Sunday, 19 April 2015

Review: Babean - Baby Led Weaning Food

I was very generously sent a package of Babean food for my baby to sample and myself to review.

Babean is the creation of Claire and Dan, parents who decided that wholesome homemade food should be available to buy, to cater for the baby-led weaning market. We all know about the aisles full of jarred baby food, porridge and rusks and while most baby-led weaning parents generally share their own meals with their baby, there can often be a lack of options when it comes to handy ready-made food for your baby. Particularly healthy and nutritious snack food for when out and about. I’m sure we’d all like the time to bake up batches of muffins and mini quiches, but realistically - and I know this from being back at work full-time now - sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

In the package I received (Prices at time of writing)…

“Mini muffins”:
- Raspberry and Coconut (£2.27)
- Carrot and Pumpkin Seed (£2.27)
- Pea, Mint and Apple (£2.27)
- Courgette and Sultana (£2.27)

“Fists full of food”:
- Sticky Quinoa Balls (£2.27)
- Falafels with Tzatziki Dip (£2.27)

“Superfood Sauces”:
- Tomato and Basil Superfood Sauce (£1.87)
- Fresh Vegetable Superfood Curry (£1.87)

“Savoury Spreads”:
- Avocado, Banana and Spirulina (£1.87)
- Sardine, Tomato and Cream Cheese (£1.87)
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (£1.87)


We received the food when my baby, Francesca, was eight or nine months old. By this time she was a confident eater and enjoyed food, although not at a stage where she was bothered about eating at every meal time, or even every day. We did, however, take snack food out with us to keep her occupied in certain situations. This usually consisted of things like rice cakes and raisins and a cup of water that I could keep in my bag.

The first Babean product I offered Francesca was a courgette and sultana muffin. She really got stuck in and enjoyed it. She ate half of it (which was a lot for her at the time). The rest of it crumbled up and she swiped it onto the floor, like they do!
Next I offered her a pea, mint and apple muffin. I sat her outside to eat this and I’m glad I did because she only had one tiny bite and then crumbled it up and threw it onto the ground.
A few days later, I tried her with the sardine, tomato and cream cheese spread on a rice cake. She wasn’t keen with it on the rice cake but when I put a dollop of the spread on her highchair tray she enjoyed sticking her fingers in it and licking it off. She also ate the roasted red pepper hummus in this way. She really enjoyed the hummus. However, she didn’t like the avocado, banana and spirulina spread at all.

I saved some of the food to take along to a baby led weaning meet-up that I had arranged. I decided to warm the food up before we went to see if it would make it less crumbly. I took the quinoa balls and two each of the raspberry and coconut muffins and the pea, mint and apple muffins. It wasn’t a good turnout unfortunately and there was only myself and Francesca and another mum and toddler. The toddler was also going through a not eating phase! Although Chloe, the toddler, and Francesca both had a little nibble of the food. They both preferred the raspberry and coconut muffins out of the three choices. The food was still warm when we got there but it still crumbled. The quinoa balls fell apart instantly and Chloe and Francesca both struggled to handle them.

Francesca got a bad cold then and didn’t want to eat much at all. She still wasn’t eating a couple of weeks later when we had another baby led weaning meet-up. But I took some more food along for her friend, Harriet, to try. I took the falafels and the carrot and pumpkin seed muffins and, again, warmed them up a bit before we went. Harriet really liked both these, particularly the falafels. Francesca just didn’t show any interest in eating at all that day :-( The falafels didn’t crumble too much but the muffins did again. A couple of days later, I offered Francesca a falafel with the dip at home. She did like the falafel and ate most of it but didn’t bother with the dip. Over the next few days, as she was feeling better, I offered her the rest of the muffins we had left. The courgette and sultana muffin and raspberry and coconut muffin remained her favourites. She did swipe the crumbly bits onto the floor though when they had crumbled too much for her.

We tried the Superfood Sauces last of all. I don’t cook separate meals for Francesca at all, so I used them in meals that myself, Francesca and her older sister, Lucinda, all ate together. I used the tomato and basil sauce in some pasta and I added the vegetable curry to some fried rice. We all enjoyed these meals.

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I can’t decide whether I think they’re expensive or not, as baby food isn’t something I buy at all. Having looked at the competitions’ “toddler meals”, for instance, it would seem as though £2 - £3 is the price something like this retails for. But I appreciate the quality ingredients and the personal effort that has gone into making Babean products - and they do certainly offer something a bit different to the competition.
I think parents who make their babies separate meals and snacks to themselves would benefit from the Babean range more than I would. I’m very much a “baby eats what I eat” kind of person so don’t really have the need for the Superfood Sauces or the spreads. But the muffins and other finger foods I’ve found to be handy if Francesca has been impatient waiting for dinner cooking and I’ve given her one to nibble on until the meal is ready. I don’t personally find this food suitable for out and about though, especially the muffins and the quinoa balls due to their crumbliness, but I would keep them in at home as convenient snack food and to occupy baby as mentioned.

Purchasing from Babean is not very easy at the moment, although they hope to offer more options in the future. I expect the difficulties lie with the products being sent out frozen and using a next day courier service. This postal service currently costs £14 per delivery so is more suited to businesses buying in bulk, along with the required minimum order of £25. If you are local to the Surrey / Hampshire area you can arrange to pick up any size order from them for free. They will also deliver for free within a 5 mile radius, with a minimum order of £25. The products are also stocked in four shops in their local area. They also attend various baby shows and food fairs, etc, where there is the opportunity to sample and buy. I hope they do offer more options, and better value postal services, soon. I won’t be able to buy any products from them until they do - or unless they find a stockist in my area - as I don’t have the freezer space to make it worth spending £25 and paying £14 delivery for the few varieties that I know Francesca likes. Although, I am tempted to try her with the food again to see if she likes it more now, as she has got to the stage where she really loves eating. Plus, there are lots more varieties now than a few months ago. It would be ideal if they could find some stockists in different areas of the country. I can think of a couple of retailers in my area that would be perfect.

Babean is a steadily expanding company and I really expect them to be very successful. Their range of food is growing and they have a brand sparkling new website and blog, which can be found here…

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Product Review - Carry Boo Mei Tai with Wrap Straps

Carry Boo make various styles of wraps, slings and carriers, along with some conversions.
After using mei tais with regular padded straps, I was keen to try out a wrap strap version, as I can never get regular straps to feel just right. I have had my Carry Boo mei tai with wrap straps for a few months now and here are my thoughts about it...

I had very particular ideas about how I wanted my new mei tai to be. I definitely wanted wrap straps. I wanted a detachable flat sleep hood, which gathered at the sides, and I wanted the whole thing to be reversible. I already had some fabric which I wanted to use on one side, but it was black so I wanted a lighter colour on the other side. Leanne at Carry Boo said she could incorporate all my requirements and had a slot in a few weeks' time.

As it turned out, when Leanne was ready to start, I couldn't find my fabric! So she sent me lots of links to fabric that she thought were suitable and that I would like. I had already said I'd have black straps to match the original fabric which had a black background, so I was now looking for a similar black backgrounded fabric, plus I had a white background with black or grey flowers in mind for the other side. After a bit of searching, I managed to find two fabrics that I liked. Leanne ordered them and started work a couple of days later when they'd arrived.

I was very surprised a few days after that when she said it was ready. I hadn't expected it so quickly. She can certainly sew quicker than I can! She had also made me two detachable hoods, so that the fabric for the main side hung the right way up whether the hood was up or down.
When I received it I was absolutely delighted! It's amazing. Beautifully made. The stitching is very neat and it is obvious that a lot of care and attention to detail has been put into it. I tried it on and it was so comfortable. The straps are perfect. Not only are they more comfortable around my shoulders but I like the way they can be spread over baby's bottom to create more support there.

First time on London Underground -
and first outside trip in new mei tai

I received it just in time for a trip to London the day after. I wore it from the car, travelling into London on the tube and walking around the city. I took it off for a picnic in Hyde Park, then put it back on again for the return trip back to the tube, tube journey and then the walk back to the car. It never felt uncomfortable at all and my baby was cosy and slept contently in it. It was quick and easy to get on and off, given that it was the first time I'd done it in public. It was also quite a hot day but neither myself nor my baby felt too hot wearing it.

At Marble Arch, London

This mei tai gets a lot of use. It is perfect for days out, when I need a comfortable, supportive carrier which baby sleeps in easily. It's also not too fiddly to take baby in and out of, now she's at an age where she wants to get out to go on a swing or for a crawl around. I also used it for two days at the Tour de France. It was very useful as it was too wet to sit down on the first morning so I adjusted it a bit and fed her in it, then tightened it back up and she went to sleep.

Cosy at Le Tour

I really don't think I can fault it at all. It's exactly what I was hoping it would be. I highly recommend Carry Boo if you are looking for a custom made carrier.
Standard mei tai prices start at around £50. The RRP for my mei tai is £85.
You can find the Carry Boo Facebook page here...

Monday, 7 April 2014

Product Review - SnugiWrap Stretchy Wrap

I love wearing Francesca, four months old now, in a wrap. Up to this point, we have mostly been using a SnugiWrap stretchy wrap. Stretchy wraps are perfect for newborns and small babies. They keep the baby very snug and close to you and have the convenience of being able to keep them pre-tied around you. This means you can quickly and easily take your baby in and out.

SnugiWraps have recently started using a new fabric and have kindly offered me a stretchy wrap to review. This particular fabric has been in use since around new year (2013/14). Whilst using it, I have found myself comparing it to the fabric they used previously. I also have a stretchy wrap which I purchased in September (2013).

The new fabric is noticably thinner and stretchier than the previous fabric. I must admit, it took me a while to get used to it as the first few times I didn't tie it tightly enough. You have to tie it rather quite tightly or once the baby is in there it sags too low down and the baby bounces too much as you walk. However, now I have got used to the tension I need to use, this isn't an issue. The thinner fabric, I expect, will be cooler in summer than the thicker fabric used previously. Another difference between the wraps I have is that the newer one has the SnugiWrap logo sewn onto what becomes the front once wrapped. The older wrap has no logo.

SnugiWrap stretchy wraps are a good starter wrap. They are very good value - currently £19. They are literally an unhemmed piece of fabric, cut to size, but look so snug and cosy once on. The colours available at the moment are black, brown, cerise, marl charcoal, navy, purple, royal blue and teal.

A leaflet comes with each wrap, detailing how to tie the wrap and other safety advice. I didn't read it thoroughly, to be honest, as I had watched people using wraps beforehand quite frequently and had seen YouTube videos.Sling libraries and meets are also good places to get advice on using wraps and other carriers.

Here is a photo of Francesca looking all snuggly in her SnugiWrap...

You can buy SnugiWrap stretchy wraps from their website at

Friday, 7 February 2014

How to make your own umbilical cord ties

I hadn't thought of making my own cord ties until my midwife mentioned it. There isn't that much information about it on the internet so I thought I'd write something about it.

I didn't like the plastic cord clip used on my first baby. I found it very obtrusive and it got in the way during nappy changes. So when my midwife mentioned making my own cord ties I was very interested. I asked her how to do it and I also looked for information online. I couldn't find much about it though. Just a few mentions on forums and someone selling them on an online selling website.

So this is what I did.

I bought some embroidery thread in various colours. I used six lengths of thread per tie. I cut the threads to about 12"/30cm each, gathered together and tied them together with a knot at one end. Then I fastened the knotted end to my trousers with a safety pin, so it would pull tight as I plaited. I then divided the threads into three sections of two threads each and plaited until they were about 6"/15cm long. Then I tied a knot in that end, trimmed the threads and detached from my trousers.

I made a few different coloured ones. Pink, red, green, blue. I was going to do some multi-coloured ones too, but ran out of time in the end! I thought it would be nice for my five year old, Lucinda, to choose which colour ties to use at the time as she was also looking forward to cutting the cord.

When I'd finished making them, I boiled them for a few minutes and then put in a sandwich bag in the freezer until it was time to use them. This process sterilises them.

So, when the time came, Lucinda chose a green one and a pink one. The pink one was tied closest to the tummy and the green one a couple of inches further down. The cord was cut inbetween the ties, leaving the pink one attached. The result was much more attractive than the plastic clips that most of us are used to. It looked quite pretty, more personalised and definitely didn't get in the way like plastic ones do when you're trying to clean baby and fasten a nappy around it. It must have been more comfortable for baby too.

This is the cord stump with the cord tie attached at two days old.

I am so glad I found out about hand made cord ties. It was an enjoyable pregnancy activity and was something I could involve my young daughter in too. She was made to feel important and more a part of the birth by having the job of choosing the ties and cutting the cord.

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If you like the idea of handmade cord ties but don't want to make them yourself, you might like to follow the Etsy banner link at the top of the page and visit my shop. I have some listed there or contact me with your requirements.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Book Review - "Mama Midwife" by Christy Tyner

We have been fortunate enough to review a book called Mama Midwife by Christy Tyner.
This is a children's book about a mouse called Miso whose mummy is a midwife. It is based on Christy's partner's experiences of life as a midwife.

Miso has a slumber party one night, during which her mummy rushes off to a birth. Miso's friends are very intrigued so she explains how her mummy helps babies be born. Then she asks her mummy if she can go along to a birth with her. There she discovers what labour is and the power of positive thought in bringing a new baby into the world at Mummy Grizzly Bear's homebirth.

The book we reviewed is the original edition but it has now been updated to also include a paragraph about placing baby on mummy's chest and having his first breastfeed.

This book is perfect for Lucinda. She loves midwives, loves the Call the Midwife series on TV, and she is especially excited now we have our own midwife for our new baby due around Christmas. So it is lovely to sit down and read this book together in preparation for Lucinda's first experience of birth.

I would recommend it to everyone with a young child (I'd say 3-10 years old is an appropriate age range for this book) and an upcoming birth in the family, especially if planning a homebirth as so many other children's books have the mummy going into hospital and bringing the new baby home. This book is all about the baby being born at home and birth being a family experience.

I must admit to finding this book very moving. Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones but I do get a lump in my throat. It's a lovely birth story though and I do wonder whether I will find myself chanting the mantra at the end of the book while I am in labour!

Beautifully illustrated by Christy herself, the vibrant pictures really bring the story to life. Lucinda loves looking at the pictures in detail and sees something new every time.

The book is written in American English and I do tend to read "Mommy" as "Mummy" and "Birth Tub" as "Birth Pool" but it's not a problem! I just think it's worth mentioning within the review. Also, on checking the website details ready for publishing this review, I have just noticed the book is also available in Spanish and Finnish.

It is available from Amazon in several countries.
On it is currently US$17.99 for the hardback version and $10.07 for the paperback.
On it is £10.79 for the hardback version and £6.21 for the paperback.

The official website of Mama Midwife is…