surviving-chicken-pox-toddler
Parenting

Surviving Chicken Pox

So it’s been pretty quiet on the blog front over the last couple of months, though that’s definitely not due to a shortage of things to share!

Spring has been so hectic, with a million things going on (because everything tends to happen at the same time, doesn’t it?) and I just didn’t feel like I could catch up on basic life tasks like ironing and meal prep, never mind find the time to blog. One of the main things that set us back a bit was Travis catching the chicken pox in early April. Nothing prepares you for your wee one being ill, or the effect it can have on the whole household. Here’s how we survived the chicken pox…

Early detection

I noticed a couple of spots on Travis’ nappy line when he woke up on Saturday 5th April. I thought maybe his nappy had been on too tight or too long overnight, so lathered him with Sudocrem and kept an eye on him as the day went on. I noticed the spots start to blister later in the day, which made me run to Dr Google as I had no idea that chicken pox actually blistered – in my blissful ignorance I just thought they were itchy spots that scabbed because they were scratched too hard!

After a mild panic at the 7,000 different types of rash and skin disorders children are prone to, I phoned NHS 24 for some advice and clarity. I have to say I was surprised at the advice given over the phone as I had already assumed my Saturday night would involve a trip to the out of hours doctor and an overtired toddler.

In actual fact, we were partly diagnosed over the phone and told to simply use Calpol, monitor temperature and go to the pharmacy when it opened for a confirmation and recommendation of soothing cream. I think this is because, for the most part, Travis was pretty good with his pox and not really showing too many of the bad symptoms or side effects such as loss of appetite or really bad fever. He had his ups and downs, and was a bit more unsettled at night, but that was to be expected as the heat and cosiness of jammies and blankets etc can bring out the itch.

I couldn’t give enough credit to the NHS24 nurse whom we spoke to, as she was full of useful tips and advice. She explained the new guidelines, and how things had changed over her time as a nurse, and what you’re now recommended to do. Over and above the medical advice (ie use Calpol, not ibuprofen, don’t exceed dose etc) she offered practical advice to help get through it and was generally a lovely and empathetic person.

Here are just some of her gems, along with other pearls of wisdom we found helpful during the chickenpox saga:

Bicarbonate of soda bath – this takes the itch out of the spots. Similarly, a post has been doing the rounds on Facebook proclaiming Head & Shoulders to be the bathtime saviour at eliminating the itch. Other remedies also include bundling oats in a flannel and running the water over this – it’s a tip often given to mothers of toddlers with eczema but the soothing properties are the same.

Lay off the calamine – I was told by the nurse that this isn’t prescribed any longer as it hasn’t proven effective or shown any great signs in improvement in symptoms. Instead I was encouraged to use creams like Aveeno (we use this regularly for Travis’ eczema flare ups so that was handy) and Child’s Farm and some other brands I can’t remember the name of.

Use Calpol regularly, but not ibuprofen – As is the usual staple for kiddy illnesses, I was encouraged to use Calpol to avoid a fever, which is common in pox sufferers. Travis was ok during the day, but we did use Calpol in the run up to bedtime as this is when itching tends to be worse, and when we’d notice the little man getting warmer. However one gem we were told was to lay off the kiddy Nurofen/ibuprofen as the anti-inflammatory property in this medicine can actually have an adverse affect on the itching and can make the chickenpox go deeper (yikes!)

Play games with the spots – we found that a nice distracting technique was to point out the spots and get Travis to point different ones out. This distracted from scratching and also meant that he didn’t think it was crazy abnormal to suddenly be sprouting spots.

Prepare for upside down days – between the virus and the Calpol, days and nights got mixed up with grogginess, extra naps, long naps and restless nights. Be prepared to feel like you did in the early days, as routine will go out the window for about a week (maybe longer if your kiddo unfortunately suffers all the side effects) so if you can take time off work and any commitments, it’s advisable not only for your wee one, but for your own health too.

Keep moisturising – for all that the virus is no longer contageous once the spots scab over, they still stay for ages afterwards. In fact, despite suffering the pox in early April, Travis still has some faint marks in late May. My one key piece of advice is to keep moisturising regularly to encourage the skin to repair and avoid scarring.

Even with the best advice, anecdotes and tips, no two children will necessarily cope with the same illness in the same way. Hopefully our chicken pox survival proves helpful, and if there are any tips and tricks you swear by which I’ve not mentioned, please share with me!

mothers-day-crafts-for-toddlers
baby and toddler activities, Parenting

Mother’s Day Crafts for Toddlers

I can’t believe I’m almost celebrating my second Mother’s Day as a parent – time really does fly when you’re having fun! I don’t know about you, but Mother’s Day for me is more than just a card and gift kind of holiday, it’s about really giving back. It could be because my birthday is also in March (UK Mother’s Day peeps), so I don’t really want or need any additional gifts, or it could be because I find time and experiences as more valuable gifts than anything you could buy in a shop.

I just think, what could be better than giving back some love and care which has went into some hand-crafted tokens of appreciation? Things like handmade cards go a long way in my book, although obviously I won’t be making any of these with Travis for myself (I’m not that sad!), I know we’ll have fun creating memories as we craft. Hopefully the grandmammas who are in line to receive the crafts appreciate the homemade gifts!

Here are 5 Mother’s Day crafts you can do with your toddler:

 

Mothers-day-handmade-card-toddler-craftsHandmade Cards

Handmade cards are always a winner, and no doubt you will receive some from nurseries and schools anyway. All you need is some card, coloured pens/pencils, and any additional 3D materials you want to stick onto your card. We opted for tissue paper flowers this year, using coloured tissue wrapped into a flower shape and stuck on with some craft glue via a glue spreader. I’m considering adding some glitter that’s gathering dust in a drawer, but not sure the mess and glitter for days is worth it!

Mother’s Day token booklet

The value of the tokens is completely up to you. If your toddler is already speaking and communicating well, why not ask for their input on the tokens? For me, I’d like tea and coffee tokens so that I can have a hot drink or 2 made (probably by dad) on request, and possibly also enjoyed whilst hot! A couple of the tokens could contain chores such, like a laundry token or dish washing token, or even a simple tidy-up token that your little one can do. Here’s a link to an interesting pin I found with some simple token ideas.

 

handmade-mothers-day-plant-pot-decorate

Decorate a plant pot

Flowers are a common Mother’s Day gift, so why not go that one step further and really personalise this gift by getting crafty? Plant pots aren’t hard to come by – garden centres, B&M, Ikea or online stores like Amazon will have a range to choose from – and decorating them is fun and easy. Why not get your little one to help paint it in mum/grandma’s favourite colour? Or maybe glue on some coloured letters spelling “Happy Mother’s Day” or “Greatest Grandma” or something similar?

If plant pots and growing your own flowers doesn’t fit with your mum or grandmother, you could always try decorating a vase instead.

Breakfast in bed hamper

Growing up, it was always traditional for mum to have breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. How much myself or brother helped, without setting off the smoke detector, was another thing however. Depending on the age of your toddler, you might not think they are ready to help with the breakfast in bed just yet, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help prepare and decorate a breakfast hamper for mum. Many craft shops have small hamper baskets, or you can simply buy a small wooden box which can be painted and decorated. Why not help your toddler choose the contents (tea/coffee sachets, jam jar etc) and pack with shredded paper or cardboard – another sensory stimulant.

Mothers-day-personalised-photo-framePersonalised photo frame

What could be better than your toddler picking out their own unique memory of you or a grandparent and adding their own personal stamp. All you need is a treasured photo, and a plain photo frame that fits the chosen photo. B&M do loads in various plain colours and sizes. Then it’s entirely up to you – why not add polka dots in mum/gran’s favourite colour, or shade that matches the colours of their living room (or wherever you want the photo to be proudly displayed!). If you know that mummy likes flowers or stars for instance, you can always draw some on, or pick up some embellishments from your local craft store and stick those on. Similar to the plant pot, you can also add in a message like “Happy Mother’s Day” or “Best Mum/Gran in the World” or even a favourite quote or saying that’s meaningful to you.

 

mothers-day-crafts-for-toddlers

free-fun-indoor-activities-toddlers
baby and toddler activities, Parenting

5 Fun Free Indoor Activities for Toddlers

Spring has almost sprung, but if like me you live in a country where the weather is increasingly unpredictable, spring can be a gamble in terms of plans to make with your toddler. A few times in the past couple of weeks we have planned to go feed the ducks or visit farms, go on woodland walks and a number of other outdoor activities. Sadly, between rain, hail and even snow, it wasn’t meant to be.

However, with cancelled plans comes the panic of what to do instead (in my case anyway), as I always fear my little one won’t be as stimulated with the same toys, no fresh air, too many cartoons and the like indoors. I’m probably mad, but I think it’s important to introduce new toys and activities to keep kids interested and entertained.

Here’s my top free indoor activities to keep toddlers amused and learning:

indoor-toddler-activities-storiesAnimate stories

Storytelling needn’t be solely a bedtime activity – reading books can be fun at any time of day. Travis cannot get enough of books and stories, especially books where there are things to touch (aka all the “That’s Not My..” books which he loves), as the interactive experience adds a new level of enjoyment to the book. Another way to do this is to animate the stories you read. For example, if it’s a book about animals, I’ll get down on all fours and pretend I’m the animal, making the noise it makes. We also use teddies to act out the story. Of course this doesn’t have to accompany a book, you can make up stories or simply tell them from memory with props, sounds and actions.

Flashcards

Flash cards are a great way to add an educational element to staying indoors. Whether your toddler is young or almost at pre-school age, flash cards can be used to introduce word association, encourage speech and, as your toddler gets older, they can be used to complement any reading or spelling they may be learning at nursery or school.

build-a-den-indoor-toddler-activitiesBuild a den

Is there anything better on a miserable, cold, grey day than diving under a fort and getting all cosy? Whilst it may not be the relaxing, quiet blanket-fort you’d envisage for an adult, you can create a den for the kids and transport them out of the living room/bedroom for a little while. Bigger toddlers can help building the fort, whilst smaller ones will enjoy exploring inside. Why not pretend you’re camping in the woods and the teddy bears are coming for a picnic? Or maybe you’re in the jungle and the tigers and lions are just outside? You can even combine activities, like reading inside the den, just to mix things up a bit.

Word Tracers

As your toddler develops, you may want to introduce reading and writing activities. Word tracers are ideal for this. What’s a word tracer I hear you say? Well they are exactly as they suggest – practical sheets which allow toddlers to explore and create words that the sheet outlines. Want to print one for yourself? Here’s one with action words.

Toddlers are always on the move, so this action words word tracer is perfect for them. Word tracers are a fun way for little ones to gain practice with their fine motor skills and beginning letter recognition. They can even act out the words as they trace. For even more fun educational resources, check out Education.com.

indoor-toddler-activities-make-pretendMake and pretend

It’s time to get out the cardboard boxes and dig out some of the recycling material and get ready to make and pretend. Rice or lentils in a plastic bottle becomes a musical instrument, as does elastic bands over an empty tissue box. Bigger boxes can be cars, planes or rocket ships that fly around the room. If you’re more crafty, why not use some of the old toilet roll tubes, empty egg cartons and yoghurt pots to make your own space ships or princess castles or whatever your imagination chooses!

 

5-free-indoor-activities-for-toddlers

baby and toddler activities, Parenting

5 Free Activities for Toddlers

At this time of year, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to have a mix of indoor and outdoor activities on-hand to keep your toddler amused and learning. The list of things you can pay to take your kids to, or things you could buy to amuse them is much vaster than this. However, unless you’re a millionaire it’s just not practical or possible to fork out every time your kid is bored or needs some stimulation.

Here are 5 go-to activities that cost nowt, but will keep your child amused, active and learning.

Feed-the-ducks-toddler-activity1 Feed the ducks

Maybe I’m showing my age, as maybe it was something to do with Rosie & Jim, but I always loved going to feed the ducks as a child. Watching all the ducks come up for bread, sometimes getting a glimpse of little baby ducks and feeling a bonus thrill if swans or geese dropped by was often enough to make it fun. However if you feel like making it more of an educational experience, why not count the number of ducks and swans with your child, or point out the different types of birds that are feeding.

2 Playpark

Failsafe option every time. Playparks are always a winner, as kids never seem to get bored of swings or slides! Plus, playparks these days seem to be getting more and more impressive by the minute – flying foxes are all the rage in my neck of the woods! That’s not to mention the elaborate climbing frames, sandpits and trampolines that have become more commonplace in playparks. Usually there will be other kids around in the park too, meaning your toddler can enjoy playing with other kiddos too.

Playdate-toddler-activities3 Playdate

If there’s no other kids at the park, why not get in touch with a mum friend and arrange a playdate? I’ve already written about how much of a saviour playdates are, but don’t just take my word for it, experience it for yourself! Whether you go to their house, they come to you, or you meet in the playpark (weather permitting!), there are loads of benefits for mums and toddlers.

Messy-play-crafts-toddler-activitied4 Messy play/crafts

The same toys and the same cartoons in the house can get boring and repetitive after a while, and your little one might need some more stimulation after a while. If the weather is putting a dampener on any outdoor activities, why not get the crafts out or make some messy play? This doesn’t have to involve buying loads of craft material in – I bet you have plenty of items in the house that could be used. From basic colouring and drawing, to experiencing shaving foam, soapy bubbles and other interesting textures, your household items could become a great hub of crafting and messy play for an afternoon!

5 Bookbug

Another activity which I think is great for babies and toddlers is Bookbug. Run in Scotland in local libraries, Bookbug classes last around 45 minutes and consist of story time, rhymes and play. The aim is that parents and children will also check out books for their child and encourage reading from an early age. Classes are suitable from birth until around three years old, and take place weekly throughout term time. You can find out more about this great free activity in my Bookbug Week 2018 post.

5-free-toddler-activities

moving-up-bigger-room-nursery
Childcare, Parenting

Moving to a new room in nursery

Just when we thought we were getting comfortable with routines and whatnot, we were told by the nursery that Travis is ready to move up to the “bigger” room. And I’m delighting and despairing at the same time.

“The big room” is the room babies move on to once the nursery are happy that they have become confident toddlers and think they will enjoy the challenge of new games, learning and experiences. The room hosts kids roughly from around 18 months to three years old. Obviously every child is different, so some may move shortly after their first birthday if they are confident walkers, in a good routine, or seem to be getting bored in the baby room, whilst others might be nearer two before they make that step.

I am of course delighted that my little munchkin is ready for this next chapter. At 16 months, I feel like he’s definitely progressed from the eight month old he was when he first started, and has come on so much even since his first birthday in October. Plus he’s been wearing clothes for 2-3 year-olds since the start of the year!

So in a way I wasn’t surprised by this announcement from the nursery, but it was still a bit daunting. I was only just coming to terms with the fact that my boy is no longer a baby, but a toddler, and now I have to prepare for him playing and learning with kids double his age!

toddler-new-challenges-nurseryNew challenges new experiences

One thing a new room promises, is a new environment to explore. The nursery have informed us that Travis will make visits to the new room during his regular nursery sessions, to give him a taster of what goes on in the room, and to get used to this new environment. Hopefully this will minimise the shock and confusion once he moves over there permanently.

I’m confident that he will love this room, as there are not only new toys and new nursery teachers, it’s also a big step away from more of the “baby” items and routines of the old room. For instance, there are little tables and chairs for having breakfast and lunch, rather than the high chairs of the baby room, and instead of cots/cribs for naps, everyone has their own mat and blanket.

In terms of fun, there are more advanced toys to explore, and an outdoor garden area specific to that room, which I’m sure will get much more use as the months go on.

 

independence-nursery-toddler

More independence

Within the bigger room, I think Travis will have more independence, as there’s a lot less one-on-one attention from nursery teachers. I’m hoping this will give him the confidence to explore and play on his own, but also to make friends, share and play with other kids. I’m also hoping that he’ll make the transition from high chair to small table and chair quite smoothly!

 

new-skills-toddler-nursery

Picking up new skills

When he moves up, Travis will be one of the younger ones in the room (despite probably being one of the tallest!), so I would like to think he would start to pick things up quite quickly from some of the older toddlers. Maybe his speech will come on by listening to other kids attempt sentences, and maybe he will get better with cutlery (he’s a very hands-on eater!) by watching kids his own size, and maybe he’ll pick up a million things that I’ll probably immediately wish he hadn’t, as it takes him another step further from being my tiny little baby!

Parenting

Playdates; the winter saviour for toddler mums

Its winter, it’s miserable, it’s dark and there’s nothing exciting like Christmas or New Year left to get excited about. The temperature is sub zero and unpredictable; will it be ice or snow, rain or hail in the morning?

Chances are, you and your toddler aren’t getting out to the park, because even when the sun is shining it’s still Baltic outside and you fear that their bum will freeze to the swing or something (just me?). Nursery is fun and all, but as a fellow mummy friend pointed out, we don’t get to see our little ones play there and we don’t get to join in and play with them.

Watching them play and interact
That’s just one of the things that make play dates so great. You can watch your child play and interact with another child, and get a sense of how they are developing and playing. You can join in and offer any guidance on things like sharing and “being gentle” with younger or smaller kids.

Time with other mums
Adult company is so important for all mums, whether that’s first time mums, new mums, mums of toddlers, teenagers or a whole football team of kids. Whilst the adult company is treasured no matter who it is, there’s nothing like trading stories, worries and advice with a fellow mum. You can talk about your wee one without fear of boring the bum off them (like with co-workers or childless chums) and can enjoy hearing about their wee ones progress or simply lend an ear if needed.

Exploring and learning new things
Play dates in different locations can involve lots of exploring of new surrounding, new toys and new faces. This is why it’s a great idea to switch play dates up between parents houses and places like soft play. Your child will not only enjoy uncovering new toys at their friends house, they will also discover new ways to play with their own toys with a play pal.

Making the day more exciting
In the winter, it can sometimes feel like days blur into the one same monotonous routine, guided by the weather. This often means staying in or finding indoor activities to amuse your child. Playdates take the boredom out of the repetition of staying indoors, making the day that little more exciting for your child. It might not seem like much to us, but even the addition of just one friend and mum into their usual daily space can add much more excitement and fun to their playtime.

I’m sure there are many more reasons why playdates are an absolute godsend for toddler mums, all backed up with scientific evidence and everything, but these are the things I’ve found to work and benefit out little family. I’d be interested to know if you have any other points to add or different ways you keep your toddler amused and learning in the winter!

 

PS Shout out to my mum pal who inspired this post after a play date with her and her little bear. Check out her videos here.

children-in-need-fundraising-nursery
mum life, nursery, Parenting

Children in Need Week at Nursery

It’s that time of year again folks; the Children in Need Appeal takes place this Friday. It must be an age thing, but it feels like it really wasn’t a whole year since the last one.

For the uninitiated, Children in Need (CIN) is a UK charity which supports disadvantaged children and young people in the country. Their goal is to ensure every child feels happy, safe, and has the chance to reach their full potential, no matter their circumstances. Every year, an appeal show is held on the BBC on the third Friday of November, to encourage donations from across the UK. The appeal show usually starts around 7pm and lasts all evening, with special episodes of soaps and popular TV programmes, musical performances, and lots of short clips from some of the children who have benefitted from CIN, which are sure to make you cry.

Above this, many organisations of various sizes take part too, from retailers like Greggs and ASDA to schools, youth clubs, workplaces and more. As the charity focuses on children, it makes sense that Travis’ nursery would be involved, with a week of fundraising activities for him to take part in.

I never thought I’d be the type of mum that got excited at the prospect of all the different activities and things you have to do for your kids to be a part of something, but I actually bloody love it. I think part of me is genuinely excited because I loved those days myself as a child, and probably wish I could still join Travis at nursery with his dress up, parties, baking and so on. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it feels like we have to remember to do something, wear something or bring something extra to nursery every other week, which gets hard to keep track of. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Besides, how can you be upset at a whole week of fundraising activities for disadvantaged children when your son attends a private nursery and has all he ever needs (and more besides!) at home?

Here’s how our week of fundraising looks to be shaping up: (I hope to add photos from each day as we go!)

Pyjama Party

Travis doesn’t attend nursery on Mondays, so we missed the Teddy Bear’s Picnic day, but there are still 4 fun days for him to get involved in, starting with Tuesday’s Pyjama Party! Really though, could there be a more perfect fundraising activity for mums? Literally just send your child out in their jammies, meaning you don’t have to think about an outfit for the day.
Bonus for them: they get a comfy nap at that time of day
Bonus for mum and dad: slightly less laundry

Playroom Theme

I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a clue what this theme was meant to be to start with. I thought playroom themes were things you searched for on Pinterest, offering a world of dreams for kids, but something which you couldn’t actually afford to implement. Turns out in this instance it simply means dressing up like your favourite toys, teddy bears in particular as Pudsey the bear is the CIN mascot. We opted for some Pudsey ears, socks and top, though as you can imagine the ears lasted about 1.5 seconds!

Crazy Hair Day

I think this is is probably another ideal theme for parents. I mean, just don’t brush your kids hair in the morning, right? Travis is in desperate need of a haircut, as he is currently sporting some curls around his neck, despite still having about 4 strands of hair on the top of his head, so his hair already looks crazy enough on a daily basis. However I might get a bit creative with some of his dad’s hair wax or maybe some hair makeup which can easily wash out.

Superhero & Princess Party

This one we might have a little trouble with. Travis had a Thor outfit for Halloween, kindly bought for his birthday by his uncle. Said Thor outfit was made a little on the neat side, but it worked for a Halloween party we went to the weekend before Halloween. By the time actual Halloween rolled around (a whole 4 days later) Travis had outgrown the outfit, so much so we couldn’t even fasten the poppers around the crotch. Delightful. And unfortunately now since Halloween has passed and Christmas is a mere 6 weeks away (I can’t wait!), there doesn’t seem to be any glimpse of a superhero in sight in any of the shops! And the superhero clothing that does seem to be on offer is few and far between in Travis’ size. Stay tuned to find out how this one ends up!

October-firsts-unlikely-mum
Baby M's firsts, Parenting

September Firsts

11 months into his wee life, and we are still experiencing so many new firsts. September brought a lot of firsts and happy memories, with quite a few of the big “important” (well, what people regard as important or milestone) firsts happening this month. There will be nothing new left to do soon!

First holiday abroad
This was a first we knew was coming since booking it in January/February time. How fast those few months flew! On 5th September we headed off to Fuertaventura as a family, with my bestie, Travis’ bestie and his dad (who is Travis’ new bestie!). We were there for 10 days and honestly he took to it so well. There was no sunburn, plenty of naps, lots of hydration and no bother trying new foods. His sleep overalls as really good but I think it helps that there’s no time difference in the Canary Isles which makes things simpler. Being around his bestie so much he also picked up a lot, like playing with wheely toys like cars, planes the like, and he also quite easily cut out his morning bottle which was a surprise to us all. I would definitely recommend taking an infant away in September when most schools seem to be back, the temperature isn’t unbearable and it’s generally calmer and more relaxed than the peak months.

First feeding animals
Ok so he had help from his dad and we made sure no animals would bite Travis (and the other way around), but he still managed to help feed a giraffe (His favourites) and camel while at the Oasis Park on holiday. He wasn’t very impressed, particularly as the giraffes eat the same snacks as him- carrots and other veggies!

First proper hands and knees crawl
Another first which happened on holiday was the first proper crawl! On 12th September, the wee man was no longer bum shuffling or army crawling, he actually used his knees to move himself forward! I was beginning to think he’d never crawl and go straight to walking, but in the last month, he’s been unstoppable on all fours.

First steps unaided
We thought we had a good month when the crawling began, but it was shortly followed by walking! I say walking, but I mean taking a few steps unaided. On 14th September (still on holiday!) he took a quick 1-2-3 towards me from the table he was stabilising himself on. Since then, he has been building his confidence, strength and balance, and has been taking more and more steps on his own. Now, in October, he can pull himself up, position himself and walk across a room no problem.

First sharing
Firsts appear to be like buses (no pun intended!) as we welcomed another first the very same day as those big boy steps. As we were on holiday with his bestie, Travis spent a lot of time learning from his buddy who is 7 months older than him. They played a lot with the same toys, but unfortunately my munchkin hadn’t yet become accustomed to the concept of sharing. However he did manage to pass his toy to mum and to bestie and to dad in some form of sharing on 14th September. This quickly moved onto food – he will mostly put it in your mouth and make you eat it – and he’s now becoming a sharing pro.

First foods:
So many to mention! As we were on holiday in an all inclusive resort, there were plenty of food options each day, and Travis was actually really good at trying most of them. Notable firsts include scrambled eggs and baked beans (think this might be a new favourite breakfast!) custard, jelly, and many fruits and veg in their whole form rather than pureed or mushed into a jar.

Lists, Parenting

Things to do in the summer with an infant

There’s no shortage of information online about things to do with kids in the summer holidays, but unfortunately most of those articles revolve around kids of school age. It can be a little more tricky to find or think of things to do with an infant in the summer, as some of the activities suggested in other articles simply aren’t age-suitable.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with, handily split into rainy-day and sunny activities:

Sunny day activities

Feed the ducks
This is a great one that gets them out and about, seeing animals and doesn’t involve spending a lot of money! Most of us tend to find ourselves with with stale ends of bread at the end of the week, so rather than throw them away, pack them up and head to the nearest pond/lake/loch/seafront and feed the ducks. Remember to watch out for the seagulls, and don’t anger the swans!

Go to the farm
Another fun animal-based idea is to head to the nearest farm, pointing out the different animals you see. Of course this can be a bit smelly, but it’s usually a great experience teaching your little ones about the animals and the noises they make. Singing Old MacDonald is optional.

Safari Park/Zoo visit
Can you see a theme appearing here? Obviously zoos and safari parks tend to be more expensive than farms and feeding ducks which is usually free, and they tend to be further away too. However, you may find that kids under 1 get in for free. The major selling point is that it’s an activity you can make a whole day of. Take a picnic and enjoy spotting the animals, playing in the play park and maybe even petting or feeding some animals if you’re allowed.

Get out in the garden
Who said outdoor activities had to cost a fortune or take you far away? Little infants get just as much enjoyment from the outdoors whether it’s in their own back garden or at an attraction 70 miles away. You can plan different activities in the garden for different days – playing in the paddling pool, having a big picnic outside, practising kicking and playing with balls or if you have a lovely, well-kept garden why not walk around pointing out the different flowers and their colours, trees etc? There’s scope for playing peekaboo, bringing toys outside and even buying your own slide or swing, depending on what stage your infant is at and how confident they are.

Rainy day activities

Learn a new thing
Days indoors needn’t be boring, filled with the same toys and cartoons routine. Why not make a plan to try and teach your infant a different new thing on rainy days? This can be anything from helping with speech and recognition to improving motor skills. Simple things like naming items in the room and pointing to them, using “my first…” books, playing with building blocks or stacking cups, naming colours, singing nursery rhymes and more will do the trick.

Become rockstars
Why not turn your kitchen into your very own concert arena with your rock and roll baby? Pots, pans and wooden spoons make a great drumkit and drumsticks, whilst filling plastic tupperware with rice or pasta makes for excellent shakers. Bonus points if you use teddies as your captivated audience!

Have a sensory day
I’m sure there are plenty of items in your home that you probably haven’t thought of for sensory play. Sponges and different textured cleaning cloths are great for their little hands to explore, as are hair rollers, hairbrushes, and much more. If your little one has a nightlight or projector, this can be great for sensory play, along with other light-up objects like glowsticks. (I realise the last one may not be an everyday object for some but I always have spare glowsticks lying around thanks to my love of Clubbercise!)

Go to soft play
If all else fails, or the weather is permanently bad and you feel like you’re getting cabin fever, you can always go to soft play. Also known as UFC for kids, soft play can be a pretty scary experience for first-time mums on arrival, particularly in the school holidays! The plus point is that those under 1 usually get in free, and all that play will surely tire your little one out. An added bonus is that you could make new mum friends, which is always welcome after days stuck inside with no adult company!

Those are just a few suggestions of things to do with your little one in the summer. I’ve tried to avoid things that cost the earth, and hopefully include a mix of busy attractions and one-to-one play/experiences. If you can think of any other great activities I might have missed, let me know!

Mum's finds, Parenting

How to Make the Most of a Baby Event

With regular baby events throughout the year, it can be difficult to navigate your way through them, whether you’re a first time parent or have experienced the events before. With online and in-store events, exhibitions and shows, there’s no doubt all the information and products available can be a little overwhelming. Speaking from experience – and with a lot of hindsight in mind – I’ve come up with a few tips to follow to ensure you make the most of a baby event.

how-to-make-most-of-baby-event

Make a list before you go
The best way to make the most out of the day is to make a list of the things you need or want from the day. Are you still looking for big items like cribs and car seats? Or are you looking for travel items, everyday essentials, or feeding equipment? Perhaps you’re looking for something specific like a Sophie La Giraffe or Ewan the Dream Sheep that your friends have told you that you simply can’t live without? Either way, it makes the shopping and navigating much more efficient if you know before you go. Plus you’re less likely to miss anything than if you go in aimlessly without having specific ideas in mind.

Know what you need
Similar to tip one, know exactly what you need and what you don’t. This helps to avoid getting suckered by any so-called deals on offer. If there’s a steriliser that’s half-price, but not suitable for your needs, for instance if it’s a microwave steriliser or perhaps just too big for your kitchen, or indeed microwave, then actually the deal isn’t worth it at all. Similarly, there are always great deals on clothes at in-store baby events, with promotions at bigger shows too, so you can get distracted by pretty patterns when actually you have everything you need in that size, and really should be buying clothes in 6 months or above, if at all at this point! Maybe this point should be called “know what you don’t need” as this is probably a better way of looking at things. If you know you don’t need a 3 in 1 changing system, or state of the art changing rucksack before you go, chances are you won’t then be talked into buying one.

Be open minded, but not gullible
On the flip side of this, I would say that you have to be open minded when going into baby shows. There may be products or services which solve problems you hadn’t thought of, or which may be more useful further down the line as your baby starts to grow. It can be useful to go and collect business cards or leaflets to keep just in case (again, only for things you may be interested in, rather than collecting cards from every stand at an exhibition).

I would be open-minded but cautious to any “new to market” products. There are only so many times you can reinvent the wheel to make it better, so it’s worth being harsh and really questioning whether the new products serve any purpose.  Or do the products you already have, serve those purposes just as well? For instance, are wet wipe warmers necessary (yes they are a thing)? Do you need a Gro Egg if you have a room thermometer, nightlight and/or cot mobile already?

Stock up on essentials
This is probably the best tip I can give for in-store baby events at the likes of Boots, Mothercare or any supermarkets. By essentials, I mean the things you know you will get use of regardless of the size/weight/stage your baby is at. For example, Craig and I thought we were doing well by stocking up on loads of on-offer nappies before the wee man arrived. However what we didn’t bank on is that he would grow so rapidly that we would end up giving half those nappies away. So while yes it is good to get a pile of nappies organise pre-baby arrival, don’t go mad at baby events for these. Instead look at things like baby wipes, cotton wool, barrier creams, feeding equipment, long-life foods and things like bibs and muslin squares which have either very long shelf life or no expiry (lest your child’s neck outgrows the bibs!).

Question offers available

Quite often at in-store baby events, there will be promotions such as 3 for 2, BOGOF etc. Like with supermarket deals, these might not always be the great offers they initially seem. For instance, do you really need 3 of something when you were just after the one? Often, with things like wipes and baby toiletries, these offers can be useful. But you may only be saving pennies; say for example that wipes cost 60p, but you get 3 packs for £1.50, you are really only saving 30p, so its worth checking if that’s the best deal on offer. It’s also good practice as it means you won’t fill your boot or pram with unnecessary things on offer, leaving room for the things you came to the event for. Similarly, whether you’re at an exhibition or in-store event, it’s worth checking whether these kinds of offers are available online, meaning you don’t have to humph too much around – a godsend when you’ve got the littlies with you. Also question any 10% discounts or similar offers – like with black Friday, some sellers inflate their prices before baby events and then sell them at “discount” during the event, when realistically you aren’t saving that much (if anything) at all. Having said that, most discounts are genuine and it’s worth asking if they are available exclusively at the event, or can be applied either online or until a specified later date.

If there are any other baby event tips you can think of, please let me know below, I’d love to hear them!