Ah 2020, what a year you’ve been, definitely one we won’t forget in a hurry! Despite it’s ups and many downs, product wise it’s been amazing and so I’m so excited for my Best of 2020 series, kicking off today with the kids version.
There are no more babies in our home, but check out last years post, and my newborn essentials post for some products that we loved when Maia was tiny. This year the girls started playing with and using the same things which has been amazing! I’m going to be sharing our absolute best of the best, cream of the crop kiddies products that we loved this year and then… there is a massive giveaway at the end of this blog post, woohoo!
But for now, let’s chat about the products that rocked our world in 2020
Liv Bespoke Gem Blocks and Mountain Stacker Set: This should come as no suprise, I bang on about our Gem Blocks all the time but it’s because they’re that amazing, so many different ways to play with them and such a wide age range that will enjoy them. Use them to practice stacking, counting, colours, problem solving, the list is endless! Liv Bespoke’s latest addition is the Mountain Stacker Set and it’s just as gorgeous and as versatile as the Gem Blocks. You can stack and arrange them in so many different ways, your children can let their imaginations run wild as they make up stories and different scenarios. All Liv Bespoke’s products are hand carved and hand painted so they really are so special, and of course, supporting local.
Declan and Leah Table and Chairs: Every single time I post a picture of the girls play area, I get asked where our lovely table and chair set is from. We’ve had our Declan & Leah Classic Table and Chair set for almost 2 years now and they are still going strong, despite all the abuse they get from our crazy kids. Our girls use their table and chair set for so much, painting and drawing, playing LEGO and blocks, building puzzles and other crafts, they really are a staple in our play area. They are sturdy enough for Dan and I to sit on (a question I get asked quite a bit) and are SO easy to clean; paint and crayon wipe off like a dream with some surface cleaner and a cloth. The set is made from SA A Grade Pine and sprayed in child safe, low VOC PU Paint and is available in white dipped, grey dipped and natural pine. I also love that you can purchase additional chairs if you’d like more than two.
Stumped Knock-A-Blocks: Another product that I’m sure you expected to see on this write up… I guess you could call us a little wooden toy mad around here. I love watching my girls create all sorts of things with their Knock-A-Blocks; Aria makes motorbikes, dinosaurs, robots and so many other creatures big and small. Maia began with just stacking them and now she’s started building with them too, hammering the dowels into the blocks, really working on those fine and gross motor skills. Something else good to know is that all Stumped products are made locally from untreated timber that is sourced from sustainable forests. Oh and keep your eyes on their socials, they are having some amazing discounts for their “12 days of Christmas” promo!
Barbies: Oh my do my girls love their Barbies! They come up with so many different social scenarios – it’s fascinating to watch! Studies have found that when children (regardless of their gender) play with dolls, it helps with social processing development as well as activating the region of the brain where empathy is processed. Two very important skills to learn, don’t you think? One of the reasons that we love Barbie so much is because of how inclusive they are; different races, different careers, different hair textures, body shapes, etc. I especially like the Shero and Inspiring Women ranges
Johnson’s Baby Shiny Drops Range: It’s no secret that we’re a Johnson’s Baby family, the products just work so well for us. My favourite range is Shiny Drops, even though my girls have completely different hair to each other, the Shiny Drops products work like a dream for both of them. The shampoo cleans their hair beautifully with just one application and doesn’t strip the hair, the conditioner really gives a wonderful nourishing boost and the conditioner spray is wonderful especially for Maia’s curly hair as we only brush it once a week when we wash it. All of the products are enriched with Argan oil, are free from dyes and sulphates and have the Johnson’s Baby No More Tears® formula.
Puddle Jumper: Water safety is incredibly important to us, especially because we have a swimming pool at home. Both of our girls go to swimming lessons where they learn water safety and Maia uses the Puddle Jumper when shes in the pool, regardless of whether we’re in as well or not, accidents happen so quickly and often quietly. We have a few different swimming aids at home but our Puddle Jumper is by far the safest because quite simply, not only does it keep a child afloat, it also keeps them upright which is incredibly important. The material that the Puddle Jumper is made from also doesn’t chafe or irritate the skin which is really important to us because of Maia’s eczema, it is also incredibly durable, we’ve had ours for over two years now and it lives outside, weathers all the elements and is still 100% in tact. If you’re looking for a swimming aid, I cannot recommend this investment enough. Please do remember though that just because your child has a swimming aid on, you still need to watch them like a hawk, and if you can afford to, send them to water safety lessons.
NUK Freestyle dummies: Both of my girls used dummies as sleep aids, Maia still does and we don’t plan on weaning her until the end of next year, the same age as we did Aria. Although we are very strict with the dummy (she only has it when she goes to sleep), it’s still important that the dummy we use won’t have a bad effect on Maia’s teeth or gum development, which is why we love our NUK Freestyle dummies. Not only are they orthodontist approved, but the teat is also modeled on a mother’s nipple which helps reduce the risk of nipple confusion (we never experienced nipple confusion while I was breastfeeding). Some other great features include a thin and narrow teat neck which reduces the pressure on the jaws and teeth, and a flat baglet and smooth underside to allow lots of room for your baby’s natural sucking movements. One of my favourite features of the Freestyle Night is that the button has a glow in the dark effect which is so helpful late at night when your little one has lost their dummy. The NUK Freestyle dummies are available in 0-6m, 6-18m and 18-36m.
Living That Oil Life Summer Nights Spray: Just like me, the mozzies love my girls. We’ve tried all sorts of different sprays but none really worked well and I don’t love the idea of having a plug in in their room all night. We started using our Summer Nights Spray last year and it works like an absolute charm! Not only does it ward off the mozzies, but it also acts as an after sun spray and helps to lull you into a deep sleep, three birds with one stone! Its made from all natural ingredients as well (alcohol-free witch hazel, distilled water, lavender essential oil, citronella essential oil, cedarwood essential oil, copaiba essential oil) which I know a lot of you much prefer. This is honestly a must have in our home, we won’t go through a summer without one.
Lily n Jack Snuggle Bunny: Speaking of sleep… our girls do not go a night without their Lily n Jack Snuggle Bunnies. I dont know if its the silky ears of the velvety soft body but these bunnies definitely have a little bit of sleepy magic in them. Both Aria and Maia have had theirs since they were born which goes to show how amazing their quality is and still sleep with them every night. Having her bunny made Aria giving up her dummy that much easier, she lost one sleep trigger (the dummy), but still had the other (her bunny). I love that my girls have learnt to self soothe with their snuggle bunnies and if that means that they’ll sleep with them until they’re 30, I’m not about to complain if it keeps them sleeping like angels.
Umatie: If you’ve been following us since Maia started on solids, you’ll know how much we love and use Umatie. This is a women owned, local company that makes your life so much easier when it comes to feeding your kids. We all have those nights (and days, let’s be honest) where we are just too tired to make dinner, we’d be quite happy with a slice of marmite toast… And that’s where Umatie comes in; out of the freezer, into the microwave and then onto your childs plate, all within 5 minutes from start to finish! There are different textures for different age groups so it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting on your solids journey or if you have fully fledged hungry toddlers, there’s something for everyone, including vegan meals! All of the Umatie meals have no added sugar or salt, are made with organic fresh produce and free-range roaming animals and are free from GMOs, MSG, colourants and hydrogenated fats. If you haven’t tried Umatie meals yet, stock up on a few for your freezer, you’ll thank me later!
Puzzles, Arts and Crafts: To this day I’m not sure how we made it through all those months of hard lockdown but I do know what helped keep us mildly sane was keeping the girls entertained with arts and crafts (between bouts of TV of course because #survival). I can’t remember if it was just before lockdown or during but Busy Bean is honestly a one stop shop if you’re looking to stock up. Some of our faves are:
If you’re looking for something arty and crafty to keep your child occupied this holiday season, Busy Bean has everything you need.
PlayDoh: Another open ended activity that we love and although it is on the messier side, PlayDoh has so many benefits; fine motor skill development, develops hand-eye co-ordination, encourages imaginative play, and and and… Both Aria and Maia enjoy playing with it and its so easy to incorporate things like shape recognition, counting, letter recognition and colour identification while playing. Of course over the years things have evolved big time and there are so many wonderful PlayDoh accessories available these days. Our girls have really enjoyed the Pizza Party but there are so many for you to choose from.
Wylieb Vinyl Crafts: If you know me, you know I love to organise as much as I can. It was while I was sorting out my medicine cupboard that Wylieb asked if they could send me some of their vinyls, of course I couldn’t say no! These vinyls are just amazing – they’ve obviously lasted in our medicine cupboard but the ones I’ve used on the girls lunch boxes and juice bottles are still perfect despite going in the dishwasher daily and getting chucked around at school. Next up is the arts and crafts cupboard…
Books: Oh man, my girls are massive book lovers, it’s one of their favourite things in the world that they have loved since they were little babies. We have overflowing bookshelves in our home, the one thing I don’t intend on going minimal on! I’ll often find Aria reading to Maia or both the girls lying on the couch, book in hand. Some of our faves are by Julia Donaldson, she just has such a way with words that really seems to stimulate little imaginations, Maia could listen to Snail and the Whale 38753 times a day! Aria’s current favourite is What the Ladybird Heard at the Seaside. Pan MacMillan is the publishing house for Julia Donaldson in South Africa and they really do a sterling job with what they bring in. In fact, 80% of our girls books are from authors that they represent.
Now that you know all the things that we have loved for our girls this year I’m sure you have a few on your wishlist, right? Well in collaboration with these amazing brands, I’m going to be giving something from each brand to one lucky family! Here’s what you can win:
Declan & Leah: R650 voucher
Liv Bespoke Kids: a set of Gem Blocks and Mountain Stackers
Stumped Wooden Toys: a Knock a Blocks Starter Set
Barbie: sewing machine and doll
Johnsons Baby: Shiny Drops hamper
NUK: a Freestyle Night Soother and a NUK Night and Day Soother set
Puddle Jumper: a Puddle Jumper of choice
Living that Oil Life: a bottle of Summer Nights Spray
Lily n Jack: a Snuggle Bunny of choice
Umatie: a R750 voucher
Busy Beans: a R500 voucher
Play Doh: a hamper to the value of R400
Wylieb Vinyl Crafts: a R350 voucher
Pan MacMillan Books: a Julia Donaldson hamper consisting of What the Ladybird Heard at the Seaside, The Go-Away Bird, The Gruffalo and The Girl, the Bear and the Magic Shoes
How amazing?! I’ve linked all of the brands Instagram pages so feel free to go give them a follow and show them some love.
So, how do you enter? It’s super easy, there is one compulsory step and then a few optional steps as well. Make sure to read the terms and conditions below as well.
Compulsory: Comment on this blog post and let me know what your favourite product for your child was this year and which of the products I’ve mentioned you like the sound of the most.
Optional: Follow the brands involved and myself on Instagram
Optional: Comment on this Instagram post and tag one friend (please don’t tag more than one, even in separate comments)
Optional: Comment on this Facebook post and tag one friend (please don’t tag more than one, even in separate comments)
Optional: Share this Instagram post to your stories and tag me
Terms and Conditions:
This giveaway ends on Monday 7 December 2020 at 20h00
The winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize, if they do not claim the prize within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen
Open to South African delivery addresses only
Prizes are not transferable for cash
Because of the festive season, there may be a delay in shipping your prize