Adventures of a Free-From Clothbum Mum!

Cloth nappies, dairy-free living, reviews and parental ramblings!

Kiddicare Lakeside: Review

on January 15, 2013

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You know when you see things that you just wish had been around when you were expecting a baby? Something that would have made it all just that bit (or quite a lot!) simpler?

That’s how I felt when I went to visit Kiddicare’s amazing new store at Lakeside, down in Thurrock (Essex) recently. It’s a brilliant, absolutely ENORMOUS store that has the whole ‘shopping for your new baby’ thing nailed!

There are certain websites that I’ve found really helpful when I’ve been researching (and buying) things for my little man over the past couple of years and Kiddicare has been one of them. Their website, along with their fantastic videos that show how to use most of their products, have been godsends, so I was quite excited when I was invited (along with a lovely bunch of other bloggers) to visit their new store.

I was initially a little worried as I often get lost around the Lakeside area and I was quite concerned that I wouldn’t find the store or that I’d turn off at the wrong point, but I needn’t have worried. It’s gigantic (50,000 square feet!) and you just can’t miss it, which is brilliant. There’s loads of parking and when I pulled up I sat in the car, staring at the bright, modern building and I have to admit – I was ridiculously excited. This place would have been my idea of heaven when I was pregnant and, whilst hubby isn’t exactly ever particularly thrilled with going shopping, I know that it would have ticked lots of boxes for him as you can get pretty much anything and everything that you need under one roof. Bonus!

After being greeted at the ‘Hello World’ desk by some lovely ladies who were full of very helpful information, I headed on over to grab a coffee at the cafe, along with a bite to eat. The cafe serves yummy Starbucks beverages and I made use of the ‘Nursing nest’, which is a calm screened off area with very comfy nursing chairs in it as little Monkey had decided that he wanted a feed. With him happy, I was able to use the free Wifi to tweet that I’d arrived and enjoyed a few minutes of peach and quiet.

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We then inspected and used the toilets and changing facilities, which are absolutely brilliant. There’s a communal changing area that’s really clean and brightly-coloured, which Monkey loved. The toilets have been so sensibly-designed, with each cubicle having a toddler toilet in there, along with enough space for a pram. How sensible is that! It just made life that little bit easier and there was no queueing to use the disabled toilet, as is the case when we go to most places on our own.

Kiddicare is a great store that I could spend, quite frankly, hours in. Everything that you see in the store (apart from some of the larger furniture sets) is available for you to take home that day, should you wish to and there’s a brilliant electronic pricing tag system that is constantly monitored and updated, so that you get really good deals. The stock levels are also shown, which I think is such a sensible idea. There are touch-screen ‘Browse & Order’ points situated around the store, so you can get things delivered straight to your house if you so wish.

What I particularly liked about the store, was the ‘try-before-you-buy’ pushchair track, called ‘Walk in the Park’ This is a really large area with what looks like a fun racetrack down the middle, along which are pretty much every type of buggy that you can imagine. Further back you can find a huge selection of prams and pushchairs, including many twin (and even triplet) ones. Having made a few errors when buying buggies ( I hasten to add, not my pram – I LOVE my pram!) this area would have been fantastic for me. When Monkey was smaller I adored my slings but he’s just too heavy for me nowadays so we could have made great use of this facility to testdrive a good variety to find the ones that suit you best. Having a very tall husband, along with a very tall baby, this would have been an immensely useful thing for us to do.

Another sensible little touch, for me, was the area at the back of the store where they have all the bedroom furniture and furniture sets out on display. They’re set out in areas that are the size of the average box room, which I think gives people a really good realistic idea of what would work for them. Most people don’t have the vast open spaces that some stores use to display nursery items, so this little touch made a lot of sense to me. I would obviously like to see more cosleeping/sidecar cot options on display to give a more rounded view on how/where your baby can sleep, but what I found very useful here was the wide range of travel cots. It’s incredible just how much they differ in size.

The store has a Community Events room situated at the back of store. We took part in a fantastic ‘Jo Jingles’ music lesson, which my little Monkey utterly adored. This room can be hired our for parties and will have a range of classes taking place in it. It’s annoying for me that we’re not nearer, but could be a little dangerous on my pocket as the temptation to have a little shop afterwards would be rather great!

Another service that I think would be so handy for some parents-to-be is the Kiddicare VIB service. It’s like a personal shopping service and for those parents who either want to be pampered, or for those who are very short on time, it’s a great idea as a personal shopper can help you choose products that would suit you best, whilst you can sit back in comfort in the VIB lounge. You can also create your own gift list here, if you want to. Whilst this isn’t something that I would have done, I can see it being really useful for many parents-to-be and a facility that makes a lot of sense.

From a personal point of view, I was particularly pleased that there was a good selection of Tots Bots and MioSolo nappies in the store that were available to purchase. Obviously I would love to see an even bigger range, but as I get SO annoyed when I go to other baby shopping places and find pretty much nothing there in the way of cloth nappies, Kiddicare really made me rather happy!

I really enjoyed my day out at Kiddicare Lakeside. There’s just so much choice there and it really does make shopping for your little one very simple. I’d love to see a few other products making their way in there, such a good selection of ERF (extended Rearfacing) car seats (I was dying to see a wider range but the majority of the seats were FF only), a wider range of cloth nappies and more slings that hold a baby in the frog position (they stock the Close Caboo and Manduca ones at the moment), but overall I was very impressed by the range and choice of products that I found there!

They’re currently in the middle of quite a massive January sale! I think I might have to try to not spend tooooo much!

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