Posted in days out, motherhood, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, product review

Nuby Trendz

Ever since Ellie was first born I have loved Nuby Products. In the hospital we used the First Infant Milk Starter Kit which used Nuby teats. Since that day Ellie refused any other branded bottle and on her second day at home we had to go to Boots and buy a set of Nuby bottles for her to drink her formula out of. Ever since then our Nuby purchases have grown; from bottles to bath toys to cups and cutlery. Anything we needed, Nuby has provided!

So you can just imagine the happy dance I did when Nuby asked me* (*Okay…Ellie) to review their Trendz range. Trendz has everything a child will need heading to preschool, nursery or school in September and the bold, exciting designs will definitely make them stand out with their friends (and be easy to describe IF they end up misplacing them in the dinner hall.)

The first product I want to talk about is the Trendz #Grande Water Bottle. This bottle is a perfect size, 540ml, for days out and dare I say it… for going Back to School (sorry Teachers and TAs!!) I really loved the pop-open spout which is also no spill, Ellie has loved feeling independent enough to open the bottle and close the spout herself and it is suitable from 18months+. We’ve made good use of her new bottle over the past two weeks and I can honestly say it is super durable, odour resistant and it doesn’t stain! There are literally no marks left from the juice unlike other children’s bottles we’ve used in the past. It also comes with unicorns and rainbows on it any anyone who knows me knows how much I love a rainbow design!

We were also really lucky to be sent Nuby’s Trendz Double Lunch Bag. Ellie loves the design as it is covered with sweet treats and it is the perfect size to take on our Summer Holiday picnics.
The lunch bag is insulated keeping the food/drink inside cool for up to 5 hours!! Again, thinking of those children who will be starting nursery/school in September, thats perfectly long enough to keep their sandwiches fresh until lunch time. I was able to fit 4 bread rolls, 3 bags of crisps and a couple of Ellie’s favourite snacks in the two separate zipped compartments which meant we only needed to take the one lunch bag out on our adventures.

Finally the Trendz Mini BackPack with Reins (in the same super sweet Treat design). Ever since the mini backpack arrived Ellie has wanted to take it EVERYWHERE. Any time we need to go out in the car she has filled it with her favourite toys and put it on her back ready to go. She calls it her adventure bag.
She really is so cute!
This mini backpack is perfect for Ellie’s age as it comes with easy to attach reins which means any toddler can have free roam without the worry of them running off. We haven’t used the reins as Ellie doesn’t leave our side when we are out however I love that they are an option if we needed them!
What I really loved about the mini backpack was the reflective strips on the straps which I hadn’t actually noticed until I’d taken a picture of her with the flash on! Its such a simple thing but makes me feel so much safer knowing that if we ventured out in the dark that I could see her and so could any vehicles that may be driving past us.
Ellie has walked around quite happily with her bag on her back; it is light-weight, soft and has padded straps so she doesn’t really notice it’s there. I tested out the pockets by putting her #Grande Water Bottle which fit perfectly in the side and didn’t stop Ellie from wanting to wear her backpack.

I am definitely not ready for this one to start Nursery yet (she doesn’t actually start until January…phew) but she is and she can’t wait to take her backpack and lunch box with her!

Nuby currently has a “Back To School” promotion running on their website and you can get a Bargain Bundle for as little as £20! These items come in the treats design you can see in our pictures or a super cool robot design. Like this one:

If you don’t want to order from their website (currently offering FREE DELIVERY with a spend of £15 or more) then the Trendz range will be available from Morrisons from September 2019 too.

Disclosure: The Trendz Mini Backpack, Lunch Box and Grande Water Bottle were gifted to us by Nuby UK during a Giveaway which I ran over on my Instagram page. We were under no obligation to write a review. All views and opinions are my own. This is not a paid ad.

Posted in Gifted, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, product review, Rainbow Mummy, Sensory Play, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Timber.Tots – 5 Advantages of Wooden Toys

For as long as I’ve been buying toys for Ellie I’ve been aware of the discussion between parents as to what is better for babies/toddlers/children wooden or plastic toys. Now I’ve always been on the fence I suppose because honestly, Ellie has her fair share of plastic and wooden toys. I have always tried to make a conscious effort to buy wooden toys where possible but found they are usually more expensive than plastic and in Ellie’s eyes they aren’t as colourful/exciting/playable as the plastic toys are advertised to be which has made it difficult to be as wood friendly as I’d like. We are two parents who are both on a Teaching Assistant wage (which I have to tell you really isn’t great…) and living penny to penny each month. Sometimes you just have to accept that what you want isn’t always achievable and that’s okay. I’m not here to judge, every parent does what they can to get through each day right?

Here are my 5 advantages to choosing wooden toys from my own personal experiences!

  1. They are DURABLE. Ellie is a tough cookie and she likes to play rough, as do most toddlers I would assume. Wooden toys are long-lasting and they don’t break easily meaning no little sharp bits on the floor. Ellie loves being outside so having her wooden toys means I can clean them easily too.
  2. They are SAFE. Plastic toys usually carry toxins and chemicals that you wouldn’t want near your babies/children. Wooden toys are safe to play with, don’t have chemicals and are usually painted with non-toxic paint which makes them perfectly safe to be gummed, licked etc by those playing with them. Wooden toys are designed not to break easily so there won’t be able broken pieces lying around with sharp edges.
  3. They encourage OPEN PLAY – whether this is imaginative play or real-life skills, the possibilities with wooden toys are endless. Without the constant electronics and noise, the wooden toys encourage children to use their imagination to build on the play. The toy might be a dinosaur but the child must know how to make a noise like a dinosaur or stomp like a dinosaur themselves. As the child’s imagination builds so does their play. They start to include real-life experiences and scenarios in to whatever they are playing with.
  4. They develop KEY SKILLS such as hand eye co-ordination, problem solving, reasoning skills and fine motor skills. Wooden toys can be made in all shapes and sizes making them perfect to develop the skills children need to hold a pencil. Poor development in these key skills at an early age can cause issues in later life.
  5. They are BEAUTIFUL. Their natural colour means they can be transformed in to any colour and anything a child dreams of. They can be monochrome to support babies development or bright and colouful to grab toddlers/childrens attention. They are timeless!

In the past few months I have treated Ellie to a few toys that I know she would get a lot out of. We became brand reps for a fantastic small business; Timber Tots who create and hand paint wooden animals. With so many different animals to choose from I found it so difficult choosing which Ellie would like most of all. I decided to show Ellie and let her decide…which she didn’t. She wanted the bear and the lion and the elephant and the giraffe and the dinosaur and the unicorn….and she continued until I took the phone away!

I decided that as she loves singing and nursery rhymes I would order her the 5 little ducks set and a green “Rex” dinosaur to start with. She has had so much fun singing, counting, matching the numbers and re-enacting Gigantosaurus. The possibilities have been endless, they have made me think more about encouraging her to learn through her play and let her explore things I wouldn’t have usually thought of. It’s far too easy to put the TV on and give myself 5 minutes to sit and enjoy the peace…that turns in to an hour because I just need to get these jobs done…and then before I know it she hasn’t played much at all.

I love how colourful and sturdy the timber tots toys are and I was impressed with how big they actually were. Although I am only a brand rep for three months I know I will be making regular purchases and building Ellie’s animal collection up as these are toys she will play with for years.

We’ve used our wooden toys in so many different ways and I am loving trying out things we’ve never done before too. We’ve used them when reading stories, playing outside, with small tuff trays and I have some amazing new ideas for our new order when it arrives.

We’ve even had fun singing nursery rhymes, Ellie loves singing and whenever she sees her 5 Little Ducks set she starts singing and playing with them.

5 Little Ducks set up with sensory rice and blue beads.

You can follow/contact Timber Tots on their Instagram and Facebook pages or their Website.

Disclosure: I am a brand rep for Timber Tots but have not been asked to review or post about our items other than share pictures on Instagram. All views and opinions are my own.
I have paid for all the toys we have (except the 5 little ducks which was a gift from the owner for joining their brand rep team!) HOWEVER I do have a fantastic 10% off code for anyone wanting to purchase their own. Just use RAINBOW10 at checkout…You’re welcome!!

Posted in parenting

Water Baby

I remember taking Ellie swimming while on maternity leave and I clearly remember being in the water 5 minutes and having to get out because she HATED it! The moment her feet touched the water she would scream and cling to me, it didn’t matter how much fun I made it look or what I did to make sure she was warm enough, she really didn’t like it. I stopped taking her at around 6 months as the screams were becoming deafening and I didn’t think it was fair on others using the pool. I vowed to take her again soon however soon turned in to about a year and a half later…oops!!

A bit of a back story, I am petrified of water, I have a huge fear of being splashed and being put under water. I used to hate swimming at school and would use any and every excuse to get out of it.(My periods were every week at one point!) One lesson we were practising to dive in to the deep end and I tried to explain to my PE teacher that I really couldn’t do it…so she pushed me in! You wouldn’t get away with doing something like that now, I wasn’t confident in the water and I’ve never been able to tread water so I panicked and had to get out. I never did another swimming lesson with her again. I have always been worried that my own fear of the water was affecting Ellie and she could sense I wasn’t confident either which is why she wasn’t keen. Yet I have had awful mum guilt since we stopped going (we did only go a handful of times during my maternity leave) because I know the benefits of teaching a baby to swim early.

Swimming with a baby can:
*Help to build muscles, strengthening all of a babies muscles effectively therefore making them stronger.
*Help improve coordination and balance.
*Builds confidence around water early.
*Strengthens a babies heart, lungs and can help to develop the brain.

It can also improve their appetite and the extra exercise will help their sleeping pattern too… more exercise means they are tireder than usual.

Ellie asked to go swimming during the Easter half term holidays, it came completely out of the blue and was the only thing she asked to do throughout the holidays. We are so lucky to have 4 public swimming pools in our town that all have parent and toddler sessions however most of them are during the week. One parent and toddler session is held on a Sunday morning which is perfect for us as it means I can take Ellie but have the back up of Luke too. It’s the family time I crave so much on a weekend, it gets us all out of the house for an hour and we have found Ellie actually LOVES it.

She took to the water so easily this time round, the pool we have used is warmer than the one I used to take her to which has definitely helped but for such a long time now she has pretended to swim in the bath, she doesn’t scream when we have to wash her hair and that has DEFINITELY helped too!

We have been swimming around 4 times now (we skipped one due to an epic meltdown one Saturday) but the look on her face when she jumps in to the water gives me all the feels inside. She is totally confident in the water, which eases my anxiety over giving her my fears slightly, she swims using armbands and only clings a little bit when she’s getting tired. She loves to jump in and see the fear in my face when she does and she loves splashing us both with the floats.

I no longer worry that not taking her swimming as a baby is going to have an adverse effect on her confidence growing up.

To quote Dory: “Just Keep Swimming.”

Posted in days out, ironbridge, ironbridge gorge, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, museum, parenting, telford, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Blists Hill – Telford

Place yourself in the year 1900. Queen Victoria is on the throne and Shropshire was at the heart of the industrial revolution.

One of our trips this half term was to Blists Hill in Ironbridge (Telford, Shropshire) another one of the fantastic museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. Blists Hill is an open air museum that recreates the sights and sounds of a typical Shropshire Victorian Town.

Walking through the doors to the town you instantly feel like you’ve gone back in time. No cars, no TV;s but a lot of fun awaiting! With 52 acres of land to explore there was so much to see and do throughout our visit. This recreation makes you feel like you are actually walking in a Victorian town; the shops, the houses, the bank where you can change your money to “old money” and the townspeople who truly make your visit feel authentic.

Each house had a different story, whether we were in an old doctors surgery or a typical families house with their shared, cramped bedrooms and bedpans under the bed! Whether it’s walking in to the chemist with their traditional remedies, or to the bakery where you can buy freshly made bread, rolls to either eat straight away or take home there really is something for everyone. If you aren’t interested in those there is a traditional sweet shop or the amazing chip shop selling authentic fish and chips cooked in beef dripping. (Spoiler…they are to die for!!)

Ellie loved having the freedom to run around and explore but didn’t stray too far away. All the townspeople were fantastic with her, not pushing her to interact but all with friendly faces and a world of knowledge of their “character” and the way they would have lived in the Victorian era.

Blists Hill is also home to a section of the Shropshire Canal, which going back 100 years or so would have transported boats up and down the 207ft incline to coalport and back. Wherever there is water, Ellie asks to see the ducks. She loves ducks and walked carefully down the canal side watching the ducks in the water. Along with pigs and Shire Horses (with demonstrations throughout the day and horse and cart rides!) there are many chickens…this was possibly the highlight of Ellie’s entire day!

As I have said in a previous post; we purchased the Annual Passport for all 10 museums which gives us unlimited entry for an entire year. We paid £53 for two Adult annual passports as under 5’s are free to all museums. Entry to Blists Hill alone for 2 adults would have been £20 just to go for the day. Although this isn’t expensive for a trip where we stayed nearly 3 hours and only left because E needed a nap and would have screamed the entire place down we live a 5/10 minute drive away from all of them we will make the most of the year-round entry especially in the Spring/Autumn months – a family of ginger-haired beauty’s don’t do well in too much sunshine so we tend to hide away in the Summer months.

Posted in days out, enginuity, ironbridge, ironbridge gorge, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, museum, parenting, parenting after loss, telford, Toddler Development, Toddler Play

Enginuity – Telford

We visited Enginuity, which is a science museum in Ironbridge, (Telford, Shropshire) during this half term and is one of ten museums in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site. We are incredibly lucky to have these museums on our doorstep and since Ellie is now a fully grown toddler we thought she might enjoy some of the aspects of these museums.

Enginuity

Ellie is a very curious toddler and loves learning, whether it be through videos or active learning she is always keen to be doing something. Enginuity is perfect for anyone who is curious about science, design and technology and provides a range of stimulating activities for children of all ages. I would say that for a small toddler Ellie found it tricky accessing all the different parts but was able to with a little bit of help.

Looking around there wasn’t a single child who didn’t look like they were having fun and enjoying themselves. I mean who wouldn’t love pulling a real 10-tonne locomotive with their own hands? Actually…there were quite a few adults who seemed to be having quite a lot of fun testing themselves too!

Ellie’s favourite part was the machine that made balls float in the air (can you tell i’m not very sciencey?) and with Daddy’s help she was able to make enough wind power to get the balls floating in the air.

During this half term, we were fortunate enough to take part in the Pop-Up Planetarium they have, which was absolutely out of this world! We managed to get tickets for the first showing of the day and it didn’t disappoint. We were asked to crawl inside a big black dome and sit on the floor and then the dome went very dark. I wasn’t sure how Ellie would cope but the two people delivering the talk were great and accepting of anyone who needed to leave before the show was over. The show was called “Our Earth, Our Sun, Our Solar System and Our Place In Space” and featured a hands-on demonstration. I learnt so much about the stars and how to spot constellations in the night sky and how people in other time periods would spot them. There was so much to take in. Of cause Ellie didn’t learn a thing…it was never about that but she is genuinely interested in the sky and the stars that she loved just looking at the stars surrounding the dome and I guess I felt a little bit closer to Jason by learning something too.

There was also a drop-in workshop where you could make a space-themed pop up card (or anything really!). We tried Ellie with scissors for the first time as they were on the table and she was VERY keen to grab them. She actually did quite well seeing as she’s never held scissors before and my hair is still in tact (she won’t be using them any time soon though.)

The drop-in workshops, planetarium and everything else going on was all included in the admission price which I thought was great. We decided to purchase the Annual Passport tickets which gives us unlimited access to all 10 museums for an entire year (not during evening or special events) as we had already planned to go again and wanted to take Ellie to Blists Hill too (blog post up if anyone wants a read.)

For anyone thinking of taking toddlers and young children, Enginuity has a soft play area too! The colourful space is a fair size and has lots of soft play blocks to build and climb over. Ellie loved building with the soft lego shaped bricks, I think her Dad’s passion for Lego has passed down to her. The soft play was clean and suitable for young children and perfect to get a 5 minute breather from all the stimulation Enginuity offers.

You can visit their website here to find out more or to buy tickets!

Posted in life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, Mum Blogger, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss

The Step.

Ellie’s behaviour has been a true description of the terrible twos lately; she is quickly becoming more independent and as a result of this she is definitely testing the boundaries (and our patience!) on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.  

Both myself and hubby work with children/young adults with extra needs and deal with the same sorts of toddler-like behaviour at work, so it feels like such a challenge to stay calm and composed at home when we’ve had to do it all day at work. I would say my patience is much shorter at home than at work and I wish it wasn’t. It isn’t Ellie’s fault at all and I know she is just learning how to deal with her emotions and her new found desire to be independent and her behaviour is quite normal.

But how do you try to nip it in the bud before it gets too difficult?

I’ve never been good at the cry-it-out method, I can’t sit and listen to her cry no matter how many people tell me “it’s worth it in the long run”. If she is crying I know there is a reason for it and I won’t let her grow up thinking I’m not there for her when she needs me. 

We started counting to three when she does something she shouldn’t do and then when she carried on we would carry her up to her bedroom and close the stair gate, sometimes I would leave her and come downstairs for two minutes and sometimes I would sit in her room while she screamed it out of her. However I don’t think this is really the best way to teach her that her behaviour isn’t good and I don’t want it to have a counter effect and she learns that her bedroom is a punishment, she barely sleeps in there as it is so I want her room to be her calm space, HERS, where we read stories, play and hopefully one day sleep through the night in her own bed. 

This is where “the step” comes in to play. I HATE the phrase “naughty step” as I feel the word naughty describes the child and not the behaviour, Ellie is not naughty, she is exploring the boundaries and seeing how far she can go, she is learning and I don’t want her to believe she is a naughty child. I know that this is thinking too deeply and a 2 year old isn’t going to be thinking this but I am always thinking of her future too. I’ve started calling it “the step” and putting her on it whenever counting to three doesn’t work. We seem to be using it more at tea times as Ellie doesn’t sit at a table or high chair and can be a little madam. I have found having the step keeps me calm, I put her on the bottom step, explain to her why she is there (she doesn’t really understand but I tell her anyway) and tell her to come back in when she is ready. Usually she waits for me to sit down and strides in with a big smile on her face (rolls eyes!!) and we end up repeating the process at least three times before she says sorry and we move on.  

I know there are lots of pros and cons to using a time out like the step or a corner and I realise there are more cons than pros but for now it seems to be helping defuse the situation before it becomes a full on tantrum. I must say Ellie has had less tantrums in the past few days than she’s had in months.

Has the “naughty” step ever worked or not worked for you? Do you have another way of dealing with this type of behaviour in toddlers? I’d love to hear what you guys think too.

Posted in baby loss, grief, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, telford

Nursery

I have finally given in our interest form to put Ellie’s name down for nursery. I found it such a stressful task, I have said from the start I wanted Ellie to attend the nursery linked to the primary school I work at mainly because the staff are amazing, I know them and I know it will fit around me being at work too.

It was only an interest form, Ellie won’t actually be starting nursery until the term after she is 3, making it January 2020 which is ages away right? I know it will come creeping up and I know by then she will be ready for nursery and that preparation for school! I’m not one of these parents who is bothered, i’m actually quite excited to see what she will be like at school, I was always very quiet, got on with it and liked being at school and learning. I imagine Ellie will be the complete opposite and a little bit of a nightmare.

Due to me and Luke both working, Ellie is only entitled to the 30 hours free funding once she is 3 otherwise we’d have made the decision to put her into nursery for those 15 hours at 2. I hate the fact that to the outside world she is an only child and don’t want her growing up with that “only-child syndrome” people talk about. At nearly 19 months she is happy to share with her toys and she shares with us but she isn’t great at playing around other children and I know nursery will help develop that skill.

Because I like to be organised and prepared for EVERYTHING; I would love to hear your thoughts on what is necessary for children starting nursery at 3. Obviously I would want her to be toilet-trained by then but what else would people recommend? I’ve worked in Primary schools for nearly 10 years now and have seen the starters in reception classes be at very different levels in their maturity and abilities but I’ve never seen them start at nursery and what they can/can’t do so it intrigues me.


It was only after filling in Ellie’s forms that it reminded me I should have another little person starting nursery; Jason would have started nursery the term after his third birthday which would have been after Easter. That is assuming he could have started nursery then, I will never know for sure due to his DS and tissue on the brain however I do like to think we would have everything in place and a fantastic support network in place to have his education started as early as possible. It’s simple tasks I do with Ellie that makes me think about everything I missed out on with Jason. The milestones she has hit and continues to tackle, the firsts we have shared, I even wonder whether he’d have been a restless sleeper like she is and I’d have currently been on 3 years and 3 months (to the day!). I can imagine how irritable I would be!

Posted in baby clothing, baby fashion, Baby Groups, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, Pampers, parenting, parenting after loss, product review, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized

#WriggleWrestle

A couple of weeks ago I joined up to take part in Pampers new campaign to test out some of their Nappy Pants. I literally jumped at the chance as since Ellie was born the only nappies that have suited her are Pampers.
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Pampers are trying to prove that their Nappy Pants aren’t just for toddlers and I’ve got to say I absolutely 100% agree!

I’ve never been a fan of taped nappies and as soon as Ellie started to wriggle I began using the nappy pants. I can’t quite remember how many months old she was but I do remember having an incident involving the nappy pants when we were still trying to figure out whether Ellie was CMPI or not so it must have been around 5/6 months old.
The incident in question was the first time Ellie had pooped in her nappy pants (actually it was the very first time we used nappy pants) and I hadn’t realised that they had the tear at the sides to get them off easily. Oops. Now I’ve always been quite open and this is no different but when Ellie was still on SMA formula she suffered really bad with diarrhoea and I found no matter what brand or sized nappy I used she would leak out of them all.
When we first used the nappy pants I was so surprised that at a 2am wake up call she hadn’t leaked out of the sides or up the back (which was a not so rare occurrence!) but everything was safe in her nappy. RESULT! Or not…as in my tired state hadn’t really thought about how I was going to get the pants off without smearing it everywhere and still not knowing that they teared away for ease I pulled them off and then had a VERY sad baby, a grumpy husband at being woken up, poo smeared all over the changing mat and all over Ellie’s legs which meant I then had to bath her. To say I was relieved the next time she did one and I knew how the pants worked would be an understatement!

Ever since that incident we have LOVED Pampers Nappy Pants. Ellie has always hated having her nappy changed due to the pain she used to be in she now rarely lies on her back long enough for a complete change. As soon as we lie her down she wriggles, screams, kicks and runs/crawls off as quick as she can. I’m sure our neighbours would say we were torturing her! Ever since she has been standing we have changed her standing up making tabbed nappies impossible to use.
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Nappy changes aren’t so much of a fight any more. They are quick due to just pulling them up; they don’t involve *much* running away and I don’t have to wrestle Ellie to stay lying down. I have found they don’t leak, the are soft and don’t leave marks and Ellie finds them really comfortable too. She has even started sharing one of her sample nappies with her Dolly (awww). I feel like I am winning the wriggle wrestle and it’s all down the Pampers Nappy Pants.

(Yes although I was #gifted these pants for offering my opinion this is my actual opinion on them too!)

Posted in Chester Zoo, days out, life after loss, motherhood, mothering a rainbow, mummy blog, parenting, parenting after loss, rainbow baby, telford, Uncategorized, Zoo

Chester Zoo with a toddler.

On Tuesday we took a drive out to Chester Zoo, it’s just over an hours drive from Telford and we had pre-booked our tickets the night before. Tickets purchased online are actually cheaper than paying when you get there and can be purchased right up until 9:30 the morning you are planning your trip which I thought was pretty good. We had asked both our brothers if they wanted to come too so spent the day with them which Ellie loved. With my brother having Down Syndrome it also meant that as his carer for the day I got in for free (which we then halved the price of the ticket so he didn’t pay full adult), as a family with a disabled member I find it makes me want to visit more places when they allow for the carer or a discounted price for those with the special needs. I thought as his DS isn’t as obvious as others we might get questioned but they let us through without any hassle.

I have to say that for the entire journey it rained…no it didn’t rain it poured! I was seriously considering going home and wasting the money we had spent because the weather was so bad but knowing we had planned for bad weather and packed accordingly we knew the weather wasn’t going to stop us from enjoying Ellie’s first trip to the zoo.
Due to the weather and timing we were able to park on the main car park, which is FREE! I’d forgotten to bring any change with me so was grateful when we realised we didn’t need change for parking. We loaded up Ellie’s pushchair and made our way to the entrance, there was no need to queue as we’d already got our tickets so we went straight through, it didn’t seem to be very busy but i’m guessing that was because of the weather however it did stop raining and although it was dull, we were dry! The Zoo hires out buggy’s and other mobility services (wheelchairs being free too!) which if we hadn’t have taken our own we’d have needed as Ellie decided to nap half way through the day but after all the walking she did I’m not surprised!

Chester Zoo has such a special place in my heart, we go there at least once a year and I’ve been with a Jason bump and an Ellie bump which I guess is why I feel such a family connection whenever we go.

We were provided with a map (which I can never quite get my head around) and downloaded the free app to help us find our way. I found the app so useful as it had an interactive map that showed you where you are in the park at any time, it also had all the daily activities listed such as animals talks which if Ellie had been older we may have listened in on.

This was a great test to Ellie’s Tresspass Reins (click for my review) and they meant she was able to walk without us worrying about her wondering off. I must say taking a 17 month old to the Zoo was a tall order but the zoo is so spacious and well planned out that it didn’t feel overwhelming at all. I was a little bit worried that we were wasting our money on a day trip just for Ellie to see the animals but as she is so inquisitive she was quite happy just looking at the animals and walking was enough to make her happy.

We took our time visiting the animals and got to see all the ones we wanted to. At busier times certain animals were harder to see because of people crowding (the red ape realm, jaguar enclosure being the worst for getting a toddler to a window to see). Our first stop of the day was the elephants, I love their enclosure and since Jason died I have linked elephants (Dumbo in particular) to him so they were my favourite part of the day by far!

We saw one elephant feeding and a few baby elephants too which made my heart feel so much love. (Disclosure – I am not an animal person, I don’t want pets, I’m not keen on dogs and I don’t watch David Attenborough because I find him boring so to feel so much love for an elephant baffles me but I did.) We strolled off to find some other animals and was excited to show Ellie her favourite animal “Ra-Ra” that is a lion to you and me. I don’t think Ellie had realised that the lions were RaRa as she was more interested in the giant puddle near the lion enclosure and spent a good few minutes stomping and getting wet in the puddle. While walking around we encouraged Ellie to look at the animals we thought she might recognise and made the noises to help her associate them with her books and little toys.

I love that you can take your own picnic in to the Zoo, which for us meant it would be a much cheaper day out and I could pack Ellie’s lunch with her favourite fruit pouches and snacks. We were planning on buying ice creams but it was far too cold and now I regret it! There were plenty of places to buy food and drinks from dotted all over the park with quite a large variety too however as you could expect it wasn’t cheap, a small tray of chips and curry sauce was £2.50 where as it was around £7-£9 for a meal.

I was a bit nervous at having to change Ellie in public, we tend to avoid it as much as possible as she hates getting her nappy changed; however I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was there plenty of baby changing facilities but they were in both male and female toilets! They were clean and spacious and made the change much easier…even if Ellie did cry throughout the whole thing and the other Mum’s in the toilet area gave me a look as we toddled out with tears down her face.

We eventually saw the Giraffes and the Congo Buffalos which I think were Ellie’s favourite animals of the day, I’m not sure why but she kept dragging us back to them. I loved the Orangutan and the monkeys and were so lucky that two came up close to the window and Ellie was able to get a good look at them. However, as mentioned before, the Red Ape Realm was quite busy so we didn’t get a great look at the Apes in there but that was to be expected.

Hubby was feeling brave and wanted to take Ellie in to the Fruit Bat Cave, as my brother is petrified I decided to stay with him while Hubby and my brother-in-law took her in. I was expecting them to come straight back out because she was screaming yet they took their time and Hubby says Ellie was constantly looking around. He did say it wasn’t as dark as it normally feels so they were able to see the bats a bit more clearly which I think helped. I still don’t think we’d have got my brother to walk through though!

Due to Ellie walking for most of the day we didn’t get to visit the whole 110 acres and I think in hindsight we could have used the Zoo’s monorail to get around more of the animals. There is also a water boat ride but Ellie’s not quite old enough for that yet so thought we’d give it a miss this time. I do wish we’d have gotten over to the Islands part as I think she would have loved the animals there but we will do that part first next time!

The whole day was mesmerising, from the moment we got there Ellie was so happy to be out in the fresh air, splashing in the puddles and conning Daddy out of money at the gift shop (already!! We spent £30 in there!) I was slightly disappointed that we couldn’t find the Dinosaur exhibit that we saw when I was pregnant with Ellie but we could tell there was lots going on to make the park ready for the Summer and I’m expecting we will be going back in the 6 week holidays for another visit! The sheer amount of animals you could see is enough to go back, from elephants and lions to sloth, bats and butterflies! There really is something for everyone and if the walking doesn’t tire the little ones then the play areas certainly will. I’d have loved to have let Ellie have a wander but they were busy with much older children and I was scared she’d get squashed!

Overall we had a lovely family day, making memories and although the admission price was still pricey (£21 each!) with the Carer being free and Ellie being under 2 we all got in for £43 which really wasn’t that bad! I would recommend it to anyone wanting to visit a clean and family friendly zoo.