Author: Agnes

 

What to do when my toddler won’t wear shoes?

If your child hasn’t made a big drama when you were putting (or rather trying to put) on his first shoes you can consider yourself very lucky. Most mums freak out when their toddler won’t wear shoes (including me) but what they probably don’t realize is that its very common situation. Introducing shoes means your baby can no longer act like a little Tarzan… so imagine how frustrating that must be for him! He’s probably thinking you are trying to take away his freedom and there’s no way he will let this happen!

Your little one will run away, cry, scream or everything at once, and it’s not fun for us at all, especially when in a hurry.

But fear not, I’m gonna give you some helpful tips on how to convince your toddler to start liking what’s on his tiny feet.



1. Pretend you don’t care

It’s really important for your child to associate wearing shoes with something fun and enjoyable. If you show determination or any sign of anxiety about the shoes your little drama queen will make a big fuss about it. Instead of stressing out about him/her refusing to wear them, just don’t make a big deal out of it. I suggest putting the shoes somewhere close to your toddler so that he could explore the new item and then explain to him what these are made for. You could also take your own shoes and demonstrate how to use them (remember about a happy face while you’re doing that!)

Now you can gently slip on one of the baby shoes on top of his foot so he could get the idea but don’t force it for now. Just leave them lying around, even for your little one to play with. Soon he may surprise you by showing the interest in them and even asking you to put them on.

2. Distract your toddler

Other way to make your child wear those shoes is to simply distract him. Show him a video he likes, give him a snack, play peekaboo, give favourite toy- whatever gets his attention. If your partner (grandma or a nanny) is around, use him to put the shoes on while you are playing the clown. Chances are he won’t even notice that you are trying to trick him.

3. Make sure first shoes have soft soles

Kids almost always reject hard soles probably because soft soles are much more comfy and feel like wearing socks. But, unfortunately we can’t get away with using socks all the time, especially in colder months.

Soft sole shoes are apparently easier to wear. They will give your toddler much better flexibility and mimic barefoot movement. So, leave the harder soled shoes for later.

Stride Rite is a great brand to start with. If your toddler loves wearing socks and won’t wear anything else go for the Robeez– this American brand is known for the super-soft soles; however they might be the best choice if your baby just begins to walk and still practices indoors.

4. Choose straps instead of laces

Little shoes with laces might be cute but not so practical as first choice for your baby. You are already struggling with putting any kind of shoes on those tiny feet, so you don’t need a double job by trying to do those annoying, short laces. Plus, they do tend to undo very often, so you’ve got another reason to go for a strap or buckle finish.

Another thing that actually solved problem with my daughter and her stubbornness was the type of shoes. I bought her really nice ankle shoes (with laces!) because she took her first steps just before autumn started. She refused wearing them for a good couple of weeks, screaming in horror to that point I thought the shop assistant must have chosen the wrong (maybe too small) size for her.

So, I decided to buy one more pair of different type of shoes and see how it goes. I chose Geox sneakers because of the brand well-known Italian quality. Although not fully adequate to the weather, my baby girl loved them! Miracle has happened and I was able to put them without any fuss.

2 or 3 weeks after she got used to those lower ankle sneakers I was able to convince her to put the other pair of ankle shoes I bought for her originally.

5. Choose the right size

This seems like an obvious advice but I assure you it is not. Many parents don’t realize the importance of picking the right size of the first baby walking shoes (the right support for developing feet is super important). So they buy two or three sizes up just to last them for longer. But it’s definitely not worth saving money on your toddles’ well-being: wrong sizing might lead to future orthopedic issues and be ultimately the reason your child refuses to wear the shoes in first place.

Although it’s best to visit a shoe store where somebody experienced will help you to choose the right size, it’s not always possible to go there (maybe you live too far from the shopping mall) and you are left with an online option. It’s still possible to do it at home; you will need a piece of paper, pen, a ruler or a measuring tape.

Put a white A4 paper on the floor and make your baby stand on it in a straight position, preferably by the wall. Now draw a line around the foot, making sure the tiny toes aren’t curled up during the process.

Now measure your piece of foot art from heel to the longest toe (it’s not always the first toe). Your first measurement will probably be around 11-13 cm meaning an EU size between 19-21 or UK between 3-4 (for more accurate measurement have a look at baby’s shoe size chart).

Voila, you’ve got your baby shoe size!

Another important matter is the width. Many babies are chubby (or were simply born with hobbit feet, like my baby girl!) so they will need wider shoes. Clarks offers good-quality selection of shoes with Standard (F) and Wide(G) option.

6. Let your child pick

Let’s face it, your toddler is already acting like a little dictator- but in this situation I’m afraid you have to let him. Otherwise, you’ll be the one suffering; as far as I’m concerned he doesn’t care if he has shoes on or goes barefoot- but surely you do!

That’s why, if your child is big enough to understand or has grown enough to develop his own taste (and apparently it’s quicker than we think), let him decide which shoes he will wear. He doesn’t like dull brown colour and prefers Batman print? Let him have it. She likes the shoes with red Minnie Mouse on? Go for it. Anything to please your baby!


All in all…

Don’t stress out and don’t get frustrated with your baby if you tried all the tips above and he still doesn’t want to wear any shoes. Some kids simply need more time to adjust to this new situation.

If your toddler is beginning to walk during warm spring or summer months- great, you can still let him play outside with bare feet or with socks on. If it happens to be cold autumn or winter months then well…your child will soon find out he has to stay inside of the pram whenever you take him out of the house and eventually understand there’s no running around or having fun on a playground without having the shoes on.

Good luck mamas!

xoxo


Is my little one ready for solids? When and how to start giving baby food

There comes an exciting time in your baby’s (and your) life when she’s ready to try the ‘real’ food. You’ve been probably looking forward to this moment for some time now and waited until the recommended 6th month mark. But then not every child is the same- one develop faster, other slower. So you wonder : is my little one actually ready for solids?

In this post I’ll advise you on when and how to start giving baby food.

1. Signs indicating your baby is ready

There are few things to look out for that will determine if the time is right. Your baby might be ready for solids if she:

a) can hold her head up and sits well. Your baby should be able to be confident in upright and sitting position even if she has to be supported. Many babies start to eat on their parents lap and only progress to the highchair when they can sit up by themselves.

b) has good hand coordination. If she’s looking at the object (not necessarily a piece of food) and able to grab it and then put in her mouth by herself, it’s a green light for you mum.

c) developed curiosity about what other family members are eating. If she’s staring at your dinner and trying to reach for the food (or is pointing at it), it probably means she wants to grab a bite too!

d) is able to swallow. Your baby should be making chewing motions, moving food smoothly to the back of her mouth and swallow. Although choking on the food is not uncommon during first trials (or even later), make sure you know what to do if she doesn’t cope on her own. As your little one learns how to swallow properly, you may notice less dribbling.

e) has gained on enough weight. Most babies are ready to try first foods when they’ve doubled their birth weight. This usually happen around the 6th month. By then many babies will also grow one tooth or more.

2. What foods are good to start with?

Think of healthy food packed with nutritional value such as:

  • cooked or steamed (until soft ) vegetables, for example carrot, potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli or cauliflower
  • soft fruits: banana, avocado, strawberries, melon/ watermelon, pear (if it’s ripe enough), small pieces of orange or blueberries

When it comes to harder fruits, such as apples it’s always best to grate them and offer it to your baby on the spoon (it reduces the risk of choking).

It’s also a great idea to blend different fruits and vegetables together so your baby could taste different combinations. Or give your little one a couple of different pieces of foods at the same time; this way he’ll have opportunity to explore and eat what he enjoys.

Baby porridge/ rice and other cereal mixed with your baby’s usual milk is another great option for your baby’s first foods. Buy cereal rich in iron, as it’s very important in your child’s development.

Other foods you can give to your baby include:

  • starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, crackers (unsalted)
  • soft cooked lean meat ( turkey, lamb, corn-fed chicken) and certain fish (salmon, cod, mackerel and sardines are good for your baby, however you should limit it to maximum twice a week as they contain minor toxins).
  • Hard-boiled eggs (the yolk is the healthiest)
  • dairy products, such as natural yogurt, cheese
  • beans, lentils, peas and corn

3. What texture should my baby’s first foods be?

It’s really up to you how are you planning to offer your baby’s first foods: either blended, mashed or cut into soft ‘finger’ foods. What if your peanut doesn’t have any teeth yet? Not to worry, his hard gums will do the job just right. Try experimenting with different textures and flavours to see what your baby likes.

If you decide to start with purees (like I did), try to move on to mashed or solid foods sooner than later. This will not only help your little one learn how to chew but also speed up his speech development as eating finger foods forces your baby to exercise his jaw muscles.

4. How many times a day shall I serve my baby solids?

When you first start serving your baby solids you should give her just a few spoonfuls or chunks of food once a day. The whole idea really is just to get your baby used to the fact she will now get more than your breast milk or formula.

Remember, until your baby is 12 months the milk she’s having (either from breast or a bottle) will be the main source of nutrition so it’s no point for you to stress out about the amount she’s eating.

As we know, not every baby is the same, some need more some less food than others. But as long as your baby’s weight gain is in healthy rate, you can relax.

What’s more, for many babies the process of weaning means actually experimenting and playing with the food- with my baby girl was exactly like that. She loved to take all kinds of food to her mouth, half of which ended up on the floor or spread around her face and hair. She haven’t really fed properly until she reached about 11 months!

As time goes on, your baby’s appetite will naturally increase; you can start offering three meals a day at about eight or nine months. By the time your baby is 1 year old, she should be having three meals a day ( with some healthy snacks between meals).

5. Which foods shall I avoid?

a) Honey. Your baby should not taste honey until she’ reaches her first birthday. The reason behind is that it can contain bacteria that younger babies digestive system cannot deal with.

b) Whole nuts. They’re a hard no-no until your little one is about 5 years old- for obvious reasons they can lead to choking. However, smooth peanut butter is fine.

c) Certain fish such as baby shark, swordfish, marlin or raw shellfish- they contain high levels of mercury leading to serious sickness and food poisoning.

d) Certain cheeses- some of them can lead to food poisoning because of the unpasteurized milk they’re made of. These include brie, Camembert or soft blue-veined cheese.

e) Tea or coffee- Caffeine will disturb from getting a good night sleep and prevent absorbing iron from your baby’s food

f) Sweet/ fizzy drinks and sweets- As we know, sugar is bad for teeth and overall health (you should not have it too, your baby is watching you!).

6. What ‘gear’ do I need?

There are certain things you have to buy: a high chair, some good bibs, plastic spoons.

You can get either a traditional high chair, which is also the cheapest option or a bit more expensive, but also much more functional high chair like this one here. It has 3 reclining positions so you can start putting your baby in it before he even sits properly. It’s also foldable so it won’t stand on your way when not in use, plus it has a very useful basket underneath where you can put toys or other things your baby just randomly plays with during the day. The tray is removable and adjustable so you don’t have to worry about your child growing out of it any time soon.

When it comes to bibs, you would think you don’t need any recommendation, right? After all, you can get them basically in any larger shop. Well, I thought the same and I was using traditional bibs for almost a year until I went to visit my friend who has a baby almost the same age as mine. She got these excellent bibs from Amazon, that have pocket at the bottom. This leak-proof pocket made a difference during our meal times, especially since I started giving my baby girl finger foods. Before most food she didn’t mange to eat landed on the chair and the floor but after I bought those bibs the food leftovers just gathered there and it meant less cleaning for me= yaay! Plus, they’re made of silicone so are easily washable with warm water and they fold nicely so you can put them anywhere you want.

Another essential piece of ‘gear’ (that unfortunately you cannot buy) is smile, encouragement and lots of patience!

Bottom Line

If you’re lucky your baby will love eating and experimenting with all kinds of food, but if you’ve got a fussy eater (just like I do), you’re gonna have to try all kinds of entertainment to make her eat at least few spoons. From puppet show, changing voices, making silly faces to playing a classic ‘spoon airplane’, there are many ways to make eating fun, you just have to find your own path.

Good luck mamas and take it easy!

XXX

Baby and bedtime routine. How to make an energetic baby sleepy?

You know those babies who go to sleep exactly at the some time every night without any fuss, without breastfeeding forever or holding them until they drift away? Yeah I don’t know either. (Although the rumor has it they actually exist!).

My baby has been full of energy from the day she was born- she was crying the loudest of all the babies that were in a room with us after I gave birth.

I believe each child has been born with a different character and there’s not much you can do to change it but rather shape it. However, when it comes to baby and bedtime routine, apparently each of them can be ‘trained’ to fall asleep on its own. At least that’s what many experts claim in their books. I did try to use few techniques such as ‘cry it out’ method but I just hated it. I couldn’t bare my baby girls’ screams and begging for attention. Maybe I’m too soft for it, maybe I didn’t do it the right way but what I know is that we all have to listen to our instincts and don’t feel the pressure to do anything according to some book. So it’s good to listen to any advice out there but more importantly, listen to your baby.

I prepared a list of what to do to make your energetic baby more sleepy and aware of the coming bedtime.

1. Stick roughly to the some time

Whether it’s 7 or 8 pm stick to that hour (or at least roughly) and let your baby know that it’s time to prepare to go to sleep. Make sure you switch off the TV or don’t use a smartphone in front of your child at least 30 min before he goes to bed as the light from any screen can disturb the healthy sleeping cycle.

2. Make bath a fun time

Warm bath will help your baby to calm down some way it helps us to relax. If your baby is already sitting down on his own it’s a good idea to entertain him in some way (if you want him to stay longer than 5 minutes in there). I tend to go in with my daughter and she loves that but I’m not always in a mood so then I’ve got my bath toys ready. My favourite one is swimming Baby Shark that is activated when it touches the water (and it sings too, not so fun for you anymore); it does the job, your child will be thrilled if he likes Baby Shark song (and which baby doesn’t?).

Oh and don’t forget about brushing the tiny teeth! Don’t use the toothpaste though until your little one learns how to spit. I always try to make the whole process in a not-so-boring way so my little one could associate this routine as a fun activity.

3. Baby spa massage? Yes, please!


Massaging your baby will not only improve his sleep but on the long will also improve weight gain, digestion and blood circulation; it can even ease up teething pain.

Use any organic oil such as coconut oil and gently massage the whole body, including the face (my baby girl loves this part the most!).

It’s always good to sing softly to your baby while doing the massage as a kind of reassurance, especially when your little one is getting used to this experience. 

4. Books always welcome

When it comes to reading ‘bedtime stories’, I started pretty early as my daughter was only 2,5 months old. I used to choose high contrast, black and white books to get her attention but with time we progressed to interactive books such as this one. It teaches your baby first words by pressing buttons and giving different sounds, This way you keep bedtime fun and something your child will look forward to.

5. Choose the right light and ambiance in your baby’s room

Many people think blue light is the best option when choosing lamps to their childrens room due to its calming effect. And while it may give you this relaxing sensation or have a good effect on you during the day, it is not the best for sleeping. Same way long exposure to the blue light from tablets or Iphones is harmful, some way blue night lamps will interfere with your little one’s sleep and can keep him awake for longer.

So which colour of the light is the most desirable? According to the scientists, the answer is red. Apparently it will make your baby (and yourself) more tired and won’t keep waking you up in the night, like the blue one would.

What’s more, many parents could swear on the white noise making their babies drift away faster (I was not the lucky one). There are soft toys on the market, such as The Dream Sheep, producing the white noise plus the red light so you get 2 in1. However, the white noise will usually work on younger babies so make sure you start using it in those early weeks.

6. Keep it cool

When it comes to the bedroom temperature, it’s best to keep it at 18 degrees, which is lower than most people think. If your baby has tendencies to sweat a lot (like mine does), it is also a good idea to cover him with a bamboo muslin blanket, especially during summer. It’s super soft, its properties will help to keep your child’s right body temperature, absorb any sweat and prevent overheating.

7. Don’t forget a comforting toy

As mentioned in one of my posts, comforting toy should be always around your baby and will be a great companion for the bedtime routine. Snuggling should make your little one feel safe and secure.

When things get predictable for your little one he will ‘slide into’ that routine himself. For some babies it may get longer but they will get there as long as you are consistent. Good luck mamas!:)

When do babies have separation anxiety? Tips for making the process less painful

There comes the moment in your life that you have to return to work or simply want to go out for a couple of hours and leave your baby with a nanny or grandma. In many cases it seems impossible when your little dictator starts to scream in horror, like somebody is actually hurting him.

If you hear this terrible cry every time you leave the house, or even the room, you might be dealing with the separation anxiety.

But don’t worry, it’s a natural and healthy process of your baby’s development. There are few things you can do to lessen the drama time when babies have separation anxiety.

Why it happens

If you were one of the lucky ones with a calm baby that was not scared of anyone, now you probably cannot make a sense of why that little angel changed so much.

But separation anxiety is actually a sign of maturity (no matter how ridiculous it sounds); babies start to realize that they are not independent just yet and have to rely on anyone that cares for them. Being aware of that, they might get frustrated with new situations or with new people. They will get especially upset when they can no longer see you. Feeling unsafe, they will not hesitate to show the world how much it bothers them.

When it happens


Separation anxiety and fear of strangers usually happens between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. But don’t stress out (or at least try not to); it’s a common thing within young children and they will grow out of it.

It will be hard for you once you have to leave your baby in the nursery or with a nanny for longer periods of time. She will cry and, most likely, so will you- it’s distressing for both sides. Just remember that you are not damaging your little one in any way- quite the opposite. You are teaching her how to cope without you as you won’t be there for her forever. She needs to learn how to be more independent (and this lesson will go on until the age of 18 or longer, let’s face it!).

What can you do to stop it

There’s no easy way to stop the separation anxiety but rather make it less painful for the both of you.

To help your baby feel more secure, focus on her feelings and how to deal with them . Your little one will learn that if you leave them nothing bad will happen and it doesn’t mean you are never coming back. If your baby’s old enough, you can try to explain the situation- tell them where you’re going and when you’ll be with them again. 

Other things you could do :

  • start to slowly separate yourself from your baby- go for a long walk (by yourself), visit a friend or go to the gym. If you disappear from her sight for an hour or two she will get to see that time spent with her daddy or granny can be as much fun as with mummy
  • talk to them about plans- if your child is older and can already understand things, start speaking about what will you do together after you come back. Keep it positive so that your little one has something to look forward to.
  • leave a comforting toy- this one really worked on my daughter. Introducing a soft toy can make her desperate outbursts easier to handle. Buy a plush toy, such as Bashful Bunny (one of the softest on the market), show your baby how to cuddle it, make sure she plays with it on a daily basis and take it everywhere you go. Once she gets to know that the bunny is her friend and will always be there for her, she should pass all her anxiety and anger onto the toy (there’s a reason they call it a comforter, right?). Tip: buy 2 exactly the same plush toys; in case one of them gets lost you will be covered.
  • attend play sessions- this way your baby will have a chance to be around other children and see how fun it can be. You will still need to be close to her, especially in the beginning but the more often you go, the better. With time, when it becomes a routine for both of you, she may stop paying attention if you’re always next to her and that’s already a step forward.
  • if you’re hiring a nanny, make sure she spends time with you and your baby for a couple of days so your little one can get used to that person.

When to seek professional help

As mentioned before, it is natural for babies and toddlers to be upset and cry when their parents are going away. But the older the babies get, the easier it should be for them to understand that people and things exist even when they’re out of their sight.

Until that happens, it’s crucial their anxiety doesn’t stop them from gaining new experiences such as learning new skills, socializing with other babies (or adults) and enjoying their time at the nursery. And it definitely shouldn’t stop you going back to work.

However, in some cases it may turn out that your disappearance is causing your child a lot of distress. If your baby cries for a long time after you have left and she hasn’t got used to being apart after a few weeks, it is best to talk to your GP or health visitor.


Do you have any other valuable tips on how to deal with separation anxiety? Please share your expeierience in the comments below. Other mamas will be surely grateful!

xoxo

How to balance breastfeeding and pumping

Whether you are going back to work, you want to go out for longer or your nipples are sore, pumping will be beneficial to you and your baby. However, at times it might be stressful. Looking after and breastfeeding your baby is already challenging (especially in those early weeks) so the idea of squeezing time for expressing can sound impossible. Don’t worry if all of it seems overwhelming; most of the women feel the same way so you are not alone.


To give you some comfort and peace of mind, I prepared a list of tips on how to balance breastfeeding and pumping.




1. Always pump in the mornings

Many midwives and other mums recommend pumping in the morning as your milk supply will be at its highest- you can tell by the feeling of fuller breasts. Since on that time of a day you are well rested (or should be), your body has more energy to produce milk than in the evenings.


2. Make sure you are not stressed out

It’s important to stay relaxed during pumping, otherwise your milk supply will drop. It usually takes a little while for your milk to start flowing. So if you feel like your child is not letting you relax, ask your partner to take over and go to the other room for the ‘expressing session’ (any excuse to get 20 min for yourself is great).

If you find yourself stressed out for any other reason (and there might be thousands of them for a fresh mother) you can simply listen to music or meditate.

3. Pump after breastfeeding your baby

Experts recommend delaying first pumping until about two weeks after birth, or when your milk supply is established.

When you decide its time to use the pump you should nurse your baby first and pump afterwards.

Waiting about 30 minutes after you’re done with breastfeeding can help as well as that’s roughly the amount of time your body needs to start producing ‘new’ milk.

4. Create a schedule but keep breastfeeding on demand

It’s always a good idea to pump according to a schedule however you should not forget to breastfeed on demand, meaning whenever (and wherever) your baby needs to. What you could do, for example, is to nurse your baby from one breast while pumping from the other.


If you want to be economic you could buy these breast shells that collect the milk when your breasts are leaking during feeding and the rest of the day. They also protect sore nipples and help with relieving engorgement.

5. Choose the right pump

Having the right gear is essential if you want your pumping routine to be a success. I strongly suggest going for an electric pump rather than the manual- even though the price of electric ones are much higher. In this case, there’s no reason to save money as using manual pump can make you go mad (unless you are a very patient person). It’s twice as slower and your hands will be sore before you even finish.

Medela swing is so far one of the bests on the market. You can ask other mums around or just read different forums where Medela wins over Avent Phillips or Tommy Tippee. You will also see Medela brand being promoted in many series and movies (especially American) that involve mums and newborns. It’s fairly easy to set up, washes well (both in hands and in the dishwasher), has different levels of suction and its portable if you use the batteries. And yes, you will pay the higher price but you can be sure that, if you will use it frequently, it is worth the investment.

Don’t try to save money and go for a single pump- double will express much more milk in a shorter time (and time IS money, you can probably feel it now more than ever). What is also invaluable when pumping from both breasts is having hands-free pumping/ nursing bra. It will allow you to express the milk with less hassle, without the need of holding the bottles for 15 min (making it a little less boring as you can enjoy your coffee or see what you’ve been missing out on Facebook).

6. Stock up your freezer

Remember the expressed milk you give to your baby should always be fresh and its best to use within 48 hours. According to NHS website, if you keep in on the back of the fridge in the temperature of 4 degrees (or lower), it can stay there for up to 5 days. The excess of milk you are not planning to use should be kept in a freezer in special bags (for maximum of 6 months), just remember to label and date it first. This way in the future you will know which bag you should defrost first.

7. Don’t be too hard on yourself

The amount you express will vary, some women will have it more consistent, some less and it often changes over time.

You should not be upset with yourself if the amount you pump is not what you expected; try not compare yourself with other mums and stay positive.

A tip for mummies who happen to be physically away from their baby: looking at the pictures of your little one often helps to express more milk.

Best toys for babies development

In those early days with your newborn baby it is hard to imagine finding time between feeding, changing dirty nappies and sleeping for a playing session. Besides, why exactly should you fit this extra slot for games and toys even though your baby’s brain is too tiny to understand anything?

Well, according to psychologists, it is never too early to start engaging your little one in playing and exploring the world. You may think your baby is not even interested in what you show to him, but in reality he’s absorbing much more information than we can expect.

Reaching milestones and gaining necessary skills reflects in a big part from the opportunities that baby receives. That’s why choosing the right toys and activities that match to your little one’s age is so important; it’s up to you as a parent to pick something that will draw his attention.

Are you confused when you enter the shop or browse through online world of toys? Don’t worry, that’s why I’m here for you. I prepared a list of best toys for babies development. I divided them accordingly to the age so you will know what you need once your peanut progresses to the next stage.

Toys for age 0-3 months

Your baby doesn’t do much of a movement yet and she looks so cozy in your arms but it’s important to give her opportunities to wiggle and stretch as much as possible through the day. This way she will develop and strengthen her weak muscles.

It’s a great idea to start tummy time from the first month of baby’s life as earlier you will start the better for the baby. She will most likely not lift her head so soon but could slightly turn the head looking for your face. When she turns 3 months you will notice how much the tummy time has been beneficial for her development; her neck and arms muscles will be strong enough to lift her little head.

My picks for these months are:

Activity mat. Having one of those is a must have for your newborn baby. The clip-on overhead toys might be over-stimulating for your little one until she’s about 2 months old so until then I’d suggest taking them off and placing the mat on top of a rug so your baby is comfortable and safe during tummy time.

Music-playing device. Since baby’s hearing gets developed earlier than other senses, music will catch his attention and stimulate his brain.

The play mat from Fisher Price combines best of these two worlds. It comes with the toys including a mirror (so also great for your baby to stay on her back and stare at her own reflection) plus a little detachable piano that your baby can kick during tummy time and later on use as a toy when she can sit by herself (you may find songs coming from this device quite annoying but at least you will get some well-deserved rest for a minute or two).

• Mobiles. High-contrast black-and-white decorations will be the best pick for your little one. The reason for that is that babies don’t really see colors until they reach about 3 months of age. The black and white graphics will help the early vision development. This mobile from Amazon gives you an option of changing the cards according to age as well as changing the distance of the cord once your baby’s vision improves.

Toys for age 4-6 months

Starting from the age of 4 months babies become especially interested in faces and other circular designs, like spirals. Why? Because their eyesight is developing in a full speed. From about 5 months they also begin to learn cause and effect, so they may be amazed with shaking toys such as rattles and, obviously, put them in their mouth.

My picks for these months are:

• Soft sound-making toys. For example, light soft blocks or balls will be useful for babies that are in the journey of discovering cause and effect. Any sound that the toy will make will be a great entertainment for your baby.

• Teething toys with a rattle. A toy like this will satisfy your baby’s needs and curiosity so you get a package of 2 in 1. Although the teething process doesn’t usually start until 6 months, gum pain may bother your little one earlier. Plus the rattle with a handle will force your peanut to exercise her hand grip while shaking the toy around will strengthen her arm.

Toys for age 7-9 months

After 6 months have passed your baby is probably ready to sit unsupported. If she’s still not doing it independently, you can encourage her to strengthen her abs and spine muscles by showing her how to reach the toys that are lying in front of her. Once your baby is confident enough, she’ll be using her free hands to play with different kind of toys and entertain herself for a short time (hopefully for a long time but who are we kidding).

My picks for these months are:

• Books. Board books and cloth books are safe for little curious hands and they would be really hard to damage. Your baby will love this interactive one as it’s super soft with different textures to explore and it makes noises too!

Stackable cups. From building a tower to simply putting them inside of each other, they are multi-purpose; with age your child will be discovering new ways to play with them. They don’t only help baby to practice hand-eye coordination, but also can be used to teach him the idea that items still exist even when you can’t see them. To do so just hide smaller objects under the cups (always under your supervision) and then lift up each one of them making it a game of discovery.

• Balls with holes. Or any other easy to hold ball so your baby can keep developing his grasping skills.

Toys for age 10-12 months

By now many most babies will be crawling and starting to pull themselves into a standing position in preparation for cruising. Your little one might also be mastering the act of picking up small objects between the thumb and index finger. At this age, babies memory is working on more advanced level and they’re able to understand simple words. They’re also more tolerant to various stimulation.

My picks for these months are:

• Household items. Exploring at this age will be your baby’s new favourite activity. Many babies seem to enjoy everyday use objects much more than any toy out there. That’s why its good idea to give your little one pots and wooden spoons (so he can bang on them, for example) as well as empty cereal boxes or plastic food containers. You may find out that there’s no need to buy too many toys after all.

• Activity tables. They encourage development of motor skills and hand-eye coordination thanks to the colourful, engaging buttons. They’re also perfect for entertaining a baby who’s just learned or is in a process of learning how to stand since their strong supportive legs will ensure your baby’s safety during playtime. This one is great as you can remove the legs and make it a ‘sit-down’ toy.

• Plush toys. It is common at this time for many babies to grow attached to objects such as plush toys or comforters and want to hang on to them, especially when upset or sleepy. Giving one of them may reduce the separation anxiety that a lot of babies develop after 6-7th month.

Toys for over 1 year olds

Your baby’s biggest achievement around the one-year mark is definitely walking (however some babies won’t be ready to take first steps without help until they reach 15 months). Thanks to the observation, they also start to use some objects in their intended use, for instance they will take a phone pretending to talk( so you get the green light to buy a toy phone).

Older babies, at about 18 months age, will most likely start to show interest in more engaging activities that will take his motor skills to the next level. He may be enjoying kicking the ball around or drawing on a paper with a thick crayon.

My picks for 12+ months are:

• Push/pull toys. Pulling around an animal on a string or pushing anything with wheels will provide loads of amusement for your walking toddler. This one is a great choice for walking lessons but also for learning first words.

• Cars and trucks. Wheeled vehicles will encourage baby to become more independent by exploring the surroundings by himself.

• Large blocks. Not only building a tower of blocks (and knocking it down right after) is a fun way to play but can be also beneficial to your baby’s brain. Some scientists have found out that young children who play with these toys will be much smarter at maths in the future. Now imagine you are the one who’s raising the next Einstein!

• Baby art supplies. Any toddler will be super entertained by the finger paint—just make sure the drawing tools you buy are non-toxic and big enough for those little hands: Palm-grip crayons, sidewalk chalk and dot markers are the best choice.

Hope you enjoyed my recommendations. At the end, I believe that the parent is the best entertainment for the child. Toys however give this extra opportunity in creating the vital bond between a carer and the baby.

Can you think of any other developmental toys worth mentioning ? Let me know in the comments:)

Ergo baby 360 baby carrier review

When you are out and about with your baby in the pushchair it might be pleasant if your little one is generally calm or while he/she is sleeping but not so pleasant when she awakes and refuses to stay in a sitting position for any minute longer. I know this pain very well as I have a hyper-active child who screams as if I was hurting her when she’s too long in her buggy (15 minutes shopping must seem like forever for her).

That is why I decided to try my luck with Ergo baby 360 baby carrier. I spent a good amount of time researching the market. Choosing the best carrier means not only comfort and functionality but also safety for your baby. There are many brands that claim their carriers are safe and ‘healthy’ for the little ones when in reality the baby dangles in it like a string puppet. So making sure the baby carrier you are planning to buy is ergonomic is the first step to the right choice.

What ‘ergonomic’ baby carrier actually means?

Baby carrier that is ergonomic will have a wide base supporting the weight of the baby in such a way that most of it lands on the bottom not the crotch and holds your little one’s hips and legs in so called frog or M shape position. What’s more, the baby’s spine stays in a C-shape position in an ergonomic carrier.

Why would I spend money on a baby carrier if I can get a sling instead?

Well, first of all a baby sling might be a great thing but only up to a certain age. Your baby will get heavier and heavier from day 1 so having a sling will be only a good solution for first couple of months.

Another thing is that before you start using the sling you need to learn how to wrap it around yourself, And don’t get me wrong, it’s not impossible but if you are impatient just like me, you’ll find a sling really annoying at the beginning. It took me few days of watching the videos on YouTube and then trying to apply it in real life with my screaming (also impatient) baby. Obviously, eventually I learned how to do it and putting it on became much easier with time, but still I was only using the sling in the house. I didn’t even try to take it outside with me as it was cold and wrapping it around myself with a winter jacket on seemed really discouraging for me.

Baby carrier on the other hand is simple to use, with few straps and buttons to do. You can take it anywhere, and if you are in hurry it won’t give you a headache. It will last you for much longer and even if you do spend more money on it, it’s well worth the investment.

Why I chose Ergobaby 360 all positions baby carrier

So apart from the obvious ergonomic feature, Ergobaby is really functional. You can carry your baby in 4 different positions from the front to the back, parent or world facing and even on your hip.

It can be used from newborn provided that you’ll use the infant insert. Once your baby weighs about 5,5 kg you can use it without the insert until she reaches 15 kg (so that can be roughly up to 4 years old- pretty good investment for £100!). Another advantage is that it’s very comfortable; it gives a really good back support with a padded waistband that you can wrap around yourself. Once you get a hang of it, it’s easy to put on yourself (and the baby) with no help needed and will fit parents with different height or size.

One more benefit of this carrier is that it’s made of 100% cotton and can be washed in a washing machine. You have loads of different designs and colors to choose from so every mum can find something for herself. Personally, I think the design and quality is just perfect. I love how simple the adjustment is, with the flap and the buttons on the front. You can also tell the material this carrier is made of is superb quality by just touching it, so you can be sure it will last you for ages.

Get it now!

If you’re still having second thoughts, don’t! Have a look at short videos of this baby carrier on YT or on Ergobaby website where they give you full presentation of the product.

If you are unsure you’ll use it outside of the house, I suggest getting a sling first. Once you get used to carrying a baby on your chest, you’ll see there’s nothing more precious in this world than a little head resting close to your heart. From there a natural shift will be a baby carrier, such as Ergobaby 360.

The best lightweight stroller for toddlers

It is hard to choose from all the range of different strollers available on the market. I know myself- I spend weeks on researching the best strollers for my baby when she reached the sitting down milestone. For me very important feature was the buggy’s weight so it would be light enough to take it with me when travelling, small size so it wouldn’t bother us in my small apartment and the parent-facing option (surprisingly not easy to find within strollers for toddlers)

When I was walking in the park I was acting like a creepy person checking out other mothers with prams, looking at the brand of their strollers. Uppababy Vista/Cruz, Babyzen YoYo and Bugaboo are the main brands mothers prefer. But when it comes to the functionality, the look and the lightweight option the winner for me was Bugaboo Bee 5.

The best look and quality

I know this might sound vain and shallow but who doesn’t want to have the prettiest and the cutest pram? Pushing a baby in a stroller is a bit like driving a car, am I right? (Ok, maybe there is a slight difference). So you want to own a nice car (meant a stroller) without sacrificing the quality of it. That is why Bugaboo Bee is the right choice. It curved chassis and bright colours definitely makes this buggy stand out from the crowd. You have a 3-year guarantee from a manufacturer so you can be sure it will last you for long time(or even pass it to your next baby).

What’s an extra plus is that you can buy loads of useful accessories to it: cup holder, umbrella, matching footmuff and liner, travelling bag etc. Another cool thing about it is that you can change basically any part of this pram starting from the wheels, seat, frame to sun canopy so it will look like new whenever you need to.

The best size

Bugaboo Bee 5 is really small comparing to other ones available on the market. It’s great if you have to keep it inside of the flat or somewhere with limited space. It folds really easily and although it is not one hand fold, it’s simple and quick when you get a hang of it. In my case, I don’t even have to fold the stroller as it’s small enough to stay in the hall of my flat without bumping into it. I also love how fast it unfolds (making my life easier whenever I have to travel by a car ) and the fact that it’s compact enough to fit into a small car trunk. Because of the adorable size of the Bugaboo Bee, it is best for urban use. If you live in a city like London pushing it around supermarkets, narrow streets or in the underground won’t be a hassle at all!

Best functionality

Simple to operate from the back of the seat, Bugaboo Bee has 3 reclining positions from lying to sitting down. With 2 steps you can reverse the seat from world-facing to parent-facing (my daughter is not ready to leave her precious mama out of sight just yet!). This feature had a big value for me when I was choosing this stroller as most other lightweight prams are not reversible. Another advantages are the adjustable height of the handlebar (which will please even really tall people) and the extendable padded seat that grows with your child. And my favourite feature is the extendable sun canopy; it really protects your baby from the sun as it covers your child fully (no need for an umbrella).

The manufacturer says the pram is suitable from birth if you buy an extra bassinet until your little one reaches 17 kg so approximately 3-3,5 years old. The shopping basket will carry max 5 kg and in my opinion is large enough for daily shopping (however I did have trouble fitting my changing bag into it so I bought hooks and just hanged the bag around the handlebar).

Best weight

This pram is great for everyday use as well as travelling; although there are some lighter strollers available on the market, Bugaboo Bee 5 with the weight of 8.9 kg can be easily lifted by a skinny person (or a person without muscles=me). It’s not only a useful feature for travelling but also when using public transport or when the elevator breaks in your building! I did not try to lift the stroller with the baby in it but my partner did it without a problem. Putting it into a car trunk is effortless as well.

Few things that are not ‘the best’

Bugaboo bee is of course not that perfect. It has small wheels, which even though have a good suspension and shock absorption, they do struggle on uneven ground or gravel. And although it grows with your child, it does have quite narrow seat so if you have a chubby baby this might not be the best option for you. Another thing that might annoy some of you is that it’s missing bumper bar, so your child doesn’t have anything to hold on to (rest assured, the 5-point safety harness is enough to secure your little one from falling). What’s more, make sure you don’t mind bending and kneeling when out and about as the stroller seat is situated lower to the ground than most others; it didn’t bother me personally as it gives the pram extra charm- just like the Lamborghini’s low suspension 🙂 And, unfortunately, it is not cheap but you have to look at it as an investment.

So is Bugaboo Bee 5 really the best lightweight stroller for toddlers?

I would say it’s definitely one of the bests available on the market. It’s charm and quality are something hard not to like. You can customize it and change the parts when you feel like it. It really ‘pushes like a dream’, with one or both hands. Fitting it in your flat and car won’t be an issue and when taking it into crowded places you will appreciate its small size. It has decent basket and a really great sun canopy

Is it the lightest- not really, however if you would go for a super light stroller that weighs around 6 kg (like Babyzen Yoyo) it would most likely do a better job when travelling by plane but could not live up to your expectations on other level (when shopping for example) .

Remember, there is not a perfect stroller, some of them are exceptionally good in one aspect and others in something else. Finally, you should find a pram that suits your lifestyle. If, like me, you live in a busy city, often travel and appreciate quality items then Bugaboo Bee 5 is the right choice for you.

Is it worth practising hypnobirthing? Mindful hypnobirthing review

You are getting closer and closer to the big day. You start to imagine how the birth of your baby will look like, how much this must hurt and how are you going to even manage this pain. If you are already getting the most horrific images in your head, please hold your horses. Does giving birth hurt that much? The answer is yes. Can I do something about it? Yes. Does it have to be so scary? Not at all.

 

How I came across the ‘hypnobirthing’ term

When I was browsing about different stages of labour and managing the pain the term hypnobirthing popped up. I looked at the Youtube videos which showed testimonials of women who had an amazing birthing experience thanks to the hypnobirthing technique.

I’ve always been interested in psychology: complexity of our brain, how does subconscious affect our lives or how meditation can improve our lifestyle. But I was sceptic at first, I couldn’t imagine a painless birth (can you?). Since I believe in the power of mind I decided to research the topic in detail.

What is mindful hypnobirthing

In short, hypnobirthing is a mix of meditation, hypnosis and visualising techniques. Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment, feeling all that is happening around you and bringing the attention to mundane but how important processes such as breathing, sitting or walking.

Because the idea of the most excruciating pain that labour involves has been embedded within us for ages, it is hard to change our view that it can be a positive experience. We have all watched movies with screaming women giving birth; your friends who already have kids probably told you awful stories and your mum just gave you that look when you asked about her experience.  So it’s apparent that in society persists this belief that suffering is an integral part of bringing a little human to this world.

There are courses available to attend and learn all the hypnobirthing method but for me the price was way too high (limited budget anyone?)  so I bought a book instead. It’s called Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher.

How does the book help you to become more confident

The book is well written and introduce you the the world of meditation and self-hypnosis in an uncomplicated way. I really enjoyed listening to the meditation tracks from the book, especially to Sophie’s voice- it was so calming and relaxing! The CD (or the audio book if you choose it) is divided into short mindfulness part, visualisation, and longer meditation tracks. You are meant to listen to them daily, ideally from 28-30th week of your pregnancy.  Sophie gives you advice on how to write your birth plan, how to relax on a daily basis and how to shift your awareness in any situation. She outlines the advantages of water birth and using hypnobirthing  techniques at the same time (which I also intended to do) and how to prepare the room you will stay in during your labour.

There’s even track for your partner (if you convince him to listen to it you’re a winner!).

So the book gives you a sense of confidence: you will finish reading or listening to it with a feeling that you are in power during your labour.

My personal experience with hypnobirthing 

I’ve never done mediation before, although I tried few times. I even joined a class one day but came out laughing at the breathing exercises those people were doing; it just sounded so funny for me on that time! Plus I couldn’t focus at all; it’s actually difficult to clear your mind completely.

So deciding to try out the hypnobirthing was more like a challenge to me. I remember when I first listened to the track I felt weird but definitely more relaxed.  So I started doing it diligently every day, putting an alarm for the same hour. This was actually working, even my friends told me I look more calm and stopped complaining that much ( when I thought my mood swings don’t exist at all).

So when my first contractions started to appear at 4 am in the morning I immediately put the hypnobirthing tracks on and I started to do my visualisations. I have to say that at that point I was feeling as if I’m having a painful period so there was not that much to distract from. Few hours later I was in a bigger pain but listening to Sophie’s voice kept calming me down.

However my reaction to stronger waves of contraction that were about to come was not what I have planned or expected. In the hospital it turned out that I will be throwing up quite often during the second stage of labour. I could not eat anything, even water made me sick; eventually they had to put me on a water drip.

I have to admit that as much as I wanted the tracks to work during the last, most difficult stage of labour, I could not bother to listen to them. I tried to use all the advice that I learned from the book and although it didn’t work for me with every painful contraction, I believe I put the focus on a right thing when it was the most needed ( in the combination with gas and air).

Final thoughts…

So is it worth practising hypnobirthing? I would say yes, definitely. By this day I enjoy the benefits of mindfulness practice in the most stressful situations (and there are many when the baby finally arrives!). It is so important to keep the right mind while you are pregnant and during labour; I’d say any kind of mediation will be beneficial for you.

If you decide to buy the book or sign up for a hypnobirthing course make sure you don’t do it at the last minute. Your body has to get used to being in a ‘hypnosis ‘zone’ so if you start 4 weeks before your due date it won’t do much for you. The earlier you start practising the better for you.

Just because my birthing experience was not exactly as I wished for, it doesn’t mean your one won’t be positive. Nevertheless you have to be ready for anything as nobody can predict the unpredictable.

Cute and cheap maternity clothes- how to dress with a growing bump

Finding cute but also cheap maternity clothes can be a challenge, considering most of the high street shops sell overpriced goods. They often want you to pay way too much for a piece of clothing you will only wear for several weeks and then throw it away, put on the back of your wardrobe waiting for another child (like you were even thinking of it right now) or maybe for your sister/friend to get pregnant.

But then again, getting bigger and more curvy is a good excuse to spend some money on your new wardrobe, even if it will serve you only temporarily. After all, you deserve to feel and look fabulous during your pregnancy.

So, here are my tips on how to shop for some great and cheap maternity clothes.

 

 

 

 

Don’t start buying maternity clothes too early

 

I know you are getting weirdly excited to start wearing those funny-looking over bump maternity jeans but hold your horses. If you are just 12 or even 16 weeks pregnant chances are you are still not showing. In my case, people couldn’t tell I was pregnant up until 6 months!

However, as each woman is different, you may already feel bloated in your first trimester. That means you would find it difficult to squeeze into your regular jeans but your belly is not big enough to wear maternity trousers just yet.

What I would suggest is buying couple of stretchable jeggins or leggins, could be in a size bigger than you usually go for. They will fit nicely, without the need to zip or button up your growing belly.

I made a mistake of buying maternity jeans, jeggins and shirts while 4 months pregnant and didn’t wear them for weeks because my belly was growing rather slowly so the clothes were too big for me.

 

 

 

 

You will find lots of affordable staffs on Amazon

 

Amazon has everything these days, including clothing for every occasion.

They actually have a range of good-quality maternity clothes from jeans, dresses, T-shirts to bras. And the prices are attractive as well.

Some things I bought for myself :

  • Leggings: Elastic, with high waistband, available in different colors. Good from second trimester, depending on your bump size. I found these very comfortable and practical for spring/summer, especially if you prefer wearing longer shirts/ tops that cover your bottom or these warm, thicker ones for winter/autumn season.
  • Jeans: It’s worth to have at least one good pair of maternity jeans in your wardrobe. And they don’t have to be expensive at all. They’re better than leggins in terms of thickness and material, they won’t cling to your belly so tightly like most of the leggins would do. Plus, they will match with every casual style. Should be a good fit once you start showing.
  • Shirts: Very practical, come in 2-pack, made of cotton. Great for pregnancy and nursing, available in multiply colors.
  • Tops: Gorgeous long top/tunic available in different colors. Looks great with any leggins or jeans and it’s practical as it can be a nursing top as well. You can start wearing it at any time.
  • Bras: the trick with bras is that you should buy them gradually as your boobs grow (and they will!). So don’t be hectic when shopping. There is no point buying 4 bras straight away as you may find a huge difference between week 20, 28 and 34 of your pregnancy. For many expectant mums, even with the small boost, cup goes even three sizes up. However, if you really can’t wait, many maternity bras are stretchable so have a bit of space for your growing boobs; they also conveniently turn to nursing bras.
  • Dresses: they are the best for summer, when the heat make us sweat like pigs. I’ve experienced it myself, as my last trimester happened to last through the whole July and August (ironically, that was one of the hottest summers ever recorded in UK). So on that time you definitely want to use as thinnest clothes as possibles. Cotton dresses are the best option as they are breathable and loose; here you will find some cute, nicely designed dresses.

 

 

 

 

Look for second hand and outlet clothes

 

If you really want to save some money and don’t mind wearing second hand piece of clothing, visit charity shops and look for something suitable for you or ask your friends who already had babies, maybe they still keep their maternity clothes on the back of the wardrobe so you can borrow them if you are the same size.

Another option is EBay. There you won’t only find used clothes but also brand new ones with tags on; you can bid on some and pay half price (or less) for the product comparing to the original price from the high street shops.

You will find anything from smart tops (such as this one from New Look) to fancy dresses and maternity jeans from Mothercare.

 

 

 

 

Start buying bigger size clothes

 

At some point, in my last stage of pregnancy, I found it pretty annoying that there is a limited choice of nice and not overpriced clothes for expectant mums out there.

So what I started doing (and can definitely recommend) was buying ‘normal’ clothes from high street shops. Not forgetting about hunting for sale, I simply bought few items that were two (or three) sizes bigger than I was before getting pregnant.

Don’t get annoyed though coz not everything will fit on you; some designs of size 12/14 can simply look weird on you if you were an 8 before- too loose in your boob area/ too tight on your growing belly. But I was lucky enough to find a good bargain for larger trousers that would not obstruct my movements, or even a loose dress designed for not pregnant women (yay!). It all depends on your figure really.

 

 

 

 

Don’t go crazy

 

Speaking from my own experience, I know how hard is to not to get tempted by buying hundreds of new shirts/ T-shirts/ dresses and trousers since you’ve already outgrown the old ones.

Just remember soon you will be able to squeeze into your old size again, and those new maternity clothes will become useless to you. Especially that you will have your favorite, most comfortable clothes anyway and use them most of the time.

 

 

 

 

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