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Little Dish Toddler Meals | Proper Food For Kids | Review

Little Dish Toddler Meals | Proper Food For Kids | Review

A struggle for us as working parents with a child in nursery is making sure that she eats well (PG that is, not the wife – though she’s important too!). The daily routine feels crazy sometimes. Up at 6.30am, out of the door at 7.10am. Get to nursery at 7.30am and onto the office for 8am (if I’m lucky). Coming home I usually get to nursery around 5.10pm and then get home with PG around 5.45pm. If traffic is hell it can easily be after 6pm sometimes. With bed time looming it’s bloody difficult to make sure she eats well as it’s easy to be tempted to do a lazy unhealthy tea.

Now that PG is knocking on a bit at the ripe old age of two, she only gets a snack in the afternoon at nursery. As a result we have to do something when we get home. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home a couple of days a week which allows me to limit the impact and reliance on ready meals as I can get something cooking before I do the nursery run – slow cook casseroles are the bees knees in the winter, prepare it all on my lunch break and let it cook on high until we are ready to eat it. Makes the house smell like a treat too!. There is one day a week though that it’s all a bit mental, and as guilty as we both feel about it we sometimes end up giving PG a Little Dish Toddler Ready Meal.

Getting the contents right – Nutrition

I would never in a million years give PG adult ready meals due to their salt content. Little Dish have hit the nail on the head with the production of their microwave meals. They are tasty, count towards your kids’ 5-a-day, and are pretty well balanced nutritionally.

PG’s favourite is the cottage pie so let’s breakdown the nutritional data:

Typical Values 100 g 200g
Energy 399kJ/95kcal 798kJ/190kcal
Fat 4.0g 8.0g
– Of which saturates 1.4g 2.8g
Carbohydrates 9.9g 19.8g
– Of which sugars 2.5g 5.0g
Fibre 1.9g 3.8g
Protein 3.8g 7.6g
Salt 0.07g 0.14g

I’m always mindful of salt content when deciding what to give PG to eat. The NHS suggests 1 to 3 year olds should have no more than 2g of salt a day, and in this whole dish there’s only 7% of that allowance. From age 4, the RDA for natural sugars is around 19g. At 5g the sugar content is perhaps a little high, but only comes in at 25%. If you keep to the guidelines about sugary treats and drinks, I don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about here.

The Little Dish toddler meals range

There’s a decent array of dishes in the Little Dish range. They have done well at catering for a variety of different tastes. Dietary needs are also support through dishes without wheat, dishes without dairy, and dishes that are vegetarian. The major supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco all stock a good selection of the range, though not all of them. The supermarkets do however seem to be expanding the range that they carry which is good to see.

Little Dish Toddler Meals Range
Little Dish Toddler Meals Range

Little Dish meals are made with 100% natural ingredients, so you know there is no artificial crap in there. As I mentioned earlier they are all low in salt and count towards your 5-a-day (each dish contains at least one of your 5-a-day). As a British company they’re proud to only contain meat and fish from Britain. Making them is child’s play – to be honest I could give it to PG and she’d probably figure out what to do. After all she’s been ‘helping’ with the microwave since she was drinking milk from a bottle! A few minutes in the microwave and ping! It’s ready to eat after cooling for a minute or two.

If we had to choose our top three favourites, I think PG would go for Cottage Pie, Fish Pie, and Beef Lasagne!

Watch out for messy eaters though, as with any tomato based products the sauce can stain like a bitch.

Seriously tomato is one of those devil foods. Every time something tomatoey comes out you can almost guarantee a t-shirt will never be the same again.

The company is super fun too, with a really friendly website with cartoons to match their brand which is obviously aimed at kids.

Other quick cooks

With the above all said, we do have some other ‘quick cooks’ which I want to share with you. These are pretty quick to make and some are cheap too!

  1. Pepperoni Pasta – this is a firm favourite of PG’s (she says Pepper Oni as though it’s too words – most amusing!). Simply boil some pasta, drain it, add tomato passata and pepperoni, and once the passata and pepperoni are hot, serve. Top with cheese for extra tastiness.
  2. Thai Green Curry. A bit more involved but still pretty quick, particularly if you buy diced chicken so you don’t have to chop the breast meat yourself. Get some boil in the bag rice boiling away in a pan. Cook the chicken in a wok, add coconut milk and Thai green curry paste (half a jar otherwise it’ll blow your head off!). Slowly bring to the boil then add mange tout for a really nice flavour. Serve the curry on top of the rice and enjoy. We eat this accompanied with prawn crackers and poppadoms.
  3. Pork Stir Fry. Fry/cook some pork steaks (don’t use loads of oil) then chop into strips so they are easily manageable by little ones. Boil some noodles and vegetables and serve. It’s especially yummy with soy sauce, but put the sauce on the table so everyone can add the flavour themselves. PG hates the stuff so we don’t cook with it.

Do you have any quick healthy eats that are a hit with the little ones? Go wild and tell me all about them, we might even try them! I think Little Dish toddler meals are a great thing to keep in the fridge just in case. They usually have pretty decent use by dates so it’s worth stocking up if you want to give them a try. If you’re lucky one of the supermarkets might even have them on offer!

Ttfn
Pete

Calpol Vapour & Nightlight Plugin Review

Calpol Vapour & Nightlight Plugin Review

A whole month has (almost) passed since my last post. It’s been a busy month for various reasons, not least PG getting a stinking cold (which I’ve now got, but who am I to complain). Given that she’s slept brilliantly since she was about 6 weeks old, this was a bit of a shock to the system when it came to nighttime. After a few rough nights of her trying to suck her dummy and breathe through a properly blocked up hooter, realising she couldn’t, and crying at hourly intervals, a suggestion was made to give the Calpol Vapour Plug and Nightlight a try. Being the tight Yorkshireman that I am, it was necessary to do a bit of store hunting first, as these aren’t the cheapest things. After spending nearly 7 quid on one in Boots, the device had some proving to do (it turns out it’s the refills that cost so much, but for anyone wondering, you’ll soon learn that £1 a night, which is basically what it ends up costing you, it’s WELL worth it for the sleep).

We try not to rely on medicine too much, and I think we do pretty well at not just resorting to Calpol at the first sign of trouble. This isn’t medicine, just made by the same company.

The device is a plastic plugin with a blue nightlight that points to the floor. If your baby is anything like my daughter, you’ll want to cover it up as it’ll cast spooky shadows on her wall that cause unnecessary night time fear – that’s what I decided the problem was when she randomly started screaming the other day anyway, having a dim nightlight is actually useful). The lavender and chamomile vapour strips simply slide into it through a little opening. When opening the box you’re reminded several times that you shouldn’t handle the vapour strips with your bare hands. I’m not sure what happens to your hands if you do, perhaps they fall off, but I’m not going to test it out – my skin’s bad enough without adding extra problems. You get 5 of the refills in the box when you first buy it, which is why it seems a bit pricey.

Now fast forward to bed time.

The stuffed up beast has her milk as normal – dummy in, can’t breathe. The plugin has been on for about fifteen minutes (the refills last about 8 hours, so don’t turn it on too early, and you can’t leave it on for more than 16 hours either. Not sure why, perhaps your house burns down if you leave it on any longer than that).

Into the cot she goes and the magic starts to happen. Wifey and I take ourselves off to bed pretty much straightaway as we’re so sleep deprived we don’t even know what day it is. We close our eyes, expecting to be up every hour until morning, drifting into a land of peaceful sleep.

Beep beep, beep beep. BAM! She’s slept through and there’s the alarm going off. Right through, without so much as a peep from her, until 6am. This, my friendly blog readers, is why £7 is a completely acceptable amount of money to spend on this product. Parents usually have to spend ten times that on a hotel room or pack the kids off to a relative to get a decent sleep – if that’s what they want to do anyway 😉 so you could compare the plugin to a really cheap night away from home.

Always on the lookup for deals on the refills. The cheapest I’ve seen is five for a fiver on Amazon which for the mathematicians among us is a quid each. Not bad at all.

Ttfn

Pete

MAM Night-time Glow Dummy Review

MAM Night-time Glow Dummy Review

I’ve been wondering what to write a review about for a while now (if any manufacturers want to sent me free stuff that’s fine by me, might spur me on a bit) and then the other night at about 3am it hit me, right in the toe as I booted the bleeding rocking horse whilst fumbling around to try and find Phoebe’s dummy after she realised she had ejected it from her gob five hours earlier and suddenly the world was ending. All hell broke lose, the horse ran off (ha), Phoebe cried because I’m useless and couldn’t find the non glow dummy in the dark, obviously need more carrots, and I nearly broke my toe. Oh and Phoebe almost lost an eye because finding a small human’s mouth in the dark is surprisingly difficult, especially when she’s writhing around like a python in a reptile handlers headlock. If this seems all too familiar and you’re looking for an answer to your problems please read on.

Following this incident, we have ditched all non glowing dummies. We are trying to not give PG it during the day anyway, and glow in the dark dummies from MAM are so good they’re worth a special mention here.

To be completely honest there isn’t a massive amount to say. From a leading and trusted manufacturer, there are various different packs you can get and they come in a microwave sterilising box that keeps the dummies sterile for 48 hours. As with most plastic baby sucking devices these days, they’re BPA free and have a silk teat for optimum comfort. The big deal here is that they GLOW (and the glow lasts the night usually too). That’s right folks, you can go into the nursery and in the dark, go straight to it, no matter where it is (in the cot, under the cot, or as we usually find, launched across the room somewhere) and quickly get it back to it’s owner before they have a meltdown and wake all the neighbours. 

There’ll be no incidents with Harry the flaming rocking Horse who gets in the way even though he can’t actually move, no lost eyeballs, no stubbed toes, and the serenity of the night will continue.

You’ll be back in bed in a jiffy and in the land of nod before it either happens again or you have to get up at the crack of dawn because the birds are singing so it must of course be play time.  For the sake of a few quid, these are well worth it and are off the 5 out of 5 scale, mainly because I keep all my toes.
When MAM come up with dummies that start flashing like a disco when hearing a parent whisper “oh dummy, where the chuff are you this time?”, we’ve really nailed it.

Ttfn

Pete

Bags and Blankets

Bags and Blankets

Across the net you’ll find various debates about whether sleeping bags are better than blankets and vice versa. Here are my feelings on the matter!

The first and absolutely important rule about baby sleep is safety. Whatever you decide to use it must be safe (sleeping bags are safe, but you need to be comfortable about what your child is sleeping in, too). No one likes a near miss blanket suffocation incident!

Before Phoebe G was born someone gave us a GroBag. A bit of a fad, we thought, until we tried it out. The little monster has been in a GroBag since she was about a month old. Babies have to be a certain weight before they can go in them, and newborn babies love to be swaddled too, which is how her sleep life began. Fast forward four weeks and she wriggled out of a blanket swaddle like an escape artist fleeing a straight jacket, so it was time for change.

Swaddling - a thing of the past (but super cute!)
Swaddling – a thing of the past (but super cute!)

There are many other brands of baby sleeping bag, and I try not to be too biased (OK that’s a load of tosh but who cares, read my other posts and you’ll agree), but GroBag’s really are great. They have some simple design bits like a popper under the babies arm which stops them ending up in the bottom of the bag like a sack of apples, and they’re also realllllly soft, ensuring a super cosy night sleep. In a sleeping bag, your baby won’t wake up freezing cold in the night because she’s kicked the blanket off either. I’m sure this has something to do with Phoebe’s amazing sleep skills. She’s a bloody pro! I thought I’d have been able to turn my work alarm off by now, but no, she’s asleep way past that. There’s plenty of room in the bottom of the sleeping bags too for her to fling her legs around so isn’t restricted at all. Me and wifey occasionally have a ponder over whether or not Phoebe will be too hot, but don’t forget you can just adjust what baby wears whilst in the bag (ie ditch the vest if it’s warm, ditch the sleep-suit and just use a vest if it’s really hot, and so on), in fact there’s a really handy guide on the GroBag website

GroBag branded bags aren’t the cheapest and you might want to try something a little cheaper before splashing out too much, but mums and dads who have used them never seem to look bag, so take the plunge if you fancy it!

Ttfn

Pete

 

Home-made toys can be so much fun!

Home-made toys can be so much fun!

As promised earlier in the week, I want to write all about home-made toys which can be just as entertaining. I run a tight ship when it comes to money in our house (ask Wifey she’ll have plenty to say on the matter), but one thing I’ll never do is deny Phoebe G of anything she needs (or indeed wants, of course without her ending up a spoilt brat). With Wifey being such a crafty bugger, she quite often comes up with little ideas of things she can quickly whip together for the mini beast to play with. I want to introduce you to three of these items, all of which Phoebe loves and all of which cost well under a fiver to make and have their own various benefits.

Organza Crinkle Bags

First up is the Organza Crinkle Bag. A noisy but fun sensory toy which both feels good and sounds amazing (and probably tastes of something too, seeing as most things end up in a child’s mouth!)

What you need:

  • Small organza bag(s). Not the teeny tiny ones you get wedding favours in, something a bit large, something like these from Amazon. £2.29 for 10, so if you’ve some other mummy/daddy friends these can work out really cheap.
  • An emergency blanket. This offers a bit more fun than tin foil, and won’t rip after the first use. We got this one from Amazon, at £1.53. This blanket is huge, and you really don’t need it all.

Even without splitting the material cost with your mummy and daddy friends, it still comes in at £3.82. If you find just one other person to share costs and materials with, it makes this £1.91.

Organza Bags - What you need
Organza Bags – What you need

Making it is pretty self explanatory – cut a 2ft square (or appropriately sized piece for your bags) of the emergency blanket. It needs to be big enough to fill the bag but not too big that it won’t scrunch in the bag. Pull the ribbon to tie the bag and you’re done! Pass it over to baby and watch them have hours (literally) of fun. This is one of Phoebe’s favourite things to play with at the moment!

OrganzaToy

 

Organza Crinkle Bag Sensory Toy
Before the foil made it in the bag!

Ribbons, Ribbons, Ribbons

The next fun toy is even easier. A load of ribbons tied together! It doesn’t matter what colours you use (we used the rainbow colours, so seven different ribbons).

Sensory silk ribbon toy for babies
Phoebe enjoying her ribbon toy!

Grab a metre long piece of each colour from your local craft shop (double satin ribbon is essential here so it’s silky on both sides. It’s the feel that babies love). Using a lighter, gently burn each end of each ribbon. This will make sure they don’t fray. Tie the ribbons in a knot, making sure the knot is in the centre and voila! You’re done! At about 60p a metre of ribbon, this comes up at a crippling total of £3.50, and you can probably get the ribbon cheaper if you shop around (or flutter your eyelashes if you’re a MILF hottie).

Silky ribbons are great for babies to feel
Silky ribbons are great for babies to feel

The Twiddle

Sadly Wifey can’t take any credit for this one. Our friends over at Life as Mrs N came up with this simple idea, after making tutu’s for their daughter’s second birthday party. This couldn’t be easier to make (providing you can plait!).

The Twiddle is a firm favourite!
The Twiddle is a firm favourite!

What you need:

  • Three bits of tulle. The lengths only need to be about a metre long. You can get long rolls online at around £4.80 for 100 yards (seriously why are people still using yards, it’s like being with my Gran). This works out at about 5.2p per metre. You’re best going to a local craft/material shop to have a scout round.

All you need to do is tie the three pieces in a knot (have the knot right at the top). If you’re a plaiting novice, sticky tape the knotted tulle to a surface so you can pull it tight as you plait. Now plait the three pieces together and knot the tulle at the other end, then you’re done! Even at 50p a metre this will only cost £1.50 which is a small price to pay for the amount of use it’ll get.

The Twiddle - Simple baby toy made from tulle
The Twiddle

Your child will love running this through their fingers, twiddling it with their hands (hence the name!). Phoebe finds The Twiddle in particular very comforting and uses it most days.

As with all these I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but this is all for under a tenner so worth the investment.

Let me know what you think! I’m sure there’ll be plenty more things we make over the next few months which I’ll share with you! If you’ve made your child toys that they’ve loved, share them here!

Ttfn

Pete

 

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk

Me and Phoebe were racking our brains about what we should blog about next, then she said “Daddy what about my super duper pillow” – well she didn’t, she went “ga ga goo ga ga ahhhhhh” etc. If there’s one thing me and Wifey wouldn’t have been without (forgetting about the obvious stuff like clothes, milk, bottles etc), it’s a collection of V-Shape pillows. These squishy objects of joy have a multitude of uses, and are most handy when feeding. We bottle feed, but I suspect there might be similar benefits to those using the good ol’ boob.

A correctly positioned V-Shape pillow means that once your baby gets to a decent weight (ie not newborn), you don’t have to sit and physically hold her whilst she feeds, which we all know results in you looking a bit of tit with one strong Popeye like arm, and the other thin and weedy.

Phoebe loves laying on a V Shape pillow too. It gives her good support and a sense of security (also stops her trying to roll away when we need her to stay put, she’s giving rolling over a good go now!). It also allows her to see the TV, as she’s fast becoming a bit of a gogglebox. We’ll have to limit the time we have it on before long otherwise she’ll be relying on it for entertainment.

If you do get a V Shape pillow, make sure you get more than one cover, and ones which your baby will like to look at. Baby WILL be sick on it, guaranteed, and you’ll need to quickly whip the cover off and get it in the wash. Risking naked pillows just tempts fate and more sick will almost definitely follow then the pillow itself will need a bath.

Phoebe G enjoying her V Shape

Once baby has done with the pillow, try sleeping on it yourself. They’re so comfy!

You can pick them up for less than a tenner so it’s a good investment in our opinion!

Whilst we’re on the subject of pillows, one thing we wouldn’t buy next time around is a special pregnancy pillow. If you’re a light sleeper at the best of times, these are a complete waste of money as they are SO NOISY! Every time Wifey moved in her sleep she woke the house up, so that was quickly evicted. I’m sure they’re fine for some people, but not something we’d buy again since they’re not the cheapest pillows out there (they also take up a ridiculous amount of room).

Ttfn

Pete