Mommy in London

Trying to figure things out!

E’s Treasure Basket – our introduction to Heuristic Play

We had a lovely surprise the other day when my hubby’s Aunt sent us a Heuristic Play Treasure Box for E.  Oddly enough (even though I am a nursery school teacher) I hadn’t heard of Heuristic Play.  It is quite similar to other techniques that we used at school and that I had read about, so I’m not too ashamed, but I do love a new (to us) play technique!

Heuristic Play is basically playing with and discovering a variety of objects, many of which can be found around the house or in nature.   The children are free to play with the objects without intervention or instruction.

A good description of Heuristic Play and a list of suggested items for the Treasure Basket

This is E’s Treasure Basket:

He absolutely loves it!  Of course he puts everything in his mouth, but he also loves to feel the different cloth materials.  By far his favourite things seem to be all the metal items.  Not surprisingly, not a lot of toys for babies are made out of metal, so he loves them!  Almost straight away he started banging them and rubbing them together to make different sounds.  He also just loves to take everything out and put everything back in the box.

I am feeling so inspired by his love of this box, I am now looking into Sensory Boxes and other toys that we can make at home and that we can build and change as his interests do.  Now that he’s sitting up and playing, the options are limitless!

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Baby meal planning

I am trying to figure out what meals I can make for E this week, especially now that he doesn’t seem very interested in purees (I think that it’s mostly down to his blocked nose) although he always has room for a fruit puree!  I am happy to give him more finger foods, it’s just that baby led weaning wasn’t my original plan, so I’m not fully prepared!

The foods in italics are ones that we haven’t tried yet, but had planned on trying soon.  Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated (but remember that we can’t have dairy or eggs, which can make things a bit tricky!)  We have given him fish and chicken, but not any other meat yet, I’m looking to try him on others this week.  I don’t eat meat myself, so that also makes things a bit tricky as I have no idea how long to cook things!  I am going to attempt (egg free) meatballs first I think (any tips welcome).  I love to hear about what other babies are eating, I get lots of inspiration from Moms on Twitter, so thank you 🙂

Breakfast   Puree

Breakfast        Finger Foods

Lunch / Dinner Puree

Lunch / Dinner    Finger Foods


Cereal Toast Vegetable combinations Toast Rice cakes
Weetabix Porridge fingers Lentil and sweet potato Pita Biscuits
Porridge Pancakes Salmon and veg puree Tortilla wrap Puffs
 Fruit puree Breakfast biscuits Cod and veg puree Pasta (penne, fusilli) Breadsticks


Raw veg

Dried fruit
banana apple
peach peach avocado cucumber
nectarine plum
melon berries tomato red pepper
Other fish and veg puree Sandwich with mashed fruit or veg Banana bread
Chicken and veg puree Meatballs Muffins
Beef and veg puree Mini hamburgers
Lamb and veg puree Fritters
Pork and veg puree Potato cakes
Risotto Tuna croquettes
Pasta Falafels
Bean puree / hummous

Steamed veg

carrot asparagus
broccoli green beans

Roasted veg

potato sweet potato
carrot butternut
aubergine parsnip
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My Own Little Study – When do babies really ‘sleep through the night’?

So the truth is, I’m struggling.  Motherhood is hard work, that’s a given, I knew that.  What makes it harder?  Doing it while exhausted and suffering from sleep deprivation (read: slowly losing my mind).  I buy books about sleep, read websites about sleep, hear people talk about their 8 week old babies sleeping through and others talk about letting their baby ‘cry it out’ or ignoring their baby’s cries at night.  It’s all a lot to take in.

But lately I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s all a myth.  Maybe people say that babies should sleep through the night at a certain age, but maybe none of them really do?  I’m sure that there are a lot of factors that effect a baby’s sleep patterns, but I also think that whether a baby is breastfed or formula fed has a major impact.  Of my NCT group of 6 babies the 2 that were formula fed since 2-3 months have been STTN since then and the other 2 that have now switched to formula are now STTN.  The 2 of us that are still bfing have the 2 little boys that insist on being fed several times through the night and waking several other times just for a cuddle.

Now, if it weren’t for sleep deprivation and exhaustion, I would not be complaining at all.  I actually quite enjoy the middle of the night cuddles.  And I’m certainly not saying that I want to switch to formula for the sake of sleep, but I am saying that if that is true, if it is a known fact that formula fed babies sleep longer then it shouldn’t be a secret.  All of the sleep books should make that very clear, and not make bfing Moms feel guilty or feel that they’re doing something wrong because their baby isn’t yet STTN at a set age.

We’ve decided not to try any sort of ‘controlled crying’ or ‘crying it out’ with E because I do believe that he is hungry at least some of the times that he wakes up, and not listening to him while he basically asks for food just seems mean to me.

So I’ve done a bit of research online and I’ve even done a survey on Twitter, and this is what I’ve come up with:

* Gina Ford says that babies should STTN by 8 weeks old

* KellyMom says that it’s completely normal for breastfed babies not to STTN (some do, some don’t, it depends on the baby)

* What to Expect When You’re Expecting says that a baby that is still waking to eat by 5 or 6 months old is not really hungry

* Netdoctor says that at the age of 5 months there is no need to maintain nightly meals

* BBC Health says that breastfed babies sleep more lightly and will probably wake more often

* Dr Sears says that babies wake for a variety of different reasons and will probably continue to well into their first and second year

* Tracey Hogg (The Baby Whisperer) says that babies should STTN by 3 months

Here’s the results (so far) of my Twitter survey as well as other friends that I’ve asked about their babies:

Baby’s Name / Nickname

Current Age / Age slept through

Breastfed or Formula fed

Feeds per night

Other wake ups per night

E 7 months bf 1 – 2 2 – 3
Pip 8-9 months STTN bf    
Pickle 9 months bf 2  
Jenson 9 months   2 3
Athena 9 months bf 2-3  
Lark 9 months bf 2  
Babs 4 months STTN     1
Poppet 7 months bf 0 or 2  
O 9 months STTN      
TA 7 months bf 2-3  
LO 24 months bf 2 1
Aimee 11 months STTN      
Wyatt 5 months bf 5  
LB 6 months combo 3  
D 3 months STTN formula    
I 3 months STTN formula    
L 8 months STTN when switched to formula    
J 7 months STTN when switched to formula    
R 7 months bf 4  
D 8 months bf 4  
E 9 months STTN when switched to formula    
K 9 weeks STTN      
J 10 / 11 months STTN      
D 24 months     2
C 24 months     1
L 48 months     1


So, I obviously can’t draw any conclusions yet, I’m hoping for more responses to the survey, but it certainly doesn’t seem to me that the majority of babies are STTN by 6 months (and certainly not by 8 weeks!) And it has made me feel a bit better about my little E waking up so much.  Now if only there were some way to make me feel less tired



Our experience with hand, foot and mouth disease

It’s been a tough week!  It started last Wednesday, both E and I started getting cold symptoms.  I had a sore throat and he stated to get a stuffy nose.  It got worse as the week progressed and he had a slightly raised temperature on Friday and Saturday.  By Saturday night he had a fever of 39 and I was starting to really worry.  We were getting him ready to go to A&E as it was such a high temperature (he’s 7 months old now and never truly had a fever before), but decided to call NHS direct first.  They were extremely helpful, talked us through everything, told us that we were doing everything right (keeping him hydrated and giving Calpol) and as long as the Calpol was bringing him temperature down then we could continue to give to him 4 times a day and the fever should go after a couple of days.  On Sunday the fever seemed to break and he was back to having just a slightly raised temperature again.

He was also off his food since Thursday.  It got progressively worse, at first he was just being a big fussy and only eating fruit, but by Sunday he wasn’t eating anything.  The worst it got was on Sunday night when he was refusing milk feeds.  This is when I really started to panic.  We also noticed a few small spots on his hands, feet and face, but as this is where his eczema flares up we weren’t sure if it was related or not.  We also thought that his tongue seemed a bit swollen, the way that he was sticking it out of him mouth all the time was unusual and he was no longer taking a soother or letting anything near his mouth.  I was worried that he had an allergic reaction to something, but as he had been off his food we hadn’t introduced anything new into his diet so weren’t sure what it could be.

Sleep was also a major issue.  Because he wouldn’t take his dummy or breastfeed I had no way of soothing him.  So there were a few sleepless nights of Daddy rocking him and letting him fall asleep on his chest.  (I am so thankful that my hubby is such a hands on Dad, I was a bit hopeless because I was so unwell myself I could hardly drag myself out of bed, but Daddy took care of us both).

By Monday morning (which was a public holiday) I decided that we were going to have to get him checked out.  The number of spots had increased, he continued to refuse food and I was worried that he may become dehydrated.  We thought that maybe it was an allergic reaction to something he had touched (or put in his mouth) or that maybe it was chicken pox (even though it didn’t quite fit the description).

We had to take him to the walk in clinic as our GP surgery was closed for the bank holiday (and we thought it might be quicker than A&E).  We waited for about 2 1/2 hours and were finally seen by a doctor.  It didn’t take long for her to identify that E had hand, foot and mouth disease.  I had heard of it, but hadn’t realised how much it fit the exact description of what he had.  As it’s a virus there wasn’t anything that we could do for him, but somehow it felt better just to know what it was (and that it wasn’t anything serious).

I did however find this website with some natural remedies

Really helpful.  I didn’t give any of the herbs to E, but used them for us and rubbed coconut oil on his sores, which really seemed to help.

I think that by the time we found out what it was he was already over the worst of it.  The fever had subsided, the mouth sores must have been healing already (the doctor said that mouths heal very quickly) and by Wednesday the spots were already starting to scab over.  He still has some of the cold symptoms, but he is nearly all better and back to his happy self already.

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Weaning – one month in

It’s hard to believe that E has been eating solids for a month already!  My little boy is growing up so fast!  But of course I haven’t had the chance to blog about it yet, because making food, feeding him and researching recipes is taking up all of my time!

Before starting I read loads about different methods and theories of weaning, I was so worried about doing it ‘right’ that it was starting to become quite stressful.  I decided in the end that all of the differences of opinion must mean one thing…it doesn’t really matter!  Well, of course it matters and there are some rules that have to be followed, but the moral of the story seems to be that you have to do what is best for your family and what suits your baby best.

For us, I decided that would be a sort of combination of all things.  I like the idea of traditional weaning (spoon feeding purees) because I like to be able to see how much food E has eaten.  But I also really like a lot about baby led weaning, I like the idea that E can choose what he wants to eat and that almost all food is available to him straight away.  However, a big part of baby led weaning it that the baby can ‘eat what you eat’ right from the beginning…well…I eat a lot of chocolate and not a great deal of variety in my meals, so I don’t think that would quite work for us (also because of possible food allergies, more about that later).  So the purees work better for us because I can pack them full of a selection of healthy food and prepare them in batches and freeze them, (and I don’t think that I could freeze and reheat vegetable sticks in the same way).

The parts of baby led weaning that I am taking are the introduction of finger foods straight away (which E loves, he always wants to feed himself, so this works very well for him) and introducing him to foods that may not be on the list of early veggies to eat, but that I think he might like to try.

I am making a real effort to make most of E’s food myself.  We now get a weekly organic fruit and veg box delivery from Abel & Cole ( which is fantastic and inspires me to make him some creative purees.  I also have the Annabel Karmel weaning book which I use for puree recipes.  I haven’t yet bought any other recipe books, but might buy some of her other ones and the Baby Led Weaning one.  I have however found a lot of great recipes online, I try to put them on my Pinterest page when I remember and I also found an ebook of 100 Baby Led Weaning recipes that I have used a few times (

I am not much of a cook really, so my challenge to myself is to learn how to cook for E as he grows up.  So far I’ve made loads of purees,  carrot and butter bean fritters and some breakfast biscuits.  I hope to find the time to cook even more for E as his napping routine becomes more predictable.

When it comes to introducing new foods we decided that since E has eczema we would be a bit more cautious and take our time to give him new foods, while at the same time not waiting too long, so that we know what we’re dealing with.  I wait until weekends, often in the morning to give E foods that are possible allergens.  He took to wheat fine (he loves his toast!) and also seemed to take to dairy fine, loving yoghurt without any signs of rash or swelling of any kind.  Then the poo started to get out of hand!  At first we thought that this was just a regular effect of beginning weaning, so we didn’t worry too much about it.  But after a few days and when the severe nappy rash appeared, I began to think there might be more to it.  After a visit to the GP we still aren’t sure what the problem is, but she advised us to give up the dairy for now and try again in a few weeks and observe E and then go back to visit her.  If he has another reaction then we will get him tested for allergies and plan how to replace dairy in his diet.  She also said not to introduce eggs yet as many babies with milk allergies also have egg allergies.

This is making things difficult.  There are so many foods that contain dairy and eggs and they are such excellent sources of nutrients.  I am also trying to add protein to his diet, he has been having lentils and beans for the past week and I gave him salmon for the first time on Sunday (which he loved!)  But it would be nice to sometimes be able to add a bit of cheese to a veggie puree or to have a nice omelette for some extra protein.  I am hoping that it was just a coincidence and he had a tummy bug or something that just happened to be at the same time that he was introduced to yoghurt.

So far I have given him some pre-prepared foods, he loves toast, rice cakes, baby biscuits, carrot puffs and other finger foods (a lot of the Organix ones) and on the weekend we didn’t make it home on time for dinner one night, so I had to give him my ’emergency’ pouch of Ella’s Kitchen puree that I keep in his change bag.  They have very simple organic ingredients, so they seem to be the best choice.  The only downside that I have heard is that they can be very sweet, and that’s why babies love them!  We had the carrot, parsnip and apple puree, and it just tasted like sweet apple sauce!  Some of the NCT mums who often give their babies the pouches have talked about how it’s a shame that they only last in the fridge for 24 hours after opening, so I assumed we’d come home with some left in the pouch…nope!  Not my E, he demolished the whole thing!

We are now giving E three meals a day, still working on the best timing for him to be hungry but not too hungry!  He seems to be happily munching away during the day, but not very interested in his milk feeds…until night time!  Then all he wants is to wake up his sleeping Mommy for some nice milk 🙂  Of course I don’t mind, but it would be nice, now that he has a full tummy, if he could give us just a bit more sleep!

As always, any comments, feedback, suggestions of any kind are very welcome!  I’ve had loads of help from brilliant twitter mamas, but am always happy for more blog comments as well 🙂

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