Baby Sensory ideas you can try at home

With the darker evenings and colder weather drawing in, it’s always good to have some ideas up your sleeve for fun ways to keep a baby entertained at home. Days can feel really long at home when the weather is rubbish outside, so Violet and I have been loving trying some sensory play at home. This not only is a fab way to pass the time, but it’s great for engaging all of Violets senses and developing her skills – plus, I admit I have fun playing with it all too!

When we have days at home, we put on our comfiest clothes – Violet has this cute little snuggly set from the new Frugi AW range called ‘Circus of Colour’ – which is a range of bright and colourful clothing that is so soft and comfy too – plus I love the little trousers as they have knee patches for comfy crawling too!

So, it was a grey, rainy day and I scoured look on Pinterest for ideas on how to set up a mini baby sensory class at home and it turns out you can do it all easily and at very little cost, babies love playing with anything – even normal household items (especially wooden spoons, whisks etc) so really it’s just about being creative and mixing things up for your little one.

Here are a few basic items I found online, each are only a few pounds (apart from the light projector & bubble machine) – I think I set up Violet’s sensory box for about £10 or less!

Bells | Spiky Light Ball | Foil Blanket | Stacking CupsMunchkin Bubble Blower | Rainbow Ribbon Ring | Metallic Pom-Pom | Light Projector

We just get everything out on a big mat in the living room and I usually put some nursery rhymes on my laptop through Youtube and we explore the toys, making sounds, shaking bells, rustling in the foil – honestly, this all keeps Violet entertained for so long! Here are some of our sensory play ideas so far:

WATER PLAY

Violet especially loves water play, I just popped some of her toys (the waterproof ones of course!) into a washing up bowl of warm water with a swirl of baby bubble bath. This was pretty messy though so make sure you cover the floors with a waterproof mat or some muslins, we were SOAKED when this one was finished and both needed a change of clothes, so maybe leave this one for summer time or in the bathroom!

 

SENSORY BOTTLES

If you look on Pinterest, there are SO many funky ideas for creating sensory bottles! You can make them with glitter, pom poms, water, rice to add a rattle – basically anything that will catch your babies eye. I made one just from an old water bottle, using colourful sparkly pom poms from Tiger – I added rice for a rattle and Violet loves it! Just make sure the bottle cap is glued firmly in place and there is no risk of the bottle coming undone during playtime!

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

Violet absolutely LOVES music, she seems to have a flair for music and will shake her bells (when she’s not trying to eat them) when music comes on. One of her favourite classes is Music Bugs, so we try and carry on during the week singing some nursery rhymes and playing instruments along to the tune or just banging saucepan lids! She loves hand actions to songs so I try and find songs on Youtube with hand actions to follow, can’t wait until she joins in with the actions too!

LIGHT SHOW 

This always captures Violet’s attention – we turn all the lights off and create a light display! I picked up a light projector that puts a pretty pattern of lights on the ceiling – I also get out the foil blanket for added sparkle and we have a space-age sensory session.

TREASURE BASKETS

Babies love exploring new colours, textures and objects. I get a little basket and walk round the house filling it with baby safe items (usually most of them are from the kitchen). Things like wooden spoons, cups, scraps of fabric, ribbon catch her attention and she enjoys rummaging through her treasure basket, learning about each new item.

I hope you enjoyed these sensory play ideas – just remember to always supervise a baby during sensory play as they should never be left alone with these items. Let me know if you give any of them a go! 🙂

 

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Weaning: First Tastes and Reactions (& win a Weaning hamper!)

I can’t believe it but Violet’s been weaning around a month now and I can safely say we are getting well and truly into the swing of things after I felt TOTALLY overwhelmed at the start. Weaning isn’t what I expected before I actually tried it, I thought I’d be doing the ‘Baby Led Weaning’ route and be handing Violet florrets of broccoli which she’d instantly know how to eat. Instead – when I gave her ‘finger foods’, she’d jam them in her mouth (not to eat, more as a teether) and eventually gag until we’d both had enough of watching the horror in each others faces and I’d take it away. So, I decided to try the puree route and THANK GOODNESS, that is so much easier and Violet lovveessss puree, with a capital L! Honestly, I don’t know where she gets it from (!!) but she loves eating so much, I think it’s her new favourite hobby, and getting her to try new things is mine too. Her reactions to new tastes are SO sweet.

Recently I’ve been working on a little project with HiPP Organic to document Violet’s first reactions to the flavour and texture of their Stage One First Tastes Weaning range. Plus, for a bit of fun, as I wouldn’t make Violet try anything I wouldn’t eat myself I’ll be trying the flavours myself too! So HiPP Organic sent us 6 new flavours to try – some flavours were completely new to Violet so it was fun to watch her reaction!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Stage 1 ‘Pure Vegetable’ jars are made up of single flavours and a variety of tastes, including Pure White Carrot, Pure Parsnip and Pure Pea and the ‘Stage 1 Savoury‘ are perfect for introducing first blends of ingredients – all are made with organic ingredients and sealed in 100% recyclable jars with a wider opening for easier feeding.

Here is how we got on:

 

PURE VEGETABLE JARS:

These are a really fab place to start with weaning, as they are pure, simple one flavour jars. The first thing I noticed about these are how smooth the mixture is, there is not a lump in sight they are blended to utter perfection texture-wise! Violet hated any kind of lumps at all to start so this was perfect!

Pure White Carrot – This is amazing, I wouldn’t say it was carrot at all, it tastes like a slightly less sugary smooth apple puree. Violet loved this one and nearly ate the whole jar in one sitting!

Pure Parsnip – We struggled to get Violet to eat parsnip but this is a lot smoother and sweeter than any other purees with parsnip, it almost had an apple-like taste and consistency with a parsnip twang.

Pure Peas – We didn’t have much success with this one. I liked it, it was like mushy peas from the chip shop! With a thicker texture, this took Violet by surprise and I think pea is a taste that takes some getting used to for little ones. She did eat a little bit but this one will take a bit longer for Violet to adjust to.

STAGE 1 SAVOURY JARS:

Vegetable and Fish Pie – This was Violet’s FIRST ever taste of fish and it’s safe to say she wasn’t sure at the beginning (as you’ll see on the video!) but she got used to the new flavour within a few spoonfuls. I tried this one and thought the fish element was quite strong! I’m not sure what fish they used but it had a strong fishy taste and smell which surprised me as I thought they’d use something a little milder for a first taste. Violet did eat a bit of this one though so it was worth trying her on something out of her (and my) comfort zone!

Mediterranean Vegetables and Aubergines – This one was delicious, I’d eat this for my dinner! Like a beautiful Italian lasagne in a jar, I loved it and Violet loved it even more.

Buttered Vegetables – A good way to introduce vegetables into a babies diet is mixed with milk, this is a great blend of soft and sweet vegetables with a smooth, milky texture – a hit with Violet!

VIOLET’S REACTIONS

So, as it would be impossible to document in writing, I filmed a little video of her reactions as they are just so funny and sweet – enjoy!

So far, we’ve been loving trying HiPP Organic and now Violet is coming up to 7 months we can’t wait to do this all again with new flavours of the stage 2 selection as well! If you fancy giving them a try, you can download this money off coupon unique to my readers or….

WIN A SELECTION OF HIPP ORGANIC JARS!

Lastly, if you’d like to win a selection of HiPP Organic Weaning Jars – Stage One Pure Vegetables & Savoury Jars like we have been enjoying, plus two weaning spoons – leave a comment on this post letting me know how you are getting on weaning your little one and their favourite flavours! 🙂

 

Watch out in the next few months for more posts on our weaning journey!  

How I stroll with my Baby Jogger City Go

I absolutely love living right by the beach in Brighton, but logistics of getting out and about in a busy city with a baby have been a little tricky recently. As it’s the height of summer our city has been flooded with tourists, which is fab as there is always something going on but when you have to get from A to B quickly it can be a bit stressful. Where we live is a popular beach spot so there is absolutely no parking and when we go out we are often going against the flow – dodging families heading to the beach, inflatable crocodile under one arm, ice cream in the other – so finding ways to get Violet out of the house and into the car quickly and easily has been an absolutely lifesaver.

Baby Jogger have teamed up with travel expert and mother of two, Laura Hamilton (who you will recognise if you watch ‘A Place in the Sun‘ on Channel 4 – my maternity leave guilty binge watch program!) as part of their ‘How I Stroll‘ guide for new and expectant parents. The guide is a handy set of tips on how to make the most of being out and about with your baby.

As part of the project I’ve been trying out the Baby Jogger City GO car seat. I have to say I wouldn’t usually associate ‘strolling’ with a car seat, but this has helped to change my perspective. I’m pretty sure before I tried the City GO, my car seat ‘stroll’ looked more like a penguin waddle as they can be so awkward to carry, but the City GO is so lightweight and easy to handle that walking with the car seat is a breeze. This is absolutely essential for where we live as our car is usually parked quite a way from home. I also absolutely love the chic black design with tan interior padding and that it has a large UV hood that is SPF 50+ too.

Laura Hamilton is a huge fan of the Baby Jogger City Go too, she loves that it can be fixed quickly and easily into the car using an ISOFIX base, and she recommends getting someone to check that it’s all installed correctly before using it. Shops that sell the City GO would be more than happy to check it over for you and safety for your little one is paramount. I remember when we brought Violet home from the hospital, she was just so tiny in her car seat – I sat in the back as we didn’t want to to take our eyes of her, so I can wholeheartedly agree with that too.

Another great thing about the City GO is that it’s compatible with many of the Baby Jogger Strollers too, like the City Mini GT (which I’ve had my eye on for a while!) Now Violet is 6 months old we’ll be looking for a stroller soon so it’s good to know we’ll be able to use the products together to make getting out and about even more of a breeze!

Lastly, as part of the ‘How I Stroll‘ guide, Laura Hamilton also gave me lots of tips on life with a newborn which I thought I’d share. I hope you find them helpful, I was certainly nodding along:

  • Don’t stress about your newborn’s bedroom being ready or buying a cot, they won’t be in one for a while. A moses basket or a little crib will be okay.
  • Even though it’s tempting, try not to find out if you are having a boy or a girl. You don’t get
    many real surprises in life.
  • Try not to tell anyone your due date or get fixated about it. It gets boring people always
    asking you close to the date ‘any news yet’.
  • Don’t tell anyone your baby name choices – people always have an opinion.
  • Buy the Gro Egg to monitor the temperature in your new baby’s room (when they are ready
    to sleep in their own room). It changes colour to indicate when it’s too hot for them.
  • One of the best things you can do is a baby first aid course to give you some knowledge of
    what to do in an emergency.

We have been really impressed with our Baby Jogger City GO and have been whizzing all over Brighton in the last few weeks with Violet safely and comfortably in the back –  as someone who at first struggled to get out of the house with a baby it’s these little things that make all the difference and as Laura Hamilton says “Just because you’re a parent, it doesn’t mean your life needs to slow down” and I couldn’t agree more.

Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea

Violet is at such a lovely age where she just wants to see and do anything and everything. The world has opened up to her and you can see her soaking everything up and taking it all in. So, this weekend we decided to take her for her very first circus experience as I was kindly invited along to sit ringside at Zippo’s Circus, which is pitched up on Hove Lawns at the moment. I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go with Violet as we were worried that she might be a little too small to enjoy it but we decided there was only one way to find out – so we went along to see what she’d make of it all!

It was a beautifully sunny day in Brighton, after a leisurely morning and some food in town we strolled along Brighton seafront to Hove lawns where we met up with some friends Kirstie and Lauren (of Scrapbook Blog) for our circus experience. As we took our seats, I could see Violet was instantly mesmerised – the lights, the colours, the sounds and smells overloading her senses, but she was in awe! Especially when she saw Lauren’s son Arlo’s flashing light-sabre and we knew we’d have to get her one too (that ‘guilt’ buying thing started way earlier than I thought it would).

The circus was every bit as exciting as I remember it as a child, the smell of sawdust and popcorn with the anticipation building as we waited for the show to begin. I felt like I’d been whisked back to my childhood as memories of circus trips from years gone by came flooding back, it hasn’t changed a bit and I wouldn’t want it to.

This year the Zippos show is called ‘Jigit’ which means courageous or brave and that was a fitting description for the show. Each of the acts so different to the next, I felt like the show kept me on the edge of my seat from the word go. I don’t even know where to start telling you about all of the acts, there was everything you’d expect and more – trapeze artists dangling precariously above our heads, flame throwers, crazy knife throwers that took my breath away (he was SO quick), amazingly talented horse riders with beautiful stallions, juggling, hula-hooping, a contortionist (who I couldn’t look at without wincing!) and the grande finale – 5 motorbikes in a giant metal orb, you have to see it to believe it!

The show is a two hour sitting, with an interval halfway and I was amazed by the interval that Violet was still loving every moment of it, standing on our laps, she’d bounce up and down with excitement as she watched each act – I think her favourite was the horse riding as she LOVES animals, as they circled the ring I’d feel her jiggle with excitement as the horse came past our seats. During the interval we had the chance to get a ‘souvenir photograph’ with her and one of the beautiful horses, so of course we did (guilt buying strikes again!) She patted and stroked the horse, then decided to lick it’s saddle for good measure as the picture was taken! Towards the second half of the show, as much as she wanted to watch it all she got way too tired and had to be taken out for a little walk about in the baby carrier for a snooze – it was a long performance for someone so little but she did so well to watch over an hour at least. She wasn’t phased at all by the loud noises or rounds of applause – she loved every minute and absorbed the magic of the circus, even at her tender age.

I left the big top absolutely buzzing – my heart had been in my chest watching each act, it was immense to say the least. I also loved that Violet enjoyed it so much, getting to share those first moments with her are so magical too. After the show we decided the only thing to do would be to enjoy the sunset over an ice cream from the best parlour in town, Marrocco’s. Of course, I had my favourite combo – Lemon Sorbet and Chocolate, people tell me thats a weird combination but I love it and always order it! It didn’t let me down….. I mean look!

I also popped into the shop for two moments and came back to this – Violet being led astray and taught bad habits already. She was reaching out and grabbing at the ice cream, she LOVES it and covered herself in thick chocolate ice cream, all over her face, bib, sleeves – I think she’d bathe in it if she could and I don’t blame her!

All in all, we had a lovely family day out at the circus! Zippos Circus is in town until the 3rd September, so if you are a Brighton local I’d highly recommend popping down and watching a show before they leave (and if you aren’t local check the website as they may be coming to you soon too!) We will most definitely taking Violet again next summer as I’m sure by then she’ll just love it even more by then! 🙂

Family Days Out: Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare

It’s fast becoming apparent that Violet is an animal lover. She will put her arms out to stroke Robbie, gently patting his head and giggles if she see’s his ‘windmill tail’ circling in excitement. Last week we decided we’d go on our first family adventure to visit some animals and see how she’d react, seeing as she’s only actually seen a dog before! As this was our first day trip of this kind we didn’t want to spend lots on a zoo, which might be a bit overwhelming and a really long day for Violet – she is only 6 months old after all! We decided to go to Raystede, a lovely local animal welfare centre about 20 minutes drive from us that is also practically free to get in, all you need to do is leave a donation. This seemed the perfect place for a gentle introduction into visiting farms and seeing lots of animals, without spending a fortune!

Raystede is predominantly an animal rehoming centre – there are sections for dogs, cats and rabbits where all of the animals are looking for their forever homes (too tempting, I wanted to adopt them all!). There are then some farm animals – donkeys, goats, geese just to name a few, there is an exotic bird section, tortoises and they even keep alpacas too! The centre is quite small but they do lots of family activities like ‘meet the animal‘ talks, opportunities to feed the animals and ‘animal detective trails‘ – although Violet is too small for these yet, I’m sure she’ll enjoy these in the future!

We had a good meander through all of the sections, pointing out all of the animals to Violet. I know she enjoyed seeing them all as she’d kick her legs and bounce with excitement with every new species she saw!

After a good hour or so spotting animals we decided it was time for some lunch and stopped in the cafe. The food was pretty standard cafe food, but tasty nonetheless, plus we had cream tea for pudding so that’s always a win in my books! After lunch there is a visitor centre, charity shop and pet shop so we had a mooch around and bought Robbie a new bed, seeing as his old one had become tired and tatty to the point he has started to refuse to sit on it!

Overall, we had a lovely day at Raystede. I would say if you are looking to see LOTS of animals, you might be disappointed at Raystede as its quite small and they do put lots of the animals away during the day (we didn’t see many of the cats or dogs) but for a fun, cheap family day out it’s perfect and it was certainly ideal for us for a gentle introduction for Violet to see some animals too. I’m sure we’ll return many times as there is so much more for her to see and do when she’s a little bit older as well!

For more information on visiting Raystede, see their website here.