Sunday, 13 October 2019

DIY Play Sand for Sensory Trays

It's Sunday evening, I just came home from climbing and put E. to sleep. So what now? Hm... I finally have some time to prepare some play sand for tomorrow.

I wanted to make something brown, to resemble dirt to go well with the forest animals. But I didn't want to use food colouring. The usual recipe for play sand is 1 parts oil and 8 parts flour. But I used instead flour, carob powder, and a bit of cinnamon for the smell. So I just divided the amount of flour between these.

I made the play sand using:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups carob powder
  • 1 spoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cups oil (rapeseed and avocado oil, but any oil will do)
Tomorrow I'll show it to E. and I really hope she'll like it. Now I'm off to bed...I've got cinnamon tea and a good book waiting for me.

If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think. :)

Monday, 30 September 2019

Why I Love Using a Baby Carrier

I'm going to get straight to the reasons why I’m all for baby carrying:

The first one is a general one: carrying your baby is a healthy thing everyone should do. Your oxytocin level goes up when you hold your baby close, and this promotes bonding. It also helps mothers recover postpartum.

Our little one hated the bassinet when she was little. She was born at the end of autumn, on a cold, frosty day in Finland. So the first few months of her life, it was dark, cold, and icy. Which meant that while out and about, she would either scream her lungs out in the bassinet (which is painful for all of us, as you probably know), or be fine carried. For the first few months we just carried her in our laps for short times, hoping that she will eventually get used to her pram...well, she didn't. She only did  after we switched to the seat. The carrier saved our sanity, and hers. It provided a safer option, and a more comfortable one.

Now that she is older, she loves facing outward, to touch tree trunks, wet leaves, smell flowers, look at foxes and bunnies, and check out the wonderful colours in nature. Our front facing carrier makes that easy and comfortable.

Her first time on the swing was also in the carrier and that provided her the confidence to experience that.

I don’t usually do chores with E in the carrier, because we have a baby proofed apartament and it’s still possible (she’s not walking yet) to keep an eye on her while I do some quick things around the house. Plus, I prefer playing with her or observing her while she’s awake. But the carrier has helped a lot on trips - we flew to Romania and we decided not to take the pram. She was extremely happy to be in the carrier. Of course, we only used it to go places, but once there, she was free to explore and move around. Babies need to improve their gross motor skills and get rid of that energy, otherwise we’d all go crazy.

E. still gets grumpy in the pram when she’s tired. I think she has fallen asleep in it only 3 times in her life. So the carrier comes in handy when she starts getting fussy. She loves being in it and calms down right away.

Carrying my daughter is comforting for both of us. There are days when I feel I have stuff to do and I’m missing on precious moments with her. But if she’s there with me, we cuddle and everything seems to go faster and gets solved easily.

With a carrier you also don’t need to worry about your pram being stolen. If you go somewhere, you don’t need to find a place to park the pram.

Before buying a carrier/wrap/ring sling, read about all your options and consult your pediatrician. You might decide to get a sling because it’s smaller, but then it might be more uncomfortable for longer periods of time (because you wear it on one shoulder) and your baby might not want to face you. The wrap is on both shoulders, but it takes some time to get used to putting it on. We have all three, but most of the times we end up using the carrier, because our daughter just loves facing outwards and seeing what we see.

What are your feelings on carriers?

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Getting Your Baby Involved in Daily Routines (6 months – 1 year)

Babies are capable of so much more than what we give them credit for! And they want to be involved in your daily routines…so why not let them?

I’m brainstorming ways in which E.’s (currently 10 months) independence is cultivated. I’m thinking of small things that she can do, with a little bit of help. If she works on these, she will soon learn how to do them independently. And these help her fine motor development, confidence, gross motor development, hand-eye coordination, and understanding cause and effect relationships.

Some of the things she enjoys/might enjoy doing:
  • pulling the drapes before bedtime (from my lap, as that’s easier)
  • brushing teeth in front of the mirror (I placed the mirror on the wall, next to the changing table and I let her sit, while keeping a close eye on her)
  • wiping her face with a wet cotton pad (maybe in front of the mirror)
  • wiping the table after lunch (with my help, but I let her place her hands on the cloth next to mine and wipe)
  • pulling the bib off
  • bringing a clean diaper from a low drawer (we have a small basket with two diapers next to the changing table)
  • putting clothes in the hamper (a bit later for us)
  • turning lights on/off (from my lap)
  • choosing clothes from two options
  • pouring her own water from a tiny pitcher (I’m modelling it for her, but hopefully soon we’ll take that step)
  • choosing the books I’ll read and the toys she wants to play with (we rotate toys, so they’re not too many, and she can choose them from her shelf. Everything is visible and within her reach)
When letting kids help, keep these things in mind:
  • keep the tasks simple, but not too simple;
  • don’t use tasks in a negative way – like “Clean the table, because you made a mess”;
  • if your baby isn’t interested in doing the task, wait until next time and see. Keep modeling it, and eventually it might spur her interest;
  • have patience – the tasks will take time to master and they might be messier, but it’s worth it.
What tasks does your baby enjoy?

She usually sits down facing the mirror to brush her teeth. The basket in the lower left corner has two diapers that she can choose from (different drawings).

How to Choose a Lovey

E. has been fighting sleep recently, so I thought it might be time to introduce a lovey. We went shopping today and this is what she chose. I usually prefer gender neutral and realistic looking toys...but what can I do?

Lovies are great to have, because they help form positive sleep associations. At nighttime, a lovey is much easier to find than a pacifier (and it also won’t affect baby’s teeth in a negative way).

Here are some tips on how to choose a lovey:
  • let your child choose it. It can also be an old soft toy that the baby/child seems to like;
  • make sure you are able to find another toy that’s the same, in case something happens with the original one. You can have two from the beginning, for when one of them is in the wash;
  • before giving it to the baby, sleep with it for a night or two, to give it your scent. This will help your baby create a special bond with the toy. It might help if you place it in between you and the baby while breastfeeding;
  • keep the lovey only for sleeping, to form that association. If the baby has it throughout the day, she might be tempted to play with it during nap time as well. Link it to the idea of sleep by using it only then and by including it in your bedtime routine;
  • choose a small toy, so it’s easier to carry it with you when you travel;
  • make sure it’s safe – no buttons or anything that could be a choking hazard;
  • don’t choose a toy that makes noise, because it might wake the baby up at night;
  • try to choose a toy that’s machine washable, to make your life easier.
Did I miss anything? Does your child have a lovey? How did you choose it?

Saturday, 27 July 2019

What We Have in Our Travel/Mystery Bag

It’s not easy to be stuck in a car or travel with a baby. They need to be active, move around, and explore…how do they have so much energy?! My little one loves waving at random people on the metro at 6 in the morning (which is bad, because then people also notice me looking like a zombie).

But still, it’s nice to take your baby to different places, or sometimes there’s no other choice. That’s why you need to make the best of it. A travel/mystery bag will keep your little one occupied while you go bouldering, wait for your coffee, or you’re stuck in the car/on the bus.

Just choose some items or toys that the baby might be interested in and put them in a textile bag.

When choosing them, take into consideration that they should:
- be small, so they fit in the bag and don’t take too much space in your pram
- be easily washable, because the baby might drop them or throw them (Indestructibles books and wooden toys are great)
- be changed regularly - rotate the items, just as you would with other toys
- be different: take a few books, some toys (a puzzle, rattle, anything that your baby enjoys playing with), collect items from nature (shells, rocks, twigs, pine cones, leaves – depending on your baby’s age). You can even add some kitchen utensils (wooden spoon, silicone spatula, cups, empty containers). Open ended toys are a great option, because you/your kids can improvise and not get bored.

This is E.'s mystery bag this week. We use it quite a lot, especially when we go bouldering.

The number of items depends on your trip and on your baby’s age. Try not to overstimulate your baby, but take the amount of toys that would keep her busy.

At kindergarten we used to take our song bag with us on road trips. Check out how I made it here. You can also use one with your baby, but it implies that you will need to sing and keep your baby entertained.

Do you have something like this when taking trips with your baby?

Friday, 19 July 2019

Our Daily Routine (4-8 months)

Now that E. is eight months old, she had dropped a nap, so our daily routine changed a little. We finally managed to move bed time around 19.30, which means that we wake up earlier in the morning (around 6.30).

I’m a morning person and this schedule suits both of us, but maybe a wake-up time between 7.00 and 8.00 would be ideal. Ah, what can you do? I can’t complain. She is an awesome little dumpling and I can’t wait to start a new day with her.

Although she doesn’t nap at the same time every day, the sequence of events is the same. The reason for this is that she might nap 30 minutes or 1.5 hours…it depends on how tired she is and her mood. But after three hours of awake time she usually shows signs of tiredness and I put her to bed.

So, this is how our day goes:

6.30 We wake up. I usually feed her (bf), then we read a book in bed. After that, we go to the bathroom, brush our teeth (she has no teeth, but I give her the wet toothbrush to play with, while she watches me brush my teeth), take our vitamins (vitamin D for her), change her diaper, put some lotion on her, then sing a song and talk about the poster she has on the bathroom wall.* (I’ll write about this a bit at the end of the post.)

She then plays in her room while I grab something quick to eat next to her. If I’m in the mood to cook something or prepare something that takes longer, I just take the laptop with me into the kitchen and check on her on our video camera. Her room is baby-proofed and safe.

After I finish eating, we get ready to go out. We usually go grocery shopping in the morning if we need something, but most of the times we just visit parks near our house, take nature walks, go to the beach. She loves swinging at the moment!

When it’s almost time for her nap (approximately 30 minutes before), we go inside and play or read a little, then I change her diaper and put her to bed. While she sleeps, I make lunch and put the dishes in the dishwasher.

This routine is the same after each nap, but instead of just breastfeeding her, she eats solids also. It goes like this: wake up, eat (bf, then solids), play time (inside and outside), then diaper change and nap.

I usually eat with her at the table. She has a feeding chair. I usually give her something cooked (oat porridge, steamed salmon and sweet potatoes, vegetable and chicken soup, avocado pasta…) and some veggies or fruits on the side (so that she can eat those independently). That way, I can help her put the food on the spoon, but while I eat, she can grab an avocado stick, a piece of banana or raspberry. She is quite independent already, but I scoop the food with the spoon for her.

Of course, what she plays with and what we do outside is different. Indoors, I just follow her lead. She chooses what she wants to play with from her shelf. Unfortunately, she can't tell me what she wants to do outside yet. When it’s nice outside, we love having picnics. We read and play on the blanket on the meadow. Occasionally, we go out with other mommies and babies or to play areas in malls.

Dad finishes work in time for our walk in the evening, then I feed her and he gives her a bath (or the other way around). He then says goodnight, and I stay with her, feed her and cuddle before she falls asleep.

After 19.30, my partner and I have some time to catch up on the latest John Oliver episodes, talk, play board games, and enjoy some quiet time – if I don’t fall asleep at 20.00!

If you want to read more about our bedtime routine, check this post.

What does your daily routine look like? I guess it’s much more difficult if you have more kids and different ages and interests to take into account.

* I made some posters for some of the songs that we’ve been singing, so she can also see what the songs are about. They are printed and laminated, but I’m considering reusing plastic pockets in the future, to avoid the waste. After her diaper change, she loves standing and looking at the posters. I explain what’s in the pictures and sing the song. I change these regularly, so she doesn’t get bored. Her favourite poster seems to be “Old MacDonald” – it has pictures of a cow, a dog, a cat, a horse, and a pig.

This poster is for the song "If You're Happy, Happy, Happy" (a simplified version of "If You're Happy and You Know It")