Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone

Days out in Dublin and Wicklow – Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone

This weekend Austin cried more in two days than he has in his nine months of life, combined. His teeth hurt. My ears hurt.

In a desperate bid to distract him, Dave suggested a trip to the Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone. Then he sprawled on the couch with the computer and turned on the football, telling me to have fun with the baby. Nice.

But it turned out to be a lovely two hours and Daddy missed a big treat (blows raspberries triumphantly).

The Kids Zone is upstairs  from the bowling alley and the first thing I noticed was the indoor pool with boats for the kids to sail around and bump off each other. I’d never seen anything like that so I was blown away. There is a small surcharge of 2 euro which I think is totally worth it – though I may change my mind when Austin is old enough to have a go.

Indoor sailing pool for Kids
You might wanna pack a change of clothes for this one!

The place was huge and there was a separate area for babies under two, one for toddlers between two and four and a huge area for kids between five and twelve years old. Each section was gated with a high latch which meant that an adult had to open it. Many other places we have visited had older kids hopping over into the baby area and I’m always a little nervous that they might step on Austin as they run around so I found this section much more relaxing as I didn’t have to yank him out of the way as much.

Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
The obligatory and fascinating ball pit.

Huge Jigsaw pieces were strewn about and could be attached to the wall so the older babies loved it. There was a little crawl course too but Austin went directly for the toy horses.

Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
Hmmmm… looks like I could chew on those ears…

He also loved his own private ball pit where he could happily slobber on every single one of them. (Don’t worry, I wiped them all on my jeans which is a natural anti-bacterial agent.)

Ball Pit at Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone
Nom, Nom, Nom

Best of all, Austin handed me a ball! He never handed me anything before and it really got me. I was so overcome by this spit-covered little gift that, even though I had the phone pointed at him, I forgot to take a picture. So I took a photo of the ball to send to Dave and then I noticed him in the backgound…

Austin stands up for the first time
He pulled himself up while I was texting!

He pulled himself up, all by himself! And I have it on camera! And I’m really not certain if this is a great thing or if I should be feeling bad that I was on my phone while he was doing it! Mom-Guilt is weird like that.

Once he found he could do it, it was all he wanted to do.

Downward Dog - baby yoga style.
Downward Dog – baby yoga style.

But eventually we went back to the toy horses and we had a great game of “try to catch me before I chew this guys ears”.

Just let me!
Just let me!

We were there for over an hour, which is much longer than I would usually spend in a padded environment, but when we left there was still more fun to be had downstairs.

The bowling area had a few small rides for kids and, as we didn’t have to pay an entry fee because adults and under 1’s are free, I decided two spend a few euro letting Austin bob up and down hysterically for a few minutes.

In a Helicopter...
In a Helicopter…
And on a fire engine...
And on a fire engine…

Austin had a whale of a time and did I mention it was free entry for adults? (Is it just me who gets annoyed at having to pay entry for kids entertainment?)

The highlight of my day was when I got home and found that Dave had hoovered and mopped the floors while we were out. I would put up with sore ears every weekend if it ended up like this one!

If you’re in the area I highly recommend Wicklow Bowl Kids Zone and you can find more information on their website here.

If you’d like to share any other fun things to do in Dublin and Wicklow I am always grateful for recommendations so please feel free to comment!

Mess-Free Baby Weaning

I weaned Austin onto solid food when he was 5 and a half months old. He wasn’t yet sitting up without support so feeding him could be a messy job – here’s a video of his first taste of avocado, which we will call Exhibit A.

 

At the start, we fed him in his bouncy chair or just in our arms. That led to stains that had to be soaked out in every wash. Have I ever mentioned that I hate cleaning?

I do – but I also hate to see the house looking dirty so I find mess-free alternatives for almost everything. Here are some of the things I did to cut cleaning time while Austin learned to eat:

Start with a Bumbo-style seat

I found these little seats brilliant when he couldn’t support himself. He could splash and blow his food on it and all I had to do was wipe it down or tip it into the sink if there were a load of crumbs.

The public health nurse advised that I should have placed it on the floor for safety but I kept mine on the table because I found trying to feed him at ground level impossible with the dog.

However, if you are using a Bumbo style seat at a height you really do need to keep an eye on them as the baby grows because they can be moved if the baby’s feet push off the surface it’s sitting on.

Fooooooood!!!!!

 

Cover the baby completely during meals

I found all bibs were laughably small when weaning Austin. His clothes were constantly covered in food and everything had to be soaked or thrown out.

To reduce laundry, I tied a muslin loosely around his neck and pulled the sides back over his shoulders. You can use pegs to hold it in place of you need. Once I rolled his sleeves up, only the cloth needed washing.

When he got older I bought the IKEA jacket bib which I found brilliant for food and messy creative play.

Start with shallow spoons

If you have a spoon with a little trough in it you might find that half the food drops off at each bite. Use a shallow spoon and take your time with it. Baby is only learning so incy-wincy bits are all that’s needed at the start. This results in much less droppage to clean up. Score!

Ban cushioned highchairs from your home

We got a loan of a cushioned Mothercare highchair from my brother when Austin was big enough  but I found it really difficult to clean. Maybe I’m a little germaphobic (even though I hate cleaning!) but I pulled it apart every night for a week. I bleached the straps and pulled off the cushion to scrub away the dirt that accumulated in the crevices. Then I dried it and put it back together again. The whole process seemed to take forever so I could only really do it once a day after his dinner.

On day three I called Dave and told him I was going to IKEA. There would be no talk of budget or waiting for one to come up on Adverts.ie.

This conversation is over.

Go for a hardwood or moulded plastic highchair

go ahead, drop all your lunch!!

Here’s a  short review of the IKEA Blames Highchair we bought for Austin.

Pros

  1. I can wipe it clean in less than a minute after breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  2. It’s a lovely red colour that brightens up my pale-ass neutral kitchen (It comes in Black too).
  3. It’s small enough to fit where a normal chair would against my kitchen table.
  4. The legs holes are big enough to fit a two year old if you remove the tray and pull it against your table so it will last a while.
  5. It’s kinda funky and hipster in design.
  6. It only cost 55 euro so it wasn’t crazy money. (It also helps if Nana buys it as a present!)

Cons

  1. It’s a hard wooden chair so you have to buy a cushion to pop between it and the baby’s back.
  2. If you try to put a cushion under the baby’s bum, they tend to slip and cause the baby to tilt forward.
  3. You cannot fold it away like most of the cushioned chairs so you will need to remove a chair from your table.

I see the last Con as a Pro really because I am lazy and could not be bothered putting a highchair away after every meal.

Austin is nine months at the time of writing this and only learning finger foods and self-feeding at this point. I’ll update with any more mess reducing tips as he gets older…

I hope you find this advice useful and if you have any mess-reducing tips you’d like to share, this lazy mama would love to hear them!!!

Reducing Household Toxins with Eco Mutt Natural Dog Shampoo

My little fella has severe eczema and keeping it under control can be a handful. To reduce break-outs, I’ve changed many household products to more natural and organic ones so he won’t regularly encounter harsh chemicals (that’s probably a good idea for all babies, regardless of skin conditions). I’ve even changed my own skin care and detergents to avoid contact rashes.

One thing I had not considered was our dog. When I read the ingredients on Gizmo’s shampoo, there was only one I could understand. I decided to try something different because Austin loves to pet Gizzy’s fur and they often sit together while supervised. Here’s a cute video of their typical “play”.

Eco Mutt, a local artisan company that makes natural grooming products for dogs, sent me a sample of their Rosemary, Lavender and Mandarin Dog Shampoo for review and to say I adored it is a huge understatement.

Eco Mutt Dog Shampoo Range

Firstly, there are six lovely ingredients, including Coconut Oil which is actually recommended for eczema sufferers.

Secondly, the smell was AMAZING. The essential oils aren’t overpowering but I could not stop sniffing her fur that night as we watched a movie on the couch!

Finally, it worked – really well. Check out the dirty paws in this photo!

Filthy!
I’m so dirty I’m gonna shake my head every time you try to photograph me!

Gizzy scrubbed up brilliantly and there was none of the usual face-rubbing after her bath so I think she loves it too.

Yummy!
Yummy!

The company itself is a small family run operation in South Dublin and they have a real passion for dogs. You can read about Jerry the Springer’s adventures and reviews of their products on their Facebook page. How fun is that?

This particular shampoo was one of their more expensive products at 12 euro but there is a range of products to choose from starting at just 2 euro so there is something for every budget. I’ll be buying the same shampoo again though. Because you don’t need much of it per wash, it will last – and, to be honest, I just loved the scent!

So if you have a smallie or two and want to reduce the harsher chemicals in your home while treating your pooch to a lovely bath, I highly recommend this brand!

 

Clean as a whistle and allowed on the couch!
Clean as a whistle and allowed on the couch!

PS. I am SO tempted to use this shampoo on my own hair – it felt nicer than my own and isn’t that how another brand got famous? I’ll update if I try it!

 

Disclaimer: I was given a bottle of Eco Mutt Dog Shampoo in exchange for an honest review and the company owner is known to me personally. These are my own personal thoughts on the product and the medical information related to eczema, while researched, should not be considered professional.