Adventures of a Free-From Clothbum Mum!

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

We went and had tea with a Gruffalo!

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Monkey took a walk through a deep, slightly dark wood.

Monkey saw a whole host of gorgeously-carved Gruffalo sculptures and they were GOOD!

For Father’s Day, we decided to take our lovely little man out to have tea in Thorndon Country Park, down in Brentwood, Essex.

Now, I’m not from this part of the world so I’d never heard of this beautiful place, but I’m so glad that I found out about it.

Thorndon is gorgeous! We had a lovely couple of hours wandering around the relaxing woodland and our little man was unbelievably excited.

The brilliant team there have had some wonderful painted wooden sculptures made of the main characters from the brilliant books by Julia Donaldson.

These are scattered around a toddler-friendly trail (you can buy a map from the visitor’s centre) that took us about 40 minutes whilst walking a leisurely pace and having those typical moments where the toddler walks back on himself, goes to hide in various bushes and has a few little sit downs on the ground!

If you’re local to Thorndon or if you’re around the area visiting, I would really recommend paying a visit. The look of sheer delight and amazement on my little boy’s face made it so worth it and we had one of the best afternoons of his little life so far!

daisytheclothbummum has written this because I feel like sharing! We had a WONDERFUL day and would like to thank all the staff at Thorndon Country Park for creating such a great experience for little ones.

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Stamptastic Review: Effortless name-labelling!

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As a teacher there are a few things that really, really annoy me. That really get under my skin. Now, I could start listing them all but I think I’m just going to stick with one of my main ones – the one that has me groaning with utter exasperation every time it raises its annoying, ugly head.

Name labels… or more precisely, the LACK of name labels in children’s clothes.

ARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

Now, there are various ways to label your child’s clothes. They boil down to:

Sewn-in labels.
These are brilliant but immensely time-consuming and many parents, quite frankly, can’t be bothered with them. I actually like sewing them on but I’m a bit odd!

Iron-on labels.
I find these absolutely rubbish! They last for a short while but almost always fall off at the most annoying moment.

Super-sticky labels.
Useful for things like the inside of shoes, but still have the tendency to fall off/ out.

Labelling pens.
Pretty good but the ink tends to wash out quite quickly.

Labelling with whatever biro/marker you happen to have lying around.
Yeah…doesn’t really work that well, does it!

What I’ve found via my teaching job is that most people nowadays seem to prefer the iron-on or sticky labels and they are pretty dreadful things. This has meant many mornings talking to many parents about many, many, MANY items going missing. It’s such a pain and such a waste of both time and money.

So, I was quite intrigued when I heard of Stamptastic. They make personalised stamps which make labelling anything and pretty much everything a breeze. You pre-order the stamp and it gets posted to you, complete with an ink-pad.

I got quite excited, waiting for my stamp (sorry, Master Clothbum’s) stamp to arrive and started looking around the house for things that I was going to label. I got all of his nursery clothes, his shoes, bibs and his coat ready in a big pile. But that didn’t seem enough of a challenge. You see, Stamptastic can be used to stamp all kinds of things, including fabric, metal, wood and plastic. So out came a water bottle and a random wooden toy or two.

Our stamp arrived and I was quite impressed at how sleek it looked. The letters are set on a transparent block, which makes positioning the lettering really easy and within mere minutes my pile of stuff was stamped.

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The ink lasts through many washes and it’s not exactly hard work to re-stamp something if you need to! It was great for getting into annoying areas, like the insides of shoes and gives a very nice professional look.

The only problem that I found was that with dark ink, you can’t stamp dark trousers/clothes that also have a dark label inside them! Luckily, most items of clothing have white labels so that didn’t pose too much of a problem.

I think Stamptastic is an excellent addition to any parents name-labelling resources. It’s a very clever, very simple idea that was thought up by three mums who were fed up of labelling all their children’s clothes and it’s a little block of brilliance!

daisytheclothbummum was sent this stamp for the purpose of this review. I was not paid and all words, thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Little Lamb OSFA nappy review

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As some of you may already know, I’m in the process of setting up my local Nappy Library. It’s hard work but I’m slowly getting together a nice range of preloved and new, donated, nappies that I’ll be able to loan out to parents who wish to try cloth nappies before investing heavily in them (which is a very sensible idea).

Little Lamb have been fabulous in their support of the library and I really can’t thank them enough! They sent over a vast range of their wonderful nappies that will give parents a really good overview of what they have to offer.

One nappy that, I have to admit, I haven’t got myself and got a little excited about when I opened up the package – is the Little Lamb OSFA (One size fits all). This is their new Birth to Potty (BTP) nappy that I’ve been meaning to get for ages. I thought that as I was going to loaning it out to parents that I’d better give it a test run, so that I knew (hand on heart) that when I talked to parents about it, I knew exactly what it was capable of.

So, we did all the usual prewashing and put the lovely, bright yellow nappy to the test.

First of all – the outer part of the nappy is a lovely, soft material that didn’t feel at all plasticky, even after a wash. To me, that’s really important and why I tend to go for minky nappies over just PUL ones. Many nappies that I’ve bought in the past have started off nice and soft only to go all hard and plasticky after a first wash, so I was really happy that this didn’t happen.

The OSFA nappy can be used from birth to potty, via the series of snaps on the front of the nappy. This means that the rise (the crotch of the nappy) can be adjusted as your baby grows. My little Monkey isn’t quite so little anymore, so we had it full unpoppered, which worked really well.

The inserts are microfibre, which meant that as I got the nappy out of the washing machine they were almost dry already. A few hours later, on my heated airer, the whole nappy was dry! I reckon that leaving it overnight on a standard airer would do the job.

This nappy performed incredibly well during the Mr Clothbum trial, I’m pleased to say. He had it on for nearly three and half hours and during this time he did all his latest, very energetic tricks! He’s now happily toddling around, loves bumping down onto his bottom very hard and has started climbing, so the nappy was put through the mill. We also had a little rest during this time, so a compression test was also included (to see if the nappy leaks when pressed down upon for a prolonged period of time).

There were no leaks from the Little Lamb OSFA at all and the soft, elasticated cuffs around his legs didn’t leave any marks. I have to say that I was really impressed. This nappy also held in one of his mega-wees, which is very good as he manages to outwee most pocket nappies at the moment.

Thank you so much again, Little Lamb , for sending over such a fab nappy. I can’t wait to loan it out to some lucky parent to try on their little one!

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A parenting book that’s right up my street! Review of ‘Why did nobody tell me?’ from Mumsnet

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Parenting books…guides…manuals…recipes for disaster…

Whatever you call them, most of the books that have crept their way into the public eye are things that (I’m going to be brutally honest here) get me very, VERY angry indeed. I find a lot of them very restrictive in their approach and confusing to the rather baffled new parents who are often immensely impressionable due to utter exhaustion and (for the mums) full of a lovely, swirly, confusing mix of hormones. I read a few of them when I was pregnant and have had a couple knocking around the house since Monkey was born, but I really haven’t paid any attention to them as I just got wound up whenever I tried to read them.

One in particular, that will remain nameless, got me so infuriated that I nearly took my TV out when I threw it across the room in utter disgust. I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading and I swore blind that I would never, ever raise my child in the way in which this all-knowing book was telling me to. It was so restrictive that I was pretty much bound to fail before I even began. And this concerned me immensely.

Ok…So I’ve ranted a bit, and for that I apologise!

But, my point is that I strongly feel that there is no one way to raise a child. What works for some doesn’t work for others and I have found myself getting so cross with apparent ‘experts’ that have written books that are, to my mind, very closed and almost Victorian in their approach. So when I was approached to review a parenting book I was initially a little worried.

That was until I realised that it was from Mumsnet . Now, I absolutely love Mumsnet! It’s been my saving grace on many occasions when I just wasn’t too sure about whether what I was doing was ok or not. A quick post up on a board and I often had lots of fab parents saying, “Yep…That’s fine. If it works for you then don’t knock it!” And most of the time I knew deep down that it was alright, but it was great to get the support and reassurance that Mumsnet is so good at.

‘Why did Nobody Tell Me?’ is a parenting book. But it’s not…

It’s not a ‘How to’ manual that will give you all the answers in a dictatorial manner, which is why I absolutely loved reading it. This book has little nuggets of advice, information and personal anecdotes that are taken from the message boards that you can find on Mumsnet What I found remarkably refreshing is that it’s just good, old-fashioned common sense with a nice dash of self-depreciating humour and honesty that made me laugh out loud and nod furiously in agreement.

The book covers all different kinds of topics, ranging from the very beginnings of your little one’s lives all the way up to schools, how to deal with parties and behaviour and even broaches things like how to deal with when your child fiddles with their bits (yep, they all do it – and boy do those little lads like to tug away down there….) and dealing with the lovely parent mafia at the school gates. Having seen some poor parents reduced to tears by those kind of parents (I’m a teacher by trade) I thought that this was a particularly sensible chapter to include, as it really does fill some people with dread.

What’s nice is that whilst the book does give you some good ideas about how to deal with certain situations, the way that it’s written doesn’t imply any particular ‘Right’ or ‘Wrong’ way to go about parenting. Different views are placed alongside one another through the inclusion of personal comments taken from Mumsnet boards and the authors have cleverly organised it so that you get an overall view from which you can filter out the bits that suit you. There is a definite slant towards a more relaxed parenting approach, in my opinion, but as that’s the way that I seem to be leaning I very much enjoyed this book and will be using it to dip in and out of as Monkey grows up. It’s full of sensible, matter-of-fact advice that really strikes a chord with me!

daisytheclothbummum was sent this book to review, but have received no payment for this. All words and opinions are my own.

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Gorgeous G’s! The joys of the fabulous gNappies

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I always get pretty excited (I know, it’s a bit mad but I just do!) whenever I get to try out a new nappy. There’s something about new fluff that makes me get all giddy and I know that I’m not the only cloth bum mum that feels this way. You just have to take a peek at the various online forums and groups to know that the launch of a new brand of nappy, or having a chance to get hold of something new, will send even the most seasoned of nappyholics into a happy tizzy.

So, some of you can understand my absolute delight when I got approached by the lovely UK representatives of gNappies http://www.gnappies.co.uk to do a trial of their fantastic little gPants with my little Monkey. I’d been eyeing up these nappies for quite a long time, contemplating taking the plunge and getting hold of a few, so I really was very excited when a bundle of them landed at my door.

gNappies are a very sensible, well thought-out addition to the nappy world and, to my mind, combine elements from both the cloth and disposable world in a clever and easy-to-use way. They have several elements to them:

The outer shell, which fastens with an aplix-style fastening, but with a difference. These close at the back, rather than the front, which is great for those older babies who want to try and whip off their nappies. They are lovely, soft and breathable and feel pretty much like underwear, which is fantastic. These come in different sizes, so you need to invest in a few over the time that you’ll be using them, but this is no different to using sized nappies.

Snapped into the outer shell is a waterproof, breathable pouch that holds whichever insert you decide to use. This is very clever as you can have spare pouches and inserts in your changing bag and reuse the outer. It’s similar in that respect, to a bumGenius Flip but as the pouch is separate, you can keep reusing the outer (as long as a poo hasn’t exploded out of the pouch) for a little longer.

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As gNappies are a hybrid system you have a choice between using gCloths or biodegradable gRefills (the disposable option).

gCloths are your cloth nappying option. They are very thin, ultra absorbent microfleece/hemp/cotton cloths that slot into the pouches. gRefills are soft, 100% biodegradeable and plastic-free disposable inserts that can be either home-composted or binned.

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I got sent two little gPants, some gCloths and gRefills to try, and – I have to be very honest – I was rather sceptical at first. I couldn’t see how something so thin (and believe you me, these are seriously slim-fitting) could possibly work well. I actually had more faith in the gRefills as, obviously, disposables are always on the thin side. The gCloths had me humming with concern. Mr Monkey Superwetter would obviously pee through them and onto my carseat, buggy, sling or rug in seconds flat.

Well. I did all the preliminary washing that gNappies http://www.gnappies.co.uk recommend to get the gCloths up to full absorbency and whilst this was going on, I decided to give the refills a go. I loaded up the pouches with them and packed the rest into my changing bag, ready for a trip to the zoo. As this would involve a fair bit of sitting around, pressed against the back of the buggy and also quite a lot of pressure against the nappy from being in a sling, I thought that it would be the best opportunity going. There would be many chances for leaking to occur due to compression and I had spare trousers and other cloth nappies at the ready for what I thought would be the inevitable.

Mr Monkey had a fabulous time, talking to all the animals and chattering away very very loudly indeed. He particularly enjoyed seeing the primates (funnily enough) and one chimp took a real shine to him and kept on trying to offer him her food, which was rather sweet. As we were having so much fun, I actually forgot to change him for a little while and then suddenly had a panic as I realised how long I’d left him and rushed off to find a changing station.

Well, all I can say is wow! I was amazed! He had not only piddled for England, but had done a rather impressive poo – and the gNappy/ gRefill had contained the whole thing spectacularly well. Luckily, it had stayed in the middle so I could have just changed the refill but I decided it was probably best to change the whole thing. gNappies are remarkably easy to change and I have to say, I’m now in love with the way in which they fasten. They are great and I know that he’ll find it really difficult to take them off – which is pretty cool!

We continued the rest of our zoo trip and only needed one other change, which the gNappies handled effortlessly. Whilst I have no issues at all, obviously, with bringing home dirty nappies to wash – it was actually (I hate to admit this) rather nice to not have to worry about them. I put the refills into eco nappy bags so that they could be easily composted, which was great.

Once my gCloths were washed up to full absorbency, I gave them a whirl as well. They are so slim and Monkey managed 4 hours in his gNappy without any leaking whatsoever. I was amazed! The insert was well and truly soaked, but there was no wet patches on the outer little gPant at all.

Whilst I’m not a fan of jeans on babies, I have to say that these nappies are fabulous for babies being able to wear more slim-fitting clothes and I’ve been looking at slimmer-fitting clothes, such as the ones in Next, as I know that I can now get away with them on Monkey. There have been so many shops that I’ve had to avoid due to the big-bottom that you get with cloth nappies (which I personally adore), but it’s nice to know that I have some nappies in my stash that enable me to dress Monkey in clothes that would be otherwise unaccessible.

gNappies, in my opinion, are an excellent addition to any cloth nappy stash for quite a few reasons. Apart from giving you more options with clothing, which I’ve just mentioned, they would also make really good holiday nappies. You have the choice of the disposable or washable inserts so when you’re away, you could choose whichever option would make the most sense for you. Having talked to other ladies, I know that people use other inserts inside them as well – so you could mix and match to get whatever suits you, although most other inserts aren’t going to be as thin as the gCloths. They are, for instance, significantly thinner than Flip inserts, which I always used to think of as being my nice, thin nappies!
These would make fantastic nappies for taking out and about with you on trips, as they really don’t take up much space at all.

I have slight reservations about whether gNappies would withstand the horrendous poonamis that Monkey has every now and then (usually after he’s been exposed to lactose or cow’s milk protein), but most nappies just can’t cope with that (apart from fitteds with a very good wrap over the top). But, for your everyday nappy, they really are very good indeed!

I’d like to thank gNappies http://www.gnappies.co.uk for allowing me the chance to play with these – I really had a lot of fun and it made me much more aware of how great they are! Whilst I did get given the nappies/inserts for reviewing purposes, I haven’t received any monetary payment for this review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Luckily, I really liked the nappies and they worked very well for us, but I would always let you know if we had a disaster with them (which, thank goodness, we didn’t as that would have been one messy zoo trip!)

I’m actually quite excited to let you know that courtesy of gNappies, I have not just one, but TWO giveaways!

The two lucky winners will each get a medium little gPant (sized to fit babies between 13-28 lb, which is 5-13 kg) plus a pack of their fabulous disposable inserts.

Isn’t that kind of them!

So, keep your eyes peeled – I’ll be opening up the giveaway very very soon!

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