Elmer Competition

Elmer prizesTheBabyWebsite has some fab Elmer The Elephant Goodies on offer in our new Elmer Competition!

Elmer the adorable patchwork elephant, written and illustrated by the popular children’s author and artist David McKee, unbelievably has its 25th Anniversary at Andersen Press this summer. Elmer books have sold over 7 million copies all around the world and to this day Elmer is one of the most widely read children’s books in the UK. As part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations, Andersen Press has published a signed limited anniversary edition of the original Elmer story and a brand new hardback story book, Elmer and the Monster.

Elmer the ElephantSo, to celebrate, TheBabyWebsite is offering you the chance to win both the new hardback Elmer and the Monster book, the original Elmer book, as well as a fab Elmer children’s apron, an Elmer Learn the Alphabet poster and Elmer 25th Anniversary tote bag! What a prize!

We’d love you to tell your friends about this competition and share it on social media. It’s #elmer25 !

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning our new Elmer Competition, then enter below!

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We have plenty MORE COMPETITIONS for you to enter!

Win a BABY Born Interactive Doll from Zapf Creation

Baby BORN Interactive DollOk, so we’ve got a BABY Born® Interactive Doll from Zapf Creation up for grabs here in our latest Competition.

It may only be August but lots of you out there are already squirrelling bits and bobs away for Christmas so this could be a useful addition to your Christmas presents hoard.

BABY Born Interactive Doll

It’s impossible not to sound sexist here but it’s true that an awful lot of little girls will love ‘playing mummy’ with the BABY born® Interactive doll. Zapf Creation have added loads of new accessories too so there’s plenty of ways to keep everything ‘fresh’! The BABY Born Interactive doll is the only one in the UK that has eight life-like functions so you can guarantee your little ones will love it. Even better, the doll doesn’t need any batteries.

So if you’d like to Win one of these fab BABY Born dolls, enter on the Rafflecopter form below!

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The Cost Of Raising A Child


Caitlin – our guinea-pig

Ok, so Natwest have created an interactive calculator which maps out the cost of raising a child in this wondrous time. The first, most important thing to say to anyone out there considering using it is this: for the love of God don’t go on it before you have kids. For me, weighted down with hundreds of my own children (well, it seems like that sometimes) the calculator was an interesting and useful tool; for anyone who uses it in order to see whether they can afford kids it will be nightmarish! Here’s one example: with a weekly spend on food of around £40 the average couple will end up spending £18,783.90p by the time your beautiful, yet costly child is nine.

18 grand in 9 years, you might say with a slight whistle, that’s not so bad. But then you see that the calculator has many other fields to explore. Childcare (massive), nappies (more than you think), clothing (shocking), books (necessary), toys (don’t talk to me about toys), pocket money (sigh), furniture (keep ’em in a box!) and that’s before your kids turn 13 and you have transport and technology. I’m a teacher on a good-ish wage, but still nearly all of the kids in my class have better phones than me, and who paid for those do you think!

Being curious types we decided to see how true this cost of raising a child malarkey all was and started with the basics. £40 for food for a week is the average and so we wanted to test this. Using Caitlin (our 4 year old daughter on the verge of Primary and with an appetite for croissants like you would not believe) and Harry (5, going on 6 in body, going on 13 in attitude) as our test models we duly went to our local shop with 4 crisp tenners apiece in our wallet and hope in our hearts.



Working on the principle of 3 meals and 2 snacks a day (with occasional mini-snacks in the case of Harry who will regularly wander into the kitchen now and bellow ‘A basket of grapes please!’) we divided the food-groups into categories: fruit, vegetables, cereals, mains, snacks. Caitlin loves a croissant but the one thing having kids does is impress upon you how you can never, ever take anything for granted. She will eat them all week until the one day when Harry has wiped out all the weetabix and then announce, ‘Weetabix for breakfast please!’

‘What about a nice croissant?’

‘No. I hate croissants now.’

So, breakfast. On this particular week we bought croissants, eggs (nice weekend treat) and the usual suspects in the cereal line. Of these, the croissants, were the most pricey – coming in at around 35p each though eggs and toast came in a close second. Buying in bulk (3 for 2 offers on cereals for instance) means the shop is cheaper and you have the added bonus of never having any room on top of your kitchen cupboards.

Lunch this week would feature some regulars: fruit, squeezy drinks / fruit, sandwich fillers, crisps. Ours like a bit of variety in terms of crispage and so we get Wotsits and the perennial favourite Pom Bears. Again, bulk buying is great for anything other than actually being able to open a cupboard without drowning in rustling plastic, so this is what we do. Innocent make some lovely squeezy things that not only get some goodness into the kids but which also distract them as they continually fail to get into the packet. Also, fruit plays a big role here and although berries (blue, straw, rasp) are seemingly more expensive than your single pieces like bananas or apples these are worth it for the share-factor. Bread for sandwiches and then fillers like ham, cheese, mackerel or humous push the price of this meal up to around £3 per kid, by far and away the most expensive meal of the day as it happens. Tasty mind.

Our main meal at dinner has more variety day by day, but as we eat together we all have the same thing. On this particular week we have at various points pasta, salmon, chops, sausages, escalopes, all teamed with mash or chips (other than with the paella which the kids would probably love but which would be bloody disgusting. Actually, that’s probably why they’d love it!). Vegetables include peas, broccoli or carrots and then there is usually a meal or three featuring salad or a nice cheese sauce. The cost for this meal comes in surprisingly cheaply for all of us, and Caitlin’s would be set at around a maximum of £1.55, this most expensive meal being lasagne, chips and salad.

Two snacks in the day, around 11am and 3pm, would feature fruit again, maybe mackerel with breadsticks, crispy snacks or even a bit of toast. This would be relatively pricey for what it is as both kids can demolish a punnet of grapes in less time than the average piranha school takes on a medium-sized guinea pig. Many’s the time when Sarah has bolted up the stairs waving an empty bowl of plastic at me, yelling, ‘You gave them the whole punnet!! Are you insane!!!!’

Caitlin & Harry together

Caitlin & Harry together

All of this included meant that the days’ food came in for Caitlin and Harry at somewhere between £4.30p and (our old nemesis paella again) £5.75. Were this highest price the average then £40 would actually be pretty spot on, but in actual fact this week’s shop for Caitlin came in at £34.55, which, it has to be said, gave us a nice surprise.

This was a fascinating little experiment and we were quite impressed at the general accuracy of the Natwest calculator. I’m sure there have been times when our weekly shop has come in over this week’s price as I know that Sarah has spent years analysing shopping bills and lists, deliberately seeking out bulk buys or weekly deals. And so I guess that a £40 average is fairly accurate, all of which means that the rest of their categories are probably spot on too. Interesting for parents and, as I have already stated, absolutely terrifying for anyone about to start out on a family. All the same, do it! Start a family and hang the cost, you might as well. After all, what else would you spend your £18,783.90p on?

See more from Dave The Dad!

Happy Birthday Prince George

Woah – time doesn’t half fly! Can you believe that Prince George is nearly a year old already?! Yup, the most famous toddler in the world will be celebrating his 1st Birthday on July 22nd. It really doesn’t seem five minutes since the world and his wife took up residence outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital ready to pap anyone and everyone who went in and out. Really they were there for the ‘big announcement’ but ‘cabin fever’ took hold and the reporters from around the world took to spouting all manner of royal pregnancy ‘trivia’ to fill airtime. And do you know what……… even the most cynical republicans amongst us rather enjoyed it.

When Prince George was born at a whopping 8lbs 6oz he was pronounced, one of the heaviest royal babies in history. Apparently there were more than 25,000 tweets per minute about the royal baby’s birth and then we waited with baited breath for the royal baby name announcement . When it came, we were a tad surprised by how traditional it was. Yes, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge sounds like a fine name for a future king but it would have been nice to have had a more modern name in there somewhere. Nothing way out, just something a bit more contemporary? Clarence House’s official tweet announcing George’s name was retweeted over 18,000 times. The infographic below has plenty of fun trivia facts about George’s birth!

Prince George infographic

Apparently, as you can see, William and Kate have given poor Prince George the nickname PG Tips because of his initials. Good to see they have a sense of humour! A quality which they needed when they took George on their recent royal visit to Australia. After throwing his wombat gift on the floor and snatching another child’s toy in a playgroup visit, George certainly tested his parents’ patience. Instead of stressing they took it all in their stride and laughed it off.

Prince George, Catherine and William have had a heck of a year with many significant milestones passing without comment. Has George started walking yet? We don’t know but we do know he’s well on the way.

The one question we’re all asking now, is when will Prince George have a baby brother or sister? Will 2015 be another royal summer? Oh and …… Happy Birthday Prince George!

Drowning Prevention – Keep Your Little Ones Safe This Summer

mother and child swimmingPlanning on going on holiday this summer? If so, remember that despite the temptation to completely switch off, it’s not all about sun, sea and relaxation. New research has revealed that during peak holiday season, millions of children are in danger due to lack of water safety awareness and poor swimming skills.

With drowning the third highest cause of accidental death in children (we were shocked by this!) and in light of Drowning Prevention Week (21 – 29 June), Water Babies commissioned a study of 2,000 families’ swimming habits to help encourage water safety while on holiday.

father and baby swimmingThe research revealed that more than half of parents say they are worried their children would be unable to save themselves if they were to run into trouble in the water. And 44% say they don’t believe that they could save their child due to their own lack of swimming skills.

If you’ve ever experienced the moment of terror when you realise your child is nowhere to be seen, you are not alone! In fact, half of parents surveyed admit they have lost sight of their child for long enough during a holiday to cause panic. The first and the last hour at a resort is when the majority of holiday accidents occur as parents are most likely to be distracted, so be sure to stay alert at all times.

baby in swimming poolPaul Thompson, Water Babies co-founder, says: “It’s vital to encourage children to respect water from as early an age as possible. Our research showed that the average age children start swimming lessons is four years old and yet 40% of children haven’t had a lesson by the age of 12. But swimming lessons can actually take place from birth, in fact our youngest pupil was only two days old!

“We believe that by introducing children to the water as early as possible, they are less likely to experience fear if they fall into water. With progressive training, mother and baby in swimming poolbabies can be taught lifesaving skills and over the last few years a dozen of our pupils have saved themselves from drowning, some of whom were just two years old.”

To download the host of Drowning Prevention Week resources produced by the RLSS, visit www.drowningpreventionweek.org.uk.

Drowning Prevention

parent child swimming

Actively supervise young children around water

Be safety conscious at the poolside

Flotation devices are not life preservers

Do not swim at beaches with large waves, a powerful undertow or no lifeguards

Stay sober



Never swim alone

Never push or jump either in or around water – it might result in injury

Never dive into water unless an adult has already tested the depth and checked for underwater hazards

Before you swim, always ask what to do in an emergency and where to get help

Always wait an hour after a meal before swimming

A Balancing Act: Should You Limit Your Child’s Computer Time?

It’s virtually impossible to avoid having technology in your life today, and that carries over to your kids as well. Between mobile phones, the next-generation gaming systems, tablets like iPads, and laptops, you can hardly avoid technology, whether it’s for work, play, education, or all three.

Limit your child's computer timeWhile you were probably taught how to navigate the world using old fashioned paper maps, kids in today’s world may depend on a map app on their phone. While video games used to largely be the domain of arcades – and these were a place you visited only occasionally – today’s kids often have full scale next-generation gaming systems in their homes, ready to play around the clock. The library was once the place to go for students seeking information. Today, the World Wide Web is so easy to access that few kids even visit libraries regularly.

While there is no doubt that technology can have some tremendous benefits for our kids, it can also become overwhelming and prevent “real world” interaction if not managed. This will lead you to wonder if limiting your child’s screen time is wise.

Today’s Technology for Kids: Pros and Cons

Pros: Many school children today use tablets or laptops in class or for homework, and research on the Internet is often highly encouraged. After all, the Web is essentially the library of the world today, so it has the decided “pro” of being an amazing and virtually all-encompassing information resource.

Technology is also very easy to access, requires no trips to a book store or library to get information. Students can even save money by not purchasing textbooks or research books in some cases.

Cons: A recent Kaiser Foundation showed that children of elementary school age are currently engaging in about 7.5 hours of tech entertainment today. This seems to indicate that there is a decided “con” inherent in technology use today: There is a transition from school technology (the educational type) to entertainment technology (streaming movies, social media, music) with no interruption in technology exposure – which means too much technology.

The same Kaiser study even showed that more than half of all homes in North America, for example, leave televisions running continually. While the education technology can be an enormously helpful educational tool, the problem seems to come in when the student transitions right into entertainment tech with no break.

Kids who use a lot of technology are usually also those who lead more sedentary lives, which could lead to excess weight and lack of proper physical conditioning.

Limit Your Child’s Computer Time

It is probably not realistic to completely limit or stop a child’s screen time, at least not whilst they are regularly going to use technology at school. However, there is nothing wrong with limiting the entertainment screen time.

Kids today need to learn some basic skills that technology might cause them to miss out on. Taking the phone or tablet out of your kid’s hands and forcing more interaction with others and with their environment might even help them beat some technology over-use maladies like obesity and ADHD.Kid's Tech Time

Encouraging Tech-Free Time

Children need to learn in several ways, and while electronic screen time can teach a lot (better reaction times and reflexes, for example) it can’t teach the following things. Consider giving your child more tech-free time with these activities.

-Tactile Toys:  Pre-school educational resources that encourage touch and creative thinking are excellent anti-technology tools according to Junior Scholars. They are a great way to stimulate the mind and actually keep kids engaged at the same time.

-Physical Play Outdoors: Physical play, like that you might remember as a child, is all too often lost for today’s kids. Bike riding, camping, football, and all those other fun activities are still great for kids, and they should be encouraged to do so. While there might be some initial reluctance, children will usually discover very quickly that there is really life beyond a tablet screen.

-Time With Other Kids: Spending some time with other children, and other adults, can really help ramp up those social skills that are not developed behind a computer screen. Even if it’s just a play date with another neighbourhood child, that’s a great start.

by Rob from Junior Scholars (Educational Toys and Games specialist)

Disneyland Paris Presents The Imagination Castle

Back in February this year, Disneyland Paris launched a competition inviting children age 3 to 8 to design their own Sleeping Beauty Castle or   “The Imagination Castle” as they prefer to call it.

Children entered in their droves – drawing, painting and in some cases actually creating their own imagination castle. The 16 winners from The UK, Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands won a fantastic full board trip to Disneyland Paris with the chance to see the Imagination Castle itself brought to life in front of them. Watch the video below! How proud do those little faces look! It really is lovely too to see that the children’s work was taken at face value and the Disney team didn’t try to change their ideas.

Right from the start Walt Disney wanted children to be able to live their dreams and make them a reality – and the Imagination Castle shows that Disney are continuing to follow that maxim.

The amazing Imagination Castle based on the winning childrens’ ideas was displayed in the Jardin des Tuileries, smack bang in the centre of Paris. An incredible achievement for 16 very young budding architects, to say the least.


The Benefits of Perinatal Yoga

Yoga Stretching WomanIt doesn’t matter whether you’re completely new to yoga or have been practicing for years, pregnancy is the perfect time to start.

Earlier this month academics from Newcastle and Manchester Universities found that pregnant women who attended a yoga class every week for eight weeks experienced less anxiety compared to those who received normal antenatal treatment, with a single yoga class during pregnancy having the potential to cut anxiety to mothers-to-be by a third! Perinatal yoga carries so many health benefits for both you and your child. It is so much more than your usual gym class… it’s a training in deep relaxation and preparation for birth and motherhood. Founder of YogaBellies, Cheryl MacDonald, tell us about the benefits of perinatal yoga.

Perinatal Yoga

– Yoga plays an important role in the actual birth of your child. After practicing for up to eight weeks your body is stronger and has more flexibility which helps you adapt to various positions when in labour. You will find that your ligaments are more elastic which can reduce labour pains.

Woman Yoga-When we practice yoga, the love hormone, Oxytocin is released. Oxytocin’s main functions include preparing the female body for childbirth, stimulating milk production so that the baby can nurse, and encouraging the bond between the mum and her new-born baby. Deep breathing and stretching warms the body and allows us to release further oxytocin. By taking the body through the practice of yoga, we warm the muscles and joints, making the physical body more comfortable and relaxed. By continuing the practice with savasana (deep relaxation) and meditation, we encourage the production of oxytocin even further.

-Yoga asana (stretching exercises) relieves aches and pains which are common in pregnancy as well as promoting the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body to relax the mother’s body and mind. Posture can be a problem during pregnancy as your pelvis shifts forward as a response to the increased weight of the growing bump but yoga postures will help your abdominal muscles strengthen and make you stand tall!

-Pregnancy and birth also shifts the position of the internal and digestive organs, causing problems with digestion such as indigestion, trapped wind and flatulence. Yoga can help to restore healthy digestion and ease any discomfort.

Yoga Bellies logo- The pelvic floor muscles are there to support your baby during pregnancy and the vital reproductive organs. Practising yoga in pregnancy or at any other time can strengthen the pelvic muscles and help with supporting this extra weight. Even more important is continuing yoga after childbirth to help rebuild the pelvic floor and prevent from further health problems such as lower back pain or incontinence.

–  Breathing is not something we tend to think about day to day, it’s a natural function of the body. But during yoga it’s beneficial to focus on every single breath. By practicing deep breaths you learn to breathe to your belly, which effectively means you are using the abdominals to breathe and using your diaphragm and ribs to breathe. Learning to breathe properly and make effective use of breathing techniques can calm the mind, body and soul, even in frightening or high-stress situations such as childbirth.

by Cheryl MacDonald, who specialises in perinatal yoga and natural birth preparation classes with Yoga Bellies

Vitamin D For Starters and Sunshine For Main Course?

Vitamin D-inerA pop-up diner has just launched to help parents top-up their children’s vitamin D intake! A retro American-style dining experience for under-fives, with a serious message at its core, has opened for a limited 3 day period at a London shopping centre (23rd – 25th April).

Designed with children in mind, the Vitamin D-iner (Ha ha!) offers a range of tasty meals rich in the D-licious ‘sunshine vitamin’ to make sure little ones are getting all the ‘sunshine vitamin’ they need.

Summertime may have started, but even when the sun does come out to play it can be difficult to ensure our children are getting enough vitamin D. Therefore, it’s important children get a dietary source all year through.

The Vitamin D Mission

The event follows recent research by the Vitamin D Mission, which highlighted Vitamin D-iner 2UK parents remain unaware of the importance of the vitamin and its sources and as a result, the average toddler is only getting 27% of the vitamin D intake they need[1] to support their healthy growth and development.

Brought to you by the Vitamin D Mission, which aims to eradicate vitamin D deficiency in under-5s; the pop-up restaurant offers a range of delectable dishes including egg-rich ham and cheese quiche, wild salmon fish cakes and strawberries coated in Rice Krispies and chocolate for dessert. As children top-up their diets, parents are served up a smorgasbord of information to help educate them on the importance of dietary vitamin D.

Inspired by a 1950s-style diner, the diner is hosted from a classic Airstream trailer and is kitted out with chequered floors and a vintage jukebox, providing a truly retro feel. Little guests will be kept entertained with colouring-in pages while waiting for their complementary meals.

Vitamin D-iner 3Dr Ellie Cannon, family GP says:

“Vitamin D plays a crucial role, particularly in the early years, to ensure healthy growth and development of children’s bones and teeth. Living in the UK, it can be difficult to get all your vitamin D needs from the sun, and worryingly,  lots of parents are unaware of the other ways to provide their child with this essential vitamin.

“Few natural foods contain vitamin D, so parents need to be educated on the types of foods rich in the vitamin. It’s also worthwhile knowing that everyday foods, like some breakfast cereals, growing up milks and yoghurts are fortified. As a mum myself, I understand children can be fussy, which is why knowing ways to prepare vitamin D rich foods in a tasty way for their little one can be helpful. Parents should also offer daily supplementation from six months to five years, as recommended by the Department of Health.”

Whether you’re after brunch, lunch or dinner, the Vitamin D-iner offers six Vitamin-D-iner-3sittings a day from 23rd – 25th April!

For more information and to take the online test to estimate how much vitamin D your child is getting visit VitaminDMission.co.uk.

The Vitamin D Mission is a public health awareness campaign, which aims to eradicate vitamin D deficiency in the UK’s under-5s.

Reasons Under-5s are at Risk of Vitamin D Deficiency

1) The Sun In the UK, our skin isn’t able to make vitamin D from winter sunlight  (November to March) as the sunlight hasn’t got enough UVB (ultraviolet B) radiation.Modern internal lifestyles mean children spend a lot of time indoors during the summer months and when they are playing outdoors many parents are concerned about sun safety, therefore putting lots of sunscreen on them, which makes it even harder to synthesise vitamin D. Just ten to fifteen minutes without sunscreen from 11am to 3pm during the summer months (April to October) can help provide a child with the vitamin D they need.
2) Food Not all children receive a varied diet and foods rich in vitamin D, such as oily fish.Many parents are unaware of the foods that are rich in vitamin D. Natural sources of vitamin D include oily fish, eggs and liver. There are also foods that are fortified in vitamin D, including some breakfast cereals and yoghurts and growing up milks.
3) Supplementation Low uptake of vitamin D supplementation is also a factor. In fact, a report from the Vitamin D Mission reveals fewer than one in five (16%) parents provide their child with a daily vitamin D supplement.A range of supplements are available for children, including easy to use oral sprays and droppers. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin; use an oil-based form where possible.


Children’s Bedrooms

child dressing upChildren’s bedrooms aren’t just a place for them to go to sleep and for their clothes to be stored in – they’re so much more than that.  A child’s bedroom is usually a place to play favourite games, to read books and in a way it’s also their own private kingdom; where they can let their imaginations run away with them and have fun. For many older kids, their bedroom is also where they’ll do their homework, so it helps if you can provide them with the right combination of furniture to fulfil all these different functions.

It’s not always easy to make a multi-purpose room that looks great too. But with so many great kids’ furniture ranges available today, and great storage solutions too, it needn’t take too much effort to create a great bedroom for your child.

You have to start with the essentials, of course, and it depends on the age of your child how you might want to furnish their room. If you have a baby GLTCwho is about to go into a toddler bed, you might want to think further ahead and buy a single bed instead, which could last them all the way through their childhood. However, if they’re going to have a younger sister or brother following them, you could always pass on the toddler bed to the next child and then buy a single bed or bunk bed for the older child when they’re ready.

Depending on the size of the room, you may decide that you’d rather get them a mid or high level sleeper rather than a normal bed so that the space underneath it could be used as a desk or a space to play or store their clothes. There are so many different options when it comes to choosing children’s beds today.

There are some fantastic space-saving ideas for kids’ bedrooms now. For example, take a look at the underbed play table and drawers that you’ll find on http://www.gltc.co.uk/single-beds/dept/fcp-category/list. It’s a great desk tablesolution for a bedroom that is short on floor space, and can also be a great way to give a messy room a quick tidy-up!

Your child may have their own views on how their room should look, and it’s up to you to decide whether they should make those choices or you should do it for them. Sometimes a good compromise is for you to choose the furniture that is neutral and will fit with any colour scheme and then leave the choice of accessories such as the soft furnishings and bed linen to your child. That way, when their tastes change and they want something different, it won’t cost you a small fortune to replace everything! A great example is those storage units with canvas drawers. The drawers come in a range of colours and designs and just changing these can give a bedroom a totally new look.

Taking a bit of time to think about the space available in your child’s room and how to maximise it will result in you giving them a great bedroom – a space they can have fun in and be proud of, too.

You may also want to read ‘Moving Baby into Own Room.’