Thursday, 27 June 2013

Food Friday (2)

So I am on a roll with this whole cooking-for-my-baby lark. Now I’ve started doing it I’m actually really enjoying it and it is so much easier than I imagined. Last night for example we had roast lamb, new potatoes and mixed veg. At the end I pureed up everything that was left and hey presto – Doof’s lunch today was ready!

This week we experimented with more main courses and finger foods.

Finger foods:

Grated cheese – Doof didn’t really “get” this. He poked the pile a bit and then lost interest and sat there with his mouth wide open waiting for the magic spoon to appear and feed him!

Peanut butter rice cakes – I needed to think of ways to expose Doof to peanuts (this is NOT what the NHS recommends but see here for the reason why we are doing this so early). Previously I have mixed it with his baby rice but he doesn’t eat that anymore and I think it would make his breakfast cereal taste pretty gros! So I spread a bit on a rice cake (which he normally loves) and handed it to him… Anyway it is safe to say (as if there could be any doubt!) he is definitely my son. Unfortunately I have now ruined rice cakes for him :( Peanut butter is not a hit. But I need to find a way to get it into him so might think of some puddings I can add it into.

Hummus – you know the photos you see of food smeared all over a child’s face/hands/upper body/highchair/floor? Well Doof never seems to get “involved” enough in food to do that. I gave him a plate of hummus (didn’t dare put in on rice cakes after the failure above) and waited for him to get stuck in, put his fingers in it, put them in his mouth etc. So he looked at it, tried to lift the plate up, banged it on the highchair tray a few times, tried to throw it over the side, looked at me, looked at the pile of hummus, tried to lift the plate up, banged it on the highchair tray a few times, tried to throw it over the side, looked at me, looked at the pile of hummus… think this would have repeatedly indefinitely if I hadn’t then stuck my finger in the hummus. He just looked at me with a “you must be crazy, why would you do that?!” expression and carried on trying to bang the plate around. Anyway when he eventually ate the hummus he liked it (put some on a spoon and spoonfed him!) but think I need to encourage him to get his hands dirty…

Main courses:

I’ve eaten both these recipes this week – definitely way nicer than any food I usually cook for myself. Bonus if Doof doesn’t finish his meal now is I can enjoy eating the leftovers – never really fancied the cold purees from the pouches before!

Cheesy tomato cod

2 cod fillets (skinless & boneless)
½ can of tinned chopped tomatoes
100g (or generous handful) mild cheddar
2 heaped tablespoons flour (theoretically should be plain flour but we only had self-raising in the cupboard and the recipe tasted ok!)
30g unsalted butter
200ml milk
Extra milk (for poaching)
1 sweet potato

Put the cod fillets in a saucepan and pour over enough milk to just cover them. Then heat until milk simmering. Poach in the milk for about 10 minutes (until fish flakes easily).
Meanwhile mix the butter and flour together over gentle heat. Then gradually add the milk while stirring continually. It will then become a thickish white paste. Once it looks like this, take it off the heat and stir in the cheese until it is all melted into the sauce.
Flake the fish (don’t forget to check for bones too) and mix into the sauce once cool.
I then pureed it slightly – didn’t need much though as Doof is eating mashed food and this recipe was all pretty soft anyway.

I then split the mixture into 2:
- one half I froze like that and plan to combine with some pasta when Doof is going to eat it
- the other half I combined with sweet potato (see last week's recipe) and froze like that to make an instant meal in the future

 This recipe made 5 x 150ml portions and Doof absolutely loved it. He usually eats around 75ml per meal – when I gave him this he ate nearly 150!!

Beef stew (this was so super easy to make as you just put everything together in a pan and leave it to cook - minimum effort needed!)

450g beef (I bought already-cut-into-cubes beef because I am a bit lazy!)
½ can of tinned chopped tomatoes
3 large carrots
2 courgettes
2 leeks
1 red onion
500ml vegetable stock (I used the same Heinz stock range as last week)
2 jacket potatoes

Place the beef, vegetable stock and tomatoes in a large saucepan.
Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat until liquid is simmering.
Peel and chop the carrots and add to the saucepan, along with chopped leeks, courgettes and onion.
Cook for 1.5 hours.
Put jacket potatoes on a skewer (helps the inside cook to nice fluffy consistency) and cook at 180 degrees for approximately 1.5 hours (depending on size).
Once cool, puree to desired consistency (or not if you are sneaking out an adult portion!).
Scoop out the potato from the jackets and mix with the puree.

 This recipe made A LOT – 6 x 150ml portions and 2 adult-sized portions. Luckily Doof agreed with us how nice it was as otherwise he might have not appreciated how much is still in the freezer to be eaten…!

Here is the top drawer of my freezer at the moment (excuse the milk mountain) – just having a proud-of-myself moment as never thought I would be able to cook such healthy, nutritious and tasty meals :)

Next week we’re going to make some more breakfast finger foods and experiment with lentils and couscous. If you have any other ideas or suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Holidays (Pt 2) - top ten travel essentials

So here is the second part of the holiday blog - I know I missed Tuesday so it's not technically a "Tuesday Top Ten" but anyway... Here are my top ten travel essentials...

1. Brother max bibs
I thought these looked like a good idea when I saw them online but in reality they are much better than I possibly imagined! You get 3 bibs and 1 crumb catcher. You attach a bib to the CC via the poppers and you're good to go. Then after the meal you can fold the dirty bib inside the CC and do it up into a neat package with another set if poppers. There's even room for your dirty spoons in there :)

2. Koodi pop-up travel cot
Travel cots can be hit and miss in hotels - some are fine and others have big holes, uncomfy bumps or bent floors. For this reason we take one with us - made easy by the fact our one is not very big when folded and super light (around 1kg if I remember right) so us easily packed in your checked luggage without using up much space/weight allowance. In order to be so small when packed, the mattress supplied is pretty thin - you can buy an extra mattress but we just padded it with towels underneath and Doof seemed pretty comfortable.

Another bonus of this travel cot is because it has a roof it also acts as a portable sunshade during the day. You can put it next to you in the garden or by the pool, drape a muslin over the top and hey presto, an instant little cave where your baby can sit and play or lie and nap.

3. Carrier

We took our Ergobaby carrier and left the buggy at home. I don't use my carrier every day at home but use it enough that I knew both Doof and I would be happy only using that for 2 weeks. I'm so glad we made that decision as not having to lug a buggy around was great and we also therefore avoided the constant fear that the buggy would be damaged when being loaded on/off the airplane. I don't think I'd put anything else costing £700 in the hold, so why do that to my buggy? It also meant when we exploring towns etc we never had to worry about whether places were step-free or buggy-friendly or not.

4. Giant muslins

I LOVE giant muslins. They are so useful. For swaddling, for being a sunshade, for covering you whilst breastfeeding, for moping up messes... The list is endless. They are one if my essential must-haves.

5. Highchair insert or fabric seatchair

If your baby is weaning/weaned these are great. We bought the inflatable insert from Ikea - best £5 ever spent! It slots inside the frame of any highchair (but particularly useful in the wooden ones that all restaurants seem to use) and instantly your 4/5 month old who was all slouched and slipping out of the too-big-chair is sitting upright and well-supported.

The fabric seat is really useful if you go somewhere without a highchair or are trying to feed baby in your hotel room. It slips over nearly any regular chair and turns it into a mini highchair. It's also very portable as is smaller than your fist when folded back up. Your baby needs to be able to sit up though so we started using it around 6 months and it worked great. We've got the koo-di one from Kiddicare - there are lots of more expensive brands but this one works just great for us.

6. Swim vest, UV suit, dressing gown

We love swimming (Doof started when he was 7 weeks old) and as we were going somewhere hot we found these items really useful:
- baby "wetsuit" - a neoprene jacket which you wrap around baby when swimming. It keeps them warm and lets them swim in cooler pools than they would otherwise like. Doof even managed a short time in a 28 degree pool in his!
- UV suit - really thin so kept Doof cool when it was hot but protected him from the sun too. Perfect beachwear 
- "Après-splash" dressing gown - We used to put this on Doof when he got out of the pool after taking off his swim nappy and wetsuit. He'd then sit with us, all snugly, while we dried off in the sun. It's really easy on/off with poppers down the front and has little legs so all of him gets covered and warm, and when he starts walking it'll still do the same :)

All ours came from Splashabout and have all done a great job so far.

[Obviously ignore this point if you're going somewhere cold!!]

7. Tupperware steriliser

If travelling with a you g baby you do still need to sterilise but there is no guarantee your hotel room will have either a microwave, kettle or hob. For this reason, and for how easy it is, I love using Milton sterilising tablets. I have the Kiddicare mini microwave/cold steriliser box which is the perfect size to fit several spoons, a cup and dummy in (so it doubles as a storage container when travelling) then on arrival at the hotel is full it with water (up to a pre-measured line I marked on the side) and add quarter of a milton tablet. Within 15 minutes everything is sterilised and ready to use, no need for rinsing and anything you leave in the water stays sterile for 24 hours. Perfect.

8. Travel playmat

This probably depends in the age of your child. When we went to the US Doof was 4 months and not yet properly rolling. We found the playmat brilliant as we could take it down to the poolside with us, have it in the room, on the balcony etc and it gave him somewhere safe to lie and play (and that was also slightly padded). Our one (below) fitted in our suitcase so there was nothing extra to carry.
Now Doof is nearly 8 months I don't think we would take it though as he would roll off it in an instant.

9. Brother max spoon and bowl set 

It's a spoon and a bowl - pretty useful. The reason I like this one more than other travel sets I've seen is because:
- the spoons fit inside a compartment in the lid
- you can fit 2 spoons in the compartment (always good to have a spare?)
- there is an insert inside the bowl which has 2 food compartments - so you could use each side for different courses (eg main course and pudding) and then if you want to use the bowl again before being able to wash it properly you can remove the insert and just use the main bowl
- it has a sucker base which is pretty essential if your baby is anything like Doof...
The only criticism is that the spoons are not very big. So useful to have them but I often take another regular spoon with me to use instead

10. Ewan dream sheep (or whatever sleep prop you use)

The  only place we didn't use him was on the plane as that was noisy enough already! Otherwise I think it definitely helped Doof to instantly feel that any hotel bedroom was actually his bedroom.


This is not a sponsored post/I haven't received any items to review - these are just things I found really useful on our holiday and when out and about :)

Is there anything else you've found invaluable or just helpful when travelling?


Friday, 21 June 2013

Food Friday

So here is the first of my "Food Friday" posts :)

I'm not naturally adventurous in the kitchen but this post is dedicated to The Alpha Parent whose post (see here) gave me a mental kick up the backside to stop using baby jars/pouches - thank you!

This week we've experimented with a new breakfast, three main courses and various finger foods. For anyone wondering - Doof doesn't have any teeth yet. And all the main courses can be frozen (Doof doesn't eat enough yet for me to want to cook single portions of anything!).


I was surprised when I realised just how much sugar is in the "baby" cereals specifically targeted to our children. For example total carbohydrate in 100g (and amount sugaring):
- Organix wholegrain porridge: 66g (17g)
- Heinz baby porridge: 64.2g (23.5g)

Whereas in
- Cornflakes: 84g (8g)
- Oatbix: 30.9g (1.5g)
I know which I'd prefer my baby ate!
So here is a very quick & easy to make breakfast (preparation time approximately 2 minutes) which is way more healthy than any baby-specific ones.

Half an oatbix
3 tablespoons of milk
1 small carton of yoghurt (I used plum organic from age frais)
2 tablespoons of fruit purée (I used a pot of Hipp Organic apple/pear puree but you could equally just mash up a banana or pear)

Crumble the oatbix in a bowl.
Add the milk and mix thoroughly.
Then add the yoghurt and fruit purée.
Serve within the next hour.

So the proof is in the eating... and Doof loved it! I was a bit worried he might not as he was used to the high sugar content of his baby porridge but it was a hit :)


Finger foods:

Doof has become much more interested in finger foods and feeding himself in the last 2-3 weeks. He really enjoys feeding himself so I try to give him something he can hold and eat at every meal - these are the new FF he's had this week...

Cheese on toast - hit! Also so easy to make, took about 2 minutes under the grill. Don't forget (like I did the first time!) to toast the other side first though!


Poached chicken strips - not a big hit. He licked one, pulled a face and then refused to go back for second try. To be fair to him it was day old cold chicken and so rather slimy and dry. Think he might prefer the brown meat more as its more juicy, and also when it has been more recently cooked.

Mashed banana on rice cakes - hit! So simple but so delicious. Doof enjoyed sucking the bandana off first and then gumming the rice cake to destruction :) Even my husband, who doesn't eat much fruit/veg and would never dream of eating a rice cake loved them!

This afternoon we're going to try grated cheese as a FF with his pasta (see below)

Main courses:

Chicken surprise (titled because of the fruit combination in it - a bit strange but delicious)


1 chicken breast
250ml chicken stock (I used Heinz cook-at-home stock cubes rather than boiling up a chicken carcass - they have less salt in them than normal stock cubes)
Half sweet potato
1 pot Hipp Organic apple/peach/mango fruit purée 

Poach the chicken breast for 15 minutes (or until cooked right through) and then cut into small pieces.
Put a skewer through the sweet potato and bake in oven at 180 degrees for approx 1 hour (check the inside is soft by feeling any resistance when you move the skewer inside).
Make up the stock cube as per instructions.
Add the stock to the chicken and purée to desired consistency. Doof is "stage 2" now so I'm not puréeing to smooth paste but having a few lumps in there. Using 250ml stock gave it the right consistency for us - depending on how smooth you want the end result you could add more or less stock.
Scoop the flesh out of the cooked sweet potato and mash in a bowl.
Add the fruit pot and mashed sweet potato to the purée. 

This made 2x 170ml portions and was a big hit with Doof. It is very juicy but not too sweet. Lovely combination of flavours.

Cheesy courgette pasta ( really easy to make - I had it simmering on the job whilst making our supper)

1 carrot
1 courgette
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Handful of grated cheddar cheese
Knob of butter

Chop the carrot and courgette up into thin slices and sauté in pan with the butter.
When soft (after about 5 minutes) add the tomatoes and keep on the heat to let the liquid reduce slightly.
Then add the cheese and stir for a short time until cheese melted.
Remove from heat.
Once cool, purée to desired consistency.

This made 8 x 160ml portions so I froze 7 and kept one in the fridge for lunch today.


To the portion I didn't freeze I added 2 spoons of cooked pasta (have used both these types with Doof), mixed it all together and then it's ready for eating :)


You could also use this as a sauce without adding the pasta - I'm going to add some puréed meat to some. 

Chicken veg 

This one you could make with any vegetables you have at home. I emptied the fridge and used the ones below.

1 chicken breast
Half sweet potato
1 carrot
1/4 leek
1/4 red pepper
500ml chicken stock (see above recipe)

Cook the chicken and sweet potato as in the recipe above.
Make up stock according to instructions and put over heat.
Cut the carrot, pepper and leek into small pieces and add to stock.
Simmer for around 20 minutes until veg are soft, then add the chicken pieces.
After 5 minutes remove from the heat.
Meanwhile scoop the flesh out of the cooked sweet potato and mash in a bowl.
Once cool purée the chicken mixture as required and then add in the sweet potato mash.

This made 4 x 150ml portions.


So that's what we've cooked this week. I've actually really enjoyed it and its so much more rewarding watching Doof enjoy something I've made rather than a baby jar. I also know exactly what has gone into the food and how much - so even if he eats less volume I know he is still getting much more protein/vitamins/right balance of food groups :)

I need to think what to make next week - definitely at least one fish dish. If you have any recipes you love or an ingredient you'd like me to try and incorporate then leave a comment and I'll try my best :)

Monday, 17 June 2013

Our sleeping debacle

Caveat - I am writing this post mainly for me, so I can see just how far we've come and how much has changed and improved. There is still a long way to go though but hopefully in another month I’ll be able to post a much more positive update! However if you are a Gina-Ford-routine-from-day-one kind of person I suggest you don't read any further... It may upset you!

I never planned to be a routine-type person. I didn’t read any books before Doof was born and thought I would just make it up as I went along. The result has been a lot of positives, some negatives but overall, although I would love to be getting more sleep, I don’t think I would change what we did at the beginning. I am glad I didn't leave Doof to cry when he was 2 months old like some friends did, I don't regret feeding him several times overnight til he was 6 months as I think he needed it. But more sleep? Oh yes please!


As a tiny baby Doof would sleep for an hour, wake to feed and then sleep again (I think – those early days have disappeared into a fog of forgetfulness). The first 8 weeks were complicated by severe tongue tie which was unrecognised and so poor Doof slowly starved, dropping from the 50th to 2nd centile before anything was done. So feeding dominated our whole lives as he was never satisfied and so wanted to feed constantly. As a result during the day he would nap on my lap if we were at home, then feed for a bit, then nap for a bit etc etc. Occasionally I would put him down in his moses basket or reclining chair but only when he was asleep so he was only used to going to sleep being cuddled.

At around 8 weeks two things changed. Firstly we started to introduce a bedtime routine with bath, massage, feed and bed. Secondly Doof decided he wanted to cluster feed. And cluster feed he did. He would feed constantly from 6.30 to 10.30, going from one side to the other and then back to the first side, back to second side etc. Usually he would go to each side 3 times before falling asleep. If I tried to stop the feed or put him down any earlier he would just scream non-stop until the next feed (we tried it once before we realised he was cluster-feeding!) – no amount of cuddling, holding, rocking, you-name-it-we-tried-it would help.

By 4 months Doof had nights sorted though. He was in his own room, sleeping in a cot, going to bed at 7 and sleeping through til 2 or 3 when he would wake for a feed and then sleep til 6. Those nights were bliss! I was still feeding to sleep but otherwise all was good.

So what did we do?

Here is a breakdown of what we did, right or wrong, in all its glory and whether it did or didn’t work…


We swaddled Doof from day 1. The one criticism I have is, maybe because of my job, we were too good at it and as a result he found it very difficult when we tried to stop swaddling him. He got so used to having his arms nicely contained that if he ever managed to free himself then his arms would go into crazy mode and wallop him in the face repeatedly until he woke up. We tried several times to transition him from swaddle to sleeping bag but didn’t actually managed it successfully until he was nearly 6 months old – the final straw that made me go swaddle-cold-turkey was when he started rolling as I did not want him to roll over onto his face in the night, whilst swaddled, and then not being able to roll back.

Doof loved being swaddled and if I had another baby I would definitely swaddle them again. I think I might swaddle them a bit less effectively though and try to transition them to a sleeping bag earlier. Between the ages of 4-6 months at least twice a night Doof would manage to Houdini out of his swaddle and we would have to get up to re-swaddle him before he would go back to sleep.

Feeding to sleep:

As mentioned in the background section this started from when he was tiny. It got to the point that if I wanted him to sleep in his cot I had to feed him beforehand and could only put him down once asleep. Cue ridiculous scenes of me carefully carrying him across the room, creeping like a bomb defusal expert with the most sensitive of parcels… At the time I didn’t mind – I was exclusively BF, it was easy, on tap and not a problem. However I knew it wasn’t a long-term solution, especially with weaning starting and me thinking about going back to work.

There is something so super peaceful about a baby falling asleep as they feed though and the completely relaxed chilled out expression on their face. Bliss.

Sleep “crutches”:

Apart from the whole feeding-to-sleep issue I think we got off quite lightly – Doof liked to have his back stroked if he was unsettled but you could often do that without taking him out of his cot/moses basket and we never got into the nightmare some parents do of having to drive round in the middle of the night or do other funny things. Unfortunately, even though, it is not a big crutch it has been very difficult to shake and now Doof will often just fuss and fuss in his bed (for any length of time) until you stroke his back, and then he is out like a light straight away.

Lack of day routine:

I think this is the area which I am most uncertain about. Doof and I have had quite a busy social life with swimming, music classes, sensory play, coffee dates etc from very early on. So it was very easy to coincide his “nap times” for when we were travelling to different places. This then turned into often having to walk Doof around in his pram to get him to go to sleep and an inability to get him to sleep in his cot (unless feeding him to sleep).

Clearly not sustainable forever and not ideal when it’s pouring with rain BUT I actually don’t think I would change what we did in the early months. I had friends who were following Gina or EASY and they were slaves to their schedules. They couldn’t do this or that because it interfered with naptime whereas Doof and I could happily slot into anywhere anytime and he would just nap on demand. I do recognise though that maybe if he had had more structure early on then maybe his night sleeping would have been better (although his night sleeping did used to be pretty good!).

And then it all changed…

We went on holiday and a combination of jet lag, being ill, having a growth spurt and a developmental leap (if you believe in the ‘wonder weeks’) meant everything changed :(

And looking back here I have suddenly realised that this new-style-waking-all-the-time has been going on for over a month now…

In the last 4 weeks I think there have been a total of 2 nights when Doof has slept from 12-6 (woohoo celebration!!!). His usual night-time “routine” (in the loosest possible sense of the word!) involves a wakening at least once every 2 hours (average about 6/night) and being very unsettled from 5am. From then he will usually only sleep if his back is continually rubbed. Try and step away when you think he is asleep at your own peril – within 5 minutes (i.e. just as you’ve eased your way back into the lovely inviting warm environment of your bed) the crying will start again. By 6.15 I have usually given up and so our day begins!


Believe it or not, there have been some positives in the last month. Mainly as a result of me being happy that he is old enough for me not to rush to him the second he cries if it is a ragey-why-aren't-you-playing-with-me-cry and also because of the information in a book I read.

  1. No more feeding to sleep – this involved a bit of crying and a lot of ssshh-patting but within about 2 days he had it cracked. He still has a long way to go before I would describe him as able to self-settle but it’s a start…
  2. No more 3am feed – I was all prepared to reduce the length of time he spent feeding etc over a few days before dropping it but the night I was planning to start was one of the ones when he slept 12-6 and so he never woke for it. That helped me realise he didn’t actually need the feed at all and was just using it as a crutch to get back to sleep and so since then I haven’t had to feed him after his dreamfeed and even though he wakes up a lot he never actually looks for food (believe me – when he wants food it is very very obvious as he is very adept at pulling my top out of the way!)
  3. All day sleeps in his cot – yay! Helped by number 5
  4. Long(ish) nap after lunch – bit of a double-edged sword. Some days he will sleep for 90 minutes straight through (never ever more) but usually he will wake up after 45 minutes and need resettling (takes anything between 2-20 minutes) before going down for another 45
  5. Have established a good wind-down routine which we use before day naps and evening bed, with lullaby CD, dim lights, story, cuddle, night-night phrase and Ewan the dreamsheep

I do wonder if the long lunchtime nap is what has ruined his night-sleeping though as there is now no time for him to “fit in” a 4pm nap so by the time bath/bedtime happens he is really pooped and getting into over-tired territory. But which is more important? A long post-lunch nap or a late afternoon nap? Everyone says a long lunch one but I am really beginning to wonder if Doof prefers having the late afternoon one instead.

Bottom line

So there we are. Our sleep debacle. Right now it is 10pm and he has already woken up 3 times since going to bed. Not so bad when we are up and awake anyway but a lot worse when it’s 4am and we’re trying to sleep.

I feel more tired than I ever imagined possible. Doing 7 night shifts in a row only left me about a tenth as tired as I feel now. But really all I care about is what is best for Doof. This is only a temporary phase for me – at some point I will get more sleep again, I will stop doing a dreamfeed, I will even restart doing nightshifts and so get uninterrupted sleep in the day when Doof is at nursery! But people scaremonger – they say your child’s development will be negatively impacted if they don’t get enough sleep, at the right time, in the right place, for the right length of time. All I want is what is best for Doof. So I am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Do I persevere with our current routine, even though I am not convinced it is working for either of us, and hope it gets better? Who knows? I certainly don’t!!

Update - almost as if Doof knew I was writing this... he upped the ante last night by waking up at least once an hour. Bring on the cocktail sticks to prop my eyelids open today!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Holidays (Pt1) - baby + driving holiday = good combination?

We went to America when Doof was 4 months old - I've been meaning to write about it for ages but somehow other things kept happening instead!

Anyway here is the first of my "holiday posts" - things we found useful, did or didn't work or that I wish I'd known before we went...

This week is about travelling in cars.



We got a few taxis - mainly from home to airport to hotel. The one thing that I found really useful to know is that lots of minicab firms in London have baby and child car seats available and so if you just tell them when you book, they'll make sure one is in your cab. HOWEVER massive caveat - always double check the seat securing a before you go anywhere. On the journey to the airport the can arrived with seat in position, the driver told us to put Doof in, so we did and off we went. It didn't even cross my mind to check that the seat was secured properly... Until halfway through our journey when I suddenly realised his seat was more wobbly than his usual car seat. on further inspection I realised the car seat was not secured at all! The cab driver had just plonked it on the backseat! Arghh. Luckily we got to the airport safely and I learnt a very valuable lesson - trust no-one!!

In America it was harder - instead we had Doof strapped onto one of us in the Ergo and then put the "lap" bit of the seatbelt on underneath his bottom, with his legs over the top. Note we only did short journeys like this - probably the longest was 15 minutes through city traffic. I won't have felt comfortable doing this for long stretches on the Interstate for example.


We hired a car and drove (in a rather long-winded loopy route) from Las Vegas to Los Angeles via Arizona. Having not been in the car much before (a result of living in London), this was probably not the best time to discover Doof is not a big fan of being in the car...

Here are my car tips:

- we bought a new baby car seat in Walmart when we arrived. It cost $79 new, which was actually cheaper than renting a used one from the car hire company. And of course there were then no worries about its previous track record - had it been dropped/involved in an accident/had its internal integrity messed with etc

- be prepared to be flexible. Once we realised Doof was not going to have nice long 3 hour naps in the car while we cruised through the countryside we completely overhauled our proposed itinerary so we only drive a maximum of 2 hours a day (in 1 hour stints during his mid morning and after lunch nap)

- if visiting a sunny country then have something in place to provide shade. Nothing annoys a baby more than the sun shining in their eyes. You don't need to buy a special window cover - we just used a muslin. By hooking a centimetre or so through the open window, and then closing it, we had an instant "blind" which was the perfect size to cover the window but which could be easily lifted out of the way or removed if needed (just visible in top left of photo above)

- have a separate drawstring bag with a few toys in that you keep in the front. Then if he got cranky or accidentally dropped a toy over the edge of the car seat I didn't have to fiddle around trying to find it but could just pass him another one

- think about clothes, especially in hotter countries. We typically dressed Doof in a vest only when in the car seat even if he needed more clothes when we got out the car. We found the car to be warmer (even with aircon) so found under-dressing him kept him much more comfortable. It also meant his feet were always exposed - provided at least 3 minutes of entertainment (and therefore quietness!) as he played with his toes

- finally read any car seat instructions really carefully. In the UK manufacturers advise you to travel with the handle in the "carrying position". In the USA this is a complete no-no and you have to have the handle behind their head (see below). To me the car seats in both countries looked identical so I have no idea why the different advice but suppose there must be a reason!

Has anyone else got any other tips or tricks for travelling long distance in the car? We're thinking about driving through France next month so any other ideas gratefully received!

Next “holiday posts” will include my tips on long-haul flying with a baby and my "top ten travel essentials" :)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Becoming a "proper" mum

Finally I feel like a good mum. A "proper" mum. The reason? Doof has eaten something I cooked from scratch... Yay!!

To be fair to both of us he hasn't had much opportunity before - once I was told that I had to introduce 30 foods in the space of 3 weeks (see why) the only feasible way (especially in my still-sleep-deprived state!) was by using ready made pouches.

Advantages of pouches:
- they are easy to transport
- you can introduce different flavours/ingredients easily and quickly (essential for our expedited weaning schedule) 
- they probably taste nicer than what I would make :(
- you don't end up with a million portions of the same sweet potato purée to store (linked to next comment)
- you don't need freezer space (we have a teeny tiny freezer. That is already full of EBM and ice-cream. Thankfully not combined!)

- you (or me at any rate) can feel not like a "proper" mum, especially when everyone else in your NCT/baby/music/swimming/whatever class is talking about how they purée this and mash that and freeze these etc etc

The pouches we have loved the most have been Ella's kitchen. All organic, range of different flavours, especially delicious fruit pouches and can keep in fridge so initially when Doof started on his weaning journey one pouch would last 3 meals over 48 hours so also pretty cost-effective.

The downsides? APPLE. Lovely as apple is it is a huge ingredient in nearly every stage 1 pouch. So even a pouch that didn't include apple in its title would be 65% apple if you checked the ingredient list. Kinda encouraging a sweet tooth? No wonder Doof spat out the very boring plain carrot purée I once made. Or maybe that was because I tried to soften the carrots in the microwave so they ended up a bit burnt... Hmmm you can see why I don't inflict my cooking on him very often!

Anyway now he is a bit bigger he is much more interested in finger foods and less interested in spoon feeding - especially in the mornings. So I thought I would make him some breakfast finger foods.

So with this big pre ambling build-up you've probably been wondering what was this amazing thing I cooked and which he loved? Prepare to be amazed... Only joking! But it's the thought that counts, not the complicatedness of the recipe :)

I made banana breakfast bars.

1 medium banana
1 cup of baby porridge (I used a mix of Aptamil cereal and Heinz blueberry porridge)
Mash up the banana and then mix in the porridge. Leave the mixture for 5 minutes to soften the cereal. The mixture should be sticky but mould-able. I then shaped them into finger-sized bars. This is what they looked like:

Then I cooked them at 160 degrees for about 15 minutes til they looked like this:

Gave him one the next morning... Instant success, straight into his mouth and he quickly devoured the whole thing! #sohappy

I stored the rest in a Tupperware and he's had them as part of his breakfast for the last 3 days. 

I'm going to try out some different variations of fruit and cereal - might try oatbix and pear/banana next. Will let you know how we get on but for now I am just so pleased he likes something I made! :) 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Love you? Love you not?

Five "different" (can also substitute "extra special" if so inclined...) ways your baby shows how much he/she loves you:

1. Cries when you put them down for a nap
I was reliably informed a few days ago that this is because they don't want to spend a second away from you, including while sleeping, as they love you so much (thanks @the_doofy)

2. Poops whenever you're holding them
You know the situation - dad has been playing with them for ages, hands baby back to you for 5 minutes while he goes to get something from the car/garden/shop and as soon as baby is in your arms there is a grunt, a wriggle and a very full nappy. This shows your baby feels comfortable enough to poop in front of you (hmmm great) but also that they think you are the best at changing their nappies. And they love you for it.

3. Constantly pulls your hair
This one is quite simple. It's nothing to do with how enticing dangling hair looks, or how similar to a mobile. It is because they love you so much they want to be as close to you as possible and as their hands/arms are too small to reach round tour neck they have to pull your hair instead.

4. Cries when you leave the room
Commonly known as separation anxiety, this one is actually quite sweet (as long as you're not trying to do settling-in days at nursery or leave them with a babysitter...). This just shows, similar to 1, how much they love being with you and how you are the most important thing to them.

5. Throws food during mealtimes
This is true altruism. Your baby thinks the food you made is so delicious thru want to share it with you, even if it means they don't get as much for themselves. A sign of selfless love :)

So what about your baby? Do they have any other unique ways of letting you know how special and loved you are?

I'm sure Doof will develop more ways of demonstrating his love as he gets older. Maybe in a nice simple way like with a hug or kiss?! ;)

(photo courtesy of Mr Doof one snowy night in January)