Finger Puppet Books 0-2 {Little Bookworm 7}

Before I went on Maternity Leave – oh how long ago that seems… – my team very kindly turned our final team meeting into a mini baby shower. There were Humming Bird Bakery cupcakes, tea and lots of presents.

My line manager got Bump (as Little Miss was once known) three little books. They were based on nursery rhymes and each had a little puppet poking out of the front.

Unbeknown to me at the time, these little books would become a firm favourite, read over and over and over and over until eventually, poor Old MacDonald is falling apart and for the monkey who fell off the bed, banging his head is the least of his problems!

Puppet books have always been a winner with Little Miss so I thought I’d share her favourites to date.

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Parragon Little Learners Collection

These little hardback books are perfect for little hands and great for dropping in your bag when you’re on the go. When Little Miss was especially wee, they were the perfect length for her short attention span, using well known nursery rhymes she was sure to recognise. Now she’s older, she enjoys the fact they’re small enough for her to control the puppet ( / shove the poor puppet in and out of its hole!) and gets great delight from making the monkey bang his head as he falls out of bed!

Parragon books sent us Hippity Hoppity Little Bunny just before Easter and it’s quickly become one of Little Miss’ favourites. This one isn’t based on a nursery rhyme, but it’s brightly coloured pages and the fact it’s about a bunny meant it was an instant hit with Little Miss. I’m pretty sure I’ve read it at least 109 times over the last month… I might be putting this one into hiding until next Easter…

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Good Night Snuggle Bunny, Emma Goldhawk

Surprise, surprise, another bunny book.

We’ve had Snuggle Bunny since she was only a few months old. It’s been lovely to see Little Miss grow with this one, from simply being fascinated by the big moving bunny in a book to properly interacting with him and helping him with his bedtime routine – brushing his ears, bedtime kiss, etc.

 

SONY DSCThe Very Hungry Caterpillar Finger Puppet Book, Eric Carle

Little Miss has loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar from the off. (We have both the finger puppet version and the original and the activity apple thingy.) The finger puppet book isn’t the full story – which is a shame in a way – but instead features a simplified version encouraging counting to five, which now Little Miss is older, she’s enjoying more.

 

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Hello Dudley!, Sam Lloyd

Ok, I have a confession with this one. I don’t actually like it. But Little Miss thinks it’s utterly hilarious, so it seemed wrong of me not to include it just because I’m biassed…

Dudley was a hand-me-down book from Little Miss’ cousins, Munchkin and Buttons. She wasn’t too sure about it at first (around five months old) but now she’s two, she loves it. Dudley burps, roars and eats worms on toast – he’s every toddler’s dream. Focussed on daily routine (albeit, slightly different to the average being a very bad mannered monster), Hello Dudley! is on it’s way to becoming a bedtime staple as Little Miss giggles her way through the story telling Dudley off when he does something rude. I might leave this one for the Other Half to enjoy with her…

Check out more Finding Our Feet Little Bookworm posts.

Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see what we’re reading each week and join in using the #LittleBookworm hashtag.

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FINDINGOURFEET.CO.UK IS A MEMBER OF THE PARRAGON BOOKS #BOOKBUDDIES CLUB. PARRAGON SEND US A NEW BOOK EVERY MONTH FOR LITTLE MISS TO ENJOY AND REVIEW. AS ALWAYS, THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS REVIEW ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN.

IN THIS POST, THE ONLY BOOK THEY PROVIDED WAS HIPPITY, HOPPITY LITTLE BUNNY. THE INCLUSION OF OTHER PARRAGON BOOKS WAS OF MY OWN CHOOSING.

VISIT PARRAGON.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION OR FOLLOW THEM ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER OR INSTAGRAM.

The weekend we pretended we didn’t have kids…

This weekend was one of those weekends you feel you need a weekend to recover from.

Actually, to be honest, the past six weeks has felt like that with croup, chickenpox, flu, flu, cold, flu…

My grandma – who lives in Sunderland – got called in for a hospital appointment on Friday morning following some recent concerns with a lump. My dad was in Oman on business and then Rome declaring their marriage (or something equally official) ahead of their wedding there in June and simply couldn’t reorganise and get a flight back in time. So I took Friday off work and hotfooted it up to the Cold Dark North (which was actually really pleasant and sunny – almost warm, shock horror!) on Thursday after work.

It was a flying visit, returning late Friday night, as my mum was moving house on the Saturday. After moving so many times growing up, we’re somewhat of a house-moving-dream-team, so obviously I’d said I’d help.

Meanwhile, the Other Half had tickets to the Saatchi Gallery’s Rolling Stones exhibition on the Saturday which he’d bought last August for his dad’s birthday and a friend’s surprise welcome back party that evening after a nine month stint in Tokyo.

I feel like I’ve barely seen Little Miss this week; week day evenings are always short and often fraught with a very tired post-nursery Little Miss. But after what has now been a long six weeks with us all ill, just passing colds and flus between us, (welcome to the house of fun…) we had to accept that this weekend, we just couldn’t do it all.

(Actually, as I type this on my morning commute, the OH is at home with, yet again, a poorly Little Miss. When will it end?!)

So, in an attempt to simplify matters, we shipped Little Miss off my in-laws on Saturday morning for a sleepover. As ever, she was super excited to see Auntie Chatterbox (nine) and her favourite Uncle (eleven) and had a whale of a time. GranPam was sending us videos of her having a cello lesson (!), dance fit sessions on the Wii and some very serious, highly intense conversations with the dogs…

Arts and crafts with Auntie Chatterbox.

On Sunday morning, I woke about 9:30am. Once upon a time, this was classed as hideously early – those were the days! – but now, this was heavenly; quiet stillness greeting me, slowly coming-to in my own time and the promise of absolutely nothing needing my energy or even attention as I stumbled out of bed.

I popped downstairs and got tea, orange juice and an iPad. The OH was stirring when I returned and we sat in bed watching Netflix for the next couple of hours.

So this is what twenty-somethings without kids do on Sunday mornings…. This is nice…

I don’t remember the last time we did this. I guess it was when I was pregnant but that seems like a lifetime ago now.

But let’s assume it was when I was pregnant; that’s two and a half years since we had a lazy Sunday morning.

Two and a half years, people.

Every parent knows this hardship. It’s the sucky part of the job (especially when your toddler has some weird aversion to your bed and won’t just come for a sleepy cuddle in the mornings).

But if, like us, you’re the first of your friends to have kids, this can be particularly grating at times.

At 26 or 27 years old, few of our friends have seen 8am on a Sunday in the past fifteen years, let alone 6am. We make plans to meet for brunch at 11am, by which time we’ve been up five hours, had breakfast and a morning snack to put us all on.

I’ve written before how lucky we are to have incredibly supportive friends – they’re brilliant – but at the end of the day, none of them can really relate to what our lives are like.

Our ‘parent friends’ get it, obviously, but almost all of them are thirty-somethings, who planned their pregnancy, have friends (from before parenthood) with kids. They’re all at ‘that stage’.

As we lay in bed yesterday morning, I’m ashamed to admit I did think, just for a moment, ‘This is what life could have been like…” It was a world away from our usual Sunday. And in truth, it was really nice.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our daughter and can’t imagine life without her. Three years ago, life diverted us down an unexpected fork in the road and, now we’re here, we wouldn’t change it for the world.

But we’re only human. And you know what? Being a parent is exhausting.

And it can be hard being constantly reminded of the grass on the other side.

As it happens, I don’t necessarily think it’s greener. I posted this on Instagram the other day, but it’s fitting for this post too:

I remember when I was reeling from finding out I was pregnant, a family friend who had been through the same six years before said, “it’s tough, but they do make you laugh.”

And she was completely right. Over the past two years, Little Miss has taught me so much about love and joy and the power of laughter (as opposed to curling into the foetus position and rocking slowly in a corner…!). And the sound of your child uncontrollably laughing really is the most delicious sound on the planet.

But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really nice, just for one morning, to be ‘normal’ twenty-somethings and laze in bed without a care in the world.

And I think that’s ok. Because we’re all just doing the best we can. And sometimes, even parents just need a nap.

Amie is the newly appointed Under 30 Mums and Dads BritMums Round-Up Editor. Tweet Amie (@findingourfeet) your posts and experiences of life as #ParentsUnder30 on Twitter to be featured in the BritMums Round-Up on the second Saturday of each month. 

The Naptime Casualty {The Wonderful Ordinary 20}

This week’s Wonderful Ordinary is not Wonderful. In fact, it’s mildly devastating. Perhaps that’s a bit strong… Rather upsetting might be more fitting. But The Wonderful Ordinary is where I document our day-to-day we may forget otherwise… So The Wonderful Ordinary it is.

The other week I smugly posted about how Little Miss has started amusing herself in the morning by pulling books off her bookshelf and reading for thirty minutes or so before calling for us. It’s been heavenly.

Well, I spoke to soon. The book-moon is over.

On Sunday, we put Little Miss in the cot for a nap just as we’ve always done. She’s becoming increasingly resistant to naps, but still needs one to see her through the last few hours of the day, even if she only manages an hour. So we persist.

We could hear her chattering away to Lambie for a good 40 minutes before it finally went quiet. We were building yet more IKEA flat pack furniture (kill me – I think this might finally be the last of it after moving in January!). In truth, it was easier to carry on and get the job done with Little Miss out of the way, so while she seemed content with Lambie’s company in the cot, we left her to it, asleep or not.

Once it eventually went quiet, I popped my head in (because who doesn’t like the sight of an adorable sleeping babe?) and found this:


Pulling the books off the shelves isn’t an issue. Rather she pulled them off the shelves and enjoyed them than ignored them, right?

But look closer. There’s a casualty in that there anarchy.

A book that was my mum’s, and then mine, and now Little Miss’ had been torn apart page by page. This book, despite it’s weird 1960s Russian Fairytale plot about a bread roll (?!) has huge sentimental value for me.

It looked almost methodical. Each page torn from the other, some even torn in half. I was shocked and really upset that one of my favourite childhood books had met such a sorry end. And not only that, but that Little Miss had shown such disregard for books.

 It struck me as a protest against nap time. Little Miss knows to treat books nicely. She’s usually so measured, so careful; on the odd occasion she’s ripped a page it’s by accident and she gasps, trying to stick it back together. So this open act of defiance and disregard for the book really took me by surprise.

When she woke up, I tried to talk to her about what she’s done but she was groggy and not hugely responsive. I’m not 100% sure what I was saying sunk in, even when I showed her me sticking it back together.

I have managed to piece The Little Round Bun back together and he’s smiling once again. But alas, The Little Round Bun, along with a few other hand-me-down books from my mum and my’s childhoods have been quietly relocated to the study bookshelf until a later (safer) date when Little Miss is old enough to 100% understand that we treat books with care and above all else that the The Little Round Bun is special (even if really odd).

See more The Wonderful Ordinary posts.

Top Pregnancy and New Parent Apps you need to know about

I got my first mobile phone at age 9. Back in the day (1998, of you were wondering), that was relatively young. But my dad worked in telecomms and so to him, it was a no brainer for me to have a phone.

I too went on to work in telecomms after University and also ended up with a total Apple Fan Boy for an Other Half, meaning that even now I’ve left the industry, I still have to sit and watch the Apple Key Note speeches every few months…

As is the same for everyone, pregnancy and new parenthood was an assault to all my senses. While I loved my daughter, and actually surprised myself (and I think quite a few others) how naturally I took to motherhood, the sheer lack of understanding what the hell was going on  or what was coming next most of the time was a little distressing.

Being basically surgically attached to my iPhone, my first instinct (after I had peed on two sticks and slightly recovered from the somewhat shocking news) was to start searching the App Store.

“There’s got to be an app for that…”

Turns out there was. Quite a few in fact. So here’s my list of apps you need to know about to see you through your pregnancy and first year as a new parent. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 16.30.56My Pregnancy Today

iOS: FREE             Android: FREE
Brought to you by BabyCentre, this app is every mum-to-be’s bible right at her fingertips. Walking you through pregnancy, one day at a time, complete with weekly updates on your bump’s development, “award-winning videos” about your baby’s progress, pregnancy power food recipes, weekly giggles to keep you going and more.

What makes this app my number one for pregnancy is you can access the BabyCentre message boards and your Birth Club (a message board specially for women due in the same month) directly from the app. So at 3am, when you’re lying there wondering if that sip of wine at dinner is the end as you know it, or if it’s normal for your feet to swell this much, there’s a whole gang going through exactly what you’re going through ready and waiting to offer support.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 16.25.08Contraction Timer Deluxe

iOS: £0.79
Exactly what it says on the tin; we used this throughout our 18 hours at home before heading to hospital as my contractions fluctuated from 20 minutes to two minutes apart. It produced a bar chart – red for contractions, green for gaps between the screams surges – so you can monitor the trends and changes in your contractions over time. (Every business woman in labour’s dream!)

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 19.47.18The Wonder Weeks

iOS: £1.49             Android: £1.25
I cannot recommend this app enough. I’ve written a review previously on the blog (here), it was my complete parenting Bible for the first 14 months of Little Miss’ life. Based on thirty years of research and a book by the same name, it’s a calendar explaining your baby’s mental development leaps, what skills and emotions they’re mastering each time and how this may affect their mood. Every parent I know says their baby followed The Wonder Weeks leaps to the letter. In short, if you take away nothing else from this blog post: Get. This. App.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 19.52.54Baby Monitor 3G

iOS and Apple TV: £2.99             Android: £2.99              Mac Store: £4.49
A video and audio baby monitor that works across 3G, 4G or wifi between two devices (both need to have the app downloaded, but they don’t need to be on the same operating system). This app has never let us down and at the fraction of the cost of a ‘proper’ baby monitor, we couldn’t be happier with it. (Read my full review.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 20.01.001 Second Everyday

iOS: FREE             Android: FREE
We’ve been using this app for about six months and have completely fallen in love with it. It’s a fantastic way to document your baby’s first year (and beyond).

Simply take videos as you usually would of your pride and joy doing something insanely cute/funny/unbelievable/gross/[insert adjective here] using your iPhone (or Android phone if you’re that way inclined). Upload your video to the app, which allows you to choose just one second from said video (which is actually longer that it sounds). The app then mashes them together in chronological order to create a single ‘movie’. The app is really easy to use but be warned, as your videos get longer they do take up memory space on your device.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 19.55.53Station Master

iOS: £2.99
One for London parents, this app tells you accessibility at each station – every platform, every ticket hall, whether there’s elevators or escalators or how many stairs you’ll need to climb and what facilities are available at each station, right down to how many ticket gates and what types of ticket machines they have. This app was particularly helpful in the early days when I was still getting to grips with the buggy on public transport. And despite the fact it appears to be unaffiliated with TFL, the information included has never been wrong.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 20.10.30Spot Goes to the Farm

iOS: £1.99
We were quite strict about iPad and iPhone usage in the early days. We figured Little Miss had her whole life to play on a device, so her first few years could be as screen free as possible. But sometimes when you just need a quick fix that will keep them distracted and quiet. For example, on a plane. Or when you have flu.

Enter Spot. Penguin have done a really lovely job with this app, rejuvenating a childhood classic for a modern audience. Rather than ‘lift the flap’ you tap the screen to find and reveal baby animals behind bushes, under straw or in a wheelbarrow. There’s the option to read the story yourself or the app can also read the story to them. And there’s three puzzles (drag the pieces into place) of varying difficulty. Little Miss loves this app and so far, doesn’t seem to have tired of it. A really top quality app, worth every penny.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 19.59.00Baby and Child First Aid App, British Red Cross

iOS: FREE             Android: FREE
Thankfully, I’ve never actually had to use this app. But I’ve had it installed on my phone since early on in Little Miss’ life. The home screen is a shopping list of potential illnesses from asthma attacks and fever to meningitis and poisoning/harmful substances. Click on any one of these and you’re presented with a tick list of symptoms and next steps for babies and children.

There’s also a ‘Prepare’ section giving you preventative advice, e.g., learning about choking when weaning your baby or a checklist of what to pack for Saturday’s rugby match (drinking water, instant ice pack, painkillers, sun block…).

There’s also an ‘Emergency’ button taking you to a list of emergency situations with advice of what to do in case of an emergency such as burns, broken bones or epileptic seizures, with a ‘Dial 999,’ button which dials straight through to 999 from the app.

I’m really impressed with this app. The developers and British Red Cross seem to have really though through what a parent would not only need to know, but how best to present the information clearly, concisely and in a digestible fashion given they may be reading it at a time of heightened stress. Hopefully you’ll never have to you it, but as it’s free, what’s the harm in downloading it?

photo of toddler sleeping in parents' bed

“No bed!” {The Wonderful Ordinary 19}

I think we have the only child in the world who doesn’t like sleeping in their parents’ bed.

I co-slept with her a handful of times in the very early days – you know those nights when you’re literally delirious with lack of sleep and it’s more dangerous for you to sit or stand holding your tiny bundle of joy for fear of collapsing than to bring them into your bed…

To be honest, it wasn’t something we made a habit of as the Other Half in particular was quite nervous about it.

After the OH’s two weeks’ paternity leave and he returned to work, he would get up and change Little Miss’ (then Baby Girl) diaper when she stirred around 6am then bring her in to me for her morning feed. Often even before he’d left the house Little Miss I would fall back asleep together snuggled up in bed, sometimes for a good four or five glorious hours.

Those are some of my fondest memories of the early days haze – waking up next to her sometime between 9 and 11am, and having a little cuddle and a play in the morning sunshine.

Fast forward two years and things aren’t quite so serene and angelic…

Since I’ve returned to work in February, we have invited Little Miss into our bed on more than one occasion. Whether that’s at 5:30am when she wakes just that bit too early for us to function or in the dead of night when she’s uncomfortable with chickenpox, croup, a fever and a cold – you name it, she seems to have had it since I returned to work!

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The rare occurrence of Little Miss and Lambie actually happily asleep in our bed (and taking up all the space…) 

Once or twice, when I’ve scooped her up, floppy, tired, and teary in the middle of the night, she’s mumbled, “Mummy’s bed…” in hope of some extra comfort. But 90% of the time, she has absolutely zero interest in coming for a cuddle in our bed.

Perhaps it’s because she didn’t get used to sleeping with us from a very young age, or maybe it’s because she likes her space (she never liked being swaddled, she fathomed how to get out of her grobag from around ten months old and she hates having a blanket or duvet on her in the night – we have to creep in and put one on her before we go to bed). But whatever the reason, most of the time, Little Miss would appear to rather eat her own arm than climb into bed with us.

Case and point: on Tuesday evening this week, we had pretty much the night from hell.

I had flu and the OH was recovering from said flu. Little Miss woke at 12:30am, sobbing and screaming the place down. No matter what we tried, she continued to do so until basically dawn. I asked her on three different occasions if she wanted to come to our bed. “NO BEEEED!” came the oh so eloquent reply…

Around 4:30, I eventually managed to calm her enough to get her to lie next to me in her tipi. (This was mainly because I simply couldn’t stand or sit up holding her any longer in my feverish state and she wouldn’t let her dad in the room.) We fell asleep there, side by side, snuggled up just like the old days.

Accept we were in a tipi. A tipi. I slept in a tipi. Because my daughter would rather sleep on the floor than in my bed.

So the next time your kids crawl into bed with you, spare a thought for the alternative. I speak from experience when I say, you’re getting off lightly…

That space between Little Miss, Doggie and Piggy was mine for three hours in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The things we do to get our children to sleep…

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonderful Ordinary posts. 

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender.

Lactose Intolerance in infants

Following a bout of gastroenteritis at age 19 while travelling in China, I became lactose intolerant. In hindsight, it’s likely I was lactose intolerant as a baby, making me more susceptible to it later in life. Lucky for me, pregnancy kick started my system again & now cheese in back in my life. Thank god.

Alas, at five months old with the introduction of formula, we discovered Little Miss was not so lucky. Just like Auntie Chatterbox (now nine years old) who was lactose and soy intolerant from birth, there would be no fromage frais for Little Miss.

This post is to help increase awareness of lactose intolerance in infants and to share the knowledge I have amassed on the subject through my own experience and Little Miss’.

NB: the information provided on this post is for lactose intolerance, not allergies. Lactose and/or soy intolerance is not the same as a cow’s milk allergy. If you suspect your infant has an intolerance or allergy you should speak to your GP as soon as possible. (Find out more about cow’s milk allergy on the NHS website or using their Food Fact Sheet.)

Signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance in infants:

One or all of these symptoms may be present in your infant. It can be hard if this is your first baby knowing what’s normal and what’s not but remember, you know your baby best. If something seems off, it probably is.

  • wind, like, lots and lots of wind
  • sickness and/or vomiting
  • diarrhoea and/or exploding diapers
  • skin conditions, such as eczema (though many think these are more closely linked to cow’s milk allergy than lactose intolerance)

Diagnosing lactose intolerance in infants:

  1. Elimination diet – cut all lactose out of your baby’s diet. It takes five days for the existing lactose to work it’s way through your baby’s digestive system, so don’t expect immediate results. After about two weeks, try your baby with a little bit of lactose again, see if the symptoms return.
  2. Blood tests – not usually recommended for babies as you’re supposed to fast the night before and includes multiple blood tests over a few hours. You drink a milky drink between tests & they check for changes or spikes in your results. This is uneven satiny stressful for an infant and rarely shows results an elemination diet wouldn’t.

My baby is lactose intolerant, can I still breastfeed?

In short, yes.

But you’ll need to cut lactose out of your own diet to ensure none passes through your breastmilk.

Being lactose free is a lot easier these days as brands and supermarkets have cottoned on that this is a growing market. Just find the free from aisle in your local supermarket, the own brand stuff is usually pretty good.

But keep in mind, many of the ‘dairy free’ options are made with soy products, which many lactose intolerant infants are also intolerant to. So always read the label (you get quicker at this… But it’s pretty slow going at the start. I’d plan in some extra time for your weekly shop!).

For lactose free cow’s milk products, we recommend Arla’s ever increasing Lactofree range. They simply add the lactase enzyme to the dairy products so you don’t have to. And just like that, cream cheese is back on your bagel.

I love my baby, but I can’t give up chocolate cake & cheese, can I bottle feed?

Absolutely.

In the UK, Aptamil and SMA both offer lactose free formulas. SMA and Cow & Gate both offer a soy based formula.

Hipp Organic offers a lactose free formula but it’s not currently available in UK stores. You can buy it on Amazon, however, and pay for shipping from other European countries such as Germany.

APT543_ProdSmry_Special_LactoseFree201407040957

We have tried SMA Wysoy and Apatmil Lactose Free. Personally, I would recommend the latter as although better on the soy, Little Miss still wasn’t 100%. Unfortunately, Boots and certain pharmacies are currently the only people to stock it in the UK.

If you’re new to formula, it’s worth noting that in the UK, all infant milks (before 12 months) are part of a Government price freeze. There are never price promotions on formula and you can’t earn club card points of formula. All infant formulas are priced at approximately £5 per 450g or approximately £10 per 1kg carton.

There is also a range of ‘Comfort milks’ from the above brands, which supposedly help reduce colic, wind, etc. I haven’t tried these, but worth keeping in mind that your baby may not have an intolerance & these milks could help reduce some of the apparent symptoms.

Aptamil also offer a formula for those with cow’s milk allergy, as well as a range of other ‘special’ milks to help with a variety of issues.

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Weaning and Lactose Intolerance 

The NHS official line is that weaning should start from six months old.

After reading all the advice, we chose to start Little Miss at five months, starting withpurees, introducing some soft finger foods from six months.

I homemade almost all Littlw Miss’ in the early days, which was luckily my preference as the majority of store bought baby food (jars, pouches & biscuits) often contains milk or soya. Always check the label.

Stage 1: up to 7 months
On the whole, it’s not too hard to avoid dairy and lactose in stage 1. It’s mainly fruit and vegetables anyway until you’re nearing seven months, when you may start to introduce some meaty flavours.

Stage 2: up to 9 months
Moving on from experimenting with flavour, now you’re introducing texture. Food has small, soft little lumps to encourage chewing and finger foods also come into play.

Stage 3: up to 12 months
Texture, texture, texture! Your baby should have some teeth & have got the hang of chewing, meaning he can manage more lumps and bits and start to explore meals that more resembles what you and I would recognise as actual food.

The main issue for lactose intolerant babies is getting fat and calcium into their diets. This is where alternatives can come in handy. For instance:Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 14.29.35

Butter: Pure Sunflower Oil SpreadLactofree Spreadable or simply use olive oil.

Milk: your baby should only drink breastmilk or infant formula until they’re 12 months old. However, you can begin to use whole milk in cooking during the weaning stages. We used Lactofree’s Fresh Whole Milk but you could also try Almond Milk (now with unsweetened varieties).

Cheese: Lactofree has three varieties of cheese in their range; semi-hard cheese, mature cheddar cheese and soft white cheese (cream cheese). But be aware that cream cheese doesn’t offer as much fat as other types of cheeses. Sheep’s cheese (such as Pecorino) is another great alternative. 18538

Yoghurt: if your baby is fine with soy, there are plenty of soy yoghurt alternatives on the market. The supermarket own brand ones are perfectly tasty (take it from someone who had to use them for many years herself). However, if soy is a no go area, try Lactofree’s strawberry & raspberry yogurt pots, CoYo (coconut yoghurt alternative) or Chia Pod Pots. Not that cheap in comparison, but scrummy.

Keep in mind that almonds and chickpeas are fantastic sources of calcium, which is handy as hummus is a great weaning food (if your baby will accept slightly stronger flavours).

NB: the information in this post was correct as of April 2016. 

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FINDING OUR FEET IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY OF THE BRANDS MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG POST. THE THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN.
photo of please mr panda steve antony children's book

Please Mr Panda {Little Bookworm 6}

We have absolutely fallen in love with Steve Antony‘s Please Mr. Panda.

The week before Little Miss’ second birthday, my mum and I walked passed Waterstones and saw it in the window. The cute cover caught our eye immediately and my mum was so taken with it she decided Little Miss simply had to have it for her birthday. (At this point, we had no idea what the story was or even what age it was aimed at. She can be a tad impulsive…)

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Since then, we have learned that Mr. Panda is really rather grumpy. And he doesn’t like donuts. But he also doesn’t seem to want to give anyone else any donuts either. All that is accept a particular little lemur…

The illustrations are simple but so lovely. The first time I read Please Mr Panda, I’ll be honest, I was wondering where this story was going as Mr. Panda offers everyone a donut, then denies them said donut… But all becomes clear and It turns out it’s actually a really original way to encourage little ones to use their manners.

Steve Antony has also chosen an unusual array of animals to don the pages of his donut tale, meaning Little Miss has now learned the slightly less standard words for a toddler’s vocabulary, ‘ostrich,’ ‘lemur,’ and ‘skunk’. 

Being lactose intolerant, before reading this story, she had never tried a donut. But in a strange twist of fate, we ended up having jammy donuts on her birthday instead of a cake and ever since and she is most definitely a fan. 

She now randomly appears at your side with a big toothy grin like a certain little lemur and in a deliberately funny voice says, “Hello. I will have a doh-nut.” (Because apparently she can’t just say ‘donut’…?)

To which I politely reply that Mr. Panda would not approve of her manners. And she replies, “Pleeeeeeeeeease doh-nut.”

Which I’m not sure if she’s calling me a donut here, or if at only just two she’s simply not quite mastered syntax fully…

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Please Mr Panda is available from LocalBookShops.co.uk for £6.99 (paperback) or Amazon for £5.99. (But why not support a local book shop instead?)

You can find a whole host of extra Mr. Panda activities on Steve Antony’s website from donut colouring in sheets to designing a donut factory.

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FINDING OUR FEET IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH OR SPONSORED BY STEVE ANTONY OR HIS PUBLISHERS. WE JUST REALLY LIKE THE BOOK. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS POST ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN. 170x30bwi

Little Miss Bookworm {The Wonderful Ordinary 18}

Recently, Little Miss has started a new little morning ritual. It started one Saturday morning about two weeks ago…

Little Miss has realised she can reach her bookshelf from her cot. And so in the morning, we can hear her singing to herself, chatting to Lamby and reading him stories; “Snail Whale. Whale. Whale. Tail Snail. Whale…”.

While her chatter still wakes me up at 6:30am, at the weekend, we lay in bed dosing for 55 whole minutes before she started calling, “Maaaaamiiii, Daaaaddyyyy, up!”.

It was bliss.

I have no idea if this lovely new habit will continue but I’m definitely enjoying it while it lasts.

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See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram feed, @findingourfeet.

See more Finding Our Feet The Wonderful Ordinary posts. 

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender.

Chickenpox {Mama Badge 5}

It was only a few weeks ago I was thinking, ‘I haven’t awarded myself a Mama Badge in ages. Thankfully, there hasn’t been anything so momentous, or awful or challenging that I felt it warranted it.’

Oh Amie. When will you learn? Thoughts like this only tempts the Gods of Parenting…

Day 1: prepare the battle stations

“Hello, is that Little Miss’ Mummy? This is The Nursery. I’m afraid Little Miss has the initial signs of chickenpox, you’ll need to come pick her up.”

It all made sense; we’d had a rough weekend, she hadn’t wanted to eat (very unusual for our little gannet!) and had been up at 4:30am on Sunday (ga!). I’d thought she was teething, but suddenly the it all fell into place.

I prepared for battle.

  • Calpol? Check.
  • Baked beans, eggs and some other Little Miss’ favourites? Check.
  • Plenty of tea and coffee? Check.
  • Chocolate biscuits? Check.

*NB: these are for me. Not Little Miss. Nurse Mama needs her fuel.

Just needed Calamine lotion from the pharmacy and we were good to go. (In actual fact, our pharmacy recommended a chickenpox cooling gel instead as it doesn’t dry them out as quickly, making them less itchy – apparently.)

FYI; according to NHS Choices chickenpox usually appear in clusters on the tummy and chest, face, scalp, behind the ears, arms and legs. Basically, they are everywhere. Little Miss went on to have them in her mouth, her ears, on the palms of her hands and all over her vagina as well. Let the good times roll!

They first appear as a group of three or five, often on the tummy, almost like small red pimples, then will start to spread. These pimples become fluid filled blisters that eventually dry out and form scabs. (Read more about the chickenpox virus, symptoms and treatment on the NHS website.

When I picked her up, Little Miss had about five spots on her torso and was tearing round the nursery as usual, excited to show me the Easter basket she had made. Frankly, she didn’t seem ill at all.

Day 2: false hope

Little Miss woke in high spirits with only a couple more spots here and there. I smugly optimistically stupidly thought perhaps we’d have it easy, ‘a light dose,’ and I’d be able to get some work done during nap time.

But nap time never came…

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The calm before the chickenpox storm: chilling in the garden with tea and crumpets, before the fever hit and the itching began.

We had a lovely morning. The sun was shining, Little Miss had me bird watching at the bottom of the garden and we made bird feeders to hang in the trees. We had tea and crumpets on the patio and eventually, thinking I’d have worn her out, brought her in for a nap so I could log into my work emails.

But when I changed her diaper I was shocked to find a lot more spots had appeared during the morning, particularly in the diaper region. And without the distraction of the garden, she seemed to realise she actually didn’t feel too well at all.

Her fever kick in, the itching began and every hour, I swear more spots appeared before my very eyes.

By bedtime, she was beside herself. She hadn’t eaten since our crumpets in the garden (how long ago that felt) and she just wanted to be held.

Bath time was the happiest I saw her. The pharmacist recommended adding 5 teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate to her usual bath water (no soap or bubbles) to ease the itching twice a day. It definitely did the trick, though the effects were sadly short lived once she was out of the bath.

We ordered a take-away but before it had arrived she was awake again. We brought her down to sit with us to try and distract her from the itching and calm her down.

I’d had about three mouthfuls of dinner when she started throwing up. Around 10pm, she finally just collapsed on me, exhausted.

Day 3: hell 

Around midnight, she was up again.

I think we must have the only child in the world who doesn’t like sleeping in their parents’ bed. At times like this, when you’re dead on your feet and your arms can’t take much more holding (she’s getting really heavy now she’s two!) I feel very envious of those parents who’s kids want nothing more than to snuggle under the duvet with Mama or Daddy and dose at their side…

We tried one of us sleeping in her room, but she didn’t want that either. She wanted to be held but the warmth set the itching off. Basically, nothing was right.

She threw herself round the cot, desperate to ease the discomfort and eventually was sick again – though there wasn’t really anything left in her system.

We were shattered. The only other time I’ve seen her in such a state was a year ago when she had a particularly bad reaction to the MMR vaccine.

Around 4am, exhausted, we rang NHS Direct and asked for advice.

Vomiting and drastic behavioural changes are a sign of complications, such as meningitis. (You can read more about chickenpox complications on the NHS website.) While we were on the phone, in one of her more violent ‘fits’ to rage and discomfort, she hit her head quite hard and went limp in the OH’s arms. It was only for a moment, but it was long enough.

We yanked on some jeans and a hoodie and headed for A&E.

Of course, by the time we got there, she was fine. She charmed the receptionist, was good as gold for the nurses and gave the doctors her most dazzling smiles, even making them laugh. We were kept in for observation for five hours but eventually they agreed, there was nothing wrong with Little Miss apart from chickenpox.

Little Miss fell asleep on the way home. I too fell into bed utterly spent. The OH, on the other hand, who had a major project launching that week (nice timing Little Miss) went downstairs, made some coffee and jumped on a conference call. How he survived that day without a nap I still don’t know.

We’ve been told since that day three is the worst.

We can confirm, day three is by far the worst.

When Little Miss woke up, we mainly watched movies. My mum brought her some stickers and a note pad, which she was quite taken with. But she only had the energy to play with them for a short time before she was lying on one of us again.

 

You know a toddler’s really ill when they can’t even manage jelly… 

 

The OH made her some jelly (recommended by the doctor as a way to keep her hydrated) in hope of tempting her to eat something. She was very pleased with her “wibby wobby” but all she could manage was a few mouthfuls. You know a toddler’s ill when they turn down jelly.

She didn’t eat dinner, and after her bath, fell asleep in my arms in her towel utterly exhausted from the night before. We decided not to try and wake for her bottle; she was dead away already and we even managed to get her into her pjs without her so much as flinching.

Day 4: light at the end of the tunnel

On day 4, she woke up a smidgen brighter. She was still itchy and lethargic, but she seemed genuinely disappointed she wasn’t able to bring herself to eat more than half her usual portion of scrambled eggs and she managed to do all the stickers Nina had brought her the day before.
She still wouldn’t nap during the day as usual and to be honest, with the itching, I didn’t push it as I didn’t know how I could stop her scratching her spots (which we were starting to turn to scabs) if she was in the cot without supervision.

Around 4pm, she fell asleep next to me on the sofa (I watched at least five minutes of My Little Pony before I realised I could have been doing anything other than watching god forsaken My Little Pony!).

It was also on Day 4 our internet went down. All we saw of The Land Before Time was was the opening credits before it all went dark… After a long conversation with Virgin, it became clear we were going into the Bank Holiday, in quarantine, without Netflix or Apple TV… the horror!

That night, Little Miss managed a relatively decent night considering. She drank all her bottle (unlike day 3) and went to sleep almost the instant I put her in the cot. We were up and down a few times in the night, mainly to change her diaper because the wetness bothered the spots on her bum or to apply cooling gel to her spots in the night. It was a far cry from the night before.

Day 5: a new dawn

Quarantine lasts until every last spot has scabbed over. But having only left the house in five days to go to A&E, I was suffering somewhat from cabin fever.

Little Miss was pretty much completely scabbed over by day 5- she seemed to have a bit of a whirlwind recovery after traumatic day 3. Being Good Friday, we were both off work and it was glorious weather. Spring had finally arrived. So we were a bit naughty and took her to the garden centre to buy some plants and seeds to sort out our little garden for the Summer. We simply made sure she didn’t come into contact with anyone else that was there, particularly the old folk.

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Fed up of quarantine: by day 5 Little Miss’ energy was coming back so we enjoyed some family fun in the garden.

She really enjoyed potting our plants with us and the change seemed to do her good, though she still tired quickly and slept for nearly three hours that afternoon after such an exciting morning.

But my heart breaking moment of the week came on day 5.

We were playing dress up. Little Miss was twirling in a tutu and asked me to open the wardrobe to look the mirror. Thrilled she was a bit more like her old self, I obliged, not thinking.

As soon as she saw her reflection her face fell. One of the worst affected areas for Little Miss was around her mouth and she hadn’t seen how bad they were until that moment. Her hand flew to her face shocked. She so clearly understood this wasn’t how she was supposed to look and I tried to explain that it was ok and they would go away soon. I felt awful and nearly cried at her little face falling.

The aftermath

She managed to eat a bit more each day as the weekend went on and returned to nursery as usual after the bank holiday.

A week later, she still had some scabs on her body but on other than that, she was pretty much right as rain.

Sadly, she has picked a couple of the scabs, mainly on her face unfortunately. Apparently Bio Oil helps reduce the scarring, so we’re lathering her in Bio Oil after her bath each night. I guess only time will tell if this actually does the trick… 

See the other Mama Badges (and Dad badges) we’ve awarded ourselves. 

 

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Pizza Fridays with our homemade pizza recipe

imageEvery family has traditions, their little rituals and quirks. For us, it’s our beloved Pizza Fridays.

These started long before I met the Other Half; his family would get a Domino’s every Friday (and still do) and watch a movie together.

But when we moved in together, we couldn’t afford Domino’s every week (and still can’t) so we started getting Tesco Finest oven pizzas instead for half the price.

After a while we started customising them, adding our own meat selection to the pesto pizza or spinach, courgette and mascarpone to the Italian Meat Feast.

Given our love of cooking, it was inevitable we would eventually start making our own from scratch. This also meant Little Miss could join in – she’s lactose intolerant making store bought pizzas difficult.

Pizza Fridays is the night of the week I look forward to most. It’s a real joint family effort; I make the dough, the OH makes the passata and Little Miss helps put the toppings on, choosing her own for her mini lactose free pizza.

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Little Miss loves helping put the toppings on our homemade pizzas and takes great care in choosing which toppings should go where (when she’s not eating them…)

 

Now, once upon a time, many moons ago, before a miniature person ruled our every breath, the Other Half had a cooking blog and I had a baking blog. Finding Our Feet doesn’t really reflect our love of cooking, but given Pizza Fridays are so close to our hearts and such a key element to our week, we thought we’d don our food blogger hats one last time, just for you.

This really is a super easy dinner and so much fun. If you’re short on time (or energy) you could buy store bought passatta or pizza bases instead of homemade. (Though the rolling and kneading of the bases is all part of the fun.)

Quick and Easy Tomato Passata

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This is a basic tomato passata sauce we’ve been making for years. Obviously, it’s great as a pizza sauce, but it’s also perfect with pasta as well. Because it’s so easy and versatile, we tend to make a big batch every once in a while then freeze for later use.

The OH’s top tip: an authentic Italian sauce will usually have a couple of finely chopped anchovy fillets to give the sauce it’s deep, savoury taste. It’s a really great alternative to adding salt, making it super baby and toddler friendly and gives the dish a deep, rich flavour (not fishy as you might expect). We haven’t added it here, but i you want to, just add a couple of small anchovy fillets, finely chopped, with the garlic at the start. They’ll dissolve into the sauce and turn it into something really special, trust me!

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 shallot finely chopped (optional)
  • sprinkling of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 400ml store bought tomato passata or a can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil – leaves picked and stalks discarded
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Method:
  1. Heat a heavy saucepan on medium-low heat and add the olive oil and chopped garlic (along with the shallots and chilli, if using).
  2. Gently fry the garlic until it starts to soften turn golden, then add the tomatoes, oregano, basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook gently, stirring often, for around 20 minutes or when you get a lovely medium-thick consistency.
  4. Taste and season again if necessary.

Pizza Base Dough (makes two large, thin pizzas) 

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When we started making pizzas, we went authentic Italian style and mixed all the ingredients on the kitchen side – no bowl. It’s great fun, especially for little ones, albeit a little messy. We started off using Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough recipe, which is a good place to start if you’re new to homemade pizza making.

These days, we have a bread maker, (a Panasonic SD2501) which we can’t recommend enough. It just makes the process all the easier with a little one running around. You simply bung the ingredients in the machine and leave it to do it’s thing for 40 minutes (while you make the passata / chop toppings / sit out side in the sun with a glass of wine…)

The recipe below has come out of dozens of experimentations to find the right dough for us. Of course, bread makers differ, so check your manual first.

  • 1/2 tsp easy bake yeast
  • 180g strong white bread flour
  • 120g wholemeal bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 180ml warm water
  • you’ll also need plain flour to sprinkle on the side when you’re working the dough

Method

Amie’s top tip: we knead pizza dough to make it more elastic and harder to tear when you roll it out into the pizza shape. So make sure you give it a good work out before you start rolling. You’ll also get better results if you work with the dough while it’s warm. 

  1. imagePop the ingredients in the bread maker according to your brand’s instructions and leave it to do it’s thing (approx 45mins).
  2. Sprinkle the counter top with a healthy dose of plain flour and make sure your hands are warm and dry (also sprinkle your hands with plain flour if necessary).
  3. Take the finished dough out of the machine and split into two equal balls.
  4. imageTake one ball of dough and start kneading it in your hands. You don’t have to be too precious with it at this point, just gently squeeze it between your hands a few times.  Place the dough on the worktop and press the heal of your hand into it, pushing forward slightly. Then gather the dough together and repeat again and again until the dough springs back when you gently press it with your finger tips.
  5. imageGrab your rolling pin and roll the dough out into a vaguely circular shape (again, don’t need to be precious here).\
  6. You need to work quickly but gently with light fingers for this bit.
    Pick up your dough and gently stretch it out with your hands, then spin it and repeat, spin it and repeat. If you’re feeling brave, this is actually easier to do if your spin it by tossing it lightly into the air. You don’t have to toss it high, but it means you’re handling the dough less and keeps it’s circular shape. But obviously, you risk a pizza base hitting the floor and having to start again.. (If you get any minor tears in the dough, simply pinch it back together and continue.)
  7. Once your dough is looking more like a pizza base, place it on your pizza tray and stretch it to the edges, pinching it at the sides so it ‘sticks’ to the edges of the tray, forming the crust.
  8. Repeat with your second ball of dough.

Amie top tip: For best results, leave to prove on the trays for about 20 minutes. But you can just crack on with the sauce and toppings as soon as you put them on the trays if you prefer. 

Pizza Toppings

Get creative with your toppings, let the kids choose their favourites and encourage a mixture of flavours. Here’s our favourites to give you some ideas:

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Sundried tomatoes and goats cheese: mozzarella, crumbled goats cheese, spinach (on top of passata, under the cheese), peppers sliced and sundried tomatoes.

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Meaty pizza: mozzarella, chilli flakes, chorizo (on top of the passata, under the cheese), salami sliced into strips and courgette.

NB: if you too have a lactose intolerant child, some children might be able to have Buffalo Mozzarella or Goat’s cheese as these are very low in lactose, but we use Arla’s Lactofree Mature Cheddar Cheese for Little Miss’ pizzas.

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FINDING OUR FEET IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY OF THE BRANDS MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG POST. HOWEVER, THIS POST WAS WRITTEN AS AN ENTRY TO WIN A 3-IN-1 STOVEY TRIO FIRE. BUT AS ALWAYS, THE THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN.
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