Enjoy the great outdoors with your little ones

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TRIPPING off for a day in the countryside or even just an afternoon in the park isn’t always as easy as it sounds when you’ve got small children.

They love being outside, you like getting some fresh air and sun, but there are always hidden pitfalls.

If you have a new baby it always seems like you have to take a suitcase of ‘stuff’ just to be able to head out the door.

And if you have toddlers they hardly ever want to do exactly the same as you – or even go in the same direction as the rest of the family.

Other than sending the kids to visit their grandparents, there are tricks to get around the problems.

The first one being take a deep breath and remember that your little darling’s behaviour isn’t worse than any other, just ask any stressed-out mum.

Family Matters has tested out the latest products which are designed to make it easier to get you out and on the move.

We are the first to admit that the vast majority of Sheffield is hard to get around on a bike or with a pram because of all the hills.

But if you are going to have to push a little one around then the Smart-Trike is definitely worth a look.

It is a world first – a tricycle that is stroller certified and can be used for kids as young as six months old.

As the child gets older the tricycle transforms through four stages until they wheel around on their own. From the word go they have their own little pedals even though they are relying on your pushing power but this is a clever way to help them enjoy the great outdoors.

The designers say it supports the development of coordination, balance and strength but our mums just loved the fact it adapts as your child changes and is very safe.

It has a parent foot brake system, seat belt, safety bar and an anti-rollover toy bucket and because it is a certified stroller it has passed the strictest bumping and shock absorption tests.

There’s an adjustable, tilting recliner seat to provide a comfy perch at the same time as offering the fun of a tricycle can offer – and you can tip the seat back when it’s nap time.

Take off the steering handle when they’re older and off they go – pedalling solo.

It costs £108.99 and is available from Toys R Us, ELC, Argos, Amazon and Mothercare.

- At the other end of the scale there is the Baby and All Bag.

It was created by mum-of-two Debbie Mankelow, who got fed up watching parents juggle their baby with mountains of shopping, changing equipment and a pushchair.

So she came up with putting everything in one, hence the name Baby and All Bag.

The idea is you can carry the child hands free as well as fitting in everything you need for nappy changing.

It sounds a bit odd but looks good and does leave your hands free.

This is much easier than carrying a stroppy toddler on your hip as the strap helps spread their weight across your whole body.

It has only recently been awarded patent but it received the thumbs up when put to the test in a busy Sheffield supermarket.

You keep your child so close there is little chance of them grabbing things off the shelves and you certainly always know where they are.

Designer Debbie said: “I’m extremely proud that my stylish changing bag has made life easier for so many parents out there and, now that the patent has been approved, we have every faith that it will be helping out even more busy mums and dads in the months and years ahead.”

The Baby and All Bag cost £45.95 and is available from www.debraclare.com , Mothercare and Amazon.

Ok, so we like being outside in the summer but there are also those times when all you want to do is get baby to sleep – so here is the best method of cheating we could find.

There are plenty of babies who seem happy to fall asleep in a car but are rudely wide awake in the comfort of their own home.

So you get parents who plague the night time streets of Britain with their poor judgement, slow reactions and erratic driving.

Since time immemorial – well the invention of the car anyway – despairing new parents have relied on their motor to get baby to sleep.

Most will have tales about befuddled near misses, keys left on petrol station counters or being pulled over in the wee hours by suspicious police.

But there’s just something about that rocking, vibrating and revving that’s better than the sweetest lullaby – if only you could bottle it.

Well Fisher Price have had a go with their Cruisin Motion Soother, a baby chair with batteries which rocks, bumps, whirrs and whines – supposedly driving a tot straight to the land of nod.

At five weeks old, Amber is not immune to the soporific charms of the internal combustion engine.

But what did she make of the chair?

After some initial wide-eyed, stiffed-limbed alarm she settled and it has proved much better than a crib or rocker. And unlike a car it fits easily in the lounge.

It isn’t quite as effective as a ride in a motor, proving that perhaps momentum plays an important part – but have you seen the price of petrol recently?

Nearly 50 per cent of new parents get just two to four hours sleep each night with nearly 10 per cent getting less than two hours sleep every day so anything that helps has to be a blessing.

The Cruisin Motion Soother costs about £67 and is available at Argos from July 29.

Do you have a baby or child product that you couldn’t do without. Get in touch with us at Family Matters and let us share your tips with other parents.

TRIED AND TESTED

l When you do finally get outside, you can never guarantee the weather.

That is why a compact, light weight raincover which keeps both pram and baby dry is a must.

The Koo-di Pack it! Universal Raincover fits almost any make of pushchair and folds up small enough to carry in a handbag – just in case.

It covers from the canopy to little feet – and is so snug you’ll probably wish you could get under yourself.

It costs £17.49 from www.koo-di.co.uk

l Even when it doesn’t rain, the sun means you also have to carry extra like sun cream and drinks.

The Sigg Water bottle offers a a durable alternative to your average drink holder.

The ‘Kids Bottle Top’ has a leak-proof cap and its EcoCare interior liner keeps drinks fresh but can also take the rough and tumble of young life without getting damaged,

The Pirate Fun 0.4 litre bottle costs £15 from www.sigg.com

l Betsy the cow isn’t ideal for long distance journeys but we are certain the whole family will want to have a go.

The Kiddzfarm Animal Hopper brings parents space hoppers dreams back to life with a modern twist.

It is a great way to get young children bouncing around the park or garden, having fun and getting fit.

She definitely offers a great form of exercise and will hopefully wear out energy-packed little ones.

Betsy costs £22.50 from www.skibs.co.uk

l Pipila looks like a very brightly coloured mini spaceship but perhaps that is rather apt since it has a very modern solution to an age-old problem.

It sterilises dummies or bottle tops in three minutes flat – no matter where you are.

It is as simple as put the dummy in, push down the lid and wait for the light to go out. Job done.

This clever little invention comes from Australia and once you’ve tried it, you won’t go away without it again.

It costs £19.99 from www.twins-store.co.uk or kiddicare.com