Cruelty free handmade soaps.

To be frank, I have never been keen on solid soaps as I think they leave a funny ‘squeaky’ texture on my hands. (That was a strange word to use but I’m not sure how else to describe that feeling!)

Anyway. Whilst on the search for cruelty skincare gifts I have come across several soap shops and I have just been in awe of how pretty some of the creations are. The mixture of colours and layers and textures are truly a work of art.

It’s great that many handmade soaps use natural sustainable ingredients and oils that are kind and beneficial to your skin. The mixture of scents that people have concocted sound divine. I also like how there is fuss free packaging which is better for the environment so I am going to make an effort to use solid soaps in future. Below are some creations I have found on Etsy.

Barnes and Fonseca – the designs of these soaps are just stunning! The gingerbread one looks just like a cupcake and the Himalayan pink salt of the rose and bentonite spa bar look so luxe.

Olive Leaf and Honey – from reading the blog you can see how much passion and thought goes into these soaps. I love the combination of ingredients used which are all good for the skin somehow.

Studio M Apothecary – the ‘girls and diamonds’ soap looks stunning. How do people come up with formulations like that? If you’re not vegan try the soothing and calming lavender goats milk soap.

That Charming Shop – they have a gin soap! The Earl Grey one and the lemon poppy soaps look interesting too. Based in London they also do a range of cruelty free candles and bath bombs.

Soul and Soap – it’s the cherry cake slice and the apricot cake slice soaps that first caught my eye but the shop is full of delicious sounding skincare. Awesome looking cake candles too.

The Soap Co. – if you’re not keen on solid soaps then this brand also sell their soaps in liquid form. The great thing is their packaging is made of recycled materials and you can purchase refills too. Ingredients sourced from around the UK.

How do you feel about using soap bars? Have you been converted?

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9 months.

Gosh how time flies! Emery turned 9 months last week and I haven’t written a post. I don’t seem to have time for anything now even though Emery naps better on his own and also he can play by himself and yet I have less time to do things. I don’t even binge watch TV shows! How am I going to keep this blog going when I go back to work after Christmas (cry!).

I wish WordPress could read the thoughts in my head. I’ve written countless of posts in my head but I just can’t seem to find any time to type them out. I truly respect mamas who make blogging their career. I can’t even keep up with Instagram comments let alone the Instagram stories.

TRAVEL. So the biggest thing that’s happened in the past month is that we have flown to Hong Kong and from there onto the Phillipines. We took a direct flight from here to HKG which was about 11 hours during the day. That was tough because Emery found it difficult to nap in the bassinet and he nursed a lot (not sure if I had enough milk for him). This meant I only had 2 hours sleep on the plane and we landed around 6am local time so we had the whole day ahead of us and it was tough!

Emery also suffered from jet lag for a few days. He would wake up at 2am. Initially I could rock him back to sleep but he didn’t like being placed into his second cousin’s cot (she has the Stokke) and eventually would be super awake until 5am. This meant our activities didn’t really take off much to the chagrin of my husband.

The temperature was around 25° and fairly humid so Emery was usually in just a babygrow. The locals were horrified and thought he was really cold and would often touch his feet. I think he was okay since he is used to the British climate and a lot of the time he was in a baby carrier so tucked very closely to my husband’s chest (husband enjoyed carrying him and bonding since it’s usually me that has Emery in a sling).

It was even warmer in the Phillipines but the locals there understand that it is super warm. The resort we stayed at had two pool areas and they were so clean and so warm. Emery enjoyed swimming and he did some underwater dunks which impressed other guests. Other children wore head to toe UVA protection suits whilst Emery only had his swimming trunks on so perhaps we looked like bad parents compared to the Japanese and Korean guests that were also at the hotel.

Emery seemed to be okay with the Hong Kong water (brought some UK water to mix) but perhaps the addition of Phillipino water might have been a bit too much as his poos gradually became looser. He was still drinking milk and playful so I wasn’t too worried. Annoyingly he didn’t want any of the food we bought in Hong Kong (which looked like it was important from Spain and France) but he had eggs and yoghurt at breakfast time and he loved the breadsticks (and probably salty) crackers.

Emery did really well on the flights. On the first take off I let him nurse as that’s what all the articles suggest when you Google “flying with a baby” but on the descent Emery was very fidgety and ended up just holding him in my lap and he was fine. The air stewards were super impressed and he even got a photo in the flight deck. I filmed some footage on the plane so I might make a video about our experience and upload it to YouTube. I have all the intentions of doing so but when will I have the time to edit such things?!

MOBILITY. Emery is confidently crawling and can easily pull himself up and drop himself down. He can slowly walk along the edge of something like a sofa but no progress in walking. Perhaps I should help him stand on his own first.

Emery was weighed earlier in the week and is 15lb 12oz which is small but on track for his percentile. He is also 64cm long. I forget how big his head is!

FOOD. Haven’t had much progress with weaning as the holiday seems to have halted us. The pre made purees we bought in Hong Kong stated 8 months but it was very smooth. Emery has had finger foods though so his grip is getting better but not quite got the pincer grip.

Still only have two bottom teeth but they are sharp. Had a small blip in brushing them on holiday as we had the toothbrush but no toothpaste.

SPEECH. No real words yet but he says “da da da” a lot. I’m trying to teach him “mama” instead hehe.

I am also trying to associate parts of the day with words like “time to sleep” and “it’s yummy” when we eat. The other day I was at my parents for dinner and my brother was saying goodbye and we are all sure Emery waved back. We all cheered and my mum quipped that he didn’t know why we were so happy.

Today at swimming the teacher took each baby and waved everyone goodbye. I am certain Emery started waving halfway through so that is something we will work on. He seems to understand “bye bye” more than “hello”.

ILLNESS. On the last day of our holiday we had a little panic. In the night I heard Emery coughing a little and he had a very stuffy nose. During the day he didn’t want much food or fluids and at one point I mentioned that Emery looked pale and then my husband went into panic mode and decided that Emery was clammy, feverish, and listless.

My cousin came to the rescue and booked us in with her daughter’s paediatrician. It cost over £100 for the consultation and meds (almost all can be bought at a UK pharmacy) and annoyingly but thankfully Emery perked up in the waiting room. We got the all clear to fly that night. He slept about six hours on a twelve hour overnight flight but could have been worse.

SLEEP. Don’t think Emery is sleeping any longer through the night. We’ve started doing gentle crying since coming home from holiday (after adjusting back to the time zone). I did want to do it before we went away but if it failed then I would have given in abroad so would have been confusing for him.

The first night Emery took 45 minutes to go down and I think going back to him didn’t help. On the second night he was asleep within 15 minutes so hopefully it will get less and less as the days go by.

I just can’t believe how time has flown! Christmas is three weeks away and once that is done I’ll be back at work. Emery will be with my mum though so at least I don’t need to worry about leaving him with a stranger. I hope they develope a close bond.

Cruelty free gifts for a mum-to-be.

There are a number of gift sets available in stores for the pregnant momma in your life… but which ones are cruelty free? I’ve done the hard work and researched which sets you can give to your favourite pregnant lady. The brands below have gift sets or you can mix and match to buy any product separately.

Neal’s Yard Remedies – probably the priciest brand in this list but it’s also the only one here certified by Cruelty Free International. They have great sourcing ethics and use recyclable packaging to house its organic products. As well as having their own stores they are stocked by John Lewis and lots of independent shops as well as online.

Mama Mio – I *think* they are a US brand but I’m not totally sure. My cousin gifted me some of these products when I was pregnant and they smell delicious and made my skin feel soft and supple. They are available at John Lewis and various online shops.

Love Boo –  came across this one at the baby show. Lovely natural products using the best ingredients. There’s a range for babies as well as mothers. I’d suggest getting that perineum massage oil if you’re planning on pushing that baby out with minimal tearing! Find it in John Lewis (are you seeing a theme here with stockists?) or online.

Bloom & Blossom – made by mums for mums. Formulated with natural ingredients and none of those nasty chemicals. Find them in Space NK, John Lewis and other online retailers.

Burt’s Bees – a slightly contentious one to end with as their cruelty free status is a little hazy. They’re currently still certified by Cruelty Free International. I’ve always enjoyed using their lip balms and if you are not vegan then this could be a nice brand. You can find them at Debenhams, Waitrose, Boots, Holland & Barrett, and more.

Hope this post has helped a little if you’re buying for a cruelty free mama. Also, in case you were wondering, Bio Oil and Palmer’s Cocoa Butter are NOT cruelty free. The important thing is to use some sort of moisturiser on places where you might get stretch marks. This helps the skin retain some elasticity to prevent damage to the skin. I may do a future blog post on oils to use during pregnancy. Does that interest anyone?

Cruelty free Christmas gifts for men.

Like it or not, Christmas is less than five weeks away! You may not celebrate this holiday but there may be occasions in which you want to buy a male buddy a nice cruelty free “smelly”. Below I list some products I have found whilst trying to do my own festive shopping.

Oakwood Soaperie – as the name of the shop suggests they are a soap company using natural locally sourced ingredients. Your stinky man may appreciate the soap made using a Northumberian beer!

Empire Grooming – know someone with a beard? How about getting him a beard oil so his hairy goodness is always a pleasure to be around?!

Southsea Bathing Hut – uses the natural ingredients down by Portsmouth to make gentle shaving soaps. They also do the beard oils. These come together in a mens pamper gift set as well as separately (women’s products also available).

Create&Case – stocks a unique range of wallets, tablet and phone cases, and even cushions. They use vegan leather for their designs and use cool illustrations on their products.

Bulldog – this cruelty free brand is fairly easy to find in supermarkets and drugstores. Gift sets can include all the lotions and potions you need to treat manly skin and hair.

Molton Brown – on the pricier side but great to see a big brand with the ‘leaping bunny’ on their products. They have a bunch of products such as face washes, shower gels, eau de toilettes, and even candles in a range of ‘masculine’ scents.

If all else fails and you’re running around frantically on the high street on Christmas Eve then pop into Lush or The Body Shop for some cruelty free gift sets.

Have you been struggling to find cruelty free gifts? Have you got any recommendations for me?

Cruelty free candles.

#winterishere and boy is it cold! Winter nights were made for cosying up at home in fluffy blankets with cinnamon scented candles filling the air. This post is dedicated to cruelty free candle companies. I’m sure there are many more in the UK (check our your local farmer / artisan market) but below are a few I have come across.

But first let’s talk about wax! Soy wax is a “natural” wax which means it is plant based and therefore cruelty free. As well as being sustainable and more eco-friendly it also burns cleaner (less soot) than parrafin/mineral wax that many candles are made of. Also keep an eye out for cotton or paper wicks which are “healthier”. Check a candle’s ingredients before buying as you may be surprised.

Always remember to keep candles out of reach of children and to follow the manufacturer’s burning recommendations (for example some will say “burn for three hours at a time”). Some babies may be sensitive to some scents, especially if you have sensitivities in the gene pool, so be aware of this. You could try limiting candles for the evening once baby has gone to sleep.

Most of these companies also use recyclable packaging so a treat for you ans great for the planet.

Hobo Soy Candles – free shipping over £40. A collection of reed diffusers and candles of varying sizes (including travel tins) at good prices. Packaging is simple and calm to suit any home.

Wildheart Organics – a wellness company that has a range aromatherapy candles, bath products and oils. Each scent is created to help you energise, relax, feel happy etc.

Oakes Candles – stumbled on these at a recent Ideal Home Show. A lovely range of diffusers and candles in gorgeous glam packaging. Would make a nice gift for a girly girl. I like the “oudh” and “alchemy” scents.

Essence + Alchemy – uses British rapeseed oil rather than soy which not only avoids importation pollution, but is also sustainable. It is another “healthy” wax to burn. Packaging is sleek and simple. They also have a candle subscription service incase you worry about running out of candles.

Willow & Honey – discovered these candles at a service station but I thought they smelt and looked fab. They have the delicious classics such as black pomegranate and fig & cassis.

Diptyque – if you are a candle snob then you may be pleased to know Diptyque is cruelty free. I do own a couple but I’m not sure I can honestly say they are the best candles I’ve ever had.

Have you ever thought about candles being cruelty free or vegan? What is your favourite brand of candles?

Swimming progress.

My husband was aghast when I told him how much baby swimming lessons cost. He said, “Why don’t we just take him swimming ourselves?” To be honest, I do think it’s expensive but I don’t think Emery would be as competent in the water without the lessons.

Emery was not keen on baths for the first few weeks. He would scream before he went in, during and after. Bath time was not fun time. That seems to have changed since Emery has spent more time in the pool. Could be a link or could just be him getting used to water.

Either way I am glad we took him to lessons. I phoned a few swim schools prior to signing him up. He is on the bottom end of the weighing scale so I was concerned he would be too cold. A friend had told me her son would shiver during his lessons. Schools often use a pool located in a health centre, hotel, or a school so temperatures can vary. One pool I contacted was a hydrotherapy pool and they assured me the temperature would be warm enough. Luckily I needn’t have worried as Emery didn’t seem to be bothered in the slightest about the temperature of the water.

I have a friend with a baby a couple of weeks younger and they attended a different swim school. Her baby swum underwater without any assistance during his first term. At the end of the summer term we had done two second swims underwater but we’d always held onto baby. I found out, however, that her baby did not ‘know’ when he was about to go under. In our classes we trained the babies to listen and feel cues as to when they were about to go under so they would close their eyes and prepare the gag reflex.

Swimming is also a great way to tire babies out. Sometimes I pop him in the car seat and by the time I’ve walked to the car he is already asleep!

We are approaching the end of our second term and I am so proud of Emery. He really enjoys going in the pool and has a lovely smile on his face when he sees his teacher. He knows when to prepare himself to go underwater and looks like he’d be great at the butterfly stroke.

Have you taken your baby to swimming lessons or have you taught him to swim yourself?

Review – Waitrose essentials baby wipes.

Waitrose have two different price points for their wipes. This is the cheapest version of the fragrance free wipes. I’ll get the pricier version later and compare the two.

Brand: Waitrose essentials

Pack size: 80 wipes

Price: 63p (0.8p per wipe)

These fragrance free wipes feel like they are good for sensitive skin. We didn’t have any problems regarding rashes or irritation whilst using these.

The actual wipes are an okay size; small to medium (closer to medium). The wipe itself feels very thin. I imagine the more expensive own brand wipe might feel better quality. Even so, I had no problems using these wipes and there is enough moisture in each wipe to clean baby’s bottom thoroughly.

None of the packaging is recyclable. There is a piece of sticky plastic to open and close the packet. It did not come loose during our testing period. Waitrose own brand products are all certified with the “leaping bunny” logo which is great. They have a good range of baby washes, bottom soother, and massage oil.

Overall, despite the wipes feeling thin, they do a good job cleaning up any mess and did not cause any redness. However, at this price point you would be better off going for Mamia wipes.