Monday, 22 September 2014

Toddler cooking (5)

If you've read any of my previous "Toddler cooking" posts you'll know I love cooking with Doof but it's great to discover new recipes - especially ones I can make with him. So I was very excited to see the "Kids in the kitchen" linky and (despite missing the first 4 weeks!) realise I could still join in.

This week is 'snacks' and so Doof and I made something that combines two of his favourite things - marmite and cheese. I like to do recipes with him where he can do at least 80% of it on his own (although heavily supervised!!) but ideally 100% which is why the fruit pancakes were perfect. As he's only 21 months though this does mean our recipes are quite simple :)

Marmite pinwheels

Toddler age: 21 months

Ingredients: Ready-to-roll short crust pastry, marmite, mild cheddar, water

Equipment: Cheese grater, knife (& toddler-safe one), paintbrush, baking tray, baking paper, ramekin dish, teaspoon

What you need


1. Put a spoonful of marmite in the ramekin dish and mix with a small amount of water until it becomes a thickish paste which easily drips off your spoon
2. Unroll the pastry and "paint" one side with the marmite paste, leaving about an inch clean on one edge. We found a clean paintbrush was perfect for this :)
3. Sprinkle grated cheese over the marmite layer (the even-ness of this depends on your toddler!)
4. Paint the clean inch (left in step 2) with a little water
5. Roll up the sheet, finishing with the water edge which will help to deal the roll
6. Cut into slices
7. Put each slice onto a lined baking tray and Cook at 160 degrees (fan) for about 10-15 minutes 

D demonstrating how easy it is :)

What did Doof enjoy doing?

- stirring and spreading the marmite mix
- sprinkling (and eating!) the cheese
- rolling up the filled pastry
- arranging the "wheels" on the baking tray 

What was Doof not interested in or unable to do?

- I didn't let him grate the cheese (although I suspect he probably could make a decent attempt at it) as I didn't fancy any grated fingers in our pinwheels... I think he's still too young as even though dexterity-wise he might be capable, that doesn't mean I think it's safe for him
- cut the whole roll into "wheels". He wanted to do it and did try but the blunt toddler-safe knife ended up just squashing the pastry rather than slicing it!
- putting the tray in or out of the oven

If he's willing to let his ice lolly melt then it must be good...

These were a real success and I felt they were a more healthy snack option than when we'd made chocolate nests or the marshmallow pizza

They did end up quite large though (even for an adult, so definitely for a toddler!) so next time I'd cut the pastry sheet in half so when rolled up it's only half as big. And I might also try a tomato paste with vegetables and cheese as a "main course" option.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Reasons I love the "Baby spa"

So after this blog post on childrenarewelcome was published there were lots of positive comments, but also several negative ones on Twitter from people who thought it looked "cruel" or "dangerous". Having taken both my children there (the youngest still goes) I don't think it is either and here are my top 5 reasons why I love it there :)

1. It saved my sanity

I first discovered the spa when Doof was 4 weeks old. In the first 4 weeks of his life we'd spent more time in hospital than at home (having had 3 separate admissions) and I was feeling rubbish. Breastfeeding was soooo hard (later I found out that was due to his then-undiagnosed posterior tongue tie) - more painful than labour and with every feed lasting over 30 minutes, and him wanting to feed every 2 hours. So it pretty much dominated my life, my thoughts, my whole day... He wasn't gaining weight and I was crying before each feed (in anticipation of the pain), during (because of the pain) and after (yep the pain continued for about 30 minutes afterwards!). And then I came to the Baby Spa. I can't pinpoint what exactly it was, but out of the unhurried environment, the quiet dimly-lit room where you could breastfeed before and after the swim/massage, the relaxing music playing, the other mothers you met going through the same things and the approachable knowledgeable staff, something right then and there during our first visit saved my sanity. And that is why I came back the second time. And then the third, and then kept coming back after that.

2. My babies enjoy it

Ok so Iz is a bit young to be able to tell me yet (although she doesn't cry which in my mind means it can't be bad!!) but when Doof used to go he was old enough you could tell. When we arrived in the front door and he recognised where we were he'd smile and laugh. When he was in the pool he would smile, swim over to say hi, then spin around and swim off to look at some toys.

Is this the face of a baby being subjected to intolerable cruelty?!
Sssshhh I'm enjoying my massage...
3. Anything that might help sleep is worth a try IMHO

Except cry-it-out. Or enforced feeding schedules... Parents have reported all sorts of benefits including less colic and better sleeping.With the possibility of these benefits on top of the other 4 reasons? Win win!!

This is priceless...

4. Relaxed mum = relaxed baby

There is no time pressure - if your baby is hungry and wants a feed when it's their appointment time then no problem, they will wait. If your baby gets hungry after the swim then no problem, you can sit and feed them before their massage. If your bus breaks down and then next one already has 2 buggies on so you have to wait for the 3rd one... (true story!) and so are really late for your appointment, no problem - they'll fit you in when you arrive. All this means that even though (sadly) as a grown up you don't get any of the spa treatments you still come away feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Arghhhhhh relaxed post massage

5. The staff are lovely

Finally I'm a firm believer that people make the experience and everyone at the Baby Spa is welcoming, friendly and genuinely caring, from the receptionist to all the spa "therapists". And I've never been anywhere where the owner is always there and so 'hands on'. Nothing is too much trouble for Laura to do for your baby. She genuinely cares for and about them.
Laura with Doof


For me numbers 1 and 2 are the most important. Any extra health benefits are great but my sanity and my baby's happiness is what it's all about (in my opinion anyway!) :)

Toddler cooking (4) aka the easiest pancakes ever

It's been a while since our last cooking post (possibly related to the arrival of the Doofling a few weeks ago...) but we made these today and they were perfect for making together - very easy, quick AND healthy :)


3 ingredient pancakes

Strictly these are 2-ingredient-pancakes with added fruit as the third ingredient. How simple is that?!
They take less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish (although by letting a toddler help we stretched it out over half an hour!)  and are super healthy.

Toddler age: 22 months 

Ingredients: 1 egg, 1 banana, large handful of blueberries (account for the number your toddler will munch during the mixing stage...!), oil for cooking

Equipment: mixing bowl, whisk, toddler knife and fork, frying pan, spatula

1. Mash banana up with a fork
2. Whisk egg in separate bowl and then add banana
3. Mix in blueberries (optional - or add a different fruit)
4. Heat up oil in frying pan and add a dollop (scientific huh?!) of mix
5. Cook for a few minutes on each side until light brown
6. Eat and enjoy :)

What did Doof enjoy doing?
- slicing up and then mashing the banana
- whisking the egg 
- mixing in the fruit
- supervising the cooking from his highchair ;)

What was Doof not interested in or unable to do?
- he needed some help to fully mash the banana and evenly mix in with the egg
- he's too young to help with cooking over an open flame (in my opinion)

I was amazed at how easy and delicious these were (especially when still warm). The above amounts made 6 palm-sized ones which we quickly gobbled up! I think I am going to make these regularly at weekends now – they will be a yummy addition to breakfast and in the future will be such an easy way to introduce egg to Iz when she’s weaning (something I struggled with when Doof was at the same stage as he hated scrambled egg and that was the only mushy healthy food I could think of!).

Next time we might try strawberries or raspberries as the third ingredient, or even something more exotic like pomegranate :)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What Iz loved - August 2014

Here is what Iz loved this month…

1 - Getting *out* of her first bath
2 - Sleeping
3 - Her first car ride
4 - Being born
5 - Doing a naked and not-so-naked photoshoot
6 - Meeting her big brother
7 - Post boob cuddles

You can see what her brother liked doing here :)


If you want to do your own "What baby/toddler loved" then link up with Rachel @dinkythinks - you can see her latest post here :)

What Doofy loved - August 2014

Here is what Doofy loved this month…

1 - Looking after his new sister
2 - Cooking with daddy
3 - Suddenly being very grown up now there's a baby in the house
4 - Dressing up as a dinosaur
6 - Footprint art (blog post coming soon)
7 - The park

You can see what his sister liked doing here :)


If you want to do your own "What baby/toddler loved" then link up with Rachel @dinkythinks - you can see her latest post here :)

Coloured ice play

So I thought I blogged about this a few weeks ago... but I didn't. Blame baby brain... Anyway summer is nearly over but here is a really fun activity to do outside when it's hot, or even inside (on a smaller scale!) if its raining. 

It does take a little prep work as you need to make the ice cubes in advance - so not very complicated but just a bit of forward planning. 

What we used:
- selection of ice trays
- food colouring
- paddling pool
- water 
- enthusiastic toddler

A few days before I thought we'd do this I made up a batch of coloured ice cubes - just water and food colouring so perfectly safe if Doof decided to eat them. I made a tray of each colour which produced enough ice cubes for at least 3 different sessions (or 1 mammoth one I guess!). The advantage is once they're frozen you can leave a bag on the freezer and then they're instantly ready when you want them :)

Not the neatest as I used a variety of different shaped ice trays!

On the next sunny day (which actually ended up being a week later) we filled up the paddling pool, emptied the ice cubes into a tupperware and let Doof explore...

First he started to pick the cubes out one-by-one 

 Then he got impatient and tipped the whole box upside down

 Next he enjoyed swirling and splashing the water and watching the colours come off the melting ice cubes

Then he picked all the cubes out of the water (well, the ones which hadn't already melted!) and put them back in the tupperware 

 Before emptying them all again :)

And splashing around until they all melted


All-in-all it was a really fun activity, especially when it's hot. Doof had fun exploring the different texture and temperature of the ice cubes, as well as seeing the different colours. As he gets older we'll be able to talk more about each colour and different object states (eg solid/liquid). So educational aswell as fun :)

Next time I might freeze some objects inside the cubes so they are released as the cubes melt. Freezing rice in the middle could make a nice sensory activity as once the ice melts you'll be left with a rice 'beach' and melted water for the 'sea'...

Final clock update

So here it is - the final verdict after a month of using the *magic* clock...

[you can catch up on my previous posts about it here and here]


I'm not promising miracles for everyone but it definitely has worked that for us! Doof has gone from waking up (and insisting on getting up) at 5.15 every morning to sleeping til 6.45/7!!! Amazing!

Yay for sleeping past 5am!! :)
Sadly we are still rather lacking on the sleep front but that's due to the newest addition to our family and not Doofy ;)
A rare moment of peaceful sleeping...

But thank you rabbit clock for getting our toddler into such better sleep habits! Best £45 I have ever spent... 


Ironically I wrote this post last night during a late night breastfeed. And then Doof woke up at 6.15. Hah! But that is a massive rarity these days AND he stayed in his bed until 7 when the rabbit woke up so I stand by my complete love of the clock :)