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Monthly Archives: May 2012

A couple of fun Jubilee celebrations for the family in Swindon….

Queen’s Park Diamond Jubilee Celebrations- The Big Lunch

Sunday June 3rd from 11am. Queen’s Park

Bring a picnic or enjoy a cream tea, Coronation Chicken sandwich or some Arkell’s Queen’s Tipple at only £1 for half a pint from the café.

Live music from local young singer Elliot at 1pm, followed by Nathan Jones Allstars jazz swing band. The mayor, Michael Bray will cut a special Diamond Jubilee cake at 2.15.

Prizes for the best King or Queen dressing up costumes for both children and adults!

Salt Way Children’s Centre Jubilee Party

Thursday 7 June

11.00 – 1.00pm,

Come and make a crown, flag or bunting and then take it straight out to their tea party, where they’ll be food, games and fun galore!

Salt Way Children’s Centre 
Pearl Road, Middleleaze, Swindon, SN5 5TD.

Tel: 01793 465364

I will add any information which falls in to my lap about other Jubilee Celebrations, but unfortunately don’t have time to look up more!

The Café at the Oasis in Swindon is another brilliant choice for people with babies and kids. In fact overall it’s probably the best all round café for choice of food and child- friendliness that I’ve found yet in Swindon, whether you are using the leisure centre facilities or not.

That said I wouldn’t make a special trip to the café during school holidays unless you don’t mind a very long wait for food and strong competition for a table. The same probably applies at weekends. It gets VERY busy during peak times.

Outside these times it’s great, though. Free parking for three hours (although you still must display your ticket!). There’s loads of space for buggies too, and the laminate floor isn’t too hard if kids fall over.

There’s a baby food station with a microwave and bottle warmer and from where I’m sitting I can see seven high chairs- there may be more. You certainly don’t have to worry about your kids screaming and bothering other customers here either as most other people are here with their own kids!

By any café’s standards there’s a great choice of food. A wide variety of jacket potatoes, baguettes, home made soups, salads, pasta, pub grub and burgers.

For kids there are choices of jackets (half) and pastas as well as plated meals which are all served with choices of chips, half jacket or pasta twists and also choice of peas, beans, fried egg or salad. At the moment there’s an offer where you get any junior meal with a carton of Ribena for £3.50.

All the food is reasonably priced and they also have classic slush puppies!

A private company takes over the Oasis in June, so all this may change soon- I really hope not too much.

The Male Carers Group at Saltway Children’s Centre meets on every fourth Saturday of every month from 10.00-11.30am. This month’s meeting is May 26th. The cost is £1 per family.

It’s a group for any male carers of children 8 and under with a range of activities for carers and their children to enjoy as well as the promise of a bacon roll for the male carers!

The group is great fun and they’re aiming to boost their numbers to ensure the continuation of the group.

Salt Way Children’s Centre, Pearl Road, Middleleaze, Swindon, SN5 5TD. Tel: 01793 465364

Things I'm Glad I Bought- The Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance Chair

Things I’m Glad I Bought- The Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance Chair

Things I’m glad I bought….. There are numerous essentials for babies as well as numerous extravagancies. In a few cases, though, I’ve been really glad I went for a particular brand or type of essential.

Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance Chair

J had another seat until around 6 months. We didn’t realise when we were buying things before she arrived that the majority of seats are only safe up to 6 months. In retrospect I wish we’d got this in the first place, but you live and learn….

The Baby Bjorn Babysitter Balance is allegedly good up to 2 years, which makes it more than worth the extra expense (currently going from around £86.95 online- generally around the £100 mark).

There are 4 different angles at which to use the chair as your baby grows. You can just slide the baby down in to the seat, so no faffing about with straps (which were a nightmare on her last chair!). It doesn’t vibrate, it doesn’t rock but it does bounce, or rather she bounces it- which at this age at least is much more fun!

Her previous chair vibrated as we were told by friends that their baby went straight off to sleep with vibrate on. J hated vibrate. Every baby really is different.

As your baby becomes a toddler you can take away the “strap” of the Babysitter Balance and they can use it as a big boy/girl chair. It’s effectively material stretched over a frame, so the material can just be taken off and thrown in the machine. The seat can also be folded completely flat which makes it great for travelling.

For a few other things I’m glad I bought or was given see Top 5 Toys for 0-6 Months. At some point soon I’ll be singing the praises of our monitor and our nappy bin. Thrilling stuff!

Find cheap Tommee Tippee stuff in Aldi, Drove Road at the moment!

Aldi currently has packs of three small food pots with lids for 99p, packs of 6 spoons for 99p, “Roll ‘n’ Go Bibs” for £1.99, “First Cup” sippy cups for £1.29, packs of two Closer to Nature Feeding bottles for £5.99 and Thermal Travel Bag Twin Pack for £6.99.

I think possibly some of it’s from a season or two back as the designs are slightly different to things I’ve bought this year, but who cares? it’s plastic, it’s not like it’s going to go off is it?!

Thanks for the heads up on this Sarah.

We made our first visit to Kidz About Soft Play in Swindon on Wednesday afternoon. It certainly won’t be our last!

Kidz About is the perfect drop-in, no commitment activity for a rainy weekday afternoon. We went to Jolly Roger about 3 months ago when J was 4 months old. While Jolly Roger probably has more to offer older kids, Kidz About seems better for younger babies.

There is a special baby section at Kidz About, which I didn’t discover at Jolly Roger (there may be one but we didn’t really look as we were with toddlers). There are a couple of baby-gym type arches with things dangling for younger babies. For older babies there’s a Jumperoo-esque activity station/ bouncer, a standing up activity station, a baby buckaroo-ish ride thing, some hand-held toys and a few other things. Some of the stuff seemed a bit used, but that’s probably because it is- a lot!

J wasn’t bored for a second but, just as important, the soft floor and surroundings offer babies a safe place to explore and practice their moving about skills!

If you have older children there are also Kidz About Parties on offer.

Although more fun with friends I would absolutely come alone with J too. It’s 75p for adults and babies 0-6 months go free. Price jumps to £2.95 off peak for under 2s, £3.95 for under 5s and £4.95 for 5-12 years make Kidz About slightly less of an everyday activity. However it’s still pretty good value to keep your kids very happy for a couple of hours and you can have a bit of a break from thinking up play ideas.

For the grown ups Kidz About has a café, a couple of sofas and loads of tables and chairs. The café has Starbucks coffee, a good variety of snacks and meals and a few very nice looking cakes, as well as chocolate bars etc.

Living in a Swindon Victorian terrace which has not been knocked through as many have- I’m always keen to escape our dingy sitting room. Even on a rainy day this place seemed light and airy.

Kidz About is an excellent choice for escaping the house whilst staying indoors and keeping your baby, toddler or kids happy!

Can you avoid stretch marks in pregnancy?

Morning sickness- check, varicose veins- check, other things you don’t want to know about- check. During my pregnancy with J I had most body issues associated with pregnancy- but not stretch marks.

Nearly everything I read told me stretch marks were genetic and if you’re going to get them you’re going to get them and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I thought I’d give combatting them a go, though. After advice from friends and having read lots of online reviews I religiously applied Bio Oil in the morning and Derma Mum in the evening from the first trimester.

Maybe I was genetically lucky on this one and genetically unlucky with my other pregnancy symptoms, who knows? The fact is that even though I went 12 days past my due date I didn’t get a single stretch mark. So if I had to recommend any products they would be Bio Oil and or Derma Mum.

Whether or not they work it’s a lovely (if costly) feeling rubbing cream in to your bump. I’m also using the left over Bio Oil on my face at night as a moisturizer and it’s not bad!

Picture from SlugsOn The Refrigerator’s Photostream on Flickr

Avoid Stretch Marks in Pregnancy (Possibly)

Avoid Stretch Marks in Pregnancy (Possibly)

The Oasis Swindon Toddler Splash is on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday from 10.30-midday in school term time and at the scarily early time of 9.15-10.00 in the school holidays. The session is around £4.65 for adults and the babies/ toddlers go free.

This time slot is just for babies, toddlers and their parents or carers, so no scary big children splashing around!

The wave machine goes on for a couple of short blasts during the session and there are a few floating mats etc. If you want to avoid the wave machine you can retire to the smaller Pirate Ship Pool.

As well as the family changing rooms at the Oasis there is also a plastic-ish waist height baby change in the communal changing room- well the female one, I would hope the male one too!

The water temperature at the Oasis varies as it does at any pool. When we went to the toddler splash a week or two ago the water felt colder than I’ve been used to at Dorcan, although we did get used to it after a few minutes. I would definitely recommend a wetsuit/ baby wrap if you are bringing a baby. In fact it might be a good idea for small babies at any pool.

If you’re taking your baby swimming for the first time you might find my What I’ve Learned About Taking Babies Swimming post useful- I found it slightly challenging taking J for the first time at 5 weeks my own.  Now it’s much easier and fun!

Please find here Salt Way Children’s Centre Timetable May 2012

This includes a Baby First Aid Course- open to people who are already registered with them- on the morning of May 23rd, although the creche is already full for that.

What I’ve learned about taking babies swimming is that essentially the time in the water is the easy bit! Getting ready beforehand and getting dry afterwards is trickier, particularly the first few times. I planned very badly the first time and it was a bit stressful!

When is it safe to go?

Advice on when it’s safe to take babies swimming can be found on the NHS Choices Website. I took J at about 5 weeks.


Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the pool. If baby’s first swim is a session with time restraints arrive early, leave more time to change than you think you’ll need and don’t make any plans for straight after your swim. It’s such an alien, therefore potentially scary experience for the babies. Any stress they pick up on from us, or being pulled in to or out of a wetsuit and swim nappy in a rush won’t make for an enjoyable first swim.

Ideally go with another adult the first time, preferably one of the same sex  (unless there are family changing rooms).  That way you can take turns holding the baby while you change, put stuff in a locker, go to the loo etc. Some pools will allow you to bring buggies/ car seats in which can help if you’re on your own, but not all.


Remove anything you won’t need from your swimming bag as you’ll have enough to carry and cram in to a locker with what you do need. Get rid of shampoo etc- if you’re on your own with a baby hair washing’s not going to happen!

Swim nappies are essential. Both disposable and re-useable ones are available from Boots.

I would definitely recommend a wetsuit/ baby wrap. We’ve got our baby wraps from Two Bare Feet so far. They have a reasonably priced selection and they normally arrive within a couple of days. After 6 months of peeling J in to and out of a wetsuit we’ve swapped to the more practical wraps- the name says it all. I’ve noticed these rub her under the arm a bit, but she seems too excited to notice.

There should be a safe, fairly comfortable baby change to strap your baby to while you change if you’re alone. In case it’s already taken I bring a spare used towel to lay on the floor under J’s thin portable changing mat (folded double) to make her more comfortable. There are so many things that could lead to a kick off that I think comfort where possible is good! It’s also worth having a decoy toy handy.

In the water

Aquababies advise you not to keep your baby in the water for longer than half an hour even with wetsuits. I’m sure this changes as they get older, but at 7 months I still stick to this with J.

I don’t claim to be an expert but I find talking to J the whole time in the water seems to keep her fairly calm.

Most of this is common sense, but in the early weeks you sometimes don’t have much of that. If anyone has any more tips please do add them as comments.


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