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      JOURNAL — Support small business

      | A Woman's Work: A Q&A with Helen Fores of Spark Sensory |

      | A Woman's Work: A Q&A with Helen Fores of Spark Sensory |

      I met Helen through Baby Sparks baby sensory class - as she was the one leading it!

      The passion Helen has for neurological development through the senses and sensory play for babies really comes through in her classes and, due to her affable character, they easily became my favourite class to take Max along to. This was both for how much Max loved the activities and song, but also because of the catch ups and convos I could have with Helen and other parents.

      COVID has thrown a number of challenges Helen's way and her resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity has been an inspiration. Being a small business owner herself, she's been very supportive of LOMIE from the beginning and has been fantastic, particularly in, connecting us with local families and their babies for our product photography.

      Thanks so much Helen for taking the time to chat to us about your highs and lows. I hope that those reading will be equally inspired though learning about your story.

      Those who happen to be in the Nottinghamshire area can book Helen's classes here.

       

      Hi Helen! Please tell me a little about yourself and your background.

      Hello! I’m Helen, founder/owner of Spark Sensory and Baby Sparks sensory classes. Prior to launching my business I was a primary school teacher for 16 years across Nottingham. I’ve got two little boys; Charlie and Tommy, and a fur baby called Maxi. I think my obsession with creating the best baby and toddler sensory classes stems from a passion I have as an educationalist to support children from birth in their sensory and neurological development. I feel passionately that learning through play forms the building blocks for lifelong learning and it just feels an absolute privilege to spend time in that first precious year with new parents and their babies through their attendance at my classes.

      Helen Fores

       

      What is Sparks Sensory and Baby Sparks and what was the motivation behind setting them both up?

      Spark Sensory is the consultancy aspect of my business. My experience, knowledge and skills as a special needs teacher has enabled me to develop a consultancy role where I go into education settings, usually mainstream primaries, and offer training and ‘hands on’ work with staff and pupils on sensory integration practices for supporting pupils with additional needs. I also run conferences and provide remote support when required.

      Baby Sparks is quite literally, my baby! I deliver (with a small freelance team behind me) baby and toddler sensory classes across Nottingham. Every class is a full sensory workout for your baby and all that we do is based on up to date research and practice. The classes are fun, interactive, creative and developmentally appropriate at all levels for your little one. Prior to lockdown, we were delivering 15 classes across 4 days in West Bridgford, Keyworth, Beeston and Sherwood.

      Baby Sparks Nottingham

       

      Does ethics and sustainability come into play at all with what you do? 

      From an ethics perspective; yes absolutely. When I founded my business I wrote a set of values that I used as a guide for any business decisions I made. These focused on aspects such as ‘what did I want my customer to experience as a consistent service from me?’ ‘What values do I want to promote with education staff when I deliver training to them?’ and ‘how can I ensure that the customers experience is of such a standard that I am able to maintain high levels of customer retention.’ I created a values statement which included things such as ‘always presume competence’ and ‘above and beyond’ with regard to the service I provide. It’s helped me from an ethics perspective to focus on high customer service as a driver for profitability rather than simply focusing on profitability as a value.

      Sustainability is a more difficult one. In terms of the equipment I use, the majority is repeat use with very few items being single use only. I am mindful of disposing of any items with batteries (sensory balls) in a responsible manner and I often buy new equipment from charity shops (preferring wooden toys over plastic for obvious reasons). AS I branch out and continue to develop the retail aspect of the business, use of recycled packaging and organic, Fairtrade baby grows and t-shirts will be a priority.  

       

      Tell me about a particular highlight you’ve had within your career? What are you most proud of?

      I still suffer daily with imposter syndrome, COVID-19 has at times pushed me to the point of wanting to walk away entirely. However, I am so very proud of my resilience throughout the last 4 months and have promised myself I will look back on this time in the not too distant future and be able to say that I acted responsibly and with the best interests of all my customers at the heart of my decision making. In terms of other highlights, it sounds cheesy but I actually love it when a customer leaves me at the end of their maternity leave and we have a chat about their journey through motherhood and how the classes have impacted positively on that. Those conversations are the best. Then when working in schools, the feedback I get from staff about the positive impact and how their work with pupils has changed for the better, that is priceless because its real lives that are being impacted. There’s amazing job satisfaction in knowing that.

       

       

      Given the types of classes you offer, COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines have impacted quite dramatically on your business. You've been very creative in developing a new way of working going forward? Please tell us about this.

      Yes, dramatic impact is definitely a good way to describe it. Throughout the height of lockdown (March – June), my turnover dropped by 90%. The school-based work had to be placed on the back burner, mainly because schools closed! However, I used this time to increase my consultancy impact in other ways. I took on a freelance contract writing course material (on autism, sensory needs and the primary classroom) for a large online education CPD provider. This has proven to open further doors as I have now also agreed to become an assessor for the same company and am now assessing people as they train to become teaching assistants. It seems like a good role to adopt whilst the world adjusts to the new normal... however long that might take.

      In terms of the baby and toddler classes; we moved to online content and again, in line with my values I wanted to ensure this was accessible to all for as long as it was financially possible to do so. I created a ‘pay what you can’ approach and the turnover allowed me to work for 10 weeks generating a very small income to keep Baby Sparks afloat. Then after a short 3 week furlough period, to allow me time away from the business to reflect and learn lessons, I decided to move to a Zoom model in June and July, to enable a more interactive experience for myself and my customers. As the social distancing measures continued to relax, a face-to-face outdoor model for classes was developed. Throughout July and August, myself and one of my lovely freelancers, Kat, delivered a range of socially distanced outdoor classes. These were so incredibly well received, we had an absolute blast! Now as we move into Autumn and the weather becomes more inclement, we are planning on a move back to indoor classes. We are hoping this will happen around the 14th September. Our provision has drastically changed; fewer resources, no movement, safe social distances at all times. But, our values and vision remains the same and given that I feel I have maintained integrity throughout COVID, I am certain that our lovely customers will follow us back indoors and engage with the newly adapted, COVID secure Baby Sparks provision that we are super close to launching.

       

       What’s one piece of advice that you’d give for other women or mothers who are considering starting their own business?

        Don’t underestimate your own abilities. It’s hard work but no one works harder than a mum on 4 hours sleep and 3 cups of coffee! And research, research, research! You’ve got to know your market, your customer and yourself really. Focus on the end game; think big, start small - but do start!

         

        Photo credits to @lucyewarnerphotography

        | A Woman's Work - A Q&A with Julia of Julia Ferrari Web Design |

        | A Woman's Work - A Q&A with Julia of Julia Ferrari Web Design |

        Julia and I have never actually met in person. We became acquainted virtually through being members of the online business platform, The Robora. We can easily relate to one another as we both created new ventures during our respective maternity leaves. And accessing help to build our respective businesses, was the reason that we both joined the platform. Since meeting, despite being in very different fields, we have followed and supported each others progress with interest.

        In a recent Instagram post, Julia reflected on all that she's learnt and achieved in the year since her son was born. I found the summary so insightful, and inspirational, that in addition to the Q&A with her featured below, I feel I must also share the content of the post here:

        'I had no idea all the things I could learn in a year. Yesterday was my son's 1st birthday and the reason I talk about him is because he was my main motivation to start my own business, Julia Ferrari Web Design. He was the one who gave me the courage to get out of my comfort zone and discover new things.

        In one year I learnt a lot about babies, development, feeding, sleeping, crying and all that obvious things. But I also learnt about myself and my own emotions. 

        I learnt, and continue to keep learning, how to run my own business. I learnt how challenging it is to work as freelancer. I learnt to celebrate every little win.
        I also learnt how important is to take some time off, and yesterday I had a day off with my son.'

        Julia Ferrari Web Design LOMIE Cub & Pudding

        Hi Julia! Please tell me a little about yourself and your background
        .
        I’m an Argentinean who landed in London six years ago trying to work in what I love, web design. I love travelling and discovering new places and cultures. One of the things that I like most about living here is that it is much easier, and more affordable, to travel. My first year in London was really challenging, I had to improve my English, find a job in my field and make new friends. But I surpassed all the obstacles and made London my home. I have to say that I’m a summer girl and one of things that makes me suffer is the cold weather and the lack of sun.

         

        Becoming a mother was the motivation behind creating your own business. Please tell us a little about the transition to becoming your own boss and the benefits and challenges of this new way of working?

        Last year I become a mum to Agustin. My partner and I are among the many parents who don’t have any relatives close by who can help with childcare, so for me the best option was to go for more flexibility with my work. When my son was born and during my maternity leave I started to focus on freelance work and setting up my own business.

        When my son was just 3 weeks old I signed up for Annie Ridout’s online course “Become your own boss”. I have to say that the first months I was working very slowly, but at least there was the unexpected luck that my son was a good sleeper. In February of this year I decided to start pushing harder and started to work on a proper plan to grow my business. This was followed by a few intense months of hard work. A couple of weeks ago (during June 2020) I sent my resignation letter so now I am truly a freelancer.

        Having flexible hours, seeing as I have a baby to take care of, is a huge benefit and I don’t miss commuting to work at all. The first challenge was about mindset. I have always been very confident about my work and meeting my clients’ expectation, but I was not sure how to make my business more visible and have enough flow of work. I’m also a shy person so networking is something that really throws me outside from my comfort zone, however I have also realised that this is a common experience.

        Julia Ferrari Web Design

         

        Does ethics and sustainability come into play at all with what you do? 

        Ethics and sustainability are part of my personal values and they are mixed with what I do. I feel very lucky that I work with people who love what they do. I feel very comfortable working with them and we share the same values.

         

        Tell me about a particular highlight you’ve had with your work? What are you most proud of?

        That is a difficult one, but when I was in my previous job I developed a website in a new platform, Drupal, which required a lot of learning and work. In general, now I have started feeling proud about setting up my own business. I have learnt so many things, and have worked so hard, so I feel very proud when I see positive results.

         

        Has COVID-19 impacted on your business / your way of working at all?

        COVID has had a positive impact in my work in a way. Firstly, I have had more demand of work, because many people are now looking for an online alternative for their businesses. In addition to this, as my partner has started working from home it allows me to have more help with childcare and I can have more time to focus on my work. 

         

        As a mother, what do you look for in baby and children’s clothing? What other brands would you recommend for new mothers?

        I don’t buy many clothes for Agustin but when I do, I try to look for independent shops and small business brands. I love colourful patterns. Some brands that I can recommend, aside from LOMIE, are Little Green Radicals, Piccalilly and Cub & Pudding. Agustin is wearing Cub & Pudding leggings and romper, with LOMIE Scarf Bibs, in the images below.

        LOMIE Scarf Bibs 

        What’s one piece of advice that you’d give for other women, or mothers, who are tempted to start their own business?

        From my personal experience, I think is important to invest in some coaching to guide you on setting up your business, getting clients and setting the right mindset!

        Be patient. Sometimes it may feel like a rollercoaster, but you learn to celebrate every win.

        | A Woman's Work - A Q&A with Helen of Snugg Yoga |

        | A Woman's Work - A Q&A with Helen of Snugg Yoga |

        Helen and I met at baby yoga a couple of years back when our children were just teeny, and despite having an awkward first lunch date - where one went to The ‘Bakehouse’, the other went to The Little ‘Brickhouse’, both thinking we’d been stood up and ending up lunching solo - we’ve continued to be great friends. Above shows a snap of Helen with her daughter during a LOMIE Scarf Bib photoshoot. We are dying to get the kids together again after what seems like an eternity in lockdown.⠀

        The admiration I have for Helen is immense. Not only is she is a great mum, but whilst also working full time she has trained to become a yoga teacher, of which she now teaches as her side hustle Snugg Yoga (give her a follow of Insta at @snuggyoga). She has a very calm, yet witty, character and is such great company to be around. But it’s her incredible strength, resilience and desire to give back which I admire the most. 

        Helen story is emotional, but also extremely heartwarming. She’s truly an inspirational woman and has been helping people through lockdown relieve anxiety and build community though free, or PWYC (Pay What You Can) classes through lockdown. I was so happy when she kindly agreed to take part in the LOMIE ‘A Woman’s Work Q&A’ to share her journey. 

         

         

        Hi Helen! Please tell me a little about yourself and the motivation behind training to become a yoga instructor.
        My bio says I am a mummy, yoga and meditation teacher and I love being with my family, disco music, baking and the great outdoors, but there is much more to it than that. In the first couple of months of me giving birth, my mum, hero and best friend was diagnosed with cancer. Even though she suffered for a further six months, it was the day she told me that she had cancer that I lost her, her mind sort of went and it was only by teaching her meditation and gentle yoga, mindfulness and Qi Gong techniques that I was able to calm her and get her back for a few minutes. The meditation would include beautiful memories that we had from my childhood, such as a beach in Cornwall and gardens.

        The yoga helped her to move at a time when she was confined to her bed, and sometimes she would call me in the middle of the night asking for me to meditate with her, and, although I had been practicing yoga for twenty years it was this that gave me the drive to become a teacher. I wanted to use this skill to work with others and their families going through what my mum and our family went through. As always my mum was my inspiration and now my daughter is my inspiration. 


        As a mother, how are you finding balancing motherhood, work and yoga teaching?
        Haha, I love it but I am exhausted. I give myself little treats - an afternoon nap when my little one is asleep, and an evening glass of red wine with my husband when she has gone to bed! We also love going on adventures in the countryside and mummy-daughter baking to disco dj sets - we are both a big fan of Nile Rodgers and Chic and the kitchen is slowly starting to turn into our disco space - neon lights, diner chairs and a disco ball are planned! A lot of what we bake is foraged from our garden - raspberries, grapes, elderflowers, rosemary, mint, lavender, blueberries, strawberries - you name it we have grown it, picked it and baked and discoed with it.

        Whilst everyone is still asleep, I get up at 5am, go for a run, take part in a pre-recorded online yoga class - usually with a Yoga space in Bali, and plan my own yoga or meditation class - I always bring something new into each class and take inspiration from everything from Power Yoga, Yin Yoga and meditation to Capoeira, Qi Gong and mindfulness. 

        I schedule my own classes at a time when my husband isn’t working so he can take the fort or when my daughter is asleep (so lots of evening or pre-recorded classes). Work entails liaising with charities, fundraising, designing and putting out marketing and my website and creating more classes - all of that fits into the gaps!


        Does ethics and sustainability come into play at all with what you do? 
        Absolutely. Yoga has unfortunately gained a reputation of being expensive, exclusive and physically unattainable (“I can’t put my legs behind my head!”). When I set out to become a yoga and meditation teacher my primary goal was to provide free classes for people in palliative care. I am excited to be talking to a Refugee charity and a hospice about putting together free one to one classes for their service users. Teaching classes outside of that has just been a sweet bonus.

        The message behind Snugg Yoga is that it is: 

        • Affordable - free or PWYC (Pay What You Can) with donations going to a diverse range of charities.
        • Inclusive - everyone is welcome, working with charities has not only allowed me to raise much needed funds for charities in need, particularly during lockdown (Stonebridge City Farm, When You Wish Upon A Star, PASIC, Forever Stars, ) but it has also enabled me to invite the service users and staff of those charities to attend the classes free of charge (Refugee Roots, The Black LGBTQIA+ Therapy Fund, Nottingham Women’s Centre, Nottinghamshire Hospice, Macmillan Cancer, Notts Hospitals Charity and PANDAS) this has really helped Snugg Yoga to achieve a more diverse audience - this is something that will persist and I won’t rest until I have a class that has true representation.
        • Attainable, fun and soothing - I have always said that in a Snugg Yoga class it is highly likely that I’ll be one of the first to topple and that I am learning right alongside my students and will never stop learning, I offer modifications for those who want to go more or less challenging, the classes are great fun and not too serious and they offer a sense of calming and community to help to relieve anxiety.

        Sustainability is an interesting one, and a message that I want to focus on once I go back to teaching again in real life - in parks or a sustainable space with ethically sourced equipment and refreshments. I’m on it! 


        Tell me about a particular highlight you’ve had with Snugg Yoga? What are you most proud of?
        I have been really fortunate and had some incredible opportunities since being in isolation including working with Asylum seekers and refugees and providing lessons for charity festivals, a particular highlight was receiving a letter from someone who said that their Snugg Yoga class was a lifeline, offering them something to look forward to at a time when they felt highly anxious, upset and stressed. I also felt privileged to be able to offer free yoga and meditation for NHS staff and other key workers - they have given so much and just being able to help them in any way has been rewarding.

         

        Has COVID-19 impacted on your business / your way of working at all?
        Completely, I have gone from teaching in studios and to businesses in their workspaces to teaching wholly online. The people attending my classes have changed too. At the start the goal was fitness and general wellbeing, but once COVID-19 hit a lot of people wanted to join to not only ease their anxiety but also to be a part of a community at a time when many felt isolated. That is why it was important for me to offer classes for free for the first three months of lockdown and then on a PWYCan basis (with 10% going to a nominated charity each week) after those first three months.

        All the charities I have worked with have been affected during lockdown and the charity classes, which in the first three months, delivered free yoga with a donation encouraged to a different charity each week, have been really popular - my biggest class had 33 people sign up! It is through these charities that I have taken part in online festivals (Forever Stars) Refugee Week (Refugee Roots), delivered chair yoga and mindfulness for carehomes and private one to one online classes.

        As lockdown extends I'm continuing to offer classes on a PWYC basis as I cannot justify charging regular prices when so many people have been furloughed or let go and I wouldn’t want to. It is so much more important that people attend the classes than be missed because they couldn’t afford the class. Everyone is welcome regardless.

        Credit: Angela Shepherd (@angela_luci_shepherd)


        What advice would you give for other mothers who are considering starting their own business?
        I haven’t met a mother yet who doesn’t realise how special she really is. So I would say value yourself. This is advice that is, of course, easier said than done, but there are ways in which you may be able do this:

        • Find free courses to enhance your education, to give you the confidence to speak up (Open University has lots of great online courses such as starting your own business). 
        • Don’t apologise for wanting to speak up, try and avoid starting an email with ‘no worries if not but…’, and don’t undersell yourself for fear of asking seeming too cheeky.
        • Make diversity a value for your company, don’t be afraid to change your opinion when faced with new information and finally value and support community. When I first started to grow, my outreach goal was growing my social media channels, but my most loyal customers are those on my own doorstep, people from local businesses and charities that I have worked with who now join my classes every week. 





        | 5 Home Remedies for Teething Babies |

        There is no way to know exactly when to expect your baby’s first tooth / teeth. For some it can be as early as three months, for others as late as seven months or older. Nevertheless, symptoms tend to appear weeks, sometimes months, before the first tooth emerges. The red cheeks, the drool - so much drool – and your little one putting everything into their mouth are sure signs that teeth are on the way. 

        Having a teething baby can be challenging for both baby and parents – the interrupted sleep patterns, changes to feeding, the consistency and frequency of number two nappy changes (!) and, well, the poor wee things can generally just be out of sorts. One thing that we do know is that the most painful part of teething is when the tooth is cutting the baby’s gum. Once you start to see the tooth / teeth, you can be rest assured that the worst is over……. well that’s until the next set of teeth start to come through…..

        With regard to catching dribble, LOMIE muslin Scarf Bibs are the ticket. They are soft on your baby’s skin and super absorbent, keeping your baby free of dribble rash. But if you’re looking for ways to soothe your baby’s sore mouth, please read on for some handy hints. They use items from within the home and are ones which we personally found helpful to get our son’s smile back. All should be undertaken with adult supervision.

         LOMIE bandana bib

        1. Cool their mouths down

        Giving babies something cold to suck, or chew on, can provide a numbing sensation and help relieve pain. Here are a few easy tips to soothe your little ones mouths down by cooling it down:

        • A cold spoon
        Chill a metal spoon in the fridge for a few hours, then, under supervision, allow your little one to chew on it against their swollen gums.

         

        • A frozen muslin, flannel or washcloth

            Soak three quarters of a clean, small muslin square in cooled boiled water, keeping one corner dry for your baby to hold on to. Wring it out and fold it carefully to not get the dry end wet. Pop it into a freezer-safe bag and pop it in your freezer for up to an hour – until it becomes cold and stiff. Help your baby hold onto the dry part and then let them chew. I’ve not tried it personally, but I’ve also read that the above can be repeated using chamomile tea (make sure it’s decaffeinated). Chamomile has been used as an herbal remedy for thousands of years in a number of cultures. It is naturally calming and can help settle your baby.

            • Frozen breastmilk

              Pour breastmilk into an ice cube tray, and freeze. Wrap the frozen cube in muslin cloth before giving to your baby to hold on to. There won’t be any unfamiliar flavours, and the texture of the muslin with the cool cube will be soothing. 

              2. A gum massage

              Applying pressure to your little one’s gums can also help in relieving teething pain. Firstly, make sure your hands are clean, then using the pad of your finger rub in a circular motion all along the gum line on the inside of your baby's mouth. You can do this both inside and outside along the jawline.

              3. Rusks

              Something to chew on is sometimes the only teething remedy a baby really needs to get through the pain of teething. Natural teething rusks are great for those babies old enough for solids. They are very firm and dense and so babies can naw away on them over a long period of time. I found it very difficult to find rusks, off the shelf,  that weren’t loaded with sugar (even organic brands, I mean wtaf, why?).

              So, here’s a great easy recipe to make them at home:

              Ingredients:

              • 1 cup flour
              • 1 cup finely ground oatmeal
              • 2 Tbs coconut oil
              • 1 mashed banana
              • 2 tsp cinnamon
              • 5-8 Tbs water

              Instructions:

              1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celcius.
              2. Combine all ingredients well in a bowl. Roll on a floured surface & cut into fingers (adult sized fingers rather than baby sized ones! i.e. large enough to not be a choke hazard). If the dough is a little too sticky to handle, pat a little flour onto the exterior to make it easier to handle. If the dough is a little too dry, add a little more coconut oil.
              3. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn & bake for a further 5-10 minutes. The edges should be starting to become golden & the centres set.
              4. Allow to cool completely.
              5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature - or in the fridge to also have a cooling sensation.

              Homemade Teething Rusks 

              4. A frozen mango pip

              Again, this is only recommended for babies old enough for solid foods and once fruits have been introduced. Freeze a mango pip, with a small amount of flesh remaining, and present it to you baby a couple of minutes out of the freezer, so it’s not too cold. This can be a little messy, but it’s a fun, soothing and sensory-rich activity for the wee one. Mango is also rich in Vitamins A & C, with the pulp providing fibre.

              5. A big cuddle

              Teething is a tough time for babies. They are feeling uncomfortable and out of sorts. It’s not uncommon that they could refuse all options listed above. Sometimes all they need is a cuddle. When you think about it, if you feel a bit under the weather all you really want is a nice cuddle and a snuggle on the sofa right? A cuddle can make a big difference. Distraction is a great technique too and so playing games and trying to take their mind off things could also help.

               

              | 10 Great Eco Friendly and Super Useful Baby Gift Ideas |

              Eco friendly and functional baby gifts made from safe, natural & sustainable materials, that come from independent business owners.

               

              We may be in lockdown in the UK right now, but that doesn’t stop new babies from arriving into this world, and their loved ones wanting to buy them a little something special. For this reason, I’ve put together a list of great affordable gift ideas, from independent businesses, for the eco-conscious consumer that can be purchased online - and delivered directly to the new parents! 

              Being a recent parent myself, the gift selection below has also been curated for function, as the last thing you want is to give something that they’ll not get great use from. That being said, this list may be equally helpful for expecting or new parents.

               

              1. Kimono bodysuits 

              Being informed about kimono, wrap-style bodies was probably the hottest tip we got from friends who were also parents with the arrival of our son. Tiny babies are so small and fragile and you’ll soon find out that they do not love things being put over their heads. Trying to do so is very challenging both physically and emotionally! And the beauty of the kimono bodies is that you can avoid having to do it completely. You can’t have enough of these as a parent, so being gifted them would be a godsend. A couple of great sustainable brands that make these in organic cotton are Rose & Guy (£14, pictured below), Nature Baby (from £16) and Mori (from £21).

                

              2. Booties + bonnets

              Baby shoes and socks are difficult to get on and stay on (consecutively). The only thing that worked for us with our son was a set of booties knitted by a lovely elderly lady which my mum had picked up and gifted to us. I found it incredibly difficult to find such a style elsewhere, so was over the moon when I came across Gooseberry Fool. This great brand has a fantastic selection of super stylish crocheted booties (from £14) and other gorgeous accessories - such as these bonnets (£16).  All items are handmade with love from a lovely soft 100% pima cotton yarn and the booties have vegan friendly ties. Both bonnets and booties are sent in lovely cotton gift bags.

                 

                3. Bibs 

                Bibs are an essential baby item, that until 1-2 years of age, need to be worn most days. The problem is that it’s very difficult to find ones that 1) you actually want your baby to wear, and 2) are effective in catching the drool. At LOMIE we’ve addressed these issues and developed beautiful, functional and sustainable muslin Scarf Bibs for your babies (from £11 + Woggle). The bibs have a removable and reusable, leather Woggle fastening system that adapts to your growing baby - meaning they’ll last from 2 months old through to over 2 years of age. Having the Woggle also means the Scarf Bibs themselves remain 100% plastic free and 100% compostable. The fine cotton muslin is soft against the skin and super absorbent, meaning no dribble rash for the wee babes. They make great gifts and all orders are sent out gift wrapped. A personal note from the sender can be included on request.

                 

                4. Sleep gowns

                Sleep gowns are a fantastic alternative to pyjama onesies for night times and are suitable for tiny girls and boys alike. They are long like a sleeping bag and make night time changes that much easier as you don’t have to fiddle with undoing, then doing up a whole lot of poppers on a onesie. We love the 100% superfine merino sleep gowns by Merino Kids (from £39, shown below and preferred due to crossover neckline design) and Superlove Merino (£39). Merino is a smart textile in itself and naturally regulates both body temperature and humidity. The sleep gowns are therefore great at keeping the baby safe, snug and comfortable without posing the risk of overheating. 


                5. Mobiles

                Often an item that is forgotten by new parents, is a mobile. It’s a wonderful gift to receive if you don’t have one, or if you do, it’s great to have a couple in different places for the baby. Mobiles are fantastic for entertaining your little one while they’re in their cot or on the change table. These gorgeous gender neutral mobiles, sold by Otis and the Wolf, are perfect for fitting in with any nursery colour scheme. The frame is made of wood and the lovely animal figures of 100% New Zealand wool (100% AZO-free).

                6. Board or fabric books

                It’s never too early to read books with a baby. Although they might not understand much (if anything) to begin with, it contributes greatly to the development of their growing brain and gives them a wonderful start towards a lifelong love of reading. For the first 12 months or so the best books for babies are those made from fabric or board, as their little grabby hands can easily rip paper pages. We love this organic cotton, sensory rich fabric booksuitable for newborns, that is sold on the wonderful Mama + Max webstore (with a dedicated Eco-Friendly shop). The bold, graphic patterns stimulate visual development and the crinkly ears heighten the babies’ senses. We are also a big fan of the Little People, Big Dreams series (£5.99 in board book) that make the lives of well known role models accessible for the youngest children. They make a great gift, inspiring the next generation to make their mark on the world. 

                 

                 

                7. Wooden toys 

                Although they won’t get used for a few months past birth, wooden toys make a great timeless gift. They are safer, more environmentally friendly and durable in comparison to their plastic counterparts and will get years of use from the time they are picked up. Wooden toys can also become keepsakes to be passed from one generation to the next. When you’re buying toys, it’s a no brainer to buy wooden ones. The Earth Arch Stacker (£20) and the Toy Cars (£18) by Raduga Grez - sold via the wonderful Petits Paladins online store - are fantastic pieces to encourage imaginative play. They have been made by a small family run business that controls its entire production process - cutting, drying and manufacturing - themselves, therefore having the ability to control and reduce wastage.

                 


                8. A journal

                There are many books out there that allow you to capture, through written word, the precious moments experienced in the first year of the child’s life. I had one for my son, which I would regularly update, and now my son is 18 months old, he already loves to read the stories and look at the photos together. Since we reached his 1st birthday however, I stopped documenting as I didn’t have anywhere to write….. That’s why the journals from Month of Sundays (£38) are so great - they cover from pregnancy right up unil to the child's eighteenth birthday! They are handmade from the highest quality materials, and every order is sent out gift wrapped. They make the perfect gift for parents to be able to document their child's journey for them - all the way from infancy to adulthood. It’s a gift that keeps on giving! 

                 

                 

                9. Something Personalised for the baby

                A unique personalised gift for the new arrival can be a very precious gift. The item, depending what it is, can be kept for many years to come. We love Leo and Wilf’s handmade embroidery hoops. You can choose from name OR initial, or name AND initial, date of birthday or something completely personalised (from £20, pictured below). They also have rainbows and alphabets etc as standard - so many options! We also love Lisa Stickley’s Phonic Alphabet Poster (from £24) that can be personalised with your child’s name. The alphabet is drawn in Lisa’s unique hand drawn style with each letter of the alphabet illustrated 'as it sounds'. 

                   

                  10. Food! (for the parents)

                  A gift that new parents will always receive with open arms, is pre-prepared meals. With so many changes to the previous life rhythm to adjust to, and a new baby to admire, having to cook is the last thing you want to have to do. With lockdown in place, grandparents or the helping hands friends also can’t come and stay to help out around the house. The Food Doula to the rescue(!) delivering bundles of nourishing and comforting, home-cooked dishes to your door. All their food is personally sourced, and sold in bundles (from £65), with free range, grass-fed meats and high-quality seasonal vegetables. Every dish is prepared and immediately frozen, locking in nutrients, so that they can be enjoyed whenever the parents need them most.