Friday, 15 August 2014

Hatton Country World

A few Saturdays ago we went to Hatton Country World, an attraction based outside the village of Hatton near Warwick. Hatton Country World comprises of Hatton Shopping Village which has lots of independent shops and Hatton Adventure World, which has lots of things to do for children of all ages-from it's very own little farm of animals, to a family theatre, sheep racing and lots of outdoor play equipment as well as a fairly big indoor softplay area which came in very handy when the weather turned against us!

We only went for the afternoon as Henry is still quite young and gets tired out after a few hours (as do we, we're the ones chasing him round!) but despite the weather and us dashing in and out of the indoor play area we had a great time and Henry absolutely loved it-climbing in tunnels, going on a teacup ride, trampoline, digging in a massive sandpit, petting animals including a goat and a guinea pig and running absolutely everywhere. A really lovely family afternoon out and I'm so excited he's now at an age where he can (mostly) have a lot of fun and enjoy things like this!

Henry was fascinated by the guinea pigs and it was great that the wall to the enclosure was low so he could peer in!

Even better was that he was able to have, under supervision, the experience of petting one. He was so intrigued!

Looking at the pigs and pretending to drive a JCB in the giant sandpit.


Lots of sandpit fun! Has made me very excited for a trip to the coast when we visit my parents at the end of the month as the beach will be his biggest sandpit adventure to date!

Milking a cow (not a real one) and flying high on a swing!


 This tunnel was one of his favourite things to do, it kept him entertained for ages going in and out, yelling and stomping and being chased by his Daddy!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Baby Led Weaning-Our Experience

Why BLW-ing?
When it came to weaning I had heard a lot about the Baby Led Weaning method, where essentially baby learns how to eat at their own pace, eating what you eat as opposed to traditional purees and spoon feeding. The idea appealed to me primarily because I was very much baby-led through the first year of his life, I also wanted to make sure Henry was ready to wean and I didn't want him to become fussy with different textures of food- by offering him a range of different textures from the beginning I thought it might negate the fussy phase! It just seemed like a fun, natural way to wean at baby's own pace and in all fairness, a lot less hassle then blending purees for meals!

The NHS recommends you wait till around 6 months before weaning as it allows time for the digestive system to develop. It's thought that weaning before that can cause problems later on, such as allergies and type 1 diabetes, but I'm not too sure how common a problem that is. The following are the three signs you should look out for as a sign that that baby is ready to wean:

  1. They can stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady.
  2. They can co-ordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so that they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth, all by themselves.
  3. They can swallow food. Babies who are not ready will push their food back out, so they get more round their face than they do in their mouths. (taken from the NHS website)

Henry could do all of this by 5 and a half months, and then when he grabbed a sweet potato off my plate and stuffed it in his mouth faster then I could blink,  I knew he was ready to start!

We started with just one meal a day to begin with, usually lunch time, and I'd offer him a few finger foods to try. We started with things like steamed broccoli, sweet potato fingers, soft carrots and fruits. There was a lot of sucking and gnawing in the beginning and not a lot of eating at all.
The first few months were definitely the hardest as it seemed like we weren't getting anywhere, however it does take time and patience and one thing I learned from the facebook support group was that I shouldn't worry and food before the age of 1 is just for fun-their main source of food up till 12 months should still be milk. It kind of became a little mantra to me when I started to worry or get frustrated at the lack of eating. 
We also introduced less finger foods and more meals which would be a little of whatever we were having-we usually make all our meals from scratch so we knew that we were filling Henry with good food from the start (with the occasional treat of course!)
We built it up to two meals a day by 8 months (lunch and dinner), and three meals a day by 9 months and gradually Henry began to consume more and more until by 12 months he was having three meals a day plus snacks and dramatically decreased his milk intake from 4 bottles to just 2 and then to 1 at 13 months. 

What about choking?
This question gets asked a lot and admittedly in the beginning I was terrified this would happen. I would watch him intently every meal as he sucked on a bit of broccoli. Of course, there were instances of gagging on occasion but it's important to realise gagging is not choking and is actually a natural reflex to get food back from the back of the mouth to the front. It also helped giving him things like grapes and sausages cut in half length ways or squashed to help minimise possible choking scenarios. 

  • Baby learns to eat at their own pace
  • Lot less hassle for Mum and Dad
  • When he started at the childminders at 12 months she said to me that she was shocked at how well he ate for his age, which made me feel so happy and proud to be BLW!
  • It's fun! I think there's a lot less pressure on baby and parents when the focus is more exploring foods then eating them
  • practicing fine motorskills
  • the mess and choking hazard, although those are issues with traditional weaning too
  • judgment from people not agreeing with it

Reading Material:
If you're interested in baby-led weaning and want to read about it, or find out more about it then we found these quite handy:

I loved, loved, loved the fact Henry was doing everything at his own pace too, it was so lovely to see him exploring all kinds of foods and developing a palate that means he'll give pretty much anything a go these days.
We did have an added complication of a dairy allergy so we have been seeing a dietician at the hospital in regards to weaning and support with that aspect (introduction and avoidance of milk in foods). 
Honestly, I think our experience was a really positive one. If we have another baby I'll definitely be doing BLWing again and I think I'll be a lot more relaxed about the process. Obviously the end goal with all methods of weaning is to transfer baby on to solid food and off formula or breastmilk, but I think I need to remember food before one is just for fun and there's no necessity that baby needs to be completely weaned ASAP, it's a gradual learning experience that will take time.

What are your thoughts on BLW-ing? 

Friday, 1 August 2014

In the Night Garden Live

Last Friday we took Henry to see In the Night Garden Live. In general, we try not to let him watch too much tv as he's still fairly small, however there are always days, or times of the day where I'm trying to get things done and we indulge him. Before bed time is one of those times, and In the Night Garden has become a staple before bed. His little face lights up and he holds out his palm and traces round with his finger like they do in the opening credits, he squeals loudly at the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk and claps his hands along with Makka Pakka. The temptation of seeing his face light up seeing the show in person was too strong and I went ahead and booked tickets the Tuesday beforehand.

In the Night Garden Live is a travelling show and pops up for two weeks in various cities during the summer. This year it kicked off in London before coming to Birmingham then onwards to Manchester and Glasgow. It's held in it's very own inflatable showdome and in our case set up in the beautiful Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham.

There were two shows to choose from, either the Ninky Nonk which featured Iggle Piggle losing his blanket or the Pinky Ponk show, where Makka Pakka washes everyone's faces. As Henry is an avid Makka Pakka fan we opted for the Pinky Ponk show. Both shows however contain all the characters so you're really not missing out on one over the other. 

We travelled there using public transport and considering we had a toddler in tow it wasn't too bad. I think helped by the fact I used buses in Birmingham a lot when living there for uni and thoroughly planned snacks and essentials on hand to placate Henry from boredom.

We arrived about an hour before hand and had a late lunch/snack time picnic in the park before heading in slightly before the doors were open. The only downside to this was Henry wanted to run around everywhere, so naturally was causing chaos as the ques began to form. 

The showdome itself had three main sections-the entrance, the show arena with special staggered seating and the gift shop/meet the character area. It looks like a giant white space bubble from a distance and added to the whole atmosphere of the show. There was also a buggy park where you could leave your pram before the show started.

The show itself was fantastic. We were sat in the 6th row in the middle and had the perfect view. As I said before, the seating is staggered so where ever you are in the venue you get a good view. There are premium seats that you can buy at extra cost but I don't think they'd have been worth the money, in all honesty. 

As someone who never sits still, and was trying to run amok before the show started from the minute the music began Henry sat transfixed through the whole show leaving myself and Loz a bit flabbergasted. The only time he moved was to either come and sit on one of our knees and for a snack and drink. The shows run time is 53 minutes which was just the right amount of time I felt. His face absolutely lit up when Makka Pakka came on the stage, it was so lovely to see his excitement.

We didn't meet a character this time (£15) as I wasn't sure whether he would be too tired and grumpy after the excitement of the show so I bought him his very own Makka Pakka from the gift shop to huge smiles and he now goes to sleep cuddling it every night.

You can pre-order goodie bags at a cost of £24 online (£29 at the show)-but as the tickets were already costing upwards of £50 for us three + travel I thought I'd leave it this time and see what they were like in person-they did look quite good so I think we will get one next time when he can appreciate the contents a little bit more.

All in all it was a lovely family afternoon trip and we'll definitely be going again next year and experiencing the extras.