How I’ve Built Confidence in Ted

baby, Mum, Uncategorized

I’m no parenting expert- I’m far from it- but I’m always happy to share my experiences, tips and tricks. Somehow me, an insecure, anxious mess, is raising a confident, wild spirit of an individual and it makes me proud everyday watching his personality blossom. I am really pleased with the confidence Ted has around other people, in his abilities and with learning new things, and although I fully believe some of that is down to the natural characteristics he has likely been born with, I know that some of that too is down to the attitudes of both Rob and I and our parenting style. What we do might not be to everyone’s taste or standard, but it’s what works for us and what has helped in making Ted who he is.

I think it’s pretty safe to say we are quite laid back in our parenting style. Don’t get me wrong, if Ted does anything he shouldn’t he is definitely told off, but in terms of his routine we are fairly flexible and have always made his naps, bedtime, feeds, meals, etc. work around us rather than us around him. It doesn’t matter if Ted needs a nap at 11 and a friend wants to meet at half past- Ted will wait and nap later. If family want to see Ted one evening then he will stay up later and entertain so they can see him. He doesn’t need to eat a certain time and always eats what we eat. Our flexability in our schedule I think has really helped build Ted’s confidence, as living life on a strict schedule is not realistic and reflective of a normal life, and therefore our laid-backness has led to him being one chilled little man who takes it as it comes.

Being surrounded by a big family and lots of friends has really helped Ted grow as a little person and become sociable. From the day he was born he has been passed from grandparent to uncle to aunt for cuddles and he has loved every second of it. Spending a lot of time at nursery too, amongst other children and adults, has definitely encouraged him to come out of his shell. It helped that when on my mat leave, I refused to ever spend a day at home. We went out every single day even if just for a walk to the park and back. It’s not healthy for anyone to spend all their time with just one other person, and by surrounding myself with company, he always was as well. Even now every weekend we still have to fill with activity and venturing out. Although it can be tiring, the enjoyment far outweighs that. It helps that we have not been over protective of him either, and always given him the opportunity to spend the day with grandparents- and I’m sure they love that too!

I completely agree that children can sense emotion and any sort of panic, and it’s difficult to hide that when your little human is doing risky things (like climbing- eek!) for the first time. We have let him explore and learn from his mistakes, making sure that he tries again. Even if it is something physical, and I’m not sure he can do it, I let him try anyway- and 9 times out of 10 he proves me wrong!

I want this boy to know that he can take over the world- and I’m pretty sure he already thinks he can! The tantrums have started and boundaries are being pushed, but all of the stubborn in him is so worth it for all the fun-loving enthusism in him. I believe the best way to build confidence in Ted is plenty of praise, lots of opportunity, and learning from a wealth of wonderful people.

How I Parent

baby, Breastfeeding, Mum, Routine, Uncategorized

I’ve been getting messages on Instagram recently from mums who want to know how I do things. How I manage, how I cope, how I parent.

First of all, I love that we all parent in different ways and I love that the choices we make form each of our little individuals and their unique personalities. Coming up in the next few weeks will be a blog I have written about choice and how many choices mother’s are expected to make, and I guess this one is a post about the choices that I have made in parenthood.

Secondly, I find it laughable that people perceive me as someone who copes and manages well. I’m a constant collective of organised and calm, and a complete anxious mess. I guess it depends what day/week you catch me on and which of my many moods I may be in. Despite that, I’m always happy to share what has worked for me.

Like a complete hippy, I wanted everything with Ted to be as natural as possible and nothing to be forced. I guess I’ve suceeded in some areas of that and failed in others. I wish I’d done things like breastfeed for longer, weaned more slowly and used cloth nappies. But that’s what round 2 will be for, right?!

I chose not to use dummies. As a newborn Ted used his nursing for comfort largely and although there were times (normally whilst I was awake at 4am wondering why I’d spent more time awake that night than asleep) that I didn’t know how I’d cope, Rob and I realised that there weren’t any points when we actually needed it. Ted eventually in his own time has learned to self soothe. Teething has never been a massive problem for us other than his sleep stealing, and whenever he is upset I go through the mental checklist in my head of what may be upsetting him until we find an answer.

Working in education, I’m driven to making sure I teach and educate Ted the best I can. We read to him often and limit his TV time as much as possible. Part of educating him for me too has always been by surrounding him with positive people and experiences. Taking him to the farm, drawing, letting him help me with mundane tasks, visiting family often, attempting to play sport together, visits to parks, letting him run around and be a free spirit. He is turning into such a sweet little soul, and I put so much of that down to making sure we leave the house every single day, come rain and shine

I chose to breastfeed until Ted was 13 months. The choice to stop then was more his choice than mine. He’d had enough and would push away and I knew it was time to stop. I’m so proud of our journey with feeding and that my choice made him the super strong little lad he is now.

Our sleep journey with Ted has been a challenging one and we have slowly and gently weaned him off of being fed to sleep, rocked to sleep and now left to fall asleep himself. I’m glad we have let him find his own way with sleep and that we have finally got to a good place with it. Maybe our decision to feed and rock him to sleep made the sleep situation worse, but for us it was the best choice based on what our boy needed at the time.

I chose to go back to work full time, and consequently chose to put Ted into a nursery full time. I needed work to stay sane as spending that amount of time at home wasn’t good for me, and luckily nursery has been a breeze for Ted. It’s made him a confident, independent child and bought out nothing but the best in him. I think we were lucky that we just found the right place and that he slipped into his new routine with minimal problems.

Being the ultra-feminist I am, everything is evenly split between me and Rob and I am so grateful for that. Particularly since being back at work, I’m so grateful for all that he does to keep me sane, keep us fed and help keep the household running smoothly. I honestly don’t know how some women do it, so massive shout out to them!

I’m the mum who likes to cuddle often, but I’m firm when Ted pushes the boundaries. I want to raise Ted understanding that he must work hard in order to get what he wants. I guess my values in life are reflected in my parenting style- kindness, persistence and education.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that how I parent is how my parent’s parent, and I’m lucky to have those role models in place. How they grandparent is funnily enough also how my grandparent’s grandparent- constantly trying to feed me, showering me with affection and adoration and allowing cheekiness that parent’s don’t!

It’s important that we share what works for us, as it may help others make decisions about how they do things. How do you parent?

Teddy’s Weaning Journey

baby, Breastfeeding, Mum, Weaning, Weaning

Written by Julie Suffield

It’s now been a solid three months since Teddy last had breastmilk. 27 months after that first latch on the floor of our front room and he just quietly, gradually stopped. No tears. No tantrums. Just no more requests for Mamma milk.

It was a much smoother ride second time round. No tongue tie, no mastitis and only the odd milk bleb. He put on weight quickly, only losing 3% of his birthweight. He was a dream to feed, the type of baby you see on maternity ward posters. Quite the surprise after all our difficulties with Bea.

He doesn’t seem to miss it. I was worried we wouldn’t be as close physically but he’s just as cuddly and loving. He still loves to sleep curled up to me the same as before. He did do the same as Bea and fell ill to every bug in the first few weeks after stopping feeding and no longer receiving my immunity. But overall he’s coped amazingly. He did request to latch on a few weeks ago, but couldn’t remember how.

Breastfeeding has been a huge part of my life for four years. Teddy is at a tricky age for tantrums, and there have been a few times that I’ve wished he still fed just to calm him down. But I’m pleased that it was on his terms and has happened at a time that suits us both. For a while it felt like a huge part of my identity had been lost. But it’s something I’ll always be passionate about and advocate for. I am sad that this chapter of motherhood is over with Teddy but also excited for the next stage.

Ted’s Weaning Journey

baby, Weaning, Weaning

Weaning Ted was honestly such an enjoyable process, and although I’m no expert, in celebration of our weaning essentials giveaway I thought I’d share my journey with our readers.

We started weaning just before Ted turned 6 months. Ted definitely had the odd taste of flavours here and there before then, but early weaning isn’t recommended for a number of reasons, so be sure to do your research if that’s something your considering. Roughly 24 weeks is when a baby’s gut is ready for solids, but if you’re breastfeeding and your little one isn’t showing signs of interest in food then wait until they are ready.

Below are the individual steps we took:

1) We started with baby rice mixed with expressed milk, and purely did this to see how Ted got on with chewing and swallowing. Baby rice has no nutritional value but it was a good way to see if Ted was ready.

2) After a few weeks we started to mix pureed vegetables and expressed milk. We fed Ted this at dinner time and it was fun seeing him trying the new flavours. We are lucky that he’s not been fussy with food at all. I’d recommend starting with vegetables before you progress to fruit, otherwise you baby may prefer sweet food over other tastes and this doesn’t bode well for the further stages!

3) Once Ted was enjoying pureed fruit and veg every evening we decided to introduce another meal each day. He was almost 7 months by this point.

4) As Ted started to enjoy 2 meals a day at 7 months, we introduced finger foods and also bread, pasta and rice. I really wanted to mix traditional weaning and baby led weaning, as I wanted Ted to get used to swallowing before introducing the chewing element! I gave him steamed vegetables and would mix with cous cous or over done pasta. Boots do a great range of their own branded gluten free products that we started with before progressing onto normal pasta.

5) If there is one thing that terrified me, it was giving Ted meat! By 7 and half months he was eating well, and now with the introduction of his third meal I knew it was time. We started with fish as it breaks apart really nicely and we eat salmon or white fish every week. Then we introduced chicken, then mince at 8 and half months and Ted will eat beek in small chunks also.

6) One really important thing I would say, is don’t be scared to introduce spice and flavourings. Ted loves eating chilli and curries and has a diverse palette as I give him a nice variety of foods.

7) We can now give him pretty much anything that we eat, which is so easy and simple. There’s just zero point in making multiple meals everyday. Breastfeeding wise, he will only feed twice a day, morning and evening. From 9 months he has also been having 2 snacks a day in between meals.

8) In terms of a sippy cup, we started using one from 6 months with expressed milk in and have now moved onto water. Ted loves the ones with the plastic straw! Our next stage is whole milk in a cup for breakfast to wean off of his morning breastfeed, but we will wait a month or so for that.

My biggest tip would be introducing one new thing a weeks, not everything all at once or too soon.

We make everything from scratch but ocasionally if we stick a pizza in the oven Ted will have some. Weaning him has really made me think about what I eat and how I can eat better, which is great too! There are things we won’t allow him to eat, simply because he is so young. Anything artifical, crisps, fast food, saturated fat or high salt content are a no go. He’s tried bits of chocolate here but it’ll be a long time before we let him have a Maccies!

Whether you opt for baby led or traditional or a mix of both, just do what you are comfortable with. Trust your instincts and do what suits your child and when they are ready. Good luck!

Pre-Writing Skills

Activities, baby

Written by Vicky Lloyd

As parents, we hear this term ‘pre-writing skills’ all the time, and how important it is to ‘work on them’… but what even are pre-writing skills? What should we be doing? When should we be doing it?!

As an Occupational Therapist, I work with children and families every day who ask me these questions. They often feel pressure from their child being very young, to be working on all these skills, without anyone really giving them any concrete ideas of what to actually do! So, more often than not, parents come to me confused and frustrated that they can’t get their child to sit at a table and practice their drawing and writing. Please trust me…this is completely normal!

Firstly, what even are pre-writing skills? Pre-writing skills are lots of little skills that a child needs to develop before they are ready to write. This includes being able to hold a pencil, to scribble, to draw shapes and to colour. It also includes fine motor skills such as hand eye coordination, hand and finger strength, manipulating the pencil, being able to coordinate both sides of the body together, crossing the middle of your body to reach across the paper, developing a hand dominance… the list is endless!

So as a parent, where on earth do you start then?! My answer is always this… PLAY! Children love to play! It’s how they learn about themselves and their world, and it’s amazing how many skills they can develop when they are ‘just’ playing. Here are few activity ideas, which seem super simple, but are excellent for developing your child’s pre-writing skills…


 Play-doh – rolling, squashing, chopping, hiding objects in a play-doh ball
 Threading – different sized beads/pasta on to pipe cleaners/thread
 Tongs and tweezers – practice picking up different size objects, sorting by colours or shapes
 Mark making – provide novelty pens & pencils, paints, crayons, scented pens etc and let
them scribble with no agenda. Mix it up by using different objects, such as a cardboard box or an egg carton to paint!
 Building with lego, construction toys or playing with nuts and bolts
 Opening bottles and jars – fill them with pom poms, beads, raisins, cherrios, glitter, water etc to make sensory bottles
 Water and sensory play – pouring, scooping, mixing, stirring, sieving into lots of different bowls or containers
 Hide the table and chair and explore different positions for play! For example, lying on their tummy on the floor, drawing on a piece of paper on the wall in the garden, drawing on the pavement with large chalks. So much more exciting!

By working on these simple skills through play, you and your child will have so much more fun! And you can also be smug in the fact that they are developing lots of their pre-writing skills along the way too.

So I guess my message to you as a parent, is to ditch the pressure and keep it super simple… as long as your child is PLAYING, they are LEARNING! I recently started Play For Today to capture and share all of our play ideas at home. Come and join me over at @play_4_today for lots more play ideas, tips and resources for fine and gross motor, mark making and early handwriting activities!

“Sit Still and Listen!”

Activities, baby

Written by Vicky Robinson

Instagram: @play_4_today
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Play-for-Today-320967372022543/

How many times have we said this to our kids?! Did you know that children NEED to move their bodies in order to stay focused and learn? And this goes for all children actually, whether they’re 2 or 12…movement is so important at all ages. As an adult, have you ever had to sit through a lecture or a long film, and find yourself swinging or tapping your foot, chewing your pen, biting your lip, fiddling with your hair, shifting position in your chair every few minutes or doodling on some paper? Even as adults, we find it so difficult to sit still and concentrate, so you can imagine what it must be
like for our little ones with all their bundles of energy!

As a children’s Occupational Therapist, I have worked with children of all ages and abilities for many years and this is still the biggest ‘light bulb’ moment for parents, when they realise that it’s ok to let their child move. Actually, it’s better than ok, it’s perfect! I spend lots of time chatting with parents about different positions for play and how to incorporate movement in to every play opportunity throughout their day.

When children are fidgeting and finding it difficult to sit still, they are unconsciously trying to activate a clever little nerve in their inner ear, which helps them to stay alert and focused. The only way to activate this nerve so that it can do its job, is… to move! As we know, attention spans in
young children are quite short, so the best way to keep them focused is to allow them lots of movement.

When my daughter came along I began to experience first-hand, her need for movement during play and learning opportunities. So, every day we try our best to get as much movement in to our play, and we experiment with our bodies in lots of different positions to keep us focused (I say ‘we’… 6am daily wake up calls, definitely means that I need as much help as I can get to stay focused too!).

Working at a table and chair for activities at home can be lovely, but here are some of my favourite alternative positions for play:

  • Lying on our tummy
  • Lying on our back
  • On all fours (crawl position)
  • High kneeling
  • Half kneeling
  • Standing up

Of course, it’s absolutely fine for children to spend time playing at a table too! But I like to think about how I can change the activity to get a much movement in as possible. Here’s some ideas for you to try!

  • Shape and colour matching – place objects of different colours/shapes at one end of the
  • room in a basket, and a piece of card with the colour/shape drawn on, at the other end.
  • Have your child collect the objects and match it to the correct card. But here’s the fun part –
  • can they get across the room crawling like a bear, hopping like a rabbit or jumping like a
  • frog?
  • Learning to draw shapes – tape the shape out on the floor and have them walk, jump, hop
  • and crawl around the shapes. You could make it really exciting by using trays with different
  • sensory materials in to make your shape, and have them walk barefoot around it. Can they
  • guess the shape?
  • Puzzle scavenger hunt – hide pieces of a puzzle around the room. Find them and match
  • them up to complete the puzzle!
  • Jump & Tap – stick some colour/shape/letter/number/word cards on the wall, but make
  • sure they’re too high for them to reach when standing! Call out one at a time and have them
  • jump to tap the correct card.

I recently started Play For Today to capture and share all of our play ideas at home. Come and join me over at @play_4_today for lots more play ideas, tips and resources for fine and gross motor, mark making and early handwriting activities!

You can also find Play For Today on Facebook here.

A Week in the Wardrobe of Ted

baby, Baby Style

I get asked a lot of questions about where I find Ted’s clothes, and often people assume I spend a fortune on him. Truth is, I love a good bargain, and almost always refuse to buy anything unless it’s reduced or in the sale. Ted is now 7 months, but wearing 9-12 month clothes because he has long legs, so I have no other choice but buying cheap as he is whizzing through sizes. Cheap, however, does not mean poor quality.

Now it is no secret that I am obsessed with clothes. When I found out I was having a boy, people commented on how much fun I’d have dressing a little girl, but having a boy can be just as exciting, although the clothes are usually limited in style and colours. I do dream of the days of pink and gingham and ribbons, but until then tracksuits and trainers will do! Have a look below at a weeks worth of Ted’s outfits:

Thursday

This little red tracksuit we have had since Ted was about 2 months old and he has just grown out of it. It makes me so sad that he won’t wear it again, but we have definitely had our money’s worth. It always looks great with a white or grey t-shirt underneath and is easy to layer. This grey and red striped top came with a 3 pack of London themed tees from Mothercare. Ted has outgrown his pram shoes now, so unless I can 12-18 month pram shoes, he has to wear proper shoes. I’ve only managed to find that size in Next and Mothercare, but I’m not complaining and neither is Ted about wearing these Adidas Superstars! Sporty little ensemble, perfect for fun at the park with his cousin.

Friday


Adidas again today! There is still lots of growth in this one, which I’m really happy about. I love Ted in grey and blue, so loved this colour combo. This tracksuit is much comfier than the red one for him, so ideal whilst learning how to crawl. I’m always on the lookout for cheap Nike and Adidas clothes for Ted, as Rob really likes him in them too as they are some of his favourite brands. These trainers were from Mothercare and reduced to £2 in the sale. I love Ted in anything dinosaur, and love that these are jazzed up at the back to look like a mini Stegosaurus! This hat was a Debenhams bargain costing £3 in the sale and I am absolutely obsessed with him in it. Naturally, his name being Ted, anything bear related I love.

Saturday

Saturdays are normally a busy day for us, juggling friends, family and cleaning. This Mantaray romper is so easy to chuck on but makes Ted look so grown up, it’s scary! This was another Debenhams bargain at £6. The tones look great on him and paired up with these smart grey desert boots (that Ted mainly likes to undo the laces of and chew) and fox hat creates a good winter to spring wardrobe transition whilst the weather is still baffling all of us.

Sunday

Sunday’s are chill day for us in the Olding household. Rob plays football on a sunday and if we dont watch him play then we stay at home and tidy and play. This two piece set was from Tesco and was £10. It fits his chunky little legs perfectly but is a nightmare colour. I’ve spent far too much time trying to get stains out of it so will definitely be avoiding this colour in future.

Monday

As it is the Easter holidays, we thought we would make the most of it by doing something fun and different with Ted. We took him to the Natural History Museum so that only means one thing… dinosaurs! This dinosaur tracksuit was from Jojo Maman Bebe and the hoody is reversible which is super handy. Underneath he just wears a plain coloured long sleeved top and this one was from Next as part of a 5 pack.

Tuesday

Tuesday was another day at home as we have so much decorating to do. Ted was happy and comfy in this hooded Nike romper. He moves about in it easily and I have to say, I am incredibly jealous of this outfit!

Wednesday

Today we were out for lunch, and Ted premiered his Vans! These Vans were a gift and still far too big but they’ll fit perfectly in a few months time when he’s attempting walking and maybe up and toddling about. This little outfit is one of my absolute favourites and was only £6. It is so cute and quirky and incredibly British of course! His jumper was hand knitted by my mum. He has a lot of knitted jumpers but this remains my favourite because of the lovely bright colours. With the weather being all over the place I am so grateful for this gillet and want to buy it in every possible size!

Disney Baby Style

baby, Baby Style

Written by April Hill

Disney is one of our favourite things, and Disney baby clothes is probably my favourite thing right now. I can’t resist a cute outfit.

I wanted to share some of my best picks for shops where we find the ultimate – and affordable – Disney Style for a baby.

George at Asda

Asda is most likely my favourite and it’s where a lot of our clothes are from! You can’t fault it for quality or price. There’s a range of characters and, for the girls, the tutus are just lovely.


Primark

My closest primark isn’t very big and doesn’t stock as much, so when I get the chance to go to our biggest local one I have a good haul.

I’ve walked around and seen things in the boy section that can be totally gender neutral, so it’s always worth a look around there even if you have a girl.

Matalan

I never really thought of Matalan to begin with but was I wrong not to consider them. I just love Dumbo and my favourite outfits have come from their range, which includes PJs, Vest & Bottoms with matching hat, blankets, muslins and comforters. I’m going to be so sad when she grows out of it all – which won’t be long.

Shop Disney

You can’t not think about browsing on ShopDisney UK, although you are looking at a bit more in price. Occasionally they send out some discounts so take advantage. Quality and sweetness though you can’t fault them. I invested in some of their new Winnie The Pooh pieces and they are adorable.

I’m so bad for buying clothes. It used to be for myself but now it’s changed to my daughter. A handy tip though is if you see something you like then go for the next size up and you’ll have something to grow in to. It’s worth the wait once they can finally start wearing it.

For more cute outfits and updates from April, please check out @babybelleandmum or @aprilswifelife on Instagram.