Read all about it

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If you pop into your local corner shop today and happen to pick up a copy of Tatler, head to page 216. You may see a familiar face.

There he is – a five month old version of my little chunk in his Didi and Bud sleepsuit and hat. It was back in the day when he slept on our bed and I didn’t worry about him launching himself off. He would fall asleep anywhere, and I would take photos!

I love that sleepsuit. I got it out again the other day. It looks so tiny now. And the hat – admittedly it was always a bit tight on Ralphie’s generously sized head – is just the cutest.

Because I’m feeling all nostalgic (did I mention that Ralphie turns one in two weeks?), here are a few more of the tiny squidger – hat and all.image

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Meeting the Queen Bee

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I’ve grown into a big fan of Instagram shops and brands. One of the first I ever came across was baby clothing and accessories supplier Bee Bee’s Boutique. At the time, they were running a brand rep search and, after getting approval from Ryan and some friends, I decided to enter Ralphie. With just a few followers to my name, not to mention a feed of photos that were a bit all over the place, the lovely Rhiannon Beeson took a punt on us. And it’s been up, up, up ever since then!

I think the same can be said for Bee Bee’s. Rhiannon set up the store with her own little bee – Lottie – in mind, wanting to find cool clothing and accessories that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to buy on the high street. Today, she stocks a fabulous range of amazing brands from around the world, and her customer base is growing as demand for handmade, on-trend, baby clothes from small businesses continues to skyrocket.

“I’m super passionate about supporting other mumpreneurs and small businesses, and we’re so proud to work with our stockists,” Rhiannon says. “We’re also pretty proud to have a couple of firsts under our belt, being the first supplier of Lil’ Cubs, Hudson Reign and Lyn in Stitches; the first UK supplier of CarlijnQ; and the first European supplier of Coco & Cru.”

Rhiannon has also let me in on a little secret that I’m absolutely honoured to be able to share with you all. Bee Bee’s is now an official stockist of Fred and Noah!

“We’re so excited to be working with the wonderful Natalie from Fred and Noah,” she says. “They were the first Instashop we bought from and we’re totally addicted to their awesome leggings. When we got the email to say ‘welcome aboard’, I ran into the kitchen screaming in total disbelief!

“All of our Fred and Noah stock is ready made and ready to ship so our little bees will get the same quick turnaround. We’re really honoured to be working with them and think this is a really exciting time for Bee Bee’s.”

I feel very lucky to be one of the first to congratulate Bee Bee’s on this fantastic news. The leggings are going to be in great company on the website and they certainly fit the bill in terms of what types of clothing Rhiannon aims to stock – bright and colourful, and funky and bold.

“We also test all of our products before we approach a stockist – how do they wash, what’s the fit like, the material and so on,” she explains. “Talking to mums on a regular basis and looking after our own little bee means we know what’s important. But most of all we go on gut feeling. What brands do we love, what’s their approach with customers and do they fit with the Bee Bee’s ethos? We’re super lucky to work with such wonderful brands.”

When asked what her favourite Bee Bee’s item is, Rhiannon says that it is way too difficult to choose just one. So she opts for one from each brand she stocks instead: “Fred and Noah – has to be the fabulous pink cloud leggings: super soft, bright and funky yet girly print, perfect fit and they last. Lil’ Cubs has to be the Oranges and Lemons baby grows – the little yellow soles are soooo cute and the unisex print makes it one of my go-to baby shower gifts. Hudson Reign – personalised tees without a doubt; they’re just so cool and the quality is amazing. Coco and Cru – all of the blankets are lush but Mint Triangle and the Peach Herringbone are to die for!”

If you haven’t already, you can check out the full range of clothing and accessories at www.beebeesboutique.co.uk. I don’t know about you, but I’m off shopping…

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Operation sleep: the giveaway!

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It’s funny how a plan comes together. I’ve been organising this bedtime giveaway for a while, but it seems to be fate that the week I’m all ready to go is the week Ralphie finally gets his head around sleeping through the night. Cheers all round!

I wanted to do this giveaway as I believe that the bedtime routine is so important. After a lovely day together, you need that time in the evening as a mum to switch off and chill, even if it’s only for a few minutes before you fall asleep! We didn’t really have a good bedtime routine for the first six months of Ralphie’s life. We cuddled him well into the evening and he usually ended up going to bed when we were ready to go upstairs too. I don’t regret one bit of what we did, but now our baby’s in bed by around 7.30pm every night, and it has transformed our evenings for the better. We’ve got our ‘us time’ back and we can eat our dinner in peace. Bliss!

So, to celebrate the greatness of bedtime, I’ve teamed up with some amazing small businesses to bring you all the essentials you need to help your little ones drift off to the land of nod without a tear in sight! To enter, all you need to do is head to my Instagram page and read the super simple instructions on my giveaway post. In addition to liking the post and following all six businesses involved in the giveaway, I would love to hear about your baby’s bedtime routine. What special things do you do before tucking them up in bed? Do you have any tips or tricks you would like to share? We’ll be picking our favourites, and six lucky winners will get their hands on some goodies. I’ll also be featuring some of the best comments in a follow-up blog post next week.

Before you go, here’s a bit more about the businesses behind the giveaway and what you can win:

A Little Bit Milo

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This online children’s fashion and homeware store only launched at the end of last year, but is already making a name for itself as a stockist of some of the best independent brands going.

One of the newest items to join their ever-growing range is Guess Who!, a clues-and-answers set of three books from London-based children’s book publisher Owl & Dog Playbooks. What makes it cool is that it can be opened and read in different ways, without affecting the rhythm and rhyme. I definitely need to get this for Ralphie (I’m a massive fan of quirky books and I hope he will be too!). If you enter the competition, this is up for grabs along with a pear night light. The perfect bedtime combo!

Didi and Bud

Every baby needs a cute, comfy sleepsuit and Didi and Bud do the best, in my humble opinion. If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I’m a big fan. Super soft cotton, cool prints – what’s not to love? Didi and Bud’s debut collection includes four patterns – penny farthing, top hats, lace umbrella and vintage bicycle in black, blue, pink and grey, respectively. One lucky winner will get their hands on a sleepsuit in the size and pattern of their choice.

Kokoso Baby

I hadn’t heard of this baby skincare brand until recently when I was looking around for something to treat Ralphie’s eczema. We’ve been to the doctors numerous times and got various potions and steroid creams, but what I really wanted was a long-term natural remedy. We’ve been using the organic coconut oil for a couple of months now and I’m really impressed. The redness on Ralphie’s face has cleared up completely and it’s my first point of call for any flare ups. Plus, it feels lovely to put on. Buttery soft, yet surprisingly not greasy. But you don’t have to take my word for it. If you win, you’ll get a pot to try yourself.

Mama Designs

With its removable inner layer, the Babasac is the perfect year-round baby sleeping bag. And it looks really cool too. We’re currently using ours on ‘summer mode’ without the warm lining, and it keeps Ralphie just the right temperature at night. It’s a great investment piece, as I know it will last through the colder months too. Mama Designs has kindly offered up the green apple Babasac in a size of your choice for this giveaway.

Megan Illustrations

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I know I will sound biased as she is my sister, but Megan is one super talented lady! She has just graduated from the Winchester School of Art with a first-class honours degree in Fine Art and is now taking design and illustration commissions, as well as selling prints and artwork. One of her first jobs has been a collaboration with Cribstar to create a bespoke emoji design, which is being used across a wide range of baby clothing – I cannot wait to see the full collection, which will be available to buy soon. We’re lucky enough to have an amazing piece of artwork in Ralphie’s room. If you win, you’ll get to have your own too!

Milk Moustache

This clothing brand has some of the coolest prints going. Teepees, spots, ice creams, doughnuts – if you haven’t checked them out yet, then you must. We’ve got a few rompers and tops, but when I go back to work and bring in some more money, I’m going to have to try and stop myself from buying the entire range! Milk Moustache is best known for its baby clothing range, but did you know they do cot sheets too? The sleeping eye sheet could be yours, and if you really wanted you could even buy the leggings and top to match. Ultimate camouflage!

Remember, head to my Instagram page to enter. And good luck!

 

Think outside the bulb

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I stumbled across Bulb London’s Instagram page (@bulb_london) a couple of months back (this happens quite often these days!), and I was immediately captivated.

I absolutely love it when I find something different and quirky – and this new kids’ lifestyle and décor brand is definitely that. Their designs are unique and clever. As soon as I saw their amazing lightbulb decoration, I was desperate to get my hands on one.

After months of hard work and preparation, Bulb London opened its virtual doors last week. In between running her new business and packing up orders, Agnete Rinne – the amazing mama behind it all – took some time out to tell me what Bulb London is all about, and what inspired her to set up her own business.

Before we hear all about Bulb London, tell me a little about yourself and your family.
We are a trilingual, modern, lifestyle-conscious family living in London. I came to the city in 2006 to study and I’m still here (laughing). I’m originally from Rīga, the capital of Latvia.

I have always been creative; my mum was a painter so I guess, she ‘pushed’ me down the same route, which I’m grateful for. I painted portraits back home, but wanted to try something different when I came to London. So I went for visual arts and graphic design. I’m not exactly a computer person, but I’m happy I hold a degree. I met my partner Farhan (everyone calls him Haan) during our university days, and we are still going strong. Oh gosh, we fight and argue – not only we are from different cultures, but we have our wonderful daughter Mia as well as our joint business to juggle.

So how did the idea for your business come about?
My mother use to paint, as did my grandfather, so I come from a very artistic background. I have a natural eye for colour and shape, and I always wanted to do something big; sometimes I think people don’t dare to dream big enough. So one day me and Haan sat on the sofa and we were like “f*** it – lets do it!” My creativity is unstoppable, but I need someone to manage me, therefore we are a great match. Trust me, not everyone can work with their other half, especially with a control freak like me!

Where did you get the inspiration from for your fabulous designs?
Our darling Mia is the heart of Bulb London. As a parent, I have a job to be a role model to my daughter, and by extension, to other young people too. I also understand how to turn a lightbulb on in someone’s head. Creativity equals inspiration, and if you’ve got a creative mind, you don’t ever stop working. It’s about how you deliver your idea.

Now that your shop is live, what products can people get their hands on?
We launched on 1 June. We worked day and night to go live. Every single thing – from the sketches to the final products – we’ve done ourselves. We have a range of prints, kids’ room deco and tees for kids aged 1-8 years. We also created a tote bag for people who like to ‘think outside the bulb’.

If you could choose one favourite item from your range, what would it be?
Am I allowed to have favourites? (laughing) It’s definitely the Mama Queen print – it’s a portrait of me! I also love the black bulb all over print tee.

I know it’s early days, but what’s in the pipeline for Bulb London?
We are basically building a baby – creating it, evolving it and developing it. At the moment, we are working on our adult range of tees. We’ve got so much more to give. I truly believe that we could all change our entire consciousness if we dared to dream big.

Visit Bulb London’s website to discover the full range. And be sure to check out Agnete’s Instagram page for some amazing lifestyle shots.

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The sun has got his hat on

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What a glorious few days of sunshine we’ve had. At the weekend it felt practically tropical. Legs out, suncream on – off we popped outside to enjoy it all. We even had a crazy thunderstorm to make it feel like we really were in the Caribbean. I’m talking torrential rain, thunder and lightning directly overhead. Real drama!

This weather is perhaps made even more special by the fact we knew it wouldn’t last long. This morning, we’ve woken up to rain. But it will be back. And next time I’m planning to be a little better prepared.

You see the thing is, being out in the sunshine is a bit different now we have a little one. It’s fine if I accidentally catch a few too many rays and go slightly rouge (it’s my own fault, after all), but it’s a completely different story with a baby.

We had a hot sunny spell a couple of weeks ago, so I promptly went out and bought the highest factor suncream I could get my hands on. It’s the type that’s so thick and white it makes poor Ralphie look like a ghost. But it works, which is the main thing.

And then I went searching for a sun hat. It’s harder than you think, especially if you want a nice one. I settled for one from The White Company. In the online pics it looked promising, but I’ve done the typical mum thing and bought it too big. It’s ok for now; Ralphie’s been wearing it, but I’m on the hunt for a better alternative, and preferably something that covers his ears. I’m thinking a straw fedora, but the chances of him keeping it on are slim.

I’m also on the lookout for some type of portable pop-up tent to keep Ralphie shaded. We have a rubbish garden (it’s more like a yard with a brick floor), so it would be more for when we’re out and about. I tell you, I’d underestimated the challenges of protecting a little one’s delicate skin from these harsh rays.

But protect it I will. I must be getting old, because the idea of burning my skin doesn’t seem particularly appealing these days. And if it happened to Ralphie, I’d be horrified!

Silicon beads are a mum’s best friend

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Forget gold, pearls and diamonds – thanks to a tiny pair of busy hands, not much is safe around my neck these days. So when I discovered teething necklaces, I was intrigued.

I’ve never really been one for wearing costume jewellery. Call me a snob but I have a few favourite pieces of jewellery and they’ve been my go-to staple for years – a pair of pearl stud earrings (a gift from mum and dad); a gold chain with pearl beads (one of my most treasured items as I inherited it from my very dear Grandma); and a gold charm bracelet (one of my favourite presents from Ryan).

But these past six months (yes, Ralphie is now six months old – I can’t believe it!), I haven’t dared to wear any of them, other than the earrings. My boy has very prying – not to mention strong – fingers, and most things he grabs these days tend to end up in his mouth. A teething necklace, then, was just what I needed.

I now own three, plus a teething bracelet. They’re all from cute little shops I found on Instagram – two from Indigo and Wren, and a gorgeous nude necklace and matching bracelet from Organic Mama. I love them! They look good, add a welcome splash of colour to my outfit, and Ralphie can chomp away on them to his heart’s content.

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And chomp away he does! From what I’ve heard, the teething process is a long and arduous one. I think it’s a bit like childbirth – nobody bloomin’ talks about it! But, from what little I have heard, it sounds like we have a fair few sleepless nights to look forward to, not to mention a grizzly baby. Can’t wait.

I’ve actually got a confession to make. I wrote a while back about how I thought Ralphie was getting his first tooth. Well…it hasn’t actually appeared yet. False alarm! Sorry. So yeah, we’ve got the whole teething business to come. I think it’s happening now, but I’m not so sure anymore.

All I do know is that I’m pleased I’ve got my handy teething jewellery. I wear it pretty much every day – even when I’m not with Ralphie, although this is rare! I get plenty of compliments, and most people don’t even know it’s practical too – cue a few perplexed faces when I let Ralphie ram it in his mouth!

The colours are lovely. Grey, black and a pop of mustard to match my rather extensive grey wardrobe. And peach, white and oatmeal, because you just can’t go wrong with a nude palette – my other staple wardrobe colour.

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One of the handiest things about this jewellery is because I’m wearing it, I don’t have to worry about Ralphie dropping it on the floor or throwing it out of his pram. He’s just started doing this thing where he madly flails his arms around; it’s hilarious but risky for the toys in his hands! The only slight flaw is that if I don’t have a muslin cloth handy (although I usually do), you can end up with a bit of dribble on your top. But it dries. And really, I have bigger issues to worry about. The other day, I got sweet potato smeared all over my white t-shirt – that was painful.

Will I ever wear my gold chain again? Of course I will. But for now, I’m happy to have a trusty bit of colourful silicon around my neck. Pretty and practical – I sound like such a mum these days!

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Things every new mum should have

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Last night, a close friend of mine asked me for some baby shower gift ideas – something that’s useful, a little bit different from the norm, and won’t break the bank. Ralphie was asleep, Ryan was watching the football, so I got to work. Unsurprisingly, I got a bit carried away.

I thought it’d be a shame not to share my research, so here it is – a readymade baby shower gift list!

Muslin cloths: Any new mum will need a lot of these. The Aden and Anais range is a little more pricey than your traditional white ones, but their prints are gorgeous. For the monochrome lovers out there, you can’t go wrong with Modern Burlap.

Baby blanket: Because one just won’t be enough; one messy poo or puke and you’re done for. I’m a real sucker for a good baby blanket, but some of the best I’ve seen are from Turtledove London, Bee Bee’s Boutique, and Tobias and the Bear.

Teething necklace: A perfect but not completely obvious gift for mum and baby, and it’s stylish yet practical! Most necklaces have beads made from food-grade silicon, which are perfect for tiny gums to chomp on. Indigo & Wren do some gorgeous colour combinations, and Fox’s Felts have a lovely personalised range.

Dribble bibdanas: This wasn’t something I had really thought about, but babies dribble a lot! If you don’t want your little one to have a constantly soggy top or romper, a dribble bibdana is an ideal solution – useful and they look really cool too. Bilibib have the biggest range of prints I’ve ever seen, and Cribstar is adding to its collection all the time, plus their quality is second to none. Milk Moustache Apparel have some lovely prints too.

Baby leggings: Clothing is quite a personal choice, and Ryan and I are very particular about what we like, and what we don’t! Plus it can be a bit tricky if you don’t know the baby’s gender yet. But I don’t think you can go wrong with a pair of baby leggings. There are so many gorgeous ones out there (I’m a bit obsessed); here’s a shortlist of my favourites:
Dil&Gray
CarlijnQ from Bee Bee’s Boutique
Milk Moustache Apparel
Turtledove London
Blaebird
Ted&Co
Tobias and the Bear

A print for baby’s nursery: Again, this can be quite a personal choice, but if you know the parents well and have a good idea of their tastes, then this could be a great gift idea. Alfie & Co have a fabulous range of prints, most of which can be personalised.

Dummy clip: I still don’t have one of these for Ralphie and I don’t know why, because it would save a lot of agro (and sterilising!). Simply clip one end to the dummy and the other to your baby’s top, and it doesn’t matter when they spit it out, which they will! Plepleple does some lovely wooden and silicon ones.

And if you’re not convinced about any of the above, here are a few more suggestions:
-Your favourite childhood book: Ryan’s sister bought us a set of Roald Dahl books, which is still one of my favourite gifts for Ralphie. Thanks Kelly!
-A night light: handy for night feeds without waking everyone up
-A pack of white baby vests, because you can never have enough
-Burt’s Bees baby wash and moisturiser: I didn’t realise how harsh the Johnsons stuff is on baby’s skin
-A hooded towel
-A baby sleeping bag
-Cool baby socks: Gap do some lovely thick cotton ones
-A cuddly toy or comforter: Jellycat do the best ones in my opinion
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-Fresh coffee for mum and dad!