If you’re unfamiliar with the German publishing house gestalten, get familiar with it – it’s excellent. They make the best-looking books on the market, all deftly put together by magnificent designers. We, it’s fair to say, couldn’t be more into them if we tried.
The current release catching our eye is Little Big Rooms, which sharpens the microscope on nurseries and playrooms, and how to get the most out of them for your home and your children. Whether it be making the most of the space that you have, or creating a room to reflect your child’s tastes, or whether you might be seeking out a fun way to keep their minds fizzing with excitement, the book – a weighty, coffee-table sized, 250-pager – squeezes in inspiring idea after inspiring idea.
You’ll be putting up blackboard wallpaper and a slide from the top bunk to the floor before you know it. Highly recommended.
For most people Fathers Day is definitely in the top ten of the most important days of the year. But just like National Pie Day it can easily creep up on you without you realising. Our gift guide will save you time trawling the internet or making a mad dash to the supermarket for that mid-range bottle of Whiskey.
Surprise him this year with one of these little gems…
The perfect weekend wear. Not only are these great quality, they look pretty darn cool. Plus they serve as a good reminder incase anyone forgets who the daddy is.
Is dad always late for work searching for his phone or keys? Sounds like dad needs a Heroshelf. The stylish super hero key holder organizer is perfect for doorways and bedsides. Tastefully customise your home or office with the sleek black design and a touch of comic book character.
I know what you’re thinking – Beer for Fathers Day is a bit obvious. But this isn’t your normal supermarket beer. BeerBods is a specialist subscription service. For £36 they will send a selection of twelve beers to you, sourced only from small, independent UK breweries.
This is our favourite DadMag. Published in Warsaw, Poland and printed in two languages: Polish and English. The perfect gift for any dad who wants to kick back and read stories about fatherhood from around the world.
We love our kids. They are the best thing that happen to us. We don’t know where we would be without them etc etc. But every now and then it’s nice to have a few hours to yourself. This voucher makes that possible. It gives dad a day of downtime to do whatever he chooses to do.
Email email@example.com for the voucher template.
It’s about time dad started to take proper care of himself. So how about treating him to some skin care products from British brand Haeckels. All of their products are created from natural ingredients. We recommend the Bath salts, Bread oil or facial cream.
Who knew that kids clothes could be such a political minefield? Tread carefully or your kids will be forever scarred by clothes that are too pink and frilly, too synthetic, too macho or too Disney.
Parents that get riled by girls that are ‘Princesses’ and boys that are ‘Adventurers’, thanks to gender-specific t-shirt slogans, do have a valid point. There is enough gender pigeon-holing in this world, without clothes cementing silly stereotypes.
From a practical point of view, gender-neutral clothes make for much better hand-me-downs – as do well-made, quality items. In fact, this is another bugbear of many parents out there. The throwaway nature of kids products is ridiculous, so a brand with a sound ethical approach to manufacturing and its impact on the environment is worth supporting.
But most of all, kids clothes need to be comfy and fun – “not mini versions of what adults would wear”, as Dan Reynolds of kids clothing brand Fred and Noah, says. Togs that allow kids to hop and skip, to climb and twirl; that don’t unravel after a few washes, don’t cost the earth, or ruin the planet, and don’t exploit underpaid workers – is that too much to ask?
We think not. So here is our run-down of the Top 10 UK kids fashion brands that have caught our eye, and hopefully offer something for every child’s whim – and parents’ politics.
1. Knit Planet
The swishy, colourful designs of this UK brand are simple, yet eye-catching. Founders Micky and Nikki wanted to explore the glorious possibilities of comfy knit and have come up with a unique line that makes you want to buy every piece (although I find the Waffle Capri Shorts and Pocket Play Suits particularly charming at the moment).
Many of the designs are gender-neutral and the brand uses natural and sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton and merino wool – and they’re machine washable for worry-free use.
There’s something lovely and zen about Turtledove London. Simple graphic prints in monochrome organic cotton, with a touch of the whimsical in some of their animal designs. This brand sticks to what it does well: Some great unisex separates that can be combined at will – and are a joy to hand down to the next little one in line.
If your kid is not one for the minimalist, graphic-print approach to kids fashion, then Kingdom of Origin is worth exploring. This is a fantastic British brand, with founder Vanessa Wright passionate about creating an authentic British-made label. “I’m under no illusion that my business will have a monumental impact on the resurgence of the UK’s textile industry,” says Vanessa. “But I hope that my business can help towards the revival of British manufacturing, by inspiring others to follow suit.” KOO makes all garments in the UK, sourcing fabric, trims and producing labels and packaging here too.
The brand is a fantastic melange of laid-back playsuits and ruffle skirts, with summery dresses and super soft joggers thrown in.
Run by husband and wife team Natalie and Dan Reynolds, this small UK brand makes luxury clothing for 0-6-year-olds. Leggings, bedding and tops are all made in the UK, and t-shirts and hoodies are hand-printed in their Essex studio. The duo has sourced some lovely prints, and stick to what they do well – some great staples in cheery and bold fabrics. They also avoid the girl/boy labels – as Dan says, “We try to stay away from stereotypes but yes we do make fire engines and pink ponies. Ultimately it’s up to the parent and child.”
‘Cute meets cool’ is this brand’s motto. Another attractive kidswear company that was born out of the search for comfy baby leggings that also appeal to the design-conscious parent. Made in the UK, the brand features some graphic prints, with much origami-inspired illustrations. It will undoubtedly appeal to girls and boys – and those in search of a unisex approach to kids clothing.
Artist and designer Donna Wilson’s passion for craft ,and her boundless imagination are woven through all her products including her accessories for kids. Get your kids a little animal scarf or Mog hat and you will have a beautifully manufactured, high quality item that lasts. We love the colours and the humour in her brand – it’s a great little range for small and big.
All about the legwear, Braveling is the home to Little Titan tights. Originally conceived to offer sufficiently boyish tights as an alternative to the polka dots and frills for girls, the brand has rolled out a range of fun designs that suit little ones, no matter what gender.
Sticking to the original idea of tights and socks (with a couple of beanie hats thrown in), the brand has expanded, offering a niche and appealing line – that I, for one, am eyeing with much envy.
You’ve not lived life until you’ve tried luxury pyjamas. This fantastic brand offers mix-and-match two-pieces for a lovely night’s sleep. You wouldn’t have thought that good design can make that much of a difference to the nighttime staple, but TBC’s SLIM JYMS pyjamas for example, are designed to be slim fitting so that they don’t ride up at night to leave skin exposed to the chill.
We love the designs – all colour accents and inviting patterns – and the best thing is that this kids brand also comes in designs for adults.
Graphic designer and 3D artist Claudia Carvalho launched this UK childrenswear brand in 2013 using her design background to good effect. The label is characterised by playful illustrated prints and simple shapes, all in soft colours and fabrics. Each piece is ethically produced by her family business in Portugal and brings her understated design aesthetic to bear beautifully.
Designed in London, made in Manila, this UK kids fashion brand was started by Angie Adams, a fashion designer and former rock band drummer. The brand offers charming frocks, hand-smocked with a modern twist, and now also some items for boys.
It’s a funny time for masculinity, with the world gradually coming to terms with a whole new outlook. Old fashioned notions about stoicism and single-mindedness have been replaced, we now accept fallibility, discuss mental health, and are happy to take a deeper dive into our emotional make up. It’s a good thing. Men, like women, are complex. And Steve Biddulph’s popular bible has been updated to reflect the spinning of the planets.
He looks at boys as having been failed in the past, shackled to draconian values, which have led to a generation of unhappy men. He recognises the value of a boy learning from his father, while also asserting the strength of their mum on their development too.
The book studies the effects of online porn on their sexual development, with suggestions on how to steer them into having a healthy relationship with sex. It looks at violence, bullying, attitudes towards gender, and essentially how you can understand your sons, how you can understand yourself, and how your role effects their lives. The aim throughout is to create someone happy, and someone balanced.
It’s near impossible to untangle the wealth of advice and study on offer in the book, beyond saying, if you have a boy, buy it, and read it. It’s an easy read, and a fascinating one, and it will serve you well in so many ways. It may even help you to understand some of your own behaviour.
All too often when you get a list of suggested activities with the kids, it’s all things that are taking place on the other side of the country – that’s no use to anyone. So, here at D.A.D, we decided we’d assemble simple treats from all over England. With a bit of luck, this should cater for absolutely everyone, and not just pipe smoking Londoners…
Such a sprawling metropolis, it’s near impossible to find something to suit everyone in London. You could learn all about the importance of bees at the Horniman in South London, or watch an uber-trendy screening of Coco in hipster paradise, Dalston. Or you could go on the London Eye for the nine-thousandth time.
If you live near Cov, take some time and head off to Drayton Manor Park (and Zoo?). The word on the street is there are cheaper half term tickets available – although it’s on a first come/first served basis, so you may have missed the boat there – but here’s a stone-cold fact, kids love theme parks. This is a theme park.
It’s the only place in the world where lawyers sound like farmers, and that’s all just part of Bristol’s charm. For half term, cajole your younglings down to the harbour-side to enjoy one of Pirate Pete’s Walks – an educational stroll through the 17th and 18th Century, featuring numerous tales of swashbucklers and ne’er-do-wells.
The country’s second most impressive university town, you’ll find lots to do in Cambridge. You could go to the shops, or wander around the spectacular collages feeling inspired. Or, better still, get the whole family together, pack a picnic, and head out on one of their many punts – but, for Christ’s sake, make sure you’re captaining the vessel from the right end, you don’t want to be mistaken for one of those Oxford oiks.
Birmingham is famous for many things: The Streets, chocolate, having a name-twin in Alabama. Like most cities, you’ll also find lots of children with energy to burn, and what better way that via the exhausting medium of climbing? Kids over four are all welcome at the Redpoint Climbing Centre, where they can scuttle up walls like little spidermen.
There’s a beach in Brighton. A big pebbly beach, that leads all the way down to a vast, swollen, grey, angry ocean. In the summer, people splash around in it, or eat ice cream looking at it, or build disappointing sandcastles on it using pebbles. But if you need a break from the sea, take the older ones to Laser Zone and pretend you’re in Star Wars.
Not so long ago, the whole of the BBC packed up their troubles and their suitcases and moved up to Manchester, presumably for the cheaper rents. Thus began a ripple effect that now finds you taking the kids to the CBBC Tour at MediaCityUK for half term. It’s an interactive tour, and they get to pretend to be TV presenters. For over-6s.
Forget what you’ve seen on the Geordie Shore, Newcastle isn’t all premature plastic surgery and overdosing on tattoos, it has a rich history that stretches back thousands of years. Visit the Discovery Museum, and you’ll be swept back to Roman Times, before getting lost in an impressive “Science Maze”. Perfect for little minds. And speaking of Geordie Shore… (boom boom!)
It’s morning, you have children to dress, showers to have, an addled mind to untangle before you finally get to the day’s work. You also need a coffee. Thankfully for everyone, we were on hand to road test a few coffee machines, to see which would be the best for parents who are children-rich, but time-poor. These are the ones that performed the best….
CRUX 10-Cup Thermal Programmable Filter Cup Machine
With the tides of fashion forever favouring machines that require “pods”, it’s easy to forget the simplistic joy of a big old jug of filter coffee. The CRUX is unequivocally excellent. You can program it the night before to have your coffee ready for you in the morning, and it’s even polite enough to stay hot for four whole hours. We’re not here to tell you what to do, but seriously, you should buy one of these. Go on, do it. Get your money, and buy one.
Those Nespresso boffins never seem to stop working (which may have something to do with their relentless caffeine intake) and here they’ve created another humdinger, which is perfect for a parent in a hurry. No dicking around with too many processes, the Lattissima froths your milk while making your coffee, then puts it all together for you. All you have to do is watch in silent awe.
Two words that become increasingly important when you’re a parent are “cheap” and “easy”. This thing is both. It’s essentially a cross between a syringe and a cafetiere, which requires ground coffee, hot water, and you pushing a plunger for about ten seconds. It literally couldn’t be easier.
You can use ground coffee, or a coffee pod, and you’ll have an espresso in just 16 seconds. Using rudimentary maths, that means you could have four espressos in just over a minute. That should easily be enough to see you through the morning (until you crash hard around lunchtime). Point is, these are great.
The real looker of the pack, these have been specifically designed to look like they were made in a far more stylish era. A more innocent time when beauty would trump functionality any day of the week. But there’s a twist in this caffeinated tale, because these also work like a dream – we’re talking hot coffee, in a cup, in less than a minute. Frothy milk is also a tangible option.
For all that is great and good about parenthood, you can’t deny that it requires a lot of preparation and brainwork to ensure variety for your kids. It’s all too easy to sit them in front of the telly for hours on end, or throw them into a local ball pool and hope for the best. And with half term looming large on the calendar, like a gorilla at the top of a hill, coming up with things to do can become a challenge of Olympic proportions.
So, enter stage left the Olympic rower Alex Gregory with a boatload of solutions. His book Dadventures comes out at the end of the month, and has been designed specifically for fathers looking to make the most of their dadding time.
The book is split into different sections, all centred of suggested activities, be it things you can do after-school (a simple treasure hunt), or bite-size bonding moments that take up to 30 minutes (track animals, build a kite), all the way to entire days out, or even overnight stays in homemade dens. It very much has an outdoorsy dad in mind, one with lots of get-up-and-gusto, keen to teach his kids the old-fashioned arts of stargazing, or foraging. Or wild swimming, or fishing with a makeshift rod.
In that sense, it’s possibly not quite the bible an urban gent, shackled to the metropolis, will be looking for. But if you have some greenery nearby, and enough fuel left in the tank, Dadventures is brimming with great ideas, and is written with a real sense of passion and enthusiasm for parenthood, with an emphasis on creating wonderful family memories together.
In fact, worst case scenario – you could always read it while they watch Paw Patrol.
Pre-fatherhood, the child-friendly pub garden is a Hieronymus Bosch vision of hell – all nails on chalk boards and little goblins running around – but PLOT TWIST! When you have some nippers of your own, these places become your port in a storm, your sanctuary. The place where you go to drink precisely three pints on a sunny Saturday afternoon, with other like-minded people who can’t understand what’s happened to their lives either. They’re great.
Here are the rules of the child-friendly pub garden:
Don’t get utterly smashed – this isn’t 2004. Letting your hair down a little bit is encouraged, but going hell for leather and hitting the shots isn’t a good look. You have children now. Look, they’re over there, playing massive jenga.
Always look at least 20 per cent happier than you really are – because no matter how discombobulated sleep deprivation is making you, a kid-friendly pub garden isn’t the place for your existential meltdown. If you want to sob into a Staropramen, go to a wine bar.
Make sure your child has a name you can shout across a crowded garden – unfortunately, this rules out Vaginus, Dicken and Cher. And Andromeda. Everything else is mostly acceptable.
Don’t delve too deep into the toy box – these places often have little treasure troves full of treats. Only, in this case, the treats smell like a thousand nappies and they’re literally all covered in tuberculosis. Take your own things, that’s the point.
Only ever be super-friendly to strangers – face it, you’re not Cooly McCool-Guy anymore. You’re a dad, at the pub, with children, surrounded by other dads in the same predicament. So, do everyone a favour, and leave your trademark curmudgeonly behaviour in the office, and embrace it. This is your life now, these people are your people.
Truth is, it’s now almost impossible to know how the seasons will go – we’ve had warm Januaries, freezing Aprils, no one can accurately predict what’s going to be on the cards during the summer months. But whether it’s rain, shine, or molten rocks of lava, one thing is guaranteed – parents will continue to obsess over the temperature of their kids’ bedrooms.
Too hot? Too cold? What should the dress code be?
Enter, the Groegg 2, not to solve the whole problem necessarily, but, as a digital thermometer, it’s able to answer at least two of those questions.
“Is it too hot?” – if the Groegg 2 is red, then yes, you’ll need to cool the room down. “Is it too cold?” – if the egg is blue, also yes.
If the temperature falls within the recommended guidelines of 16-20°C, the silicone egg will purr in a soft amber, doubling-up as a fetching night light – a stylish accessory for your little one’s bedroom.
In short: a simple idea, functional and well executed. It looks great.
Whatever your views of breastfeeding, whether it’s “best” or whether it’s a torturous, avoidable rigmarole, it’s cheap. In a financial sense, it essentially costs nothing. Formula doesn’t exactly break the bank either. In fact, it’s only really when babies start demanding more taste and more texture that you begin to feel your pockets emptying.
Because look at the options – you could spend hours stewing apples, or roasting up and smooshing sweet potatoes, or making elaborate berry compotes, just for them to smear it all over their eyebrows and chuck it on the floor. OR, you could do the sensible thing, and invest in some organic, squeezy pre-made stuff, which they can eventually administer to themselves, while you take a thirty second window to consider other areas of your life that have been languishing in the backwaters. In a fog-cloud of a thousand missed sleeps, option 2 is only ever the way to go.
So, and we don’t say this lightly, thank GOD for Sainsburys.
Firstly, just for being there, with food that we can put in our stomachs, and reasonably priced alcohol we can occasionally sip when the planets align. But, also, because they’ve now released a high end, but reasonably priced range of baby food, under their Little Ones umbrella. It’s organic, it comes in that easy-to-squeeze packaging that kids adore, and don’t tell anyone, but it’s basically Ella’s Kitchen, only fractionally less grabby on your wallet.
Just this week, for example, we Pepsi Challenged a 6-month-old to try out the Pears Pears Pears variety of Ella’s Kitchen, and the Pear and Apple Little Ones, and we can report that the glorious little bundle was blissfully happy with both of them. They fed her desire to try new, exciting flavours, they nourished our modern demands that everything be organic and free from disturbing E-numbers. But best of all, Little Ones left us with enough change left over to pop in our back pockets, before patting our bums in celebration.
Only we didn’t do that last bit. Wrong supermarket.