Our little bath time zoo

zoocchini

It must have been over four years ago that I got cute animal towels for Sara and Pim, and we’ve been using them ever since, day after day. Sara the elephant and Pim the lion — it quickly became a tradition after each bath. So when Ava started to walk, we got her the zebra towel, and now we’ve gotten Casper the monkey — making our little zoo complete!

zoocchini2

I love how these towels (from Zoocchini) are so royal in size, made from thick cotton, and have adorable details like ears and tails. There are even little pouches in which the kids can stick their hands/paws.

Sara’s towel is sadly beginning to fall apart (not strange after all of these years of intensive use!), and when I told her it might be time to replace it, she said that she wasn’t sure it would be worth the investment — after all she might be getting too old to have an animal towel for bath time… Eeks! I figured it was time for an immediate  group photo before it’s too late!

xxx Esther

PS I might be getting the replacement elephant towel anyway, just in case. And otherwise it will be nice for the grandchildren! ; )

NAÏF care, skincare for babies

Naïf Babycare is a new line of baby skincare products that was started by two young and cute Dutch dads, Jochem and Sjoerd. See above how very Dutch they are, with their bakfiets!
After their first babies were born, they discovered a huge gap in the market: a high quality range of pure, natural skincare products which is safe and nurturing for baby’s sensitive skin. So they quit their (high profile!) jobs, worked very hard with a Swiss laboratory, dermatologists, and basically every baby skincare expert they could find, and developed a beautiful line of products. Using only nature’s best ingredients, and formulated to perfection, of course!

Casper and I have been trying out some of the Naïf products and we really love them! The shampoo is wonderful to use, so soft and gentle. The nurturing cream is great too, it’s our number one cream for dry cheeks, but our favourite Naïf product must be the massage oil. It is just the right kind of oil — in between oily and dry, very soothing, with a lovely scent. Just perfect!

xxx Esther

Jonas Paul eyewear

With two very nearsighted parents, it is not so much the question of if, but when one of our children will need their first pair of glasses. I still remember when I was ‘diagnosed’ for nearsightedness by the school nurse at the age of 11, and being so sad and angry about the fact that she told me I had to start wearing glasses… (At the time, glasses were definitely not cool, and I already had braces to complete the look.) I also remember the revelation when I put my first pair of glasses on my nose — wow! I could see!
Thankfully, nowadays glasses and the nerdy look are glamorous and chic, and there are wonderful choices available for little children as well: enter Jonas Paul eyewear.

Cute NY based couple Ben and Laura Harrison launched Jonas Paul Eyewear soon after their son, Jonas Paul, was born with a rare visual impairment. Unable to find suitable and stylish eyewear for Jonas, Ben started started designing his own line of frames, trying to bridge the gap between adult and children’s styles. And he has succeeded so well! I love the darling styles of the frames, both of the prescription frames as the sunglasses. I couldn’t help ordering the Ruth sunglasses for Sara. Sooo cute!

And when the moment comes that my kids need glasses, thankfully there is nothing to feel sad about anymore. Yay!

xxx Esther

Head Lice woes

Lice – they are the bane of my life! I even dream of them. I guess because we live in a big city, lice are unavoidable. I have tried lotions, potions, shampoos, some of them ecological, some of them positively radio-active! I even managed to spend a crazy amount of money on a real jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise (difficult to find in France) because I read somewhere on the internet that I could get rid of lice with it.

This weekend the schools in our area decided to organise a collective delousing campaign. We were all asked to delouse our children on the same weekend. The hope is that this will stop the lice circulating — at least for a while. I am interested to see if this is successful, but it is really nice to see how everyone got on board!

So here are some tips I have gotten to prevent lice. (Once you have them, I find that the only thing that really works is brushing the hair with a fine tooth comb in front of a good movie!)

Lavender essential oil: Lice seem to be sensible souls who do not like the smell of lavender, so I drop a couple of lavender essential oil drops onto the girls’ pillows. That way their hair smells good and I think it does help to keep the lice at bay. I have also been told that teatree oil helps.

Braids: I told my 93-year-old grandmother about my lice issues and she looked at me incredulously and asked why my girls’ hair was not braided at school. I had never figured out why, in the olden days, all the little girls had nice, tight braids… It prevented lice!

Cleaning linen, and everything in the house: It is such a pain, but it helps. Every time there is even an suspicion that someone might have lice, we wash and clean our bed linen and towels and spray the sofa and armchairs.

Apart from that, I just freeze when I see anyone scratching their heads and throw my hands up in despair! I am interested: Do other countries also have the lice problem? How do you deal with it?

- Emilie

P.S Above is a photo I took of Violette pretending to be scratching her head and having lice. She got a bit annoyed with me because she was in the middle of measuring something, but I think the annoyed expression goes with the theme…

Organic children’s shampoo and conditioner

My oldest daughter Sara was pretty much bald when she was born, and didn’t have much hair until she was two. But now that she’s eight, she has a head full of it — there is so, so much of it. (So don’t despair, mamas of bald baby girls!) Because detangling all of that hair after washing it is no fun, I have been on the lookout for an organic conditioner that is made especially for children, and I have finally found a great one.

Organic Children makes conditioner with smoothing plant oils and proteins which leaves hair silky soft and shiny and easy to detangle. It is gentle on delicate children’s skin (it is even suitable for children with eczema and psoriasis) and there are no nasty parabens, phthalates etc. I also love the Organic Children shampoo, with natural bubbles from Yucca. There are different natural fragrances available — we love ‘Berry Smoothie‘ which is perfect for fine and straight hair and smells so good you want to eat it up.

xxx Esther

Chickenpox

Here in the Netherlands (and I believe in most parts of Europe), no vaccine is given for chickenpox. Which means it is a very common childhood disease here, and all parents know that at one point their child will come down with it. At least, they hope they do, because apparently getting chickenpox as an adult is seriously no fun!

Ava still hadn’t had the chickenpox at the age of 3 ½, so when her little girl friend from across the street showed signs of the disease, I decided to let her go over for a playdate. As the virus is highly contagious, I deliberately exposed her to it, in the hope she would develop the disease and get it over with. (After having had the disease, you’re immune for the rest of your life). And sure thing — after an exact incubation period of two weeks, I discovered the first blisters on her back.

Chickenpox is mostly completely unharmful, but it is a very uncomfortable disease. First there’s a fever and flu-like symptoms, and then hundreds of tiny blisters develop all over the head and body, and they itch! The whole thing usually takes no longer than a week, and thankfully Ava was her usually happy self just before Christmas.

But then of course, again exactly two weeks later, Casper got it too! He was suffering for a week as well, and the worst part were the blisters on his nappy area — the poor boy. But now, after a month of dealing with the chickenpox, I am proud to say that our entire family is chickenpox immune.

Did your kids get a vaccine against chickenpox? Or did they get over it the natural way? (Or maybe they still need to get it?) Would you deliberately expose them like I did? I’m curious to find out!

xxx Esther

PS The photo is of Pim as a baby, just after he had the chickenpox at age one. Casper’s age!

Baby Bear Shop organic bath!




Marlow still fits in our laundry room deep sink and it’s my favourite way to bathe her. No crouching over, no wasting water, and having her up at my level makes it easier to wash and rinse her. (I think it’s her favourite way to be bathed too – she always points at the sink asking to get in it!)

We have recently discovered the Baby Bear Shop range of organic bath products and love the Wishy Wash baby wash/shampoo and the natural Baby Bird bar soap. It has a very delicate, natural smell and a gentle sudsy-ness. Perfect for sensitive baby skin. I also love their gorgeous packaging (made from recycled paper!) and that they plant a tree with every order placed.

xx Courtney

A Little About the Right Type of Sunscreen

Usually I write about cute clothes, darling shoes, best toys, I even throw in a few recipes and some fun DIYs here and there but today I’d like to talk about something a little more boring but far more important than all that – about choosing the right type of sunscreen. The sunny days that finally arrived already call for good sun protection (Spring apparently doesn’t really exist anymore). But there’s a catch about them which I didn’t know for a very long time. I only took care that the sunscreen doesn’t contain any parabens and has the highest SPF filter possible but that is actually not enough:

There are two types of sunscreens – the ones with Physical UV filters (good!) and the ones with Chemical ones (very bad!).?The main problem about Chemical Filters is that they penetrate the skin and absorb the UV light from there until they eventually release free radicals which can be even more damaging than the rays themselves! They can cause not only greater skin ageing but also skin cancer! Yes, sunscreen itself can cause the things we always thought (or at least I did) only the sun can!? While Physical Filters (also Mineral Screens) stay on the skin and don’t absorb but reflect the UV light! They act as a barrier between the skin and light. So be careful and look for the sun protection with Physical Filters like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Dioxide.

I tried a few different ones already and some of them were really awful – they were just impossible to spread and left white or even yellow marks on clothes that never got washed off but I finally found two I really like. UVbio is the best sunscreen I have ever tried by far but it’s quite expensive and the other one I also like is from Lavera and it’s a lot more budget friendly.

-Polona

Silver Sense, clothing that’s kind to skin

I met up with my friend Lindsey from Urban Mums recently and she was telling me about (and showing me) her baby’s terrible eczema. Eczema so bad that his skin, at times, became infected and needed medical treatment. Poor little baby boy. It turns out he is allergic to dairy and gluten, and that feeding him a specially formulated baby milk free from these allergens will keep his eczema at bay. His eczema has thankfully mostly cleared up… but still, Lindsay has to be really picky about the clothing and fabrics her son wears so that his sensitive skin is never irritated.  Enter Silver Sense clothing.

Silver Sense specialises in clothing which helps to ease the itching, inflammation and distress caused by eczema and other skin conditions in a natural way. Their clothes are made from soft cotton fabrics which are blended with real, natural silver fibres. I had no idea… but apparently silver fibres have powerful antimicrobial properties that help fight the symptoms of eczema and other skin conditions! How cool is that? (You can read more about it here.)

I love all their cute products, both for babies and children up to 8 years. Lots of fun stripes, and cute colour combos. And Lindsey says the products are really great in person, super cute and nice fitting… and yes, soothing on her baby’s skin. Brilliant!

x Courtney

Childs Farm toiletries

We have recently discovered the Childs Farm range of children’s toiletries, and the kids and I are both happy we did. Ivy thinks the shampoo smells like lollipops and that the conditioner has magical powers because it makes the tangles go away (we’ve never used conditioner before, so she’s especially impressed). The Childs Farm products are paraben-free and all made in the UK with natural and organic ingredients, and they really do smell good. You can buy the products directly from their shop, or you can see here for stockists.

Update: Joanna from Childs Farm just wrote to say that any of our readers can receive a 20% discount on the Childs Farm products from now until the end of January. Just enter code BABYKIDS at check-out.

x Courtney

Stylish spectacles from Zoobug

Are you ready for school to start? I am soooo not ready. I’m still lamenting the end of summer and slow, lazy days! But… these cute back-to-school images from Zoobug are rather inspiring and fun. (I’m sure my kids will feel like that girl in the top photo on their first day back! It’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after a long break!)

We’ve blogged before about Zoobug’s great children’s sunglasses, but I think it’s worth pointing out that they also do children’s optical glasses, and offer so many trendy little designs.

x Courtney

Yoga Pretzels


My kids have been greatly enjoying the Yoga Pretzels cards they got from their babysitter for Christmas. It’s so cute to see them bend in all sorts of curves, or trying to keep their balance. There are 50 cards, each of them giving a suggestion for a pose. There are, for instance, balance poses, stretch poses, stand and bend poses, and, most popular with my children, the partner poses (they need each other to perform the pose!). There are also cards that give breathing or relax exercises, or suggestions for games that enhance teamwork and creativity. It’s great fun, and especially 6-year-old Sara has been able to really relax after her yoga. Pim (almost 5) loves it too, his favourite pose, of course, is the ‘Warrior’.
Yoga Pretzels is available through Amazon (UK or US ).

xxx Esther

Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunblock

We are enjoying lovely hot sunny days here in New Zealand and as much as I love the sun I am so over applying sunscreen to my children’s pale white skin.  I am paranoid that they are going to get sunburnt and if it wasn’t for me applying copious amounts of sunblock throughout the day they would easily burn in the harsh New Zealand sun.  So I was very relieved to find a new sunblock on the market.  This stuff is amazing — you can spray it on your kids even when they have just stepped out of the swimming pool dripping wet.  I especially like to use it when we are at the beach and I can just spray the kids while they are still playing in the sand without trying to get all the sand off them first. Its making my life so much easier!

Steph xo

Zoobug Sunglasses

If you’re looking for sunglasses for your kids this summer, the ones to opt for are the Zoobug sunglasses. Not only do they have loads of cool styles (I love the Daisy sunglasses for girls and the Wayfarers for boys!), the sunglasses are UV-protective and many of the styles have adjustable rubber tips to ensure the glasses fit your child’s face.  They’re also virtually unbreakable, as they should be if they’re meant for children. Zoobug also now makes optical glasses for kids which have all the same great qualities and cuteness!

-Courtney

Liniment Oleo Calcaire


I am a total French pharmacy groupie. And I really thought that I knew every product available and then, recently, I stumbled upon yet another French wonder product! Linement Oleo Calcaire (I guess this translates to oil and calcium ointment) consists of only two ingredients: olive oil and calcium. The most common use for it is cleaning babies bottoms with it — instead of wipes. It cleans fantastically well and leaves a film of oil to stop irritations. Lots of people over here use it at home instead of wipes — so much cheaper and better for the baby and the environment — a no brainer!

And there is more: it’s also good to wash dry skin or skin prone to ecxma, massage, use on sunburns and minor burns and also as a make-up remover. It must be the most multi-functional product in the world! You can buy the ointment ready made at most pharmacies in France or the pharmacist should be able to mix up a bottle for you. Alternatively you can get it online here in France and here in the  UK and the USA.

-Emilie

Vicks Behind-the-ear thermometer

It’s funny how medical care can be so different from country to country.  When I lived in London and asked the pharmacist for some suppositories to give to my sick baby, he literally looked at me as if I was asking him to stand on his head and sing the ABCs. Whereas here in Amsterdam, suppositories are the norm, and liquid paracetamol doesn’t seem to exist at all! Fact is (at least in my experience), that for small, nappy wearing babies, suppositories really work best, but for older children I definitely prefer liquid paracetamol.
For taking temperatures it seems to be the same story: in the Netherlands, temperatures are supposed to be taken rectally, whereas in the UK I think it is considered child molestation to use anything else than an ear thermometer. I must say that I’ve warmed up to the UK method here — especially since we own the Vicks Gentle Touch, which accurately measures the temperature behind the ear within a second, and it’s colour coded so you immediately see if your child is running a temperature or not (and can finish his dinner).

xxx Esther

Spoil yourself

I have had one of those months, and the truth be told, I am feeling a little bit run down. The days are getting shorter, the leaves are falling off the trees, my girls and I have all had colds and it has been one of those periods where nothing really goes to plan. I feel like I’ve been running late on everything — do you know that feeling? So I decided it was time to do some damage limitation and spoil myself a little, and this is how:

1) A big, long, hot bath with some good bath salts (my favorites are the Neals Yard Lavander Bath Salts).
2) An episode of Mad Men (it is my absolute favourite show at the moment and there is nothing better than zoning out to a good TV show) and watching it while I am soaking in the hot bath with a face mask on.
3) A hot drink: my favourite is freshly pressed lemon juice, hot water, honey and a splash of whiskey (the whiskey is optional).
4) Going to bed early in a freshly made bed.

What about you? What is your quick fix when you are feeling run down?

Emilie

Sidewalk Shoe Survival Balm

Rejoice!  Summer is here in full force and with the clunky boots now tossed to the back of the closet it’s time to break out the cute sandals and flats. But oh my… ouch… so uncool… breaking in the new shoes for the new season also means blisters and sore feet!

A very good friend of mine from college has been working on this product for years now and just recently rolled it out. She is a mama herself and one that always looks amazing and stylish. In her pre-mommy days she used to do all sorts of healthy San Francisco-ish things like ironman’s and triathalon’s and as a result was always looking for a lady-like product to ease her sore feet.   Sidewalk Survival Balm was born out of her love for comfort and high fashion and her organic foot-saver is a god-send that smells incredible.  After taking it for a bunch of test runs, I can attest that it really works. Basically, it’s a protective balm for feet, almost like a chapstick,  and I keep one in my bag to offer instant relief from rubbing shoes.   I am even going to use it on my kids as they break in their new summer sandals.  She will ship internationally if you contact her directly and is offering Babyccino readers a discount of 20% off till the end of July. Just use promo code: babyccino.

-Dina

Nyp Balm, food for your boobs (and baby’s bottom)

The third time around, breastfeeding was easy. I knew exactly what to do, and the baby also got it immediately — she was breastfeeding within minutes after she was born, as if we both had been doing nothing else for years. Life is beautiful.
I also knew exactly what to expect a few days after the birth. Painful boobs the size of melons, hard, hot and with red blotches. Sleeping sitting up. Sore, cracked nipples, feeding bra size 100Z (too small). Have you ever had to pull a cracked nipple sticking to your bra? Ouch. Life is a bitch.
Enter Inlight Nyp Balm. A natural, 100% organic, wonderful smelling soothing balm that does the trick. Before birth, it’s used to help stretch the skin and prevent stretch-marks. After the birth it soothes and heals sore nipples. And, what I possibly like best about it is that now that I don’t need the Nyp Balm myself anymore (yay), I can use the rest for my baby’s bum. No spills! Because it also calms red and irritated baby bottoms wonderfully well.
All ingredients in Nyp Balm (like moisturising olive and coconut oil, protective beeswax, anti-inflammatory lavender and restorative rosehip oil) do not alter the flavour of the maternal milk and are easily tolerated by babies.

xxx Esther

Bear foods

I can spot a new kids snack a mile off — it’s like I smell something new in the air as soon as I enter the supermarket.  I spotted Bear yo-yos last year and immediately my fruit-loving daughter was a fan.  Now we are all fans of the Bear snacks (I especially love the Cocoa Cherry Pie nibbles).  They are not just for children — their selection of nibbles are delicious combinations of fruit and granola and come in bags that are all under 100cals — so perfect for my 4pm sugar-fix.

Bear was started by personal trainer, Hayley, last year in an attempt to find a tasty alternative to chocolate, biscuits and treats — clearly a lady with my needs in mind!  She chose the name ‘Bear’ after she read an article which said that bears who had found their way into cities and therefore foraged for foods in bins behind fast-food joints ended up being 30% fatter and 30% less active then their wild counter-parts.  They also died younger.

So Bear produce all their nibbles as nature intended — no fiddling, no air-freight fruit and fairly-traded.  You can buy Bear goodies through Ocado.

-Mo. x

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