Activities with Baby

How to entertain a baby: Our Top 25 Clean Sensory Play Things

It’s a fact, babies just don’t stay babies for long, and at some point the cuddles and snuggles will not be enough, they will need….entertaining!

To coin a phrase…. How hard can it be?….well let me tell you, sometimes VERY hard indeed! Bearing in mind your precious little one will probably have an attention span of about a millisecond; you’ll need the largest box of tricks known to man in order to keep them entertained for long.

Now luckily they start off slowly, they get tired quickly, so this is their way of easing us into eventually spending 4 hours playing Monopoly or similar!
I started looking into sensory play and discovered a wealth of fantastic ideas to not only entertain baby but begin the very important process of learning too. Something to stimulate the senses and that baby can join in with, rather than just sitting/laying watching you do something! (Cause let’s face it that would be boring!)

I started by buying a large clear storage box with a lid, this would become the sensory box and would sit in our living room, on hand, for when entertainment was required. Then as I was out and about I’d be looking in shops and in nature to find things that would be safe but interesting to touch, hear etc. I found no end of inspiration on Pinterest and dedicated a board to all the ideas I liked.

I’ve compiled a list of what’s in our box so hopefully it’ll give you some inspiration too;

1. Tambourine – Lots of noise!
2. Maraca – Slightly less noise!
3. Spikey Ball & Ring – These are by far Georges Favourite items
4. Holey Ball – This can be stuffed with fabric scraps for them to pull out too
5. Little Tikes Drum – Lights up and plays tunes responding to the taps

6. Space Blanket – NOTE: this is a noisy one!!!!! They love it though, lay them on top and as they wriggle around it makes loads of rustly noise!
7. Bright Coloured tubs – Picnic pots from ASDA but they stack and you can hide things under them to find!
8. Transparent Rainbow Pencil case – Hold it up to a light, Magic!
9. Rain Shaker – My partner bought this as a souvenir in Mexico years ago but the sound is fantastic and George loves listening to it.
10. Plastic Bottles filled with different things! – We have one with Multi-coloured Plastic Buttons, one with wooden beads, one with clear Crystals and they all make a different sound too. We also have one with fluffy pompoms (I like this one best as its silent!)

11. Ribbons tied to a wooden curtain loop – An odd one I found on Pinterest but its fab, you can customise the colours, do a black & white one, multi-coloured, whatever you fancy!
12. A car polishing mitten – Another favourite, he loves feeling the microfiber fingers.
13. A shimmering rainbow fabric length – This can be wafted over them when lying down, they can snuggle it, held up in the sun it looks fab too!
14. A Shimmering Starry length of Fabric – This one I discovered at our Daisy Baby Wrigglers group and I just loved it! I sourced the fabric online and made our own night sky at home.
15. Feathers – I found some bright coloured craft ones.

16. Artificial Leaves – Sprinkle them over them as they lay down! George loves this!
17. Large Sparkly Pipe Cleaners – NOTE: you do need to be careful with these as they contain wire and they can hurt themselves if left to their own devises!
18. Bubbles! – No sensory box would be complete without a tube of bubbles for blowing! (TIP: Carry one in your changing bag too, just in case you need entertainment on the go!)
19. Sparkly Balls – Roll them about and the glitter disperses, let them stay still and it all settles. Fascinating!
20. A shower Puff – A clean unused one obviously, but the texture is a great new discovery!

21. A light up bow – Fibre optic light up present bow, changes colour.
22. A Cat teaser toy – NOTE: Shut the cats OUT the room when attempting play with this one!
23. A shimmering Gift Bag – In the sun this never fails to attract their attention!
24. A mermaid Cushion – George has a black/silver one and is fascinated by it!
25. Ok so this one technically isn’t in the box but it is something to entertain – No mess Painting! Another idea borrowed from Pinterest. Place a piece of paper in a zip lock food bag, put a few dollops of ready mixed paint on the paper, zip shut and tape down to their highchair tray. Encourage them to push the paint about inside the bag! Voila! Painting but without the mess!

There are so many more ideas to try and as we learn some more I will be sure to keep sharing them!

Home Decor, Nursery

Nursery Style: Woodland Theme

Planning how you would like your nursery is one of the best things an expectant mum can do! Daydreaming of curtains, bedding, paint colours and furnishings is such a wonderful way to pass the time! I must confess (and others who know me would most definitely agree) I’m a little OCD about how I like things to look and I go into every minute detail right down to the handles on the drawers and hooks on the wall.

This is why I TOTALLY LOVE our nursery! I knew as soon as I found out we were expecting that wanted a woodland theme nursery. Trouble was I just can’t stand all those tacky cartoon character designs that seem to be loved everywhere! I wanted something more sophisticated and elegant than that, something classy but still exciting for baby. So this is where my OCD planning kicked in!

The very first thing we bought for the nursery was something I would NEVER normally have considered! A mural, a huge vinyl sticker that covers and entire wall, not normally something I would associate with sophistication or elegance! I found it in the Lake District in a little shop on the shore of Lake Winderemere and knew instantly we had to have it! It was a Silver birch forest scene and I just knew it would be perfect for a feature wall in the nursery. We had to take an educated guess on which size to buy and luckily we got it right!

Used Oak Furniture land Cot and Woodland wall Vinyl
Used Oak Furniture land Cot and Woodland wall Vinyl

Georges Nursery was our larger spare bedroom and was painted by previous occupants in a very bland lemon yellow. Now although it was a neutral colour and was in good nick it simply had to go! The colour I had my heart set on was a light olive green but every range of paint we looked at the colour just wasn’t right! It was either too minty or too limey and it drove me quite bonkers searching for the perfect colour. There were so many samples all over the wall eventually I thought ‘sod this’ and mixed two together to see how it would look! That was the EUREKA moment! I’d done it, I’d finally found the perfect colour, all I needed to do now was get it mixed up. Off we went to Homebase where they mixed up my perfect green! We opted for the Dulux wipeable base so we can give the walls a good clean up if an explosive Poonami should occur!

So that was the walls sorted! Next were the curtains.

Now it’s been said that I have expensive tastes, and despite me trying really hard not to pick THE most expensive things it seems it’s inevitable! When looking at fabric for curtains I came across the most amazing Voyage Enchanted Forest Fabric! I’d never heard of it before and had no idea at the time that it is SUPER expensive and sadly I let myself fall in love with it! Needless to say once I figured out the curtains for both windows would cost nearly £400 I had to change my mind PDQ (Pretty Dam Quick)! I’ll admit I was absolutely gutted as I really did LOVE that fabric but happily I did find something else which actually suited better. We took a trip to Dunelm and I came across these gorgeous oak leaf patterned curtains. They were ready made and a perfect fit for our window sizes and the colours couldn’t have been more perfect, it’s as if I’d picked them personally to match! Decision made, they were the ones! Black out blinds were my next must have as they really are invaluable in the summer months when you’re trying to get little one to go down for a nap! We found some lovely ones at Dunelm in a muted brown Bee pattern and again they were ready made and a perfect fit!

The cot was our next big thing; I was after a Solid Oak cot to fit in with the woodland theme. We looked everywhere but they were either too expensive or poor quality and that simply wouldn’t do. So we started looking on the second-hand market and found my dream cot Oak and cream (that new was WAY out of our price range) for an absolute bargain price only there was a small catch… it was over 150 miles away! Being pregnant really does have its perks and one wide eyed “please” look later and my partner was soon driving to fetch it for our baby! (Yes he’s THAT amazing!)

Customised 12 year old IKEA Changing table
Customised 12 year old IKEA Changing table

So with the cot bought and only a few items left we were getting on brilliantly. The wardrobe was actually a no brainer, we had a pine one that was already in situe and would be perfect with loads of drawers for storage too. The changing table was the next obstacle, I really liked my old Ikea changing table but it was 12 years old, the drawers weren’t great and needed attention and it was totally the wrong look for our new nursery.   No matter how many others I looked at, they just weren’t as good as my old one. So this turned into my partners nursery project, he decided to re-vamp my old cherished one, painting it the same colour cream as the cot and changing all the drawer handles for oak ones that matched perfectly! It’s fantastic!

Nursing Chair from Smyths Toy Superstore
Nursing Chair from Smyths Toy Superstore

A nursing chair was something I always wanted with my eldest but sadly my tiny old house didn’t have room for one. Now was my chance to get one and having tried out several I went for the Glider nursing chair and footstool from, believe it or not, Smyths Toy Superstore! It was by far the comfiest and much more reasonably priced than others we’d looked at.  I absolutely love it!

Used Pine Toy Chest, Gro egg Owl & Artificial Flower display
Used Pine Toy Chest, Gro egg Owl & Artificial Flower display

A toy chest for me is an essential piece for a nursey and I found a second hand pine one on Facebook Marketplace only a few minutes down the road from us. It needed a little TLC which I tasked my Dad with and he did an amazing job, it really is beautiful. Because it’s old it has a stunning patina and such character, we finished it off by waxing it and getting a wooden name plaque made up with George’s name on.

When it comes to cot bedding I’d already had my eye on the Welcome to the world Mamas & Papas set. It was gender neutral in white and grey and is super cute! Our set included a duvet, cot bumper, mobile, sleeping bag, cellular blanket and fitted sheet. The other extra bedding I got were some fabulous The Little Green Sheep Wild Cotton Cot/Cotbed Fitted Sheet (Woodland) which have a beautiful acorn pattern on, I simply couldn’t resist!



Accessories which finish off the look are;

Welcome to the world wall vinyl from Mamas & Papas
Large brown Sheepskin rug from TK MAXX
Gilt Squirrel and rabbit coat hooks, set of 4 from NEXT (Last year)
Wrendale Designs tall Calendar for keeping track of all those appointments and activities
Wooden storage boxes from TK MAXX for nappies and lotions on the changing table
Cushions from Dunelm and Mole Country Stores
Artificial flower display, hand selected stems from various garden centres and put together myself. The Gro Company Gro-Egg Room Thermometer with Oona the Owl Shellroom thermostat
Hedwig the owl, Dumbledores Wand and Harry Potters Glasses all from the Warner Bros Studio Tour
Rabbit light from George at ASDA, Toadstools from a garden centre
Acorn Door Stop was an ornament from TK MAXX which we’ve customised by adding sand to make it heavy enough.
Fairy wishes from the truly amazing Fantasy Wire
Antique Brass Curtain hold backs from E-bay



Baby Buys

My top 8 buys for baby

Top 8 Must buys for baby:

1. Muslins LOADS of them! – Useful for every eventuality!

At least 10 and possibly more!! I bought ours from Amazon and have some plain and brightly coloured ones. We have pretty much one in every room, some in each car and always have at least 2 in the changing bag. You never know when you might need one!

2. Angelcare Bath seat – A godsend when baby is little.

This seat gives you confidence and holds baby nicely and securely without slipping about. Ideal for inexperienced bath times!

3. Anglecare AC517 video monitor and sensor pad – Absolute peace of mind.

This is by far the best monitor and sensor we found, I’m so happy with it.  The screen is nice and big and the sensor pad is very sensitive giving you complete confidence that if there was a problem you’d know about it virtually immediately! The room temperature display is clear and the night-time image is very good too!

4. Mamas & Papas Ocarro Pushchair – Ok so this one is a biggy!

We absolutely love love love this pushchair! It isn’t the lightest or smallest but it is the most robust and solid pushchair we found! The navy and leather look is just so classy and all the great features are hard to beat! We went for the whole bundle and even treated ourselves to the matching footmuff!


5. Joie 360 All stage Car seat – Where was this seat 12 years ago!

The 360 degree swivel on this seat makes life SOOOOO much easier to get baby in and out of the car! It’s lovely and padded it cuddles baby in position and is really great quality.  We chose this signature edition with the leather binding from Mamas & Papas, I would always recommend getting them to talk to you about your requirements.  We went to Lincoln store and they were fantastic!

Joie+Combination+Car+Seats

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6. Growbags – These fantastic products have helped my babies be good sleepers from day dot! I firmly believe that they are the reason my boys sleep so well now. The tog options, designs and general brilliance of these products are second to non. We’ve tried cheaper alternatives and they just don’t cut it like a Growbag. The fit and durability is fantastic, no loose covers to taffle up in, no getting cold in the middle of the night and easy access changing. We chose the Ollie the Owl as it fits in with our nursery décor! Perfect!

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The Gro Company Grobag Ollie the Owl Sleeping Bag, 2.5 Tog, 0-6 Months, Grey

7. Mamas & Papas Light and sound play mat – This is quite possibly George’s favourite thing! Even from being tiny he loved to lay beneath the lights listening to the soothing sounds. You can flat pack it away when not in use and the batteries have lasted 6 months and are still going! A firm favourite!

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8. Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine – What a godsend!

Now I’m an advocate for breastfeeding and I breastfed both my boys however due to my own medical reasons I am only allowed to do this for 3 months so when weaning onto bottles this machine was a revelation! All done in a flash, bottle is ready to drink and no stress whatsoever! We love ours and it gave my partner loads of confidence that the milk he made up was done correctly.

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Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep and Complete Feeding Bundle – White

So there you have it! my top 8 buys for baby!

Check out my top 8 buys for a new Mum in another blog post coming soon!

Activities with Baby

Swimming with baby my Top 8 Tips

As a person who had always enjoyed swimming, but as an adult now isn’t overly confident, I always wanted my children to learn how to swim and be confident in the water.
Regrettably I couldn’t do any baby swimming classes with my eldest as I was back at work so soon.  At the time they only seemed to run classes during the week so we ended up taking him on weekends until he was old enough for lessons after school.

This time I wanted to make sure I had time to take George.  The local leisure centre runs classes and being the disorganised mother I often am, I omitted to think about the fact they may have a waiting list. This was something I was soon made very aware of when I rang up excitedly to book in and was told there would be 34 babies in front of George in the queue and I’d be looking a quite a few months wait! GUTTED! It would appear you need to put your name down when you find out you’re pregnant in order for you to have a space once they’re born! Whoops, my bad!
Anyway I looked into other options and found two ideas; The Local Sure Start Centre (a Council run group) had a swim class that you could put your name down for or Private swimming lessons.
Sure Start Centre Swim
I contacted the organisers of the Council run group and put Georges name down, I was told there was quite a few in front of us so didn’t hold much hope of a place anytime soon!
Private Swimming Lessons
Turns out there is a pool IN MY VILLAGE, literally less than 2 mins round the corner!!!!! (Who knew people have small training pools in their back garden and have qualified instructors teach children to swim in them? I certainly didn’t!) I enrolled George straight away and was excited for our first session.
So whilst waiting for the lessons to commence after the School holidays I had a surprise phone call from the Sure Start Centre and ended up with a place there too! So now George and I are swimming twice a week and absolutely loving it!

My TOP 8 TIPS for swimming with baby:

  • Get your name down early! – Check out your options and get your name down ASAP
  • Double nappy– Most Pools require you to double nappy. That means a swim nappy (disposable usually) and then on top of that we use a Happy Nappy. Be prepared and have a couple of swim nappies just in case little one decides to have an inappropriately timed poop! The Happy Nappy gives you that extra security knowing that no leaks shall pass! Also they are great bright colourful designs and fit lovely. We also use an all in one long suit to keep George warm in the public pool that can sometimes be a little chilly.
  • Be prepared to sing in public – One I didn’t think of, singing in baby classes be in wet or on dry land almost always involves singing so suck it up buttercup and get those vocal cords ready for a workout!
  • Take two towels for baby – One big bath sheet and one hooded towel. I wrap George in his hooded towel, then put the big bath sheet around him whilst I dry off a bit so I can dry and dress him without dripping all over him!
    Put baby in easy to dress clothes – Nothing worse than struggling to dress a post swim baby in an unfamiliar environment. I chose a baby grow and vest, nice and simple. No stupid socks to wrestle on and saved my stress levels immensely!
    Be prepared to feed – You know yourself if you swim it makes you STARVING! Babies are no different; make sure you have a bottle, Boob, or food ready for when you’re finished in the pool.
    Take your time – All babies are different, in the classes we go to there are confident babies and less confident babies. Take your time and watch your baby for signs they are enjoying it or when it’s time to back it up a bit. George has been confident in the water from day dot but he’s not so keen on going under! We’re taking our time slowly and that’s fine, each baby will be different.
    Your body made that baby be proud and don’t compare – This is my biggest faux pas! I have always been self-conscious in a cozy. I’ve suffered badly with spots all my life due to a Pituitary condition and my face and body are not my friends because of them! However I am proud that I have born two children and my body shows the evidence of that. My saggy belly and stretch marks are not something I’m ashamed of and although I still feel self-conscious I am trying really hard not to compare myself to the other mums who seem to have bounced back to being the beautifully slender and toned beings a lot of them are. My time at the pool is for me and George to bond and for him to gain confidence. It’s not about me and my body, I’m not on holiday showing off my tanned and toned body, I’m teaching my baby to swim. Simple as that!

So enjoy your swimming and make some memories!

Kerry

Uncategorised

In the beginning….

So here goes, my first proper Blog post!

Its quite nerve wracking the process of starting a fresh and taking a new direction in life.  I’ve always been a stickler for routine and it has been repeatedly said I ‘don’t do change’ very well.  This time though it seems very different, like a weight is gradually being lifted from my shoulders, that there is hope and that light at the end of what seemed an eternally dark tunnel is actually getting nearer.  I’m not sure what has caused this new optimistic outlook but all I can say for certain is that it’s like a wave of certainty that for once things will work out in our favour.

I love my family, I always have and always will.  They are my whole world, but for so long my world was claustrophobic for them, too many things demanding my mind and body and basically getting in their way of me.  My time was constantly being torn away from them like a riptide dragging me further and further out to sea.  They’d try to reach out but the ocean of life was relentless and the more they fought it, the more I’d drown in it.

They say there’s a calm before a storm, but for me the past 12 years have been the ragging storm culminating recently in a ginormous Tsunami of guilt.

12 Years ago my eldest and I were ‘torn apart’ when he was just 3 months old due to my work at the time being totally inflexible and downright awkward demanding I returned to work full time or not at all! Being young, naïve and with bills to pay I was left with little option and with a heavy heart put him into nursery for 40 hours per week.  That is  the biggest regret of my entire life, and trust me I’ve made some humdinger mistakes so far!

In June 2017 I found out I was expecting my second child, due in February 2018, and was overjoyed that my partner and I would finally be having a baby together. I was super excited and this time I was in the very lucky position that I could take a full years Maternity leave to be with my new baby.

January 2018 I commenced my maternity leave and prepared for the arrival of our little boy.  He very punctually arrived on his due date and after only 5 hours in the hospital (He arrived within the first one!) we were allowed home and I was the happiest I’d felt in a very long time. George was perfect and now I could be a new mum all over again, older (definitely) and a little wiser (perhaps) than the last time.  This time I would make the most of every precious second.

So here I am, making a new beginning for me and my family.  I have a lot to be thankful for in my life, the past 12 years may not have been the kindest but they have provided me with my two amazing boys, my wonderful fiancé and a wealth of experience.

This Blog will hopefully become a reason to celebrate, a place to share all those wonderful things that you learn throughout life and somewhere to show people just what living is all about.  The good things we find along the way, the fun games we play and quite simply the everyday days that can be just as precious!

So thanks for reading and if you like it tell a friend and come back for my next post!