Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hello all - I hope you had a wonderful Christmas day yesterday! There was lots of lovely presents and we had a wonderful day - despite us all having nasty colds!

A few days before we had a lovely visit from one set of Small's grandparents so she got to have yet another one of her presents early! (It's a Mama's & Papa's George Giraffe - she's still a little young for it but we just had to get it!)

Our vegan Christmas dinner was awesome as ever - Mr B's wonderful roast potatoes, tender stem broccoli, Redwood's 'Pigs in Blankets' & 'Turkey', my veggie roulade/ wellington (depending on what mood I'm in with the pastry) and lovely redcurrant gravy to top it off. The rest of the day was spent gorging on Moo Free and Montezuma's chocolates.

I'll finally get around to putting up my Christmas recipes at some point!

Mr B is lucky enough to still have time off so the rest of the week will be spent relaxing and enjoying time with the family.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Quick Pudding

This isn't a recipe - but as much as I love making all kinds of delicious things for my daughter... with an 'almost mobile' baby sometimes you just need something quick!

Izzie loves this. All you need is Alpro Plain Yoghurt, Fruit Puree and a Sprinkle of Finely Ground Flaxseed.

Pop it all together in a snap and let your baby enjoy!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Teething!

A week or so ago I wrote about all the teethers we'd tried out so far and how I wasn't keen on the Nuby Icy Bites. Well, now she's grown a little bit since we first tried them and she won't put them down!

I solved the cleaning issue by using Milton wipes and they really do get nice and cold in the fridge - they really seem to help as she's especially bad at the moment. Lots of disturbed nights sleep and dribbling - I just know her first tooth is on the way!

They're definitely her current favorite!

It's Almost Christmas!

This year Christmas has really crept up on me, I can't believe it's less than a week away! I usually start to get in the spirit, put the tree up and really enjoy this time of year - but really with a small person in the house I've not had chance to do that and it's been down to Mr B!

I've been going to baby sensory classes with some of the other ladies who were on my NCT Antenatal Course and last weekend we all went along to a 'Christmas Party' held at a local church.

After a mad dash to buy her a dress up outfit on the way (we had to get into the spirit of things!) we made it just on time and it was really lovely. I'd really recommend sensory classes - all the babies seem to love it!

Mr B put up the Christmas tree last weekend too. It's not as big as we normally buy, but it's still a real tree. With all the giant baby toys filling our house we just couldn't fit in what we'd normally buy.

The gingerbread lady and xmas pudding are some decorations I made for the tree the first Christmas that Mr B and I spent together - so they always take pride of place every year.

We just love robots - we have several in several forms living in our house, and now we have them on the tree too.

With almost all of the pressie shopping done and the 'Big Day' approaching we're gradually starting to get in the mood. More about what we're up to over the next week to come!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas Comes Early

It has to be said that all round we're pretty impatient in my household and as a result Christmases and Birthdays often come early. We'd been considering getting a jumperoo for Small as she just LOVES to bounce for awhile but we'd not seen one we liked.

We gave in in the end and this one arrived today. It's pretty big, takes up half the living room and I'm not sure it goes with our decor *rolls eyes* but she loves it - and that's the main thing.

After I managed to easily struggled to put the thing together we let her have a go right away. I mean it is her Christmas present from Mr B and I, but at 7 months old she won't understand the difference between today and actual Christmas day..... so why not.

It's a Fisher Price 'Rainforest' Jumperoo and whilst it doesn't win on points from me for looks, it seems to get 10/10 from Small on fun.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Beautiful Play

I love just watching Small play. She's fascinated by tiny things, loves to explore.... and loves labels. Not matter which soft toy I hand her, she finds the label and isn't really interested in the rest!

Before I had my daughter, I really didn't know what to expect. I'd never spent any time around babies or young children - so didn't know at what age things happened. When I first brought her home from the hospital I was a little shocked at how helpless and tiny she was.

I feel the for the last month or so she's really coming into her own. Her little personality is developing and she'll express her likes and dislikes for foods, toys or even the person holding her!

I love to just watch her happily playing. I know this stage won't last forever, soon she'll be crawling properly and then walking - but that's why it's so special.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The 'No Cry Sleep Solution'

Sleep. Not getting enough of it? Getting loads? Baby never slept better since X,Y & Z has been added to your routine? When you have a baby all people seem to ask you about is sleep. Mums at baby groups, friends, relatives.... even random strangers in the street. At the moment I'm really NOT getting enough of it, but I'm hopeful things are starting to look up after 7 months in a coffee fueled, zombie like daze......

Small is a good sleeper, and at the same time she isn't. I know that's confusing. She's always been good in the sense that when she does go to sleep, she'll sleep for a good stretch - HOWEVER it's the getting her to sleep part that has always proved a challenge.

From birth until around 4 months she co-slept (in a sidecar arrangement) with us in our bedroom. She hated her crib and just refused to lie down in it. We'd have to 'trick' her to sleep in our arms and then pop her into it, but she'd awake a few hours later upset that she was lying down. Her reflux issues didn't help either. The first month, possibly more of her life myself and Mr B were on shifts with her and rarely slept in the same bed.

As the government guidelines advise your baby should be in your bedroom until 6 months I really wanted to make it to this milestone at least - but in the end I realised it was us disturbing her and causing more night wakings (Mr B snores like a horse!)

Moving her to her 'big girl's cot' in her own bedroom at first seemed to work, she was going to bed at a reasonable time and mostly sleeping through - until a bout of teething pain hit or she got a cold. Then it seemed like she went back to square one again.

I've never been a fan of the 'cry it out' method, but I'd read 'Nightime Parenting' by Dr Sears (I'm fond of much of the attachment parenting ethos) which I didn't find too useful as I wasn't breastfeeding and didn't think creating a family bed and letting her sleep with us was the answer.

This book is great as it's kind of a middle ground. It has lots of loving and responsible suggestions for those who wish to co sleep, and those who wish their children to sleep in a cot. I expect setbacks if she's ill or teething but so far so good. The tips I've put into action since reading have transformed our lives - I'm starting to catch up with some sleep AND get some time to myself back in the evenings. After 7 months it's welcome. You can find out more about this book HERE.

Friday, 14 December 2012

A Gift From The Grandparents

Last month Mr B's parents visited us, they live down south so we don't get to see them as much as we would like - but it makes it all the more special when we do!
They brought Small these lovely Hello Kitty books (we LOVE Hello Kitty if you didn't know).

They are from Ladybird and came as four books in a little bag, I haven't been able to find the set online but the books individually can be found HERE


  Small just loves the vibrant colours - and they certainly have the 'cute' factor!


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Baby Cauliflower 'Cheese'

In this recipe I use the same sauce as I do in the 'Mac n Cheese for Babies' recipe.

It's really simple to do, and again can be adapted depending on what stage your baby is at. At Small's current stage I cook the vegetables and mash them well with the back of a fork - she doesn't need things blended up totally smooth anymore, but she's not yet ready for lumps.

Ingredients

2 TBSP vegan margarine

1 TBSP plain flour

1 cup Alpro Junior Soya Milk

2 TBSP Nutritional Yeast (I use the 'with added B12 variety' for all Izzie's meals)

1 TSP Cashew Butter

Around a handful of cauliflower and broccoli florets - depending on your babies appetite

Cook your vegetables in a steamer for around 15 minutes - they'll need to be cooked enough to mash up easily. Whilst that's cooking - make your sauce.

Using a small saucepan, melt your margarine.

Once melted - add the flour and mix up into a roux.

Add the soya milk slowly, depending on a few factors like the type of flour used you may need more or less. Stir until it has thickened and is at a consistency that is right for your baby.

Add the nutritional yeast and cashew butter and stir until smooth.

Drain the vegetables and mash well. Add the sauce and serve.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

French Toast For The Little People In Your Life

I love French Toast and I've seen other babies enjoying eggy bread - so thought why not come up with something vegan? My favorite recipe for this contains salt and other things not suitable for babies, so here's the baby friendly one!

I often cook this for Small and I to eat together - I cook hers and save some of the mixture for myself, but add a little salt and pepper to my own. Sometimes I serve this with mashed baked beans.

Ingredients

1 Cup Alpro Junior Soya Milk

150g Silken Tofu

1 1/2 TBSP Finely Ground Flax Seeds

1 TSP Cinnamon

1 TSP Nutmeg

2 TBSP Nutritional Yeast

4 TBSP Gram Flour

1 TBSP Vegetable Oil (plus a drizzle for frying)

5 - 6 slices of bread

Place all the ingredients (apart from the bread) into a blender and pulse until smooth.

Heat a drizzle of oil in a small frying pan.

Pour your mixture into a bowl that is big enough for you to dip your slices of bread. Make sure the slice is covered, but not so much that it goes soggy and breaks up. I use a spatula to transfer.

Fry each slice for a couple of minutes on each side until well browned.

Wait until cool and cut into manageable fingers for your baby.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Finger Foods - Veggie 'Pankoras'

I got the idea for pancakes as finger foods from those I know who are using the 'baby lead' weaning method with their little ones. I'd seen lots of recipes for this type of thing, and even at my local children's center they often hand out similar things (although obviously not vegan!).

I thought it was a great idea but wanted to come up with a vegan version that packed a punch nutrition wise. In these I use spinach and grated carrot as the Vitamin C in carrots helps along the absorption of Iron from the spinach. You don't have to use these vegetables though - you could use all kinds of combinations. I've called them 'Pankoras' as they are a cross between pancakes and pakora :)

Ingredients

100g Self Raising Flour

100g Gram Flour (Chickpea Flour)

2 TBSP Nutritional Yeast

1 TSP Baking Powder

1 cup Alpro Junior Soya Milk

1 large handful of Spinach (chopped)

1 large grated Carrot

25g grated Soya Cheese

A little vegetable oil for frying

Add your dry ingredients to a bowl and give a good mix. Slowly add your soya milk - depending on the brand of gram flour you have used you may need more or less (you are aiming for typical batter consistency)

Add the rest of your ingredients and give it a good mix until well blended.

Heat a small frying pan with the vegetable oil and cook pankoras until browned on either side and cooked through. This amount of mixture usually makes around 8 for me.

Transfer onto kitchen paper and pat off excess oil, allow to cool.

These can be eaten right away, or stored in the freezer and used one by one. To do this I cut the pankoras into manageable strips and separate the portions with baking paper in a seal-able tub. They keep well in the freezer for around a month and I just defrost as needed.

As your child gets older, or if you have a BLW baby who particulaly likes spice you could add some traditional Pakora spices such as Garam Masala or Coriander.

Although Alpro Soya Junior states 1+ on the carton, on the back it states it can be used as part of a weaning diet from 6 months onwards.

Pink Pudding

This is a lovely sweet tasting pudding for baby (without any sugar) - it's good for them too! It's suitable from around 7 months + but I imagine she'll be eating this well into toddlerhood.

Ingredients

100g Silken Tofu

100g Chopped Strawberries

1 TSP Agave

1/2 TSP finely ground Flax Seeds

2 TBSP Plain Soya Yoghurt

Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. It should have a smooth and slightly thick consistency. Chunk of strawberry in the picture was for photographic purposes only!

Hope your babies enjoy, if you have any great recipes please let me know :)

The Trials and Tribulations of Weaning

My daughter really was the one who decided when weaning began. She started watching us eat, and then one day she started just grabbing food from us and playing/ gumming on it. I can't remember exactly how many weeks she was, but it was after the minimum of 17 but not yet at 26 (the government recommend weaning begins at 6 months). I checked it out with our health visitor and she gave us the go ahead.

Despite her early self feeding she's now incredibly reluctant to do so. If you read my blog often you'll know before I gave birth I read loads of different books, and 'Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food' by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett was one of them. I was really keen to give this method a good go, but the way things have panned out we're doing more of a mix.

She now has purees, but she always has finger foods to practice with - they still don't make it to her mouth though!

Today I actually found a sippy cup she can drink from - which is a big step. I've tried tons of brands and designs, some have been better than others - but none could be labelled a success.

The Nuby Sip n' Grip is great. I picked it up from our local Sainsbury's and it was around £3. She now happily drinks her water along with her meals.

She has really gone through phases though, sometimes she'll love something and then the next time refuse to eat it. We've made a breakthrough this week and she's finally happily eating things that contain pulses and legumes - which are an important part of a vegan diet.

Ella's Kitchen are the only brand we've found so far who make any 2nd or 3rd stage savory foods which are suitable for vegans. They also make a few breakfasty things including fruity porridge for these stages. Heniz and Cow & Gate make a couple of fruit pudding type things that appear to be vegan - but check the ingredients carefully as companies often change their recipes.

The above look ok, and there's also a 3rd stage Thai Curry and a number of toddler finger foods. Organix make some too.

We obviously don't just feed her this limited number of shop brought foods - I make up and freeze in portions most of it. It is handy however to have some packet options for days out etc.

I brought some Mam 'Dippers' which are like a mini spoon and fork (the packaging says they're suitable from 6+ months. I sometimes do 'loaded spoons' with these (putting food on the spoon them letting her hold and guide it into her mouth) or she loves just playing with them during mealtimes and joining in.

So despite a few hiccups weaning is on schedule, messy... but she loves food and at the end of the day that's the goal!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Vegan Mac 'n Cheese..... for Babies

My Mac n Cheese recipe is something we eat regularly in my house - it's the thing that Mr B always requests that I cook. I didn't want Small to be left out, so I've been coming up with a version that's suitable for her as well. I've finally come up with something she seems to love.

As she gets older I'll be able to add additional ingredients gradually (onion, turmeric, thyme, sage etc) until she has a slightly altered salt free version of our grown up one.

Ingredients

25g Baby Pasta (I use one that states from 7+ months)

2 TBSP vegan margarine

1 TBSP plain flour

1 cup Alpro Junior Soya Milk

2 TBSP Nutritional Yeast (I use the 'with added B12 variety' for all Izzie's meals)

1 TSP Cashew Butter

Sprinkle of soya cheese

First off you'll need to cook the pasta according to the packet. 25g is enough for Izzie's current appetite, but depending on how much your baby eats you may use more or less.

Using a small saucepan, melt your margarine.

Once melted - add the flour and mix up into a roux.

Add the soya milk slowly, depending on a few factors like the type of flour used you may need more or less. Stir until it has thickened and is at a consistency that is right for your baby.

Add the nutritional yeast and cashew butter and stir until smooth.

Mix the sauce into the cooked, drained pasta and top with the grated soya cheese.

Rock 'n Roll Baby Finds From Around The Web

I've always had my own unique sense of style - and granted looking back it's not always been well informed. Throughout my teenage years I went through several 'alternative' style phases. In my later years I went on to study fashion, so it's not surprising that I'm sometimes picky about what I'll dress my daughter in.
For day to day wear I love H&M. Their baby-wear is well priced, and they do a range of organic cotton baby basics which are amazingly good value (they often do a '3 items for £10' deal). It's also fun, colourful, modern and practical. Whilst we do on occasion shop in Mothercare (we've spent an astronomical amount with them in the past year) it tends not to be for clothing - apart from their range 'Little Bird' by Jools Oliver, their clothes seem a little 'old-fashioned' to me (they do however wash/wear incredibly well).
Here's a collection of baby stuff for your rockin little ones!

1: Pink Pirate Skull Dummy - Beadesaurus £7.99
2: Guitar Dress Long Sleeve - Rock A Bye Baby £25.99
3: I Love Johnny Cash Kid's T-Shirt - Beadesaurus £14.99
4: My Mum Rocks Baby Socks - Darkside Clothing £4.99
5: Bow Bodysuit Long Sleeve - Rock A Bye Baby £20.50
6: Family Forever Baby Grow - Darkside Clothing £13.99

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Favorite Baby Buys

As is inevitable I guess with any child, we've ended up buying a lot of stuff that's never really been useful and lots of stuff that has almost constantly been in use. I think especially with a first child it's hard to know what is necessary, what's nice to have and what is a waste of money. This post is a roundup of the things Small loves.
Mama's and Papas Babyplay Tummytime Toy


This is a recently purchase and to be honest as Small is almost 7 months old it's most likely a little late. Until a month or so ago she hated being on her tummy and refused to do so for longer than a few minutes. As she can't get sit for longer than a few seconds without support this has been amazing. She's really happy to lie propped up on her tummy and play with her toys for ages.
Grow Egg Thermometer

We brought one of these before she was born as we'd brought their sleeping bags (talked about later) and there are all those warnings out there about keeping baby at the right temperature to help prevent SIDS. It was one of those things I really wasn't sure would be useful or not, but in her first few weeks we ended up going out and getting another - so now we have one in her nursery for at night and one in the living room when she spends a lot of time playing during the day. Even if your baby monitor has a thermometer feature (as our Angelcare does) I'd still recommend one of these - it's so handy to be able to just glance at it and know if it's in the right range due to the colour system. It's seen here with a Grow Egg 'Shell' in the Orla the Owl model (we also have 'Percy the Penguin' in our lounge).
The Hungry Caterpillar Toys

Small loves these, but especially the larger one. She has a thing about labels and differing textures so she'll happily sit fascinated by it for ages.
Grow Bag Baby Sleep Bags

In the earlier days I just wasn't sure about these - Small had nothing even close to a routine so being able to predict when to put her in it would have required the skills of a psychic. Now that she's slightly better and sleeping in her own cot they are what I'd consider an essential item. She wriggles a LOT! so stops her kicking off her blankets and I don't have to worry that she's pulled any blankets over her face in the night.
Sassy Highchair Toys

We purchased these from our local Mama's and Papa's store - also pictured is one of their own brand 'Snug' seats which incidentally along with the Bumbo we've found useless as she won't sit in it for longer than 2 minutes. She now uses the toys on her highchair tray and she loves them! They are excellent for keeping her occupied whilst I'm preparing her food or whilst I clean up afterwards.
Brother Max 'Scoop' Highchair

I really wasn't sure about this highchair before we brought it. Sure it looks beautiful and perfectly matched our dining table - but at around £269 it was a lot more money than other highchairs. We went along to Babies R Us to compare the ones we were considering and this won buy a mile - Mr B totally convince me. We've not regretted buying this once. It's been everything I hoped it'd be. The other one in consideration was a Cosatto 3sixti, but seeing it in person totally changed my mind. It didn't seem as easy to wipe down or as sturdy.
Vtech Tiny Touch Phone

This is another toy I really wasn't sure about - I really prefer wooden toys, or those that are classic or cute. However Small loves nothing more than to grab and mine and Mr B's IPhones, Ipads and manhandle the remote control, so this was sure to be a winner. She'll sit for ages and just loves pressing all the buttons.
Bugaboo Bee Plus

This wasn't our first pushchair. Before Small was born we brought a Silver Cross Surf in red and loved it. However once I started using it I realised just how much space in the boot it takes up and how heavy it can be if constantly lifted in and out. Don't get me wrong it's a lovely quality pushchair, but just not that ideal for me considering I have a smallish car. The Bee answered my prayers! Despite the problems others have had with the wheels mine has been excellent (it was purchased well after those problems were reported). I'm using it at the moment with the universal footmuff and I chose this over a conventional stroller as I really wanted it to have a parent facing option as well as be able to lie flat.