Toddlers: An Instruction Manual for Surviving Years One to Four by Joanne Mallon

Toddlers, an instruction manual When I was pregnant with my eldest, Kieran, I bought every baby and toddler book going. The baby ones were glanced at then put on the lovely nursery shelf so that I could read for the 30,00th time the “How you know you are in labour”, “What will happen in hospital” and “What you will need” leaflets from the midwife service.

After Kieran was born and started toddling around I dusted off my “Know your Toddler” books, certain that they would hold the secret to ensuring thet oddler years were as pleasant as possible for all concerned. It became evident pretty quickly that these books were a load of tripe! Page after page of condescending nonsence that served one purpose only and that was to convince me that I was the worse Mum in the world, ever!

So why am I now blogging about a toddler guidebook? This one is different! Toddlers: An Instruction Guide to Surviving the Years One to Four is written by Joanne Mallon, a journalist for 15 years, a parent for 12 years and a life coach for 10years. It does not contain one ounce of condescending bullshit. This books features extracts from the real toddler experts, Mums and Dads (including me!).

Joanne works her way through all the aspects that we know and love about owning our own piece of toddler-dom from sleeping, eating and potty training to discipline, interacting with siblings and new babies as well as looking after yourself. Curled up reading this book I found myself swinging from snorts of laughter (she has a great way with words!) and I-remember-that-well nods. I’ve done toddler years and survived with most of my sanity and furnishings intact. Now I find myself facing those brilliant discovery years again for the second time and am so glad, having read the book, that I have it here if I want it or to remind me that it is ok to want to scream into a pillow, even if the sofa has new swirly permanent marker patterns.

Toddlers: An Instructions Manual for Surviving Years One to Four is available in paperback and in Kindle format and is NOT to be missed!


An Idiot’s Guide To Babywearing

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.