time!  (It’s probably for the best as it was running late and it’s around E’s nap time)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/torchrelay/day70#pid=p00t6bbv&t=9h13m46s

Tonight we will eat Olympic themed food as we watch the Opening Ceremony 🙂  I love these ideas from Annabel Karmel

http://blog.annabelkarmel.com/recipes/an-olympic-party.html

The bagels and the ice cream cones are my favourites 🙂

I found lots of other great ideas on Pinterest and put them on my Jubilympics board http://pinterest.com/mommyinlondon/jubilympics/

Then on Saturday and Sunday we’ll go watch a bit of the cycling road race as they whiz through our neighbourhood, all leading up to our big day on Tuesday when we go to watch the swimming and explore the Olympic Park!

I’ve started making my list and organising all of the essentials that we’ll need to bring with us on the day.  I found out that we can bring a pram as there are places to store them at the venues, but we don’t want to bring our big Bugaboo, so we bought this:

It’s from Mothercare and I’m so excited for it to arrive 🙂

Here’s my list of things to bring so far, we’re only allowed to bring in a small bag, so I hope it will all fit!  They seem to say that there will be healthy food available around the park, but I still want to bring as much food as possible for E, I don’t think he’s ready for Happy Meals quite yet!

Olympics Packing List

Changing

  • Nappies
  • Water wipes
  • Nappy sacks
  • Changing mat
  • Spare clothes (vest, top, pants /shorts, socks, dribble bib)

Medicine

  • Sun screen
  • Bonjela
  • Nelson’s
  • Calpol sachets

Feeding

  • Muslins
  • Feeding cover
  • Meals
    • Breakfast – wakey wakey cakes
    • Lunch – wraps and peanut butter
    • Dinner – lamb roast dinner pouch
  • Snacks
    • Rice cakes
    • Biscuits
    • Carrot puffs
    • Cheerios
    • Raisins
    • Fruit pouches
  • Spoons
  • Sippy cup
  • Totseat
  • Feeding bibs

Sleeping

  • Soothers and clip
  • Big Muzz

Hot / cold weather clothes

  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hoodie

Travel

  • Stroller
  • Baby Bjorn

Playing

  • Toys
  • Teething toys

Other

  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Hats
  • Umbrella
  • Rain coats
  • Water
  • Snack bars
  • Flags

 

Hopefully I’ve remembered everything, if you’re going to the Olympics too, please let me know what you’re bringing!

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What to do on a Sunny Day in London

The sunny weather has finally arrived, it may actually be summertime now 🙂  We are very excited, and can’t wait to get out there and see and do all that we can (before the rain comes back!)

On a sunny day

* we may not live by the seaside, but we can go to the riverside to play in the sand!

* there are loads of swimming pools around the city

* I just recently discovered our local one o’clock club, and it has loads of outdoor toys (and an indoor area, just in case)

* London definitely has some of the nicest parks in the world, and E loves to eat his lunch in the park, it somehow makes things much more exciting (and he gets to steal other people’s food too!)

* I am yet to find a splash pad local to us, but we may just have to venture out to Kensington Memorial Park on an especially hot day!

* As E gets older he is definitely showing more interest in animals, I think that he would love to walk around a city farm and feed some of the animals

* When E was less than a month old we went to pick a pumpkin for Halloween ( I really wanted photos of him with the pumpkins) and it was so much fun I said that we would definitely go back in the summer to pick some fruit.  I can just picture him now, crawling amongst the strawberries and eating as many as he can!

* E is probably still a bit young for Legoland or Chessington, but I can’t wait to take him when he’s a bit older 🙂

As always I’m open to more suggestions, what’s everyone else doing on this beautiful, sunny day?

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What to do on a Rainy Day in London

We’ve had quite a rainy summer so far in London, so I’ve been compiling a list of all of our rainy day activities!  As E gets bigger (he’s 9 months old now, crawling at super fast speed and getting into everything!), it’s become more of a challenge to keep him entertained in our small house on a rainy day, so we have to get creative!

On a rainy day

  • go to a soft play centre

* we haven’t tried one yet as I’m not sure if E is still too small and will get trampled by the toddlers, but there’s one that opens up next week during the school holidays so I think we’ll have a go

* as members of Gymboree we can go to open gym sessions at set times everyday, it’s a great thing to do on a rainy day and E loves it!  (they have a set day for pre walkers which is the one we mostly attend so that E doesn’t get trampled 😉

* if we can’t get to the seaside, we can always pretend!

  • make some playdough to play with

* this is my plan for this afternoon, we’ll see how it goes, fingers crossed that E doesn’t just want to eat it

* I haven’t been brave enough to try this since Canada Day, but will definitely try again soon, I may even buy some little canvas’ to display E’s masterpieces

  • go to a drop in class

* we’re very lucky to have loads of different music classes around, many of which are drop in classes, so most days we can find one to go to if we’re at a loss

  • go to a playgroup

* a lot of churches around here have great playgroups, many are only during term time which is unfortunate for us, but we plan to go more regularly starting in September

  • have a playdate

* we’re lucky to have made some great friends at NCT and through our Gymboree classes, so on rainy days someone is usually up for a playdate

  • bake cookies

* E may be a bit young for this one, but I’m sure he’d enjoy playing with the dough!

  • go to the library

* our local library is fantastic!  I don’t let E go wild with the books because I don’t want him to rip any, but it’s great to have a different selection of stories.  Our library also does weekly baby singing sessions and storytelling sessions, and best of all, it’s all free!

* we love the Pottery Cafe, there is a small sitting fee but then we can paint all sorts of pottery (and they’re very helpful if you want to do handprints and footprints) and they make great gifts!

* E loves to watch the fish swimming around, he’s mesmerised by them!

* two fantastic places to go in London that are free!  They are aimed at older children, but E still loves looking around at things and loves to watch the big kids run around, I think he’s planning all the fun he’ll have as soon as he figures out how to walk!

I would love any other suggestions as we’re always looking for more things to do (especially if this rain continues!) and fingers crossed that the weather really will get better next week, and then I can post my ‘sunny day’ list!

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Our Weekend Away

This past weekend we went to visit hubby’s family in a different part of the country for a family party.

We were looking forward to going, especially since we hadn’t been up since Christmas and E has grown so much since then!

The part that I didn’t realise until the weekend got closer, was just how much we would have to bring with us, compared to the last time that we visited.  Last time he was so small that we just brought the carry cot from the bugaboo for him to sleep in, but of course this time he needed the full travel cot.  He was also just breastfeeding last time, and now he’s having 3 meals a day (plus snacks!) and he’s not the easiest baby to feed (we’re not officially doing baby led weaning, but he prefers to feed himself so that is what we mostly do).  And because we were only going for one night and would be quite busy we really did have to bring everything with us, there would be no time to prepare meals (especially en route and at the party.)

Basically I had to bring everything that we ever need for E.  I think that packing for one night away or packing for a week away pretty much involve the same amount of stuff!  We had to bring clothes for all possible weather situations and lots of back ups just in case, everything for eating, sleeping, washing, playing, etc, etc, etc!

Just in case it’s helpful to anyone else with a 9 month old, here is our packing list:

Changing

  • Nappies
  • Water wipes
  • Cotton pads / balls
  • Nappy sacks
  • Sudocrem
  • Baby Balm
  • Changing mat
  • Vests
  • Tops
  • Pants / Shorts
  • Socks
  • Dribble bibs
  • Shoes

Washing

  • Baby wash / shampoo
  • Lotion / Baby Balm
  • Hair brush
  • Towel
  • Face cloths
  • Bath toy
  • Bath mat
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste

Medicine

  • Sun screen
  • Bonjela
  • Nelson’s
  • Calpol
  • Eczema cream
  • Saline nose spray
  • Snot sucker
  • Thermometer

Feeding

  • Muslins
  • Feeding cover
  • Milton tablets
  • Meals
  • Snacks
  • Bowl
  • Spoons
  • Sippy cup
  • Totseat
  • Feeding bibs

Sleeping

  • Blankets
  • Sleeping bag
  • Bedding (sheets)
  • Gloworm
  • Sleepy Bunny
  • Soothers
  • Travel cot
  • Pyjamas / Sleepsuits

Hot / cold weather clothes

  • Hat (tuque / sunhat)
  • Mitts
  • Coat
  • Sunglasses
  • Swim trunks
  • Swim nappies

Travel

  • Pram
  • Car seat
  • Car seat adaptors
  • Baby Bjorn
  • Changing Bag

Playing

  • Toys
  • Teething toys

Other

  • Laundry Detergent
  • Baby Monitor
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