Toddler Art

Playing with your toddler is important for numerous reasons It helps them to learn about their body and the world around them, songs like head shoulders, knees and toes and pointing out different objects as you go for a walk are good for this.

Playing with other children, an older sibling or you will enable your child to learn to share with the available toys and to cooperate to the correct usage. It may also help them sleep better at night although of course don’t quote me on that one!

One of the main points for me is being to help them to be creative and use their imagination, and a really good way to do this is through craft.

Here is a really cool and simple idea on a how to make a pretty art piece with your toddler. I did this with my smallest boy for a valentine’s gift, but of course you could use this for any occasion or even just for fun.

 

First you need to get an empty toilet roll holder and push one bit of the circle inwards so that it looks like a heart. Prepare your plate of paint. Get your toddler ready and armed with their toilet roll heart stamp and let them go wild on a piece of paper.

 

These are really fantastic are they can be used as cards, as a wall art piece or even as wrapping paper. Our little boy was mightily pleased with his and tends to take our visitors to see his masterpiece on our living room wall. If it’s an easter craft you are after I have thisPaper cup Easter gift box you may like to try.

 

Have fun with your children today and give this a try.

 

This post was brought to you by Hannah Clementson from A New Addition: A Fashion, Foodie, Lifestyle and Parenting blog.

Getting fit and getting out

I have written a few times about my weight before. I haven’t really been one for diets and so when Matt (@mattcranept) wrote to me last year offering to train me to run 5k I jumped at the chance.

Since having Fizz in late 2009 my fitness had totally gone to pot. You might not believe me but when I first met Gav in 2007 I was going to the gym 4-5 times a week and was 10 1/2 stone.

I had always loved running so asked Matt if he could help get me in a routine for 5k. Pretty soon he was pushing my body further than I thought I would able to.

 

With stretching muscles and aching for a few days my week consisted of 2-3 workouts building up. Meeting Matt twice a month to get me up to 5k. It was incredible to find that by September 2012 I had got down 1 stone in the time I was training and managing a interval training 5k.

Having someone there to support and push me was a really good way of getting back into training again. It meant no excuses as even when we didn’t meet up Matt would text me or email to see how I was doing. Plus with training he pushed me more than I would have pushed myself.

I kept updating my notebook monthly while training and after slipping a bit over Christmas and New Year my sister has booked our spots in Brighton’s Race for Life. My mum would have been 50 this year and so we are raising money for Macmillan in her memory.

This week I will be back training. Not only will I be running the 5k but I will be pushing Fizz with me! It is really another incentive to push myself further, lose the baby weight and raise a whole heap of money.

 

 

What we got up to in half term!

Here at WO4 HQ we enjoyed some great family days out this ½ term!

See below for our trip to Brighton Pier but first our long awaited trip to LEGOLAND Windsor……..

LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort has over 55 interactive rides and attractions and costs £33 for an adult ticket if you buy online.  For more see the website www.legoland.co.uk.

The excitement in the car was almost overwhelming as we approached to be welcomed by giant Lego people. It was a cold day so we had big coats and we were hopeful (as it was an inset day for us but not the surrounding counties) we would avoid too many queues.

The staff are great, very welcoming and friendly and we were through verLego Star Warsy quickly.  The views are lovely as you enter but there wasn’t time to admire Windsor castle as Lego Star Wars was upon us. We had great fun within with great characters, models and sound effects and George’s day was already made. We then walked down to the fabulous Viking’s River Splash experience which was really fun and as it was so cold, I was very relieved that we didn’t get wet!

Then we headed to the famous Dragon ride, via a great adventure playground – Pirate’s Training Camp!  At Dragon we queued for a while, it was a very popular ride and the cold did start to bite. I saw repeat visitors sensibly dressed in hats, gloves and scarves and with supplies to keep them going but the queue moved fairly fast and we were mostly inside. One problem on this ride was that I couldn’t travel with both children and it wLEGOLAND Dragonas suggested I left my 4 yr. old with staff and then went on with her afterwards. She would have freaked out watching George and I disappearing into the tunnel so if you are visiting with fewer adults than small children that’s worth checking 1st. We would have been gutted after such a long wait to have had to walk away but luckily we paired up with a couple and a lone child. The ride is fantastic – so so worth it – we could have spent all day on it.

Then we queued a long time for another little ride, the rain started to come down and here not having the Q-bot was irritating. I had wanted to experience the day without spending extra to ‘Queue Jump’ – especially as we weren’t there on a very busy day. The kids found the people ‘pushing in’ frustrating and annoying and didn’t really understand however. Then hunger really set in so we ended up queuing again in the rain for hot dogs and then eating them in the rain and the day did start to get a little challenging for my youngest.

Fuller tummies helped though and we set off again to MiniLand which was lovely. By early afternoon however we were starting to get cold and tired but there so much we hadn’t visited, so much to explore. Majority rule won and we headed back to the car.  I was probably most disappointed to be leaving but at least we had a great excuse to come back! There is of course a valid reason why LegoLand is not open in the winter but interestingly as the weather drove people away, those who were prepared, were loving the shorter queues and dwindling crowds.

In summary it’s a fantastic family day out. My tops tips would be

  • Take snacks and provisions – to alleviate boredom in queues and meaning you don’t have to waste valuable ride time foraging!
  • Dress suitably – if it’s a cold day wear as many clothes as you can and don’t forget gloves
  • Do get there as early as you can – there’s so much to do in one day
  • Do expect to queue, as with all similar attractions and even with the Q Bot I would imagine on a busy day there’ll be waiting times
  • Do plan your visit. Don’t waste time trying to decide where to head for 1st plan when you are there or having to back-track to see attractions you missed. LEGOLAND is very large – make the most of the day by planning in advance and talking to kids about what they want do to before they get too overexcited to make any sense!
  • And finally Enjoy! We can’t wait to go back!

Brighton Pier

The iconic Brighton Pier cannot be missed as you drive along the sea front with its attractions, lighBrighton Pierts, sounds and smells. I had been going since I was a child and looking forward to taking my children back. Parking on the sea front is now incredibly expensive so if you can park in town and walk down or use public transport. Buses run along the King’s road all the time.

The Pier offers a lovely experience at no cost if you are a stronger parent than I (!) You can walk right to the end, use the deck chairs for free and enjoy a picnic overlooking the beautiful sea, the city, Brighton Marina and new attraction, The Brighton Wheel! With the cry of the seagulls and the smell of chips, donuts and candy floss along with the ‘holiday’ atmosphere it was really enjoyable. Some of the rides were closed due to the time of year unfortunately but we still enjoyed the Helter Skelter and Carousel which both offer good value for money and were great fun although I think I was more scared than the kids on the Helter Skelter!

The arcades offer a noisy, bright and very stimulating and where we lost of 2ps and 10ps in the machines but it was all good fun.  A really lovely way to while away a gloomy October weekend.

For more on the Pier see here – www.brightonpier.co.uk

 

Mummy Adventure: Choosing A Sling

6 week old snuggles in a stretchy

Choosing a sling is not easy as there are so many options out there, each with their own appeal.  For a newborn though I don’t think anything beats a stretchy wrap.  You tie the wrap on you before setting off and slip the baby in.  They are so secure and supportive, and your baby is cuddled up against your skin, using your body heat to keep them lovely and warm.  Stretchy wraps are very protective, and with a younger baby you can tuck their feet in to keep them warm and support a sleeping baby’s head too.  My goal with baby no.2 is to learn to breastfeed in one as I know many people that do, and this may make running around after an energetic toddler a bit easier!

With baby number 2 on the way we have been trying to decide whether to fork out for a double buggy or not.  The other option is to keep our beautiful travel system and use a sling for the other baby.  Before I had Dylan I had no idea that baby wearing was so easy but now I have fallen in love with it and the idea of wearing my newborn close to me is very appealing, especially with a winter due date.
Our stretchy wrap got a lot of use and I will definitely be using one with squish whatever decision we make.  I did find by 6 months though that Dylan was getting a bit heavy, and was not as well supported as I would like him to be.  This is where we bought two different carriers.  I loved wrapping him and with a woven wrap there are so many possibilities! It took me a bit of practice and some trial and error, but I found my favourite front and back carries.  There are so many beautiful choices and groups for advice and trading but ultimately I think choosing a design that goes with your wardrobe and style is what is important.

11 month cuddles at the zoo

Our second, but equally used carrier is an ERGO baby.  Much easier to use for someone new to babywearing and still with an option to wear baby on your front or back.  The thing I love about ERGO compared to some other buckled carriers is that is distributes baby’s weight well and supports them, making a seat that extends from knee to knee. Dylan is not a small baby, but at nearly 30lbs I can wear him with ease for 4/5 hours in the ERGO as his weight is not only on my shoulders but on my hips too.  The ERGO comes with a built in sleep hood meaning no rolling heads when baby falls asleep (and trust me these things come with sleepy dust in them!).

When choosing which style is best for you, I would recommend finding a sling library if you have one local.  Finding a good carrier that will last you from a newborn to a toddler is not necessarily cheap but it is a great investment.  We are lucky enough to have both options but if you are after one that both mum and dad could wear I would recommend a structured carrier – nothing fiddly and plenty of unisex designs.  If you like the earth mama feel and experimenting with colours, patterns and ways of carrying then there are some beautiful woven wraps to add to your wish list!
Most importantly, make sure it is comfortable and supportive of your baby.  Think about how you would want to be carried. Baby’s legs should hug you with their knees higher than their bum and support should extend to their knees – just like a seat would, or carrying them in your arms would.  Their back should have a natural curve, so they are best facing your body, whether on your front or on your back. Baby’s head should be easy to kiss if they are on your front.  If you are comfortable and they are comfortable then chances are you will get some lovely cuddles as you both enjoy your day and it is nice and easy to interact when they up close to you.   Dylan loves being able to see everything and I love bonding with him and having my hands free!

Birth to Toddler: what really lasts

Having a baby changes everything, not least of which is your house.  Their ‘stuff’ takes over every room, from the cots and moses baskets to the baby bath and of course the toys are everywhere.  But what really stands the test of time?  Many of Dylan’s things are packed away after lasting only a few short weeks and others are still in use now, 13 months down the line.
One thing that you may not expect to be a keeper is the baby bath.  Sure, he wasn’t in there for long as a bath as we found it more comfortable to lie him on the bottom of the main bath  after a while, but come summer it is invaluable as an outside water play area.  Dylan loved sitting outside splashing and it meant not needing to invest in a paddling pool yet.  Sitting him in there for summer baths also saved our bathroom carpet as he loves nothing more than splashing away.
I love reading and wanted to encourage Dylan with his speech and so we have read to him right from the very beginning.  I bought story books aimed at slightly older children as they kept me more entertained and he didn’t have a clue what I was on about anyway.  He is loving his board books now but I hope it won’t be long until we can sit down together and read the story books again, pointing at the pictures and practising the words.  Definitely an investment worth making.
My Ergo carrier is definitely a birth to toddler product.  A lovely ‘heart to heart’ insert makes it suitable for a newborn and there is nothing nicer than feeling your little baby cuddled up against you.  As the baby grows the insert comes out and toddler years mean wearing on your back.  Dylan loves being worn and the carrier is perfect for places like the zoo as we are on the same level and he can see and chat to me about everything.  Toddlers can be worn until they are at least 3 in this design and the carrier is such great quality that you known it will last.  There are some other great carriers like the Boba 3G
Before we had a baby I knew I wanted one of those lovely rocker chairs.  The ones with padded seats and a footstall – I mean how would I possibly breastfeed without one?  I am very glad we did invest in a nursing chair as I love it.  I used to fall asleep feeding Dylan in bed when we were still up several times a night and getting into the chair helped keep me awake and also comfortable.  It has had so much use rocking the baby to sleep and we still use it now for story time.  The chairs are spacious, comfortable and with a rocking footstall you can’t go wrong! I think it is definitely a product that will last us a few more good years as it is nice to have somewhere to snuggle up and cuddle in the nursery.
So there are a few of our lasting products, and they are all things that will be perfect for the new baby when he or she comes along next year.  Great investments and they don’t take up too much space!

Mummy Adventure: Innovative Products We Love

Baby products seems to be an ever growing market with new products being developed all the time to make your life easier and more colourful (plus usually a little poorer).   There is always new technology and fresh ideas though and I love to keep up with what is new in baby world.

One of the biggest trends seems to be making baby clothes organic.  I love this idea as we all want the best for our little ones and not only are the clothes more environmentally friendly I’ve found so many ranges which are utterly adorable.  I love putting Dylan in rompers in the summer as they look comfortable and breathable and I wish I had seen this gorgeous little organic romper suit earlier on! It is made with the softest organic cotton and nickel free poppers meaning even a child with sensitive skin can have gorgeous and colourful clothes.
It is not just their clothes that are getting more inventive, I love these toy storage ideas, especially the fire house!  Co-habiting with two very messy people (only one of which is a child), I will do anything to encourage Dylan to tidy up and luckily he loves the game of putting things away – at least until it becomes more fun to tip the box upside down again!  I think these lovely little boxes would be great for older toddlers as well to encourage them to keep things tidy and to play
One product that seems perfect for parents of multiple children is a buggy board.  These mean only needing a single pushchair as the older child can ride on a mini skateboard attached to the back wheels of the pushcair.  I think these are a great idea and when Dylan is a little more confident on his feet we will definitely invest in one.  Public transport and navigating narrow shops look much easier with a single but it may still be a few years before the toddler is able to walk everywhere.
One product we are loving in this house is the new dairy range from Ella’s kitchen.  Not only are the flavours delicious but all the products come sugar-free!  Perfect for weaning and perfect for mummies watching their waist-line, they have petit filous, rice puddings and bigger pots of yoghurt for those bigger eaters.  It is so nice to find sweet deserts that are also good for babies and as Ella’s Kitchen use fruit puree to sweeten you can rest assured your child is getting plenty of goodness!
What I love about baby shows is that you can find all the hottest new products in one place.  Exhibitors bring out the newest and best and you honestly will wonder how you got through life without them!

Mummy Adventure: Our Baby Essentials

During my first pregnancy I read every book, visited every website and had every app on my phone going.  I wanted to be as clued up as possible about what my body was going through and how my baby was growing.  Every source recommended different essentials and I have to admit, I bought most of them.  I also used most of them, albeit some more than others. 

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We attended antenatal classes about 4 weeks before the baby was due and they were very worthwhile.  I will be honest and say that I didn’t learn a whole lot but the reassurance was fantastic and they helped me confirm the decisions I had made.  I also made friends at the antenatal classes that I see on almost a daily basis now and wouldn’t have got through those first few weeks without knowing we were all in the same boat.  Pregnancy or newborn essential, I would recommend going as they really helped me prepare for life with a baby.

My number one newborn essential though is muslin squares.  They may not look fancy but they have so many purposes you will wonder how you got through life without them.  As well as being a burp cloth I used muslins as a breastfeeding cover, as a crib and pram sheet when D was a bit sicky, as a blanket, a bib, a makeshift nappy and a sun cover for the pram.  Talk about useful!  I ended up with about 40 for Dylan (maybe slightly over the top) but it meant I had one handy in every room of the house!  I will definitely be investing in some nice fresh ones for squish!

Second would be the all important cot.  I think Moses baskets/cribs are great but not a necessity.  Dylan outgrew his crib by 10 weeks and was so much happier in his cot being able to throw his arms around without whacking the sides.  Some babies love the security of a crib but you can always use rolled up blankets either side of them to give some security.  We bought a lovely cot-bed which should last him for quite some time.

My third essential would be a sling.  A pram is taken for granted and is a huge decision.  I am still just as in love with my icandy Cherry as I was when we bought it and think it was a fabulous investment but sometimes baby does not want to be put down.  Sometimes you really need to do some washing up, or make a cup of tea and you need your hands free.  I had a moby style stretchy wrap and it was brilliant.  Later on I accrued a few styles of slings and carriers but for a newborn Moby would always be my number one choice.  They are so easy to use and I loved the closeness and cuddles.

As for clothes, my mum wisely told me not to buy too many.  When Dylan was born we were inundated with presents, most of them being very tiny baby clothes meaning I did not NEED to buy him anything for months.  Being his mummy though I of course WANTED to and loved being able to spend a little extra time and money choosing those gorgeous little clothes.  It is lovely to have things that you have picked but you don’t need to fill a wardrobe as people love shopping for a newborn! 

We had a rocker chair which we did’t start using until the little dude was about 6 weeks old but we and he loved it.  The vibrate function and some powerful rocking would send him to sleep in minutes and it was nice having somewhere safe to put him down where he could see what was going on around him.  We had a lovely fisher price zoo bouncer chair and it was used until Dylan was bout 5 months.  There are many variations on the bouncy/rocker chair

My final essential is not one you can buy in a shop.  Patience is something vital for coping with a baby.  There will be nights where you are lucky to get 10 minutes sleep.  There will be days when the baby throws up on you so many times you run out of clean clothes but things will get better and a few deep breaths are sometimes all you really need.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net