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Thanks to Helen Lindop for today’s guest post! Helen is mum to two toddlers and blogs about running a business around a young family at businessplusbaby.com. She’s also just started a new blog at toddlerstuff.wordpress.com.

My toddlers are fascinated by water – pouring, stirring, splashing and even throwing it! Getting the paddling pool out is great fun, but sometimes the weather just isn’t warm enough or you don’t have the time to set it all up then dry up afterwards.

So here are some quick and easy water activities that can be done outside even on cooler days. Just put on waterproof clothing and wellies if it’s too chilly for a swimsuit.

1. Bucket of bubbles

This one keeps my toddlers amused for ages. Get a clean bucket (adult-sized) and half-fill with water. Add a good squirt of washing-up liquid and stir the water vigorously with a whisk (or something similar) until the bubbles are coming up to the top of the bucket. Then add cups, bottles, spoons, funnels, watering cans and any other containers you can find. My two and three-year-olds love scooping up bubbles, pouring them, trailing them across the ground and making me ‘cups of tea’!

2. Water containers

Fill a few bowls and buckets with water and place them around the garden. Add some cups, pans and bottles and your toddler will carry cups of water from one to the other. You could even put a few spots of food colouring in the buckets.

We found a short section of clean plastic guttering that was left over from some repairs on our house. The kids loved propping up one end of the guttering then pouring water, leaves and small toys down the little river they’d created. (Just make sure there are no sharp edges on the guttering.)

3. Water painting

Give your toddler a bucket of water and a clean paintbrush (the type you’d use for decorating your house), then let them ‘paint’ paths, fences, walls or anything else they fancy.

There’s nothing to clean up because it’s only water. This is one of the few activities where the play area might even be cleaner after the kids have finished than it was when they started!

4. Dolly’s laundrette

Have a pint-sized wash-day with a bowl of bubbly water and dolly clothes. Give your toddler some pegs and a washing line to hang the clothes on afterwards.

5. The bath

If the weather is just too cold, give your toddler an extra-long bath-time instead so you can both stay warm!

 

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Anyone recognise this model? :)

I am often asked why I came up with SnugBaby. Quite simply, I needed a comfortable sling, that could cope with my demands – easy to use, looked good, would last a while, husband could use it, and it could be washed!

When I had my first son, I admit I had never even heard of babywearing. We were given a structured front carrier, which we used for the two weeks we spent on holiday in Florida, when he was 12 weeks old, and then it was consigned to the cupboard. When we had SnugBoy#2, however, it was clear I needed to be able to keep him close, and happy, and look after SnugBoy#1, then 2 years old, aswell. I tried a sling, liked the concept, but the one I tried wasn’t very comfy. So I made my own, shaping it how I wanted it, adding padding, changing bits and making it my own. Babywearing was about to make my life a whole lot easier.

But, I hear a lot about people not knowing enough about babywearing to be able to make the choices they need to in order to have the sling they want. I am attempting to answer some of the more common ones here.

Do slings have age limits? Most slings, carriers, wraps and mei tais are suitable from birth, as long as they have a supportive headrest. If they don’t they may only be suitable from an age when baby can support their own head (usually around 4 months). The upper age limit varies from sling to sling, even within types. If they are tested to British Standards (and remember, not all are, so it’s worth checking) they will have an upper weight limit – which is usually anywhere between 12kg and 18kg. This is usually reached anywhere between 2 years and 4 years.

 Are they easy to use? Any reputable sling will come with instructions, to help you get to grips with them. Some look easier than others, but they all have their advantages and disadvantages.

What about the different carrying positions? Some slings can be used in many different ways – on your front, hip, back, lying down, facing out. Different positions take different amounts of practise, but after a few goes, most people find them all pretty straightforward to do. I find mei tais a great compromise between ease of use, and versatility.

Can I share it? Many slings are suitable for parents to share, with varying degrees of ease. A pouch sling is sized, usually by lady’s dress sizes, and is not usually easy to share between parents. Buckle slings and ring slings can be shared with some adjustment, whilst wraps and mei tais are easily shared, with no adjustments needed.

So, which is the best? That depends on what you want it for. If you want something that you can easily pop baby in and out of, with no tying and untying, don’t go for a wrap sling. You would be better with a pouch. If you want something comfortable for long periods, a two shoulder carrier, such as a mei tai, would be great. You need to think about what you will use it for.

But isn’t it a bit, well, hippyish? Well, I guess it falls under the “natural parenting” category, but for me it is all about convenience. Parenting is hard, and anything that makes my life as a mum easier, has got to be a good thing in my book.

So, for me there are loads of reasons to use a sling…

 

  • I can go places that I can’t go with a pushchair.
  • I can hold my eldest son’s hand at the same time as keeping SnugBoy#2 close.
  • I can easily walk the dog – hold the lead, walk across fields, and not run her over with a pushchair.
  • I can fold the sling up and pop it in my bag, and only get it out when SnugBoy#2 gets fed up of walking
  • I get to spend a lovely time chatting to SnugBoy#2, and he gets to see something other than knees.
  • SnugBoy#2 is safe, and close to me – especially important at busy holiday times, as it means there is no chance of me losing sight of him!

If you have any questions about slings, mei tais, carriers or wraps, please ask and I will do my best to answer them all for you.

Visit the the Snugbaby website where you can see more, including some fantastic videos which show you how to use a sling . You can find Claire herself on Twitter and Facebook and she is always ready to offer advice and answer questions (even my 30,000 didn’t seem to be an issue for her!).

* Yes, the lovely model in the picture above is none other than Claire Lancaster from CheshireMum.

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