Friday, 19 September 2014

Play With Your Food - Felt Food!

This week we're not playing with real food, instead we made some food with felt to play with. It was just a really quick activity to fill the time while Ethan's dinner was in the oven and he was hungry and grumpy about it.  

I got out a packet of felt sheets and some scissors, and asked Ethan if he wanted to make a pizza with me!  Of course he said yes, and so I cut out a yellow circle to be the crust.  Then we talked about what could go on our pizza, so I cut out a smaller red circle to be the sauce, then little strips of orange for the cheese, small pink circles for pepperoni, little white strips were butter (I don't know why, but it was his choice!), then some little black strips were the vegetables.

Then we decided to make a felt sandwich to go with it!  White bread shaped pieces to start, then some pink ham, white chicken, yellow cheese slices, a red slice of tomato and slices of cucumber.  Ethan really liked thinking of all of the different ingredients for our food, choosing which colour of felt to use and then telling me what shape to cut out.  Then when we were done he took them all apart and put them back together again.  When he's done playing with them we may glue them all together to keep them, but for now we're having fun putting them together over and over again!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Planning Ethan's Third Birthday Party

I can not even believe that Ethan is going to be 3 years old in just over 2 weeks.  He's still my baby, how did this happen?  We absolutely love birthdays in our house, and I really want to make this one extra special because Ethan's old enough to really 'get it' this year.  On Ethan's actual birthday we're planning on spending a nice family day together, doing something fun, opening presents, eating cake and going out for pizza to his favourite restaurant.

Then for his party we're inviting all of Ethan's friends to a bit soft play place for fun and games, climbing and sliding together before coming together for lunch in the fabulous Octonauts themed party room!  The venue supplies the food and entertainment, but we still have to plan for all of the other little details.

Ethan is really enjoying being a part of this process, helping to plan his super fun Octonauts party for him and his friends.  We got out a big piece of paper and brainstormed together to think of as many different ideas that we could to make a great party.  He watched as I made his invitations on the computer, then helped to address the envelopes, add some fish stickers and even put them in the post box himself today to send them to his friends.  Now to make all of his ideas become a reality and organise this party!

Have a look at our previous parties (and other fabulous children's birthday parties) on our Pinterest board:

Follow Play & Learn Everyday's board Children's Birthdays on Pinterest.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Pom Pom Making

I am very excited to be going to the Handmade Fair this weekend in London.  I love all things crafty but have been finding it difficult to be creative lately (too exhausted!) so I'm looking for some fabulous inspiration to get me motivated again!  I'm a big fan of Kirstie Allsop and love her shows, I think it was her Christmas show last year that she discovered the fabulous pom pom makers that make it much easier to create perfect pom poms.  I've been wanting to get one, but haven't actually seen one in the shops, so today we were making pom poms the old fashioned way to contribute to the shows 'World Pomination' mission to break the world record for pom poms and to raise money for charity.

I had to look for the directions to make a pom pom maker on a cardboard circle, as I'd actually forgotten exactly how it worked, but luckily Pinterest was very helpful and a simple search showed me all I needed to know.  So I cut out some donut shapes out of a cardboard box, got some wool and started Ethan on winding the wool round and round the cardboard.  It was a great exercise for for his fine motor control as he threaded the wool through over and over again.  He did get a bit tired of it though, so his pom pom is not very fluffy, but he's still very proud of it!  He ran around the house with it for ages afterwards, pretending it was a lasso and saying 'yee haw!' (I have no idea why!)  Ivy also loved playing with the pom poms, a fun little sensory experience.

I'm definitely going to pick up a fancy pom pom maker at the Handmade Fair this weekend!  This isn't a review post, as we made those scraggly pom poms all by ourselves, but I have been given a ticket to the Handmade Fair, which will hopefully mean lots of inspiration for future crafty posts!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Swimming with a Baby and a Toddler

Ethan and Ivy both absolutely love to swim, they are such little water babies, I couldn't keep them away from the water if I tried!  We've taken both swimming since they were tiny babies, and we've always used Huggies Little Swimmers for them in the pool.  So when we were asked to attend a Little Swimmers event, I jumped at the chance!  But of course on the day things just weren't on my side, and we weren't able to make it in the end.  But we did get sent a goody bag to enjoy on our other swimming outings!  

We were so happy to receive lots of lovely things for swimming with Ethan and Ivy, of course there were some Little Swimmers nappies, but also the Little Swimmers Mat, which I hadn't ever seen now, but don't know how we lived without it!  It's non slip and great for changing Ivy at the pool and keeping her dry (I even get Ethan to stand on it when I'm getting him dressed).  They also sent us adorable new swimsuits for Ethan and Ivy from Platypus, an inflatable fish toy, adorable flowery swim caps and lots of other goodies!

We've enjoyed using all of our new swim goodies over the summer, and look forward to lots more fun swimming throughout the autumn and winter before our big holiday next year, when I expect that Ethan will spend the whole time in the pool!  Seeing the two of them in the pool together is so much fun, my favourite moment of our last trip to the swimming pool had to be having them both sitting side by side at the edge of the pool, giggling with anticipation as we counted to 3 before 'jumping' into the water.  I love that this is something that they both enjoy doing so much, and can continue to do as they grow older.  Huggies Little Swimmers have got a campaign about 'Starting a habit that will last a lifetime' which is exactly what we're doing with our two!

* Thanks so much to Huggies for sending us some of their swimming products to try out and to write an honest opinions about. *

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Our Sunday Storybook - Baby Baa Baa

This week I realised that I rarely read to Ivy on her own, Ethan is the one who usually chooses the books and asks me to read to both of them.  So I've tried this week to have some special one on one reading time with Ivy, and get out some of the lovely baby books that we have.

One that she particularly likes is Baby Baa Baa (affiliate link), as it's got great big flaps that she can help to open to find what's hiding behind them.  She also loves hearing all of the animal sounds, and giggling as we read them.

What have you been reading this week?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Play With Your Food - Nom Nom Kids Pouches Review

I can't believe that Ivy has been eating solid foods for over a month now, time is flying by!  She's doing really well, happy to eat everything that I've given her so far and getting better at eating properly (not sticking her tongue out as much!)  I make all of her food at home in big batches and then freeze it in small portions to give to her each day.  But when we're out, it can sometimes be a pain to take a frozen pot of food out, so we often buy a pouch of organic puréed food.  Now, we are very lucky because the pouches that we buy do have very good quality food in them, so I don't worry about giving them to Ivy once in a while, but it can get a bit expensive if you're doing it all the time.  As we seem to be having lunch on the go more and more lately, I decided to try out these reusable pouches from Nom Nom Kids.  They sent us a Weaning Kit containing 10 pouches, 15 lids and a wipe able pen.  It's funny how much things change, because I don't think that reusable pouches existed even 2 years ago when I first started feeding Ethan, but now they're everywhere!  I like these ones because you don't need some sort of big contraption to fill them, you just have pouches and lids.  The side of the pouch opens (like a sandwich bag) you spoon in the purée or smoothie and then seal it up and you're done.

I made a few big batches of food (with Ethan's help of course, he's getting very good at chopping up fruit and vegetables for Ivy!) and then filled up some pouches for Ivy.  The weaning set comes with a pen as well, so I just write down what's in the pouch and the date and then pop the pouches in the freezer, ready for Ivy's lunches.  

I tried them out a few times this week, and these pouches are just as easy to use as the filled ones.  I didn't have any issues with them, not one bit of food leaked out.  Ivy loves the colourful packaging and was more than happy to have these for her lunch.  I even tried making some smoothies for Ethan and putting them in the pouches, and they work great as well.  The only downside is that you have to wash the pouches yourself, and you do want to make sure that you get them really clean to avoid getting any bacteria in them.  But they can be washed in the dishwasher and sterilised in a liquid solution to get them extra clean.  Overall we are really liking them, I haven't done the math but I'm positive that the amount that I've spent on some nice organic fruit and veggies is less than the cost of the 10 pouches that I filled would have cost from the shop!

* This is a review post and contains an affiliate link, Nom Nom Kids sent us their Weaning Kit to try out and write an honest review *

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

10 Ways to Help a Frustrated Baby Learn to Crawl

Ivy desperately wants to crawl, she is constantly on her tummy shouting and crying in frustration because she can't get anywhere. Well, she can actually wiggle her way quite far backwards, but she doesn't seem to notice that she's actually moving, so we need to get this baby crawling to cheer her up!

Here are my top 10 Ways to Help a Frustrated Baby Learn to Crawl

1. Don't - well, this is for those of you with babies that aren't frustrated and shouting at you because they just can't do it.  If your baby is happy to sit and play or to roll around and play, just sit back and enjoy it!  They've got a lot of years to come when they'll be whizzing around, there is definitely no need to rush things (no matter how competitive the other parents can be!)

2. Set goals - put their favourite toy (or their big brother!) just out of their reach and encourage them to make their way towards it.

3. Roll on something - I use a ball to put Ivy on and hold onto her as I roll her back and forth on her tummy for her to get the feeling of moving forwards.  I also use a toy to get her reaching and building up that upper body strength.  You can buy a roller toy that works in the same sort of way (but is much easier for your baby to stay on).

4. Distract with other fun toys to play with while sitting - Sometimes all of this crawling and getting frustrated can just be too much, so we need a break.  This is when I have to get out a really fun and distracting toy like this flashing lights sensory ball that Ivy loves, to keep her occupied for a little while sitting up.

5. Watch other crawlers - I take Ivy to a weekly baby class now, and she absolutely loves to watch the older babies crawling around, she really seems to be taking it all in and processing what they're doing so that she can try to do it herself at home.

6. Get on the floor and crawl around with them - This really seems to help Ivy to be less frustrated, I think that she likes everyone to be on her level and it gives me the chance to help move her arms and legs for her and to model how she should be moving.

7. Get a big ring to climb into - We've already got the Galt Playnest that Ivy loves sitting in and playing, but now I use it in a different way, but placing her on her tummy outside the ring, and putting a toy inside for her to reach for.  Again she's working on her upper body strength and learning to reach her arms forward.  If you don't have a play nest you could try propping your baby up on some cushions instead.

8. Pull along on a blanket - Ivy loves a magic carpet ride!  I put her on her tummy on the blanket, and pull her around the room.  She's not actually working on her crawling skills, but it does give her the sensation of moving around and it gives her the opportunity to see parts of the room that she doesn't usually get into.

9. Push on their feet - As one of Ivy's main issues is that she crawls backwards, she really does have a lot of the other movements right.  So if I just place my hand under the soles of her feet, she pushes against it and then moves forwards instead of backwards.  

10. Try different floors, carpet, tile, etc - In the main part of our house we have wooden floors, and a few of our play mats are quite slippery, so it's no wonder really that Ivy is having trouble moving forwards, because she just can't get a good grip.  So as often as I can, I take her upstairs to one of the bedrooms with different carpet for her to try crawling there and see if it makes any difference.

We've been doing all of these for about a week now, and Ivy is making definite progress.  She is still mostly moving backwards, but she has inched her way forwards a couple of times.  I think that the big day is coming very soon!

* This post contains affiliate links, just in case you're interested in purchasing any of the products mentioned. *