Sweet for Baby: Travel Bag By Maud

Things handmade always have something extra precious about them. They always remind me of my mum, who was fond of sewing and was never too busy to start yet another little project for her grandchildren.
This travel bag made By Maud has that lovely handmade feel to it and you can see that a lot of attention has been paid to detail. It is beautifully made, the dino application is simple but lovely (and I love that it’s a dino for girls), and the fabrics are of great quality.
Maud, who runs her business from her garage where she has two sewing machines and a pile of fabrics, also has three little children so she knows what accessories busy mums need. With her creative talent and sense of style, she whipped up a huge collection of the cutest things!

Even though her website is in French, you surely can figure it out, right? Otherwise just contact Maud for info. And she’ll ship worldwide.

xxx Esther

The Lambini Papoose

When my daughter was born I remember lusting after the leather, sheepskin Bill Amberg papoose… but, I just could not justify the cost.  So I settled for a far less stylish middle of the road baby carrier, which not only clashed with my clothes (very much to my annoyance!) but I had to refer to the instructions every time I wanted to use it. Pretty soon I gave up as it caused me considerable stress, and sometimes even induced tears… (as many new mothers can attest; complicated instructions plus a severe case of sleep deprivation can do that). These days my babies are growing up, much too fast for my liking, but that hasn’t stopped me lusting after a new baby carrier called the Lambini Papoose.  It is a gorgeous contraption, with a far more affordable price tag and so simple to use.

Firstly, it is very stylish (and co-ordinates well with most wardrobes — earthy, neutral colours). Secondly, there is no need to add blankets as it’s lined with super-soft Australian lambswool which keeps baby warm in winter and cool in summer. There is the added bonus of using the lambswool separately to line the pram or car seat. But the best thing about this papoose is that you don’t need an instruction booklet to work out how to put it on. It just slides right over your head! For online purchases, both local and international,  please click here.

- Sara

Mommy Toolbox — clips that do the trick

Not sure what I like more about the company ‘Mommy Toolbox‘ — the name or the products it sells!
Within a few months I’ll be walking around with a pushchair again, and will be found struggling with jumpers and scarfs, trying to keep the sun out of my baby’s eyes, and trying to keep the toys inside the pushchair instead of on the pavement! But this time, instead of faint efforts with clothespins and strings, I’ll have a few cool looking CaraBeans and Spring Beans handy. Made of strong aluminium with funky coloured lead-free rubber paint around them, these clips really do the trick.

Available from the Mommy Toolbox online shop.

xxx Esther

Adorable Beci Orpin coin purses

coin purses

These coin purses by talented Melbourne designer Beci Orpin are too cute for words! A little bit quirky but classic enough so that I don’t feel like I have just raided my daughter’s accessory box. They are made of soft leather with stitch, appliqué and rivet detailing and they are fully lined. My only quandary now is deciding whether to invest in the fox, the bear, the owl or the lion. (more…)

Metrotwin

I was recently approached by Metrotwin to do a guest-list for them of my favourite places in London with kids.  I said “hey! I can do one better than that — I can ask our fabulous Babyccino NY contributor (Dina to you and me) to do a NY list too”. They were very excited.

You see Metrotwin is a site powered by British Airways to offer reviews of all the best things to do in the London and NYC.  It is a fabulous resource if you happen to be travelling to or even if you live in either of the cities.

You can check out the Babyccino Kids London Address Book here and the NY address book here.

Enjoy! Mo.x

Long-haul flights and jet-lag

DSC00547I am by no means a medical expert, but I have done a ton of traveling with my kids, have survived more long-haul flights than I can count and have dealt with jet-lag more times than I would like.  On the whole it is never easy, especially the flights. But I do find that it’s more daunting in theory than in practice (I usually start to dread the flight, especially if I’m flying on my own with the kids, about 3 months before the day… plotting out all the possible worse-case scenarios in my head). In general, the nightmare scenarios never happen and the flights go more smoothly than I imagined. I think my biggest tip is to be super organized — have everything you might need during the flight in an easily accessible carry-on. Bring healthy snacks (like raisins, pretzels, fruit) to keep your kids happy and distracted at the crucial times like take-off and landing when you have to be seated.  Have your kids’ favourite books on-hand. And make sure your kids use the toilet BEFORE you board the plain. The more organized you are, the easier the whole experience will be. Oh, and I really think it makes a world of difference to buy your kids their own headphones — ones that actually fit them and stay on. (more…)

Re-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s House

Rembrandthuis - atelierLast weekend we did something unexpectedly fabulous: we took the children to Rembrandt’s House. Rembrandt, as you might know, was a very famous Dutch painter who lived from 1607 till 1669. From 1625 onwards he lived in Amsterdam. For a big part of his live he was very rich, already well known in his time, and he lived in a beautiful house that is amazingly well conserved and restored and can be visited today.
I didn’t really know what to expect with two little children, but they were SO impressed. Our daughter (4 yrs) listened to her own audio tour, aimed especially at kids, and I can say that at the end of our visit she could give me specific information that I didn’t pick up myself.

If you’re in Amsterdam and want to combine some culture with history and a fun family activity, the Rembrandthuis comes recommended. There’s no restaurant, but walking down to the Staalstraat takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll find Pucinni, with great coffee, good sandwiches and amazing cakes.  In the same street you’ll find cute kids gift shop Beestenwinkel, my favourite grown-up gift shop Klevering (that happens to stock some really lovely kids items as well), and a bit up the road there’s Droog Design, a showcase of the famous Dutch design group.

xxx Esther

Top things to do in Melbourne (part 1)

headerWith a steady stream of visiting friends over the Christmas holidays, and many with young children, we have been busy! Whilst we treated them to the hedonistic pleasures of the Aussie beach culture, we also spent a great deal of time indoors appreciating the ‘higher arts’. This can be tricky with young kids in tow, especially those who are jet-lagged and tantrum prone, but Melbourne has some fabulous museums and galleries, several of which are especially wonderful for children.  Here are my top 3.

1. Melbourne Museum –  This fabulous museum, located on the northern border of the Carlton Gardens behind the Royal Exhibition Building, is futuristic and interactive and connects architecture and nature – in the middle of the museum, you can walk through a forest! The Children’s Gallery is designed for children 3 to 8 but I would think it would delight even the younger toddler. The children’s exhibition, entitled 1,2,3 Grow, explores the many ways things, including humans, grow. Activities, children’s art, stories, an indoor sandpit with fossils beneath the sand which children are encouraged to discover, a kids puppet theatre and an outside play/picnic area including games such as skittles for the whole family, are just some of the attractions. It doesn’t matter how often we visit (we try to put our membership to good use after all) my children are always stimulated and engaged. Young children particularly love the insect section and the Forest gallery. Click here for more details. (more…)

The Magical Milky Way’s Super Galactic Zoo

product_thumb.phpAnother fabulous interactive colouring book just begging to be illustrated! They seem to be popping up everywhere these days and with good reason too. Created by talented Melbournian Nicole Mandile, in the first of her My Picture Storybooks series, The Magical Milky Way’s Super Galactic Zoo kept my rambunctious 4-year-old son in check on a long-haul airplane flight recently. So naturally I am a big fan. He was totally engrossed in creating, drawing and pasting away, each page providing the perfect canvas for his masterpiece. It helps that he has a complete fascination with all things galaxy-related.

The book is created using uncoated paper, a great surface to sketch on and is staple bound so the pages open flat. It is printed in Australia on 100% recycled paper. It isn’t too long or too short — just perfect to capture their little attention spans.

Available through weheartbooks for local and international shipment.

- Sara

Camping: The good, the bad and the ugly

DSC_1483We’ve just completed our 30-day drive up the eastern coast of Australia in a campervan, driving more than 4,000 km from Sydney to Cairns with a few detours in between. We did and saw some amazing things, but I think it’s safe to say that we’re happy our camping days are behind us! I’m still not sure whether it was the best or worst decision we’ve ever made – there were moments where I nearly divorced my husband, disowned my children (only kidding, of course!) and swore I’d never return to Australia. BUT it was a really wonderful way to see the country, and the highlights of our trip were well worth the struggles — snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef was worth the journey alone! I think it all would have been much more enjoyable (and easy) if we didn’t have the kids, but the irony is that the kids LOVED the campervan and could carry on camping forever.
I’m sure in years to come we will look back at our camping trip with really fond memories but right now I’m happy to be sleeping on a mattress, eating good meals and staying put for more than three days at a time.

Anyway, now that I’m a ‘camping expert’ I’ve compiled a list of all the pros and cons of traveling in a campervan (with young kids). (more…)

House swapping

barcelonaOver the summer break I spent a bit of time decorating my home. (No, the pic above is not of my place — but somewhere I might now be able to stay.) One of the reasons was that I wanted to take some photos so I could list it on a house swap website.

We featured an article on house swapping a couple of years ago in the magazine where I work. It seemed like a great idea. But I always wondered — is it too good to be true?

Well, I believe that you should “give it a go” — as Aussies like to say. So I took the plunge and listed with two sites. Creative Caravan tags itself as “Craiglist for Creatives” — the idea being that you can swap with like-minded people.

The other website is Homelink. I did a bit of research and was attracted to this one because there is strong membership within Australia so if I want to take a trip to Byron Bay or Tasmania then I can swap with people who live there… as well as people in Italy. And within a week of listing I got a message from someone wanting to swap in Martinique!

- Natalie

Do as the Dutch do, bike on a bakfiets

bakfiets

Thanks to its flat (meaning not hilly) landscape, the Netherlands is the perfect place for getting around on bike.  It’s also quite safe: bike lanes are virtually everywhere, and drivers are so used to the many bikes around that they take them in careful consideration.  So the ‘fiets’ is the preferred means of transportation for most, if not all Dutchmen. We cycle to work, we cycle to school, we cycle to the shops and we also grab the bike if we go out at night (this will also conveniently save us the money for a parking ticket or a taxi).
Kids?  No problem. We just take them in front with us when they are little, in a special seat hanging from the steer. When they grow bigger, they get a seat on the back of the bike, if necessary combined with the pre-mentioned seat on the front for a little sibling.
If you have three or more children though, it’s probably time to get a bakfiets.  A bakfiets is kind of a cross between a bike and a beach wagon, and you can conveniently fit in as many as 4 children (although I’ve seen people squeeze in even more!).  If you’ve ever been in Amsterdam, chances are high that you’ve noticed them around. (more…)

Pimp your baby car seat with Hagou Originals

Hagou

After two children I felt I just couldn’t justify putting my third one in that same old car seat. For some reason (hormones?) I felt it should be new, clean and pristine, like the little baby who will be in it. I had already started working on convincing my husband that we really need to buy a new maxi cosi (he doesn’t automatically feel the same way about it as I do, so odd), until I came across the universal car seat covers from Hagou Originals. (more…)

Invisible Zinc

invisiblezincjuniorAll those scorching Australian summers that I spent oiling myself with ‘Hawaiian Tropic’ –- how it makes me cringe! If only this product was around when I was in my late teens… okay, who am I kidding, I still would have ignored the facts, all for a deep bronze tan that didn’t ever last. The fact is that the sun ages your skin prematurely and causes cancer. Whilst I did come to my senses long ago,  I am sure that I still wear the damage of those early reckless years. These days, I don’t leave home without having applied Invisible Zinc to each and every member of my family (husband excluded here, he is not partial to me assaulting him with ‘goo’ every morning — not for want of trying, mind you).

The concept behind Invisible Zinc is technology that provides a physical (not chemical) barrier between you and the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. They use a world patented form of Zinc Oxide that has been milled down so that it is no longer visible to the naked eye …fortunately you can banish all images of the white zinc-nosed, speedo-clad Aussie lifeguard, not quite the look I favor either when I head for the beach!  Zinc Oxide is a natural sunscreen agent that sits on the skin reflecting dangerous UVA and UVB rays without unnecessary chemical sun-filters (incidentally, most chemical sunscreens offer little or no protection against UVA rays).

So Courtney, take note!  This Aussie product is a must-have for you and your family over the coming months… and for those of you shivering in the Northern Hemisphere, as strange as it may seem, summer is just around the corner! (-:

-Sara

ERGObaby organic baby and child carrier

ergoLast week we had snow in the Netherlands, which doesn’t happen very often, so when it does we make the most of it! We took the children to the south of the Netherlands (where I’m originally from), and enjoyed the beautiful white landscape on foot. Even though my kids were well equipped with snow boots, they started to complain about walking fairly quickly (such wimps!), and so we carried them on our backs for the remainder of the hike.

I had my nearly-3-year-old in our conventional back carrier, and my husband carried our 4-year-old daughter using our new organic ERGObaby carrier. Which is, by the way, such a great invention! Using the infant insert, you can use it for a newborn baby (which I will hopefully be able to try out soon), and without it it can safely be used for kids up to 18 kilos!! Which will spare you a trip to the gym, thinking about it (at least, that’s what I kept telling my husband).

The ERGObaby can be used in front, hip and back carrier positions, depending on the age of the child and the specific need. It’s really simple to use and according to my husband (and daughter) very comfortable!  I like the simple look of it (we have the chocolate coloured one), and the fact that it’s fairly small (especially compared to a conventional back carrier), which makes it easy to take with you while traveling.

You can order the ERGObaby through the European webshop or the American one.

xxx Esther

P.S. The guy in the picture is not my husband. (Cute nevertheless.) And, might you be thinking, it is also not my daughter! (I like her outfit though.)

Mittens that stay up — no strings attached!

mimitens mittensNow here is a concept I wish I would have created… mittens that stay put, really.  They’re mittens with long, stretchy cuffs that reach the elbow, making sure that no matter how much your child wriggles, runs, or plays, those mittens won’t budge, and they won’t fill with snow either.

With sizes ranging from baby to 5-year-old, and with loads of different colors and styles, the Mimi TENS mittens are made with waterrepellent nylon, insulated with Thinsulate and lined with Oeko-Tek bamboo fleece for extra warmth and softness.

They’re made in Canada where they are no strangers to snow, so you know you’re in good hands, literally.  Click here for retailers. And can you believe I’m thinking about snow already?

-Courtney

The sound of silence

CAL-2810-300-300When I flew to London with my three-year-old twins I was in a complete and total panic.  For weeks I would lie awake at night picturing nothing but six hours of high pitched screams and death stares. When I asked for advice on how to cope, one friend suggested that I flood the first class cabin with water, freeze it, and hire the escapades to perform. Another friend simply said “M&M’s, Sticker books and Benadryl.”
Like any rational parent with the will to live, I have no shame in busting out the DVD player… so when they grew tired of the doodle pads and pulling apart everything within reach I broke it out and fanned a selection of their most prized Nickelodian shows (cue the sound of angels singing).   What made the DVD even more of a hit were the Califone headphones that a friend told us about.  Unlike other cumbersome headsets, Califone headphones are made for smaller heads and they fit nice and snug.  Choose from a crowd pleasing panda, tiger or bear.  The earphones put a smile on the skeptical faces of my surrounding passengers who, like me, were thankful for a peaceful, scream free flight.

-Dina

One for the must-do list

giraffe manorI’ve still got the travel bug. I’m off to Africa to write a travel article. And while I’m not taking my family, I can’t wait to do so one day. You see, during my research I came across a photo from Giraffe Manor in Nairobi and I thought, “wouldn’t this be the most amazing place to take my child”. In my opinion, it would beat Disney Land hands down. I can just see the wonderment on my son’s face when a giraffe pops his head through the window. Priceless. If any of you have been there, I would love to hear about your experience.

-Natalie

Car sing-a-long

FamilyOutinginOldCar1900We are doing quite a lot of driving this summer which is not really the most exciting thing for kids to do. Sooner or later on every drive my eldest daughter informs us that she needs to vomit! She is mostly crying wolf and is only just bored, but it is always a great way of getting my attention. I have now figured out that the best way of testing if she is really feeling a bit crock or not is by getting her to sing. My reasoning behind this is that a person who is about to vomit does not feel like singing…

So now there is a lot of singing going on in our car (most of my friends would freak at this notion, as I cannot sing for the life of me) and this is our repertoire: ‘Old Macdonald’, ‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Molly Malone’, the first verse of ‘Lemon Tree’ by Peter, Paul and Mary. We also mix in a bit of ‘No No No’ by Destinys Child, prompted by the 16-month-old as that is the only song she knows the words to, literally.  Now, I am interested, what do other families sing? Any suggestions on how to expand our repertoire?

We have another 6-hour journey ahead of us soon and I do not know how often I will be able to deal with  these old faithfuls…

- Emilie

Travel bug

travel bugI had a big “ah-ha” moment when I realised just how important travelling was for me. It’s quite common for Australians to do a big trip to Europe when they’re in their twenties. Many live there, as I did for a couple of years. But once those people return to Australia rarely do they venture back out into the wide world, other than to, say, Bali or Fiji. But I can’t live without travel. It’s the one time that I actually switch off completely from work and my day-to-day responsibilities and allow myself to dream.

I don’t need a big house or new car or designer clothes, but I do need to travel to new places. All of this sprung to mind when I saw this picture — I started to yearn to take Little C away with me. It’s from Australian brand Infancy’s Spring Summer collection.

-Natalie

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »