South East Wales Baby & Toddler Swimming Classes

Cwac Cwacs

I took my son to Cwac Cwacs from about 8 weeks old until he was 2. The staff are lovely and the pool is very warm, lessons include songs and instructions in Welsh language but you do not need to speak Welsh to attend.

30 minute group sessions for 3 months – 5 years cost £96 per term (8 lessons @ £12 per lesson) call Matt to book on 07903049226 or visit the Cwac Cwacs Facebook page for more info.

2:1 & 1:1 sessions also available for 3-8 yrs (Fully booked for Sept term)

LocationDays
Holiday Inn, TongwynlaisMon-Fri & Sun

Splash Central Cardiff

Splash Central run classes from their own pool on Ocean Way. 30 minute parent & baby sessions for under 3’s cost £120 per term (10 lessons @ £12 per lesson)

LocationDays
Splash Central, Ocean Way, CardiffMon-Fri & Sun

Turtle Tots Cardiff

Turtle tots run 30 minute group classes from 3 months – 4 years costing £120 per term (8 lessons @ £15 per lesson) Lessons can be booked on the Turtle Tots website.

LocationDays
Everlast Fitness, NewportSat & Sun
Miskin Manor, PontyclunTues

Water Babies

Water Babies run classes from birth to 6 years, lessons cost £17.50 per class. To book call 01633 278504 or email glideswim@waterbabies.co.uk Visit the Water Babies website for more info.

LocationDays
Village Hotel, CardiffMon-Fri
Radyr Comprehensive SchoolSunday
Heath Hospital, Cardiff Mon-Fri & Sun
Miskin Manor, Pontyclun Wed, Thurs, Fri
John Frost School, NewportSaturdays

Puddle Ducks

Puddle Ducks currently provide swimming classes for babies age 0-4 years at a cost of £16.00 per lesson. Available classes can be booked online on the Puddle Ducks website.

LocationDays
Novotel, CardiffMon, Tues & Fri
Mercure Cardiff Holland HouseTues & Sunday
Fitzalan High SchoolSaturday
Everlast Fitness, NewportSaturday

Cardiff International Pool

Cardiff International Pool have classes running wednesday-Sunday for children age 3 months – 4 years and cost a very affordable £22.50 per month. Classes can be booked online but are currently full.

Swim Kids

Class timetable can be viewed on the Swim Kids website but you must call 01656647001 to book. They recently published a list of classes which have availability on their Facebook Page. I have requested info on pricing and will update when I receive it.

LocationDays
Hebron Hall, Dinas PowysWed-Sat
St Martins School, CaerphillyMon-Wed, Fri & Sun

Better Leisure

Better Leisure run ‘Swimbies’ for babies & Toddlers age 3 months – 3 years and Pre School lessons for 3-5 years for a very reasonable £25.50 per month. Available classes can be booked online here.

LocationDays
Llanishen Leisure Centre, CardiffTues & Thurs – From 3 mths
Maindy Leisure Centre, CardiffMon & Thursday (3-5 yrs only)
Fairwater Leisure Centre, Ely, CardiffTuesday (3-5 yrs only)
Western Leisure Centre, CardiffMonday (3-5 yrs only)
STAR Hub, Splott, CardiffWednesday (3-5 yrs only)
Eastern Leisure Centre, Cardiff Mon & Sat (3-5 yrs only)

Bubble Tots

Baby & Preschool Swimming Lessons for children aged 0-36 months run in Cwmbran, Newport & Chepstow for just £10.00 per 30 minute lesson (payable in terms of 6-12 weeks). Contact 07876 240043 to book.

LocationDays
Crownbridge School, CwmbranSat & Sun

Folly Farm Review

Folly Farm is one of Wales’ most popular family attractions and is especially suited to younger children. We visited on a Sunday in August during the Summer Holidays with our 2 year old and 6 month old to see what the hype was all about.

Where is Folly Farm?

Folly Farm is located 6 miles from Tenby and 5 miles from Bluestone Resort in Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire.

Can you stay at Folly Farm?

Folly Farm also has a holiday park set in 100 acres of countryside. The Park includes camping and touring pitches, ‘Showman’s Wagons’ and a self catering cottage. You can check availability and pricing here.

What is there to do at Folly Farm?

Folly Farm is set in 120 acres and includes indoor and outdoor play areas, a zoo, a barn with farm animals and a fairground. It really is huge so you probably won’t get to see all of it on your first visit. The whole park is buggy/wheelchair accessible so it’s a good idea to take one if your little is likely to get tired walking around for hours. We arrived at 10am when the park opens and stayed for 4 hours. During this time we visited the zoo and barn, took a ride on the land train and played in Carousel Woods indoor play area.

What Zoo animals live at Folly Farm?

We were impressed by the variety of animals in Folly Farm Zoo which includes Giraffes, Lions, Rhinos, Giant Tortoise, Penguins, Monkeys and Meerkats.

How much does it cost to visit?

Although it isn’t cheap, I think Folly Farm is good value for money given the amount they have there. If you are planning to visit three or more times in a year it is cheaper to buy an annual pass.

Ticket Prices 2021:

TicketDay PriceAnnual Pass
Adult£19.95£50
Child (3-15 years)£17.95£45
Toddler (2 years)£12.95£30
Over 60 £17.95 £45
Family Annual pass £184

Other info

Some activities such as the fair ground rides require you to purchase tokens at an extra cost to your ticket price. We avoided this area as our children were too young for these rides. I would also take a picnic as food and drink is quite expensive and nothing special.

Childcare Offer for Wales Explained

The childcare offer for Wales provides working parents of 3 & 4 year olds with 30 hours of free childcare per week for 48 weeks of the year. This is made up of combined childcare during term time (12.5 hrs early years education, 17.5 hrs childcare) and 30 hrs of childcare per week during the holidays.

Who is eligible

To be eligible for the offer both parents must earn a weekly minimum equivalent of 16 hours at the national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW) but less than £100,000 (per parent) per tax year. There are some exemptions to this, for example if one parent has substantial caring responsibilities or is employed but on maternity leave.

Self-employed parents and parents on zero hours contracts are eligible if they can meet the minimum earnings criteria over a 3 month period. A 12 month grace period is given to newly self employed parents and they will not need to prove their earnings until after this time.

When to Apply

Month of birthFirst term for childcareWhen to apply
April-August 2018Autumn 2021 (September)July 2021
September – December 2018Spring 2022 (January)November 2021
January – March 2019Summer 2022 (April)Feb 2022

Registered Providers

Visit dewis.wales to find out if your chosen provider is currently signed up to the childcare offer. Make sure you check they have ‘childcare offer’ spaces before applying.

Baby and Toddler Summer Classes

Ararat Church Baby & Toddler Sessions running throughout July & August

Ararat Under 1s Baby & Toddler Mondays 13:30-14:30 & Fridays 10-11

Ararat Get Outside With Toddlers Mondays 10-11:15 & Fridays – 13:30-14:45

Mission Fitness BuggyFit

Continues throughout the summer holidays :

09:30 Tues & Thurs – Roath

09:30 Wed – Llandaff

You can read my full buggyfit review here

CCYC Gymnastics Parent & Toddler sessions

Weekdays – 10-11am

Sundays – 09:30-10:30 am & 1:15-2:15 pm

Little Fizz Summer Classes

Little Fizz are running classes throughout Cardiff & Caerphilly every weekday during the summer holidays. Separate sessions run for 2-15 months and 1-4 years. Sessions can be booked individually here.

Only Flowers Grown In Dirt

Saturday & Sunday mornings at 10am in Waterloo Gardens, Roath. A different theme each week! Individual sessions can be booked here.

FJDC Mini Movers

Baby & Toddler classes in Dinas Powys & Caerphilly continue throughout the summer on Mon, Wed, Thurs & Sat. Full class timetable and booking here

Tough Motherz

Meeting at 10am outside Penylan Library every Thursday, as the name suggests this is a tough workout that will probably leave you aching for a few days! Bring along your baby and they will enjoy a walk around the park as you sweat it out! More info & booking here

A Guide to… Sleep Training

Background

Having had a baby who slept for most of the day in his first 4 months and was sleeping through the night by 5 months, our second child was a bit of a shock to the system. She was born almost 2 weeks past her due date and came out very alert, she must have maxed out on newborn sleep while still in the womb!

Her night sleep started well, waking generally once for a feed until around 12 weeks when she became really unsettled. Daytime naps were not something that seemed to interest her, sometimes only having one or two a day. She also had reflux and spent a lot of the time being very uncomfortable. I introduced a dummy quite early on, around 2 weeks as she was gaining weight and had taken well to breastfeeding. She was feeding a lot for comfort but it was actually making her then feel worse and projectile vomiting became the norm.

At around 12 weeks she started waking every 1-2 hours and was very unsettled. I quickly got into a cycle of feeding her to sleep and bringing her into bed in the early hours of the morning just to get some sleep!

I’m not sure if this was the 4 month sleep regression setting in early or a result of her vaccinations but it continued until 20 weeks when I decided something needed to change. Sleep deprivation was effecting my mood and motivation and the thought of a day alone with our baby and toddler filled me with dread.

Research

I’ve always been big on routine and read various books including:

  • Your Baby Week by Week by Dr Caroline Fertleman & Simone Cave – This is the book I buy friends who are having their first baby, it guides you through each week for the first 6 months including required sleep, naps, feeds, nappies, development, health appointments and common illnesses.
  • 7pm-7am Sleeping Baby Routine by Charmain Mead – This book made me realise that hunger wasn’t the only reason my baby was crying. I started focusing on a nap routine and ensuring a good long feed every 3 hours during the day rather than constant snacking which was making her sick. I liked that this book was a bit more geared towards breastfeeding than the Sensational Baby Sleep plan and gives advice on gradually reducing feeds at night.
  • The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan by Alison Scott-Wright – I saw a few people mention this book, which focusses on getting your baby to self soothe between sleep cycles. As with the Sleeping Baby routine this book emphasises the importance of a nap schedule to ensure your baby is getting enough day sleep.

I also researched ‘The Ferber Method’ which was recommended by a friend. This method involves leaving your baby for gradually increased periods of time before comforting them.

I quickly realised that all of these methods shared certain themes:

  • Baby sleeps in their own cot (preferably in their own room)
  • Implement a bedtime routine as early as possible.
  • Implement a daytime nap schedule to ensure baby is having enough sleep and isn’t overtired for bed
  • Do not dream feed when you go to bed
  • Do not go to them the second they wake up (sometimes they will go back to sleep on their own)
  • Ensure baby is gaining weight well and isn’t unwell before starting any sleep training
  • Reassure baby without picking them up when they cry
  • Aim for no feeds during the night (if baby is gaining weight and is not unwell)

They also all advise not to use a dummy as it prevent them from self settling. I ignored this bit as I found it a useful tool for my eldest. I just replace the dummy when I go in to reassure her if she has lost it.

Bedtime routine

We started her bedtime routine very early as I was already doing bath and story every night for her brother so it made sense to pop them in together. Her bedtime routine is now as follows:

  • Bath
  • Dressed for bed in her dimly lit bedroom
  • Story with her brother
  • Lullaby’s on the Alexa during last feed
  • White noise on and bed

Sleep Training Day 1

I followed Alison’s advice and cleared my diary for the first few days to ensure I could focus on daytime naps in her cot when possible. I also asked my Mum to have our toddler overnight so I wasn’t worried about him being disturbed if she cried. I got her to have 3 naps on Day 1, 2 in her cot. She resisted and took quite a few reassurance visits at first. I didn’t follow set time periods to offer reassurance, just listened and followed my instincts.

Night 1 she was in her own room and woke 5 times which was not surprising as this was pretty normal for her. What was surprising was how quickly she went back to sleep without being fed. It generally took 2 reassurance visits but she was asleep within about 10 minutes each time. At 04:35 I decided to feed her as I was feeling like I might explode and felt like reducing feeds from 4-5 a night to none was unfair. She woke up on her own at 7:20am.

Day 2

Daytime naps didn’t go as well on day 2, her first at 9am was fine in her cot but then she fell asleep at midday for 10 mins in the pram and refused to settle for a lunch nap. She then slept for 1hr 40mins at 3pm so her total daytime sleep was still good.

Night 2 went much better than night 1, 3 awake periods lasting about 5 mins each and only 1 reassurance visit required each time. Again I fed her at around 4:30am. This time she slept until 8am when I woke her up.

Day 3

Daytime naps on day 3 had to happen on the move due to various appointments. nap 1 – 10-11am in pram, nap 2 – 2.15-3:05pm at Grandparents – Nap 3 – 20 mins in the car on the way home from a friends at 6pm (not ideal).

She was a bit more unsettled going to sleep on night 3 as she was so overtired (4 reassurance visits) but once asleep it went really well. She woke for 5 minutes at 2:30 then slept until 6:30, no night feeds!

Summary

For 20 weeks old I am really happy with the progress we made over 3 days. I’ll keep focusing on daytime naps and hopefully she will be sleeping through the night soon! Until the next regression that is…

How I cured my daughter’s cradle cap in 3 days without spending a penny!

Both of my children had Cradle Cap in their first few months, it’s harmless but if left untreated can hang around for a long time. I’m pretty sure I left my son’s to resolve itself but our daughter had it a bit worse so was keen to get it treated for her. There are cradle cap treatments available to buy online but I found the following, chemical free method worked wonders:

Step 1

I gently rubbed in some coconut oil I had in the cupboard for cooking and left overnight.

Step 2

The following morning I used a soft bristle brush to gently remove any loose flakes.

Step 3

In the evening I washed her hair with baby shampoo and then reapplied coconut oil before bed.

I can’t believe that after 3 days of this routine it was pretty much all gone! Here are the before and after pics:

Newborn Products I actually used…

I’m not calling this list ‘Newborn Essentials’ because all babies are different and not having these items will have no detrimental effect on your baby, but they will probably make your life easier . I have owned all the products on this list and either used them for both of my babies or bought for my second and wish I had first time around.

Love to Dream Original, Swaddle Up

I never swaddled my firstborn so it hadn’t occurred to me to get one for my second. It quickly became clear she wasn’t going to settle as easily as her brother and liked to be held tight as she fell asleep. She also waved her arms about a lot which would wake her up or knock her dummy out. The love to dream Swaddle Up is designed to be ‘hip-healthy’ and allows an arms up sleeping position which is preferred by most babies. it’s also much easier to put on than using a swaddle blanket and won’t come loose.

Snuza Hero

I didn’t use a breathing monitor for my first baby but with our second having reflux I was a little more on edge. I looked at various monitors and the Snuza Hero seemed like the best option for our budget. I have heard the matt style breathing monitors can give false alarms so I like that the Snuza Hero is always attached to your baby. You can spend hundreds on techy monitors but I preferred a low tech option where there is less to go wrong (have heard of signal dropping out on some Bluetooth models). I was initially concerned it would be too bulky and disturb her sleep but she never seemed to notice it. There is a light on the front which flashes every time they breathe. This is great for those times in the middle of the night when you can’t hear them breathing and end up needlessly waking them.

Image credit: snuza.com

Chicco Next 2 Me Crib

The side sleeping Next 2 Me Crib by Chicco allows you sleep next to your baby without bed sharing. I loved being able to see my babies and have them close enough to comfort without having to get out of bed. The crib tilting function was useful for our second baby who suffers with reflux.

Image credit: Chicco.co.uk

Sleepyhead/ DockATot Deluxe

I used this sleeping pod for both babies and actually bought ours second hand for £30 as I wasn’t sure if our son would take to it and couldn’t justify the £130 price tag. This has been one of my favourite baby items both times around, it has multiple uses and I believe both babies have slept better being in it. The Sleepyhead fits inside the next 2 me crib at night and is portable so can be used around the house for daytime napping. I also use it on the floor when we go away rather than taking a travel cot for the baby.

MAM Anti Colic Bottles

These bottles are ideal for combination feeding and self sterilise in the microwave, doing away with the need for a huge sterilising machine. The bottom comes off for easy cleaning and the parts can then be stacked with the teat inside and popped in the microwave for 3 minutes. According to their website these bottles have a 94% acceptance rate. I have also used the MAM dummies for both babies.

Image credit: amazon.co.uk

Ergobaby 360 Baby Carrier

I have owned 3 baby carriers including a fabric sling and this has been by far the best. Can be used from birth up to 20kg in 4 different positions. We used it with our first baby until about 15 months! It is really supportive on your back and easy to get on and off on your own (with a little practice). I found it especially useful when looking after a newborn and toddler on my own as I can pop her in the sling and have my hands free to chase after him!

Haakaa Manual Breast Pump

I actually use the knock off Aldi version of this which I picked up for £4.99 but I can see the benefit of buying the real thing. I used it all the time in the first few weeks to ease engorgement and avoid wasting milk. I like that this one has a suction base and stopper as I had a few incidents where mine got knocked over and milk spilt everywhere.

Image Credit: amazon.co.uk

Angelcare Baby Bath Support

More space efficient than a baby bath, the Angelcare Bath support has been especially useful when bathing our newborn and toddler together.

Image credit: Angelcare

Kidslingo Class Review

This morning I took our 4 month old to Kidslingo French in The Old Church Rooms, Radyr. I have been looking for a class to take her to on Fridays when our eldest is in Nursery but wasn’t really sure what to expect from a French class for babies. I have to say it was one of the best classes we have been to! It had a bit of everything including singing, sign (makaton) and sensory activities all while learning some French! Our Daughter was so engaged happy during the class, we can’t wait to go back next week!

Kidslingo run classes across Cardiff and Newport in French and Spanish for babies, preschool, infants and Juniors. Classes cost £5 per session, bookable as a term which is great value. You can view the class timetable and book a free trial class here 

Ynysangharad park, Pontypridd

Living in North Cardiff, it’s really not far to Pontypridd so I can’t believe we haven’t visited Ynysangharad Park sooner! We had to make an unexpected trip to Ponty on Wednesday so I decided to take the opportunity to have a look around.

This is such a fantastic park for Toddlers, much better than anything we have in Cardiff! There is a sand play area, Astroturf hills with tunnels underneath, a train and multiple toddler friendly climbing frames and slides. There is also equipment for older children.

The park itself is also a lovely green space to explore. You can grab a coffee or ice cream from the hut next to the park or visit ‘Caffi Lido’ for breakfast, brunch, lunch, poolside snacks and barista coffee including iced frappes and home-made cakes.

Pontypridd Lido is also located in Ynysangharad Park. You must pre-book tickets up to 7 days in advance and popular times will go quickly. There are 3 pools at the Lido including a splash pool for toddlers. Children under 16 go free and adults pay only £2. If you have older children who would like to use the activity pool it’s an extra £2.50 per person. Here is a link to book tickets.

10 Best Playparks for Toddlers in Cardiff

Like most toddler parents our days often include a trip to the park at some point. Visiting the same one all the time can feel like groundhog day so here is a run down of the best toddler parks to visit in Cardiff. Let us know your favourite!

1. Victoria Park, Canton, CF5 1EH

This park probably has the most to offer for toddlers,especially if you tag on a visit to the splash pad. It gets insanely busy though so we tend to only go on week days or when the weather isn’t amazing.

2. Hailey Park, Llandaff North, CF14 2FU

Fairly basic but we like that the toddler park is completely separate from the area for older children. Also tends to be quiet and is fully enclosed. Perfect for taking the toddler and baby out together on my own!

3. Heath Park, CF14 4EN

Heath Park is the one we frequent most often, its usually quiet during the week and has a decent toddler climbing frame and swings. It doesn’t have gates on it so I don’t tend to go on my own with both children as I end up constantly running after our toddler when he decides to leave the play area. If you do go, a trip to Parkside Cafe for coffee and cake en route is a must!

Heath Park toddler play area

4. Llandaff Fields, Pontcanna, CF11 9HZ

Considering its location I would have expected more from this park, which is great for older children but a bit limited for toddlers. Plenty of open space to run around though and toddler swings.

5. Roath Park Recreational Park, CF23 5HX

This is a nice park at the bottom of Roath Park Rec next to the car park (which is free for 2 hours). The equipment is pretty much all toddler friendly and it’s fully enclosed. I would avoid going at after school time as it’s only got a couple of swings and gets quite busy.

6. Roath Lake Play Park, CF23 5PA

We have now reached the point where we can’t walk around the Lake without paying this playpark a visit. It has some great toddler friendly equipment and a huge slide. There are 6 toddler swings so even when it’s busy your little one shouldn’t have to wait long for a turn.

7. Cardiff Bay Barrage playground

If you are looking for something a bit different, this sandy play area has lots of climbing equipment and can be combined with a nice walk around the bay.

8. Whitchurch Park Playground

A small but well thought out and maintained playpark with separate areas for toddlers and older children. As locals to Whitchurch this is our go to!

9. Parc Play, Grangetown

A rainy day choice, Parc Play is an indoor playpark with artificial grass hills, tunnels, slides, sand and water play and a pirate ship.

10. Cosmeston Lakes, CF64 5UY

So this one is not actually in Cardiff, but I couldn’t not include it as our son absolutely loves to visit this park. Its just reopened after a complete overhaul and there is plenty to keep toddlers entertained.

New play park at Cosmeston Lakes