Friday Break: A Sud-Z-Buddy Surprise

sud-z-buddy-soap-kids-bath

Sud-Z-Buddy Ophelia Octopus and Clancy Clownfish

A few days ago, I wrote about some really awesome bath accessories that bring science to life within the comfort of the bath time. Well, the kind folk from Mummytoon are very generously sponsoring a special soapy giveaway for our loyal Owls Well readers!

Three lucky Owls Well Readers will make away with a cute little Sud-Z-Buddy Light up Soap of their choice from Mummytoon!

Woohoo!

Thank you, Mummytoon!

To take part in this giveaway, just complete the following:

  1. Visit the Bathtub Science post and leave a comment there telling me about your kid’s favourite bath time toy or bath product.
  2. Leave a comment below telling me about one other product that you liked from Mummytoon and also if you would prefer the Ophelia Octopus or the Clancy Clownfish Sud-Z-Buddy – don’t forget to include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(This giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore mailing address and closes on 20th May 2016. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 2 easy steps!)

 

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Bathtub Science

In the summertime when the weather is hot, the humidity is high and the PSI is through the roof, there’s nothing better than some refreshing bathtime fun for reviving the tiny limp ragamuffins!

We do like to treat the kids to a soak in the bathtub every so often. All three of them are still at an age where they are completely comfortable with ofuro-style bathing, that is, a communal family bath time. We encourage this as sibling-bonding is of high importance to us…and of course it is fun to relax together.

The Barn Owl and I have found several ways to make bathtime a multisensory learning experience…and right now we like to switch things up a notch using the Power of Science!

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Picture Credit: Metanorn

1.Colours, Scents and Chemical reactions using Bath Bombs

If you aren’t familiar with Bath Bombs, here’s a little video that shows you what happens:

The Bath Bombs that we use are from LUSH. These generate a whole lot of fizz and turns the water a brilliant colour. They also smell really good and their natural, nourishing ingredients are great for the skin. The scent usually lasts for hours afterwards – so we get three, clean, lovely smelling children who are completely relaxed and ready for bed afterwards!

The kids are usually mesmerised by the effervescent bath bomb when it first goes in, and both Thumper and Little E love watching the colours swirl into the water.

Mummy Pro Tip: For a really great fizz, choose a Bath Bomb that is less oily and make sure that the water is really warm before you put it in – if you’re worried about making the bath water too hot for your sensitive kiddies, dunk the Bath Bomb into a clear container of hot water for your kids to enjoy, then add it to the main bath once it reaches the desired temperature

Each Bath Bomb gives a completely different bath time experience – some of them have sparkles, some have tiny heart-shaped confetti (which the kids like to line up in little rows on the side of the bath, competing with each other to see who can make the longest line), some even contain a secret message. I like the multicoloured ones for a live demonstration of colour blending in the bath to Thumper and Little E, but the real fun is when we start talking about the ingredients of each bath bomb. J and I now play a game where we try to identify the ingredients of each bomb based on the smell, which usually leads to a discussion on the source and origins of each ingredient – but of course, the first time the kids were introduced to the Bath Bomb, they begged me to explain to them how it worked.

Warning: Science!

Basically, the main ingredient in each Bath Bomb is Sodium bicarbonate, a weak alkali, as well as a weak acid (usually citric acid). When it is left dry, nothing happens, but when the dry sodium bicarbonate and citric acid in the Bath Bomb are activated with water, the acid-base reaction leads to a release of carbon dioxide bubbles – all the fizz that you can see – and sodium citrate!

Buyer’s note: LUSH does have a storefront in Singapore and you can buy from their online store for delivery within Singapore too. If you happening travelling to the UK, USA or Australia, LUSH is waaaaay cheaper out there, so stock up if you can!

2.Electricity and circuits using the Sud-Z-Buddy

Okay, when Mummytoon contacted me to try out the Sud-Z-Buddy, I was super excited about it because it just sounded SO COOL. I mean, this is a toy encased in a clear glycerine soap – and it lights up only when in contact with water!

The soap itself is a mild, fragrance-free soap that contains no parabens or sulphates, so it is suitable for sensitive skin. The toy is also phthalate and lead-free, and the battery voltage it contains is minimal (basically, the same as wearing a watch in the shower), so there is no risk of electrical shock.

Imagine the look on J and Little E’s faces, when I immersed the soap in water and it began to glow and pulse in a myriad of colours! It was like having a disco in the bathroom! PARTY! PARTY!

Mummy Pro Tip: You’re not supposed to use the soap in the dark for obvious safety reasons, but if you’re planning to be in attendance during bathtime anyway, why not? Put on some tunes, turn off the lights and PARTY!

partysaurusrex

Party on with the Partysaurus Rex! Picture Credit: Pixar

Thumper was so excited about the Sud-Z-Buddy, he just kept splashing his hands about, trying to grab it, and laughing as it slipped away from his grasp.

Once the soap is completely used up, you’ll still be left with a super-cute bath toy! The soap itself makes a nice lather, and it doesn’t get mushy, so it lasts a pretty long time. We’ve been using the soaps for about 3 months and we still haven’t uncovered the toy completely.

Warning: Science!

When examining the bottom of the Sud-Z-Buddy, there are two tiny metal bumps spaced about an inch or so apart. These are electrodes, and washing the soap in water completes the current pathway between the electrodes, closing the electrical circuit so that the toy lights up.

Buyer’s note: You can get Clancy Clownfish and Ophelia Octopus from Mummytoon.com, which also carries other kid friendly bath things as well as gentle products for eczema prone skin. I like their California Baby range as well as the Burt’s Bees range especially.

3.Submarines and buoyancy using diving pool toys

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Picture Credit: Swimways

Well, there’s no reason why a pool toy can’t also be used in the bath, especially, if they are awesome diving toys like the Submergency and Submergibles by Swimways.

These are basically little brightly coloured plastic balls which you twist to adjust their buoyancy. They can sink right to the bottom, float on the surface or even suspend themselves in between, just like a submarine! As you may imagine, the kids were fascinated by how it works and we had many conversations about how submarines and ships work, and also about swim bladders of fish.

Warning: Science!

When a submarine floats, it is because the weight of the water that it displaces is equal to the weight of the submarine. To control it’s buoyancy, a submarine has ballast tanks that can be filled with water or air. When the ballast tanks are filled with water, the submarine becomes heavy and sinks. This is the same with the dive ball – when it is filled it with water, it sinks, but if it is filled with air, it floats. If it has some water and some air in it, it will sink below the surface but not all the way to the bottom!

Buyer’s Note: The Barn Owl spotted these swim toys at Toys R’ Us, which is where we got ours, but we have also seen them at various retailers that specialise in swimming things.

What are your favourite bathtime products? Share them with us in the comments!

Preparing for Baby: Washing Up Matters (With Ecover Zero)

I have written before about how I like to choose eco-friendly household cleaning products and that I am always on the look out for products that are kind to sensitive skin. When Thumper came along, I had to switch my laundry products to something that is not only powerful and effective enough to cleanse dirty cloth nappies but also gentle enough on baby skin.

This is why, when Ecover Singapore contacted me and asked if I would like to try out their new Ecover Zero range, I was very excited! This range of washing products are derived from plants and minerals, and are free of phosphates, fragrances, colouring and optical brighteners, so it is great for sensitive skin, whilst being completely biodegradable (septic-tank safe). Additionally, Ecover tests all their washing products for aquatic toxicity to ensure that whatever goes down the drain will have the least impact on the ecological balance of our waterways. I like knowing that I’m not poisoning our fish in the name of fresh laundry and sparkling tableware!

Great for delicate baby skin and our delicate ecosystem

Great for delicate baby skin and our delicate ecosystem

I have been using Ecover Zero Non-Bio Laundry Liquid and Fabric Conditioner for the last couple of months and I have to say that I love the way that my clothes feel when they have dried! I have not used fabric conditioner on my laundry for the last 7 years because of my family’s sensitive skin, but we have had no problems at all with the Ecover Zero Fabric Conditioner. It is so fantastic for all the baby clothes and it leaves our line-dried clothes feeling wonderfully soft and fluffy. Despite Ecover Zero being a non-fragranced product, our laundry does not give off a musty, damp smell when it comes out of the wash, which is great!

I have also been using the Ecover Zero Non-Bio Laundry Liquid on my cloth nappy stash and it is FANTASTIC. I have had no problems at all with residue build-up on the microfibre inserts or the fleece and suede cloth lining of my cloth diapers. As this is a Non-Bio liquid, there are no enzymes present at all, so it is safe to use on cloth nappies! This is a step-up from Ecover’s regular laundry liquid range which has not been recommended for use on cloth nappies because they contain plant-derived enzymes which eat the waterproof PUL-lining of synthetic nappy covers.

Owls Well Recommends: I use a front-loading washing machine at home and I recommend reducing the dose of laundry liquid for front-loading washing machines and other high-efficiency machines that do not require a lot of soap suds for a thorough clean. I found that using half the recommended dose on my regular laundry load is enough to leave my laundry thoroughly clean – even J’s grubby P.E. uniform (covered in grime and the occasional bloodstain) will come out looking bright and fresh. For my cloth nappies, I use a quarter of the recommended dose and add a extra rinse cycle, which seems to do the trick of keeping them beautifully clean and stain-free!

As for the Ecover Zero Washing-Up Liquid, it does a really good job of cleaning greasy dishpans and I find that a very little bit will go a long way. I have been using the washing-up liquid for two months now and there is still more than half a bottle left to go. The Outlaws, including my new brother-in-law on the Barn Owl’s side, are big fans of Ecover washing-up liquid as it cleans well and lasts a very long time, making it a better value than a similar-sized bottle of the ubiquitous Fairy liquid (although the Father Outlaw says that he misses the smell of Fairy liquid).

(You can find Ecover Zero washing products online at the Ecover Singapore website which offers free shipping within Singapore for orders over SGD$30!)

Preparing for Baby: Cloth nappies and diapers

Yes, we are all for cloth nappies here at Owls Well!

The cloth nappies that I bought for J all those years ago are still going strong after being used by Little E, and now they are once again being taken out of storage for Baby #3.

Saving money and the environment = double plus win!

To be perfectly honest, my reasons for choosing cloth nappies over disposables had very little to do with being eco-friendly (although that is certainly a significant perk). I decided to go for cloth diapers because:

  1. Using cloth nappies does not seem complicated. Cloth nappies are now designed to be as simple to use as disposables – there’s no origami or pointy objects involved.
  2. Washing cloth diapers does not seem difficult. I own a washing machine, therefore, washing cloth nappies is not a problem. Just dump the whole lot in at the end of the day on a HOT wash cycle with Country Save Detergent, and everything comes up fluffy and lovely. I’d be washing lots of baby things covered in all manner of yuck anyway – baby milk vomit, for example, is extremely disgusting and smells terrible.
  3. Cloth diapers are cute. All the cloth nappies now come in all sorts of pretty colours and fun prints. And I like my babies to wear cute things and look cute all the time. They are my living dolls!!!!
  4. Sensitive skin runs in the family. Since both A Becky Lee and I have been known to be allergic to the materials used to make disposable nappies, we decided to limit contact with disposable nappies as far as possible.
  5. Cloth nappies reduce the likelihood of developing nappy rash (or diaper rash). Part of the reason for this is that cloth nappies need to be changed as soon as they become soiled. This means that I will not be tempted to allow the babies to sit in their own waste for extended periods of time, which is usually what causes the rash in the first place.

This is not to say that I did not use any disposable nappies at all. We did use disposables on occasion, such as:

  1. The first few days after birth when the newborns are still passing sticky, tarry, nasty black-and-green meconium stool and I had plenty of leftover diapers from the hospital to use anyway.
  2. If a wet nappy became the sole limiting factor for a good nights’ sleep.
  3. When we travelled to a location which has no access to laundry facilities.

In general, the cloth nappies and diapers that I currently own have been in constant use for over 6 years, going through hundreds of washes, and most of them are still in pretty good shape!

Here’s what I have in my current cloth nappy stash:

  1. 24 infant size ‘prefold’ nappies from Bumwear
  2. 4 waterproof diaper covers from Thirsties (to be paired with the ‘prefold’ nappies)
  3. 18 one-size pocket nappies from Happy Heinys which came with a variety of inserts listed below:
    • 12 large microfibre inserts
    • 12 small microfibre inserts
    • 6 hemp inserts
  4. 10 microfibre pocket nappy inserts from bumGenius and Bumwear which I can use with the Happy Heinys nappies (although the original pocket diapers have long since disintegrated. The models that I purchased were the first versions available, which fell apart after a few months of use. I have been told that the latest versions available from bumGenius and Bumwear are now much better quality!)
Little E and J in cloth nappies and diapers

Little E and J are happy and comfortable in their cloth nappies and diapers!

In the picture above, you can see both J and Little E wearing Happy Heiny pocket nappies in a cow print, and blue Thirsties diaper covers (paired with Bumwear flat ‘prefolds’ inside).

I used the prefolds with diaper covers more when they were very tiny newborns taking 2-3 hourly feeds, as it gave me the freedom to change their nappies with a higher frequency during the daytime without worrying about running out of them (since they wash and dry really fast). Prefolds also make great burp cloths and are generally great for cleaning up baby messes, so I always had a stack of them on hand when I was feeding or changing!

As they began to stretch their feeds to 3-4 hourly intervals and started to take longer naps during the day, I used the pocket nappies much more in the daytime as they were more absorbent than the prefolds and could manage a heavier wetting.

From then on, I put them pocket nappies all the time, until they became fully potty trained at around 3 years old! Imagine how much money I must have saved on nappies!!!

Preparing for Baby: Getting over Pregnancy Skin Woes (with Curél)

Baby #3 is coming very soon and we are all agog with anticipation! I thought I would share with you some of the things that I have been using in order to get ready for the arrival of the baby! This post will be the first in a series of posts about preparing for the arrival of baby.


Pregnancy is supposed to give a woman that ‘pregnancy glow’, which I highly suspect is merely the sheen of perspiration that I appear to be covered with for most of the day. My skin definitely does not glow. Pregnancy hormones have brought me dry hair, and it only stands to reason I am suffering from dry skin as well.

Dry skin in pregnancy is pretty common, and most women will experience some skin tightness and dryness, especially across the belly as it balloons out more with each passing month. The stretching of the skin causes dryness and itchiness, which is awful to deal with because scratching will just aggravate and worsen stretch marks. I’ve also been getting random patches of eczema on top of it all, which has been most inconvenient.

Apart from applying copious amounts of lotion, I have been on the lookout for moisturising body washes that would help with the eczema and the healing of broken skin, so I was very pleased when Curél contacted me and asked if I would like to try out their new foaming body wash from their Intensive Moisture Care range.

I am literally itching to use this body wash

I am literally itching to use this.

I remember Curél as one of two brands of body soap that A Becky Lee used when she was a little girl growing up with sensitive, eczematous skin. At the time, the dermatologist advised my parents to avoid foaming or liquid body washes which are generally much more drying to the skin than bar soaps, so Curél slowly fell out of favour with my family.

However, in the twenty or so years since then, Curél has developed a fragrance-free, alcohol-free skincare range for dry and sensitive skin which claims to cleanse without stripping the skin of its natural moisture barrier by adding moisture-retaining ceramide to their products.

WARNING: SCIENCE!!!!

Ceramide is a naturally occurring lipid found in the outermost layers of our skin, and it has the special properties of being able to bind to water molecules, forming sandwich-like layers that create a natural barrier to keep skin hydrated. Keeping this natural barrier intact is also key to protecting the skin from external irritants which will exacerbate flare-ups. There is some evidence that skin problems like eczema and dermatitis are related to ceramide deficiency. This is why topical application of ceramide in the form of therapeutic lotions and cleansers has been shown to speed up the healing of mild-to-moderate eczema.

The first time I used the Curél foaming body wash, I noticed that the skin over my burgeoning tummy felt much less tight and uncomfortable after my shower, and that the patches of eczema were noticeably less inflamed in appearance. Additionally, I love the luxurious texture of the fine lather which is so gentle on the skin – and both J and Little E really enjoy it too! It makes their skin feel very silky after a shower. We’ve all been using the Curél foaming body wash for over a month now and one pump or two of foam really goes a very long way.

I am very pleased to report that after a few weeks of using the body wash in conjunction with my usual moisturising regime, the patches of eczema have healed up very nicely! Hooray!

A Special For Owls Well Readers: Curél Singapore is very generously sponsoring one bottle of Curél Foaming Body Wash to FIVE lucky Owls Well Readers! Thank you Curél Singapore!

To take part in this giveaway:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook page
  2. Like and share this post on your Facebook Page and tag three friends – make sure your post is public!
  3. Leave a comment below telling me about how you keep your skin in tiptop condition, as well the name of your Facebook account that you used to like and share the page. Don’t forget to include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open to readers with a Singapore mailing address and will end on 30th April 2015. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

If you would like to try a sample of products from the Curél Intensive Moisture Care range, you can visit the Curél Singapore Facebook page here. Otherwise, you can find Curél products at Watson’s and Guardian stores across Singapore.

P.S. Check out Missus Tay’s review of Curél Instant Foaming Body Wash on her severely eczema-prone little girl

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been contacted via email. Thanks for playing!