17 October 2018

How to make weaning easy and fun: The HiPP way

I can not believe it is nearly time to start weaning my little baby in a couple of months. This time, we are doing it the HiPP way, with the help of the fantastic weaning hamper we were sent. Here are some of my top tips on making weaning easy and fun, that is, feeling HiPP! It's all about feeling confident in yourself and not stressing about it, just have fun with experiencing new things with your baby.  If you want to join the fun, you can win a similar weaning hamper too, just check the end of the post.

Please note, this post is sponsored by HiPP Organic.

baby gnawing on toy

Last time I weaned was five years ago, yikes, it's been a long time. Back then we bought a lot of HiPP Organic as I loved their environmental and organic ethos. I loved there were no added preservatives or colours, it was just pure food, something I might make in my kitchen, except of course a lot quicker and more convenient as I could just pick it up in the supermarket. This time, we are going right back to feeling HiPP and confident again!

Our weaning journey is due to start soon. In preparation I have checked the latest weaning advice, and will also use some of the experience I had with my first child to make the process as easy and fun as possible. HiPP Organic has written a handy guide for these signs I will be keeping my eye out for. Some of the signs include being able to sit unaided and being able to coordinate eye-hand-mouth movement well - and once I feel confident these happen, will try some foods on her then.

hipp weaning products

How to make it fun: 
  • Start with savoury vegetables. Babies are accustomed to sweet things (their milk is super sweet!) so their taste buds are in for an early and interesting surprise. HiPP Organic has many savoury jars suitable for early tasting - I'm liking the sound of the Tasty Vegetable Risotto for example.  
  • Remember to charge your camera and capture those great first expressions after tasting their first savoury foods - it is bound to be fantastic!
  • Try to relax and feel confident about the weaning journey. Most of their diet is still going to be milk so focus on offering different taste sensations rather than quantity. If they refuse their food, again, breathe deeply and just try the next day again. Have fun exploring new things together. 
  • Where possible, let them try to hold the spoon too, at least for a bit. Dip them in purees, and let them taste it themselves. It's messy but never mind - it is a fun learning experience for them.
  • Offer babies some finger foods - small pieces of soft banana or a well-cooked broccoli works well. With my first daughter we started off with rice cakes as they are easy to hold and dissolve in mouth. 
  • Baby rice is easy on their tummies, and you can mix it with their usual milk, making it a very familiar taste for babies. 

baby gnawing on a spoon

baby and weaning products

How to make it easy:
  • There are so many different varieties and combinations of flavours available from HiPP Organic - pick up a few, and mix and match them! I found it so easy to pick up a few pouches and jars. Sometimes I would offer a single flavour and sometimes mixed. 
  • Once you start them off with simple purees, start increasing a mix of flavours. I found it quite good fun to make some simple purees myself, and then pick up from the supermarket the more complex, or the ones that I could not bother to faff with! I might make something like an avocado mash myself, and then pick up a HiPP Organic jar of a more interesting recipe, such as Tasty Vegetable Risotto or My First Sunday Dinner.  
  • In the interest of making it easier for you and your baby in the future, start them on lumpier textures as soon as they are used to purees. You don't want them to be too accustomed to silky smooth textures (like it turned out with our very picky first-born...). 
  • In a rush to go out somewhere fun? Pick up a jar to take with you, or even pick it up on the way. You can spoon out what you need, and save the rest for later. Glass jars are also recyclable.  

It's a fun journey to take with your little one, and just reminds you how quickly they grow. Soon they will be joining you at the dinner table and sharing the same meals, and you'll learn their likes and dislikes.

baby looking at weaning products

Our weaning hamper includes a variety of sweet and savoury jars of various textures, a few pouches, baby rice and cereal, setting us well up for the start of the weaning journey. Another fun thing is also that you can Feel HiPP in the bath now too - with the HiPP bath products. We loved that they were free-from allergens and ultra sensitive - just what you would want with your baby.

hipp bath products

What are your top tips for weaning your baby?
Top tips on how to make weaning simple, easy and fun, from a busy mum of two. Includes ideas for first foods.

Enter below for a chance to win a similar HiPP weaning kit (contents may vary) - UK entries and over 18 only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You might also like: Book review - Easy Indian Supermeals for Babies, Toddlers and the Family

11 October 2018

One of the best kept secrets of North London - Forty Hall Estate

One of our favourite places in North London is the Forty Hall Estate. It is a great place for simple family fun, usually free or quite inexpensive, and combines beautiful surroundings, a farm and a bit of history. What's not to like? And because I like it so much I wanted to share it with you guys too - it is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in North London.

girl with lion statues

red brick wall

picnic under a tree

table arrangement

stained glass windows

old bed

Forty Hall is a Grade 1 listed Jacobian Manor House, in Enfield. It was also the location for Elsyng Palace, a Tudor palace used by Henry VIII as a hunting lodge, although this palace was demolished long time ago and only archaeological digs remain. As we live at an easy distance away we have been to Forty Hall loads of times, and this post includes a collection of photos from a few different visits. We've been there for a sunset picnic, then we went to an Apple Festival, and a lambing event, and just to walk around the woods, and many more times.

So why do we like Forty Hall so much?

mum and pram

red brick wall

sheep on farm

girl feeding a lamb

girl laughing next to a lamb

goats at a farm

dad and toddler watching a goat

There is a working farm open in the summer (£2 for adults, kids go free), and they occasionally have special events at the farm too, like lambing in spring or apple festival in autumn. You can buy farm produce from their shop (open Fri to Sun), and we have bought organic veg, free range pork sausages and even wine, all made at the farm, right here in North London. Talk about eating locally!

The grounds are gorgeous. You can have long or short walks around the estate, and go for forest walks too. We have been to the grounds for a picnic numerous times and there is a cafe too is you don't want to lug stuff with you. It is quite common to see people picnicking during summer days, and that's what we usually do. There are ducks and geese to feed too (they prefer thawed frozen peas and lettuce).

The museum is an interesting place to wonder through. Many of the rooms have been set up as if in the old days, and you can learn about the life back then. For kids there are a couple of areas where they can dress up and play with toys, and my 5 year old loved it.

There are some special events too, which are great - Halloween, Christmas, Easter and all generally have their own special events. There are farmer's markets and handmade gifts markets. Sometimes there are different work shops for crafts and even concerts and plays. So lots of things going on!

scones and jam

mum and baby eating scones

forty hall after sunset

Must-visit North London gem for families! Forty Hall Estate is a great family oriented manor house in North London, with a farm, museum and outdoor walks. This post explains why we like it so much and what is there to do for families!

Top tips for Forty Hall:

  • Easy to get to by car (from M25 / A10). It is possible to get there by public transport too, although it requires a 10 minute bus ride (191) from Enfield Town Station.
  • Parking is free! 
  • Generally a fairly cheap day out, and can be made even cheaper by bringing a picnic. 
  • There is a cafe, a farm shop and a gift shop if you need anything. 
  • Only the bottom floor of the museum is accessible with wheelchairs / prams. 
  • Museum is free! And best suitable from school ages upwards as kids get more interested in displays. There are some toys for kids to play with too. 
  • Check the events before you go - big events may make parking a bit more difficult, but on the positive side, they add fun to the day!

Have you been to Forty Hall? Do you have any other recommendations for North London?

You might also like: Rainy day fun in London: V&A Museum of Childhood and Our sunset picnic at Forty Hall

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1 October 2018

My mum hack for free time using Smyths Toy Catalogue

Guess what has finally arrived? The new Smyths Toy Catalogue, right in time for Christmas! You can get yours (for free) through this link too.  Now, I hear you wondering, what is this mum hack then. Well. It is as simple as ordering the toy catalogue and letting your kids run wild with it. Guaranteed quiet time as they leaf through the toy catalogue, look at all the things they want (and there is so much!) and then use it for crafting. 

Please note, this post is in collaboration with Smyths Toys.

girl reading a toy catalogue

girl reading a toy catalogue

So, get the toy catalogue. Sit your kids on the sofa or at the table, and give them the toy catalogue. Off you potter to do important mum or dad stuff, and I can guarantee you at least 30 minutes of peaceful quiet time, as the kids are mesmerised by the toy offers. 

Once the noise starts again, get out paper, scissors and glue. Get your kids to cut out the toys they want and ask them to glue them on an A4. Guaranteed easy-peasy and quiet craft session, and as a bonus, you've got their Christmas wish list sorted without doing any of the thinking effort yourself.  For older kids feel free to set them a challenge, such as using the cut-outs to make a mosaic picture, or to make a colour coded mosaic art work.

toy catalogue

girl reading a toy catalogue

My five year old daughter loved this challenge, and so did I, as the house was unusually quiet during it... Several days later she is still going back to her toy catalogue and cutting and gluing her favourites on her Christmas list. So far it looks like anything of PJ Masks, The Incredibles and Lego Princess are at the top of the list, and some Barbie, Sylvanian Families and Paw Patrol things have found their way to the artwork too.

As Smyths Toys also sent us a gift card to go explore their site, I chose a bunch of Lego for Santa's Christmas sack - they had a great selection of both classic and other Lego, and some pretty good deals on Lego too!  If you want to check out their toy catalogue and get some quiet time in your house, order it through this link for free

30 September 2018

What happened in our lives in September 2018

This month I've only got one family photo. You know how it is when you hand the camera over to a stranger to take a picture. You are lucky to have any useable pictures! We were at Kensington Palace and with a whinging 5 year old there never seemed to be another opportune moment to start taking family portraits, so this will just have to do. And just to make it go a bit further I've also cropped it in two different ways ha ha. 

But anyway, without further ado, let's see how our September went. 

family photo in front of kensington palace

I have loved:

  • Watching GBBO - although I haven't done quite as many bakes as I had planned... 
  • Going to a talk about bilingual families, understanding the issues better and learning loads of new ideas I can use in our family. 
  • Being proud of my little girls - Aili got a Headteacher's Award and Aija has learned to bounce herself on her bouncer. And is loving it. 
  • Our new smart kettle. It's a game changer. Turns out green tea, if you brew it at the right temperature, doesn't need to taste bitter! It has pre-set temperatures for different varieties of tea and coffee, and of course a normal boil. Makes it easier to do milk bottles too. I love it. (It's official, I've reached the age where I get excited about good quality utility items...)
  • The last sunny summer days.
  • Reading books gain - this month have finished The Secret Barrister and This Is Going To Hurt.

Aili has loved:

  • Starting swimming school. We've been lazy about finding time to teach her to swim, so this year I decided once and for all, it's time for her to learn. So swim school. Thankfully she loves it. 
  • Getting back to ballet. Last term ended up in a high with a ballet show, and soon it's time for her first ballet exam.
  • Starting school in general - and she is going to her first after-school club too and doing gymnastics. 
  • PJ Masks and The Incredibles - this girl is obsessed!
  • Getting her hair cut to a short bob. This is apparently the Elastigirl haircut, and she brought Elastigirl with her to the hairdressers to show what it needs to look like. 

Aija has loved:

  • Milk and cuddles. 
  • Lots and lots of cuddles - our velcro baby does not like to be put down. 
  • When she does get put down, she loves her BabyBjorn bouncer and her Moomin play gym
  • Gnawing on her fists, but no teeth yet. 
  • Moving and grooving. She manages to advance about a meter or two on her own, doing a mixture of shuffling, rolling and pulling herself ahead with her arms. 

Hubby has loved:
  • Our new smart kettle. A perfect cup of coffee everytime. 
  • Going to the gym. 
  • Getting the little one out of the house and back to school - makes it so much easier to work from home.
  • Dozing off very early every night, seems like the life being a dad of two is knackering!

family photo

How was your September?

You might also like: What happened in our lives in August 2018

29 September 2018

My second-born at four months old

I can not believe how fast time is passing. Only yesterday I had a newborn, and now I've got a four month old chunky baby. Gosh. So here is how she has been over the last month.

baby with number four made out of conkers

baby grabbing its toes

Physical development
She has started moving a bit, and cover a decent distance if you leave her to it. She doesn't quite crawl yet, but she is exercising those muscles, lifting her bum up in the air and trying to get those legs underneath. She does move a fair bit though, and that she does by either rolling, or pulling herself  forwards with her arms, and sorta shimmying ahead. She can advance a meter or two if we leave her to it.

Gnawing her fists and chew toys is a regular occurrence now, and I suspect we may have teeth appearing soon. Occasionally I let her gnaw on my knuckle but so far no sharp little nubbles!

It's probably the fate of the second-born, but I have forgot to get her measure this week, so not sure how much she weighs exactly. She has been growing at the 50-75th percentile, and looks pretty much similar so I am guessing she might be something like 6.5 to 7kg. And also, the fate of the second-born, I still haven't updated her baby book, bad mummy me, but at least I can retrospectively fill it using these blog entries I suppose!

baby in a circle of conkers

baby smiling

baby smiling

baby with number four made out of conkers

Special happenings
She has had all of her vaccinations now, including the 16 week mega-vaccinations, which affected her a fair bit. As nowadays the vaccinations have the Men B included, babies can get quite poorly. Our normally well-sleeping baby was running a mild fever (despite giving her Calpol) and was up and crying all night long. It was a long two nights, but thankfully lots of cuddles and a bit of time helped, and she was back to normal fairly quick.

Personality and loves
As for personality, she has a gorgeous smile but is also a real velcro baby. Often you cannot put her down, or it is a crybaby time instantly. So in many cases days end up with me cuddling her on the sofa, trying to do something useful but mostly failing miserably.

When we do manage to get her to sit on her own in her bouncer, we often spot her just observing us, sitting in her seat, staring. How interesting it would be to know what she thinks! She also loves watching her big sister and follows her around with her gaze, although complains about the rather rough cuddles she often receives...

So that's that, she is not quite crawling yet but for sure soon will, she loves observing her family members, and is very cuddle-hungry. And knock wood, she is quite a good sleeper!

baby grabbing toes

baby at four  months old

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