Friday, 30 September 2011

Second day of our holiday and Mwnt beach

We started our day with some delicious croissants from Y Popty Gwyn in Moylegrove, you order them the night before and they deliver right to the cottage first thing in the morning, lovely!



In the afternoon we went to visit Mwnt Beach. We were lucky enough to have another beautiful day. There are quite a few steps down from the car park so not very pushchair friendly, but we managed to carry the little ones. It was a lovely sheltered beach, and luckily the tide was out, otherwise there wouldn't have been much beach!

Harry isn't very sure about the sea, and it was quite rough, although people were swimming. But someone had built up the sand to create a large sandy pool from the river at the top of the beach which was perfect for him. He had a fantastic time splashing about in the water and driving his truck about in the sand.




I've often in the past seen parents on the beach with wet, sandy toddlers and felt sorry for them having to clean them up before getting them into the car. Well today it was our turn!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

On holiday at Croft Farm and Celtic Cottages, Pembrokeshire

We are spending a week on a late summer holiday at Croft Farm and Celtic Cottages in Pembrokeshire, Wales. We drove over yesterday, a journey which went surprisingly well despite misgivings. Both little ones were impeccably behaved in the car.

We are staying in the Talar Aur cottage which is lovely, beautifully decorated and fully equipped. First thing this morning we were out to feed the animals:


Harry was a bit nervous of the goats to start with, but once he realised he could just shove the bucket in their faces he was fine.


The pigs are a bit more intimidating, best to throw the food over the fence.


The donkeys were also very keen to get to the food.


In the chicken house we collected the fresh eggs.


In the afternoon we drove down to one of the nearest beaches, Poppit Sands. It was a lovely big beach, free parking and very few people there. We busied ourselves making sandcastles, then headed over to look for crabs in the rockpools (we didn't find any!). After a slight detour due to a should-have-trusted-the-sat-nav navigational error we returned to the farm and tried out the swimming pool. Unfortunately Harry wasn't really up for it, but Mia seemed to like her first swim so hopefully we will be giving it another go later in the week!

We've been so lucky with the weather, it is gloriously hot and sunny, long may it last!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Dealing with clutter in the home

This is the first time that I'm entering the Friday Club Home Carnival hosted by Notes from Home. The topic this week is dealing with clutter in the home. It's a subject which appeals to me, because I do find that my mood is negatively affected by clutter and mess in my environment. The trouble is that when you have small children there is so much stuff around, and none of it is particularly visually appealing.


If you can keep your home free of clutter it instantly creates a more relaxed environment, and also a healthier one, because it becomes easier to clean. Here are a few tips which I try to follow to keep my home as clutter free as possible:

  • When a child outgrows a piece of equipment, especially a large item like a bouncy chair or playmat, either pass it on or store it somewhere out of sight. If you are storing it, make sure that it is neatly packed and properly protected. And be honest with yourself as to whether you are really going to use it again, or whether it could benefit someone else!

  • Always keep a carrier bag or box somewhere out of sight to keep things in for the charity shop or to pass on to friends. When it is full, make sure to drop it off immediately.

  • Store like toys with like. If you find that you've got too many of the same thing then it's easier to see it, and then make the decision which ones to part with.

  • Try and request non-clutter gifts for the children - passes to local attractions or soft play centres, a day trip out with the grandparents, clothes if they need them. My only exception is books, they don't count!

  • Keep a nice basket in all the rooms where toys are played with that you can throw loose toys into at the end of the day, preferably one that can be stowed out of sight, e.g. under the bed. Go through the boxes though and rehome things regularly.

  • Identify the "hot spots" in your home. These are places where clutter builds up easily. Mine are - the shelf by the front door, the stairs, the counter in the kitchen and the coffee table. Make a daily effort to keep these areas clean and put away items that are out of place.

  • The most obvious tip - a place for everything and everything in its place! Find a home for everything and get in the habit of putting it away. Make decluttering part of your cleaning and tidying routine.


I like to think that our home is fairly decluttered to start with. If you are dealing with a lot of clutter, the Unclutterer website is fantastic, with tons of resources and friendly chat forums.

  
Friday Club

Monday, 26 September 2011

Simultaneously entertaining a baby and toddler

Before getting pregnant with Mia, I was chatting to another mum at baby group who had just had her second child. She told me that the worst thing about managing with two was the feelings of guilt. Having spent all her time looking after her toddler, she now had to divide her attention between her two daughters.

This is something that I've been struggling with lately. Harry can entertain himself for a little while with his toys. But it's more fun for both him and me if I can join in with him. Mia is often quite content to sit in her swinging chair and listen to the music, but she is much happier when I get down on her level and interact with her. The trouble is that it's very difficult to entertain them both at the same time.

Mia does still sleep a lot during the day, and Harry can play by himself while she is feeding, which takes less and less time these days. But there are many times when they are both desperate for attention, and I end up either ignoring one or trying to divide my time and giving neither my full attention.

I know that it will be easier when Mia is sitting and interacting more with her surroundings, and I'm really looking forward to it. But in the meantime I find it a struggle to come up with activities that will engage them both. What do other people do?

Mia looking on from the background, desperate to join in!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Return to running

I've never been a big runner, but I've always found that for me it's the best form of exercise to really get my heart pumping. My aim is to run 5k in 30 minutes a couple of times a week, teamed with some swimming if I get the chance.

I haven't been running since I found out I was pregnant over a year ago. I also need to be a bit careful, having suffered from separated stomach muscles in pregnancy. But I saw my physiotherapist last week and she gave me the go ahead to start running again, so this morning I gave it a go.

I'm taking it very slowly, so I began by alternating two minutes of running and walking for half an hour. It felt really good to be getting back into it.

I did discover something though. After many years without needing to worry, it appears that after two pregnancies along with associated breastfeeding I now need to add a sports bra to the shopping list!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

10 car journey activities to do with your toddler

We have a long car journey coming up, and so I'm putting together a bag of activities to keep Harry busy. There isn't a lot of space between the car seats in the back, but most of these activities will require a certain level of intervention, either to keep him interested or to keep frustration to a minimum. I'm also trying to come up with activities to keep him amused by himself.

I'll be taking a small tray for some of the activities. And I'll be sure to report back on how well they worked!

  • Laminated pictures - themed collections of images to look at together.

  • Aquadraw pictures - the type you scribble on with a wet pen to see the pictures.
  • Playdoh - two small pots, a mini extruder, two cutters and a lollipop stick.
  • Small jigsaws
  • Collage bag - glue stick, collage materials, background papers. Can be supplemented on the journey with free catalogues or leaflets if required.

  • Small colouring book, pack of crayons and stickers.
  • Matching activities - I print a grid of pictures or shapes and then cut out the corresponding shapes to be glued in place over the top. I also scanned in some foam stickers and am providing the matching stickers to be stuck over the top of the scanned images
  • Peppa Pig magnet book
  • Car layout and car stickers - I drew this out myself, I hope he likes it!
  • Small books - little box sets are good. Also children's magazines, especially those with games and stickers.
Ginny at Small Things has some more suggestions in her blog post about travelling with (a few more) children.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Sunflower Mosaic Stepping Stone

I'm really proud of this garden mosaic stepping stone which is made from a kit by Tracey Cartledge.

The kit includes everything that you need to make the mosaic stepping stone. I must admit that when I opened the kit I was a little bit daunted, as the pieces of tile were much larger than I expected and in irregular shapes that didn't match the pattern. I borrowed a pair of tile nippers, but I didn't find them very easy to use. In the end though I discovered that by putting the pieces into a plastic bag and breaking them up with a hammer I could make them small enough to fill the design. The finished piece is more fragmented than the original design on the website but I'm very pleased with how it looks.


The kit was really easy to follow, and a link is provided in the kit to a YouTube video to show you how to complete it.

I think that it looks lovely out in the garden!

Make a Monster Kit - Toddler Busy Bag Activity

This Make-a-Monster kit is really easy to put together and would be perfect for a long car or plane journey, or a quick activity to pull out when you need to amuse your toddler for a few minutes.

I love these re-sealable bags from Ikea to use for toddler busy bag activities.

monster toddler busy bag
Make your own monster busy bag

I made a monster head base from a brown piece of felt, and then collected together lots of other bits and pieces that can be used to decorate the head to make different monsters.


monster toddler busy bagmonster toddler busy bag



  • In my monster kit are - assorted felt off-cuts, pipe cleaners, buttons, foam strips and shredded paper.
  • You could also include - paperclips, dried pasta, foam shapes, material scraps, pieces of coloured card and paper, coloured tissue...the list is endless!

It takes up hardly any space to store, when you've finished playing, just scoop it all back into the bag ready for another day.

You might also like my other busy bags for toddlers:

Pasta and pots busy bag
Threading busy bag
Christmas busy bag

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World

Yesterday we went to visit Paultons Park, with Peppa Pig World being the main attraction. We picked a good day to visit - term time, mid week and on a day which started drizzly but brightened up later.

We aimed to arrive just as the park opened at 10.30am, and actually arrived before this. So we were pleased to discover that although 10.30am was when the rides started, the park was actually already open. This meant that we could make the most of the day with a look around and visit to the play areas before the rides started.

We followed the other buggies and headed first to Peppa Pig World, which although not a huge area contains a surprisingly large number of attractions.

George's Dinosaur ride at Peppa Pig World, Paultons Park

All the rides here are low capacity and slow loading, so we were glad that it was a quiet day. There is a good selection of Peppa Pig themed rides, and the area is beautifully landscaped. There are also walk through areas like Peppa Pig's House and Madame Gazelle's School House, with lots of models around, like Peppa's Camper Van.

Boat ride at Peppa Pig World, Paultons Park with our toddler

It wasn't long before Harry spotted the Trekking Tractors, so we headed over for the first of several rides. The tractor drives through vegetable patches where they are growing real vegetables, no plastic theming here.

Tractor ride with our toddler at Peppa Pig World, Paultons Park

The Digger Ride was another hit, with Harry happy to ride on his own.

Our toddler on the Digger ride at Peppa Pig World, Paultons Park

We were delighted to discover that all the coin operated style machines were actually free, which we thought was a nice touch!

Our toddler on a ride at Peppa Pig World, Paultons Park

There was even a quiet area in George's Spaceship Play Zone for Mia to stretch her legs after being crammed into the carrier or pushchair all day.

Baby in the soft play area at Peppa Pig World in Paultons Park


We had a brilliant day, and left feeling that there was plenty for our baby and toddler to do, with many more attractions that we didn't even have time for. Although we were mainly visiting for Peppa Pig World, many of the older attractions were also very suitable and enjoyable. We paid £40 for two adults. Children under 1 metre tall are free, but toddlers over that height will need to be paid which can be quite expensive for a little one.

I've put together a bit of information based on our experiences for any other families with young children planning a visit to the park.

Facilities for babies and toddlers:
  • All the toilets have baby change facilities. All toilets are fitted with a pull down toddler seat.
  • There is a feeding room available and also plenty of benches for discreet breastfeeding, including undercover, and inside at George's Spaceship Playzone.
  • Many of the indoor and outdoor play areas are suitable for babies and small toddlers. George's Spaceship Playzone has areas for ages 0-2, ages 2-5, as well as a larger area suitable for all ages. Adults can accompany children onto the equipment.
  • Mr Potato's Playground has a lot of outdoor play equipment which is very suitable for smaller toddlers as it is low to the ground and you can supervise them easily. There are also slides which little ones can climb up to easily.
  • Pushchairs need to be left outside most rides, so take a separate carry on bag for valuables.
  • You can take babies on most of the rides in Peppa Pig World.
  • The Flying Frog Rollercoaster is designed for little ones and doesn't have a height restriction (although not suitable for children under 12 months). It's a good introduction to rollercoasters for little ones, although still quite intense!
  • The Digger Ride is for children only, but adults can wait in the queue with children, settle them into their seats, and wait on the platform during the ride.
  • There are lots of areas in the park where you can get away from the crowds for some quiet time, or a walk about with the pushchair.

Tips:
  • Coin operated style machines in the park are actually free, just press the button inside
  • Arrive early and plan to stay later as there are still attractions to enjoy in the park when the rides are shut.
  • The Muddy Puddles outdoor water play area can make children very wet, so take spare clothes.
  • You need to wear socks in George's Spaceship Playzone, so take your own or else you'll have to buy Peppa Pig ones from the shop.
  • There are plenty of benches and areas to eat picnics.
  • George's Dinosaur Adventure is the only ride in Peppa Pig World with a height restriction of 90cm and above, which is strictly enforced for safety reasons.
  • If you're visiting for Peppa Pig World, don't discount the other attractions in the park as there are lots of other rides and attractions suitable for smaller children.
  • Although the opening hours of the park have been extended since Peppa Pig World opened in April 2011, the park can get very busy, especially in school holidays and at weekends.
  • It is expensive to visit. A season ticket is good value if you plan to visit more than four times in a year, and it is cheaper if you buy while in the park and upgrade your day ticket. It is slightly cheaper to buy tickets online before your visit, but the saving is small as you still have to pay £1 booking fee.
  • The Peppa Pig shop sells everything that you can imagine with Peppa Pig and friends on it.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

16 weeks

Mia is 16 weeks old today, which is a bit of a personal milestone. I've been anxiously anticipating this week, because when Harry was 16 weeks old we were going through a very difficult patch. I was sleep deprived, tearful and miserable. That was the point at which one morning I actually called my Health Visitor in desperation because I felt like I needed some help.

Looking back it doesn't seem that bad. Our biggest problem was that Harry was waking every couple of hours at night to feed, and he never seemed content or settled during the day. I'd read my parenting books, and I was feeling frustrated because I thought that he should be sleeping for longer stretches by now. I also looked around at other babies that were happy and smiley, while he just seemed so unhappy and cross. I assumed that the reason he was waking so frequently and was so discontent was because he was hungry. This was coupled with the fact that he never breastfed for long, and his red book told me that he wasn't put on weight as quickly as he should have been.

I was so worried that he wasn't feeding properly that I lost confidence in my ability to breastfeed, and we ended up moving to supplementing with formula, before starting him on baby rice at just 17 weeks. It made no difference at all to his sleeping.



Now Mia is the same age, and her night time sleeping is pretty similar. We had some longer stretches a few weeks back, but lately it's back to every two hours at night again. The difference is that this time I know that she isn't always waking because she is hungry.

I now know that babies (and toddlers!) do just wake up during the night and can find it difficult to get back to sleep. Breastfeeding back to sleep is a comfort thing, and it can become a habit. But this time I am less anxious and frustrated when she wakes, because I know that it is not because she is starving.

I won't be rushing to wean so early this time, and I don't feel the need yet to start topping up with formula. I'll just accept that whether by nature or nurture my babies are not good sleepers, and remind myself that there will come a day when I am struggling to get them out of bed in the mornings.




I also don't get Mia weighed as frequently, with the consequence that I don't talk to Health Visitors as often. This time around I have the confidence to follow my own instincts.

Monday, 19 September 2011

A trip down memory lane

I like to think that I'm fairly decluttered, but I do have a tendency to hang on to sentimental things. I decided it was time to go through the two shoeboxes that I have stuffed full of old letters, cards and other mementoes in the hope of thinning them out a little bit. 
 
I spread them out over the dining table, and my entire life was laid out in front of me. 
 
I had letters from my first best friend, who moved away when I was seven. Letters from a schoolfriend in hospital. Letters from my German penfriend. My first Valentine's Day cards. Letters from penfriends all over the world that I made during the early years of the internet - how funny that we used to write old fashioned letters to each other despite the new technology on our doorsteps! In particular I exchanged long letters with a girl in Canada, we used to pour out our teenage angst to each other in long letters written over several days, usually during lectures at college. 

I found significant Birthday cards, New House cards, Exam Congratulations, Driving Test Congratulations. There were notes from friends left on my door in my first year in halls at University as well as letters from my friends and loved ones back home sent to me during my year out in Germany, in the days before Facebook and Twitter. 

There was the cinema ticket from my first cinema trip with my husband, and the receipt from our first holiday together. There followed Engagement Congratulations, along with all the Valentine's Day and Birthday cards that we have sent each other since.
 

I kept the recycling bin next to my chair, and many times I delved back in to retrieve something. But the trouble with keeping letters from other people is that you are keeping their memories not your own. There are tantalising glimpses, references to things that you have written to them, but the full story is only visible when you see both sides of the correspondence. The only thing I have that I wrote are the letters which I sent to my Grandma while I was in Germany, although they do represent a somewhat sanitised version of events!

It was a real blast from the past to get everything out. I didn't get rid of as much as I expected to. Some of the responses to letters written in my teenage years reminded me of things that I don't need to remember, and it felt cathartic to get rid of them. But there are so many happy memories contained within those boxes, and most things have ended up right back where they started, albeit a little fresher in my mind.


Now the next job is to go through all my old teenage diaries. I'd like to re-read them, but not sure I can handle the cringe factor, there is an awful lot of angst contained within those pages!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

High Salvington Windmill Open Day

This afternoon we went up the road to the High Salvington Windmill Open Day. We paid £1 per adult which included a tour of the windmill. They assured us that it would only take 20 minutes, so we decided that the little ones were probably up to that. Unfortunately it lasted a little longer than that (nearly an hour!), and so they were both a bit fractious by the end. Harry was desperate to get inside the windmill, and then once inside just as eager to get out again!


There were very narrow steps up inside, and Harry had a bit of a wobble at the very top and had to be carried down. So we calmed him down with a sit down and the pot of Cheerios that I am usually carting about with me.


Saturday, 17 September 2011

My Little Pony Dream Castle revisited

I think that my favourite birthday present ever was the My Little Pony Dream Castle, received on my 7th birthday. I was delighted with it, and it had a lot of play. It's one of the toys that I've held on to, and it's been up in the loft along with a box of the ponies and accessories.


We're in the process of going through the loft thinking about moving house, and so I hauled it down for Harry to play with. It's a bit battered after being well loved for many years, and some of the bits and pieces are missing.


I showed Harry how to set up the castle and left him to it. He quickly designated Mummy, Daddy, Harry and Mia ponies as Mia looked on with interest.


He brushed their hair with the little brushes and gave the baby pony (Blossom) her bottle, then put her down for a nap in the playpen. He was also fascinated by the drawbridge which goes up and down when you turn the handle. He made up all sorts of little role play games with it.


Although it wasn't long before Lightning McQueen came to visit!


Friday, 16 September 2011

Is it a tractor?


No, it's the bin men! Collect up all the rubbish...


...empty it into the lorry...


...and drive it to the tip!


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Potty training success?

We're getting on very well with potty training. Almost every wee at least makes it to the toilet. Unfortunately we don't seem to have quite reached the stage where Harry tells us that he needs to go, but as long as we put him on the toilet frequently we can manage long car journeys, day trips and so on. Now that the novelty has worn off it can be a bit of a battle to get him to sit on the toilet though. We end up performing a pantomime which goes:

Me - Harry, do you need a wee?
Harry - No
Me - Harry, do you need to sit on the toilet!
Harry - NO! Waaaa!
Me - Harry, would you like a biscuit?
Harry - Yes!
Me - So what do you need to do first?
Harry - Sit on the toilet (heads for toilet). Mummy, I need the toilet, I tell you!
Me - Well you didn't really tell me did you?
Harry - I tell you all the time! (He does what is expected of him on the toilet) That was a really really big one! I have a biscuit now!

If I try to test him and not bribe him to sit on the toilet, he will invariably have an accident. Just hoping that this is just a phase and that he'll work it out soon!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Legoland Windsor with babies and toddlers

 


This post was updated in June 2013.

We've been taking Harry to Legoland Windsor since he was about a year old. It's a fantastic place for really little ones, and I've put together some tips for how to make the most of a day at Legoland with babies and toddlers. This guide is aimed at children that are shorter than 0.9m and therefore don't meet the height restrictions for many of the rides, yet there is still plenty to do to keep them entertained.
 
The key bit - A suggested itinerary

 

This route plan will ensure that you can experience all the suitable rides and attractions with minimal waiting around. 
 
The most important thing is to aim to arrive at the park at least 15 minutes before it opens. It will take you this long to unpack the kids out the car and get through the entrance. Opening times and other information can be found on the Legoland Windsor website 
 
Once through the entrance, walk straight down to the Information Board and the Lego dinosaur, and take a right. There will be a barrier here where people will queue to enter the main park. Wait here until it opens. 

 

When the barrier lifts, you have two options to get down the hill. One is the Hill Train (which the kids may enjoy), the other is to walk. Given the time it takes to load the Hill Train, unload at the bottom and the position of the train exit, I'd recommend walking as the quickest route.
 
First make your way to Boating School. This ride is extremely slow loading, and within 20-30 minutes of opening will generally have a long queue. The quickest way to get to Boating School (assuming you have a pushchair) is to go down the ramps towards Duplo Playtown, walk past the Duplo Theatre, and walk past the Driving School to the Boating School.
 
Once you have finished the Boating School attraction, do the short walk to Atlantis Submarine Voyage and go on this ride. Whilst the loading on Atlantis is fast moving, it can get busy due to it being a new attraction, and is therefore worth going on early.
 
Then walk back towards the Boating School, over the bridge to the left and walk to the Laser Raider (not suitable for mums to be). Again Laser Raider is a ride that can get very busy, so worth doing early.
 
After Laser Raider, go on the Aero Nomad which is pretty much opposite. Following this, cross over the bridge near the Laser Raider and ride the Balloon School. You've now done the busiest rides in the park. 
 
By now the Orient Express should have started running (it normally starts later than park opening) so ride this next. You may get wet on this ride. After this make your way to Desert Chase
 
At this point, I suggest making your way over to Duplo Valley and doing the attractions there.  There are three things worth doing in Duplo Valley 1 - Watch the Puppet Show at the Duplo Theatre, 2 - ride the Duplo Train, 3 - let the kids play in the Brickville playground, which is a fun playground designed for little ones with slides, climbing frames, seesaws and so on. It can get quite busy. There is also Drench Towers which is a large waterpark area. We've not tried this out yet but it looks very good, depending on the weather! See the bottom of this post for more details.
 
If you've brought a packed lunch, I'd recommend sitting in the Duplo Theatre and watching the puppet show whilst eating it. Queues on the Duplo Train vary a lot in the day, one minute there will be no queue, next minute you may need to wait ten minutes. Try and avoid going on the Duplo Train straight after the puppet show, when the Train and the Playtown can get busy. A good tip is whilst the kids are playing in Playtown to keep one eye on the train, and when the queue goes down, whisk your child over to it.
 
Once you finish Duplo Playtown, go over and ride the Fairy Tale Brook. This ride was updated in May 2013. Again, avoid going on this attraction straight after a puppet show has finished as it can get busy. Another tip for the Fairytale Brook is to enter the ride via the exit, and therefore you can leave your pushchair a little closer to the ride, next to the Photo Booth. 
 
By now it will probably be early afternoon, by which time the park is filling, and the rides can have some relatively big queues. Use the rest of the afternoon to see the other attractions in the park. With the exception of the 4D Theatre, you don't need to queue for any of the below attractions:
 
Waterworks - This is an open-air water playground. Kids will get wet, and swimwear is recommend. It is situated next to the Fairy Tale Brook.
 
Miniland - Make sure you don't miss this - a large area of Lego models of famous scenes from around the world with moving trains, cars and boats. Generally very quiet with plenty of space to move around and get close to the models. Suitable to walk round with pushchairs. In particular don't miss the Space Shuttle Launch every few minutes.
 
As you move towards Viking Land there are the following attractions:
 
Enchanted Forest - a short walk through area with models of woodland animals. Suitable for a pushchair.
 
Loki's Labyrinth - a maze to walk around.
 
Pirate's Training Camp - a large outdoor play area. Adults can accompany smaller children around, but it can get quite busy with older children.
 
Halfway back up the hill are the Build and Test Workshops. These are several indoor areas where you can play with Lego bricks. One room is ideal for smaller toddlers with large bricks to build with, another is suitable for older toddlers with an area to build and test racing cars. The smaller toddler area in particular is usually very quiet and these rooms are perfect for some quiet time away from the crowds, and ideal if it is raining.
 
Close to this is the 4D Theatre. Check showtimes before making your way to this attraction. It's worth bearing in mind that the 4D Theatre requires your child to wear the 3D glasses. If they can't/won't then the picture will appear fuzzy.
 
Another show is the Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show. This is an outdoor stunt show, it may be a bit difficult for younger ones to follow and if it's busy you may need to arrive early to get a good position.
 
Once you have finished your day, I'd recommend using the Hill Train to take you back up to the top.
 
Once at the top, don't forget to stop at the Lego Creation Centre, which is an indoor exhibition where you can learn about history of Lego and see some models, for example the Crown Jewels. It is a very quiet indoor area, some areas are accessed by lift. Racers Store inside the Creation Centre is worth a quick look, it carries a range of discounted Lego products, for example pick and mix Duplo bricks.
 
Further information about the rides suitable for babies and toddlers:

 

Desert Chase - a traditional carousel
Laser Raider* - a ride with laser guns through a labyrinth, not suitable for mums-to-be
Aero Nomad - themed big wheel, small capacity
Orient Expedition* - longer train ride with lots of Lego animals, you may get wet
Balloon School* - rising and falling gondola with rope to adjust height, small capacity
Fairy Tale Brook*  - gentle boat ride through Lego story book scenes, avoid just after the Duplo Theatre finishes
Boating School* drive your own boat about, this is very popular, you may get wet
Atlantis Submarine Voyage - submarine journey under the sea
Duplo train* - small, short train ride
Hill Train* - not really a ride but transport up and down the hill. May need to fold pushchair if busy.
 
* for these rides, babies must be sitting without assistance
 
Facilities for families 
  • Parking costs £2 or you can pay £6 for preferred parking closer to the entrance.
  • Pushchair rental is available on a first come first served basis at £12 for a double and £8 for a single from the Lego Big Shop as you enter the park.
  • Lost child stickers and maps are also available here.
  • Lockers are available for £1 which is non-refundable.
  • Free water is available from water fountains throughout the park.
  • There is a breastfeeding area in the Baby Care Centre in the First Aid building in Lego City with locking rooms, a chair and plenty of space for a pushchair.
  • Pit Stop Cafe and City Walk Restaurant have a microwave and bottle warmer. Some restaurants have baby food available, ask a member of staff behind the counter. 
  • Baby Change facilities are plentiful and pleasant.
  • There are a range of reasonably priced family friendly restaurants, with suitable food and highchairs.


Tips
 
If you are intending letting your children play in the Waterworks area then pack a change of clothing and/or swimwear and towels. Drying facilities are available, but at extra cost.
 
You will need to leave your pushchair at the entrance to rides and attractions. Take a small, easily removable bag for valuables to carry with you, and tie something cheap and memorable to the handle, such as a bright scarf, so that you can easily find it again.
 
At the end of the day it can be a long walk back up the hill to the car park with a pushchair so consider taking the Hill Train. You may need to fold your pushchair.
 
Look out for the Lego models throughout the park, like the cars outside the Orient Expedition that children can climb in.
 
On the rides at Legoland with our toddler
 

Update June 2013 - The Duplo Playland is no more. It has been replaced by Duplo Valley, which is a water play area for children (swimming costumes/swim nappies required). This area opened in May 2013 and so is likely to be busy because it is so new, although of course it is weather dependent. There is also a new large Duplo playground in this area, Brickville, and the Fairy Tale Brook boat ride has been updated. You can read a very good review of the updated Legoland areas here.

Disclaimer - I have no affiliation with Legoland Windsor, we have just spent many happy days there and I wanted to put together some information for other parents that might otherwise feel that it was not suitable for their younger child. Prices and other information correct at time of writing, please check the website for up to date information.


10 things to try with play dough

  • Make your own! There are recipes everywhere, but at Counting Coconuts you can find a basic recipe as well as instructions for play dough in different themes, colours and scents.
  • Collect a range of tools to use with your play dough to create different textures and patterns. Rhythm of the Home has an excellent list of suggestions.
  • Dried spaghetti can be used with play dough to add lots of interest. Use it to make a hedgehog, to make models and for fine motor activities such as threading Cheerios onto the spaghetti.


  •  Add a generous handful of glitter. Obviously once a batch of play dough is glitterified there is no going back!


  • Make into snakes and practice cutting with child safe scissors as a good first introduction to scissor skills.
  • Decorate your creations with small objects from around the home, for example dried beans, paperclips, dried pasta, buttons, curtain hooks, coins, keys, pieces of pipecleaner. They are easily removed from the play dough when you come to put it away and can be stored separately in a small container.


  • Create templates on paper or card with the outlines of numbers and letters. Use play dough snakes to fill out the shapes. You could laminate these for repeated use. Older children can try without templates.
  • Sculpt amazing landscapes like these at Filth Wizardry - train set and dinosaur island. You can use play dough alongside many other toys, like Duplo, Playmobil, dolls, or toy cars and trains. You can also use it to make quick props for other imaginative play, for example we make a simple Button Moon and Mr Spoon's spaceship.


  • Collect leaves and other natural objects from the garden and press them into the play dough to create patterns.
  • Extruders are brilliant for playing with play dough. I can't think of any easy way to make them yourself but there are many different types available to purchase. You push the playdough into a hole and then press down on a handle to force the play dough out in different shapes.




    Any more ideas? Add them into the comments!
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