SNOW!!! Things to do with little ones whilst it’s snowing…

Yay! It’s snowing! I know this is a complete nightmare for LOTS and lots of people but I LOVE the snow so I’m very excited about it, even if we did only last 10 minutes because my extremely strong willed 6 year old refused to wear her gloves and got very cold hands very quickly. Sigh!

I’ve also been up since 6am stressing about keeping everyone updated on which schools and pre-schools are opened or closed so I am exhausted! lol.

You can check on this post for more details about which schools are open still and the times that they close: HCC School Closure Website

Anyyyyywaayy, this is my impromptu list of suggestions of things you can do with your little ones today whilst it’s snowing.

Whatever you end up doing…HAVE FUN!!!!!


  • Make snowmen snowwomen, snowbabies, snowchildren
  • Build an igloo
  • Make coloured ice balls (balloons filled with water and a bit of food colouring and leave outside over night)
  • Snowball fight/gentle throw
  • Sledging
  • Snow angels


Other Useful Posts

What would you add to this list?

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Relax, unwind, socialise and harmonise with Thula Mama!

Hi, I’m Rebecca and I run a singing group called Thula Mama (pronounced ‘Tula Mama’) for mothers of bumps and pre-crawling babies, from my home in Bramley. Thula Mama is a national franchise but this is the only group in this area.

As mother to 3-year-old Elliott, I’ve been fully immersed in the world of baby and toddler groups in recent years and I felt there was a gap locally for mums who enjoy singing but would like an alternative to nursery rhymes! In contrast to most musical groups for mothers and babies, the focus of a Thula Mama session is on the mothers and allowing them a chance to relax and unwind and do something for themselves. It offers mums an hour and a half of social time and provides both mothers and babies with the many benefits of soothing singing. Babies love listening to the sound of their mothers’ voices singing gently to them.

I run the group from the comfort of my living room, provide drinks and biscuits and a comfy place to sit while you meet other mums and catch up. We then learn a mix of gentle lullabies and more upbeat songs from around the world with simple but effective harmonies. Singing in this way in a group creates a positive and peaceful atmosphere and has been proven to be great for wellbeing. Absolutely no experience is necessary! All are welcome and all the songs are taken at a gentle pace appropriate to the group.

Sessions are every Wednesday at 10am. For details, please contact me on 07971 798945, email or visit The first session is free. You can also find out more and listen at

Here is an example of a recent review:

Amanda McKechan, November 28, 2017
“I am so pleased I came across this group – it is something so different from the usual Mother and Baby classes, and it is a rare combination of doing something for your child as well as for yourself. The songs are different, some joyful, some soulful. My baby has loved attending and listening to the group – it is interesting how mesmerised the babies are!

I think it is interesting to find out about the meanings of the lyrics and think about the other mums around the world singing these songs, doing the same jobs we do.

Rebecca is a lovely teacher – it is a relaxed class at her house. I think people may feel put off if they are not the best singer, but that really doesn’t matter, there are different parts and different songs to suit everyone. It certainly is nice to add some more songs to our parenting repertoire other than the usual (Twinkle twinkle etc!). Thanks for a lovely time Rebecca – it has been my favourite activity with my baby this year.”

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NHM Readers: Children’s first aid course

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook if anyone could help this fellow NHM reader: “Any idea how I could get onto/find info on how to get one a children’s first aid course? Got a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and when my little one choked on a grape a few weeks ago I had no idea what to do!!! Luckily she was fine but would like to be more informed, just not sure where to start!?”

These were the responses I received. They are in no particular order. Thank you to Shona for putting this post together. 

NHM Readers suggest children’s first aid courses

Louise NHM Smith suggested Vicky at First Aid Angels Limited and also to check the local NCT website to see if they are doing any first aid courses.

Samantha said: St John’s x

Sarah said: you could try contacting local community centres or nurseries or play groups? sometimes they book a course for staff and have spaces left?

Kelsey said: We went on a free one that the children’s centres were doing. Not sure if they still are.

Marie said: First aid angels

Marie said: I’d recommend Vicky at First aid angels too. We did a group class with her at my friends house when the kids were small.

Kay said: We use Tiger Lilly for our paediatric courses at Spotlight.

Bethan said: Speak to RCS. They run safe and healthy baby courses which incorporate a paediatric first aid training session x

Cerys said: NCT run baby & child first aid courses in association with Red Cross. By coincidence, September’s are this Saturday, 2 courses, am & pm

Louise said:Baby Resuscitation highly recommend this company

Kimberley said:NCT runs great baby and child first aid courses. They are at Everest College every month.

Lucy said:I did mine at the library in basingstoke festival place… It was at a huge discount too so worth asking incase they are doing more (as this was a year and a half ago now) x

Lizzy said: We did ours at Basingstoke discovery centre & was very cheap. So definitely worth checking if they still do it.

First Aid Angels Limited thank you for your support Ladies. We offer a 2 hour parents first aid course in your own home or venue Usually on a weekday evening. We are a Qualsafe approved centre and offer accredited Paediatric and adult first aid courses too.

Lizzie said: I did the NCT Red Cross one which was really good. There’s also a “Safe & Healthy baby/toddler” course run through the children’s centres which covers loads if things including First Aid. That was free & was brilliant.

Kelly said: I have done the Tigerlillys 12hr paediatric course which is really good or they do a shorter 6hr course and a reasonable price.

Luan said: Viables have some emergency aid courses coming up and they deal with various things including choking for infants and adults. Free too! Next is Sep 20th at 2pm. Our new Birth to Beyond course starts on Monday and a first aider will be attending to cover choking, febrile convulsions etc. The course is £20 for five weeks and we will be covering all sorts of other things too. First aid for infants is in the first week. 01256 473634 Viables Community Centre or

Peta said: First aid for life. Owner is london based but she has health care gurus all over. NCT use her (very adaptable/personalised) courses regularly.

Karen said: Nursery Rhymes Inc – St John’s

Susan said:We did ours through the Red Cross but I don’t remember any booking details.

Madeleine said: Tadley Triangle Heartstart did free courses a few years ago

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Teeny Weeny Massage & Yoga for Babies

Miss NHM and I did a baby massage course with Gail in 2011 and the course was so good I still occasionally use the techniques that we were taught by Gail!

Teeny Weeny Massage & Yoga for Babies

I have been teaching Baby Massage dare I say, since 1995, having taken the first ever Baby Massage Course with the IAM (Int. Assoc. of Infant Massage) offered in the UK in 1993!   This really shows my age!!

I have taught in many areas of both Surrey, Berks and Hampshire, but over the last 18 years (since my son was born), have taught most of my classes in the Basingstoke, Hook and Farnham areas……(I may have even taught you….please forgive me if I don’t remember your name as I have taught literally hundreds of Mums over the years and a number now often make me feel even older by producing teenagers who were taught in my massage classes!).

Over the past 4 years I have offered Infant Massage & Baby Yoga classes in 4 -5 of with the wonderful Children’s Centres around Basingstoke which have sadly now closed (criminal!).

Following this  I  taught private classes at the West Side Community Centre in South Ham until last summer when I decided to have a 6 month break.

However, knowing these classes have been appreciated and valued by new Mums over the years and because there is little on offer because of the doors closing of the Children’s Centres, I have decided  to restart my classes in 2018.

I have always seen them as a kind of Foundation Classes for new parents, offering not just massage and yoga tuition but a wealth of information regarding all sorts of topics, where support can be given, problems can be mulled over, new baby handling confidence can increase and very importantly, new friends can be made.

So…..I have decided to return to the Chineham Library and teach my classes once again in Lillypads, the old Children’s Centre there, with my first 6 weeks course starting on Tues. 30th Jan. (and hopefully the second one starting on Tues. 20th March).

If you would like more details, please contact me on my mobile number below.

Thank you!

Gail Harbers (CIMI/BYI)

(Certified Infant Massage & Baby Yoga Instructor)

Teeny Weeny Massage & Yoga for Babies

Tel. 07720 291197

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Review 2018: Prosecco-Dough workshop – Messy play fun for adults!

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Writer for today’s post and THANK YOU very much to Louise at Messy Monsters Basingstoke for our free tickets in exchange for this NorthHantsMum review!

Prosecco-Dough – messy play fun for adults!

I was lucky enough to attend Messy Monsters Basingstoke’s first adults messy play workshop.

The aim of the workshop was to show the group of mums attending how to make quick and simple messy play activities to do with their children. The activities shown to us were suitable from really small little ones up to adults (it is very satisfying to sit and play with rainbow rice and chocolate play dough!).

On arrival at the workshop, which was held at Popley Fields Community Centre, I was greeted by the lovely Lou who runs Messy Monsters sessions for children and now adults. I took my seat at the table and waiting for me was a bottle of prosecco, some chocolates and biscuits as well as an interesting assortment of items including flour, cocoa powder and food colouring.

First of all Lou took us through the steps to make taste safe slime. I’ve seen so many make your own slime tutorials but as my daughter is still quite young I’ve been wary of letting her have it to play with so finding a way to make it taste safe just in case she did sneak a bit into her mouth was ideal!

After making the taste safe slime we went on to make rainbow rice and, with all the options we had for food colouring, we ended up with some lovely colours.

We then had a short break to refill on tea or coffee or crack open the mini bottle of prosecco everyone was given.

Taste safe play dough was next on the agenda with 2 different types to make and the additional option to add some prosecco to the dough! We made a traditional coloured play dough with a choice of lemon or peppermint scent (which we had also used with the rice!) And then a chocolate scented dough. The doughs were so simple to make and only use things you probably already have around the house. As with all the items we made, they only take a few minutes to do!

After the play dough fun (kneading the dough was very therapeutic!) We made sensory bottles with coloured water and various little knick knacks which would be interesting for small people to look at.

With everything we made there was a choice of colours and the option to add glitter!

I’d recommend taking a note book and pen so you can quickly jot the recipes down and wear clothes you don’t mind getting a bit mucky as I ended up a bit flour-y!! You get to bring home everything you make so it’s worth taking a bag along with you to make carrying your packs of messy goodies back to the car a bit easier.

I’ve come away from the workshop feeling much more knowledgeable about messy play and ready to have some messy fun with my daughter!

You can find out more details about these classes at:

Disclaimer: This post is a review of the Prosecco Dough Messy Play Basingstoke Workshop. Our class place was supplied free of charge for the purposes of the review. We were not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are the NHM Secret Writers own

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Things to do with a baby in North Hampshire

There are so many classes for babies that you could go to. Take a look at these, bare in mind though that some of these will be pre-booked only.

Thank you VERY much to Shona for putting this post together!

Things to do with a baby in North Hampshire

Newborn classes to meet other mums

NCT Coffee groups

Basingstoke NCT runs coffee groups that meet regularly to support parents-to be and parents. Anyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a member of NCT and is open from pregnancy right up to pre-school age. Opportunities to meet other people and talk to them about their experiences and make new friends.

No fee to attend, there is a collection towards the work the NCT do.


NCT Early Days

This is a group that meets in a supportive, relaxed and friendly atmosphere to openly talk about life as a mum. You can discuss challenges, tips and the reality over the expectations you had/have. You will meet other parents, make friends and gain support and tips. Courses run over 4-6 weekly sessions for new mums. They are aimed at new mums with babies under 6months. There is a fee for this course – enquire via link below.

NCT Early Days

Little Tots Poppins

This is an Art and Messy session followed by Music and Movement.You don’t register, just pop in. The sessions are run on Thursday mornings from 9.30am to 11am and costs £3 per session. The sessions are term time only.

Little Tots Stoney Heath, White Lion Court, Hollybush Farm, Stoney Heath, Ramsdell, Tadley, RG26 5SL. 01256851398

Little Tots Poppins

Little Munchkins Baby

These are Baby Massage and Baby Yoga classes which help you to feel relaxed, happy and confident with your baby. Baby massage helps build bonds and will help you become more in tune and confident with your baby’s needs. The course is taught in 5 weekly session (1 hour long each session). Suitable from birth. It runs on a Tuesday from 11am to 12pm at Tadley Community Centre.

Little Munchkins Baby

Baby Sensory

These are nationwide so have a look online for your local session as there are quite a few in Basingstoke. They offer a musical world of sensory experiences for both parents and children. There are light shows, bells, bubbles, puppets and signing to name but a few of the activities. The class is split into three phases so there is a free play session in the middle where you can play with the toys and activities set out and sit and talk to other mums and dads. Sessions run term time only and the course is £70 per term you wish to take up.

Baby Sensory

Tots Play

This is a 6 week course suitable from birth to 6 months. You learn fun ways to play and communicate with your baby using massage, music, signing and is also a great way to meet other mums. The class runs from 11.20am to 12.20pm and you must book in advance.

Tots Play

Barn Tots

This is a friendly play session from birth to pre-school. They meet at Viables Community Centre on Tuesdays from 10am to 12pm and Thursdays from 9.45am to 11.45am. It is term time only. There are different toys each week and a great soft play area for babies. There is singing and storytime and music and movement too. It costs £2 per session and includes refreshments for adults and a cold drink, fruit and biscuits for the children.

Active Mums

This is an hour long class which starts with a warm up walk which moves up to a power walk. There are exercises throughout the class to strengthen and tone. The route is suitable for any buggy and it’s a great session to get some exercise and meet other mums. The classes run at 11am on a Monday and Wednesday at Basing Wood. It is all year round and no booking is required. 1 session is £4 or you can book 10 sessions online for £35.

Active Mums

Take a look at NHM’s activity pages too for additional classes you could go to






Go out for something to eat

You could go out with baby for a bite to eat too. There are lots of ideas here.

Little Roses Tea Room and Gift Shop – Elm Park Garden Centre, Aldermaston Road, Pamber End, Tadley, RG26 5QW

Open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4.30pm

  • Lovely Little cafe with lovely people and great service.
  • Has a baby changing unit in its disabled toilet with nappy sacks and baby wipes for you to use!
  • Sit upstairs if you have toddlers or want to sit on comfy sofa’s – no gate at the top of the stairs though.
  • Lovely cakes and very reasonable placed.
  • Recommend to avoid the Valley of the Dolls shop next door. Unless you are into that kind of thing of course
  • Cafe is situated at the back of the garden centre to the right and has parking next to it.

Wyevale Garden Centre – Wildmoor Lane, Sherfield on Loddon, Basingstoke, RG27 0HL

Open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays

  • Bit hit and miss with quality of food. Week days better than weekends
  • Join the membership scheme as it’s amazing how quickly you rack up discounts which get you money off future purchases.
  • They have a car cleaner on site, so you can have your car cleaned for a very reasonable price whilst you enjoy lunch or coffee and cake.
  • Baby Changing facilities are in the ladies

Departure Lounge Cafe – Basingstoke Road, Alton, GU34 4BH

Open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on weekends.

  • This cafe is next to a Garden Centre and has part of an aircraft (!!!) at the back of the cafe.
  • Was very impressed as it didn’t look much from the main road.

Newlyns Farm Cafe – Lodge Farm, North Warnborough, Hook, RG29 1HA

Open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm on Saturdays and 9am to 12pm on Sundays

  • Eaten here several times but not with baby so not sure what baby facilities are like. Anyone else been here with their baby?

Squires Garden Centre Badshot Lea Road, Badshot Lea, Farnham, GU9 9JX
Open from 9am – 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays.

  • Lovely cafe here with a room for children with toys and high chairs in which is quite nice.
  • Good quality food
  • Baby changing facilities in the disabled toilets

The Portsmouth Arms – Hatch Warren Lane, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG22 4RA

Food served from 8am to 9pm Monday to Thursday, 8am to 10pm Friday and Saturday and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday

  • Wooden climbing frame and swings for children.
  • Unsure if Baby changing facilities available

Millstone Pub – Barton’s Lane, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 8AE

Food served from 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9pm Monday to Friday and from 12pm to 9pm on weekends

  • A country pub haven, yet only 5 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Basingstoke town centre, the Millstone is set within a conservation area near to the historical Basing house ruins.
  • Children’s Playground next door. Unsure if Baby changing facilities are available.
  • The Millstone hosts a quiz every Thursday from 9pm.

Giraffe – Festival Place Shopping Centre, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Check for discounts before going
  • Reasonably priced kids menu
  • Current deal on for Kids main course, dessert and drink for just £6.50 (correct as of December 2016) all day everyday
  • Step free access which is great if you are taking a pushchair or two.
  • Kids parties are available too.

Zizzi’s – 1 London Street, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7NT

  • Check for discounts before going
  • Bambini Kids Menu – 3 courses and a chococino for £6.75 (correct as of December 2016)

Wagamamas – Festival Place, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Baby Changing facilities are available in the Disabled toilet
  • Seating is on benches and generally not comfortable for breastfeeding
  • Fast and healthy food
  • If you sit at the tables near the entrance, there is enough parking for pushchairs next to the tables at the back.
  • Disabled access can be used for pushchairs.
  • If you are pressed for time (evening feeds, etc.) you can check out your local Wagamama menu on the iPhone or iPad Wagamama application or check online in advance. The Mobile Applications allow you to place your order so it is ready when you arrive. You can also order takeaway using this option.
  • Excellent air con, so if it’s hot outside, this is a great place to be!
  • Reasonably priced kids menu available

Pizza Express – Unit R9, Lower Ground, Festival Place, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG21 7BB

  • Children’s menu available with 3 courses for only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Pizza making parties can be booked for adults and children!
  • They are running an incentive to get children cooking and are encouraging school visits to learn.

Pizza ExpressThe Whitehouse, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6HL

  • Baby Changing facilities in Disabled toilets, with cover for babies to lie on
  • Parking in car park is very small. Alternative parking is available at the football ground which is 3 mins walk away, however, you will need your pushchair as it’s too far to carry the car seat from.
  • Dyson hand dryers (it’s the little things that count!)
  • Very friendly people who like babies!
  • Check for discounts before going
  • Children’s menu available with 3 courses for only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Pizza making parties can be booked for adults and children!
  • They are running an incentive to get children cooking and are encouraging school visits to learn.

Pizza Hut – Brighton Hill Retail Park, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4AN

  • Unlimited salad, unlimited squash and unlimited ice cream factory… how can you argue with that?
  • They have two children’s menus with pizzas, pastas or chicken followed by a drink and Ice Cream factory or a fruit juice ice lolly. Prices start at £5.49 (correct as of December 2016)
  • Baby changing facilities are good here too.
  • Balloons and activity books with crayons are available to keep children busy whilst they wait
  • Children’s parties are available too
  • They also have bottle warming facilities
  • High chairs available too

The Harvester – Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6HN

  • Some tables aren’t big enough for Pushchairs
  • Baby changing facilities are available in disabled toilets.
  • Menu shows the calorie content of each item
  • Starting from £5.99 there is a children’s menu with meals for small children up to 10 years old.
  • Unlimited salad cart too
  • Activity pack with colouring and games to do whilst waiting for food
  • Staff have always been lovely when I’ve been with my child

Mcdonalds  – Brighton Hill Retail Park, Winchester Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4AN

  • If you’re feeling more slummy mummy than yummy mummy and can’t be bothered to mobilise the army, this is a very quick place to get lunch
  • Many more options than used to be, children can have burger, cheeseburger, chicken nuggets or fish fingers. They can also have fries or carrot sticks and for drinks they can have milk, orange juice, fruit shoot or any of the draft drinks.

Nelsons Diner – Newbury Road, Newbury, RG20 4TA

  • I love Nelsons for breakfast. They do a great American breakfast, pancakes with maple syrup. If you aren’t watching your waistline, I totally recommend the milkshakes. Totally moreish. (I may regret putting up such a raving review next time we try to get a table! :-D)
  • Kids menu is available and a meal deal is only £6.95 (correct as of December 2016) which includes a starter, main course and a desert as well as a drink.
  • Children’s parties can also be booked here.
  • Staff have always been really friendly when taken my family there.
  • Changing facilities are basic but adequate.
  • Not much space for pushchairs but there is parking right outside so shouldn’t be much of an issue
  • Highchairs available
  • Play area outside if the weather is nice

Sainsburys – 3 Wallop Drive, Basingstoke, RG22 4TW

  • Children’s meals are developed for ages 5 to 10.
  • They do sell pouches of baby food
  • High chairs are good and have always been clean when we’ve visited
  • Dedicated baby changing room with a toilet in for parents too

Debenhams – Festival Place, Festival Way, Basingstoke, RG21 7BA

  • There is a baby room next to the Restaurant.
  • They also offer a special children’s menu and provide baby food and bottle warming facilities, free bibs and wipes.
  • Two types of high chairs including ones for smaller babies

Morrisons – Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG21 8BJ

  • Fairly limited kids menu but have always been accommodating when I’d asked to adapt it.
  • Children’s lunch boxes are good as there is a choice of contents.
  • £3 kids meal which includes any children’s meal, a fruit bag and a drink
  • Children eat free after 3pm with a full paying adult meal
  • High chairs, microwave and disposable bibs available
  • Baby changing facilities are further from the restaurant right near the store entrance but have always been clean

Olivers Fish and Chips – 39 London Road, Old Basing, Basingstoke, RG24 7JE

  • They have an early Bird Deal at the moment.
  • The restaurant is open every day until 10.30pm, but check the website to confirm this.
  • They do have baby changing facilities and colouring and crayons for bigger children as well as books by the door.
  • Not much space so pushchairs won’t really work.
  • Maybe a place to visit if you are lucky enough to have a night out alone with your partner/husband.
  • Children’s meals are priced from £3.45
  • High chairs are available
  • There is also a takeaway menu for children

Marks and Spencers Cafe – Chineham Shopping Centre, Great Binfields Road, Chineham, RG24 8BG

  • Baby changing in both the male and female toilets
  • High chairs are available and have always been clean
  • Not too cheap but good for a nice treat or even just a coffee and a cake
  • Always clean and tidy
  • Plenty of parking

Nando’s  – Festival Place, Basingstoke, RG21 7BB

  • Open until 11pm most nights
  • Has baby changing facilities
  • They do make you leave push chairs near the door, not always near you which makes me nervous
  • Nandino’s meals for under 10’s – choose one main, a marinade (plain-ish or PERi-tamer), two side and a dessert for £5.65

Spruce Goose – Basingstoke Leisure Park, Worting Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6PG

  • New and improved kids menu
  • All children’s mains come with 1 of your 5 a day
  • Meal deals start from £4.75 and come with a free squash
  • I’ve always found service to be slow when I’ve been there so perhaps better with older children

Queens College Arms – Aldermaston Road, Pamber End, Tadley, RG26 5QR

  • Recommend booking in advance and asking for the “big” table.
  • They have baby changing facilities onsite and bottle warming facilities.
  • Very friendly and welcoming of Mum’s and babies.
  • For bigger children, there is a climbing frame in the pub garden.
  • Meal deal for children includes any meal plus a tub of ice cream or sorbet for £5.75

Dobbies Garden Centre – 166 Hyde End Road, Shinfield, Reading, RG2 9ER

  • If you fancy going a bit further afield or live near Reading, it’s worth checking out the restaurant of this Garden Centre.
  • They have a large restaurant with a big outside eating area.
  • Seems to be quiet because it’s outside of central Reading.

The Cafe Project, Brighton Hill Parade, Off Sullivan Road, Basingstoke, RG22 4EH

  • Open Tuesday to Friday’s from 9.30am to 2pm
  • Fabulous cause, supports adults with learning difficulties; they train the students to gain experience in hospitality and catering and then they go on to find further work experience or paid employment
  • Small children’s menu
  • Friendly and welcoming
  • Lots of high chairs
  • Baby changing facilities

Conkers Garden Centre London Road, Old Basing, Basingstoke, RG24 7LJ

  • Early Bird Meals with children

Go for a day out

You could go out for the day to one of the places we have looked at below…

Legoland – Windsor – Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 4AY

Under 3’s are free – £55.40 for adults (although annual membership is only £100 so two visits and you are already quids in). Rides for little ones too as long as they can sit up. NHM review 2014

The Look Out Discovery centre – Nine Mile Ride, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 7QW

Under 4’s are free and adults are £7.30. They also run a parent and toddler offer, so you can get a bonus card and when it is stamped, your 6th visit is free. This is only during term time and Monday-Friday.

Marwell Zoo – Thompson’s Lane, Colden Common, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 1JH

Prices during winter are £15 per adult and free for under 2’s. NHM review 2014

The Hawk Conservancy – Visitor Centre, Sarson Lane, Weyhill, Andover, SP11 8DY

  • Was a bit skeptical about this place before going but it was an absolutely brilliant day out.
  • Loved the Bird Displays, the Ferret Racing and the opportunity to have an eagle sit on your arm!

Prices for an adult entry are £14.50 and under 4’s are free. NHM review 2013

Paultons ParkOwer, Romsey, The New Forest, Hampshire, SO51 6AL

Children under 1 meter are free. Adults and children over 1 metre are £27.25 if booked online in advance.

Playdays2 Stewart Road, KingsLand Business Park, Basingstoke, RG24 8NF

Indoor soft play area with cafe. Under 1’s are free. You can download the app too for discounts. There are also meal deals for children.

JJ’s –  Unit B, Morse Road, Basingstoke, RG22 6NE

Indoor soft play area with cafe. Varying prices for entry depending on age of child and whether it’s peak or off peak.

Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway Wide Lane, Eastleigh, SO50 5PE

Adult ticket (return) is £3.50 or you can get 3 rides for the price of two. First class is only 50p more. Children under 2 ride free. There is also a cafe here. NHM review 2013

Finkley Down Farm – Andover, SP11 6NF

Under 2’s are free. There’s so much to do here, soft play, farm animals, outdoor play areas and many more. There is a lovely cafe with plenty of seating. Open all year round too. NHM review 2013

Beale Park – Lower Basildon, Pangbourne, Berkshire, RG8 9NW

Closes from November to February.  Under 2’s are free. There are outdoor play areas (with some specifically for toddlers), indoor play areas, animals, walks, cafe and even a pool in the summer. Adult admission is £7.

Bucklebury Farm – Bucklebury, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 6RR

Lovely big play areas for children, a bus to play on too. Slides inside and also tractor rides out to see the deer. Lots of animals to see too and you can also feed animals. Children under 2’s are free. NHM review 2015

Manor Farm  – Pylands Lane, Bursledon, Southampton, SO31 1BH

Under 3’s are free. Car parking is pay and display. There’s a historic farm, you can meet the animals and do lots of woodland walks. Interactive too, you can feed the chickens and help with milking.

RHS Wisley – Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB

Under 5’s are free. Lots of lovely gardens to explore.

Birdworld – Holt Pound, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 4LD

Under 3’s are free. Lots of birds to see and also flying displays and other activities to watch/take part in. NHM review 2013

Rainy day activities

If the weather isn’t very good, there are some great ideas of rainy day activities here too.

Treasure baskets

I have recently published a post about treasure baskets and the benefits for little ones. Have a read of it here.

Sensory activities

Having previously worked in a nursery, Shona recommends using everyday things around the house to do different sensory activities. You can buy a tuff spot from Wickes which is great for letting babies explore with their whole bodies in just a nappy. You can use things like custard powder and water, small amount of water mixed with different food colouring, cooked pasta/spaghetti, baked beans, different fruits/vegetables, sand with spoons/scoops. The lists are endless! You can also use different dry items. Use old baby food jars and poke holes in the lids then fill with things like mint, lavender, lemon etc. Make your own play dough with this recipe and play with spoons, rolling pins etc.

Do a mini photoshoot

We all love taking pictures of our little ones so grab your camera and do a mini photoshoot with things you have around the house. Baskets, blankets, lights. It’s a great way to bond and make lots of memories you can save for a lifetime.


If your baby is on the move and exploring things, a library can be a great place for them to have a look through some books and come home with a couple of new ones.
Local Libraries


Babies really enjoy the sensory experience of visiting an aquarium. The bonus being that they are indoors too! Perfect for a rainy day.
Blue Reef – Portsmouth
Oceanarium – Bournemouth


Softplay – Active Tots has areas for small babies.


Swimming – Basingstoke Sports centre has a small pool that is kept at 32 degrees and open between 12 and 1.30 on a weekday and is an open session.

I would also check out the QMC pool as we swam in there last year and it was really warm! Also check out my 2013 review of Basingstoke Aquadrome.


Pots 2 Paint – Viables Craft Centre

A great way to get some special Christmas (or birthday) presents done. Handprints or footprints of your little one whilst they are tiny, will be treasured forever!

Baby Massage Classes

We did a baby massage class through our local children’s centre and I really enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to bond with my daughter when she was tiny.

There are also several Mum’s in the area who run their own Baby Massage classes. I posted a list of them HERE.

Find some Mummy friends!

There are lots of Mum groups in the area who are on Facebook.  It’s a great and easy way to keep in touch. If you are feeling a bit lonely, then post something up and you will be overwhelmed with the response. You can find some of these groups HERE.

North Hampshire Mum’s are VERY friendly and supportive :-D.

Grab a coffee and cake

There are LOADS of little cafe’s in the area which are very supportive of new parents. My favourite for new parents is Elm Tree Garden centre (which I haven’t been to for ages!) which even supplies wet wipes in emergencies!

I also really love the Parlour Tea rooms, but it’s very popular now (for a good reason!) so you need to book in advance. It can get VERY busy.

There is also a tea room in Whitchurch, The Curiositea Room, which I hope to check out soon as it looks lovely! I still haven’t been to the Tea Bar at the top of town either, which looks lovely too! More recommendations by NHM readers can be found here.

Go for a walk

Yes, I know it’s raining. Sometimes though, it’s just good to wrap up and get out of the house. Put the waterproof cover on the pushchair and just go out of the house and get wet. It’s not going to hurt either of you to get some fresh air, just make sure your baby is well covered. There’s no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing!

We love Basing Wood and the Lime Pits (as I’ve raved about before!) but there is a great list of local walks suitable for pushchairs HERE. You can also see a reviews I’ve done on Alice Holt and Farleigh Mount.

Go (window) shopping

There are lots of local independent shops in the area. You can find a list of them HERE.

Also, you can’t go wrong in Festival Place. It’s mostly covered and sometimes it’s nice to just wander around or people watch.

Debenhams cafe has a bottle warmer and microwave if you are weaning.

Go swimming

I asked for recommendations for warm swimming pools to take babies in the area on my NHM facebook profile. Here are the recommendations.

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NHM Readers: What I would buy if i was doing it all again!

I recently asked the Friends of  my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook what they would buy or not buy if they were to have another baby based on their experiences (Thank you very much to everyone who responded!)

These were the responses I received. They are in no particular order

NHM Readers: What would I buy or not buy if I was to do it all again?

Mindy said: I probably wouldn’t bother with a breastfeeding pillow as we encourage mums to lean back now and you don’t need a pillow for that. Also you may not need a breast pump, wait and see and buy if needed. Ditto with steriliser.

Jessica said: I wouldn’t bother with a breast pump, electric bottle warmer, cot duvet and bumpers, a pram that doesn’t have a car seat adapter, baby carrier/harness or millions of outfits in newborn or 0-3 months. I would buy again an electric steriliser, bottle warming flask, sleep pods/sleeping bags, pram system with car seat adapters.

Mary said: I would buy a proper sidecar cot and would buy a proper sling or find out about the sling library to see what was best.

Kathryn said: I had my 3rd baby 8 months ago, after my second we got rid of everything except the cot and car seat. Before my youngest was born we bought a new sling and got given some clothes. Nothing else was needed.

Donna said: If bottle feeding, the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep is one that I wish I had now and definitely pushchair with car seat attachments.

Shona said: I wouldn’t buy a fancy swing or rocker as he barely used it. I would stick with my Perfect Prep machine every time. I wouldn’t buy a bath seat again but I love my bath sponge that you just lay them on and they stay in one place.

Colleen said: Wouldn’t bother with car seat adaptors as barely used them, and you’re not supposed to leave baby in car seat for longer than necessary anyhow. Nappy bin is a waste of time, just use nappy bags. Change table would have been pointless as all mine moved so much it wasn’t safe to change them past floor height from about 4 months.

Jenni said: Ikea high chair is the best, easy to clean and can get an insert for little babies.

Wendy said: Best buys: Good quality stroller (worth spending money here), Morrck blanket, Ikea high chair, side crib, sling. Worst buys: New travel system (buy them second hand) and anything that takes up space in your living room (rocker chairs, rocking horses etc).

Mary said: Don’t bother with: shoes until they walk (couldn’t get the damn things on his curled up feet), faffy outfits in the first 3 months as you have to change them so often per day, stick to lots of baby gros! Gimmicky toys, they don’t take notice and you’ll be given loads as gifts anyway. Too many clothes in newborn size, in case you have a big baby and never end up using them, again you will be sent loads of clothes. Sit in walker.

Do get: Ikea or Baby Bjorn high chair that is completely wipe clean. All those ones with straps and padding get filthy and you shouldn’t need straps anyway as babies should be able to sit unaided before you wean. A good sling if you are having a second baby, they sleep for ages in them leaving you hands free. Set up a little changing station on both floors with mat/nappies/wipes so everything is to hand. We personally found nappy bins useful, don’t want to traipse out to the bin every 5 mins. If breast/mixed feeding, Medela bottles are great as baby needs to use same motion to drink helping you switch with ease. Grobags – no worrying about blankets etc. Monitor with a camera. Sock ons for no more lost socks.

Donna said: Yes to the sock ons – best buy ever!

Catherine said: Do get sling, zip up swaddle, side crib, ear thermometer, playmat/gym and video monitor.

Don’t get alarm for under mattress (unnecessary hateful thing), any body thermometer other than an earone, stupid light up egg room thermometer, highchair (there are some nice small ones that cost a bit, we got a high padded one which we never used after the first month as I replaced it with £20 one you attach to a chair) and any outfits in newborn that don’t button under nappy, they just ride up.

Jennie said: I’d buy a bath sponge seat, proper sling, cloth nappies and a baby swing. I wouldn’t bother with a side cot for the bed (it got used for storage whilst she slept in our bed), baby outfits, baby shoes, playmat or a change table. I have a bad back so getting upstairs to get to the changing table was as much of an issue as changing on my lap/floor.

Vicky said: Our best buys were the Baby Bjorn bouncer, a mothercare fabric bath support, a decent baby monitor/camera, lovely soft blanket for in and out of the pram, vests and sleepsuits. This may sound a bit strange but I bought puppy pads (cheap from TK Maxx) to put under his bum during nappy off time – they catch the urine and absorb it rather than laying on a wet towel. If you’re breast feeding I found the Lansinoh disposable nursing pads to be fantastic. I’d also buy a decent sling. Personally I wouldn’t bother with baby shoes, dribble bibs, baby outfits, fabric breast pads (just leaked straight through to clothes) and loads of cuddly toys.

Vicky said: Perfect prep is a genius if bottle feeding. Lots of muslins – I found M&S ones the softest and they wash well. Shnuggle baby bath is amazing – 2 free hands almost from birth. Aldi nappies are cheap and brilliant. Lots of babygrows, sleepsuits and vests for the first couple of months. Swaddles and then grobags – I find the Sainsbury’s ones the best.

Lisa said: Think most things I would suggest have been covered. My only addition is to not bother with special tummy time gadgets. Spent a lot of money on a Lamaze toy which was a complete waste of money! I think a good buggy is essential. I bought mine 2nd hand which was fine but chose cost over personal choice.

Gemma said: I’d get a baby sling from day one. I wish I’d got mine for baby number two earlier. I missed out the first few weeks of sling time!  
Wouldn’t bother with a Baby Bjorn as it hurt my back (let alone being bad for baby’s hips) Could manage without moses basket and pram part of a travel system. Only need one or the other, not both, especially if you get a buggy that lays flat for newborns which many do now.

Cerys said: All I needed for no 3 were nappies, a wrap sling, sleepsuits and boobs.

Melanie said: Best buys: Baby Bjorn bouncer (suitable from newborn and last years. Indestructible!) Oxo perfect pull wipes dispenser means you only need one hand to pull them out and keeps them moist. Cheeky wipes are great if your child suffers from nappy rash or you want something environmentally friendly. Monitor and webcam. Nappy bin. Ability to play music wirelessly in their bedroom (so you can put it on without going in). Jumparoo. Vtech Walker.
Don’t buys (based on things neither of my children liked): Crawl ball, door bouncer, sit in walker (but think it would be better on wooden or tiled floors)

Mata said: I would buy: Cot bed that can be used as a 3 sided bedside cot as well as a toddler bed. Nursing bras, breast pads, changing mat, wipes, nappy bin, sling, pushchair, car seat that attaches to pushchair, vest, sleepsuits, large hooded towels (still in use at age 5), sleeping bag and blanket.

Maybe: Moses basket (for daytime naps downstairs)

Wouldn’t bother: Baby bath, sponges/wash mitts, cute outfits, scratch mitts, playmat, bouncy chair/swing, standard cot, toys, lay-flat separate pram, feeding equipment, purpose-made changing bag and Bumbo seat.

Natashia said: Personally I would recommend a “try before you buy” approach where possible for example renting a sling or electric breast pump and attending sales for second hand bits where you can stock up on essentials for your baby’s next phase. For nappies sure Aldi, Lidl or own brands are cheaper but if you like the leading brands then keep a close eye on supermarket offers and shop around as it then works out to almost the same as own brands.

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Yoga Babes: Five ways to calm a crying or tired baby

Today’s guest post is by Rosanna of Yoga Babes

Five ways to calm a crying or tired baby

One of the ways babies communicate with their parents and carers is by crying. When we hear that cry it can trigger different emotions for us such as sadness, frustration or even anger. It’s usually an adult’s natural instinct when they hear a baby cry to soothe and help the baby back to state of contentment, and to stop the crying.

I’m Rosanna, a mum of two under 5s and the instructor at Yoga Babes mother and baby Yoga in Hook, Hampshire. My children may cry (just a little!) less than they did when they were young, but I sure do remember those days well. I have been practicing yoga since before having my children, during pregnancy, labour and birth, and ever since. There are many yoga-based techniques that have changed my life as a parent, and outside of that. In this post I’m going to share with you five tips to calm a crying or tired baby that I’ve learnt through doing yoga, training as a baby yoga instructor and from my own experiences as a parent.

The challenge – it’s not always easy to know the reason for your baby’s cry, which can be upsetting and frustrating for parents. We have to try and remember that crying is a very normal part of a baby’s early years, and much like adults – all babies are different. Some babies will cry more than others, some babies will laugh more than others and some babies will sleep more than others. They are each beautifully different in their own unique way.

There are many reasons for a baby to cry including hunger, tiredness, boredom, loneliness, pain, feeling too cold or too hot or discomfort from things like wind or constipation.  

Whatever the reason for a baby crying, it’s important to remember the power of physical contact between babies and their parents or carer. Touch reduces stress levels for baby and parent, so holding your baby is a good place to start when they are crying, unsettled or overtired.

The first, perhaps obvious port of call would be checking if your baby is hungry, as that is one of the main reasons for a young baby to cry. It might not matter that you fed them one hour ago or even less, young babies are growing at such a rapid rate compared to the rest of their lives, so their hunger can be extremely regular and have no pattern whatsoever. Even though it can be tiring, feed your baby whenever they are hungry rather than trying to stick to a timetable, as this can cause unnecessary stress for both you and your baby.

Holding your baby

If a baby is fed and changed and there is no other known discomfort, a huge reason for babies to cry is because they want the comfort of being held. Some parents try to fight this fact – so it’s important to realise that after spending nine months being permanently held in your womb, it’s going to take a baby some time to gain independence. Perhaps weeks, perhaps months, or even years, but it’s fundamental for your baby’s emotional development that you support them carefully through this transition to living in the outside world. I know from my youngest son who needed to be held a lot, that it can be exhausting for parents to be attached to their babies for long periods of time, so see if you can get help from your partner, friends and family if you need some time out. Baby wraps, slings and carriers are also a great help so you can have your hands free – I couldn’t have lived without them! Try and enjoy these cuddles and this physical connection with your baby when you can, (rather than resenting it) because it doesn’t last forever.

Holding your baby gives them a deep sense of security, they can usually feel your heartbeat, your warmth, hear your voice and your breathing which is extremely reassuring for a small baby. There are many different ways to hold your baby, many of which we practice in my baby yoga class. Different holds can aid different needs, such as digestion, comfort and sleeping.


If you can move while holding your baby, all the better! I was so pleased when I found that I could settle my son’s 6pm (and 10pm, and 3am etc etc…!) cries by holding him or popping him in the baby wrap and walking around my lounge. Even though it was small, the little movement I could do by walking or simply rocking him side to side saved me hours of his crying if I had left him crying away from me. The movement can relieve stress for parents too, providing rhythm and mindfulness to relax the body and mind. In yoga we often use different types of walking for strength, balance, coordination and relaxation.


Even if you don’t agree, your singing voice is the best one there is as far as your baby is concerned! Singing is the perfect way to connect with your baby and release endorphins for babies and parents, which in turn relaxes them when they are feeling unsettled. Singing is also key for brain development in young babies and helps them with the early parts of language development. If your baby is crying because they are bored or frustrated, singing is a brilliant way to engage them and entertain them out of crying. It doesn’t matter what you sing – pop songs, nursery rhymes, lullabies or even (my favourite) – made up songs! Your baby is sure to love the sound of your soothing voice to settle them. In my baby yoga class, we usually use singing with movement which is a great combination to relax your baby and shift them towards a positive mood.

Physical activity

If you have a baby that gets overtired or cries at naptime or bedtime you might find that what you do with them during the daytime makes a big difference. Baby yoga moves are gentle movements you can do with your baby that involve strengthening their limbs, muscles and body, improve coordination and balance and stimulate your baby’s senses. Doing all of these things can make your baby to feel tired, helping them to feel relaxed, settled and fall asleep more easily.


This part is definitely for babies and parents or carers. Babies will pick up on our stress, sadness, frustration and anger and in turn may exhibit similar emotions that make them cry or become unsettled. When we relax it gives our minds the space and time to process emotions in an orderly fashion, rather than over-react to them. Physical relaxation can promote mental and emotional relaxation, and the great news is that you can practice relaxation with your baby, to benefit you both. I remember that when I had small babies, it was too easy to be in a continual cycle of ticking jobs off my list. Laundry, cleaning, tidying, sterilising bottles, responding to emails and messages, getting a changing bag ready for the next outing, even just trying to plan your day. The list goes on… But on reflection I asked myself some questions. How important is it to get ALL these things done today? What will happen if don’t? Do I feel at my best when I have a constant list of to-dos?  Are they more important than spending time connecting and bonding with my baby? Are they more important than spending ten minutes to relax and restore my body and mind before carrying on with the day? Maybe you can ponder your own answers to these questions.

No one is suggesting that you live in a pigsty and throw in the towel on any jobs whatsoever, but more that you aim to get some balance in your daily activities. We can do this by making time for relaxation. A result of your relaxed self will most likely be a relaxed baby by your side.

By doing a short relaxation exercise that involves focusing on your breathing, sounds, your bodily sensations or simply just lying still can create a luxurious feeling of calm for you and your baby. Try it lying with your baby, where they might focus on your touch, breath or heartbeat, or just mirror your stillness. This takes practice for babies too! It might be a good idea to try a relaxation half an hour before your baby’s planned bedtime or nap time, so that they have wound down before bed, rather than trying to do it a time when they’ve been become overtired and worked up.  If you get the chance, if someone else is around to watch your baby, try a relaxation on your own too and enjoy the peace and clarity it can bring you.

It’s important not to try and force a relaxed feeling as that can have the opposite effect, but by practising on focusing on our physical self or perhaps an idyllic visualisation, the relaxation can come naturally. There is no pass or fail here either, some days you may not be able to reach a feeling of relaxation – that’s ok, just try again tomorrow.

We practice relaxation in my baby yoga classes because for many (myself included) this is not always an easy activity to learn. But the more your practice the more you realise the need for this wonderful pastime and its life changing benefits – all you need is yourself.

I’m a Birthlight baby yoga teacher and I teach mother and baby yoga classes in Hook, near Basingstoke, Hampshire every Thursday morning. The class offers gentle yoga movements for mothers and babies aged 3-9 months. For more information visit or email

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Rhythm Babes: Westside Community Centre

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Review 2018: Pots To Doodle Do

Thank you very much to today’s NHM Secret Reviewer! She’s done a fab job!

Review 2018: Pots To Doodle Do

First of all, I haven’t been asked to review Pots to Doodle Do by anyone – I’m doing it as someone who booked to make some Christmas baubles and was so impressed and pleased with the results I wanted to share!

I booked in to Pots to Doodle Do after seeing a Facebook post about making decorations for the Christmas tree.  I have a toddler and a 4 month old and having been to various other places to do such things previously I thought I knew what to expect…..

How wrong was I?? I was slightly apprehensive about dealing with paint and a toddler while no doubt having to feed the baby (always happens doesn’t it?!) but Tracey could not have been more helpful! In other places we’ve just been left with the items we’ve chosen and the paint and got on with it – not this time, Tracey put the paint on the toddlers’ hand and the baby’s foot, stamped it onto the bauble then cleaned them up.  Sounds simple but I’m sure parents will understand where I’m coming from……….

We then had access to a huge array of paint, sponges, brushes and stickers to let the creative juices flow.  We were given a booklet with some photos of previous creations to give us direction if needed and Tracey made sure everyone got what they wanted from the experience, around to help if needed, checked on us and the progress but we didn’t feel rushed at all – a delicate balance it achieve!

The finished products were collected a week later and are brilliant – well worth the effort and importantly not expensive.

The location in Cliddesden is fairly simple to find and there’s parking by the village pond.  Once inside it’s warm and welcoming, there’s hot drinks and snacks available to purchase and Tracey goes out of her way to put you at ease (I was terrified of my toddler and ceramics……..)  By far the best experience of all so far!

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