February 08, 2017

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Top 10 Tips for Skiing With Kids

Learning to ski as a kid would have been a godsend, I didn't learn until I was about 17 and I still go beet red when I recall the exquisite torture of snow ploughing (backwards no less) into a group of good looking lads whilst my friends, (who had promised to teach me with sensitivity and care), doubled over with laughter... Ah embarrassments aside, learning while you still have a low centre of gravity is the way to go and teaching your kids opens up for them a sport that few can rival for a sense of freedom and the sheer awesomeness of nature.

Here's our top 10 tips and tricks for taking littles ones skiing and making sure the entire family have a fantastic time. 

1. Location & Logistics
Spend some time with the map identifying the best areas and lifts to head for with the kids. You'll be carrying not only your own gear, but theirs too and little ones can quickly tire if there is too much trekking to get from A to B. If you aren't blessed with ski-in-out accommodation, check for shuttles.

2. Stress Free Lifts......

Chairlifts can be tricky to negotiate with young kids. so look for runs that will minimise on loading and unloading. Aim for areas close to the bottom of the mountain - or easily accessed that have family friendly ski zones or wide green runs with plenty of kid friendly lift options like rope rows, button lifts and carpet tows. Check out Kids on Lifts for more on how to keep little ones safe on chair lifts.

3. Off Piste Entertainment

Young kids just learning to ski will get tired quickly and need to take regular breaks. We've found about 2-3 hours on the mountain is about the limit. So find out ahead of time what other activities are on offer and schedule in some off-mountain time in the afternoons.

4. Hunger / Tired signs
To minimise the chances of any mid mountain meltdowns (or worse on lifts) keep a close eye on little ones for early signs of hunger and tiredness, and allow for the extra time it takes to get them down off the mountain and wrangle with gear etc

5. Pack Lots (and lots) of Snacks

Think high energy and easy to unwrap, hold and eat without removing gloves. Dried fruit bars & small chocolate minis are both good choices, packets of tiny things less so. A thermos of hot chocolate is also a good call for a quick warm boost whenever it is needed - without having to get to a cafe and queue. 

6. Insist EVERYONE Goes For a 'Wee' Before Going Out!
Seems like an obvious one, but especially with very little ones, it makes getting out onto the runs a whole lot smoother if you don't have to stop and deal with that once all togged up.

7. Get Their Gear Right
This is really important as being safe and comfortable ensures enjoyment like nothing else. Layering is they key to keeping them warm and comfy on and off piste. Dress little ones in a good quality next-to-skin thermal base layer that breathes, an insulating mid layer i.e fleece and a protective outer shell. A Salopettes/Jacket outer combo is much easier to wrangle with at toilet time than All-In-One styles. Gear like Skis, Poles, Helmets and Outerwear is easily hired & worth considering if little ones are still learning, just in case skiing isn't their cup of tea. Check before you go as often there are discounts for pre-booking your gear hire.

What to invest in....
  • Helmets (an essential - hire one if you don't go often) 
  • Good Gloves. A top tip is to tie kids gloves together with a long bit of elastic and thread that through under their jacket. You know that lone dropped glove you always see from the chairlift? that's going to have come from a kid whose parents didn't do that! 
  • Choose Wool - Anything that goes right next to the skin is worth investing in. Superlove merino wool base layers are 240gsm and double knitted so ideally weighted for mountain conditions. They nail the brief as a superwarm thermal base layer outdoors, then double as breathable, comfortable loungewear or nightwear indoors that won't leave them feeling clammy and sweaty. Best of all merino base layers are naturally antibacterial so can be worn for days on end without getting stinky. Something that cannot be said for synthetics.
  • Socks are another area where choosing merino wool really is well worth the investment. We swear by Smartwool merino socks for kids, they are the best we've ever found.
  • Goggles - They stay put and give perfect coverage making them a much easier and more comfortable option for little ones than sunglasses. 
  • A neck gaiter / buff is a good idea as well. Find ones made from merino wool as merino generates extra heat in cold / wet conditions so these make ideal coverings for face and neck if the wind picks up whilst on lifts. 
  • Really good Sunblock. We opt for the physical barrier kind with zinc as these formulations are safer much chemically and tend to really stay put. The Badger 'all sport' stick is the fave in this house and super convenient for top ups. 
8. Ski School - Highly Recommend It
For little ones 3 and over (or sometimes 2) Ski School lessons are, in our opinion, well worth the investment. Even if you are a skilled skier or boarder with the patience of a saint, the pros know just how to get little ones up & going in the quickest amount of time and are well versed in safety for little kamikazes.
The added bonus here is you get a chance to go and have some time skiing at your own pace, which is much harder to do otherwise. It's a holiday for everyone after all.

9. Team Up

Try to go with family and / or friends with kids so you can take turns looking after the kids vs getting out on the hill. Often little ones will only do half a day, so this is a good way to get in some extra adult ski time here and there. 

10. Check Your Paperwork
Have a good look at the product disclosure section on your travel insurance policy to make sure you are all covered for Skiing. If your policy excludes it by default (many do) then call them and and arrange an add on before you go. Don't forget to take your EHIC card too and get one for the kids if you haven't already.
November 26, 2015

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Better than Black Friday

We confess, there is something about the idea of fighting over flat screens that just doesn't sit right with us, and this year with all that is happening in our precious world, we feel that way more than ever.

So we've decided to do things a little bit differently this year. We're not doing a big sale. Instead, on behalf of our customers we'll be donating 30% of every purchase made between now and Midnight on Monday 30th to a fantastic charity working to help the children of Syria. 

You can read all about them here

So stock up on your winter woolies and get a warm heart twice over 

Warm wishes

Becky & Suse xx 

June 08, 2015

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30 Days Wild

When we caught wind of the Wildlife Trust's June Campaign 30 Days Wild - aimed at encouraging families to include 20 minutes of wild time into each day in June, we were instantly keen to give it a go. Playing outside is at the very centre of what Superlove Merino is all about. We know that no matter what stresses us out, or how bad a mood might be, a blast of outside time never fails to break the spell. Bad weather can't be allowed to become a barrier (this is Britain so we'd never go out if it was). Superlove Merino was originally created as a way of harnessing the amazing protective powers of Merino Wool to ensure our kids could live lives as close as possible to the kind of roaming freedoms we had when we were little. Were we, the grubby unsupervised kids of the late 70's really the last free range generation? We hope not! We wanted to take our little ones on all kinds of wild adventures without worrying that they were too hot, cold (or too bogged down by bulky gear to move). Turns out we weren't alone, Britain's taste for merino is on the up, but a side effect of of running a fast growing brand has meant lately we've been thinking about playing outside, designing clothing for it, taking photos of it, but too busy with manufacturers, suppliers and rolls and rolls of fabric to actually DO it....Enter 30 Days Wild - A challenge we couldn't resist - to get back out there - after all, Superlove Merino lives in the Lake District...... so it would be rude not to.  

Here's what we got up to in week one.

Monday 1 June - Lily Pad Spotting

A quick post nursery stroll in the late afternoon. This is a spot called High Dam, not far from Newby Bridge. We're convinced we spotted a pair of Otters here.  Lily pads are something of an obsession in our house - the idea that frogs, fairies and other tiny critters might perch on them is magical, whimsical and totally appealing to the 3 year old imagination. So the purpose of this was to go and see if the are out for summer yet (they are)

Tuesday 2nd June - Rock Climbing

A spot of rock climbing with a little buddy. This isn't quite as steep as it looks, but even still it required a few deep breaths from mum. We are at Brantfell here which is littered with scrambling rocks of all sizes and (for those without bedtimes to worry about) one of the best spots in the Lakes to watch the sun set. 

Wednesday 3rd June - Rusty Digger Love

It's 3.30 and school/nursery is out.....there is a rusty old digger winking at us in the field next door. With a pair of tractor mad cousins in tow it was inevitable this digger had to be climbed on. It's not my idea of a wild time but look how chuffed with themselves they are! The keen eyed among you will spot a prototype pink being tested here too (for rust resistance in this case)

Thursday 4th June - Do You Like Butter?

Rambling aimlessly through the Rusland Valley after nursery. Sitting among the buttercups was part of it yes, as was rolling down the hill trying not to run over any old cow pats, but that bit wasn't as photogenic.....

Friday 5th June - Kites

There's a reason why this is the all time classic windy day activity - it's super fun! This is just behind Superlove HQ in Staveley, on the outskirts of the village. The sun is out, but it was utterly chilly, so miss 3 was feeling pretty happy to have approved the addition of a merino base layer top to the core tutu and sandal ensemble today.

Saturday 6th June - Messing About in Boats

Here we have three children, a blow up dinghy, lots of merino gear and a whale of a time messing about on Coniston. The result was some very wet and very happy small people who all slept extra well that night. 

Sunday 7th June - Peeping in at Baby Trees

A really fun and educational way to spend a Sunday plus a chance to make the most of the last of the Bluebells - which are still around in the Lakes. A forest in Eskdale was full of these little tree protectors, each housing a seedling. The little one had a brilliant time running between them trying to identify each one (this was a baby pine tree, but there were oak, rowan, beech and yew as well) 

 MERINO - COOL WOOL FOR SUMMER

The ability of Merino wool to keep babies and kids warm in winter is legendary, but what about in summer? Do you pack these woollens away with a lavender sachet? No way, because this is no ordinary wool. Merino sheep are very different to the sheep you see grazing the lowland farms, and so is the wool they produce. Superfine Merino wool has been honed by nature over thousands of years, to help the Merino cope with a natural environment which swings from -20°C in the winter, to 35°C in the summer.  Their superfine fleeces are the key to survival thanks to highly evolved temperature control properties that nothing synthetic can come close to. In hot weather Merino wool regulates body temperature by drawing heat and moisture outward, away from the skin, cooling the body as it does so and helping little ones strike the balance. In changeable weather or on summer evenings when temperatures can fluctuate, the insulation you rely on in winter is there as needed. Throw in the natural UPF of 40-50+, quick drying and antibacterial (stink free) and it's easy to see why Superlove Merino is a Superwool®
November 14, 2014

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Rainy Day Outdoor Adventures for Kids

Rain doesn't have to mean staying in all day. Nature transforms in the rain, bringing new smells, sounds and textures; puddles appear and creatures come out.... The outdoors on a rainy day is an endless laboratory full of learning potential, and in the right gear is heaps of fun!

10 Outdoor Adventures for Rainy Days

 

1. Puddles

Number one for a reason, who doesn't love splashing in Puddles! Count how many splashes it takes to get ALL of the water out of the puddle!  Bring out the bath toys or go mini scientific and play "It Sinks v It Floats" - gather things from nature sticks, pebbles, pine-cones, leaves and see which ones float... 

2. Boats!

Make paper boats & float them in puddles or race them wherever the rain runs into mini riverlets! Here's how to make easy boats. I used my to-do -list and it felt good! But any paper will do, a bit of crayon waterproofing and you are good to go! 

3. Worm Hunt

Worms come to the surface when the ground is wet. Some people believe this is for migration, as the worms can travel more quickly above ground when it is wet. Some believe that the worms mistake the vibrations made by the rain for underground predators like moles, so they come to the surface to escape. Whatever the reason, little ones love wiggly worms and during or after a rain shower is the best time to find them.

4. Make Rain Art!

There are lots of ways to make beautiful paintings with the rain. Splodge paint onto a board and lean it against something outside – let the rain run the paint then bring it in to dry. OR Sprinkle some drops of food colouring onto a paper plate, leave it out for the rain to splash the drops around and watch as beautiful patterns appear. Bring it inside to dry flat. Chalk becomes more vivid when it's wet so just after a rain shower is a good time to create street art with chalk.

5. Make Rain Music.

If the rain is heavy, leave some upturned plastic buckets and metal pans outside and listen to the noise they make. Place them under a big drip for the loudest sound.

6. Have a Raindrop Race.

It's mesmerising to watch the rain trickling down a window pane, even for very young babies. Choose a raindrop each and follow its journey down the window, see who's droplet reaches the bottom first!

7. Mudsterchef.

Take some old pots & pans outside and play mud kitchens. Let their imagination run riot and try and forget about the washing! This kind of natural, sensory play taps into a child's natural curiosity. Mud is even more fun than playing in sand or water for a little one, so let them go for it!

8. Make a Rain Gauge.

Get a jar and each person makes a mark on the outside to guess how much rain will fall in a set amount of time (one hour, one day etc) the person who's mark is closest wins.

9. Go for a Walk

Head to your local green-space or the woods, you'll be surprised how enjoyable it is in the pouring rain! An extra idea is to take a pop up tent and a Thermos of hot chocolate for a cosy stop off!

10. Singing in the Rain

There are lots of great songs about the rain and they can be made even more fun by singing them out IN the rain. Here are some of our favourite weather songs:  

Winter weather clothing for babies, toddlers and kids

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing - Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes

Enjoying the rain is easy when you have the right gear. babies, toddlers and kids lose heat more quickly than adults do due to having a comparatively higher size to weight ratio. To enjoy the outdoors year round in any weather a superlove merino base layer is ideal. On wet days merino clothing makes the best thermal clothing for babies, toddlers and kids as it draws moisture away from the skin and into it's core - where it later transfers outward releases and evaporates leaving the wearer comfortable and dry feeling. Merino can take on up to 60% of its own weight in moisture before feeling damp to the touch, but the real magic comes from an effect known as 'heat of sorption' whereby the presence of moisture triggers a natural reaction in the wool fibre that actually generates a small but noticeable amount of heat (about 1°C). This, coupled with a superior ability to insulate, is why merino wool keeps those lucky sheep (and us!) so warm in cold weather and yet another reason why merino is nature's super fibre. On cold wet winter days layer a superlove base layer under outdoor clothing for warmth and comfort, whatever the weather. For more information on layering little ones in cold weather check out our layering guide here

Shop for....

Merino Thermal Base Layers for Kids
Baby Merino Thermal Base Layers 
Toddler Merino Base Layers

 

 

July 17, 2014

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Go Play Outside - The Best of July

Spending time outdoors offers so many benefits for little ones - even (if not especially) right from birth. You may have noted a look of fascination on your baby's face as they stare at leaves rustling in the breeze, seen the sheer glee of 'toddler meets puddle' or the intensity of a stick den building project involving older children. No matter how young, the enjoyment, and sense of wonder generated through little ones engaging with their environment is priceless. 
Here is what a little time spent in nature each day does for kids:
- Promotes confidence and a sense of well being. 
- Gives exposure to rich experiences that are unique to the outdoors - such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons. 
- Builds an understanding of (and respect for) nature and the relationship between, humans, animals & plants.
- Develops problem-solving skills and confidence.
- Nurtures creativity, imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
- Improves sleep (for everyone!).
 

1. GHYLL SCRAMBLING

See if you can find a stream or other suitable water source near you - then let little ones get in and start sploshing about - the term 'water babies' wasn't coined for nothing - most babies, toddlers and kids will think it is pure joy. In our case we were lucky enough to find a mountain stream that was one part stream and one part natural obstacle course. Thankfully the merino kept little bums warm whilst wet (totally going to happen) and dried quickly afterwards. It goes without saying that supervision is key to this activity. If you really can't find a stream to dip into, skip over to our other watery suggestions for this month.

2. GO TO A FESTIVAL

In mid summer there are festivals big and small happening all across the land. Little ones will soak in the festive atmosphere and enjoy being part of what is essentially a celebration of summer (and therefore an age old tradition for our species). If you are heading to a larger multi day festival check out our guide to enjoying the experience with little ones in tow. Otherwise there is just as much fun to be had at the multitude of fetes, country shows and Summer fairs happening at the local community level. Head for the bouncy castle, face painter (always a hit) and have a dance with your little one.

3. MAKE 'FIZZING' ICE ART

A creative way to stay cool on a hot day and so easy to prepare. This activity ticks sensory, scientific and creative boxes and is just really good messy fun bound to delight little ones. Clean up is very quick and easy - just grab a bucket or hose and be sure to use 'washable' colourings.  
What:
Cornstarch (1/4 cup) 
Baking Soda (1/4 Cup)
Water (1/2 Cup)
Liquid Water Colours, Washable Paint or Food Colouring 
Ice Cube Trays 
Optional: White vinegar & squeezy or spray bottles 
How: Mix the Cornstarch, Baking Soda, Water and colouring together and freeze until solid. Then head outside, find some concrete (wet is best) and let little ones go for it experimenting with mixing colours and melting them together. Squirt or spray with vinegar to make it all fizz. 

4. TREE-PLE & TREE-TURES

Get hold of some natural clay or try this DIY sand clay using common cupboard staples. Then take little ones on a hunt for some natural bits and bobs (pinecones, acorns, seed pods, pebbles) and use to make tree faces in your garden or local green space.. these will not only delight your own little ones, but make for a magical find for others walking by. Be sure to only use natural biodegradable materials so that they'll wash away in time.  
Here we have 'Meemow the Cat' & (ahem) 'Mummy'

5. WATER BABIES

A thinly disguised excuse to play with the hose on a hot day? Maybe..... nontheless there is loads of outdoor fun to be had in high summer when it comes to getting wet. Set the hose to a fine mist and get your little ones experimenting with pointing it in different directions to make rainbows....it'll keep them occupied for quite some time - until they realise that squirting mummy is REALLY funny. For older kids running through a sprinkler or a good old fashioned water fight is hard to beat for excitement value.... again, you will be the target, they'll love it (and you for playing too), little babies will love the chance to paddle tiny toes in a shallow inflatable pool with some toys. 

6. GO CAMPING

Indulge their (and your) inner wild child and connect with the great outdoors on a camping trip. When it comes to sleep - expect levels of excitement not conducive to regular bedtimes, in our experience it works best to aim for a good nap day - then come evening go with the flow and just all go to bed together. For toddlers and older babies a good tip to try is to zip mum & dad's sleeping bags together and make a big family bag (into the middle of which go the kids). A merino base layer truly shines when it comes to camping trips, summer evenings can be chilly and the extra warmth without bulk of weight is a welcome way to keep little ones comfy in tents when the sun goes down, as is the ability to release excess heat when the sun comes back up in the morning. 

7. TEDDY BEARS PICNIC

Round up your child's favorite toys and treat them to a lovely picnic under a tree on a sunny day. Serve up acorn sandwiches, grass hors d'oeuvres and pinecone cakes all washed down with flower petal tea. Yum! 

8. WATER THE PLANTS

Whether you have a garden in full bloom or a few plants growing in pots - little ones will love watering them and around now is a good time to let them go for it since plants will fancy a good drink and it won't matter too much if they overdo it (they will). This is a great way to teach little ones about both nature and nurture as well as experimenting with filling and pouring. 

Merino Wool - Keep your Baby Comfortable All Year Round.

The Merino sheep is an ancient breed. And without a doubt one of the most resilient. 
Superlove Merino spend all year happily and naturally withstanding conditions the rest of us would only call extreme. High up on New Zealand's Southern Alps where temperatures range from 35°C in summer to -15°C in winter. Merino are very different to the sheep you might see grazing the lowland farms, Merino sheep naturally stay warm in the winter whilst also remaining comfortably cool throughout the hot summers. This is thanks to their fine soft fleece of a wool which is nothing short of amazing. 
Merino wool is unlike any other fabric on earth and is highly prized in fashion, baby wear and elite sportswear for very good reason. Exceptionally soft, lightweight and breathable, merino wool is the perfect way to keep baby comfortable in summer, as it regulates body temperature naturally to help little ones strike the balance in changeable weather or on summer evenings when temperatures can fluctuate. 

Merino wool is also easy to wash (machine and tumble dry), quick drying, naturally antibacterial and has a (natural) UPF of 30-50+. All of these unique properties make it is a perfect fabric for little ones (who of course) can’t tell you whether they are too hot or too cold! A Superlove Merino baby gift set or Sleep Bag makes a truly wonderful gift for a newborn baby.
June 17, 2014

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How to Enjoy Festivals With Babies, Toddlers & Kids

Heading to a festival with your little ones can be a wonderful way to enjoy the summer as a family. The question isn't should you or shouldn't you? (you should) it's just a case of making it great.
You've invested in the tickets and so it is important that the event is fun and enjoyable for everyone. Thats why we've picked the brains of festival mama veterans Emma Leaney and Lou Harris (co-founder of festivalkidz) to bring you these tips for happy festivals all summer long!
The secret to a great festival experience is.........

A) Forward Planning – There is no getting around the fact that when kids are involved, a LOT more planning is needed. Spontaneity isn't an option here folks!  
B) Attitude -  It seems obvious, but you really will have more fun if you don't base ANY of your expectations on festivals you went to before the mini mes arrived. You probably won't see as many bands and those days of traipsing from act to act are over. On the flip side,  being forced to slow down and take in aspects that you may have missed before can open your eyes to a new way of enjoying festivals and maybe even prove to be more fun!
So in a nutshell be militant about planning before you go, then switch into zen-like mode once you arrive! 
Do what works for you and your kid(s) and set your own pace. Relax, and so what if they eat ice cream for breakfast lunch and dinner for a few days. You'll get back to normal when you get back home.


1. Go with Friends.... (that would be friends with kids)

This will vastly increase your chances of having some grown up time (even just a bit), since a few kids will entertain one another!  They don't necessarily even have to be the same age, older kids will enjoy helping look out for little ones and somehow they'll all end up merging into a tribe and having fun together. 

Apart from that, there are all sorts of practical benefits - More eyes are always good when it comes to keeping tabs on excited kids and you'll have a built in wipe, nappy and sun-cream sharing community! 

2. Get the Timing Right 

If you are camping, then it is worth getting there early and letting little ones acclimatise and familiarise before the crowds appear. Also, getting a good pitch in the right sort of spot makes a big difference - you don't want to be next to the 'all night party crew' any more than they want to be next to the 'early morning kiddy crew'... so camp in a family area or near to friends and everyone will have a good time. 

3. The Loos!

If your little ones are at that stage, then there is no avoiding this one - you need solutions! 
Some of the larger festivals with dedicated kid's areas will be better equipped - with special children's toilets that are cleaner and more welcoming for little ones. However on the whole it does pay to go prepared to give any dodgy portaloos a swerve by taking a folding travel potty along. A good DIY hack is to line said potty with cheap sanitary pads (big ones) to avoid having to deal with liquid contents afterwards - simply tip the contents into a nappy or compost bag then pop it in the next bin you see. Alternatively, there are some truly genius 'portable toilet' solutions available nowadays, head to amazon and prepare to be amazed. 

4. Take a Good Carrier

Little ones will find being carried comforting in noisy and / or crowded environments – especially if they are feeling a little tired. 
A definite must for babies and little toddlers, but consider it as well for older toddlers or preschoolers who still tend to ask to be picked up if tired or the day is a long one. Your back will thank you. You can buy toddler specific carriers such as those by tula or patapum. 
There are lots of carriers on the market and the 'best' one to choose depends on the age of your child, although do choose an ergonomic one for the sake of your back. Generally you want to take one that you and your partner can wear comfortably, has sufficient ventilation and consider how you will
keep it dry (we've not found anything that tops a disposable poncho). 
Very little ones (and their parents) will love the extra security that comes from being carried and it it will boost both their view and your chance for a dance!
 

5. What to Wear 

Rule of thumb is to plan for kids to go through 2 changes per day and 1 for night. 
Consider fabrics that are comfortable, breathable, dry quickly and stand up to a bit of dirt. Merino wool clothing is an excellent option - thanks to its ability to regulate body temperature and humidity, so little ones will stay comfy across a wider range of weather conditions. Merino is also very quick drying, warm when wet, antibacterial and non stinky through days of continuous wear - a natural UPF of between 30-50 is an added bonus! For very hot days choose very light cotton (heavier cottons are slow to dry and chill the wearer if wet) or lightweight merino during the day and then switch to a thicker layer on cooler days or in the evenings. Layering is always the best (and most flexible) approach to keeping little ones at the right temperature.


6. Take an Off-Road Buggy.

The off-road bit is key here (i.e. leave the McLaren at home). If you don't own one already then beg, borrow or buy. If you do borrow, be sure to warn the lender that mud and a general trashing may be involved. Your best bet may be to check out ebay or local buy-and-sell facebook groups and snap up a cheap one there.  With one of these in place you can enjoy a bit of music while little ones nap or sleep. Invest in a sun shade like these and you are as well set up as is possible to be.


7. Four Seasons in One Day

This is Britain after all, so you need to plan for all possibilities :) 
HOT / SUN
Pack essentials such as sun-hats with ties, sun-cream (plus the kind that comes in a solid stick for easy top ups on little noses) sunglasses (with attachments to keep them on). For babies a pop up sun-shelter is a good idea as is a sunshade for the buggy - these will block the sun but they do let in heat, so a reflective foil blanket to put over the top is handy to have for very hot days. Do remember to check on little ones very regularly in hot weather.
RAIN
Pack decent waterproof options for kids (by decent we mean truly & properly waterproof). A couple of cheap splashsuits or sets are also great to have along for light rain and the-day-after, but if the rain is heavier then you'll want the proper stuff or they'll be wet through pretty quickly . Disposable ponchos are very handy for keeping baby carrying setups dry (and for sitting on) and welly boots are essential for all ages. Another thing to consider is wearing waterproof pants yourself if it is damp or muddy, otherwise as soon as you pick junior up, your bottom half will be covered in mud (plus you can then sit anywhere!). For smaller babies / crawlers you can get waterproof booties and mitts for both feet and hands, so a bit of mud around camp isn't such an issue. 
Pack plenty of spare socks as wet feet aren't much fun. Again go for merino wool not cotton, as cotton once wet takes an age to dry and is cold. Synthetics dry faster but get uncomfortably sweaty. Socks can make or break a festival in many ways. We like Smartwool ones. 
Don't bother with an umbrella, it'll only get in the way - instead tog up and embrace the elements & the mud! (follow the lead of small children if you struggle with this one).
COLD
Make sure you pack in a few warm layers, just in case the weather throws a curveball. 
Pack a wool hat and some warm sock to keep extremities toasty if the temperature drops...

9. Sort Out a Safety Plan

Find out ahead of time what the process in place for first aid and lost children is and in the case of lost kids, consider precautions for identification and/or locating. Some festivals will issue paper wristbands that have the parent's number (avoid including your child's name) on them and these are a really good idea , however bear in mind that over several days the standard issue paper ones will probably wear down. Some more robust alternative ideas are:
Make your own (Love the brute simplicity of the duct tape option)
For those kids with particular wanderlust, parents may consider a locator device like these ones

For older children it is also a good idea to decide in advance on a meeting point to head to in the event of separation. Something that can be seen from far off is a good idea (it is always the helter skelter for us!)

If you do lose your little one, notify the officials immediately then follow their instructions, don't try to go it alone. 

Whilst we are not advocating paranoia, the safety of little ones is so paramount that we recommend all parents read this excellent and in-depth guide to festival safety from the team at festivalkidz.com. Being well informed in advance goes a long way to feeling reassured and well prepared for a positive experience. 

10. Essential Kit (extra things that make all the difference)

Battery Operated Fairy Lights / LED Balloons / Glow Sticks and Flags
Something that you may not think of but really IS an essential is fairy lights to wrap around your buggy or an LED balloon to attach so that you can see at night. 
Little kids will enjoy waving a glow stick and a flag is a great way to keep a group together (homemade is more distinctive!) 
Ear Defenders
Unless you want to hang at the fringes the whole time, good quality ear defenders are an absolute must. Little ears are very sensitive and prolonged exposure to loud music at festivals can cause permanent damage. Amazon is a good place to find these. 
Activities
Take some simple activities to keep little one entertained in the quiet periods around camp, stickers, colouring books, bubbles etc. Don't overdo the toys since most festivals will be entertaining enough (and you have enough to carry), but do be sure to pack any that little ones can't live without (maybe take a spare if the toy is 'critical') 
Dressing Up
Little ones love to dress up so take some extras like facepaint, glitter and outfits to help them get into the festival spirit. 
First Aid Kit
Although the larger festivals will have well set up medical coverage, take your own kit so you can deal quickly with minor mischief. Stock it with useful bits like antihistamine cream, tic removers (especially if the site is on a farm or near woods), tweezers, antibacterial cream/wipes, pain relief, plasters, blister pads…..
Snacks
Having a supply of healthy-ish snacks (think raisins, fruit bars, bread sticks, vege crisps, rice cakes etc) reduces the junk loading (some is inevitable) and will keep blood sugar levels where they need to be. 
Water
Take a refillable water bottle to save on plastic and keep littlies hydrated.
A Light Scarf... is a handy bit of kit to have on you as you can use it as a makeshift wrap, cover, blanket, sunshade, towel..... 
Duct tape. Ask a kiwi and they'll tell you they don't go anywhere without a roll of this as it can be used to fix or fashion just about anything at moments notice. Life changer :) 
June 12, 2014

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The Best Merino Brands for Dad

Need a last minute gift for the 'hard to buy for' Dad? Men get very excited about Merino Wool thanks to its breathable comfort and superior technical attributes - and the fact they can wear it for days with no stink doesn't hurt either! Go luxe & high performance with Merino socks and jocks (so much better) or opt for a t-shirt, hoody or base layer. He'll love you for it! 

We like to think we know a thing or two about really good Merino and we've tried them all - so here is our pick of the BEST (and most ethical) Merino brands for Dad!

Armadillo Merino

An innovative UK Brand worn by men who take risks for a living (think soldiers or fire fighters and you're on the right track). These garments harness the naturally protective attributes of the wool, whilst building in details that optimise comfort, fit and wearbility. The quality of the Merino fabrics used and garment construction is very high to the point of protecting in a way that body armour does, whilst the attention to detail in the garment design gives optimal comfor. No detail has been missed and these are amazing products to wear in any situation. ZQ accreditation assures buyers of ethical wool sourcing
Best for: Extreme Dads who want maximum comfort from their performance gear

Finsterre 

Everything about this British brand is seriously cool. Based out of Cornwall, Finisterre was originally developed to meet the environmental challenges of cold water surfing. Merino is the obvious choice of fabric for such an extreme endeavour and this brand use it well across several styles that perfectly combine laid back surfing style, quality fabrics and very high performance. Finisterre gear is a permanent feature on my hubby's wishlist (and my own since they do amazing gear for women too). As a side note, its also exciting to see this brand pioneering UK farmed Merino Wool!
Best for: Cool AND Adventuring Dads who want clothing that looks as good as it performs.

Smartwool

Another very innovative US Brand with a real focus on sports wear, the merino used is very high quality. Smartwool make amazing warm weight base layers that are a must own in the UK winter and the socks are a true cult classic amongst outdoorsy types! Extra points for using Merino Wool that is ZQ accredited. 
Best For:  Dads who are into sports (of any kind) will love the choice in this range.

Icebreaker

The original Merino brand from New Zealand, Icebreaker started it all and continue to lead the way with a vast and highly innovative range. 
Best for: Active, adventurous Dads who value high quality & innovative design.
June 06, 2014

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Go Play Outside - The Best of June

Spending time outdoors offers so many benefits for little ones - even (if not especially) right from birth. You may have noted a look of fascination on your baby's face as they stare at leaves rustling in the breeze, seen the sheer glee of 'toddler meets puddle' or the intensity of a stick den building project involving older children. No matter how young, the enjoyment, and sense of wonder generated through little ones engaging with their environment is priceless. 
Here is what a little time spent in nature each day does for kids:
- Promotes confidence and a sense of well being. 
- Gives exposure to rich experiences that are unique to the outdoors - such as direct contact with the weather and the seasons. 
- Builds an understanding of (and respect for) nature and the relationship between, humans, animals & plants.
- Develops problem-solving skills and confidence.
- Nurtures creativity, imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
- Improves sleep (for everyone!).
  The quintessential smell & taste of the British summer, Elderflower are in full bloom in the hedgerows right now! Take your little ones on a picking mission - then make something lovely with the spoils. Old favourites (for very good reason) are elderflower champagne (Hic!), cordial & fritters which are especially fun to make with kids. Foraging for Elderflowers is great fun for all ages and even babies in carriers will love getting involved! 
 
Baby ducklings are bigger and braver by June, so a trip to the park or pond means good chances for your cuties to get up close with these ones, offering a great oppertunity for little children to learn about nurturing and respect for nature. Mummy ducks that are used to populated areas should tolerate the action especially if something yummy is on offer - speaking of which, the old favourite of bread and/or chips isn't recommended by the RSPB. Opt for oats, green veges, peas or specially formulated duck food istead
Wildflowers are everywhere in June and are a wonderful way to get little ones right into the midst of nature, it is also a good chance to let them indulge in a little bit of sanctioned picking in the name of being a budding scientist (not to be repeated later in nana's garden!). Download this printable identification sheet and see how many you can spot. We like pressing our finds then making them into pretty cards  - abeit they are mainly cards that say "sorry Nana for picking in your garden"

 

Flying kites is so much fun (not just for kids as a recent windy day saw everyone from miss 2.5 to grandad having a go and getting literally carried away). Kites are easy, cheap and fun to make and give kids a chance to get directly involved with the weather. If your kids are very small then the simpler the kite design, the better, here is an easy kite design to make.

Pack a net & bucket then head to a pond, river or lake near you. We've yet to encoutner a kid who doesn't love fishing for tiddlers - from very young toddlers (for whom catching nothing doesn't spoil the fun) through to older kids, hours can be spent on the hunt for wiley tiddlers. A top tip is to put a little bit of protein food in the water to lure them in (hardboiled egg, cheese etc). Just be sure to fish any left overs back out at the end of the day. In the event of success, a bucket will come in handy to get a good look at the catch before letting them go again! With very young children, it's best to have a net for each child, just for your own sanity :) 
Look out for a clearish day with lots of those fluffy clouds that look gentle and lovely but really are anything but - then plop yourselves down in the garden or at the park and see what you can spot - when it comes to the burgeouning imaginations of a toddler or preschooler, the sky literally is the limit. On our afternoon in the park we saw a grumpy dinosaur, a bum(!!), a chicken called tinkerbell and a horse!  
Imagine bubbles, universally loved by babies, toddlers and kids - except these ones are the size of a car! This is a seriously fun outdoor activity that will completely thrill little ones. Making your own mixture and wand is pretty straightforward, or you can buy your kit here instead.
On a trip to the beach see what natural treasures can be found on the sand or amongst the rocks, little ones will love hunting for shells, seaweeds, pebbles and grasses. We did this recently and collected all sort of things to make into a seascape mural that is fantasticical, if a little stinky.

Merino Wool - Keep your Baby Comfortable in Summer

The Merino sheep is an ancient breed. And without a doubt one of the most resilient. 
Superlove Merino spend all year happily and naturally withstanding conditions the rest of us would only call extreme. High up on New Zealand's Southern Alps where temperatures range from 35°C in summer to -15°C in winter. Merino are very different to the sheep you might see grazing the lowland farms, Merino sheep naturally stay warm in the winter whilst also remaining comfortably cool throughout the hot summers. This is thanks to their fine soft fleece of a wool which is nothing short of amazing. 
Merino wool is unlike any other fabric on earth and is highly prized in fashion, baby wear and elite sportswear for very good reason. Exceptionally soft, lightweight and breathable, merino wool is the perfect way to keep baby comfortable in summer, as it regulates body temperature naturally to help little ones strike the balance in changeable weather or on summer evenings when temperatures can fluctuate. 

Merino wool is also easy to wash (machine and tumble dry), quick drying, naturally antibacterial and has a (natural) UPF of 30-50+. All of these unique properties make it is a perfect fabric for little ones (who of course) can’t tell you whether they are too hot or too cold! A Superlove Merino baby gift set or Sleep Bag makes a truly wonderful gift for a newborn baby.
May 13, 2014

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Go Play Outside - The Best of May

Merino baby clothing is an absolute essential all year round, whilst it is true that it is not cheap to buy, it is very durable and stretches and grows with your child ensuring months and months of wear - making it genuinely excellent value. By now most people know how wonderful 100% Merino Wool baby clothing is during the winter months, but Spring can present an even trickier challenge in ensuring your little one is comfortable thanks to highly changeable conditions - chilly and rainy one minute, then hot and humid the next.

Merino Wool is truly amazing thanks to its unique ability to breathe and regulate body temperature - keeping little ones warm when it is cold, and cool when it is hot!

Merino Wool comes from the wool of the merino sheep, who have evolved to withstand some of the harshest conditions in the world. The highlands of the South Island of New Zealand where temperatures range from 35°C in summer to -15°C in winter (Brrr!). What results is the softest finest quality wool in the world. Merino wool is so soft and fine that it is ideal for babies with sensitive skin (even eczema). Wearing Merino next to the skin creates a cosy 'microclimate' which insulates naturally, is breathable and draws moisture away from the skin. Merino wool is also easy to wash (machine and tumble dry), quick drying, naturally antibacterial and has a (natural) UPF of 30-50+. All of these unique properties make it is a perfect fabric for little ones (who of course) can’t tell you whether they are too hot or too cold! A Superlove Merino baby gift set or Sleep Bag makes a truly wonderful gift for a newborn baby.

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April 17, 2014

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Fun Easter Activities for Babies, Toddlers & Kids

Happy Easter everyone! No matter how you celebrate it, we hope you'll get outside and enjoy bit of time having fun with your little one(s). There aren't too many things kids enjoy more than hunting for prizes (& making a mess) and here are our picks of creative and fun ways to do it this weekend. If the weather really doesn't play fair, then most of these can easily be adapted to an indoor setting (but hey we really hope you'll tog up and go out anyway!) 

1. Easter Scavenger Hunt

Hide clues around the house and/or garden that can be followed one by one, leading little ones ultimately to the location of their 'Easter basket'. We like hiding our clues on rolled up bits of paper inside blown eggs (or inside little plastic egg cases* that can be opened). 

The creative among you will have fun making up riddles, but the less inclined might like to download these 20 free printable hunt riddles (what we do) from Simply Fun Families .
Older kids will be able to follow written clues, but if your hunt is aimed at toddlers then an easier alternative is to take pictures of your hiding places and have those as clues. 

 

2. Egg Rolling

For this traditional & highly entertaining activity, you'll need a couple of toddlers or kids, a grassy knoll/hill/slope, some colourful decorated hens eggs and some little prizes to put up for grabs. 

This one is a great leveler if you have kids of different ages and the premise is simple - Each player lines up their egg atop the hill and then pushes it so it rolls it down. The egg that makes it the furthest  (and remains intact mind you) wins. 
Lots of fun can be had decorating eggs before hand and whilst the jury is out on whether or not boiling is allowed, the purists won't approve - raw is more fun anyway.
3. The Golden Egg 
Paint one egg gold and hide it especially well, the finder of the golden egg wins an extra prize. This one is best for older kids or where all hunters are of similar age and stage and a little competition will be enjoyed. 
4. Colour Coded Eggs
Unlike the golden egg, this one is handy if the hunters are not the same age, and ensures very little ones don't come out of the hunt empty basketed at the hands of an an older sibling who is the veteran of a few more hunts! 
5. The 'Damage Limitation' Egg Hunt

Cadbury won't thank us for this but here is an idea to avoid or at least dilute the chocolate content of an egg hunt - perhaps reserving that for the final 'find'. Pre-fill colourful plastic egg cases* with little treats like plastic animals, dinosaurs, marbles, balloons, stickers, temporary tattoos etc then decorate and hide as usual. If anything we've found that these are easily as well received (if not more so). 

Older kids may enjoy a twist whereby 'bunny money' is hidden in each egg, which can then be spent in the 'bunny market' on little trinkets. 
6. Easter Egg Discovery Box
One especially for pre-walkers and younger babies. 
Again for this you'll want a few of the plastic egg cases* – each filled with interesting objects that little ones can discover on opening the egg and put them into an empty egg box ready for those chubby cute little hands to discover

 

*These plastic egg cases are easily found in supermarkets and pound shops and can then be used again and again. One post-easter idea is to use these in a 'snack hunt' for little toddlers who will really love hunting for them and when presented this way even usually uninteresting snacks such as chopped cucumber, blueberries, Satsuma pieces, raisins etc, suddenly become very interesting. We trialled this on a couple of 2.5 yr olds this morning and they thought it was the best thing ever!

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