We have many conversations about what we use at nursery, so I thought it would be good to have a place where we can share what we use, and why we chose what we use.
So, here are our top picks!
At nursery we cook our meals with the children every day, so we have some excellent recommendations for utensils, aprons and knives.
Knives. We highly recommend these knives by Kuhn Rikon - Kinder kitchen Children's Dog Knife Set https://amzn.to/344WQUn They're designed to fit small hands, the design helps children to see what way up they should be. They're sharp enough to actually cut vegetables including carrots and potatoes, but well shaped to be safe for children's use. They're also really cute!
Grater. A standard box grater can be a liability in a kitchen when cooking with children, they are sharp and easily cut small hands. So we were delighted to find this grater from Ikea. It's easy for our older children to use and can be right or left-handed. https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/p/stralande-rotary-grater-white-40153190/ You can also get it from Amazon - https://amzn.to/2Y6fwPD
Chopping boards. These small boards from Ikea are ideal for the size of jobs children will do. They are light enough for children to safely move around, but sturdy enough for actual use. They also fit on top of boxes so you can store what they have prepared. https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/p/ikea-365-chopping-board-60406304/ or https://amzn.to/3he45wM (for the containers, take a look at the Ikea 365+ series boxes https://amzn.to/3iNcqrW)
Aprons. It's important to choose good aprons. In a catering kitchen like ours the apron protects the food from us, but in your home kitchen you're going to be looking for something that protects your child's clothes from the food. If your child is three and under we cannot recommend these aprons highly enough. They wash and wash and wash and wash and still look brand new. The long sleeves keep food off arms and sleeves, and the poppers and back ties ensure a close fit. This one is the Stage 4 size, but they do come smaller - https://amzn.to/3iKvYNn We also like these tabard style aprons https://amzn.to/2Y1bBDV
We love Stamptastic stampers. Everything at nursery needs to be named so it doesn't get lost, and this is just the best way! Quick and easy and doesn't wash out. If your child is the eldest in a family I'd personally recommend getting your stamp made up with your last name so your "hand me downs" work for siblings. https://stamptastic.co.uk/
When we're inside nursery we wear slippers. We do this because:
we play on the floor and it helps keep it clean
they keep our feet safe from stepping on anything and getting sore
they stop us from slipping on the floor
they help support our feet
Our favourites include:
SheepCake Designs Super Slippers. These have been developed by one of our longest standing mums, and their design carefully curated to meet the needs of nursery. They are soft soled, grippy, beautifully designed, made by a local small business, and absolutely ideal for nursery. If your child comes to us you get a discount on them too! https://www.sheepcakedesigns.com/shop/p/super-slippers
Dotty Fish soft leather soled shoes https://amzn.to/2EnLfVD These are so lovely, they're easy to put on and take off but they stay on securely in between. There are a lot of different designs too, and they're super cute!
We chose to have our dining tables to be "adult height" which means they are just like ones you have in your own home. Adult height tables need specific chairs to allow children to safely and "correctly" sit at the table at a height they can eat. Children who are able to "sit up" on their own - who have the core strength and stability to sit under their own control - should begin to have seating that gives them a foot rest. Having their feet on a foot rest (or on the floor if on a small chair) gives their body the "feedback" it needs to develop a good seated posture.
As we have so many ages and stages of children our chairs needed to be able to represent a wide range of abilities, so here is our list of chairs from youngest to oldest:
Ikea high chair with tray - our youngest children need a space of their own to begin to join us at the table, but one that doesn't allow them to grab at other people's food. Ikea's high chairs stack (without the trays), have a good safety strap, and promote feeding independence in our youngest children.
Stokke Tripp Trapp - we have several of these, set up differently for different ages. This is where the foot rest comes in. We have these set up for children just leaving a high chair, up to children who can sit on their own but need a bit more support or a wider base. The youngest configuration we use has straps to help a child learn to stay seated, and to keep them safe. Young children aren't very good at controlling their impulse to get up from the table, and these gentle but safe straps help them. You don't have to buy a new one! There are plenty of second hand high quality ones.
Two chairs we call "thrones" which are actually table/chair combinations set up into highchair mode. These are excellent for children who can sit on a chair but need a bit of extra security around not falling off. Perhaps they don't sit at a chair at home, or their gross motor and core strength aren't developed enough to sit on a chair yet. We have a Mothercare one bought second hand, and can show you pictures to make your own purchase (as Mothercare are no longer trading).
Ikea Ingolf chairs - these are our core chairs, providing an ideal height for a child at the table, including foot rest for proprioception through the feet. If you have these at home teach your child to sit with their feet on the foot rest, not on their knees or curled up, and this will help them develop the skills and strength they will need later in life at a desk.
Ikea Urban chairs - these are our most difficult child chairs, as they don't have a side bar to help you get up onto the chair. They are very similar to the Ingolf, but they stack, and provide an added bit of challenge for our oldest children.
When it comes to 2020 cleaning and washing your hands is something we've been doing a lot of! That's why I'm so glad we chose Bio D for our cleaning products and handwash.
Even though I'm really keen on choosing products that make the smallest ecological impact, I can be sceptical when it comes to efficacy when changing from my "usual" products. However, we've tried all of the below Bio D items and I'm totally convinced.
Everything we use can be bought online, but we actually buy most of our stock from a local shop - Durham Health Food Shop. It's vital to buy from local businesses especially in this time of pandemic.
Handwash. We have used three varieties and like them all. They wash well, are not too drying even on sensitive skin, the children find the pumps easy to use. I do have a favourite "flavour" which is the Geranium, it smells like Turkish Delight! We've tried the Geranium, Lime and Aloe, and the Fragrance Free. We store the 5L containers and refill the pumps when we need to, cutting down on waste too.
Surface cleaner. This comes in a good sprayer, and a 5L container to refill from. It doesn't have a strong smell and is good at keeping things clean. https://amzn.to/34pBYqZ
Multisurface cleaner (which we use for the floors). Be warned - this stuff is super thick and a very little goes a very long way! https://amzn.to/2Ytf5zg
Windows. We have so many large windows that using something effective is really important. I love this cleaner, it's really effective and doesn't have a strong smell. We have the spray and the 5L refiller too. https://amzn.to/2FRaIHN
The only exceptions to my Bio D monopoly is what we use in the dishwasher and washing machine. I've tried a few of the eco ranges and don't have a firm favourite yet, but we're currently using Finish 0% https://amzn.to/34DuUYb in the dishwasher, and Persil non-bio in the washing machine with, you probably guessed it, Bio D Nappy Fresh when we wash nappies!
Also in this category, I must mention our cloths. We use small microfiber ones from Cheeky Wipes (see below) but we also use these ones from Ethical Superstore. They're a great selection and cover most of your bases for cleaning everything. You can get them from Ethical Superstore here or Amazon here. My absolute favourite is this one though. I've never ever used something so great for washing up before!
We're in love with Cheeky Wipes. We use three wipes from their range for different purposes.
White Premium Cotton Terry Cloth for nappy changes.
Rainbow Premium Cotton Terry Cloth for hands, faces and dry ones for single-use child-sized towels.
Microfiber washable wipes (rainbow) for wiping up small spills and messes at the table and in the kitchen.
We find they wash and wash and wash and wash and wash and wash and are still fantastic. They often have offers for things like 15% off so if you're interested then get in touch and ask us if we have a code if this one isn't working - https://go.referralcandy.com/share/K86GSKH
If you ask Jenny I've saved the best for last! We use Little Lamb one size pocked nappies.
We believe very strongly in reducing the amount of waste we make, especially if it isn't properly biodegradable. We agree with the article on The Nappy Lady website that talks about research conducted by the Environment Agency (https://www.thenappylady.co.uk/news/plastic-disposable-single-use-v-cloth-nappies.html) Reusable nappies and wipes are a good choice for reducing waste heading for landfill, and reducing the impact of manufacturing disposable nappies.
Little Lamb nappies are fantastic. They are also really lovely people to deal with.
We are a wholesaler for their wonderful products, so if you're interested you should definitely get in touch.
I imagine we'll have a follow up article about nappies, nappy choices, and reusable nappies. It'll be written by Jenny as she has such extensive knowledge of reusable nappies. In the meantime, if you'd like to know more, please do ask (she'll LOVE it!).