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Counting Sheep

I remember the sheer bewilderment we felt the first night we were home from the hospital with our daughter. We were all a bit traumatised from her entrance into the world and it perhaps didn’t help matters that we got home around 10.30 at night. At that point, due to my random superstitions and paranoia, we still had to put a sheet in the crib and work out how the bottle steriliser worked.

Do you remember the first time?

The calm before the veritable storm

The calm before the veritable storm

On arriving home, we placed our daughter in her car seat on the sofa. At the opposite end sat the cat who, along with the rest of us, had little idea of the impending crisis about to hit us all. What the hell were we supposed to do with our little bundle of joy??

That was the calm before the storm. Then the crying began. Me and her.

We tried putting her in her crib. She cried. We tried holding her and cuddling her. She cried. We tried feeding her. She drank a bit. And then she cried.

“Well, she was quiet in her car seat – let’s put her back in that.”

The car seat was placed carefully on our bed and our daughter was put in safely and securely and we rocked the car seat. She cried. We got her out of the car seat. And still she cried. It was getting towards 4 o’clock in the morning and none of us had slept for the preceding 72 hours.

“What was that sheep thing you got at that baby show thing you went to?” asked my husband.

Gingerly, I stood up (as I did most things gingerly for the first few weeks) and rifled through the wardrobe full of things I’d bought during pregnancy, not really knowing what would be useful and what would be a waste of money. And there I found Ewan; still in his packaging – luckily with batteries in him.

We pressed one of his legs (I forget which one) and through the calming tones of the sound of rain we heard it for the first time. Silence. Contentment on our daughter’s part. We’d calmed her!!

I can’t remember a worst time

Ewan the Dream Sheep

Calming the storm

OK, so I’m not sure how much credit we can take for it, but from that first night, Ewan the Dream Sheep became a stalwart of our nightly routine. He’s also played a part at nap times, not to mention he became a sleep aid to my husband and I when we were sleeping in shifts, desperately trying to catch 40 winks in the day time so we could cope with the night times!

On the outside, Ewan the Dream Sheep doesn’t look that special. He’s got a quirky face, he’s soft and cuddly and he glows. So what – so do many other cuddly toys for babies.

What makes Ewan the Dream Sheep a special is that, when pressed, each of his legs plays calming and soothing sounds which are perfect for a baby.  One is a lullaby, whilst the other three play soothing white noise sounds of the hoover, rain or womb sounds.  I know there are various apps you can buy for far cheaper that play similar things, but aside from the fact they’re not as cute as Ewan the Dream Sheep, you’re then left without your phone, iPad or other device whilst your baby sleeps!

ewan-the-dream-sheep

Peace at last!

Don’t you know that we’ve changed so much since then, oh yeah, we’ve grown

As our daughter now nears one year old, I’m more than aware there are various schools of thought on sleep cues. Indeed, I wondered for a time whether our potential overuse of  Ewan the Dream Sheep had meant she couldn’t settle herself to sleep without him.  But I’m happy to say that not only is Ewan now played with during the day as a teddy, she can sleep without him if needs be, but does still enjoy his gentle harp lullaby each night whilst she’s crawling round the cot having a quick adventure before bed!

Visit us at www.practicalbabygifts.com

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My Daughter’s Love Affair

It all started when she was about three months old. I didn’t notice the change. It just crept up on me almost over night. I should have known it was coming. My daughter suddenly wanted someone other than me to help soothe her to sleep. And that somebunny was Bunny.

It started with a kiss

Desperately looking for the much promised ‘signs of tiredness’ at around three months, I noticed that she started putting soft things to her nose when she was looking a bit sleepy. To begin with, it was mostly inappropriate things, like our (very non-docile) cat’s tail, or a sock or slipper. In looking for something a little more suitable for a three month old to sniff on, I gave her a lovely little Jellycat rabbit a friend had bought us as a present when she was born. And so the love affair began.

Jellycat Bunny Rabbit

Snuggling with Bunny – where it all began!

With ears and arms that are just right for little hands to hold and snuggle ‘Bunny’ as he was creatively named has now become a part of everyday life. Oh, he’s been through the mill a bit – he’s been dropped and thrown, covered in food, and subsequently been through the wash a few times, even though his little label says ‘surface wash only’. As if!

He’s also got a friend who our daughter also shares her bedtime snuggles with. He’s called ‘Mr Bunny’ (see what we did there?) and also comes with a little comfort blanket, although she only has eyes and hands for his ears and arms!

Since the introduction of ‘Mr Bunny’ the two have been interchangeable, with each finding favour at various times. A bit like an emperor’s concubine.

Bunny’s been everywhere with us. He’s been to see her grandparents, to the seaside, to the supermarket (on more than one occasion – on some days). He’s been very kindly offered to her cousin – perhaps without realising the consequences if said cousin had taken a particular shine to him! He’s even been to the doctor’s. The lovely doctor chatted to my daughter about Bunny and pretended to listen to his chest when he was listening to hers. What an absolute star! Obviously, she looked a bit puzzled, but I had the sneaking suspicion it was more for my benefit. And I have to admit I loved it – I’m a sucker for that kind of thing!

The horror!

Jellycat Bunny

Morning Cuddles with Bunny

But obviously, Bunny’s adventures bring with them a certain amount of risk. I’m forever checking that he’s still in her pram, as I don’t want to face the bedtime when Bunny’s nowhere to be found. One of my favourite stories when I was little was Dogger by Shirley Hughes. Its beautiful illustrations belied the harsh truth that your favourite toy can go astray and life may never be the same again. That is, unless you have a nice older sister (who appears mean at the start of the book, but shows she has a heart towards the end) who retrieves Dogger from the nasty people who thought they bought him fair and square at a village fete. The horror!

With the intention of avoiding the Dogger situation at all costs, I wanted to secure Bunny to the pushchair. As useful as they are for extending hanging pram toys, it just didn’t seem right to use plastic linking rings to effectively tie Bunny to the pram. I pictured those horrid adverts about dancing bears with rings through their noses. Whilst a little far fetched, perhaps, for a soft toy bunny, I just couldn’t bring myself to attach Bunny to the pram with plastic rings round his neck.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Bunny Snuggles

Bunny Snuggles – still snuggling after all this time

So, on the quest for something a little more ‘humane’ I recently started using a Ruby and Ginger Toy Tie. The nice soft material velcroes gently around Bunny’s neck yet allows my daughter to cuddle and snuggle Bunny when we’re out and about. Even when she tried to (affectionately, I’m sure) launch Mr Bunny out of the pushchair today, she was most baffled and, I think quietly relieved, that he was still hanging on by his paws to her chariot, via the lifeline of a Toy Tie. (Albeit his comfort blanket was slightly greyed from getting trapped under the wheels whilst crossing the road! Thank God Mr Bunny’s ‘surface washable’ too – in the washing machine he goes tomorrow!).

The Toy Tie’s water and dirt resistant material makes it a practical pushchair accessory, whilst its beautiful and modern pattern means it’s something that people will no doubt notice and admire. It’s a practical pushchair accessory that looks pretty lovely too. The concept of the Toy Tie may well have slightly baffled my daughter to begin with, but it’s certainly going to be as permanent a feature on our pushchair as Bunny or his gentrified counterpart is.

Ruby and Ginger Toy Tie

Studying Mr Bunny and why he doesn’t fall off the pushchair!

How far do you go to keep your child’s favourite toy safe? Do you use anything in particular, or just wing it? We’d love to hear your views!

Visit us at Practicalbabygifts,com for nifty ideas on practical baby products.

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The Changing Needs of Changing Bags

It takes all sorts. Big ones, little ones. Fat ones, thin ones. Immaculate ones, tatty ones. Spotty ones, stripey ones. Plain ones, patterned ones. Cloth ones, leather ones. I’m talking changing bags.

Some, girls, are bigger than others

Skip Hop Johnathan Adler Dash Nixon

My beautiful changing bag (not me in the photo!)

My changing bag was pretty much the first item I allowed myself to buy during pregnancy. I wasn’t specifically looking for one when we were on holiday for a friend’s wedding in New York, but it was love at first sight when I saw it in a lovely baby boutique in SoHo. In the months leading up to birth, I looked at it on various occasions and wondered what one might need such a large bag for, when a smallish handbag had stood me in good stead for a number of years! I knew I’d need nappies, bottles, wipes and nappy bags, but surely they would only fill half of my lovely new bag?!

I’ve spent a summer wasted

I read a lot of articles on line and in magazines offering lists of essential changing bag must-haves. I wondered if you might actually need half the stuff they listed and was determined I was going to only take the essentials – so as not to overload my new, pretty and pristine changing bag.

How wrong I was. I think I crammed my whole world into that bag for at least the first six months of my daughter’s life, with my own handbag chock full of other ‘essentials’ too.

So here’s my checklist of changing bag essentials for the first six months of a baby’s life:

  • Nappies – I find five to be the magic number
  • Nappy bags
  • Nappy rash cream / ointment
  • Wipes (standard wipes nappy changes and Milton wipes or Tommee Tippee wipes for sterilising on the go)
  • Changing Mat
  • Bottles (if bottle-feeding)
  • Breast pads (if breast feeding)
  • Formula Milk (if bottle-feeding – cartons or measured out powder)
  • Muslins / burp cloths
  • Hand sanitiser for you
  • Hand wipes for baby
  • Bib(s)
  • Spare clothes for baby (a vest and a sleepsuit of shame are easiest rather than a whole outfit)
  • Spare dummies (if using)
  • Tissues
  • In the summer, supplement this with summer hats, sun cream and sunglasses
  • In the winter, add winter hat and gloves
  • You can include a zip-lock bag for soiled clothes, but I’ve found a nappy bag can do the job just as well
  • I also found it useful to duplicate a few handbag essentials (lipsalve etc) in my changing bag for all those times you just take your changing bag with you to the toilet / changing room and don’t have your handbag to, well,  hand

Granted, most of this reads like a list of spare parts for you and your baby rather than day to day essentials, but mark my words, the spare clothes will be welcomed when little one decides he/she is going to crap a bustle at the local Children’s Centre and it reaches their neck creases!

Six months on, the winter’s gone

And then of course, once food becomes involved at around six months, the changing bag takes on a dual purpose of changing bag and picnic hamper all in one, leading me to update my changing bag essentials for the next six months to:

  • Nappies – still around five
  • Nappy bags
  • Nappy rash ointment
  • Wipes (standard wipes nappy changes and Milton wipes or Tommee Tippee wipes for sterilising on the go)
  • Changing Mat
  • Bottles (if bottle-feeding)
  • Breast pads (if breast feeding)
  • Formula Milk (if bottle-feeding – cartons or measured out powder)
  • Muslins / burp cloths
  • Hand sanitiser for you
  • Hand wipes for baby – I like Sticky Fingers WetOnes wipes
  • Bib(s) – all over body ones and smaller ones depending on meals, messy meals and snacks
  • Spare dummies (if using)
  • Tissues
  • Spoons
  • Jars or pouches of food
  • Assorted tupperware for snacks
  • In the summer, supplement this with summer hats, sun cream and sunglasses
  • In the winter, add winter hat and gloves
  • Zip-lock bag for soiled clothes (or just use a nappy bag)
  • Again a few handbag essentials come in handy

I found that six months on, the need for a change of outfit due to a nappy incident was reduced.  However, the onset of weaning and finger food brought with it the need for either a head to toe feeding poncho for her and me, or several costume changes throughout the day. Or just having the grubby child I’d always promised myself I’d never have.

It’s such a rush just being with you

I also found a very useful alternative to overloading my lovely changing bag. Once it came to feeding our daughter when out and about I found I was lugging around not only the changing bag, but also an extra bag for food and snacks and water – sometimes two.

Skip Hop Pronto

The Skip Hop Pronto – available in a range of colours and patterns

Juggling all these various bags led me to have a bit of a rethink. I plugged for a Skip Hop Pronto Changing Mat which is not only a changing mat but also stores the wipes, nappy bags and nappies in its various pockets. There’s also space for other nappy changing essentials, like surface sterilising wipes and nappy creams. The Skip Hop Pronto clips onto your pram or pushchair (and you, when you’re carrying your increasingly wriggly baby to the changing room) and the mat zips off should you require it to. To be honest, I’m not wholly sure why you’d want this. Sales literature for the Pronto suggests that the mat zips off to form a stylish clutch bag, but I’m just not sure I’d be able to find a complementing dress for this season’s society ball!

However, the Pronto has been a lifesaver on many occasions.  Many’s the time I’ve popped it into the pram basket while I’ve just nipped to the shops – 99% sure that I wouldn’t need to make an unscheduled stop, but always cautious of that potential for the 1% curve-ball. I’ve also found it to be really useful on lazy days, to have downstairs in the house rather than having to make the journey upstairs to change nappies. As I say – a particularly lazy day!

Skip Hop Pronto

The Skip Hop Pronto folded out during changing

The Skip Hop Pronto Red

The Skip Hop Pronto Red

The changing mat itself may look a bit of a funny shape, and when you’ve got a six month old who lies nice and still during the nappy change, the side flaps do seem a bit superfluous. However, fast forward three to four months when you’ve got a wriggler, roller or crawler on your hands, and you’ll be grateful of any additional surface area that might catch any spills before they land on the changing table, floor, or you!

What did you find to be the must-have items in your changing bag? Did the contents of your bag change over time? What have I missed out that you think is fundamental?

Visit us at www.practicalbabygifts.com where our great range of Changing Bags and Changing Mats

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Rockin’ in a Shy Way

3 x Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, 2 x Oranges & Lemons, 1 x Baa Baa Black Sheep, 1 x Beautiful Dreamer, 1 x classical ditty from a bank advert in the ’90s…just some of the plinky-plonky lullaby tunes so far endured in trying to get our little one off to sleep in the past few months. Oh, and I forgot – a few versions of ‘Rockabye Baby’. But not on a tree top….!

The cradle will rock

lullaby-renditions-of-the-cureNope – the Rockabye Baby I refer to is soothing music at its best.  It’ll rock your baby to sleep whilst keeping you entertained with humming along to the songs you know and love – albeit, they might sound a little bit different.  What Rockabye Baby does is transform rock favourites into instrumental lullabies.  Guitars and drums are traded for Xylophones and bells.  And they’ve been a sanity saver! Whether you prefer the more classic rock titles from Queen, or the poptastic Madonna, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.  And it’s educational for babies too!

Boys Don’t Cry

Well, baby boys probably do.  But here are some of our favourites from Practical Baby Gifts.

Heaven knows I’m miserable now

Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

When I’ve mentioned Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths to friends, many have suggested it might be a bit too depressing for a baby!  But what can be more entertaining whilst getting increasibly frustrated with a non-sleeping baby, than hearing (in your head) Morrissey lament Thatcher’s Britain through the medium of harp music?!

Tonight, Tonight

If today is the greatest day you’ve ever known and tomorrow’s much too long, then the Lullaby Renditions of Smashing Pumpkins is for you.  This is a definite treat to the ears and number one on my list of practical baby gifts for a few friends…they’ll just need to actually have a baby first!  (When they’re ready of course!).

Enjoy the Silence

If you just can’t get enough of Depeche Mode, this one’s for you!  We tested (possibly) one of DM;s biggest fans recently with tasters of the Lullaby Renditions of Depeche Mode and can attest to their authenticity!  I think the score was seven out of eight!

In Bloom

Or for the friend in your life who’s In Bloom, but still prone to reliving her grunge-youth, there’s always Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana.  Whilst we can’t promise it comes packaged in a Heart Shaped Box, the CD does offer very faithful renditions of Kurt et al’s best work.

Not yet in production, but here's hoping - Lullaby Renditions of The Doors

Not yet in production, but here’s hoping – Lullaby Renditions of The Doors

The time to hesitate is through

i could go on….and I think you’ll guess from the selection of Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions CDs we’ve chosen so far, our grunge and Britpop leanings have slightly tainted our decisions!

And then there are the titles Rockabye Baby are yet to turn into Lullaby Renditions!  Whilst the vaguely ‘cool’ part of me is leaning towards the production of a Lullaby Renditions of The Doors, there’s a large part of me hankering for lullaby versions of Belinda Carlisle!

What do you think?  Aside from the artists already given the Rockabye Baby treatment – who would you like your little ones to drop off to?

If you’re looking for something a little bit different to give as a baby gift – look no further! than http://www.practicalbabygifts.com/sleep-time/soothing-music

Or view our whole range of Practical Baby Gifts at practicalbabygifts.com

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The Practical Gift of Knowledge

When starting out on the epic journey of parenthood, soon-to-be mums and dads try to prepare themselves in various ways.  Advice from friends and family is complemented by reading books, blogs and magazines.  Then there’s always Dr. Google who can provide practical help, advice and reassurance  (and downright panic) at the touch of a few buttons.  Alongside this, many expectant parents still sign up for good, old fashioned antenatal classes.

Pregnant and clueless

Pregnant and clueless

But is the information provided by these methods, including antenatal classes, really focused on equipping new parents with the skills and knowledge they’ll actually need?

Knowing me, Knowing you

I’ll be honest and admit that the main reason I signed us up for antenatal classes last year was to meet other local people having babies around the same time.  Pure and simple.  That’s not to say we didn’t already have a wealth of friends who had recently had babies who were poised and ready with all kinds of advice as well as many lovely hand-me downs.

We decided against the ‘local’ NCT classes, as they were held not-so-locally on the other side of the city.  Instead we plugged for those part-subsidised by our local Children’s Centre,  run by BirthPrep. (The one positive contribution our Children’s Centre has made to our daughter, but that’s for another time.)

If you don’t know me by now

I’ll admit my expectations of the classes were heavily influenced by too many TV programmes.  I was anticipating several evenings sitting on the floor, supported by my husband, practicing breathing techniques in a room full of other couples whilst being shown how a baby doll makes its way out of a knitted cervix. However, it seems things have moved on somewhat, and instead we sat around talking frankly about the process of labour and birth – on chairs – like the adults we were truly about to become.

Antenatal classes - the practical gift of knowledge

Sitting on chairs and not a knitted cervix in sight!

We were lucky enough to be ‘dropping’ around the same time as five lovely couples.  All were similarly minded and with great senses of humour that got us through even the darkest moments of discussing labour and birth.  But there’s the rub, really.  Out of the three three hour sessions, two were focussed on labour and birth and only one on the next 365+ days of caring for a baby, primarily covering feeding and bathing.

When every book on the subject confirms that each and every labour and birth is different – what’s the point of focussing so much time on something that is so far out of anyone’s control?

Now, that’s not to say that the Midwife-led approach to the BirthPrep classes should or could have been any different.  And that’s also not to take anything away from the wonderful help, assistance, advice and general goodnature of the lovely Cathy who took our classes.  But I can’t help thinking that more practical advice about the early days with a newborn would really help new parents, not to mention the poor, helpless baby depending on two clueless adults who should at least know the basics!

This time I know it’s for real

Antenatal classes - WTF?

Antenatal classes – WTF?

On being handed our little bundle of joy, I think I was awash with about 5% instinct and 95% blind panic!  The midwives in the hospital were amazing in helping and offering advice and assistance, but I felt completely under-prepared for the task ahead of us.  Advice on how to wind a baby, what to do when you’re left alone in the hospital with your new baby for the first time, when and if to use a dummy, what to do when you first bring the baby home and tried and tested plans for coping with newborn sleep deprivation might have been useful.

However, I suppose in many ways, the course we went on, did offer us this help and advice in the long run.  Largely through meeting up regularly with the lovely ladies from our antenatal classes, we have all shared experiences, tips and advice over the ensuing months.  We’ve laughed.  We’ve cried (largely with laughter). We’ve shared baby sick, nappy changes and weaning adventures. We’ve eaten a hell of a lot of cake and drunk an obscene amount of caffeine.  We’re even planning on drinking something a bit more grown-up soon!

What do you think?  Did your antenatal classes adequately equip you for the challenges ahead ?  Where else did you get help and information from?  What was the best advice you were given?

Visit us as practicalbabygifts.com

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Military adages become mummy mantras

With that rarest of phenomenon nearly upon us; a warm, sunny British Bank Holiday weekend, many of us will be heading out and about with our little ones.  Whilst I’ve probably jinxed the good weather now, going out for the day with a baby can be a military operation requiring planning, preparation and patience.

The 7Ps: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance

While I’m not renowned for the latter, I’m quite well known for my planning and preparation skills.  I don’t think I’m the only person to ever have an excel spreadsheet with their hospital bag list, but I know of only one other.  And, whilst it all went to pot, my birth plan was typed, printed….and probably should have been laminated.

So now that the days are getting nicer and we’re able to get out and about a lot more, the pram suit is archived, the foot muff is zipped off and the legs are out!  (hers, not mine…not just yet!)

Fail to plan, plan to fail

So, apart from the myriad pots of various food items, what will I be taking out with me this bank holiday weekend?

My Buggy Buddy Sunshade - practically perfect in every way!

My Buggy Buddy Sunshade – practically perfect in every way!

One item I have recently discovered is the My Buggy Buddy Sunshade.  With the average pram-specific umbrella shade costing in the region of £20, this universal pram shade is a steal at little under £9.  It easily clips on to any part of your pram or pushchair and blocks out the sun, providing UPF50 protection.  Like any sun shade, a sudden gust of wind, and you’re fighting it a little, but I found that the My Buggy Buddy Sunshade can be easily tucked under the canopy of the pushchair to stop the wind getting hold of it.  Because it’s so easy to clip and un-clip, the My Buggy Buddy Sunshade can also be easily moved around the pram or pushchair as the sun inevitably will do.  It also packs away into a very compact size and shae, meaning it can be easily stored in even the smallest pram basket.  I also found that the act of unfurling it kept our little one entertained for quite a while! All in all, this is the best sunshade I know of on the market, and I’m glad I got mine at the start of the summer months!

Stealth attack or full-frontal – you’ve got to have it covered

For naps on the go - the SnoozeShade Plus

For naps on the go – the SnoozeShade Plus

The other must-have pram accessory in this weather is the SnoozeShade.  There’s either the SnoozeShade Original or the SnoozeShade Plus. Both are designed with maintaining nap times in mind.  In addition, both provide UPF50 protection for your baby on the go.  As it’s effectively a black-out blind for the pram, it’s great for blocking out bright sunshine and shop lights when you’re on the got but need to get your baby or toddler to sleep.  Like many great baby products, the SnoozeShade was designed by a mum for her daughter and then developed to sell to other new parents.  For me, it’s a definite hit!

Preparing for guerrilla warfare

The Totseat - for babies who lunch

The Totseat – for babies who lunch

Another great parent-designed product is the Totseat.  Whilst it looks a bit like a harness to strap your child to a seat (which I suppose it essentially is) it’s perfect for feeding on the go.  The Totseat is incredibly lightweight and easy to fit to any size or shape of chair.  It’s perfect for grandparents and other occasional carers who may not be so confident in feeding babies when out and about.  It’s also great if you have a little one who’s fussy about various highchairs, as if you know they’ll sit well in it, you’ll be at ease when you know feeding time is fast approaching! Of course, as it’s made of (fully washable) fabric, there’s no highchair-esque tray with it, which can make finger food a trial, but there are ways to improvise to get round that!

Winging it

And yet, even the best laid plans for going out and about with a baby don’t always take into consideration the one unknown quantity: your baby.  You can pretty much guarantee that they won’t play ball when you want them to.  They won’t eat what you’ve packed, won’t sleep when you want them to, and probably won’t like the sun anyway.  And that’s when you follow the most recently over-used military adage: keep calm and carry on.

What do you enjoy most about days out with your little one?  What tips do you have to share for a stress-free trip?

Visit us as practicalbabygifts.com

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Why have I never had Eggy Bread before?

When trying to come up with new ideas for finger food to give my daughter recently, a friend mentioned they’d given their baby eggy bread and it had been a hit.  I thought it would be a good way to up her protein intake and be something a bit different, so I gave it a whirl.

I looked up a recipe on the internet.  I do consider myself a good cook, but sometimes the simple things elude me.  (I still can’t actually boil an egg successfully, but I can  make a three course meal for ten people!).  Whilst keeping my daughter content with some other assorted finger foods, I set to making the eggy bread.

Egg on my face

Now, I’m a big fan of scrambled egg, but struggle a bit with it on toast sometimes (don’t ask me – I think it’s the dryness of the toast next to the texture of the scrambled egg). So what could be better than egg already mixed into toast???  GENIUS!

Aside from maybe once at a Brownie pack holiday – why have I never had eggy bread before??

It got me thinking of all the other things you discover or rediscover once you have a baby.  Also – the things you want to pass onto your child from your own childhood – whether they were things you had, or just lusted after.

She’s on the phone

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone - Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone – Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone - Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone – Now and Then

Whilst I was pregnant, I bought my daughter a Fisher Price Chatter Phone.  This is clearly a throw-back to my own childhood memories.  At seven months old, she started playing with it, although I have to say both she and I get a little bit frustrated with the health-and-safety-gone-mad changes that have been made to it.

The string holding the receiver to the phone is so short, she can’t even put it up to her ear without taking the whole handset with her!  It seems a bit ridiculous to me.  Mind you – I’m not sure she’ll ever really understand it’s a telephone, seeing as no modern phones even vaguely resemble the Chatter Phone these days!

Glo-Friends

Glo-worm from the 1980s

I don’t think my Glowey is quite this pristine!

One of the nostalgic purchases I’ve been most happy with since our daughter arrived is buying her a Glo-Worm.  I used to LOVE my Glo-worm (affectionately called Glowey) which I was given on my third birthday.  He came everywhere with us; on holiday, to playschool, to relatives’ houses. I even had a Glo-worm shaped birthday cake!

Now Glowey sits atop a (high) shelf in our daughter’s nursery, watching over her, while Glowey 2.0 takes up the mantle of being fondled and chewed and thrown all over the place.  New Glowey even plays tunes!

Playskool Sensory & Lullaby Glo-worm

Glowey 2.0

And I have to say, Glowey 2.0 has been an absolute Godsend! I don’t know why in particular, but when nothing else will settle her, Glowey comes out and sings his lullabies and shines his little round face, to settle our little one in the same way his forefather did for her mum!

Swiss Roll and Baked Beans

Bluebird A La Carte Kitchen

Wake up Daddy – breakfast’s ready!

And then there are the opportunities missed in life due to not being given the ‘right’ toy for a birthday or Christmas.  Everyone has ‘the toy that never was’.  For my sister-in-law, it was a Mr Frosty.  We had one.  It was rubbish.  I agree wholeheartedly that it was one of the most disappointing toys of the 1980s.  .

For me and my sister, it was the Bluebird A La Carte Kitchen.  As the original advert still taunts me – WE NEVER GOT THE CHANCE TO MAKE SWISS ROLL AND BAKED BEANS FOR OUR DAD!  I’m sure he’s rather glad.

Time’s a great healer

I’m not sure my sister and I will ever get over the lack of an A La Carte Kitchen.  In fact, I’m sure as soon as our children are old enough, they’ll be bought the modern day equivalent whether they want one or not. Nope – it’ll be some other toy which will be the one that got away.  It probably hasn’t even been invented yet.  Or maybe it’ll be a re-hash of a toy we had (or didn’t have) as children!

What was the one that got away from you?  Would you buy your child the toy you never had??

What other things are you rediscovering from your own childhood since having a baby?

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Our Guide to Buying Baby Gifts

The Practical Baby Gifts Guide to Buying Baby Gifts

When buying for a new parent or baby it’s easy to be overwhelmed.  We’re all guilty of choosing something that’s pretty over something that’s practical, and with so much choice out there, it’s easy to get carried away.  Here at Practical Baby Gifts, we’d like to share a few observations that may help you when trying to find the perfect baby gift for your loved ones.

Practically perfect in every way!

Practically perfect in every way!

Parents are still people too

Contrary to what some people think, ‘new mum’ didn’t have a lobotomy nine months ago and lose all her personality and style preferences.  If you’ve never seen the new mum you’re buying for wearing pink, chances are she’ll have strong views about not dressing her little darling in shades of pastel pink.  The same goes for nursery accessories.  Similarly, some new parents want to express themselves and their clothing tastes through their little ones.  With the increased availability of mini band and film t-shirts, it’s more and more likely a mini Blur t-shirt will be better received than a ‘Daddy loves me’ t-shirt.

Buying clothes is a minefield

Buying clothes for a new baby can be tricky.  If you’re buying before the baby’s born, you don’t know what size it will be.  I’ve had friends with babies ranging from 4lbs to 12lbs, meaning it can be months before even newborn sized clothes come into use, or they may never be used at all.  With clothes, at best, they’re going to get 6-12 weeks’ wear.  With so many other people likely to buy  clothes as well, the new parents will have such a range that they won’t have chance to dress the baby in half the outfits they receive – meaning that what time they don’t spend washing the clothes, they spend feeling guilty for not getting much wear out of the baby clothes.

Toys and other accessories have a longer shelf-life

Most toys, whether soft toys, hanging toys, teethers or rattles, have a far longer shelf-life than clothes.  If you buy clothes, chances are you won’t see the baby in them anyway, but you’re far more likely to see them using and enjoying a toy for six months to a year and maybe beyond.

Other useful items such as towels, muslin cloths and sleeping bags will be used time and time again, and will be remembered as far more practical gifts from new parents.

Don’t expect ‘Thank You’ cards for at least three months

In fact don’t expect ‘Thank You’ cards at all.  People show gratitude in many ways, and a heartfelt Thank You at the time of giving and receiving the gift should be enough to show you it’s appreciated.  Many new parents don’t have the time, inclination or indeed money to spend on writing Thank You cards, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love and appreciate your gift.  Personally it means far more to see a baby using a present months on, or to have the parents comment about how ‘so-and-so loves the present you bought him’ six months later, than a Thank You card I’ve long since discarded.

If the new mum is Wonder Woman and manages to arrange buying cards or ordering personalised cards, then it’s a bonus.  It’s even more of a bonus if you receive one within three or four months of the baby being born.  Before that time, she’ll have been lucky to have five minutes to herself when she’s not feeding, bathing, washing or generally recovering!

Mums need to feel special too…

I’m not saying it’s not lovely to receive lots of pretty and practical gifts for a new baby.  But equally, mums need to feel special too.  She’s just been through a hell of an ordeal.  Whether the birth was straightforward or otherwise – it was a complete bodyshock.  Take some flowers (preferably already in a vase) or just some cake and sandwiches, as chances are food for herself is the last thing on her mind!  If you want to treat Mum, consider something practical like a new changing bag or something that she’s likely to use time and time again that will make her feel special and treated.

…As do Dads!

Whether it’s taking Dad for a pint, or taking him some chocolate round for energy, don’t forget New Dad either!

What have you experienced when you’ve given a new baby gift, or received one?

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