Our Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas is slowly creeping closer, and for once I am excited to say that we’ve basically finished our Christmas shopping!
In honour of this monumental feat I’m putting together my gift Christmas gift guide for 2018!

Before we start off, I think it’s important to say that you should always try and shop local if you can, it supports the independent shops where ever you may be and can also cut down on your carbon footprint of anything you might buy.

This is a list of things we’ll be getting our daughters this Christmas. We put a lot of thought into what they might enjoy. All told we’ve spent around £180 on the girls (we’ve most of that being split across the grandparents and funded by sellering stuff during a clear out).

Wooden Animals

Unsurprisingly we are big fans of wooden toys, and this includes wooden animals. While there are lots of great brands out there, our girls are small so we currently favour Lanka Kade. These animals are chunky, and extremely solid meaning they are far from fragile. While these animals are available in bright child friendly coloura, we actually prefer their natural non-painted styles. There is something beautiful about the simplistic natural style. We actually purchased two reindeer for this years present and they differ due to the colour of the wood used which adds to there charm. 

Ned

I love Ned, the little wooden robot-person made by Rudi and Bear is just adorable! If you follow the eco-friendly parenting accounts Instagram then no doubt you’ve seen this charming guy. I’d been petitioning Sadie for a Ned for a while, and now we’ve got two coming this Christmas (admittedly one is for me). This characterful toy is perfect for home or throwing in your bag as a travelling toy. 

Wobble Board

A wobble board is a large curved piece of wood that your child can rock on, climb over, or over wise play with. They are the perfect thing for open play. There are many brands out there but we went for a Creatimber as it was perfect for our price range. They come in a range of styles, decorations and colours but ultimately they all do the same thing. The Creatimber board is capable of holding up to 330kg so this toy is sure to last. 

      Tuff Tray

        These large trays are the perfect thing for small world and messy play.  Available in a wide range of colours from most online retailers, you can find all kinds of interesting inserts from maps, educational pictures or mirrors. 

        JoJo Maman Bebe Pocket Dinosaur Review

        We’ve recently been buying up plenty of wooden toys. After seeing how much Gracie loved her other wooden animals that we’d picked up, I was excited to get the Pocket Dinosaur set for her.

        This box cost us £15.00 from a high street shop. The box contains 18 pieces, 12 dinosaurs (6 pairs), 4 trees, and 2 volcanoes. While the box states that the toys are suitable from 18 months, Gracie is enjoying them at 13 months, and the size and quality of these toys are equal to that of other toys that are suitable for her age.

        The 12 dinosaurs are in bright colours that Gracie found really attractive. She loved that there were two of every dinosaur, in two different colours. This gave her the opportunity to pair them together, both by shape, and with other dinosaurs in the same colour pallet. The trees and volcanoes have also found use outside of the set as a part of other small world play.

        These are not the first wooden dinosaur toys that we’ve picked up, originally finding a couple of Le Toy Van dinosaurs while shopping in Glastonbury, and these compare extremely well. While the Le Toy Van dinos are certainly of a higher quality, this is directly tied to a higher price.

        Ultimately the Pocket Dinosaur pack provided a large number of good quality toys that are perfect for those who prefer wooden toys, or small world play, and while not my favorite brand wooden toys, they are great for smaller hands. 

        JoJo Maman Bebe Toy Leads Review

        It has been a little while since we’ve done a review here at Reusable Family. Between increasingly pregnant Mummy giving herself a concussion, and Daddy going back to work it has been hard for us to sit down and just write. But during the time we’ve been quiet we’ve managed to pick up a few bits here and there that we thought we’d like to share.

        We decided to kick our reviews back off with something so simple, something that was more of an impulse buy that anything planned, Toy Leads by JoJo Maman Bebe.

        Gracie loves going out and about in her pram, but as she’s gotten older she’s developed a habit for throwing any toys that we’ve taken with us out her pram. For a while the answer for this was to simply only take toys that clipped on to the pram (most Lamaze toys come with a decent clip). This worked well for us until we were in town one day, we decided to purchase a Matchstick Monkey teething toy on a whim (a review of this will be coming soon). This however left us with a little bit of a dilemma, we wanted her to have the toy, but we didn’t want to lose it.

        Gracie sleeping
        All the playing tired her out

        We quickly found the answer in JoJo Maman Bebe who sell a 2-pack of Toy Leads for £6. We gave them a little tug, and decided that they would do the job well, and purchased them. We go out everyday, often multiple times, and these leads have been heavily tested already.

        JoJo Maman Bebe Toy Leads are strips of hardwearing fabric, they come in a selection of patterns and prints, and have a set of poppers/snaps at both ends. One set of poppers attaches to the toy in someway, while the other end attaches to the pram or stroller. These poppers are very strong, and Gracie has yet to managed to get them undone with brute strength alone, giving us peace of mind that the toys are secure and safe.

        These toy leads have also survived a significant amount of chewing, a couple goes in the washing machine, so far they are as bright as they were when we purchased them.

        There are certainly other toy leads available on the market, but we have been extremely impressed by these ones. For the reasonable price of £6, you can protect your toys from randomly being thrown from the pram and lost. We wish we’d thought about getting these sooner.

        My Changing Bag Essentials

        Do you ever look at another parent’s changing bag and wonder at what marvellous things that they surely contain. Well here is your chance to have a sneaky look in what I’ve got in my bag! And unlike most people, I decided to forgo the typical messenger style bag, opting for a backpack. This allows me to wear the baby on the front, while also comfortably carrying the changing bag.

        So without further ado, these are the things I carry about in my bag!

        The Essentials

        Changing Mat

        I really doubt that there is a single changing bag on the market that doesn’t come with some sort of changing mat. These tend to be thin, lightweight and waterproof, so obviously the first thing I did was take that out and put in my own, soft, not waterproof, and rather chunky.

        Personally I love the Close Pop-In Change & Go which is wonderfully soft and warm for Gracie. The whole thing rolls up nicely and fits neatly into one of the stretchy pockets in the back of the bag. It even has a handy pocket that will hold your reusable wipes, or nappy sacks if that’s your jam.

        Nappy Wet Bags

        If you are using reusable nappies then at some point you are going to be out and about and your baby is going to need a change, and while you can easily throw away disposables you cannot do that for cloth nappies.

        I rock a couple of Tots Bots Waterproof Nappy Bags. These things are excellent, they can be folded down so when not in use they take up practically no space, they hold roughly three or four nappies, and once your done just tip the contents out, turn them inside out and shove them in the pail along with your dirty nappies. Eventually you can toss them in the wash together and then they are ready to be used again.

        Reusable Nappies

        While I am happy to use any nappies from my stash, there are certainly a few that I prefer to pack in the bag. I typically pack a Close Pop-In Nappy, an Alva Pocket Nappy or a Smartie Pants Pocket Nappy. I favour these because they fasten tightly, and I don’t usually have leakage problem with these nappies.

        Reusable Wipes

        If you are using reusable nappies, then you might as well use reusable wipes. Once used they go in the wash with the nappies. I use Cheeky Wipes, just grab them out of the wet box, and pop them in the waterproof travel bag your good to go.

        The Little Bits

        • I also pack small bottle of hand sanitizer just in case my hands get mucky
        • A small Sophie la Girafe teething toy
        • Muslins
        • Emergency wet-wipes & nappy sacks
        • Change of Clothes
        • Milton Wipes just in case she throws her dummy on the floor

        The Extra Stuff

        Typically these bits are for me, and get thrown into the bag if I have enough room!

        • My Tablet
          • If I know I am going to be out for a while, or if I am going to go to a coffee shop etc. I pack my tablet just in case I can get in some blogging/writing
        • Glass Bottle/Coffee Cup
          • In my attempts to be green I have started packing my reusable coffee cup in case I get desperate for caffeine, and I pack myself a drink in my glass bottle
        • A reusable shopping bag
          • Just in case I need to pick up some bits or bobs, plus one of the main reasons I go into town is to the visit the butchers or green grocers

        Baby Box Review

        We love absolutely everything scandibaby (Scandinavian Baby) here. This love goes beyond the love of neutral pastel pallets, and animal prints. One of the ideas practiced in Scandinavia and Finland is that of the Baby Box, a rigid cardboard box with a mattress on the bottom that functions as a tiny cot for newborns.

        The Baby Box Company

        While there are many companies that sell these sorts of things, we eventually settled on the one offered by The Baby Box Company. They offered several boxes in different price ranges, while the boxes were all the same, what differed was the items that came in addition to the box.

        The Classic Box

        We purchased the classic box which came with the following items:

        • The box in a fun fox pattern
        • The mattress
        • A waterproof cover and fitted sheet
        • A muslin and wash cloth
        • A sleeping bag
        • A pair of socks and scratch mittens
        • An oral thermometer
        • A newborn cap
        • A £25 gift voucher for their store

        When we purchased the box it came to just under £80 plus shipping from the US. While we cannot remember how long it took to ship, it did take a little while so its worth investing in early.

        We used a shaped swaddle when Gracie was a newborn, and used the sleeping bag later

        What we liked:

        There is something very reassuring about using the baby box. Knowing that you are using a product that is given out to parents in Finland, and something that’s been trialled in Scotland filled us with confidence. The box itself feels well made and strong, and is extremely flexible in where you can put it in your house. The mattress fit snuggly, and seemed in line softness-wise as other baby products.

        Ultimately the best selling point of the box is the links to reduced levels of SIDS. The box provides a baby with somewhere safe to sleep, supposedly up to five or six months. We certainly think that the box helped Gracie settle in to a routine, and gave us peace of mind.

        What we didn’t like:

        We liked the products that were also included in the box, however they are the sort of basic items that most parents quickly gain a surplus of and they get lost in the mix. Likewise a £25 gift voucher is great, but at the time we purchased the box there was very little that we wanted to buy, although after a cursory glance at their store page this has since changed.

        The other issue we faced was how quickly she seemed to outgrow it. Since birth Gracie has hovered around the 90th percentile, and she enjoys the ability to move her arms around in her sleep. As a result she was soon knocking her hands on the side of box which was disturbing her sleep.

        In conclusion…

        The Baby Box Company classic box is a fantastic product that ultimately didn’t seem to work for us. Whether this is down to Gracie’s growth rate, or the fact that we have dogs that meant it limited the locations we could use the box we’re not sure. It does mean however that for the price we would be hesitant to recommend the product as it is no small amount of money for a product that ultimately might not be suitable for everyone’s circumstances.

        Regardless of this, should we end up having a second baby we would certainly use this box again.