Poppy is on the move! Videos!

Poppy has been trying to crawl for what seems like forever, I remember writing in her baby book at 4 1/2 months old that she seemed close to crawling. She has been almost there ever since, getting into all sorts of funny positions with her legs but not quite grasping the fact that she had to use her arms too! Finally on Saturday night, out of nowhere, she cracked it! It was a proud moment for everyone. I am waiting for the day that she properly crawls to me from the other side of the room and reaches her arms up for a cuddle, but for now she is far more interested in possessing anything in her sight, especially the things we would rather she didn’t. In fact it was my mobile phone that tempted her to crawl in the first place! And today she crawled all over the mucky fireplace.

Here are the videos that our family will be dying to see:

I just want to say to any mum’s or mum’s to be out there, that Poppy spent much of her first 3 months in the sling or being carried, she had barely any tummy time before she could roll over herself at 3 1/2 months, but even then she got fed up that she couldn’t roll back so I wouldn’t leave her there for long. There is so much emphasis on tummy time and making sure you give them opportunities to move, of course the latter is important, but it doesn’t mean that if they want to be carried for hours on end when they are tiny that you shouldn’t do exactly that. As for tummy time I think most babies hate it before they have developed enough to choose to be on their tummies themselves, otherwise they are just plonked into a position that is unknown and feels scary to them and they can barely lift up their heads to have a look around. They have no way of getting out of that position until they start protesting and you finally put them out of their misery. Babies are going through a sensitive period to movement where they instinctively feel the urge to move and perfect their skills, all by themselves! I put Poppy down for plays from about 3 months whenever she was awake, and I also made sure that during that time she had safe floor space and was free to move as she liked, we didn’t have any baby bouncers, rockers, chairs, bumbo’s or play pens. The only thing she occasionally went in was her doughnut if I needed to see to other things, but time in there was limited and she was always right next to me so that I could interact with her. Sometimes Poppy would only last 5 minutes on the floor before she wanted picking up again. It just goes to show that they all develop at their own pace, when they are ready, and the fact that Poppy is crawling at 6 1/2 months shows that you don’t need to do anything special to help them develop physically, other than being there to keep them safe and give them confidence to explore. You can spend a fortune on products designed especially for tummy time, we didn’t have any of them and I never would, nor will we have a baby walker, as I don’t believe they make any difference other than giving the parents a break. (Of course sometimes you do need a break and I am not saying you are a bad parent if you use these products, but I personally don’t want the temptation of dumping Poppy in the walker at every opportunity just to make my life easier! When I need a break I am lucky that Tim is home during the mornings and weekends!) And if your baby isn’t rolling over by 6 months or crawling by 10 months or whatever we are told is ‘normal’, it just means that they are not ready, but they will be soon!

Advertisements

So Natural Baby Festival

P1020399

Yesterday we went to the So Natural Baby Festival in Oxford. I found out about it a while ago and it promised lots of lovely baby products, the opportunity to try slings, cloth nappies, plus some workshops, such as BabyCalm, which sounded pretty interesting. The event was free so I thought it was definitely worth going along, I have been after a new woven wrap or woven ring sling but wanted to try them first, and we were also desperate for some new nappies.

photo 1-4The event was held at Oxford Town Hall which was a lovely old building, but a few parents had to struggle up the stairs with buggy’s to get to the room where the festival was being held, not ideal. We arrived at the start (10.30am) but they were running late, so we had to stand and wait for 15 minutes, which I didn’t mind too much but Poppy disapproved and by the time we did get in she needed a feed. Unfortunately when I asked if there was a place where I could feed her I ended up being given a chair that was by the entrance, which I sat on in full view of everyone passing. It didn’t bother me but I did think it should have been considered….natural baby festival = breastfeeding mums, and not everyone is comfortable doing this in such an open space. I would like to say that was the last of my complaints, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. After feeding she needed changing, and I was directed to the disabled toilet where I was told I could change Poppy, and the sign next to it said ‘Baby Changing.’ You can imagine my confusion then when I went in and couldn’t see changing facilities anywhere. For a good few minutes I thought I was going barmy and checked all the walls for those fold up changing tray things. Then I went back out to check the sign, maybe I was in the wrong disable toilet?! Nope. Poppy had to lie on the cold hard toilet floor whilst I changed her (It had just been cleaned otherwise I would have just done it inside the festival). It was such a shame that the venue was very beautiful but obviously not right for this event. The organisers really should have provided some sort of alternative changing facilities, just some soft mats for the floor maybe?!

Anyway, we were finally ready to look around! I really didn’t want this post to be all moaning….but….whilst we loved being bombarded with free samples, being the stereotypical natural parent, we had Poppy in the carrier and no buggy to pile our belongings onto. We hadn’t considered that we should take our own bags for anything we bought! Tim went to about 8 stalls before finding one that had bags and kindly gave us one so that we weren’t juggling our samples, leaflets and purchases as well as a baby and a changing bag. This was really inconvenient, but moving on….

The good stuff: One of the first stalls I came across was the Wonderoos cloth nappy stall. photo 2-1Now I can’t tell you much about the Wonderoos brand itself, as I really needed a bargain (these are in line with other cloth nappies though and were lovely bright colours!) Instead the bargain bucket caught my eye and I managed to find some Close Pop-in nappies for £5 each! There were loads of other bargains to be had but I wanted all natural liners (no microfleece touching Poppy’s skin, which is very common in pocket nappies) The Pop-in’s have bamboo inserts which ‘pop’ in place! They are the older version, and if I were being picky I would choose organic (the inserts are dyed to match the colour of the rest of the nappy which is beyond me!), but they looked really good quality and at such a good price I couldn’t resist. I am hoping that I can also use the outer cover as a wrap with some of our cotton inserts (they wouldn’t pop in to place) so that we can use the outer part more than once.

photo 4-1For that reason I only bought 3 to see how we get on, but I already love them, they fit Poppy really well. They adjust as they grow, and they are very snug so I don’t expect any leaks. In fact I tried the green one on her last night and she liked it so much she started crawling for the first time!!! (This huge milestone will be getting it’s very own blog post soon!)

The same stall also had some gorgeous Frugi items on sale, at really good prices. We grabbed an all in one for £7.50 (organic cotton, spotty with ladybirds).

We wandered around and saw loads of natural baby lotions, nappy balms, oils…whilst they were all lovely and I could have spent a fortune, we make do with coconut oil, essential oils and a couple of organic bargains from TK Maxx! Don’t get me wrong, it was all beautiful and if I had the money we would have every natural baby product under the sun, but it isn’t really a necessity, it’s a luxury. Some of them were tempting, such as a calming spritz from http://www.soothe-me.com to use at bedtime, but I just about managed to resist. Still, I will enjoy using the samples we acquired!

One stall I did quite like was Antique Apothecary, set up by Greek sisters Elena and Maria. What I was hoping for from the festival was finding something new, that made me think ‘That would be really useful!’, rather than just variations of things I already use. They did have the usual baby nappy balms and oils, but what caught my eye was the cold relief balm. In my never ending quest for optimal health and natural immunity, I have ditched the medicine cabinet and started learning about essential oils, herbs and other natural remedies. When your little one is all bunged up, it is nice to feel there is something you can do to help, but the last thing you want to do is starting dosing them up on conventional medicines. The cold relief balm contains 100% pure essential oils and can be rubbed into baby’s chest or back, or dabbed under the nose. I have a tester pot to try and it does have a very slight Vicks type smell to it, but of course it is much gentler and feels lovely on the skin. I was also interested in their tea’s and balms for adults. Lately I have had a really achey back, probably due to carrying Poppy so much and the funny positions I seem to sleep in, so I was interest in their herbal tea that claimed to help joints and their pain relief balm for muscles. Although I didn’t buy anything from them yesterday I will definitely be having a look at their website http://www.herbsandnaturalrememdies.org. More of their products include anti-cellulite oil, anti-wrinkle cream and moisturising cream. I also liked the fact that they gave us some fennel tea to try, although Tim wasn’t a fan!

photo 3-1

We had another feeding break because Poppy was fussy and found some chairs at the back of the room where some babies and toddlers were enjoying a sensory session. I picked up a leaflet for a free taster session, you can look at http://www.babysensory.com to find your nearest class.

P1020410

We soon came to the bag lady, who is better known for her beautifully soft bamboo baby clothes. Zubu baby have a range of hats, booties, body suits and all in ones. They are 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton. I love bamboo, it is what our Hana baby wrap is made from and it is super soft and breathable. We bought this for Poppy at the bargain price of £8 (usually £16), she had pink, but I preferred blue. All of the clothes were luxuriously soft, perfect against baby’s skin, and came in this lovely design, green or plain natural cotton.

photo 1-3

As for the slings and carriers, I was pretty disappointed. The gorgeous Oscha slings were there, but unfortunately these are out of our budget and they didn’t seem to have any special event offers on they day. I was hoping it would be more inviting to try some slings on, someone passionately demonstrating how to use them, rallying people to have a go, but instead I found that each time I tried to have a good look, someone was in the way, so I gave up in the end. This lack of enthusiasm and interactivity was a let down of the whole festival. It was really less of a festival and more a browsing shopping event. A person on a microphone talking about what was going on, shouting about good deals, talking with genuine passion about the benefits of natural products…or something like that, would have given the whole thing a bit more atmosphere. We didn’t make it to any of the workshops because these were held in a different room, we weren’t given a programme and there was little communication about what was happening. Someone did half heartedly tell us that someone was discussing health in the room next door, but by this point we were about to leave.

P1020402As promised, we were given a free goody bag for being one of the first to arrive, so I rifled through this on the way home. The best thing in it was some Gin-Gin’s sweets, made with real ginger and available at health food stores. I had never heard of them before and they were so good!

We also managed to acquire 3 back copies of Juno magazine, and I purchased the latest copy because it had a big article about home education. It is a great magazine and there are 4 issues a year. They did have 10% discount on subscription, but seeing as the magazine is £3.95 per copy, or £15 for a year, it isn’t a big cost anyway so the 10% off didn’t manage to tempt me. I already subscribe to green parent, so I didn’t really want another subscription for now but would consider it in the future.  You can subscribe at http://www.junomagazine.com/ or like their facebook page for offers. (If anyone has the latest copy I would love  to hear what you think about the brave lady who ran away from mainstream cancer treatment for her son?)

All in all we had a great day, mainly because it was nice to get out and do something different, but the festival itself didn’t live up to expectations. I think I have reached a stage where I am no longer a novice at all this natural malarky…I felt like I out crunched the So Natural festival!!! They had some memory foam play mats and I cringed at the thought of all the chemicals in memory foam and letting your baby play on that! I am happy we went purely for the nappies and it is always good to broaden your knowledge of natural and ethical companies. I haven’t been able to mention all of the exhibitors on here, but there were some more lovely items, such as hand knitted merino clothing and hand made children’s quilts. More information can be found on the festival website, http://www.sonaturalbaby.com/event/so-natural-baby-festival-oxford/ If you are interested in going to the festival they will be in Bath on 22nd June 2014. If you were there yesterday let me know what you thought!

Treasure Baskets for Babies

ImageThe Montessori assignment I am currently working on is all about play, and part of it focuses on play in young babies. I always knew the importance of sensory play, but this reminded me of how to get the most out of a treasure basket and inspired me to make a new one for Poppy. Before now she has had the same few sensory items in a small basket, which no doubt she was getting bored of.

P1020365

When babies reach the stage where they can sit up unaided but not yet crawl about, you may notice that they begin to show signs of boredom, although sometimes these are mistaken for teething or being clingy as they sit and fuss. In fact even very young babies show an instinctive need to play; it is a vital factor in their healthy development. A treasure basket offers a rich variety of stimulus, that the baby explores with all five of their senses. They grasp, shake, kick, lick, chew, watch, feel, listen, bang, laugh, squeal and are learning every second. It does not contain toys, the purposes of which are of little interest to babies of this age who usually just put everything in their mouth! You may find yourself showing your baby the ‘correct’ way to hold a rattle, or stack blocks on top of one another, but really this is for the satisfaction of the adult as the baby has not yet reached the ‘What can I do with this?’ stage and is much more interested in ‘What is this?’

ImageYou might be pleased to hear that the items in the treasure basket, which will provide your baby with a lot more learning opportunities than conventional toys, are usually very cheap, if not free, as they can be found around the house! It is important to use natural materials such as wood, metal and fabrics, which provide more interesting sensory experiences than the cold hard plastic that many modern day toys are made from. Of course you need to consider the size of the items; make sure that they do not present a choking hazard but are small enough for your baby to grip and manipulate themselves. Another important consideration is the quality of the items, for example I have found the cheaper wooden items may be more likely to splinter, and anything that is made up of small parts should be sturdy (such as screws on a nutcracker or beads on string). I have listed a few ideas below to get you started, but the possibilities are endless!

The amazing thing about treasure baskets is the way in which they develop a deep concentration in the baby, fundamental to later cognitive development. It is not uncommon for babies to sit and play happily for an hour or longer (the nutcracker alone kept Poppy busy for ages!) However, you must not think that your baby will be happy to sit alone and explore the basket whilst you see to the dinner or catch up on your favourite soap. Like any new experience at this age, your baby will feel comfort in the fact that you are close by, reassuring them that it is safe to continue in their new discoveries. To give them this confidence you do not need to do much more than just be there, within their sight, their safe base. By not interfering with what your baby is doing (although obviously if they interact with you then you should not ignore them!) you are allowing them to take control of their own learning, developing the ability to make decisions as they pick and choose the objects rather than being offered objects by an adult.

P1020372

Lastly, and probably the most important thing to remember, is that your baby will become bored if they never find anything new in the basket. Have a look for interesting new items on a regular basis and make sure that the treasure basket is constantly evolving. I have already started to collect a few bits ready to have a change around in a few days, and it is actually a really fun project to do! Grannie Sally has even put one together for Poppy when she visits, and she said she loved putting it all together!

P1020366

As your baby gets more mobile their play needs change, and they enjoy transferring objects from one place to another. Providing them with plenty of receptacles for doing this will help them to continue their development of deep concentration and satisfy their natural inclinations.

Idea’s for Treasure Basket:

(The basket should be strong, shallow (roughly 4-5 inch in height) and large. It can be round, square or rectangle but should be at least 14 inches in diameter and width.)

  • Wooden spoonImage
  • Wooden egg timer
  • Wooden lemon squeezer
  • Nutcracker
  • Avocado pip
  • Large feather (peacock)
  • Large pine cone
  • Natural sponge
  • Make up brush made with natural materials
  • Loofah
  • Flannel
  • Whistle
  • Pebble
  • Pumice stone
  • Tea strainerImage
  • Bells
  • Bottle brush
  • Leather ball
  • Metal eggcup
  • Wooden nail brush
  • Silk scarf
  • Cotton scarf
  • Ribbon
  • Beads on a string or leather shoelace
  • Small tin
  • Metal teaspoon
  • Mini metal whisk
  • Pastry brush
  • Paint brush
  • Hair brushP1020346
  • Velvet
  • Shells
  • Ball of string
  • Beanbag
  • Small containers filled with rice
  • Keys
  • Small muslin bags
  • Corks
  • Fruit (Apple, orange, lemon)
  • Pegs
  • Curtain rings
  • Chain
  • Large buttons
  • Wooden napkin rings
  • Drawer fragrance cushion

P1020360

If you have some great ideas Poppy would love to know about them!

 

 

Vegan chocolate brownies

I am thinking of trying a vegan diet for a little while, with it potentially becoming a more permanent lifestyle change. I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian for a while, but then realised that with dairy already cut out the only thing left before vegetarian becomes vegan is eggs (that’s right isn’t it?!) I do like eggs, so we will see. But I have started off my experiment with chocolate brownies, of course.

Image

Ingredients: 

110g Pure Sunflower spread

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

4 tbsp milled flaxseed (available at good health food stores)

6 tbsp rice milk

4 heaped tbsp cocoa powder

175g light brown muscavado sugar

100g self raising flour

Couple of drops of vanilla extract

Handful of chopped walnuts (or other nuts of your choice)

Handful of cacao nibs (optional)

Pinch of salt

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a square baking tray. (You could line with greaseproof paper as mine did stick slightly when getting them out but I also used a pyrex dish)
  • Mix together the flaxseeds, rice milk and baking powder.
  • Melt the pure butter and then add cocoa powder and mix until smooth.
  • Pour this on flaxseed mix, add the sugar, vanilla, cacao nibs and nuts and mix well.
  • Sift in flour and pinch of salt and stir well. Mixture will be nice a gooey!
  • Pour into tin and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Leave to cool before cutting into squares and transferring to plate.
  • Enjoy!

Next time I might try substituting a small amount of the butter for coconut oil and adding goji berries, crystalised ginger, raisins or hazelnuts. White chocolate chunks would also be delish if you have dairy free. Whatever you fancy! They taste great and I am looking forward to finding out if Tim approves later!

 

 

 

EASY Homemade Natural Baby Wipes

I was so excited when I saw someone comment on another blog that I follow, with instructions on how to make your own baby wipes with coconut oil. We have always just used cotton wool on Poppy, but now that she is starting to eat it would be really useful to have some wipes handy to clean those sticky fingers (and face, arms, legs, back, feet….the joys of BLW!) However, the organic wipes are rather pricey and not often available on the high street as far as I know.

I am definitely not going to start covering my baby in nasty chemicals and already swear by coconut oil for its million and one uses, so I just had to give this a go. Honestly, it is so simple, I urge you to have a go too! Your baby’s delicate skin will be grateful!

1. Cut a strong kitchen roll in half so that you have two smaller rolls (This was the hardest part of the whole thing!). Put one aside to use another time.

Image

2. Warm 15 fl oz water in a pan and melt 2 tbsp of coconut oil in. (Do not boil!)

Image

3. Pour the mixture into a container with a lid, big enough to squeeze the kitchen roll into without leaving too much room. I used these glass jars I had lying around which I think came from Tesco for about £2 each, but they were probably a bit big. Image

4. Place one half of the kitchen roll into the container, close the lid and tip the container upside down to cover the whole roll in the liquid (or turn it round a few times if like me you used a big container). Leave to soak in for a while.

Image

5. Remove the cardboard inner tube from the roll, and pull out your first wipe from the centre.

That’s it! You can add essential oils if you want to but you wouldn’t need a lot. Leave the wipes in the container with the lid on to keep them fresh. I will let you know how long ours lasts for, but I have read that they can go moldy and so don’t make too many at once and store in a cool place.

Image

 

Dairy Free Essentials

So I have had a few people request more information on my dairy alternatives. As I said in my previous post, it hasn’t been easy, but gradually you get used to what you can and can’t eat and food labels become a breeze. There are some things I use on a daily basis and a few other things I have found that have surprised me in that they are ‘safe’ foods. I am only human and so have discovered a few treats that I am allowed, although I have no excuse really seeing as there are loads of tasty healthy options that I can make myself! Always good to have a few options though, especially when you are having visitors over and want to put a plate of biscuits out! Of course most of the items below are soy free too as Poppy was intolerant to this too. If you are choosing to cut out dairy and/soy completely then make sure you familiarise yourself with all of the hidden ingredients that become out of bounds. It is not as simple as changing your milk and butter! Use google to find a list of dairy/soy ingredients to look out for, it is long, but amazingly you memorise is pretty quickly!

Image

Pure spread – I don’t tend to have butter in sandwiches, but this is the best thing for baking. In fact my mum has always used it even though she is not dairy free. I have never liked margarines; they are not good for you at all. I have heard this is much better, but seeing as I don’t have too many options and don’t use it all that much, I haven’t really looked into how healthy this is. It is good value at about £1.50 and it is often on offer, buy 2 for £2 or similar. It means that most cake recipes are no longer out of bounds, and even if you struggle with eggs, you can substitute these with an egg replacer (try orgran no egg from Holland and Barrett). I use an egg replacer in baking anyway because it is such good value for money and otherwise we would use way too many eggs! The Pure spread is also good for frying, as it is made with sunflower oil, and of course you could just use it as your regular spread on bread or toast. I have come across a much more extravagant butter, made with very healthy things, but can’t remember the name of it because it cost over £5 for a tub! Sometimes I have to draw the line on my health addiction and think about my bank account.

Image

Almond milk (unsweetened) – by far the best option I have found for tea and coffee. I now much prefer it to cows milk. I have it everyday on my porridge too, although you can use any milk for this really. It also goes in to many of my super smoothies. Almond milk contains 120mg calcium per 100ml, compared to 124mg per 100ml in cows milk, and the bioavailability of the calcium is no doubt much higher in the almond milk, so your calcium absorption would probably improve.

Coconut milk – You can buy cartons of coconut milk along with all of the other milk alternatives, and I do enjoy a lovely coconut milk latte at our favourite café, however I don’t tend to choose this at home as I find almond milk more palatable in tea and coffee. However the thicker coconut milk that you buy in cans is used regularly at our house. Since we can no longer eat the cheese sauce which seemed to accompany so many of our staple meals, we had to have a bit of a menu change (which is never a bad thing seeing as it is so easy to cook the same things week after week). I didn’t want to give up my warm, hearty, comfort foods and start living on salads and steamed vegetables (my appetite is far too big!) so I started making quite a few curries. We absolutely LOVE Thai green curry and use half a can of coconut milk and stock for the sauce. There are loads of variations for Thai curry but mine includes loads of fresh ginger, leeks, spring onions, spinach, garlic, lemon zest and coriander so it is pretty healthy. Serve with wholewheat noodles or brown rice for a wholesome meal.

Image

Oat drink – Just another everyday milk alternative. Oats are very healthy so this is a good one to include in your diet, use on cereal or in porridge if you don’t fancy it in your tea.

Rice milk – Same as above! Also good for rice puddings surprisingly.

Hazelnut milk – This is my favourite milk for when I am feeling indulgent. I make hazelnut lattes with this using all milk, coffee and sugar. You could also try Ferrero Rocher hot chocolate just by using hazelnut milk instead of normal milk! If you don’t have dairy free hot chocolate try using cocoa powder instead, adding a natural sweetener such as agave syrup or maple syrup, a drop of vanilla essence and a pinch of cinnamon.

ImageOatly cream – I use this fairly regularly to add creaminess to a dish, for example in soups, curries or risotto. A very quick risotto recipe is Arborio rice cooked in vegetable stock, with loads of chestnut mushrooms, garlic and chorizo and finish by oatly cream. It is really easy but very delicious. Can also be used in puddings. A quick caramel sauce to add to deserts is made with 100g pure butter and 150g soft light brown sugar melted together in a pan, add 125ml of oat cram and simmer until heated through. I never used to use much cream at all when cooking, but I feel that oat cream can’t be all that bad for you!

Bread – Not a dairy one but I have only included this because I found it difficult to find a SOYA free bread. Ideally it is best to make your own, and occasionally my lovely Dad brings me a fresh loaf from his bread maker, but the rest of the time I have found wholewheat pitta breads to be brilliant alternatives and one brand of multiseed bread to be safe; Wheatfield Bakery as pictured. Tip: Try buying fresh bread from farmshops which shouldn’t usually contain soy. I also found that the tesco organic white bloomer (not the brown one) has no soy in, so we occasionally had this as a weekend treat!ImageDairy free treats – Nature valley oat bars (the healthiest option in this list by far), Oreos (contain soya!) Jammy dodgers, Ginger nut biscuits and Nice biscuits. There are probably many more but I haven’t bothered finding many as we rarely eat biscuits. A lot of sweets are fine but watch out for soya, I found they were in starburst amongst other popular sweets! Of course anything caramely or buttery is a no go, I am yet to come to terms with the loss of werther’s originals.

Nakd bars – I haven’t put these under treats, although I do think they are delicious. But they are 100% healthy! Raw pressed fruits and nuts, no additives, no added sugar, no baking involved. If you are avoiding soy as well be careful as some of them do have soy and some don’t. My two favourite are cocoa delight and cashew cookie which is literally just dates and cashews. They are rather pricey though at over £2 for a box of 4.

Shortcrust Pastry by Jusrol – We don’t eat much pastry, even though Tim is a big fan of pies. But every now and then I love a homemade quiche with loads of salad. I was sad when we had to give this up, but then I read the ingredients on the pastry I used and was very surprised to discover it doesn’t contain any butter or soy!! Oh and yes this is lazy but I really don’t have time to be making pastry from scratch! I actually think this pastry tastes really good, even though I am not a big pastry fan (Tim always gets my crusts once I have eaten the best bits of the quiche!) You could also use this pastry to make jam tarts or apple pie to add to your collection of dairy free treats!

Image

Raw Cacao Powder – You can also use normal cocoa powder for baking. But I love this healthy chocolate ingredient, it gives you the same endorphins as that unhealthy bar of milk chocolate, with none of the guilt! You can use it in pudding recipes, cakes and smoothies, or even in your porridge! Try blending a handful of dates, oats, a tablespoon of cacao and a splash of water, then rolling mixture into balls and refrigerating: Healthy chocolate truffles! Yum.

Ice cream and yoghurts – I am yet to try any dairy free yoghurts, but there are plenty available, whether you choose soya yoghurts or the healthier coconut yoghurts. Ice cream will definitely be tried this Summer! I did struggle to find any without soya in them, although there are a few expensive brands available online, but I tried plenty of dairy free ice creams when I was younger in a poor attempt at going dairy free, and they were mostly delicious. All major supermarkets should stock these.

Cheese – I am afraid I am not much help here either. Cheese was definitely the hardest thing for me to give up. I had it on a daily basis! There are cheese alternatives out there (look online) but I just don’t know if they would cut it for me. I have got so used to it now that I don’t really miss it, but maybe one day when I am feeling flush I will invest in some vegan cheese. If you have tried it let me know what you thought! Goats cheese may be ok for some people, other people may still find this causes problems.

I hope that helps. If there are any other dairy items that you miss or do not know how to cut out of your diet then comment below and I will see if I can help! Remember the blogging world is rife with dairy free recipes for al of your favourite dishes! Do not assume you will never be able to enjoy puddings again!

Visiting our Mummies and filling our tummies!

We have had another great weekend. Saturday was spent doing lots of organising; we still hadn’t finished unpacking and most of our junk had been dumped in what will eventually be Poppy’s room. Even though she isn’t in it yet and probably won’t be for a while, I want it to look nice and not just be an excuse to gather more cr*p! We went through all of the boxes and managed to completely clear the room and rearrange the furniture. I cleaned the shelves and arranged some wooden toys on them, all of them low enough for Poppy to reach herself when she is toddling, in keeping with Montessori philosophy. It looks really cute, and I am excited for when Poppy starts to enjoy playing in there and sleeping on her very own floor bed!

To break the day up a bit we went back to our new favourite vegetarian cafe and had a gorgeous lunch. It is a little pricey but they were good portions. I had a wholebean vegan burger, with onion rings, relish and gerhkins – delicious! And Tim had goats cheese tart which was also divine. Both came with a salad and Poppy chewed on a bit of sweet potato. We couldn’t resist the carrot cake for desert, and went home feeling rather full.

As if we haven’t eaten enough cake lately, I spent last night making another one for today’s dinner at Nana’s! It was a dairy free mocha fudge cake, and it was really easy to make. Recipe to follow!

 

I wrote a few notes for my next assignment later on, which is all about play. I was learning all about treasure baskets and it inspired me to have a change around of Poppy’s sensory objects, realising that whilst they were lovely, she probably had become bored of the same things. I collected lots of interesting everyday items from around the house and ordered a big shallow basket for them all to go in. I will write a post about treasure baskets, how brilliant they are for babies and how you can make your own, when the basket arrives! We took a  smaller portable treasure basket out with us today, and she loved exploring all of the different textures and shapes, it made the car journeys much easier.

Today we visited Brackley and our first stop was at Grannie’s house where The Greats were staying. Poppy was on good form, playing very happily and posing for photo’s. She was a very lucky girl and got given a beautiful push along wooden toy from her Great Grandma and Grandpa.  It was lovely to see Tim’s family as always, and even Oscar came home a happy boy with a bag of bones from Grannie!

Image

After all the excitement Poppy had a sleep whilst we walked Oscar, before going for dinner at Nana Sue’s and Joe’s. My Nanny was there too and they are also hosting a Japanese student at the moment called Mizuki, who was really sweet and taught us some Japanese, or tried at least! She also showed us some origami, and I made her a bunny, which is much simpler origami and great to do with kids at Easter! You can find instructions here. We also tried some sweets made from apricots from her parents sweet shop in Japan which were lovely. Having her eat with us reminded me of my own time in Spain; young and in a new country where I hardly understood the language, it was really daunting. She probably thought we were all nuts but she was always smiling and socialising, and I think Mum and Joe have made her feel very at home. Me and Tim are now thinking of looking into hosting a foreign student as well!

We enjoyed a wonderful roast dinner thanks to Joe, a cheeky glass of wine and a pretty good dessert thanks to me!

It was great to see everyone, I just wish we could visit more people when we go home. But something that was quite interesting was that we both said that although we miss the people we love, we don’t really miss our old town at all and on the journey back it really felt like we were coming ‘Home’. It is a nice feeling to be so settled so soon, especially as it is the first time either of us have moved away from Brackley (aside from Uni) and we knew nothing about this area.

I am now going to crack on with some more Montessori work so that I can relax and enjoy my jam packed week ahead. Excited about catching up with some friends and seeing my lovely cousin who is yet to meet Poppy. Look out for upcoming posts about dairy substitutes, treasure baskets, some recipes and non-toxic household products. But for now I will leave you with a few pictures of these beauties! (click to enlarge)

Hope you all had a happy weekend too!

Christening the high chair

photo 2

Poppy is very happy with her new high chair. It is a Hauck Beta, a cheaper alternative to the Tripp Trapp, and it ‘grows’ with the child. It was pretty easy to assemble and I love that it is wooden, it feels really sturdy. At first I thought maybe we wouldn’t really need a high chair, she could just sit on my lap. But actually this means that when it is just me and Poppy I can’t interact with her as much as I would like to, and she also tends to just grab my plate and send it flying.

photo 3

 


The first foods we tried out in the Hauck were pear, nice a clean, and brown rice with kale pesto and beetroot, not so clean! I have been struggling a little bit to think of what to give Poppy aside from fruit and veg. I wanted to just give her whatever we are having but have realised that even our healthy meals often contain something that I am not ready to give Poppy. Yesterday we had home made quiche and salad, but I don’t want to give Poppy egg yet and pastry isn’t really the most nutritious of things. She liked the lettuce but it doesn’t mush up in her mouth so she didn’t really do anything with it and I must admit I panicked a little when it was just sitting at the back of her mouth. Other regular meals I make have stock cubes in them and I don’t know if this would be too much salt? Our favourite curry would be too spicy for her. And I wasn’t sure about introducing meat for a little while either? Even my everyday breakfast of organic porridge oats made with almond milk and dates, I am worried that the dates contain too much sugar and she shouldn’t have nut milk until she is at least 1. Maybe I am worrying too much but it is early days so I want to keep things simple. So I had a bit of a challenge in coming up with a lunch we could both enjoy together and using the little amount of food we have left in our fridge! The rice with kale pesto and beetroot was a success, it was very simple, yummy and filling for me, healthy and fairly easy for Poppy to scoop into her mouth. I have posted the recipe below. I gave Poppy a preloaded spoon, but she preferred sucking the other end. She did put quite a bit in her mouth compared to other foods we have tried, and even swallowed a couple of bits, but most ended up on the floor, high chair cushion, Oscar’s tummy and somehow even on the inside of Poppy’s nappy?! I must remember the naked baby tip! 

We had lots of fun though, especially when Poppy realised that the lovely bowl with the suction bottom that Auntie Ashley got her, wasn’t as suction-y as we had hoped! I love the subtle changes in the photos….first no bib, then bib, sleeves rolled down, sleeves rolled up, spoon available to Poppy, spoon disappeared, bowl on high chair, given up on bowl…..and Oscar is left picking up the pieces…

(Click an image for slideshow)

Brown Rice with Kale Pesto and Beetroot Recipe:

Blitz a large handful of organic kale with sundried tomatoes (I used just 1 in Poppy’s pesto as they are quite strong and salty. I added a few more for my pesto) Add a little rapeseed oil if needed (we didn’t as the sundried tomatoes were in oil already). Add this mixture to cooked brown rice along with grated beetroot. That is it! It was really lovely and I think it is going to be a new favourite baby food in our house. Kale and beetroot are super healthy and the texture is great for exploring. As your baby gets used to this you could try adding more flavours and vegetables.

P1020138

Holy cow!

If I were to offer you some of my breast milk what would you say? I mean I would put it in a glass first. Or I could mix it with some fruit and whack it in the freezer to make some ice cream? Still a no? And yet no one seems to bat an eyelid at the fact that we consume the equivalent from a cow on a daily basis! Dairy is not designed for humans and the more I read, the more convinced I am that we shouldn’t be consuming it on such a large scale. 

cow

Since eliminating dairy from my diet over 5 months ago I have noticed a lot of positive changes. The biggest of these is the improvement, in fact complete eradication, of my chronic eczema on my hands, as well as much clearer skin on my face. I only really appreciated this when I tried reintroducing dairy for one day over three weeks ago; my hands are still healing as a result. I had dry cracked skin, open wounds that would not heal and tiny blister type things all over my right hand. I also broke out in spots. On top of that after consuming dairy I noticed stomach cramps and a severe headache, as well as feeling very lethargic. Having read up on the subject it seems I am not alone, and worse still dairy may increase your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other ailments.

Interestingly Poppy didn’t seem to react in the same way she used to, (crying in pain, struggling to pass stools and breaking out in severe nappy rash were a few symptoms) which was initially a relief, but I still believe that dairy will probably do more harm than good to us both if I do decide to reintroduce it permanently. Unsurprisingly our bodies struggle to break down the milk that is designed for the baby of a different species, a species that has a different digestive system, diet and nutritional needs to us. Cow’s milk contains way over double the amount of protein than human milk. If we look at the two proteins found in milk, casein and whey proteins, we see that cow’s milk contains a vast amount more casein than human milk, and a lower ratio of whey proteins. Casein is difficult to digest, it is even used to make glue, and it is linked with a range of diseases and allergies, including type 1 diabetes. Excess protein causes changes in a babies blood PH balance, weakening their immune systems and making them more prone to infections. It is clear too see why we are advised not to give infants cows milk. Cows secrete rennin which breaks down casein, but most adult humans do not, which helps to explain why many adults also suffer digestive problems due to dairy.

Let’s move on to lactose. Around 75% of the worlds population is lactose intolerant, which to me says a lot about the suitability of dairy for human consumption. Yes there is lactose in breast milk (so be careful if you are told that your baby is lactose intolerant, it is more likely the proteins causing problems), but most of us stop producing the enzyme that breaks down lactose at around 5 years old, suggesting that we should no longer be including lactose in our diets.

milkYou may still feel that dairy is perfectly good for you but then perhaps more worrying is the way in which cow’s milk is now mass produced. Like most types of non-organic farming you can bet your bottom dollar that these animals are not having the happiest of lives. Once you get past the disgusting living conditions that many of the animals are subject to, you are then faced with the reality of exactly how these animals continue to produce milk month after month after month. Well first of all they have to continue to be pregnant, and so are pumped full of hormones and artificially inseminated. They spend most of their lives pregnant, which you will know if you have ever been pregnant yourself, is going to put a massive strain on their bodies. They become exhausted from the weight and producing ridiculous amounts of milk which makes their udders unnaturally heavy, putting pressure on their legs. To counteract the problems that are obviously going to arise from this process, the cows are then pumped full of antibiotics to treat a long list of inevitable infections including mastitis. In the end the cows are rendered useless and killed at about 4 or 5 years old, many years before their natural lifespan. Cows today can give 25 times more milk per year than they did 50 years ago. This is achieved with drugs, hormones, antibiotics, forced feeding plans and specialized breeding. Would you be happy taking drugs, antibiotics and hormones regularly whilst breastfeeding your baby? Probably not, but we are consuming another mammals milk which potentially contains plenty of them.

Of course I’m not saying it easy to cut out dairy completely. I spent at least a month feeling very sorry for myself indeed. I was overwhelmed by food labels and going out to eat anywhere was a no no. But gradually I got used to it, I purchased a great recipe book, and found lots of dairy free versions or alternatives to our regular shopping basket items. I will write a post about these soon. The most common concern when eliminating dairy is where you will get your calcium from. Contrary to popular belief the calcium in cows milk is much less easily absorbed than calcium in other foods, and some people even believe dairy increases the likelihood of osteoporosis. I haven’t felt the need to supplement my calcium intake in any way; my healthy, balanced diet already contains plenty of easily absorbed calcium.

I admit I miss chocolate and cheese, I used to eat so much cheese! And no doubt when we are in Italy later this year I will indulge, but aside from the odd holiday I can see this being a permanent lifestyle change which I feel very positive about. I have enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, I feel healthier and happier than ever before and am slimmer than ever before despite eating like a horse. A couple of my dairy free treats can be found here and here. I am curious to see if my hay fever is reduced this year on my diary free diet.

For more information I found this very interesting, but a bit of a long read, or look here for simple facts.

A note for breastfeeding mummies: The proteins in dairy do go into your breast milk, despite what your doctor may tell you, just like alcohol and other substances do (of course your doctor and health visitor may warn you about consuming too much alcohol, but dairy, no way, must be colic!) If you suspect that your baby has intolerances then trust your instinct and do your research, it is well worth the effort. Also, a lot of babies with this intolerance are also intolerant to soy which we soon discovered was the case with Poppy. This is called Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI). 

Credits image (top right): Jelle (CC) Credits image (bottom left): saltaylorkydd (CC)

Happy Families

I have decided that weekends shall be dedicated to lots of photo’s and telling you all about what we have been up to, I will reserve the more serious stuff for weekdays.

We have had such a lovely weekend. The glorious sunshine definitely helps! We were up very early Saturday and Sunday (5am ish) which makes it a little difficult to crawl out of bed but actually means that our days last forever, which isn’t a bad thing with weather like this, countryside to die for and plenty of QT together!

Saturday we explored Tring for the first time. There wasn’t much to explore to be honest! But it was nice just to walk around and have a little window shop. We did find a cutesy shop that sold some lovely ‘barefoot’ style baby shoes which I may have to treat Poppy to when she is tottering about. We also got stopped, much to our amusement, by a lady who worked for NCT who wanted our photo. She said that she is always trying to promote baby wearing and we just looked ‘so cool!’ Poppy was awake at this point too so we all posed for the camera! Hopefully she is going to email us the image (as well as printing it on to NCT posters and leaflets!!!) so when she does I will share it on here; it is rare we get a snapshot of us all together.

photo 2

After our little walk we were dying for a cup of coffee and slice of cake. Of course my dairy ban makes this somewhat of a challenge when out and about. We stumbled across a little vegetarian cafe called Anusia, and boy am I glad we did! They had vegan carrot cake and flap jack, coconut milk so that I could have a proper latte, fresh juices, smoothies and even a glorious green smoothie! I also noticed a few packets of dairy and gluten free bite sized snacks at the till, which looked like the sort of things I would make myself. It had a lovely atmosphere and a play area upstairs (although we didn’t go up, but will definitely be back.) It was very eco friendly and virtually all organic – basically my idea of heaven! We both indulged in the carrot cake which was to die for, Tim had a ferrero rocher hot chocolate and I had a coconut milk gingerbread latte. photo 1We then shared a green juice, which Poppy tried and couldn’t get enough of!!! She was literally thrusting her tongue toward the glass, it was hilarious. Next time we will definitely be trying their lunch menu, and I have no doubt we will become regulars.

http://anusiacafe.co.uk/

When we got home we took Poppy to the park for the first time! She went on the swings and seemed to like it! (click to enlarge photo’s)

Sunday morning I got my 6th Montessori assignment finished nice and early, whilst Tim walked Oscar with Poppy for about 3 miles. By the time he got home I had made us a delicious cous cous salad picnic and we set off to Ashridge National Trust estate. It was so busy because of the weather. We put a blanket down so that Poppy could have a practice at crawling, she is so close! She also enjoyed looking at some of the books Grannie gave her the other day. We had our salad (despite the smell of burgers and hot dogs wafting from the cafe) which I will post the recipe for soon, and Poppy had some banana, which she really enjoyed squishing. She is taking things to her mouth perfectly, and occasionally swallowing teeny bits, but I think that is by accident! Oscar seems to hang around a lot when Poppy is eating….

photo 4

It was lovely to just relax in the sun and watch families enjoying the outdoors; children learning to ride bikes, grandparents putting their feet up and dogs chasing about. We had a nice long walk and talked about having more babies (eventually). Oscar loved it, and was so well behaved. Poppy slept in the carrier and woke up when we got back to the cafe. We treated ourselves again to a slice of cake (mine was dairy free chocolate and banana! I love this place!) and coffee. I have to tell you that the picture of Tim with the scone as big as his head….he had already eaten half of it. Just before we left we visited the shop and I couldn’t resist buying a little mug for Poppy, as I remember my first mug I used to have at my Nan’s house, it had my name on it and she still has it. Hopefully Poppy’s will last as long!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were hoping to make it to the NCT nearly new sale in Cheddington but it was over by the time we got home. Instead we had a glass of red wine in the garden, played cards and listened to music. It is now 7pm, Poppy is in bed and we are about to tuck in to a big roast dinner. I can’t post this right now though as my photo’s need to be uploaded from my phone, so I will finish off tomorrow.

It is days like these that make me feel like I am living someone else’s life, those people you envy for having such wonderful lives and perfect families! Of course that isn’t always the reality, but just for a couple of days it is nice to think so.

photo-3